Is there a Surprise Factor here?
Last month, in a letter from the Justice Department to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Obama administration went on record supporting the extension of key provisions of the USA Patriot Act, including the provision that gives the government the power to subpoena library records of any individual.
The sections that our president is so keen to keep alive and take even further; allow roving wire taps on multiple phones, access to business records, and a never-used provision to conduct surveillance of a non-U.S. citizen who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.
Last week the Committee obliged and passed a bill to renew all of the PATRIOT powers that were set to expire at the end of the year.
Here is the reaction by one of the exasperated civil liberties groups, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):
“…the Committee this morning voted to accept seven Republican amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act to remove the few civil liberties protections left in the bill after it was already watered down at last Thursday's Committee meeting. Surprisingly and disappointingly, most of those amendments were recommended to their Republican sponsors by the Obama Administration.”
Here is the section I have a bit, okay more than a bit, of a problem with: ‘Surprisingly.’ Surprisingly?! Don’t take me wrong. I am, and have been, a big supporter of EFF, and applaud their great work, especially in the case of NSA illegal eavesdropping. But Surprisingly? How could anyone be surprised with this move, when it is absolutely consistent with every single move this President has made since he took office? When it comes to the draconian State Secrets Privilege, he’s been advocating, using, and even pushing further this common law fit only for monarchs and kings. When it comes to secrecy and classification to cover up the deeds of those implicated in torture and rendition, this President has proven to be a relentless advocate. Same with this President’s support and advocacy of illegal wiretapping of Americans… Now why in the world would this move, his consistent efforts to expand executive branch power, meaning his power, to take away our civil liberties, to further our descend towards a police state, be a surprise to all these well-intended and well-informed legal communities? Am I missing something? If so, could someone please enlighten me? Because this is where I stand on this:
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool us three times, shame on all of us!
I am working on Part 3 of ‘The Makings of a Police State,’ which will cover the notorious National Security Letters. Stay Tuned.