Obama, Verizon and data mining: Is this a scandal?

Verizon has been supplying the Obama NSA with private phone logs. Is this data mining a real scandal, nothing at all, or a distraction? Photo: Public/Data mining

LOS ANGELES, June 7, 2013 — The Obama administration is caught up in so many scandals that many Americans are becoming numb to them. With trust in government collapsing to new lows, Americans run the risk of treating corruption like high gasoline prices. Once unthinkable, President Obama’s managed decline is now the new normal.

In a possible historic first, Obama may now be releasing scandals on top of scandals to confuse people unable to separate the debacles from the mere kerfuffles.

The newest scandal involves the National Security Agency collecting data from Verizon on all of their customers.

Ron Paul Libertarians and the ACLU are already going ballistic. Many liberals are falling into their typical camps of either blaming George W. Bush or declaring this much ado about nothing because defending Obama comes first.

Conservatives have been conditioned to conclude that everything Obama does is destructive. Since this scandal involves data, they base that conclusion on four years of Obama data.

However, this one time there may be nothing to see. If anything, this possible non-scandal was deliberately leaked to take away from real scandals such as Benghazi.

The Obama administration was “data mining.” The program was set up in 2006, and Obama happens to be obsessed with metrics. Data mining is a main reason he won reelection. He had expert number crunchers. Data is about results, and the 2012 election proved his data analysts correct.

What Verizon is doing is giving the government information on what phone numbers are being called, and how long the conversations are lasting. Phone logs are then given to the government, where statistical analyses are performed. This is to ascertain if Americans are having contact with terrorists.

By itself, this is not problematic. However, nothing exists in a vacuum except dirt and the occasional rusty nail. Libertarians will return to their most familiar refrain, the slippery slope.

What if there are data patterns that lead not to terrorism or even illegality, but perhaps immoral conduct? What if the data shows that one of the married 2016 GOP presidential contenders has a mistress? Will the Obama administration share that data with Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination? Will she hang on to that information and then release it four days before the election as Al Gore did with the George W. Bush drunk driving situation?

Will such information remain hidden or be used for blackmail purposes, such as convincing General Petraeus to keep his mouth shut until an election is over?

Will the data be sold to telemarketers?

If citizens are making repeated calls to Tea Party Groups, will those people then be targeted for IRS audits?

What if the government is not just collecting Excel spreadsheets of numbers, but listening in to telephone conversations of ordinary Americans? At that point everything we hold dear as Americans is gone.

These scenarios would have seemed far-fetched a decade ago but if the DoJ, IRS and HHS can be accused of such misdeeds, why not the NSA?

Any policy or law can be abused. The liberal response is to call for more laws. The Libertarian response is to not pass the laws to begin with.

The conservative solution is to properly enforce laws and crack down hard on those who break them.

The problem is not the PATRIOT Act, FISA Courts or any other necessary and appropriate tools needed to fight the war on terror. These laws existed for most of the eight years George W. Bush was in office. There was not one single documented case of abuse. Yet, every day brings a new allegation of malfeasance by an Obama administration official. It is easy to dismiss this as politicians being good people trapped in a bad system, but maybe, just maybe, some of them are not good people.

The Obama administration is all about metrics, and every single alleged abuse by the Obama team would have to be false for him to reach the integrity level of the Bush team.

The Bush haters wanted him to be a liar, a dictator and a criminal, but the truth is he was simply a man who said what he was going to do. Lberals did not want his vision. Then he did what he said, and liberals still did not want it. They hated the policies, but every move was telegraphed.

With Obama, there is simply a lack of trust between his cabinet and the people. The scandals all come back to that.

IRS abuses were blamed on two low level rogue employees in Cincinnati, and has metastized to 88 employees nationwide receiving directions from Washington, DC.

Similarly, the initial data mining report only mentions Verizon. The Wall Street Journal sees this extending to AT & T, Sprint Nextel, various Internet-service providers, and purchase information from credit-card providers.

The problem is corrupt government officials, not data mining.

Rather than worry about potential abuses, the solution is to bring to justice the people committing actual abuses. Do this no matter how long it takes or how hard they try to delay and obfuscate.

One other solution is to look at one other metric of various scandals over the last four administrations. The two ethically clean administrations were led by conservative Republicans. The two filthy ones in terms of quality and quantity of scandals involved liberal Democrats. One can reasonably infer that the ideology that demands bigger government is going to be responsible for more government abuses.

President Obama seems to be guilty of many of these abuses, but that does not mean this particular situation is one. He has the legal right to mine data under the laws as they exist. If his administration uses the data illegally, then jail is the solution. Until that is determined, this is not a scandal. It is a distraction from Benghazi and other real scandals, which may be exactly what Obama wants.

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”


Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS

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Eric Golub

Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger, author, public speaker, and comedian. His book trilogy is “Ideological Bigotry,” “Ideological Violence,” and  “Ideological Idiocy.” 

He is Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1990. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Judaism, and his MBA from USC. A stockbrokerage professional since 1994, he began blogging on March 11th, 2007, the three year anniversary of the Madrid bombings and the midpoint of 9/11. He has been inflicting his world view on his unfortunate readers since then. He blogs about politics Monday through Friday, and about football and other human interest items on weekends.

 

 

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