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Obama's Privacy Epiphany
Townhall.com ^ | January 22, 2014 | Jacob Sullum

Posted on 01/22/2014 2:38:36 PM PST by Kaslin

Last June, after news reports revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was surreptitiously collecting everyone's telephone records, President Obama called this massive dragnet a "modest encroachment" that "the American people should feel comfortable about." Last Friday, he portrayed the program as a significant threat to privacy.

Which is it? Evidently the answer depends on the latest polls, which find that the American people are not as comfortable with the NSA's snooping as Obama said they should be. The president's obvious lack of conviction about the threat posed by mass surveillance makes it hard to believe he is serious about addressing it.

There was a time when Obama seemed genuinely concerned about the erosion of privacy in the name of fighting terrorism. Running for the Senate in 2004, he condemned the PATRIOT Act for "violating our fundamental notions of privacy," declaring that "we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries."

As a senator in 2005, Obama continued to criticize the PATRIOT Act and sponsored a bill aimed at raising the standard for using national security letters to obtain business records. As a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007, he promised that in his administration there would be "no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens" and "no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime."

Last week Obama said, "I maintained a healthy skepticism toward our surveillance programs after I became president." If so, it is rather puzzling that he waited five years to implement the reforms he announced on Friday, which include new limits on searches of the phone-record database and an attempt to "establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding (these) bulk metadata."

As long as the program was secret, it seems, Obama did not recognize the privacy threat it posed. But now that it has been revealed by a leak that Obama condemns, he realizes that "without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs."

In its report last December, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which Obama appointed in response to the NSA controversy, noted that "the record of every telephone call an individual makes or receives over the course of several years can reveal an enormous amount about that individual's private life." Furthermore, the panel said, the same legal theory that the NSA uses to justify mass collection of phone records under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act could be used to collect "bank records, credit card records, medical records, travel records, Internet search records, e-mail records, educational records, library records, and so on."

By his account, Obama did not understand any of this until critics started complaining about the NSA's heretofore secret database. He also was suddenly troubled by the fact that the program "has never been subject to vigorous public debate," although his administration did everything it could to prevent such a debate.

Another reason to question Obama's sincerity: He continues to exaggerate the utility of the database, arguing in his speech that it is needed to stop terrorist attacks. Yet his own privacy advisers concluded that "the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders" -- that is, specific orders aimed at particular targets.

Obama and his review group do agree on one important point. "Given the unique power of the state," Obama said on Friday, "it is not enough for leaders to say: trust us, we won't abuse the data we collect." The working group likewise warned that "Americans must never make the mistake of wholly 'trusting' our public officials." As long as Obama is in the White House, there is little risk of that.


TOPICS: Editorial
KEYWORDS: bho44; bhonsa; epiphany; nsa; obama; obamalies; obamaspies; surveillance

1 posted on 01/22/2014 2:38:36 PM PST by Kaslin
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To: FReepers; Patriots





THE FIFTH AMENDMENT pRESIDENT

Keeping Free Republic Alive with YOUR Donations!

PLEASE Make Yours Today, Monthly if you can!

2 posted on 01/22/2014 2:41:24 PM PST by onyx (Please Support Free Republic - Donate Monthly! If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, Let Me know!)
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To: Kaslin

They just tell him as much as he needs to know. Once outed, they bring him up to speed, which may or may not follow from previous statements. But, the media covers it over.


3 posted on 01/22/2014 2:47:03 PM PST by Rennes Templar (Hillary Clinton, you were no Dennis Rodman.)
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To: Kaslin

0bama doesn’t know what he said last week unless he happens to watch Fox News.


4 posted on 01/22/2014 2:50:35 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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To: Kaslin

Anybody who believes anything that human (notice I didn’t say “man”) says is a colossal fool.


5 posted on 01/22/2014 2:51:16 PM PST by elkfersupper
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To: Kaslin

>Last Friday, he portrayed the program as a significant threat to privacy.<

.
He probably discovered that his privacy was also compromised.


6 posted on 01/22/2014 2:54:31 PM PST by 353FMG
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To: Kaslin

He was all about a right to privacy in today’s remarks celebrating killing the unborn.


7 posted on 01/22/2014 2:55:28 PM PST by John W (Viva Cristo Rey!)
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To: Kaslin
Barry "Who me?" Obama -

The single most confounded stumblebum ever to grace a public office anywhere. What a diptard.

8 posted on 01/22/2014 2:57:37 PM PST by atc23 (The Confederacy was the single greatest conservative resistance to federal authority ever.)
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To: Kaslin

“Last Friday, he portrayed the program as a significant threat to privacy.”

He, his administration and his ideology are serious threats to privacy. It si a war against the individual and privacy. You cannot exalt the collective and preserve individaul rights and privacy.


9 posted on 01/22/2014 3:02:24 PM PST by all the best (`~!)
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To: John W

“This right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Blackmun
Roe v. Wade


10 posted on 01/22/2014 4:15:21 PM PST by Qout
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To: Kaslin
"There was a time when Obama seemed genuinely concerned about the erosion of privacy in the name of fighting terrorism. Running for the Senate in 2004, he condemned the PATRIOT Act for .violating our fundamental notions of privacy," declaring that "we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries.'"

It comes as no surprise that he would not want Federal athorities poking around in his personal records and forged credentials.
11 posted on 01/22/2014 7:15:50 PM PST by clearcarbon
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