My, how things change.
Eliminate Warrantless Wiretaps. Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration’s initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law.
Naturally, that went the way of all Obama promises:
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama harshly criticized Bush administration policies allowing warrantless wiretaps. But, since he assumed office as president, Obama’s Justice Department has attempted to deny a private organization the right to sue the federal government for wiretapping communications without court authorization.
Ironically, more and more people are missing the old days:
In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ’s New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush’s
We had hoped this would go differently.
Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration made two deeply troubling arguments.
First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue “would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security.” As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.
It’s an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration “invoked a legal tool known as the ‘state secrets’ privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.” He was right then, and we’re dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.
Not content with phones, Obama wants to wiretap your email:
WASHINGTON – Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations of the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
And that’s a lot of stuff!
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters such as BlackBerry, social networking websites such as Facebook and software that allows direct “peer-to-peer” messaging such as Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.
Even some lefties noticed Obama says one thing and does another:
Again, the gulf between Candidate Obama and President Obama is striking. As a candidate, Obama ran promising a new era of government transparency and accountability, an end to the Bush DOJ’s radical theories of executive power, and reform of the PATRIOT Act. But, this week, Obama’s own Department Of Justice has argued that, under the PATRIOT Act, the government shall be entirely unaccountable for surveilling Americans in violation of its own laws.
Republicans are understandably outraged at this new invasion. One even wrote:
On wiretapping, Obama isn’t listening to the Constitution
THE PRESIDENT is not above the law; he is not King Barack. Yet, with sorrow, we are now learning that in this great land we have an administration that has refused to follow well-crafted, longstanding procedures that require the president to get a court order before spying on people within the United States. With outrage, we learn that this administration believes that it does not have to follow the law of the land.
Not just above the law, this administration seems to be saying that it IS the law. It contends that it can decide on its own what the law is, how to interpret it, and whether or not it has to follow it. I believe that such an arrogant and expansive view of executive power would have sent chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers — as it does for every American hearing these startling revelations today.
The president, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the attorney general tell us that the president can order domestic spying inside this country — without judicial oversight — under his power as commander in chief. Really? Where do they find that in the Constitution? Time and time again, this president has used his express, but limited, constitutional power to command the military to justify controversial activities — after the fact.
Actually, that was Ted Kennedy writing about George Bush, but the irony was inescapable.