NY Times: Congress Can Stop The Privacy Abuse

The question is, will Mr. Obama and his team go along with any plans to stop the over-broad fishnet surveillance of the US citizenry? Here’s the Times’ editorial board

Over the last three years, several measures were introduced in Congress that would have helped reduce or eliminate the abuses of communications surveillance revealed this week. Every one of them was voted down.

Most members of Congress, it turns out, had received the usual bland assurances from counterterrorism officials that the authority granted to the government under the Patriot Act and related laws were absolutely necessary to prevent an attack on the United States, and that domestic spying activities must remain top secret. Proposals to bring greater transparency to these activities, or to limit their scope, were vigorously opposed by the Obama administration. (The Justice Department argued in a court filing in April that there must be no public disclosure of the extent of domestic data collection.)

Except for a few leaders and members of the intelligence committees, most lawmakers did not know the government was collecting records on almost every phone call made in the United States or was able to collect anyone’s e-mail messages and Internet chats. And most important, since the public did not know about the extent of the surveillance, it was in no position to bring popular pressure against elected representatives.

As they go on to write, now we know, to some extent, about several programs, and that there are probably others that have not seen the light of day, all that could be massive infringements on our Constitutional Rights, especially the 4th. And, again, for those who are saying that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you shouldn’t be concerned, I ask if you would be fine with government issuing a secret warrant whereby they come and search your house every day while you’re at work, just poking around, just in case. My email is rather innocuous. My calls are mostly business related. My friends know I prefer quick calls, as I’d rather chat in person (I like to see people’s eyes and body language). The government has no business having any information on any of my electronic communications. Is anyone looking at that data? Most likely not. They probably do not even notice anti-Obama/Democrat posts and Tweets. That’s not the point. If I’m not the target of a criminal investigation they have no need of all that data. Those warrants make you and me targets of a criminal investigation.

The Times goes on to describe two measures to deal with this. The first is requiring the FISA court to “make public the summaries of its opinions on domestic spying activities.” I’m not a big fan of that, since all it does is tell us they are spying on US citizens.

2nd, they want “legislation to limit the collection of call records and the monitoring of Internet traffic to that of people suspected of terrorism, ending the mass warehousing of everyone’s data.” This legislation should have actual teeth, with huge fines and jail time for those that violate the law. But, wait a second, that seems almost like….profiling! Josh Barro at the very left leaning Business Insider proclaims that the massive overreach is the fault of We The People, who wanted to stop Islamic terrorism. Um, no. Conservatives have said for years that there needed to be profiling, targeting people who fit the profile of Islamist extremists, rather than making us all take our shoes off at the airport. Liberals, George Bush, and many of his employees were against any sort of profiling. Kudos to the NY Times for finally realizing that that is what is necessary.

Raised On Hoecakes: If Senators, Representatives and the President are all outraged at these revelations, make a law that prevents this from happening again. Make a law that declares the records between two private parties (i.e. the phone company and a customer) belong to each party and cannot be released by one without the consent of the other. Furthermore, any warrant for records must be served on both parties as well.

Our message to the elected officials is “stop whining and grandstanding and get to work fixing the problem.”

Crossed at Right Wing News and Stop The ACLU.

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6 Responses to “NY Times: Congress Can Stop The Privacy Abuse”

  1. Conservative Beaner says:

    1984 lives.

  2. Grumpy says:

    I think it was Barbra Boxer who said their job was to pass laws, it was up to the courts to decide if the laws were Constitutional or not — In other words we’ll pass what we want- and American’s can figure out how to come up with the ways and means to fight illegal laws in court —

    It was Hamilton who more or less said; for the Court to do it’s job it must remain unaligned with either the Executive or The Legislative.. Otherwise the people are screwed. As Obamacare and some other stuff has proven, The Courts are now aligned with both the Executive and Washington Political Class.. Hamilton also explained that Bad Behavior, (the grounds for impeaching judges) was when they failed to interpret laws the way the people felt they should.. That won’t happen unless the political class as it exists goes away

    We have 17 months to figure out how to replace most of DC’s current political class or surrender.

  3. gitarcarver says:

    I wrote about this exact thing today over on my blog.

    (And without consulting the NY times, mind you.)

    Congress can stop the abuse but I believe would rather wring their hands and hold hearings than fix the problem.

  4. gitarcarver says:

    Ummm…. wasn’t expecting the quote and I hope you don’t think that is why I posted the message above.

    I was just commenting on the irony of saying the same thing as the NY Times.

    But thanks all the same! 😀

  5. Yeah, I know you weren’t fishing, but I like to link when I can. I wish I could do more, just can’t do it as much with my current job.

  6. Invaded_Gumballs says:

    Our message to the elected officials is “stop whining and grandstanding and get to work fixing the problem.”

    Nope. Not gonna do it. We love to grandstand too much. If we fix the problems, then what will be the point of holding hearings? And, we have to look like we didn’t approve of this. Besides, if we hold enough expensive hearings, then people will forget about it, and then we can continue to do nothing.

    Did you hear how the administration changed the name of FISA from “Foreign” to “Federal”? Nope, it’s not meant to spy on foreign terrorists. It is now meant to spy on anyone who dares live under Federal air space or breadth of control.

    Yeah, this travesty has to end. Either with arrests, through the creation of laws CONFIRMING our right to privacy, through elections or… in the end.. replacement. If we don’t start seeing some people arrested, I’ll know my idiocy at top is true and the Repubs are shills for the Dems

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