John Avlon for The Daily Beast: Obama vs. Orwell—The Biggest Fight of His Second Term

December 22nd, 2013

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The Daily Beast
by John Avlon
December 22, 2013

It’s not just Santa who knows whether you’ve been naughty or nice – so does the National Security Agency. And after another week in which the massive meta-data spying agency was caught snooping on allied world leaders (take a bow, Benjamin Netanyahu) and non-threats like the global children’s charity Unicef, President Barack Obama has the opportunity to rein in the sprawling surveillance state. It could be the defining fight of his second term.

The battle pits the responsibilities of the national security apparatus against demands for transparency in a democracy. But the conflict is embodied within the president himself: the commander in chief versus the constitutional law professor.

Obama was elected on a populist wave, promising to lead “the most transparent administration in history”. The former University of Chicago constitutional law professor was more of an idealist than a realist, and unencumbered by long-time association with the D.C. power structure. He was the anti-Cheney.

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