WASHINGTON – A deplorable example of what has happened to the Republican Party is the blowing off of the National Security Agency scandal. Spying on innocent Americans by shadowy federal geeks ought to have been a heaven-sent gift to a GOP struggling for relevance.
The disclosures by whistle-blower Edward Snowden that the NSA under President Obama was sweeping our phone calls, email, social network postings and photos and GPS imprints should have been a massive blow to this scary Democratic regime.
That, on top of Attorney General Eric Holder's intimidating sweep of Associated Press telephones and the criminalizing of a Fox News reporter's questions.
But the president's spin center played it masterfully. First it used the “trailer trash” gambit, deployed so successfully against President Bill Clinton's sexual harassment accuser Paula Corbin Jones. Snowden, it was leaked to friendly liberal bloggers, was “not one of us,” not a college man but a high school dropout who started at the NSA as a security guard.
Then CBS' Bob Schieffer intoned that Snowden was a “narcissist” who should man-up and come home and “face the consequences” of his misdeeds.
Sure, like Pfc. Bradley Manning, facing trial for allegedly leaking 700,000 documents to Julian Assange's WikiLeaks? A U.N. agency on torture said Manning was subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” by his Marine Corps guards who kept him unclothed with no blankets in solitary for 11 months.
New York Times columnist David Brooks loyally pronounced Snowden “a traitor.” Brooks said, “It's not up to a lone 29-year-old to decide what's private and public.” Obama and Washington Inc. succeeded in twisting the largest, most brazen continuing assault on Americans' individual liberty in our history into an issue about the reputation of one man: Snowden.
The invasion and storing of our private communications ought to be seen as Democratic Party Big Government against Main Street. But the dopey Republicans are mimicking Obama loyalists' themes.
“I hope our national security interests are not going to be determined by a high school dropout,” said House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.
Isn't it Obama who betrayed his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? With these and other actions, violating the Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, the Fifth guaranteeing due process of law, and on the Manning episode, the Eighth barring cruel and unusual punishment, and death by drone, and the Sixth Amendment assuring trial by jury.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said nothing about constitutional rights, but simply charged Snowden is a “traitor.” Just like Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Wis., former Vice President Dick Cheney and Rep. Peter King, R-Long Island.
No matter what, this era's Republicans must protect the payroll, and contractors and secret budgets of the NSA and other parts of the intelligence “community.” CNN Money says the bill for this is about $75 billion a year, with cyber war being the lucrative new frontier of the military-industrial complex.
Last week, McClatchy News revealed the latest Obama secrecy initiative, the Insider Threat Program. It warns employees of non-defense agencies like the Social Security Administration and Agriculture Department that leaks to the media will be treated like espionage. Not a peep out of the GOP about this, either.
So, if the Republicans are for smaller, leaner government, what is it that they really want to trim? Republican targets are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, child nutrition program, unemployment benefits, disability, housing aid, food stamps – people aid. Not the domestic spying and weapons procurement programs that are enriching Washington Inc.