In George W. Bush's America, the National Security Agency violated your privacy. In Barack Obama's America, privacy violates you.
Or, at the very least, it violates your right to know how many Americans the NSA has spied on under the auspices of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a law that provided immunity to telecom companies involved in NSA spying operations and gave the agency authorization to engage in warrantless wiretapping, rather than just friending Americans on Facebook, like normal stalkers.
It's no wonder the U.S. Government prefers to spy on English-speaking Americans, given all the translators we've dismissed from service during the years Don't Ask, Don't Tell was in effect. But the NSA's justification for refusing to disclose the extent of the spying is rather Orwellian…
That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate's intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?
The query bounced around the intelligence bureaucracy until it reached I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nominal head of the 16 U.S. spy agencies. In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general "and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons," McCullough wrote.
The more I think about, "We could tell you, but that would violate your privacy," is a pretty snappy come-back. It's almost as though they knew the question we were going to ask.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: FISA, Senate, Spying
Here's a question I hoped I'd never be asked…
Where does one even begin to parse out all the different levels of creepiness inherent in that question?
Especially in light of this quote of his from back in June, after he voted in favor of the FISA bill…
"Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program," Obama said in a statement hours after the House approved the legislation 293-129.
I have more to write about this, but I'm inclined to stop here so long as I'm being monitored.
Tags: Barack Obama, Constitution, FISA
There is no correlation between the number 84 and anything that has been happening within the United States this past decade. None whatsoever.
It would be doubleplusungood of me to even insinuate such a thing.
Go Back to Day 85.
Tags: Election Countdown, FISA, Fox, Patriot Act
A little while ago, we linked to a story in which conservative pundit Glenn Beck attempted to justify the egregious atrocities inflicted on the Constitution by George W. Bush by way of comparing his actions to those of a comic book character in the wildly popular and awesomely awesome movie The Dark Knight. (And, no, not The Joker.)
Well, Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy — who happens to be a huge Batman fan and actually has a bit role in The Dark Knight as a guy who supposedly looks like The Joker's father — has responded to Glenn Beck's very-well-thought-out argument…
Sorry Glenn but that's not just a stretch, it's a hoot. But I do grant the parallels between Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor and the Vice President.
Hear that? It's a "hoot." Vermont representatives don't get much more scathing than that.
I'm not sure about that Lex Luthor comparison, though. I think I would'a gone with Darkseid.
And, for Bush, I've have gone with Gleek.
Tags: Batman, CNN, Dick Cheney, FISA, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck, Lex Luthor, Patrick Leahy, Senate, The Dark Knight, Vermont