Spy Games & Double Standards

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


spyAs details of President Obama’s massive domestic spying operation continue to dribble out into the public domain, the Left for the most part is quiet and content.

Left-wingers are unable even to entertain the idea that Obama, who billed himself on the campaign trail as a champion of civil liberties, is a power-mad authoritarian who views the Constitution as worthless parchment.

Obama promised:

“no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”

But that was then when Obama was still just a senator.

The Obama administration’s spying is ostensibly aimed at combating al-Qaeda and protecting America from attack.

But today the relentless cries of “fascism!” we heard all throughout George W. Bush’s presidency are absent. There are no riots in the streets. No rowdy Occupy Wall Street-sponsored demonstrations. No candlelight vigils.

When news of Obama’s warrantless surveillance program on steroids broke this week, except for Al Gore, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, and a handful of the more utopian leftists, the Left has been largely silent on these abuses.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who turns 80 this month, seems to be suffering from retrograde amnesia, having tossed away her worries about the NSA program. The senator defended the program, which is much more far-reaching that anything Bush ever dreamed of, saying “I think people want the homeland kept safe to the extent we can.”

Just seven years ago, Feinstein angrily denounced President Bush for his warrantless surveillance program. “I believe we are on our way to a major constitutional confrontation on Fourth Amendment guarantees of unreasonable search and seizure.”

As recently as March, senior Obama administration officials denied the government was spying on large swaths of the American public.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper point-blank, “Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper replied, “No, sir … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently, perhaps …”

Although it generated daily invective from the Left through his time in office, President Bush’s domestic surveillance regime was comparatively modest.

Bush’s program was certainly aggressive, but it was more narrowly tailored to capture terrorist communications. And when Bush experienced political blowback, he went back to the drawing board and created a new program with judicial oversight to assuage the concerns of civil libertarians.

What Obama is doing now is totally indiscriminate, a massive fishing expedition that gives huge swaths of American society the Big Brother treatment.

According to a classified order of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review published by The Guardian (UK), Verizon was directed to provide “on an ongoing daily basis” all call records for any call “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls” and any call made “between the United States and abroad.” The court granted the order to the FBI for a three-month period ending July 19.

“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 newspaper reports.

“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.”

But the Obama administration has other programs it can use to spy on Americans and record their telephone calls.

A new one was revealed this week called PRISM. This secret court-approved program allows the NSA to tap directly “into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.” The nine companies mentioned in a top secret government document are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.

Some time after the start of the Bush administration’s ambitious communications surveillance program, leakers gave details to reporters. Such programs operate within the confines of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which Congress created following perceived government surveillance abuses in the 1960s and 70s. It imposed the general requirement that the government obtain warrants from courts before monitoring Americans’ communications.

In December 2005 a New York Times headline from an article detailing the extent of warrantless eavesdropping by the Bush administration screamed, “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.”

Times readers learned that months after the 9/11 attacks President Bush “secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.”

Observers disagreed on the constitutionality of the program that allowed the NSA to monitor telephone and email communications between parties in the U.S. and parties in foreign countries without court oversight when a party was thought to have connections to terrorism.

Left-wingers vehemently denounced the Bush effort as an unforgivable assault on civil liberties. The ACLU and the pro-terrorist law firm Center for Constitutional Rights filed lawsuits.

“This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors,” said then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.). Feingold said Bush was “almost thumbing his nose at the American people.”

“We as a Congress have to stand up to a president who acts like the Bill of Rights and Constitution were repealed on Sept. 11 [2001].”

Then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said the NSA program “doesn’t uphold our Constitution.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Bush had overreached. “Unilaterally changing the law because the Vice President or president thinks it’s wrong, without discussion or change — that’s not the American way.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked four presidential scholars to send her, “as soon as possible,” their opinions about whether President Bush’s actions justified his impeachment.

By mid-2006 it was revealed that the NSA tried to keep records on a majority of telephone calls made within the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In the process it amassed “the domestic call records of tens of millions of U.S. households and businesses in an attempt to sift them for clues about terrorist threats,” according to the Washington Post.

President Bush fought for his program and in September 2006 asked Congress for permission to continue the warrantless eavesdropping.

But after the disastrous election two months later in which Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress, President Bush pivoted and became more amenable to compromise on the issue. In January 2007 the Bush administration responded to political pressure and reversed course, announcing it would replace the NSA program.

