FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The Government Lied And Privacy Died.
Can We Now Have An Intelligent Debate On Limiting The USA Patriot Act?
It was a sad day within the comfy confines of the K-Street confab. It seems as though the Juicebox Mafia ran out of boxes before poor Ron Fourier could enjoy one of his own. He wrote as if he had been betrayed in the National Journal.
Despite his clear and popular promises to the contrary, President Obama has not shifted the balance between security and freedom to a more natural state—one not blinded by worst fears and tarred by power grabs. If anything, things have gotten worse.
• Killing civilians and U.S. citizens via drone.
• Seizing telephone records at the Associated Press in violation of Justice Department guidelines.
• Accusing a respected Fox News reporter of engaging in a conspiracy to commit treason for doing his job.
• Detaining terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, despite promises to end the ill-considered Bush policy.
Or it could be that Ron Fournier had an honest concern dating back to the fateful signing of The USA Patriot Act in 2001. He’s not alone and he’s a man of honor for continuing that concern after his team captured the flag atop The White House. These concerns came to a head when The UK Guardian reported that The FBI had used Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act to justify seizing every phone record from Verizon under a secret order issued in April. According to the Washington Post, the order requires the company to hand these records over to the NSA in a Daily dump.
The Administration quickly issued a statement to “clarify” the nature of the order. I believe that as much as I believe the IRS harassment of this administration’s enemies was the isolated work of a few rogue employees in The Cincinnati IRS Office. The USA Patriot Act has given the soulless ghouls who inhabit the DC political class the power to spy on almost every aspect of our existences. I find it almost impossible to believe that they wouldn’t use it.
A senior Obama administration official said Thursday that the purported order “does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls” but relates only to “metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.” The official said such information “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States.” The official added that “all three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorizing intelligence collection” under the secret court, and Congress “is regularly and fully briefed” on how the information is used.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, perhaps the best of the sorry lot the Dems have infested the US Senate with, has been after Attorney General Holder for over a year to address his concerns over how Section 215 relates to personal privacy. The wiretap programs have been an issue for years.
As early as 2008, the NSA had the capability to pinpoint any individual’s personal data. According to Elspeth Reeve, this means email, bank records, travel and phone calls. An unconfirmed suspicion is that the NSA has a copy of every email being sent in America. They are trying to archive them and make them searchable.
And with the exception of Senator Rand Paul, the GOP has left the playing fieldon this vital issue. They are afraid of being called hypocrites over “!GEORGE W. BUSH’S USA PATRIOT ACT!” And for evil men to triumph, the good men have to only do nothing. The technology evolves, the databases deepen, and our entire lives go on some government recording. But if you don’t have impure thoughts you have nothing to fear.
It seems as if a lot of silly people have gotten a wake-up call. Hopefully this isn’t too late and it won’t be bedtime for Democracy. If there is anything that has to be successfully accomplished on an intelligent, bipartisan basis, it needs to be the complete demolition of The USA Patriot Act. It needs to be repealed before there is no longer an America that is worth being patriotic towards. Our government is increasingly becoming a more threatening enemy than the ones they piously claim to be protecting us from.