Privacy At Risk Under Obama?
On Jan 14, Eric Holder, the new attorney general, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Holder said the Obama administration is going to defend the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that immunizes telecommunications companies from lawsuits over their involvement in the Bush administration’s illegal surveillance of the telephone and Internet communications of ordinary Americans.
This is in spite of the fact that While still a Senator, Obama pledged that he would oppose that bill and intended to filibuster it. In actuality, he ended up voting for it. Strange how nobody seems to remember that now. Then again, it’s not like the Forth Amendment is covered a whole lot in schools these days now is it? When *I* went to school, the textbooks for American history and Civics classes actually contained not only a lot of study material about he Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they also contained verbatim copies of those documents! (for that matter, in one high school American history class I heard about, instead of actually teaching American history, this “educator” has the class watching movies all semester!)
Now that he’s President, AT&T, Verizon and the other major telcos can rest assured that they are free to continue providing a steady stream of our communications to the NSA, which will then share that data with whatever other agencies as it sees fit.
Under this legislation the NSA’s reach is very wide and touches almost everything. Basically it means that the government can conduct intrusive surveillance and never have to tell a court who it’s going to spy on, never have to reveal what phone lines or what email addresses it’s going to monitor, never say where it’s targets are, why it’s doing surveillance on the target in the first place or even if they suspect them of any wrongdoing.
This isn’t the America I grew up in!
I realize that intelligence agencies need to be able to monitor Internet communications and email but they should have to show probable cause, some legitimate justification that the particular American(s) have some link to terrorism. Then matters need to proceed on the basis of innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, this notion of presumed innocence, something that used to be one of the founding principles of our Constitution, is apparently too old fashioned for President Obama.
The Obama administration’s intent to support the 2008 FISA amendments is going to end up being the ultimate cause of the dismissing of a lot of lawsuits by individual Americans who are understandably eager to know whether they’ve been spied on.
Meanwhile, Obama’s decision to discard the Fourth Amendment is unfortunately supported by the August 2008 ruling by the secret Foreign Intelligence Court of Review which was revealed recently saying in effect that yes, telecommunications companies have to play ball with NSA (and other government intelligence agencies) and continue intercept our phone calls and e-mails.
Of course, this secret court’s isn’t even remotely likely to be revised to give it power to review the government’s now pretty much limitless, warrantless wholesale spying on our communications made possible by the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. The government can and will continue all this domestic spying without even so much as a single bit of evidence that the American target in question is doing anything to act or plan against national security.
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