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by
Rick Moran

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June 16, 2013 - 2:19 pm

Oh, really, Mr. President? Not even a little bit?

After a week of NSA defenders saying there must be a “tradeoff” between privacy rights and surveillance, the president, through his Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, says that he doesn’t feel he has violated the privacy rights of Americans at all.

Reuters:

The administration has said the top-secret collection of massive amounts of “metadata” from phone calls – raw information that does not identify individual telephone subscribers, was legal and authorized by Congress in the interests of thwarting militant attacks. It has said the agencies did not monitor calls.

Asked whether Obama feels he has violated the privacy of Americans, McDonough said, “He does not.”

While he defended the surveillance, McDonough said “the existence of these programs obviously have unnerved many people.” He said Obama “welcomes a public debate on this question because he does say and he will say in the days ahead that we have to find the right balance, and we will not keep ourselves on a perpetual war footing.”

Revelations of the NSA’s broad monitoring of phone and Internet data has drawn criticism that the Obama administration has extended, or even expanded, the security apparatus the George W. Bush administration built after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

“We owe it to the American people to have a fulsome debate in the open about the extent of these programs,” Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat a long-time critic of the surveillance programs, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Describing the surveillance overseen by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Udall said, “I just don’t think this is an American approach to a world in which we have great threats. My number one goal is to protect the American people, but we can do it in a way that also respects our civil liberties.”

McDonough said Congress authorized the programs as a way to thwart plots against Americans and that lawmakers should stay up to date on how they are run. The administration has said the program collected only “metadata” – raw information that does not identify individual telephone subscribers and did not monitor calls.

“The president is not saying ‘trust me.’ The president is saying I want every member of Congress, on whose authority we are running this program, to understand it, to be briefed about it, and to be comfortable with it,” he said.

It should be noted that McDonough said nothing about the internet surveillance program PRISM that did far more than gather “metadata.”

By their very nature, these surveillance programs violate our privacy. We did not give our permission for government to access this data — whether they can access content or not. And regardless of assurances that safeguards are in place that prevent snooping, the awesome potential of this technology to make a hash of our constitutional rights is easily seen. The very existence of these programs is a threat to constitutional liberty, and it is troubling that the president apparently doesn’t understand that.

We are past the point of taking anyone’s word for it. If the programs have to be so secret that no one can confirm our constitutional rights aren’t being violated, then they should be scrapped. Most of us are willing to allow government some leeway in collecting data — but not at the expense of privacy or our rights.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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Top Rated Comments   
The trap, Senor Equis, that people are falling into is that this debate is about "civil liberties" and not about the fourth amendment's limitations to government power. The fourth amendment forbids to government the power to violate "the people's right" (to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures). , is an unreasonable search that violates the people's right to be secure. It matters not whether "the top-secret collection of massive amounts of “metadata” from phone calls" was "authorized by Congress in the interests of thwarting militant attacks", and it doesn't matter that "the raw information does not identify individual telephone subscribers". What matters is that the fourth amendment forbids government the power to conduct this kind of unreasonable seizure and search. Because the NSA can reach out and seize ANYONE'S records at ANY TIME means that the people are NOT secure in their right. Surveillance, even "anonymous surveillance, without a lawful warrant described by the fourth amendment
as showing "probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized", violates the "law that governs the government". Whatever clause that grants government the power to spy on the American public is amended and prohibited by the fourth amendment.

The NSA isn't just "trampling upon civil liberties"; in exercising powers that the fourth amendment forbids government to have the NSA is committing high crimes against the nation. I don't want to hear about "safeguards" and "oversight" anything that is supposedly "legal" just because "Congress authorized it".

I want to know WHO is going to jail.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
This from a guy who refuses to release his college transcripts, medical records, birth certificate,etc.

The most transparent President in history? Yup. Transparently full of crap.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (35)
All Comments   (35)
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It is pretty clear by now that most of what Obama says is unbelievable claptrap. What he said in 2008 is pretty much the opposite of what he says today, and most of what he has said since 2009 has been boiler-plate Democrat talking points.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
THE AMNESTY STING OPERATION COULD GO LIKE THIS...

