By Kevin Lair
Staff Columnist

“Ring, ring.” “Who’s there?” “Obama.” “Obama who?” “President Barack Obama, but it’s Bush’s fault.”

When it comes to the government’s listening in on telephone calls, commonly referred to as wiretapping, this has been the Obama White House’s chalked response and talking points of the National Security Agency (NSA). Unfortunately, Obama has instructed the NSA to listen in more on our allies and less on our enemies.

Then-senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama abhorred President George Bush’s use of wiretapping as sanctioned under the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, more commonly referred to as the Patriot Act. As a justified response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the law granted NSA increased intelligence capabilities through wiretapping, email screening, and general surveillance with the intent of capturing suspected terrorists and enemies of the state.

Though widely applauded by both parties, support for the Patriot Act has fallen since its implementation. Many democrats who voted for it heavily criticized the Bush Administration, and some went as far as demanding impeachment proceedings. Democrats wanted to drag Bush through the streets for wiretapping claiming it was a gross overuse of power, yet their cries are absent now as the Obama Administration grossly expands the program. This double standard is mindboggling and utterly hypocritical.

Though much of the NSA’s actions have remained in the dark, traitors such as Edward Snowden have shed light on the true nature of this intelligence collecting agency. According to Snowden and the broader WikiLeaks organization, which investigates and leaks classified information and puts countless lives at risk, the NSA broke into the secured internal videoconferencing system used by the United Nations headquarters in the summer of 2012. They were also ordered to monitor phone calls, emails, and daily schedules of the UN Secretary-General, state diplomats, and the other four members of the UN Security Council—Britain, France, Russia, and China. Meanwhile, the NSA has been ordered to dramatically decrease its surveillance of countries like North Korea and Iran in the hopes of establishing friendships.

Just last week, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reported that the NSA has tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone since 2002, years before she became chancellor. Obama had authorized Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, to conduct this intrusive surveillance.

Similar reports show the NSA’s wiretapping of government officials and civilians in Britain, France, and Spain. The Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, reported documents supplied by Snowden showing NSA screening of over 60 million phone calls made in Spain in a single month last year.

The Washington Post also reported last week that the NSA broke into communications links between Google and Yahoo data centers. Forgetting to target our enemies rather than search engines, it appears that this intelligence agency is sorely lacking in the intelligence department.

For a leader who stressed government transparency and an end to the “crooked Bush ways,” President Obama has demonstrated weak leadership and false rhetoric. The Obama Administration has dramatically shifted the intent of the Patriot Act—spying on our enemies—and replaced it with increased surveillance of foreign state leaders, civilians, and even search engines. He has tarnished America’s credibility and resolve, frightened our allies, and emboldened our enemies.

In contrast to Obama’s gross misuse of the program, I continue to support reasonable and warranted surveillance of suspected terrorists and enemies. Although I understand the errors of a government’s snooping, I believe that if you have nothing to hide, you should have nothing to worry about, similar to the conclusion my liberal colleague draws in her article.

Recall how America crucified President Richard Nixon for his recorded conversations and supposed role in the Watergate Scandal, but when Obama listens in on our entire country and virtually all the leaders and citizens of the international community, liberals and democrats just smile and wave like the penguins from the movie “Madagascar.”

President Obama, it is time for you and your crony liberal comrades to man up. If you believe wiretapping protects American security interests, then say so and prove its effectiveness. Stop hiding behind the teleprompter and late night talk shows while your advisors and policy handlers send mixed messages to the American people. Americans are not dumb; we know that there exists a stark difference between spying on suspected terrorists and spying on our allies. If you are that concerned about what other countries think about your mad golf skills or Michelle Obama’s dress paid for by tax-payers’ dime, find another profession.

The Elm

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