When conservative columnist George Will suggested on Sunday that a recent National Security Agency (NSA) scandal was made worse because President Barack Obama could not be trusted, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) was ready with column Will had written in 2006 to make the point that it was not just an "Obama problem."
During a panel discussion on ABC News, Will linked the NSA's practice of collecting the phone records of millions of Americans with a so-called "scandal" involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups.
"This is where the IRS scandal metastasizes into a national security scandal," Will opined. "Because I'm sure I'm not the only American saying -- looking at the NSA information gathering and saying, 'Well, this would really be a problem if we had the kind of government that, say, unleashes the IRS on political opponents. Oh, come to think about it, we do have that kind of government.' And, therefore, the willingness to trust the executive branch is today minimal and should be."
At that point, Ellison reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out Will's 2006 column excoriating President George W. Bush's administration for using the NSA to spy on Americans' phone calls without a warrant and without congressional oversight.
"Besides, terrorism is not the only new danger of this era," Will wrote. "Another is the administration's argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the 'sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs.'"
"You were talking about George Bush as that time," Ellison pointed out. "You know, George, I actually don't disagree with much you said. My only problem is, you can't make this an Obama problem. This is an executive problem."