Congratulations, you have your driverís license and that gives you the stateís permission to do something that can be very dangerous, as evidenced by the fact that some 40,000 people a year die in vehicle accidents in the United States.
Although itís now legal for you to drive, I donít have to give you permission to drive, but Iím going to - at least for now. Donít mistake this for trust. You have unfortunately not earned my trust. In recent years, you have shown a poor choice of friends, and you have not always been honest. You have too often shown disrespect for the rules of the house and some of those of the state.
That said, in order to lead a full and productive life, everyone needs transportation, so the ability to drive has value to you - and to me as a father, since my job is to create real value for you. If you abuse the privilege, I will take away the keys. Other punishment will follow, depending on the seriousness of the offense.
Iím also allowing you to drive for selfish reasons Ė if you use your new power and privilege responsibly. You will be able to drive yourself to school, work and extracurricular events, saving me time that I can better spend on more productive activity.
Finally, Iím doing it to acknowledge my own complicity in your past behavior and choices. Had I followed through with certain, appropriate punishment for some past behavior, I doubt there would be the need for this talk now.
I love you. Our family would have a huge void without you. Please be careful with your new power and permission. It would devastate us all if you were to become one of those 40,000 who die in avoidable accidents. And, it would rob both you and me of considerable value if I have to take the car keys away and punish you for bad driving.
But do not doubt this. I will be monitoring your driving as carefully as I can, and the consequences I have described will be certain if evidence of bad behavior in the car is clear. You will lose access to the family cars, on top of other punishment. The period of lost access and severity of other punishment will be determined by the offense.
Iím taking extra pains to spell this out clearly because it just as clearly represents a new approach by me, your father. It comes somewhat late in the short period of your life for which I am responsible. But it is the right decision and itís not too late. You can still learn, while Iím still responsible for you, of the benefits of the positive uses of power and privilege, and the consequences of the abuse of power and privilege.
My fear is if you donít learn now, it will be too late, and I will have failed you. This may be one of my best, last chances to help you achieve the promise that matches your extraordinary capabilities.
I am using this formative moment in your life to do something I should have done long ago.
With Godís will, you will make the most of it. Here are the keys. I will be watching closely.
Congratulations. This new age of exploding technology has given you a uniquely fertile hunting ground to find terrorists. Whenever you find one, or think you have, you can track down others through the maze of telephone and Internet communications data which can be captured and stored indefinitely. All you have to do is ask the right questions, and technology will lead you to anyone or anything in the terroristsí nests with whom they communicated or visited in the past several years.
I can clearly see the positive application of this tool to one of your most important duties, national defense, especially at a time when we are in a hot war with terrorists. It would be nice to see the leader of our government stop pretending the war is over, even while wanting to keep and use the tools of that war, especially one that poses a potential threat to the people he is charged with defending.
The existence of this tool means only that itís available. It doesnít mean I have to let you use it. It may however mean that I canít stop you from using it illegally. More on that later.
Donít mistake this permission for trust. You have not given me reason to trust you, and maybe especially recently. Your actions with regards to Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS and Tea Party Groups, the attorney general and James Rosen, the AP Ė all engender a deep distrust for government in general and this administration in particular.
Iím also very unhappy to learn that you have been using this power for seven to 10 years without my knowledge. I donít find that level of secrecy to be necessary or wise.
That said, I find considerable value for both the government and me, in that it clearly gives our defenders a unique place to search for people who will, if they get a chance, kill as many Americans as they can, even with weapons of mass destruction if they can. Plus, despite the secrecy, and other major indiscretions during the same period, no complaint has surfaced from anyone claiming to have been harmed by this technology. It may be the least invasive invasion in the history of civil liberties breaches.
I want a strong government to bear the weight of the important, but limited, constitutional responsibilities of government. I donít want to deny you useful or necessary tools to accomplish those limited tasks.
I also want to acknowledge the peopleís complicity, in the past, with some of our governmentís bad behavior. We can insist on prosecution of government officials who abuse their power, but we seldom do. That needs to change. I will use my limited influence and encourage others to do the same, including Tea Party groups across the country, to adopt a new attitude toward criminal prosecution for the abuse of government power.
We have influence with Congress and the people must use that influence to insist that Congress use its powers to investigate and prosecute those in positions of public trust who abuse the powers and permissions we give them to carry on their duties, and by doing so, inflict actual harm, monetary or otherwise, on American citizens.
The pressure to bring criminal charges against rogue government officials, no matter their position, should be as great as or greater than the pressure to cut spending, lower taxes, and shed unconstitutional responsibilities.
To be clear, this represents a change in priorities. Permission to use these new powers comes with the caveat that you will use them for national security purposes only against terrorists and suspected terrorists. Any other use will be considered criminal and treated as such, and we will exert maximum political pressure on Congress to make it so, including jail time for all violations.
Iím making this as clear as possible because it clearly it represents a different priority on my part. I should have been demanding prosecutions for bad government behavior all along. I neglected that duty, so this is a new day for me as it is for you.
Letís hope a responsible use of this new power begins to regenerate the trust that a legitimate government need from its people.