First the illegal aliens register for citizenship, then they get US jobs, and then they vote in US elections. Later on their financial assets get seized by the IRS because they lied on their application paperwork for the Amnestry program, and finally they are allowed go home again (sadder but wiser) with a free plane ticket from DHS.

The illegal aliens will never realize (until it is too late) that the NSA already knew everything about them for at least the last 12 years, including every email and phone conversation. They will have no idea that the IRS is more powerful than the FBI. They will have no clue that the IRS could easily freeze their bank accounts, garnish their paychecks, and take over ownership of their houses/cars/businesses.

Nobody can hide this time around, because if your email and phone calls do not give you away, then FBI profiling techniques will nab you no matter what your new name might be. Your vocabulary, your grammar, your rhythm of typing on a keyboard, and even your favorite brand of coffee... everything about you can be used to find you again. There is literally no way to hide now.

This is an amnesty program that cannot fail to be a bigtime moneymaker for the USA.

Democrats want more votes.
Republicans want cheap employees.
Illegal aliens want citizenship.
The IRS wants more money.
The FBI wants to catch more bad guys.
The NSA wants more data and more computers.

It's a win/win situation, and a real money maker too. This will definitely pass Congress.

Thanks NSA, great job! Couldn't have done it without you!
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
But as long as these amnestied new citizens are reliable dem voters, nothing will happen to them. It is only if they start supporting repubs that they will get into trouble.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
IMHO, team-Obama had succeeded in switching focus from the case potentially placing Obama into jail to an absolutely harmless and perfectly legal case.

In Benghazi the criminal order to US troops either came directly from Obama or, even worse, from some friend of Obama who had no right to issue orders to US troops.

Next came planted revelation of the IRS scandal. Obama is immune to this one. Even Treasury Secretary is immune - he did not know and you can not prove that he knew. But some heads of departments could suffer some reprimands.

And now is all eclipsed by the NSA scandal, where NSA acted according with the Patriot Act law duly passed by both parties in Congress. Nobody will be punished for acting according to the current law. If Congress does not like some actions taken in accordance to the law they themselves had passed, they will now change that law.

The net result: We are discussing pro and contra of the existing law, nobody goes to jail and Obama does not have to answer for Benghazi.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Folks here are doing exactly what the Left used to do: Undercut American national security out of animus for the President they opposed.

I didn't like it when liberals tried to slash defense spending just because they hated Vietnam.

And I don't like it when libertarian conservatives try to undercut a useful anti-terrorist program just because they hate Obama.

I don't like Obama either.

But I put this to you: If Romney were President, would you STILL be denouncing the NSA program?

You're making precisely the same mistake the Left made:

You cannot turn national security on and off like a light bulb depending on whether you voted for the current POTUS.

The NSA surveillance program should continue.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
We probably would not have to denouce it if it had come out under prez Romney, since every dem, and all the MSM in the country would be crying to the rooftops, not just the ones now that beleived in civil liberties more than they beleived in Obama. But we libertarians would still join them, since we were also worried about this under Bush. The only difference would be I would be slightly less worried, because I do not beleive prez romney would use a program like this for partisan abuse, while Obama will. But that lesser worry would still not lead me to support it. No prez should have this kind of unconstitutional search powers, not even one I trusted, and particularly not Obama.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Does "national security" give the government immunity from the Constitution?

The NSA program has as much as admitted it has violated the fourth amendment. There is no clause in the Constitution, that gives government the power to do what the NSA is doing, that is not amended by the fourth amendment. There is no government interest, no compelling reason, no pretext or crisis, that permits the government to waive the law that governs it; any more than any of us can, for whatever reason, waive the laws that govern us.
Because the NSA surveillance program can, at any time reach out and seize, by copy or recording, our personal and private communications without a lawful warrant, it violates the people's right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Not only should the NSA surveillance program NOT continue, but

SOMEONE NEEDS TO GO TO JAIL!
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is the program useful? Show me results. The Boston bombers went completely under the radar, even when the Russians gave us data beforehand.

