Over at The Washington Examiner, Jim Antle has a sharp column up about the disturbing "situational libertarianism" and "selective surveillance outrage" that grips Congress every so often like Pazuzu took over Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist.
When it comes to "the memo" released by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that accuses the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) of relying on partisan research to get a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign adviser, there's plenty of head-twisting, bed-bumping, and vomit-spewing, that's for sure.
Somehow, Republicans who typically worship at the cult of the surveillance state are now accusing the FBI of being nothing more than an arm of Hillary Clinton's election effort. And Democrats who screamed bloody murder about Bush-era overreaching are now shocked as hell that anyone anywhere would ever question the sagacity of the national surveillance state. As Antle writes:
Situational libertarianism has been the norm in Washington for years. Politicians are most likely to complain about prosecutors and federal agents run amuck when a member of their own party, especially the president, is the target.
Law and order versus civil liberties debates often play out similarly. Some politicians who protest police brutality, especially when racially motivated, are among the least likely to worry about whether a low-level Trump adviser was surveilled based on information sourced to a rival campaign.
Others who argue such concerns are tantamount to calling the police racist have no problem believing law enforcement would abuse its power when the alleged victim is President Trump or someone in his orbit.
That's exactly right, completely appalling, and totally transparent. The partisan hackery of most members of Congress helps to explain why just one-third of Americans have confidence in the FBI and CIA—and why even fewer of us have any faith in Congress.
Antle points to libertarian-leaning folks such as Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who pointed out that many of his own party colleagues seem to only worry about warrantless searches when it might hurt other Republicans. In fact, Nunes once said that Amash was "al Qaeda's best friend in Congress" because he insisted on securing warrants before spying on suspected terrorists. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) tweeted, "My question: who made the decision to withhold evidence of FISA abuse until after Congress voted to renew FISA program?"
And then there's Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whose consistency is as uplifting as it is rare.
"If you look at my positions, I had the same position under President Obama that I have under President Trump, and that is that the power to listen to people's conservation — your private conversation — are private and nobody else's business, and the government should not reveal that," Paul told "The View" Friday.
Paul added that the victims of surveillance abuse were less likely to be powerful people in a presidential campaign but "minorities of opinion" and "minorities of color."
Sadly, folks such as Paul, Massie, and Amash are basically a minority of three. We need more of them, and quickly, if we want to have a government that we can believe in.