For decades, American liberals have posed as the champions of freedom of speech, as warriors for Americans’ civil rights.
Example: The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has defended the constitutional right to put a crucifix upside down in a bottle of urine and call it “art” or festoon a picture of the Virgin Mary with dung and hang it in a taxpayer-supported “art” institute.
The left has constantly berated conservatives for purportedly limiting civil liberties. Witness the left excoriating George Bush over the “Patriot Act.”
Today, liberals are eerily quiet as Barack Obama moves to ban “blaspheming the prophet” and claps an Internet video backer in jail to placate radical Islam.
Nakoula Nakoula (or whatever he is calling himself today) may well have violated his conditions of parole after serving a 21-month sentence for bank fraud, but the secret hearing on the “parole violation” also allowed Obama to broadcast to the Muslim world that the perpetrator of the “disgusting” video has been jailed as Egyptian President Morsi and other Muslim leaders have demanded.
But now the ACLU has blown the whistle on Obama’s widespread snooping of Americans’ electronic communications.
Obama has used the Patriot Act (expanded during his term) to seek a 60 percent increase in the number of warrants issued during the Bush years to pry into your phone conversations, Internet searches and email content.
The ACLU has revealed that its Freedom of Information Act requests show that the Obama Department of Justice used “pen register” to capture outgoing data from a phone or email account and “trap and trace” to capture incoming data techniques 23,535 times in 2009 and 37,616 times in 2011
Worse, Obama has expanded the warrantless searches of Americans’ electronic communications.
Section 212 of the Patriot Act, as renewed for another four years in 2011, now provides for increased duration of these searches of Americans’ electronic communications.
Semi-annual reports on the targets of these intercepts, also required by the Patriot Act extension, have not been filed with Congress.
While Obama publicly proclaimed his rejection of the Bush “torture” under the Patriot Act, he has quietly expanded the Bush policies of communications intercepts.
Democrat Sens. Wyden, Feingold and Udall warned in 2011 that the extension of the Patriot Act as proposed by Obama would authorize more warrantless intrusion into private communications than Bush ever did. Their fears have proven well founded.
Section 215 of the renewed Patriot Act allows the FBI to obtain “business records,” including dumps from private computer databases, with limited judicial oversight.
The acting assistant attorney general for national security, Todd Hinnen, told a House committee that Section 215 had been used to obtain driver’s license records, hotel and rental records, credit card use records and the like with no warrant because this is “not a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”
Sen. Udall warned in 2011 that the FBI can “collect business records on law abiding Americans” with no connection to terrorism.” It can, and it does.
The FBI and other federal agencies like the National Security Agency, or NSA, today are using section 215 as a data vacuum cleaner to obtain records from pharmacies, bookstores, retailers, credit card providers, telephone companies, etc., all in the name of “anti-terrorism.”
While the original target was terrorism, nobody in Congress thought they were granting the federal government such sweeping authority to snoop into the private records of Americans regardless of any connection to terrorism.
The failure to file the required reports with Congress leaves unanswered any question of the appropriateness of the targets or the scope and duration of these warrantless searches.
This election season has seen much debate on the merit of Obama’s economic policies. With continued high unemployment, sluggish economic growth and crushing federal deficits, the focus has been on the actual results of over $5 trillion of new federal debt.
More recently, the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens followed by anti-American demonstrations across the Muslim world, has evidenced a collapse of the Obama foreign policy.
But little notice has been given by the Obama cheering media to Obama’s failure to close Gitmo or Obama’s accelerating assault on the protections of the Bill of Rights.
If Obama were a Republican president, I bet this issue would be getting the attention it deserves.