NY Times: Congress Can Stop The Privacy Abuse

NY Times: Congress Can Stop The Privacy Abuse

The question is, will Mr. Obama and his team go along with any plans to stop the over-broad fishnet surveillance of the US citizenry? Here’s the Times’ editorial board .

New York Times

Over the last three years, several measures were introduced in Congress that would have helped reduce or eliminate the abuses of communications surveillance revealed this week. Every one of them was voted down.

Most members of Congress, it turns out, had received the usual bland assurances from counterterrorism officials that the authority granted to the government under the Patriot Act and related laws were absolutely necessary to prevent an attack on the United States, and that domestic spying activities must remain top secret. Proposals to bring greater transparency to these activities, or to limit their scope, were vigorously opposed by the Obama administration. (The Justice Department argued in a court filing in April that there must be no public disclosure of the extent of domestic data collection.)

Except for a few leaders and members of the intelligence committees, most lawmakers did not know the government was collecting records on almost every phone call made in the United States or was able to collect anyone’s e-mail messages and Internet chats. And most important, since the public did not know about the extent of the surveillance, it was in no position to bring popular pressure against elected representatives.

As they go on to write, now we know, to some extent, about several programs, and that there are probably others that have not seen the light of day, all that could be massive infringements on our Constitutional Rights, especially the 4th. And, again, for those who are saying that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you shouldn’t be concerned, I ask if you would be fine with government issuing a secret warrant whereby they come and search your house every day while you’re at work, just poking around, just in case. My email is rather innocuous. My calls are mostly business related. My friends know I prefer quick calls, as I’d rather chat in person (I like to see people’s eyes and body language). The government has no business having any information on any of my electronic communications. Is anyone looking at that data? Most likely not. They probably do not even notice anti-Obama/Democrat posts and Tweets. That’s not the point. If I’m not the target of a criminal investigation they have no need of all that data. Those warrants make you and me targets of a criminal investigation.

The Times goes on to describe two measures to deal with this. The first is requiring the FISA court to “make public the summaries of its opinions on domestic spying activities.” I’m not a big fan of that, since all it does is tell us they are spying on US citizens.

2nd, they want “legislation to limit the collection of call records and the monitoring of Internet traffic to that of people suspected of terrorism, ending the mass warehousing of everyone’s data.” This legislation should have actual teeth, with huge fines and jail time for those that violate the law. But, wait a second, that seems almost like….profiling! Josh Barro at the very left leaning Business Insider proclaims that the massive overreach is the fault of We The People, who wanted to stop Islamic terrorism. Um, no. Conservatives have said for years that there needed to be profiling, targeting people who fit the profile of Islamist extremists, rather than making us all take our shoes off at the airport. Liberals, George Bush, and many of his employees were against any sort of profiling. Kudos to the NY Times for finally realizing that that is what is necessary.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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