By August that year Bush had signed into law amendments to FISA that gave the government greater authority to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign terrorism suspects’ communications in the U.S. The new program would be overseen by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.

As they expressed horror when Bush’s warrantless electronic surveillance program was revealed, many Democrats were similarly alarmed during U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s October 2007 confirmation hearing when he said that there may be situations in which the president could constitutionally override a federal law that required court approval for intelligence-related wiretaps.

A law enacted in 2008 gave telecommunications companies retroactive immunity from liability for carrying out government-requested wiretapping. The law was challenged in court. Late last year the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a lower court ruling upholding the statute.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the revelation of the muscular NSA warrantless surveillance effort shows President Obama is worse on civil liberties than President Bush. “The bent towards authoritarianism is probably worse in this administration.”

Paul said the domestic spying program was an “astounding assault on the Constitution.”

“The irony is that people voted for President Obama hoping for something different,” Paul said. “That’s why a lot of people I think are disappointed in the president. They’re disappointed in him targeting reporters. There’s just a lot to be disappointed about.”

“I’ve been saying for a long time that we ought to obey the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Paul said. “I’m all for going after terrorists, I’m all for going after criminals, but I think you go to a judge and you ask for a warrant specified to a person. You shouldn’t look at millions and millions.”

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • 1Indioviejo1

    The left’s ideal is closer to totalitarianism than most fellow travelers care to admit. These “scandals” today are real policy tomorrow because the American people as a whole see no evil in Obama. Chris Matthews just said it: Obama has never done anything wrong in his life. Where do we go from here?

    • Rostis

      The left’s ideal closer to totalitarianism?! It IS totalitarianism, whatever “most fellow-travellers care to admit”. And always was, be it FDR’s White House, seething with his commie friends, JFK’s betrayal of anti-Castro rebels in the Bay of Pigs or the present-day destruction of all the American freedoms by the democrats’ idol! Even the reaction of the Left is an exact copy of Stalin’s attitude toward his opponents: please, remember the indignant liberal howl about Senator McCarthy exposing the Kremlin’s agents in Washington! Nevertheless liberals are just as eager to spy for each their citizen as Stalin was – and the Verizon disgrace shows it quite clearly! Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

    • margaret388

      You are so right! I think the regime is simply testing the waters….they want to measure the American people’s limit. The horror is that all these catastrophic things are happening and we are taking it just doing a : bla, bla, bla, …bla….bla………and that is all.

  • Steven Chavez

    SECRET NSA WIRETAP REVEALED: “For more than four years now, terrorist chatter has been high here in America especially with one man in particular. This elusive anti-US Islamic terrorist is not only raising funds, but is also aiding and directing terrorist jihad here and abroad.”

    NSA: “HEY, the DT (Domestic Terrorist) is on the phone again. QUIET! He’s using a different phone again that he bought at Wal-Mart! TRACE IT NOW!!!”

    DT: “My house MB. Big Eye E D for Turkey dinner and greens for next door neighbors Spring cleaning. Our door open. Come one come all. Let’s rock!”

    NSA: It’s code. What does he mean? Any code breakers?

    NSA Janitor: “He wants the Muslim Brotherhood to come to his house to get plans for big IED’s and green monies to ship to Turkey and then to Syria to continue the Arab Spring. Our border is open for whoever wants to come in for jihad here.”

    DT: “NBA. Papers choom blow pepperoni bye..”

    NSA Janitor: “The NBA finals are on and he wants them to bring rolling papers, marijuana, coke and a pepperoni pizza.”

    NSA: “He hung up before we could trace it. This guy is good. WHO IS IT?”

    NSA Janitor: “It’s President Obama. DUH!”

    NSA operators are in shock. They gather around the janitor who thinks he is about to be praised for catching the domestic and global terrorist leader.

    NSA: “Impossible! You’re one of those Tea Party sons-a-b!tches aren’t you? How dare you blame our man! You only say this because he’s Black. YOU’RE A RACIST! YOU’RE FIRED! I can’t believe it! Out of thousands of employees, one, yes, just one Republican was not vetted correctly and slipped through. He’s a spy and this is a right-wing conspiracy! Yes, even the janitors, window washers, I mean everyone must be one of us. We cannot have zealots in our ranks. We need to have a hearing so THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!”

