Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Sickness of Partisanship

Trey Smith

The most vocal media critics of our NSA reporting, and the most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance, have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. As I've written many times, one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents: exactly what the CIA presciently and excitedly predicted in 2008 would happen with Obama's election.

Some Democrats have tried to distinguish 2006 from 2013 by claiming that the former involved illegal spying while the latter does not. But the claim that current NSA spying is legal is dubious in the extreme: the Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted efforts by the ACLU, EFF and others to obtain judicial rulings on their legality and constitutionality by invoking procedural claims of secrecy, immunity and standing. If Democrats are so sure these spying programs are legal, why has the Obama DOJ been so eager to block courts from adjudicating that question?

More to the point, Democratic critiques of Bush's spying were about more than just legality. I know that because I actively participated in the campaign to amplify those critiques. Indeed, by 2006, most of Bush's spying programs - definitely his bulk collection of phone records - were already being conducted under the supervision and with the blessing of the FISA court. Moreover, leading members of Congress - including Nancy Pelosi - were repeatedly briefed on all aspects of Bush's NSA spying program. So the distinctions Democrats are seeking to draw are mostly illusory.
~ from On Prism, Partisanship and Propaganda by Glenn Greenwald ~
It is so disheartening to watch Democrats rally around the President. The very same people who railed against Bush for undermining the privacy guarantees of the US Constitution, now cheer Obama for doing much the same thing and worse. It is this lack of commitment to principle that has exposed so-called liberals to be the craven political animals they truly are.

One of the lessons my parents taught me -- one that is taught by many parents -- is the notion that a foundational principle should be as strong as a rock. If you believe in a core value, then it doesn't matter who breaks it. A principle is something that doesn't bow to the god of convenience or expedience. If an action is deemed evil, immoral or unethical in one instance, it doesn't become good, moral or ethical if committed by someone you favor (or yourself). Principles like that are built upon sand!

In the case of widespread domestic spying, the mainstream Democratic Party position is based solely upon the windblown sand of partisanship. If a conservative president does it, ooh, that is as bad as bad can get. However, if it's their guy, then they don't even bat an eyelash. (Note: The same is true of Republicans as well.) What this situation has shown -- without the slightest pretense of doubt -- is that the concept of principle does not live in the halls of our federal government. When one of our leaders throws down a rhetorical gauntlet, it is nothing more than a passing mirage.

Consider, for example, the fact that the Democrats, during the Bush years, painted themselves as the last line of defense against the steadfast evisceration of our hallowed civil rights. Elect us, they said, and your constitutional rights will be protected. So, if they are real defenders, how could this happen?
The leading role of the Democrats in implementing the assault on democratic rights was on further display during Thursday’s congressional vote on the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. The fiscal year 2012 NDAA, signed by Obama, contained provisions allowing for the indefinite detention of US citizens without due process.

An amendment submitted by Republicans to this year’s NDAA, which funds the military, says that nothing in US law can deny citizens the right to a court hearing. The amendment passed, with only three Democrats voting for it.

The NDAA amendment was a cynical maneuver that will have no effect on US policy and will almost certainly be stripped from the final version before it passes the Senate. A stronger version of the same amendment was rejected. Nevertheless, it exposes the Democratic Party’s full support for the destruction of democratic rights in the US.
Folks, it's all smoke and mirrors! There is almost no one left in power who is willing to stand up for principle anymore.

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