Obama’s vision of good governance: that which warrants no scrutiny

In recent days Barack Obama has made it clear how he views his job — and that of the whole United States government. It’s effectiveness hinges on public trust, which is to say, if government is doing its job, ordinary Americans can forget about it and get on with their lives, confident that those who have been entrusted to govern can do so even if we don’t know what they are doing. Transparency is necessary only in so far as it serves to dissipate mistrust.

The information leaked by Edward Snowden has had the effect of diminishing trust in government and so the solution to that problem is anything that will elevate trust. Obama however can’t even acknowledge that trust has been severely undermined — most notably by the habit that he and his top officials have of lying — and so he now talks about the need to “maintain the public trust.”

In Obama’s memorandum initiating a review of U.S. surveillance programs and in DNI Clapper’s follow-up, not a single word is mentioned on the issues of civil liberties and the right to privacy.

Obama might as well have said: “We’re going to do whatever it takes for you folks to stop worrying yourselves and let us carry on with our work, uninterrupted. After all, it’s summertime. Shouldn’t you be out enjoying the sun?”

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