Since the time the world learned how the NSA was conducting a massive program to intercept communications, phone calls, emails, etc., President Obama has assured there was no problem. He told us we need to trust the government to do the right thing, to get the balance right between protecting our country and protecting the privacy of American citizens. Not that I have ever trusted President Obama, but the more we learn, the more the distrust builds. There is a lot we are not being told about the way our government is operating.
For instance, did you know that the Bush administration made a specific request of the court that oversees the NSA’s spying program? They wanted to place a ban on the government being able to search specifically for American’s communications inside the database built up by the NSA. FISC granted that request and implemented the ban. That was in 2008, again at the request of the Bush administration. Did you also know that the ban has been lifted, this time in response to a request by the Obama administration? I thought not, as President Obama has not been forthcoming with that information. Hat tip to Doug Ross.
Washington Post – The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.
In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.
Together the permission to search and to keep data longer expanded the NSA’s authority in significant ways without public debate or any specific authority from Congress. The administration’s assurances rely on legalistic definitions of the term “target” that can be at odds with ordinary English usage. The enlarged authority is part of a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to surveillance: collecting first, and protecting Americans’ privacy later.
“The government says, ‘We’re not targeting U.S. persons,’ ” said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “But then they never say, ‘We turn around and deliberately search for Americans’ records in what we took from the wire.’ That, to me, is not so different from targeting Americans at the outset.”
Tell me again how we should trust the Obama administration.
This is another example of President Obama speaking with a forked tongue. He speaks with great platitudes, but his actions are something else entirely. He tells us we need to trust our government, but at his administration’s specific request, the NSA is now allowed to search for our phone calls, emails, text messages, etc. in the communications it has collected. I guess that doesn’t constitute a targeting of Americans by their own government. Their twisting of the definitions of certain words in the English language defies logic.
I would really like to find something else to write about. It would be easy to get depressed, thinking about all the things the government is doing behind our backs. Not that I am naive enough to not know every administration does some things under the cover of secrecy, but President Obama declared his administration would be the most open and honest administration in American history. Instead, we have an administration completely devoted to secrecy. Their claim of openness and honesty is a joke that has been perpetrated upon the American people. I don’t know about you, but I’m not finding that to be so funny.