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Gazette Premium Content Scandals challenge the heart of liberty

The Gazette editorial Published: June 7, 2013

The Gazette never thought electing Barack Obama as president was a good idea. By all appearances he's a good man, husband and father. He's also a collectivist who believes in big taxes, excessive regulation, government control of our lives and, as promised, fundamental change.

Yet, we would never - repeat never - have suggested that our country's decision to twice elect Obama would play a role in the following:

- Tracking of phone calls made and received by reporters at The Associated Press, the country's largest wire service.

- The IRS bullying, harassment and interrogation of individuals and groups in retaliation for pro-life, limited government and other conservative views.

- Tracking of phone calls of ordinary Americans, which the Obama administration defends.

- Fabrication of stories to blame a terrorist attack (Benghazi, Libya) on an American who posted an amateur YouTube video.

Obama may be the smartest president in history, but he uses intelligence and political charm to erode our most fundamental liberties. He is The Great Divider. Had anyone predicted the above, even a year ago, the speculation would have been viewed as ramblings of a radical conspiracy theorist.

Even leading Democrats, such as Colorado's Sen. Mark Udall of Boulder, can't stand the intrusion of this administration into the lives of individuals.

"This sort of widescale surveillance should concern all of us and is the kind of government overreach I've said Americans would find shocking," Udall wrote this week. "As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, it's why I will keep fighting for transparency and appropriate checks on the surveillance of Americans."

Udall said he is "strongly urging" the Obama administration to be more transparent with the public.

"We need to know more about how the president and his administration interpret their surveillance authorities," Udall wrote.

Don't hold your breath, Senator. President Obama promised to fundamentally change this country and that revolution apparently involves having individuals marinate in government from cradle to grave. It involves Americans answering to government, rather than government serving them.

The most shocking aspect of White House-related scandals is the relative lack of outrage. When our government uses its most frightening agents to quash the values this country was founded to uphold, we lose fundamental liberty. We lose that which generations have given their lives to defend.

Millions of Americans have died in wars to uphold a constitution that first protects freedom of the press, religion, speech, protest and association. Yet all the above are targets of the government activities that have come to light in recent weeks.

When government spies on the Associated Press and Fox News, it's not for an innocuous voyeuristic thrill. It's to obtain information that doesn't belong to government and, quite possibly, to exert control over a press that's supposed to spy on government to keep it in check.

When the IRS interrogates and frightens people who advocate lower taxes, or oppose abortion, it isn't trying to collect money. It is trying to punish and interfere with ideas, actions and expressions that are protected by the First Amendment but opposed by government agents and the politicians they work for.

When government officials lie about terrorist attacks that kill Americans, it's not to keep us safe. It is to keep us in the dark so that government officials may do as they please without scrutiny from the people they are supposed to protect and serve.

When government agents track our phone calls, they eliminate realistic hope of living freely in a country with a government that serves those who pay for it. The tracking of phones makes each one of us the potential subject of a government that was created and funded to protect our privacy, freedom and autonomy.

Again, we never thought the election of Obama was a move in the direction of liberty. Revelations of the day have exceeded our worst expectations.

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