    • Stratosaurus

      Steven, you don’t know how close to true that is…..

    • DLeeC

      This made my day! ;-)

      • ukfred

        It is reminiscent of Phoney Tony B-Liar’s dodgy dossier on Iraq

        • ziggy zoggy

          Scud missiles were launched at Coalition forces every hour when the liberation of Iraq began. Scuds are weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi manufactured chemical weapons are in the hands of Bashar Asshat and now the Al Qaeda forces fighting him. Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction.

  • Jossi

    I’ll leave a quote from Montesquieu, from his book The Spirits of Laws: (A historical note: The US Founding Fathers, were greatly influenced by the writings and analysis of Montesquieu.)

    “There are two types of poor people, those that the hardness of the government made ​​such: and these people are unable of almost no virtue, because their poverty is a part of their servitude, others are poor because of what they despised or because they have not known the amenities of life, and they can do great things, because this poverty is a part of their freedom.”

    I think Americans today belong to the first category (described above) in general.

    • jeepwonder

      The founding fathers would have rebelled for less.

      • Jossi

        You’re correct. I think Americans should have rebelled right at the beginning when B. Hussein O. refused to submit his certificates, all of them. He submitted none. The rot is deep now, not only in the US, everywhere. We are heading for very troubled times, it is just the beginning of the “end game”.

        • Yitzhak

          No, the people should have rebelled when daddy’s buddies in the Supreme Court, gave the White House to a draft-dodging bum who lied about his college background.

          • CowboyLogic

            I never was a Bush fan, but come on now.

            That was last decade.

          • Suzyqpie

            As Jay Carney said, that was a long time ago.

          • Putinov

            izzy,

            you really are sick.

  • Newcombe

    Hold on a moment there, pardner! Not so fast. The Left for the most part is quiet and content? Lest you forget and as much as I hate to say this, that while you guys on the Right were gazing at each other’s navels, it was the Guardian (that Obama loving, US hating Lefty British rag) that broke this story.

    So less of this “Double Standards” please, if you would.

    • glpage

      So, all the leftist pols who raised hell about Bush doing much less than Obama and are now being quiet isn’t a double standard?

      Yeah, right…

      Probably the only reason the Guardian broke this story is that they’re probably still miffed Obama returned the bust of Churchill.

    • margaret388

      Are you from planet Earth??????

  • Phil McMorrow

    Feinstein is ablut to turn 80? Then why does she have less intelligence than a golden retreiver?

    • Gee

      In her case age = IQ

    • CowboyLogic

      Shouldn’t there be a mandatory retirement law?

  • Everett Vulgamore

    god help us through these next 3 and a half years…

  • Spinoneone

    The National Socialist Democratic Action Party is now trolling everything everyone of us has ever written on the Web. They will come for us, soon!

    • Gee

      I am waiting. Bet they won’t like how I respond either

  • Gee

    I am so glad that these US Senators are comfortable with surrendering their rights to the Federal government. What I object to is the surrender of MY RIGHTS. That they have no authority to do.

    They are my rights and I DEMAND the arrest and prosecution of the Senators and the Executive Branch for violating my rights

  • aposematic

    The Leftists/Progressives would be having hissy fit marches, the MSM/Press would be bludgeoning an R over the head with top of the front page fold rants…oh wait that is exactly what the Leftists/Progressives did to Bush after the Leftists/Progressives projected just a small bit of what Obuma IS actually now doing. Proof the lies are all about a Marxist/Islamic Ideology of propaganda and brainwashing. Really disturbing is that the Gov. Education Department imposed curriculum along with the MSM/Press’ reinforcement has so propagandized, brainwashed, and dumbed down enough of the American citizens that the Leftists/Progressives mostly get away with their constant lies.

  • http://shugartpoliticalaction.shugartmedia.com/uncommonsense/ Chris Shugart

    Amid the endless stream of incompetence, now we’re learning that the Obama administration are lousy spies too. Please, if you’re going to spy on us, be so good at it that we never find out about it.

  • dizzyizzy

    This is a great time to correct incorrect political speech and to be open to a new landscape. I wrote about the problem of morale here: http://clarespark.com/2013/06/06/morale-in-the-time-of-crisis-overload/. “Morale in the time of crisis overload.” It is more crucial than ever to be precise in the political labels we use in public space, for we may be turning off potential allies.

