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Obama Grows Up

April 7, 2009

Isn’t it amazing what a little responsibility does to one’s outlook? On numerous occasions during the presidential race candidate Obama promised repeatedly that his approach to national intelligence would be “transparent” and that never would an Obama administration resort to  illicit measures such as warrantless wiretapping.

[The Bush] Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens.No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.  – Barack Obama, BarackObama.com

Now, however, the Obama administration is arguing before Judge Vaughn Walker that the Executive Branch’s need to protect national security trumps any court’s order to disclose methodology related to information-gathering, including the use of the same techniques Obama decried just a year ago.  The Obama Justice Department writes in a filing before Judge Walker:

…the decision to release classified information “is committed to the discretion of the Executive Branch, and is not subject to judicial review. Moreover, the Court does not have independent power . . . to order the Government to grant counsel access to classified information when the Executive Branch has denied them such access.”   [Federal judges are ]  “ill-equipped to second-guess the Executive Branch.”

That is as strong an assertion of Executive independence as George Bush ever made and has the effect of blocking court inquiry into any warrentless wiretapping efforts.  Perhaps the realization that he has the duty to protect Americans has sharpened Obama’s reasoning skills and granted him a new insight into Constitutional law.  Maybe he was being disingenuous all along in order to curry favor with the anti-Bush zealots he so desperately needed in order to be elected.  Or-perhaps he’s now seeing the world through an adult’s eyes.

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