Government is bad for personal freedom. That argument is premised upon the truism that everything government does interferes with freedom because it either prohibits or compels. Everything it owns it has taken from others. Much of what it says is divorced from the truth. President Obama, like President George W. Bush, has argued that his first job is to keep America safe, and if he impairs personal freedom in the process, that is a small price to pay for safety. Many of my colleagues in the media on the left and right have bought this argument, notwithstanding its fallacies.
This past week, we learned that the IRS has targeted for additional scrutiny the tax exemption applications of groups with whose messages it disagrees. We also learned that the Department of Justice obtained the personal telephone records of hundreds of reporters and editors employed by the Associated Press without a search warrant issued by a judge. And during this past week we learned that the White House, the Department of State and the CIA all engaged in a conspiracy of disinformation so that the official version of events of what caused the murders of four Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would not impair Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
The common threads in all of this government secrecy and lying are a general rejection of government’s moral obligation to tell the truth, a disturbing yet brazen willingness to evade and avoid the restrictions the Constitution has deliberately built around government, and a glib admission that the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.