Last week the USA Freedom Act passed the U.S. Senate and it requires the collection of meta data to be terminated. For example, if someone in New York places a call to somebody in Germany and uses the term “bomb” that conversation could get flagged to compare the numbers and locations involved to see if there is a pattern that might relate to other data that could indicate terrorist activity.
There is not somebody sitting in a room listening to the conversations of Americans. Not only would that be illegal but it would be impossible. However the issue has become a hot topic amongst Liberals and Libertrians (many Conservative view it as a tool to fight terrorism) and thus the USA Freedom Act was passed.
President Obama, however, has asked for a six month extension on the collection of meta data which a new plan is developed:
- The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.
- The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.
- Justice Department national security chief John A Carlin cited a six-month transition period provided in the USA Freedom Act – passed by the Senate last week to ban the bulk collection – as a reason to permit an “orderly transition” of the NSA’s domestic dragnet. Carlin did not address whether the transition clause of the Freedom Act still applies now that a congressional deadlock meant the program shut down on 31 May.
This is a very different reaction from President Obama than many of his supporters would have expected.
Here’s Obama back in 2007:
- “I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient,” Obama said in 2007, adding that “the FISA court works.”
- Again critiquing “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,” Obama promised to “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.”
- The biggest issue is not that Obama’s views on the matter have changed since he’s been president it’s that he hasn’t admitted that the rhetoric he used to help get elected – and attack the Bush presidency and the national security of this country – was misguided.
Obama’s supporters like to cast the Republicans as lawless but who has done a 180 and became what he decried?