Warning: While reading this post PLEASE keep checking for wrath-of-God type fire and brimstone coming down from the sky, rivers and seas boiling! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together -the entire end-of world-type scenario because this New York Times editorial is a clear sign that the end of the world is near. You have been warned!
At issue is the Guardian Story about the NSA compiling the information from all Verizon customers without suspicion of wrongdoing. Is the government really allowed to know who Americans are calling every time they make a phone call?
Late in the day it was discovered this was not a new program that the Judge was extending a program that began under Bush (holy cow did I just blame Bush).
That didn't matter to the progressive paper of record, they say Obama promised to be different and he lied.
Within hours of the disclosure that the federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights
Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability. The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.Was that a Brimstone I saw?
...A senior administration official quoted in The Times offered the lame observation that the information does not include the name of any caller, as though there would be the slightest difficulty in matching numbers to names. He said the information “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats,” because it allows the government “to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”The editor went on to attack the reaction of the White House which was basically "trust us."
That is a vital goal, but how is it served by collecting everyone’s call data?
The senior administration official quoted in The Times said the executive branch internally reviews surveillance programs to ensure that they “comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties.”Do I see my dog sleeping with a cat? This has to be the end of the world because not only is the NY Times saying Obama lied about transparency, but I agree with the Times that the Patriot needs some curbs--but more on that another time.
That’s no longer good enough. Mr. Obama clearly had no intention of revealing this eavesdropping, just as he would not have acknowledged the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, had it not been reported in the press. Even then, it took him more than a year and a half to acknowledge the killing, and he is still keeping secret the protocol by which he makes such decisions.
We are not questioning the legality under the Patriot Act of the court order disclosed by The Guardian. But we strongly object to using that power in this manner. It is the very sort of thing against which Mr. Obama once railed, when he said in 2007 that the Bush administration’s surveillance policy “puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.”