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Spying at Home: Obama embraces Bush's Shame

By       Message Betsy L. Angert     Permalink

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

Today, the Obama truth is revealed.  Change has come in the form of familiarity.  Some Americans are embarrassed.  Others embrace what, when presented by the previous Administration, they rejected.  Apathy helps most Americans to avoid a sense of shame.  It was announced: Obama defends Bush-era secrets.  This Administration has gone further to establish government sovereignty.  As a nation, the Obama White House tells citizens our country will be better protected if details about the surveillance program are considered "Top Secret - Sensitive Compartmented Information."

Several knew this, too, would come to pass.  Authentic transformation was but a tease meant to achieve supremacy for Senator Obama.  In the summer of 2008, the Illinois statesman voted to give George W. Bush more power than even the former President requested.  The issue; the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The controversial ballot cast by then Senator Obama did not capture the attention of most.  People were consumed by woes that were more personal.  Privacy is a right most in the United States take for granted.  Until an event in an individual's life awakens awareness for what was taken away long ago, most do not realize in America the Administration is legally able to watch and listen to a residents' every move.

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The media did not devote much time to Senator Obama's, measured move.  More importantly, from a business perspective, news stories that address surveillance do not receive a larger share of the audience.  Perchance, auspiciously, for our current President, last July campaign distractions dominated the news cycle.  In 2009, talk of the economy is thought most essential.  Indeed, the United States had already experienced an authentic transformation.

After the infamous attacks on September 11, 2001, the electorate accepted the Bush Administration's account at face value.  That is why there are few cries of alarm for the White House's current claim.  The two are close to the same Each Oval Office expounded; there is a constant threat of terrorist aggressions.  Presidents' need to have the power to act on "Intelligence."  Privacy for citizens must be forfeited.  The Patriot Act needed to be passed.  (Please read the text.)  The Commander-In-Chief must have all the authority he or she requests if the American people are to stay safe.  

Hence, convinced of the need to be forever vigilant, countrymen and women changed near a decade ago.  The public became accustomed to constant shadowing.  In the recent past and present, the press presumes correctly.  There is no need to question what collectively, the public concluded justifiable.
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It was as it is, apt to assume there was no tale to tell when Congress, with Obama in the Senate authorized the wonderful world of unlawful White House sanctioned wiretaps.  Nor is there a public interest story when the current occupant of the Oval Office through the Department of Justice proclaims, undercover work, legal or not, is necessary.  Americans have come to acknowledge, in dire times such as these, perhaps, the Administration needs be above the law.  The people need not have the power to sue for improprieties or illegalities.

Perhaps, this explains what was and continues to persist.  Less than a year ago, little time was spent on what candidate Obama justified as wise.  The few who expressed apprehension were eschewed.  Thoughts that often, history is repeated, were rejected.  Fear that what occurred today might follow was thought folly.  Regard for the notion, a President with power will not likely relinquish authority bestowed upon him or her, was ridiculed.  Then, as now, those scant individuals who voiced distress were easily dismissed as cynics.  They were relegated to the position of people without faith in the greater cause.  

Supporters of President Obama, sustain hope.  Activists felt, and continue to believe; this time is different.  Barack Obama, or the people who coalesced to create a vibrant civically responsible community, will indeed prevail.  The population is the change we can believe in, or would be were it not for the fact that under the direction of the Obama Justice Department, the government can wiretap without a warrant and still, not be charged with a crime.

Only this week, loyalists recount the rhetoric and rejoice in the knowledge; in countries such as Turkey, Obama is a hit! Newsweek's Howard Fineman, on MSNBC's Hardball, said Obama "is putting himself forth as … president to the world."  Countless partisans are reassured, assured; as Commander-In-Chief, the man who promised to work for the people, would do what was "right" for everyone on this Earth.  

Less than three months in office, the tide has turned, and not for the better.  Obama’s Administration quietly expanded Bush's legal defense of the wiretapping program.  Indeed, as President, Barack Obama did as he pledged not to do.  Candidate Obama had declared ‘There would be No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me.’  Yet, trust in that promise has become another American shame.  Glenn Greenwald wrote:

“[L]ate Friday afternoon, the  Obama DOJ filed the government's first response to EFF's lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush's NSA program.  But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the "state secrets" privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim of breathtaking scope -- never before advanced even by the Bush administration -- that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications.  

“In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad ‘state secrets’ privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal -- you are barred from suing them unless they "willfully disclose" to the public what they have learned. . . .

“This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ's, and the ample time that elapsed -- almost three full months -- makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials.  Yet, they responded exactly as the Bush DOJ would have.  This demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used -- not only when the Obama DOJ is taking over a case from the Bush DOJ, but even when they are deciding what response should be made in the first instance.  Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ -- using an absurdly broad rendition of ‘state secrets’ to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity -- are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.”
Only days earlier an evaluation of the Obama White House evoked concern.  Obama Finds That Washington's Habits of Secrecy Die Hard.  Might Americans particularly those who trusted President Obama would change an Administration's corrupt practices, consider, as a candidate, an aspiring Barack Obama built the foundation that now supports him.  The Obama Administration, the Government opts for secrecy in wiretap suit. Those who today continue to purport, "I pledge my allegiance to President, Barack Obama," or even only to his plans, may consider the thought.  Past is prologue.  

If Americans do not acknowledge the significance of early actions on the part of Presidential aspirants, if the people hold onto false hope, the electorate hurts itself.  Rights to privacy lost will not only be retained but also enhanced.  If citizens trust a challenger will be the change we can believe in, even when he reveals he is not, then, we can expect what will come.  Telephones will be tapped.  Surveillance will pass for security.  The fact that Americans allowed the same intrusive policies to persist is our shame.  

References; the loss of civil liberties restored . . . 

Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers,  By Eric Lichtblau.  The New York Times.  July 10, 2008

Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must 'kiss my ass' for his support,  By Tim Shipman in Washington and Philip Sherwell in New York.  Telegraph. June 2008

Obama Responds to FISA Protest on His Web Site, By Sara Wheaton.  The New York Times. July 3, 2008

On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 6304).  U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress - 2nd Session.  July 9, 2008, 02:47 PM

Was Obama's FISA vote "calculated"?  By Alex Koppelman.  Salon. July 10, 2008

Patriot Act HR 3162 RDS  October 24, 2001

Government Defendants' Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss and Summary Judgment.  U.S. Department of Justice. Filed April 3, 2009

New and worse secrecy and immunity claims from the Obama DOJ, By Glenn Greenwald.  Salon. April 6, 2009

Government opts for secrecy in wiretap suit, By Bob Egelko.  San Francisco  Chronicle. Tuesday, April 7, 2009·

Obama Finds That Washington's Habits of Secrecy Die Hard.  By Sheryl Gay-Stolberg.  The New York Times. April 4, 2009·

Obama plans huge pledge drive for his policies, By Matthew B. Stannard and Joe Garofoli.  San Francisco Chronicle. Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama's Speech in Turkey a Hit, USA Today.  April 7, 2009
'Hardball with Chris Matthews. Transcript.  MSNBC News.  Monday, April 6, 2009


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