  • CowboyLogic

    Obama has finally released a coherent statement on his Data-mining.

    http://suckersonparade.blogspot.com/2013/06/president-issues-statement-to-verzion.html#comment-form

  • Newcombe

    If you think that the Guardian is in any way shape or form fans of Chrchill then “you know nothing” about Guardian’s politics. If they get the chance they’d rather burn his effigy and take a leak on his grave, if you catch my drift.

  • retired22

    HIS IS ALL A BIG BUNCH OF HOS SHOOT!

    I don’t even blame the Democrats that much,Obama is a low end slimeball & we already know this.I blame the Republicans for being silent partners in this rape of America!Their 2 leaders,Mitch McConnell & John Boehner look like 2 partners in a rundown funeral parlor.Are these two 1/2 half men supposed to be the great statesmen who will save the country?Not by a long shot!All we have gotten from these 2 & the Republican Party is blah,blah,blah.Where is the push back we need from the Republicans to defeat the tyrant in the White House?I suspect that nothing strong will come from them because this is all theatre.The Republican problem is in the fact that “The Democrats are not much,but they are something & you can’t beat something with nothing”.McConnell & Boehner represent nothing!

    P.S. Despite all of the big talk floating around Washington the solution to the problem is really very easy(if the Republicans are willing to fight).The solution is criminal prosecution of the big shots who head the Federal agencies being investigated.If some big shots were put in jail,Obama’s Rule through his bureaucrats would come to a screeching halt

  • Blogger Coin

    Google
    has issued a third denial relating to its alleged involvement in a
    government-run PRISM data harvesting program. Each and every denial has
    stressed that there’s no constant stream of data that flows from Google.
    Rather, it provides information on a case-by-case basis and only after
    receiving a legal order which, in turn, goes through Google’s own legal
    review. This post has all the denials in order and explains why they
    keep having to be issued to get more and more specific, as people wonder
    about back doors, front doors & side doors.
    http://www.bloggercoin.com/

  • 76Ag

    Do you really believe the 0bama voters and the lamestream media care. They probably condone it. The press single-handedly made folks hate President Bush and they will carry 0bama’s water.

  • tagalog

    Now they’re trying to lay Obama’s tyrannical proclivities off on George W. Bush by publishing that photoshopped “George W. Obama” photo.
    Sorry, Barack; it’s all yours, although there will be many who will want to blame it on Bush. But Bush’s presidency ended in early 2009 – you’ve had lots of time to establish your own legitimacy.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    The problem with GWB and the Republican Party is they too are stealth leftists who used the threat of terrorism, which isn’t even an Islamic manifestation, as justification for not only massively expanding the size, scope, and power of the federal government, but also to destroy our previously enshrined heretofore freedoms and rights guaranteed under the constitution. Hence, now that Obama has been elected, thanks again to the gross incompetence of GWB and the Congressional Republicans, it isn’t any wonder that his administration is taking greater liberties with our now sacrificed former freedoms and rights. Of course, now great ridicule will be rained down upon me for speaking the truth about Republicans.

    In any event, we need to elect a true conservative to power that understands that jihad is not terrorism, but holy fighting in the cause of Allah for the establishment of Islam, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to repair and protect America, i.e., ban and reverse mass Muslim immigration ASAP, tear down and abolish the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Intelligence Directorate, and last but certainly not least, Obamacare ASAP. While also concentrating on sealing both US borders without rewarding amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and shrinking the size, scope, and power of the federal government dramatically at the same time in order to get our fiscal house back in order and our economy percolating again. Finally, our mighty military must not be allowed to be hollowed out, while also being cleansed of all GWB and Obama people to restore it back to competency again.

  • yeucon

    XEM PHIM

    A rich nice

  • cathy

    THE PATRIOT ACT

    Food for Thought

    “You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

  • DebRollin

    ‘Spying just for the heck of it and abusing Constitutional rights is lawlessness. More to the story than this. Snowden may be a set up. Expose the spying of the American people, so the government can claim they can’t protect you anymore because of leaks, thus we get hit by missiles or an EMP..Marshal Law, or more terrorist attacks, and then Confiscate your weapons..