In writing about the Verizon story that is spilling out now, Andrew McCarthy makes a very important point.
Now, we begin to see the wages of having an administration that abuses its awesome powers, then, as night follows day, stonewalls and misleads Congress and the public. Crucial national security measures, which operate on the forgiving assumption that government officials will conduct themselves honorably, are put at risk...
This is why it’s so critical to have a trustworthy president and administration – including an attorney general Congress can trust to provide truthful, accurate and complete information. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Obama administration – with its serial lawlessness, authoritarian abuses of power to harass dissenters, and pattern of misleading and stonewalling Congress – has so grossly violated the public trust that it is unfit to exercise the executive’s awesome investigative authorities.
While the majority of McCarthy's piece is dedicated to his explanation of what happened based on his time as a Federal Prosecutor, the point that I have excerpted from his opening and conclusion is more important in a way.
An untrustworthy administration undermines national security, just as an abusive police force undermines law enforcement, by creating mistrust.
National security only works when people trust those in charge. Partisan politics began the fragmentation of national security after JFK and LBJ. Liberals gave in to the left and disowned their part in things like the Vietnam War and embraced an anti-war identity. That led them to political defeats and eventually a belated success with the Carter Administration which was one of the worst things to happen to national security until today.
That pattern repeated with the Iraq War and Obama. Like Carter, Obama has tried to have it both ways on national security and that is an unsustainable policy. Worse still, Obama's record of domestic abuses isn't in line with Carter, it's not even in line with Clinton. It's becoming downright Kennedyesque.
We've had this debate with drones. Even though there is no serious expectation of drones being used domestically, people don't trust Obama with them. That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with using drones to kill terrorists. There isn't. But mistrust of an unethical government extends into all areas, even legitimate ones.
A government that breaks faith in several areas will have mistrust spill into every area. Once you have abused a number of powers, then you will rightly be considered suspect in all of them.