Yesterday I told you about how Obama's National Security Agency has been collecting telephones records for millions of Verizon customers within the US. As shocking as the revelation appeared at the time, apparently the spying doesn't end there.
The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the NSA operation say that data is also being seized from AT&T and Sprint users as well. Records from Internet-service and credit-card providers are also being seized. That leads to this …
Last night the Washington Post revealed that the NSA and the FBI have been tapping directly into the servers of nine of the largest internet companies in America. This government program, known as PRISM, collects data “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple,” according to the document obtained by the Washington Post. The kind of data being collected on you includes audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. The amount of data that is secretly being collected is astounding. The NSA facility being built in Utah to house this incredible amount of data is massive. The PRISM program began six years ago under George Bush and has been on-going and growing under Barack Obama.
Why was information about this program leaked to the press? The Washington Post reports the following: “Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. 'They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,' the officer said.” Watch your ideas as you type? Wow, talk about Big Brother.
This all is pretty unbelievable. It's difficult to wrap your head around the incredible amount of information that is being collected on us. You know things have gone off the rails when I agree with Al Gore! He tweeted yesterday: “In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Even the Republican author of the Patriot Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, says that random monitoring of Americans is beyond the scope and original intent of the law.
There seem to be two main arguments used to defend these shocking revelations.
The first argument is that this is for national security purposes and the information is only used for such purposes. I'll admit, that's a very difficult line to draw: Should there ever be a point where we are willing to give up some of our civil liberties for the sake of our security? Is the argument of “national security” becoming an empty clutch by which big government is justifying its growing scope of power and rationalizing the erosion of our civil liberties?
The second defense being used by many in Washington is that this information is nothing new and that this has been happening for many years. Well just because that's the case doesn't make it right. The fact is that this is news to millions of Americans. It also comes at a time of heightened distrust due to the number of scandals swirling around Washington. Just a few weeks ago Barack Obama told college graduates to reject those voices warning of government tyranny. I wonder if he would have the guts to make that same statement today. I also wonder if any member of the lapdog media will ask Obama about his comments he made in 2007 on this issue as it related to the Bush administration. Obama said in part:
This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.
That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it's not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.
This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not There are no shortcuts to protecting America.
Looking at speeches like that in retrospect and considering the scores of other issues on which Obama has said one thing and done another, does this guy have any credibility left? Will this finally be the issue where the country realizes that Obama is arguably not all that different from the Bush administration many liberals once despised?
You know it's bad when for this administration when you lose the New York Times. Well, sort of … yesterday the New York Times editorial board wrote, “The (Obama) administration has lost all credibility.” That's a pretty hard-hitting statement, and it received a lot of press. Interestingly enough, the Times piece changed sometime throughout the day to read, “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” That's a very different statement. The Times claims that the change was made “for clarity's sake.” They're not fooling anyone. I suppose the New York Times isn't willing to give up on their Anointed One just yet.
And don't worry, the mainstream media will do its due diligence in playing down these scandals. Here's just one example from the Media Research Center: GMA Gives 5 Times the Coverage to Paris Jackson Than Obama Administration Collecting Phone Records. A population kept in the dark is less likely to question the government.
Today Rand Paul is expected to introduce a bill – the “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013” – to reassert our Fourth Amendment rights, preventing our government from searching the records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause.
As for Obama … for a president who strives to compare himself to Abraham Lincoln or FDR, the comparisons to Nixon, Carter and Bush are far more accurate, and at this point far more pervasive. I doubt that is the legacy Barack Obama had in mind, but it is the one he apparently has secretly built for himself.