Are wake-up calls tracked?

With a broad new spy scandal, even hard-left liberals now see the problem

On May 25, we asked “our liberal friends to make common cause with conservatives in fighting the attacks on freedom coming from this presidential administration.”

That was before we learned the National Security Agency and FBI have been spying on millions of us.

Many progressives have been slow to see the problem, much less join the fight. Some liberals around the country argued it was a good thing to have the IRS targeting conservative groups for harassment. Some misguided young souls at the University of Colorado even signed a giant card thanking the IRS for doing it.

Ever so slowly, liberals are starting to come around, as they realize that it’s not just someone else’s ox being gored. When anyone’s freedom is attacked, we’re all at risk.

Now, however, there are plenty of gored oxes to go around.

Now that we know the Obama administration has been spying on millions of Americans’ phone records and Internet activities, even the ultraliberal New York Times editorial board has blasted the president.

“The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue,” the newspaper wrote this week. “Mr. Obama is proving the
truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”

Citing the alleged terrorist-watching excuse for the spying on innocent Americans, the Times notes that might be “a vital goal, but how is it served by collecting everyone’s call data? ... Essentially, the administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where.”

And, we might add, all that spying on Americans didn’t manage to prevent the Boston bombing. While our government was snooping on us, the Russians were waving flags and sending up flares about the terrorists from Chechnya that ended up attacking the marathon.

Moreover, the domestic spying is an interesting contrast with the administration’s longtime posture that we’re not really engaged in a war on terror. Mr. Obama recently even suggested it was time to get America off its “perpetual wartime footing.” Spying on innocent Americans is a funny way to shift that footing.

Liberal icon Al Gore even came out against the spying, tweeting, “In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?”

“The defense of this practice offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be preventing this sort of overreaching, was absurd,” the Times wrote. The newspaper also noted that Mr. Obama himself once bitterly complained of such things under President Bush putting “forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.”

Conservatives would also question trusting an administration that has already demonstrated an unparalleled zeal for using the tools of government to marginalize, if not destroy, political opponents.

As liberal consultant Julie Roginsky has written, “We have arrived at a defining moment for the progressive movement in this nation. ... Every progressive with even a shred of moral consistency should side with the New York Times against the White House.”

You would’ve thought Obama’s spying on journalists would’ve accomplished that. But better late than never.

Will the country stand united against this?

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