Look at what White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest kept tellingreporters about the NSA's seizure of Verizon customer records. "The president welcomes a discussion of the tradeoffs between security and civil liberties," he said as he finished reading a prepared statement.
In the question-and-answer session with the press that followed, he said (emphasis added):
Now, the thing that I want to make clear is that the top priority of the president of the United States is the national security of the United States and protecting this homeland. And we need to make sure that we have the tools we need to confront the threat posed by terrorists, to disrupt plots that may exist, and to otherwise protect the homeland. The President is committed to that. That is his top priority.
But what we need to do is we need to balance that priority with the need to protect the civil liberties and constitutional rights of the American people. And that is the subject of a worthy debate -- that there are people who have a genuine interest in protecting the United States and protecting constitutional liberties -- constitutional rights and civil liberties that may disagree about how to strike this balance. We welcome that debate. The President has spent a lot of time thinking about this. I think that was evident in his speech and I think that's evident from the way these programs have been conducted.
What a bunch of hooey.
President Obama kept the data collection in question a highly classified state secret. If it were up to the White House, we wouldn't know of the program's existence, ever. As a consequence, there would have been no debate about its appropriateness. If Obama values debate, he doesn't value it as much as keeping secrets that inevitably make debate impossible. Senators like Ron Wyden plead for an open debate. Obama thwarted them. The president's fans claim that he speaks to Americans like we're adults. Here his White House is treating us like gullible children.