By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Look here what it says in the newspaper about revelations of the federal government’s massive phone-data harvesting operations: “Coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability…. The administration has now lost all credibility.”

That’s the kind of thing they used to write in New York Times editorials when Nixon was on the downslide.

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Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But that quote isn’t from some right-wing rag.

It’s from a New York Times editorial.

They scoffed at the administration’s claim that the caller whose calls they’re tracking remains anonymous, scorched them for ignoring probable cause, and openly mocked Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein’s assertion that they needed to cast such a wide net to catch potential terrorists of the future.

“Ms. Feinstein went on to say,” the Times noted, “that she actually did not know how the data being collected was used.”

That’s reassuring.

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There are some members of Congress from both parties who say this approach has helped catch some of the bad guys and has merit.

And the truth is, while suspicion of government intrusion is real, it only goes so far. We willingly exchange privacy and civil rights for security and other forms of government help, and do so frequently.

What this administration forgets, like others before it, is that we are not children.

They should treat us like adults, tell us what they want to do, and restrain their power in accord with our legal traditions.

If they need more leeway, they should ask for it.

But keeping us in the dark and feeding us fertilizer – like mushrooms – is no way to treat people.

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You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Jon Keller