Obama then, Obama now. Media then, media now.

June 6, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

Candidate Obama, 2008:

“My job this morning is to be so persuasive…that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack,” he told a crowd of about 300 Ivy Leaguers–and, by the looks of it, a handful of locals who managed to gain access to what was supposed to be a students-only event.

For one thing, under an Obama presidency, Americans will be able to leave behind the era of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and “wiretaps without warrants,” he said. (He was referring to the lingering legal fallout over reports that the National Security Agency scooped up Americans’ phone and Internet activities without court orders, ostensibly to monitor terrorist plots, in the years after the September 11 attacks.)

Cut to today:

the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued. A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders “are something that have been in place for a number of years now” and were vital for protecting national security.

And remember that James Comey, Obama’s proposed FBI chief, is the one who approved of Bush’s warrantless wiretapping.

If you were paying attention, this has been happening since the start of the Patriot Act, in 2001.   As another reminder, the scope of the surveillance is much broader than is being reported in today’s news, and there are plans to expand the surveillance of ordinary Americans even further.  As explained by the pseudonymous George Washington:

The Obama administration has been caught spying on the Verizon phone calls of tens of millions of Americans.

But the government has sought to “reassure” us that it is only tracking “metadata” such as the time and place of the calls, and not the actual content of the calls.

That claim is patently absurd.

The American government is in fact collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American.

All U.S. intelligence agencies – including the CIA and NSA – are going to spy on Americans’ finances.  The IRS will be spying on Americans’ shopping records, travel, social interactions, health records and files from other government investigators.

As the top spy chief at the U.S. National Security Agency – William Binney – explained, the NSA is collecting some 100 billion 1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of all types per year.

This is confirmed by both CIA and FBI officials.  Former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente said “…welcome to America. All that stuff [“every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant] is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”

Ira “Gus” Hunt, the CIA’s chief technology officer, speaking at a conference said, “The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time. Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”

Related to this, the NSA is building data storage centers to retain the massive amounts of data they are scooping up.  Their Utah data center is projected to be complete this year.  It will reportedly be capable of housing yottabytes worth of data (1 yottabyte = 1 trillion terabytes, or 1 quadrillion gigabytes).  They also broke ground on another data storage facility in Maryland.

And the partisan media scrambles to reverse the positions they held under the last administration, as reported by RawStory:

Thursday morning on the Fox News Channel’s morning show “Fox and Friends,” the three hosts responded with alarm to news that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of millions of cell phone customers wholesale and with no regard to accusations of wrongdoing.

The trio were clearly alarmed about the spying, saying that it might be a violation of the PATRIOT Act.

“What is the objective of getting these numbers and collecting all these numbers from all the millions of Americans?” asked co-host Brian Kilmeade. “Are they overseas calls? Is there terror activity? Is there reason to be suspicious? Or is this abuse of the PATRIOT Act?”

Steve Doocy, suddenly a legal expert of PATRIOT Act violations, said that this kind of data seizure is a violation of the Act’s section 215, which “said that you could go after people based on individual investigations,” but forbids data collection from average citizens. He went on to call it a “gigantic overreach” on the Obama administration’s part.

However, in 2006, Doocy and other Fox hosts were saying the exact opposite about NSA wiretaps.

Media Matters reported that in the wake of revelations that the NSA might be conducting wholesale data-mining on U.S. citizens, the hosts of “Fox and Friends” openly nixed the term “warrantless wiretapping” in favor of calling the spying “the terrorist surveillance program” and went out of their way to justify the practice.

On January 25, 2006, Kilmeade said, “Let’s call it the terrorist surveillance program. That would be a lot easier.”

Doocy concurred, “And more accurate.”

Those who are snooping through YOUR phone records insist that power is obama - twonecessary to stop terrorists.  Are YOU a terrorist? No? Then they shouldn’t be able to look through YOUR records.  Neil Richards, professor of law at Washington University explains in more detail:

It might be difficult to hear, but we can’t be perfectly safe all the time. And part of living in a free and open society means that occasionally some people will abuse that freedom. That’s why we have a criminal justice system in which the police investigate crimes. It’s better to punish the people who abuse their freedom and harm others than to take everyone’s liberties away and subject us all to the eye of the state.

Less privacy, less civil liberties. Being constantly observed might make us feel slightly safer, but this would be only an illusion of safety. History has shown repeatedly that broad government surveillance powers inevitably get abused, whether by the Gestapo, the Stasi, or our own FBI, which engaged in unlawful surveillance (and blackmail) of “dangerous” people like Martin Luther King Jr.

And to finish out the post, here’s a roundup of recent news as it applies to this subject:

 

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Category: Communication, Current Events, Orwellian, Politics, Privacy

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is a full-time wage slave and part-time philosopher, writing and living just outside Omaha with his lovely wife and two feline roommates.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Brynn: This is spot on. Thank you. I Love the quote by Neil Richards.

    If they didn’t have the information they couldn’t abuse it. Similarly, because they have that information, they will abuse it. History is an objective observer.

  2. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Thanks Erich.

    I didn’t see this Washington Post article in time to include it in the post, but it’s extremely relevant as well:

    US Intelligence mining data from 9 leading internet firms

    Quite stunning that NSA has direct access at the server level to at least the following internet firms: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple

    • Erich Vieth says:

      And one or more people risked life in prison to get this out to Americans, I’m afraid. Based on Obama’s logic, writing this story violates the Espionage Act of 1917 because it tells “terrorists” that we are listening to them … and, oh, year hundreds of millions of innocent people.

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