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Time for Tough Love

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During the past few months I have been very concerned that the Second Amendment was being misused, and its historical application distorted, as an offensive shield against any effort to encourage and require only the smart and responsible ownership and use of guns in our nation. Thus, like an overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens, I supported President Obama's efforts to get Congress to enact legislation requiring background checks on the purchase and sale of guns.

However, I never contemplated or considered the possibility that the Department of Justice under the same President Obama would initiate an action that would blatantly violate and desecrate the principles enshrined in the First Amendment.

There is no other way to describe the intrusive surveillance of the phones and wire services of the Associated Press. It feels like déjà vu when Attorney General Holder justifies the invasion and breach of the AP's rights to freedom of the press on the grounds of "risks to national security."

"The scrutiny of AP seems to relate to an article published last year detailing the foiling of a plot to blow up a passenger jet. The telephone records at issue included the work, home and mobile numbers of journalists who had worked on the article." (The Economist, May 15, 2013)

The Economist reminds us that "under Barack Obama's watch, the government has indicted six officials for leaking secrets under a law called the Espionage Act, which had only previously been invoked against government officials three times since it became law in 1917." This is really scary because Congress in June of 2008, HR 6304 gave the administration the authority to conduct physical searches and spy on American citizens without requiring a prior warrant from a federal judge.

This invasion of elementary basic rights of freedom of the press is not diminished by the "corrective remedial" action taken to restore the integrity and impartiality of the IRS. Ironically, there may have been some basis for real and legitimate concerns as to whether certain right-wing groups were in fact complying with IRS requirements and regulations governing their eligibility for tax-exempt status. Yes, the same standard for tax-exempt eligibility should be also applied to liberal or left-wing organizations seeking tax exemption.

The invasion of the First Amendment rights of the Associated Press by the Obama's administration heavy-handed seizure and tapping of the cell, home and land line phones of reporters is contrary to the lofty representations made by President-elect Obama about openness in government, etc.

Is the DOJ invoking 2008 HR 6304 in place of President Obama's earlier pledges and oath of his office?

The implication of the DOJ's prosecutorial actions against the AP may be even more serious than it appears. This is because of the recent disclosures by the administration in testimony to a Congressional sub-committee. Administration spokespeople advised that we are engaged in a perpetual "state of war" against terrorism -- without any declaration of war from Congress authorizing the indefinite conduct of such a war!

If the president continues to justify and defend his Department of Justice's actions against the AP he runs the risk of leaving an indelible stain on his presidency. Such a stain may irrevocably tarnish and damage the uniqueness of his historic election as America's first African-American president of the United States, who was also a constitutional law professor.

Mr. President, those advisers closest to you, should stop telling you what they think you want to hear and start telling you what you need to hear; they must start "telling it to you, like it is!" This would be "loyalty" and advice based on "tough love" -- not fawning, sycophantic admiration.