No, the program violates the 4th Amendment. I have done nothing wrong. If you think I have, get a warrant. Its that simple.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
If we have constitutional NSA programs then how do we protect ourselves from abuse as with the IRS. We have seen that the IGs in the IRS and State Department have done what they could to identify problems, but they have limited powers and are appointed by the president.

I say increase their investigative powers and change the law such that congress has to approve a firing of an IG. Obama fired 2 during his first term when his people were caught skirting/breaking the law.

The NSA needs IGs if they don't have them now with different groups within the NSA having their own IGs and having to report to the congressional intelligence committees every 6 months.

Rules on testifying before congress need to be strengthened. Lying/misleading congress should require an IG investigation and a firing is it was true. Actual perjury would require firing and jail time, as with Nixon's AG John Mitchell who got 19 months in prison. Officials should say they can't testify in open session if they don't want to answer a question that compromises national security.

Only strong measures MAY restore some trust of government by the majority. I see NO movement by this administration to do so.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Defining the argument for this administration means only one thing ... the introduction of a "straw man" argument that never has to be discussed but rather; used to set the narrative and/or set an entrapment for dissenters.
We now know that government individuals can "gather information" without going to the FISA court; it's been done big time ... and revelations of this have totally vindicated Snowden's claim that he could access information about anyone he wanted. Notice the Snowden narrative of "Is he a traitor?" and the threat of being lynched as soon as he is found. Too bad the Obama administration has unbelievably blatant double standards. Obama doesn't have a moral leg to stand on in any of this ... he's "screwed the pooch" so many times it's laughable.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think we must all remember that this is a President that fully admits to the murder of his own citizens. The murder of American citizens because they are terrorists or suspected terrorists. Not that I particularly disagree in this case but that he has openly admitted to this opens a whole new chapter in the American Legal and moral character of this Country. It should also be recognized that not even the foulest of dictators in our immediate past, Hitler,Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao have ever admitted to the killing of their own citizens.
Where does this leave America as the shinning light of right and hope in this world?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
'If the President does it, it is not a crime.'

'The one who defines the terms wins the argument.'

Obama et. al. define what the Constitution means,
hence can never violate any of the rights it provides.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
You have fallen for Obama's definition of what the Constitution means before even commenting, M Report. The Constitution doesn't "provide" any rights. Rights cannot be provided by government; the Declaration says that rights are bestowed on all men by the Creator.
The Constitution creates the federal government and gives it a list of powers; the Bill of Rights then limits those powers of government over certain natural rights it acknowledges exist.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and his supporters want to arm Al Qaeda in Syria, and spy on Americans in America.

When is enough, enough’?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
In a roundtable discussion, a trio of former National Security Agency whistle-blowers tell USA TODAY that Edward Snowden succeeded where they failed. [http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowden-whistleblower-nsa-officials-roundtable/2428809/]

When a National Security Agency contractor revealed top-secret details this month on the government's collection of Americans' phone and Internet records, one select group of intelligence veterans breathed a sigh of relief.

Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe belong to a select fraternity: the NSA officials who paved the way.

For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.

To the intelligence community [neo-Stasi on crack], the trio are villains who compromised what the government classifies as some of its most secret, crucial and successful initiatives. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime.

Today, they feel vindicated.

Q: So Snowden did the right thing?

Binney: Yes, I think he did.

Q: You three wouldn't criticize him for going public from the start?

J. Kirk Wiebe: Correct.

Binney: In fact, I think he saw and read about what our experience was, and that was part of his decision-making.

Not only did they go through multiple and all the proper internal channels and they failed, but more than that, it was turned against them. ... The inspector general was the one who gave their names to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act. And they were all targets of a federal criminal investigation, and Tom ended up being prosecuted — and it was for blowing the whistle.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
From what I have read, Snowden revealed NO significant details, only made the public aware that that are under total surveillance by the NSA. There needs to be better oversight of what the NSA can label as "top secret."
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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