In a moment of damage control, the president acknowledges terrorism.

by James Towe

There were quite a few raised eye-brows after President Obama's May speech when he announced it was time to wind down the War on Terror. After all, the Ft. Hood Massacre was nothing more than workplace violence according to the administration.

Our Commander in Chief wanted no part of a battle against non-Western actors.  It might have suggested that a Clash of Civilizations was more real than imagined as Samuel Huntington suggested.

But now, at the expense of president's own credibility, not to mention the perpetuation of America's new paper tiger image, the country found itself in an unprecedented situation: the closing of American embassies throughout the Muslim world.  Now as I suspected, there wasn't an incident during this period of heightened alert, but there was a lot of justifying by various people within Congress and the Administration for spying on Americans within the United States.

Mocking the Fourth Amendment

When James Clapper testified in March before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he denied that the NSA engaged in domestic surveillance of Americans (Link). At the time, we had not been introduced to whistle blower Ed Snowden, which gave us a truth meter.  

The president reacted to Snowden's revelations by insisting that no one was listening to our phone calls (Link). Well, at the time, that wasn't the accusation. The issue at hand was the collection of phone call data through U.S. cellular networks. He conveniently spoke around the NSA's secretive collection of Americans' phone call logs.

I noticed the president tossed around the term 'terrorism' quite freely when speaking on June 7. He was attempting to calm public concerns over the NSA disclosures, courtesy of Ed Snowden. Suddenly he began to sound more like his predecessor; with a sense of urgency necessary to protect us from a threat that just weeks earlier he had marginalized in importance.

Returning focus to the terror threat was was best way to justify the NSA's rabid domestic data collection.

Now American embassies are still closed throughout the Muslim world and consulate staff are being evacuated from Lahore, Pakistan. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) declared on Meet the Press that "if we did not have these programs, we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys (Link)." He then went on to say that the NSA listens only to "overseas chatter." If that's true, then why is domestic data collection so important? He had contradicted himself within moments.

I don't doubt the need to intercept foreign data transmissions, but it insults the intelligence of the American public to claim without evidence that such a severe intrusion against the Fourth Amendment is required within the United States. 

Let us set aside for a moment that all of this domestic data collection could have a much more sinister motive. Assume the expansion of these data collection programs are simply to protect us from another terror catastrophe. The public must decide what it's worth. Are Americans more concerned with security at police state levels or do we value freedom and liberty regardless of the risks? I vote for the latter and I believe most other Americans would too.