Over the last two weeks, there’s been a flurry of reports over the NSA surveillance program. There’s been a lot of finger-pointing. There have been lots of accusations in which reporters and their sources have been called traitors and/or patriots, depending upon which side of the political spectrum you’re on. First of all, I really don’t believe that we have enough information to figure out exactly what’s going on. We’ve got a cool name for a program called Prism. We have a rough idea about how the program works, but the devil is in the details. It is not important to me that former Vice President Dick Cheney went on Fox News and defended this program. We know that the vice president is not a human rights/civil rights kind of guy. We also know that he has lied to the American people before. Anybody who stands up and tells you that they are for or against this program should be immediately discarded as a zealot. We, the American people, simply don’t have enough information to figure out what’s going on. I know that President Obama stated that it was important to him that there are checks and balances, but I have no idea what these checks and balances are. I’m a little concerned that the FISA court is not a check nor a balance but are instead acting as a rubber stamp. I’m also afraid to say that I have absolutely no confidence in our elected politicians in Congress. I have no idea if these guys are acting in our best interest or not. (more…)
I might be wrong, but didn’t the Republicans run things for a few years there? We got tax cuts for the rich, which didn’t pay for themselves and only made the rich, richer. We got two wars, which were not paid for. We got the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Yet Senator Hatch is pining for the good old days. Not a chance.
Last night, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) delivered an hour-long speech on the Senate floor condemning the Democratic health care reform bill and accusing Democrats of displaying “the arrogance of power” in trying to pass health reform before the holiday recess. Hatch predicted that if Republicans had 60 votes and control of all three branches of government, they would “get this country under control”:
This will become one more example of the arrogance of power being exerted since the Democrats secured a 60-vote majority in the United States Senate and took over the House and the White House. I dream some day of having the Republicans have 60 votes. I’ll tell you one thing, I think we would finally have the total responsibility to get this country under control and I believe we would. But we never come close to that. There are essentially no checks and balances found in Washington today just an arrogance of power with one party ramming through unpopular and devastating proposals on after the other.
This is a very short clip and not much of what he says is true. He is PO’ed that he is on the outside looking in. I think that we should all cry a river for the poor Senator.
Today, President Barack Obama delivered a fantastic speech on national security.
Watch it here:
Words from Obama’s speech given today:
After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era — that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.
Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us — Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens — fell silent.
In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach — one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Now let me be clear: We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability. For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable — a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass. And that’s why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people.
First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. (Applause.)
I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence. I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. (Applause.) What’s more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts — they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all. (Applause.) (more…)