Remember when the Bush administration was routinely blasted for assaulting civil liberties and shredding the Constitution? Those were the good old days. The criticism usually arose in connection with counter-terrorism initiatives, of course, not domestic political dissent. Yet on Monday, the Obama administration put out a call for anyone who encounters any "fishy" information (i.e., information that runs counter to a government-run healthcare system) to forward that information to a designated White House email address. The Washington Examiner and other news outlets and websites wonder how this squares with freedom of speech and personal privacy:
The White House request that members of the public report anyone who is spreading "disinformation" about the proposed national health care makeover could lead to a White House database of political opponents that will be both secret and permanent, according to Republican lawyers on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are examining the plan's possible implementation...
In a letter to Obama Tuesday, Republican Sen. John Cornyn wrote that, given [White House director of new media Macon] Phillips' request, "it is inevitable that the names, email address, IP addresses, and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House." Cornyn warned the president that "these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program."
"I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward emails critical of his policies to the White House," Cornyn continued. "I urge you to cease this program immediately."