If nothing else, Republican Senator John Cornyn is an irony producing machine. During the Terri Schiavo affair, the former Texas Supreme Court Justice was at the forefront of the GOP campaign to intimidate and threaten judges. Now after his fierce defense of President Bush's regime of illegal NSA domestic surveillance, Cornyn is comically warning that the Obama administration has launched a sinister "data collection program" to promote health care reform.
Back in December 2005, Cornyn dismissed the New York Times' revelations of the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program. Regurgitating the same "Give Me Death" defense offered by colleagues Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jeff Session (R-AL), Cornyn sneered:
"None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead."
Alas, that was then and this is now. Now, there's a Democrat in the White House, one who's trying to overcome Republican obstructionism on health care reform.
When the Obama White House on Tuesday asked Americans to help fight the disinformation campaign ("If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org"), Cornyn was quick to suggest a dark plot was afoot. As The Hill reported:
"By requesting citizens send 'fishy' emails to the White House, it is inevitable that the names, email, addresses, IP addresses and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House," Cornyn wrote in a letter to Obama. "You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program."
Cornyn asked Obama to cease the program immediately, or at the very least explain what the White House would do with the information it collects.
"I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure speech that is deemed 'fishy' or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests," Cornyn said.
Of course, this is just the latest data collection myth spawned by the right-wing noise machine this week.
Earlier, Fox News hosts Glenn Beck and Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed the "cash for clunkers" web site used by U.S. auto dealers to process rebates was in fact Obama spyware. "They are jumping right inside you, seizing all of your personal and private (information)," she wrongly explained, "And it's absolutely legal, Glenn"
For its part, the Obama White House wants health care reform supporters to voluntarily send emails to help it set the record straight. As for the Bush White House defended at every turn by John Cornyn, we still don't know what happened to millions of its emails.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)