Thursday, June 06, 2013






Another Con Job


Back when Senator Barack Obama was seeking the Democratic nomination for President, he was asked (as were other candidates) "whether he supports shielding telecommunications and Internet companies from lawsuits accusing them of illegal spying, Obama gave us a one-word response: "No.'"

That was a convenient stance taken by a Democratic candidate, one who also claimed to support a public option for health care and vowed he'd "put on a pair of comfortable shoes" and walk the picket line if workers were denied their rights.  Not in Wisconsin, apparently.

Those were the heady days, when Barack Obama's election would, we were assured, "make history."  Back in the day when he would say things like "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."

These, however, are the days when, lawyer, civil libertarian, and journalist Glenn Greenwald reports 

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

In all likelihood, it's not only Verizon, and will likely continue.   Conor Friedersdorf tweets "This should be a litmus test for Republicans: either take action against this program, or never invoke liberty or limited government again."  But of course they will not take action because their small government rhetoric is, well, just rhetoric. As Alex Pareene points out

Conor Friedersdorf is right, but Republicans have mostly already failed this litmus test. Given the opportunity to limit the powers of the NSA during the Obama administration Republicans in the House and Senate voted to reauthorize the NSA’s post-9/11 expanded powers.

Ron Wyden has been crowing about this for some time. Because he is a Democrat criticizing his party from the left, his warnings and complaints have been given only cursory mention in the nonpartisan press, especially compared to the similar, but frequently much more ridiculous criticisms lobbied against the administration by Rand Paul.

If Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or some other Repub is elected President, abuse of the Patriot Act will continue and there will be little that can be done about it, given that Obama now has normalized the national security state.  But no other Democrat will be given the same leeway afforded Mr. Yes We Can. Digby remarks

I'm pretty sure that something like that won't happen again any time soon. Indeed, the next Democratic nominee will likely not get the slightest benefit of the doubt as the pendulum swings hard the other way. And more importantly, Barack Obama is a once in a generation politician who had a very special relationship with the grassroots of the Democratic Party. I meet people all the time in civilian life who adore him. Most presidents don't have that deep and enduring bond with their voters. 

But even if one feels that bond, it's a good idea to pay close attention to any politician, even the ones you like and admire.

No need for concern.  There will be "close attention" paid to the next big thing in Democratic politics, perhaps even unwarranted cynicism, as liberals and moderates increasingly recognize how we were taken in by Barack Obama.


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