The Obama administration is not the first one that has violated the constitutional rights of Americans, but the scope of the violations we are witnessing today is breathtaking -- almost as breathtaking as the administration's disdainful arrogance in the face of public outcry or congressional investigation. In many cases the administration uses the argument that national security sometimes trumps constitutional rights. In the meantime, the U.S. Army is persecuting a career non-commissioned officer because of his beliefs, and apparently some classrooms should be redefined as indoctrination centers....
The AP Phone Records Seizure. Today (Wednesday, June 19th), Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt spoke before the National Press Club regarding the seizure of records from over 20 phone lines assigned to AP writers and editors back in April, 2012, which he described as excessively broad. Normally, the government would be required to notify AP of these seizures, but this time no notification was forthcoming. Essentially, the Department of Justice, the source of this latest assault on the freedom of the press, is using "national security concerns" to deflect criticism. Pruitt was outspoken: "The DOJ's actions could not have been more tailor-made to comfort authoritarian regimes that want to suppress their own news media," he declared.
The seizure was prompted by information leaked to the AP regarding a failed plot to bomb an American airliner. The AP did not learn of the seizure until a year after it occurred. The phone records seized were for April and May 2012 -- this was not an ongoing collection process. Pruitt argues that notification would not have threatened the investigation, which is the DOJ's justification for acting in a clandestine fashion, since the phone company possessed the records, not the AP, so they could not have been tampered with. Furthermore, news of this case has had a chilling effect on sources that wish to remain "anonymous" -- a major information source for reporters.
The Case of Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers. Army Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers, a 25-year-veteran, is discovering how difficult it is to be (a) a conservative and (b) a Christian in the modern, politically correct U.S. Armed Forces.
In recent months, Master Sgt. Sommers has been persecuted by higher-ups. I say persecuted because they cannot bring charges against him for putting anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, or for reading books written by conservative talk show celebrities like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, or for serving Chick-fil-A ( company under fire because its Christian ownership has come out publicly in support of traditional marriage). When Fox News talk radio host Todd Starnes contacted the Army to verify that all this was true, the Army brought Sommers up on charges -- for failing to carry out an order not related to any of the above incidents, and for providing a superior officer with the wrong date for an appointment. Clearly, the Army has decided to rid itself of the Master Sergeant, since he will not conform. He has been told that his actions were "detrimental to morale" and created "unnecessary workplace tension."
Someone who serves in the military is expected to give up some of his or her choices -- when to get up, what to wear, where to go, etc. But until recently, a soldier could exercise his fundamental rights, sometimes with a sensible regulation, such as one that prohibits him/her from attending a political event in uniform. Master Sergeant Sommer's case is important because its outcome will determine just how vigorously the military will pursue its persecution of conservatives and Christians and others who do not think what the state tells them to think, or say what the state thinks they should say.
Higher Indoctrination ... er, Education. Professor Linda Brunton of Columbia Community College in Tennessee allegedly ordered all students in her general psychology course to wear Rainbow Coalition ribbons to show support for gay and lesbian political causes. She informed the students that opponents of gay marriage were "uneducated bigots", and that her job was to "educate the ignorant and uneducated elements of society." She refused to debate the morality of homsexuality because it resulted in the throwing about of Bible verses. Well duh. Professor Brunton's intolerance and her education-is-indoctrination approach to teaching reminds one not only of Nazism but also of the Florida professor who last year forced students to sign pledges that they would vote for President Obama. That "teacher" -- and I use the term sardonically -- was fired, a fate I for one fervently wish for Linda Brunton.
This is in some ways even more alarming than an over-reaching regime trampling citizen's rights. The free and open exchange of ideas, and the simple courtesy of respecting someone else's point of view, both of which are necessary for the survival of a free society, and which used to be aspired to by institutions of higher learning, have been cast to the wayside.
It isn't too late to stop all this. For those of you who are not too fatalistic, or too indifferent, or too busy reading about what Kim Kardashian did today and just don't have the time to devote to lesser concerns like your civil liberties, there is a midterm election next year, and a presidential election in 2016.
The assaults on freedoms once taken for granted by Americans are coming from all sides. I have decided to put the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on a page here at The Solo Files. If things continue in the direction they are currently going, the day may come when publishing those documents will mark you as an enemy of the state and guarantee that the IRS seizes your bank accounts, the NSA taps your phone and Internet, and the FBI keeps a surveillance drone hovering in your neighborhood. I'll let you know when that happens.
The Assault on Freedom