"We don't have a domestic spying program."
-- President Obama in an interview on "The Tonight Show."
With the countdown on for the rollout of President Obama's new health-insurance entitlement program, worries are growing over the security of what may the largest trove of personal data ever amassed about American citizens.
The inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services has been issuing increasingly alarming warnings about a lack of testing of the agency's Obamacare "data hub," that swirling vortex of information about the health, income, insurance status and personal data about those enrolled in the president's plan.
The final test for the security system of this hacker's El Dorado is set for Sept. 30, one day before the system is set to go live.
In the push to get as many Americans signed up as possible - both subsidized insurance recipients and those forced to buy insurance under the Obama law - the government this week opened a sort of pre-registration so that "navigators" and others pushing the program on the government's behalf can start funneling people into the program.
If not enough beneficiaries sign up for free insurance, the law remains in danger of repeal. Without victims, it would be harder to call repeal a crime. If not enough healthy people who don't want insurance are forced to purchase it, the rise in premiums - already forecast to be crushing - could further disrupt the cost and availability of private insurance.
This explains why Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her agency are already shooing people into ObamaCare despite the lingering security concerns. The recruit's data won't yet go into the "hub," which won't start compiling and churning until the system goes live. But one assumes that those currently being recruited will be the first to have their data dumped.
Most of the concerns seem to focus on the possibility of data theft - that the firewalls and encryption for such a huge collection of very personal, very specific data about millions of Americans are not adequate to keep gangsters in Moscow, Beijing or Hoboken from hacking their way in.
It's true that having so much in one place would be a massive lure to scammers and other bad guys, what's already on the hard drives at the IRS, the Social Security Administration and other agencies would be more than enough to draw in plenty of crooks. The fact that the agency couldn't get ready to protect this most sensitive data with more than three years to make ready certainly causes one to wonder what Sebelius & Co. have been doing all this time.
But what about protecting the data from the government itself?
President Obama was blithe about domestic spying in his interview with Jay Leno, waving off broad-spectrum concerns about domestic surveillance programs. It's fine. Nothing to see here. No abuses. Now back to the jokes.
While Americans want the government to keep scanning phone records and digital activity for terroristic trends, they have deep concerns about the programs and what Big Brother is learning and how long that memory lasts. With reports that spy data may be ending up in civilian drug cases, those concerns have deepened.
In an odd contortion, Obama claimed that there were no abuses of the non-existent spy programs... even as he was decrying the best-known abuse: the revelation of their existence by a government contractor who took the data and ran to Russia.
History is full of examples of this and other governments abusing the power to collect and retain information about its citizens. But we needn't reach back to yesteryear. This very administration is in trouble for the targeting of the president's political adversaries by the IRS and for snatching reporter records to squelch unflattering leaks.
If the government isn't ready to protect the ObamaCare hub from hackers around the world, one would have to think that the internal protections against abuses like those playing out today in the headlines aren't in place either.
Obama's blasé take on domestic spying does to little to suggest that he's in much of a mood to take this new concern to heart either.
And Now, A Word From Charles
"Evacuation is not an evacuation, it is order of departure... A coup in Egypt isn't a coup. It is a change in government. The war in Afghanistan is not a war. It is an overseas contingency operation. What happened in Benghazi wasn't a terror attack. It was spontaneous riot. ...This is the first administration in history ever to launch a lexicological war on the enemy. They have thrown the book at them, the dictionary. It really isn't enough."
-- Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier."
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.