Reprinted from The Guardian
As with many tragedies, a host of politicians are now trying to exploit the mass murder in Orlando to push all sorts of proposals that would have done little or nothing to stop the attack either, but could have a huge effect on our rights.
The first thing Republicans did on Monday was try to use the tragedy to call for expansive new surveillance powers for the FBI -- despite the fact that the FBI had no problem surveilling the Orlando attacker while they were investigating him. As the New York Times noted on Monday: "FBI agents in Florida used multiple investigative tools, including an undercover informant who made contact with the suspect, wiretapping his conversations, and pulling personal and financial records" when they first investigated him in 2013.
But Republicans didn't let the facts get in the way. They want to massively broaden the use of national security letters, controversial and unconstitutional tools that the FBI would be able to use to get people's email records and internet history without involving a judge or courts at all. Of course, they can already get this with a court order, but Republicans (and the Obama administration) want as little judicial scrutiny over these activities as possible.
Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton's "solutions" are much similar: she hinted Monday she is for expanding surveillance capabilities as well, saying we needed an "intelligence surge" to "bolster our capabilities across the board, with appropriate safeguards here at home." She neglected to mention that we're in about Year 15 or so of an "intelligence surge" that has seen our national security agencies receive literally hundreds of billions of dollars and their legal capabilities expand at every turn.
She also claimed we should "get back to ... the spirit of 9/12." Ah yes, the days of secretly planning illegal surveillance, torture, and worldwide war. Where do we sign up?