I frequently don’t see eye-to-eye with Glenn Greenwald, but his latest post about Cass Sunstein, a close confidant of President Obama and current head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is a must-read given the talk that Sunstein could become a Supreme Court nominee should another opening present itself to the president.
Glenn writes that, in 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein wrote a paper that:
advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups." He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called "independent" credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging
Because, says Sunstein, such powers are warranted only when wielded by truly well-intentioned government officials who want to spread The Truth and Do Good — i.e., when used by people like Cass Sunstein and Barack Obama
But it’s precisely because the Government is so often not "well-motivated" that such powers are so dangerous. Advocating them on the ground that "we will use them well" is every authoritarian’s claim. More than anything else, this is the toxic mentality that consumes our political culture: when our side does X, X is Good, because we’re Good and are working for Good outcomes. That was what led hordes of Bush followers to endorse the same large-government surveillance programs they long claimed to oppose
I’ll stop with these snippets, but there’s a lot more in Greenwald’s article that deserves to be read in its entirety, so read it all.
Ask yourself, is planting propaganda-spouting stooges and administration spies into American media and discussion groups an appropriate role for the government? Clearly not.
As I discussed previously, American voters have a deep yearning to be led by people with principles, principles that must be derived from the powers invested in government by the Constitution, whatever the party of the representative. In too many cases we are not getting that now. Significantly, the trend line is not on the upswing despite the new president’s campaign trail rhetoric.
Based on his own writings and beliefs, Cass Sunstein cannot be allowed to be part of any government that even pretends to be operating above boards. He is, if anything, the archetype of a man who should not be allowed to hold power in any form, let alone occupy a position on the nation’s highest court.