Obama Decides Ending NSA Bulk Data Collection Is An Awesome Legislative Issue
After fighting against truly restricting the data collection programs by the NSA, which vastly expanded during his own time in office (and, yes, I do throw Blame at Bush and Congressional Dems and Republicans, as well), Mr. Obama has decided that this would be a great issue
(NY Times) The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that – if approved by Congress – would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials.
Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order.
In a speech in January, President Obama said he wanted to get the N.S.A. out of the business of collecting call records in bulk while preserving the program’s abilities. He acknowledged, however, that there was no easy way to do so, and had instructed Justice Department and intelligence officials to come up with a plan by March 28 – Friday – when the current court order authorizing the program expires.
I hate to by cynical on this, but we’re talking about the Obama and his administration, and he rarely does anything that isn’t hyper-political. It’s interesting to note that Obama has unilaterally changed the law and/or the way law is adhered to, including, but not limited to, laws like DOMA, illegal immigration, and his own signature law, Obamacare. He never bothered sending legislation over to Congress. Why is he bothering this time? He’s the POTUS. He could simply tell the NSA to Stop It! Why the legislation now?
The cynical part in me has a feeling that the legislative proposal will either be a) nothing anyone can really vote on, simply a basic idea on a sticky note, no details, and he’ll excoriate Congress to pass his “legislation”, or b) a detailed piece of legislation that will include one or more poison pills, making it unlikely that Republicans will vote for it, allowing Obama and the Dems to blast the GOP. Either one is likely. We could even see a combination. This will be turned into campaign wedge issue as the mid-terms approach.
But, it is a start. But why just phone records? What about all our other data? Our email? Or texts? Our browsing habits? Etc?
Anyhow, the proof will be in the details of the proposed legislation, and the conduct of Team Obama when released, as to whether this is sincere or a wedge issue.