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Must-Read Op-Eds: Monday, August 12

Updated

OBAMA’S SECURITY RETREAT

EDITORIAL

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Obama’s overture is dangerous politically and as policy. … As Mr. Obama spoke, the U.S. still had 19 embassies or consulates closed around the world for fear against a terror attack. While most have since been reopened, the uses of surveillance in warning of the potential attack would seem to be clear. Surveillance saves American lives. Yet Mr. Obama has now joined the debate on his backfoot, conceding that new bureaucratic intrusions are needed to interfere and limit his own war fighters. “It’s not enough for me, as President, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well,” Mr. Obama said. Well, yes, but a President’s job is to give them that confidence, not to undermine that confidence at the start by saying the critics are right.

AFTER GUANTANAMO, ANOTHER INJUSTICE

JOHN GRISHAM

NEW YORK TIMES

In Nabil’s case, the United States military and intelligence agents relied on corrupt informants who were raking in American cash, or even worse, jailhouse snitches who swapped false stories for candy bars, porn and sometimes just a break from their own beatings… Last week, the Obama administration announced that it was transferring some more Arab prisoners back to Algeria. It is likely that Nabil will be one of them, and if that happens another tragic mistake will be made. His nightmare will only continue. He will be homeless. He will have no support to reintegrate him into a society where many will be hostile to a former Gitmo detainee, either on the assumption that he is an extremist or because he refuses to join the extremist opposition to the Algerian government. Instead of showing some guts and admitting they were wrong, the American authorities will whisk him away, dump him on the streets of Algiers and wash their hands.

MADAM PRESIDENT

MAUREEN DOWD

NEW YORK TIMES

Many Democrats are hungry to make history again, and they see the first woman president as the natural successor to the first black president. … It’s odd that Obama, who once talked about being a transformational president, did not want to ensure that his allies and his aims were imprinted on the capital. Instead, he has teed up the ball for Hillary. Some of the excitement about Barack Obama was the prospect of making a clean start, after years of getting dragged into the Clintons’ dubious ethics and personal messes. Yet Obama ushered in the return of Clinton Inc. and gave it his blessing. What he doesn’t seem to realize yet is that Hillary’s first term will be seen, not as a continuation of Obama, but as Bill Clinton’s third term.

THE NEWS ISN’T FREE

ROBERT J. SAMUELSON

WASHINGTON POST

For years, The Post enjoyed a quasi-monopoly of largely captive readers and advertisers. Now it faces the Internet’s Darwinian hyper-competition. In text and video come torrents of news, information, analysis, advocacy, comedy and criticism. People do not lack for things to read, but the quality is spotty and often unreliable. Good journalism, though hardly perfect, strives to discredit misinformation and half-truths. Papers such as The Post contribute to a free society by undertaking the expensive reporting that others won’t — and which informs us of who we are.  But it’s not free. It rests on editorial independence — the ability to pursue stories no matter how inconvenient — and commercial success. Someone has to pay the bills. Bezos’s task is to respect editorial independence and restore its economic base. He has defied naysayers before. Maybe he will again. Good luck.

MILTON FRIEDMAN, UNPERSON

PAUL KRUGMAN

NEW YORK TIMES

Now, I don’t want to put [Milton] Friedman on a pedestal. In fact, I’d argue that the experience of the past 15 years, first in Japan and now across the Western world, shows that Keynes was right and Friedman was wrong about the ability of unaided monetary policy to fight depressions. The truth is that we need a more activist government than Friedman was willing to countenance.  The point, however, is that modern conservatism has moved so far to the right that it no longer has room for even small concessions to reality. Friedman tried to save free-market conservatism from itself — but the ideologues who now dominate the G.O.P. are beyond saving.

THE BLUE STATE RECKONING

EDITORIAL

WALL STREET JOURNAL

The crisis of liberal state and city government is arriving, with Detroit in bankruptcy and now no less a Democratic potentate than Mayor Rahm Emanuel warning about the fiscal mess in Chicago. The partnership of public unions and liberal politicians is hitting the wall… Many people have been predicting this crack-up for years, the inevitable result of a political alliance in which unions elect Democrats who pad benefits for unions, which then spend to re-elect Democrats, who repeat the cycle. The music stops only when the taxpayers are tapped out or the city and state can’t borrow any more. Detroit had its reckoning last month, and Chicago may be headed the same way unless its liberal politicians decide that a crisis of their own creation is a terrible thing to waste.

Must-Read Op-Eds: Monday, August 12

Updated