The Surveillance State

Holy shit:

Justice Department documents released today by the ACLU reveal that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability.

The documents, handed over by the government only after months of litigation, are the attorney general’s 2010 and 2011 reports on the use of “pen register” and “trap and trace” surveillance powers. The reports show a dramatic increase in the use of these surveillance tools, which are used to gather information about telephone, email, and other Internet communications. The revelations underscore the importance of regulating and overseeing the government’s surveillance power.

Here’s two graphs, one showing the number of orders, the other the number of people affected:

That, my friends, is one exploding surveillance state. Under Obama, the number of people being surveilled has tripled. These two methods allow police, without a warrant, to monitor every number you call and that calls you. Thanks to the PATRIOT Act, they can also get whatever e-mail addresses and IP’s you interact with. They can track your movements from cell phone towers. They are not supposed to listen to calls or read e-mails. But there really isn’t a mechanism to prevent it or punish it either.

Still, the allowed information alone, according to most researchers, is enough to reveal an astonishing amount of information about you. Do we want to take bets on whether this is being used exclusively to fight terrorism? Remember, as Alex pointed out, they can now keep this information, even on non-terrorism cases, for five years. Remember that TSA has already expanded their mission to find people with drugs and other contraband. This isn’t about terrorists blowing things up. This is a generalized tool designed to whittle away at our privacy. And Obama is exploiting it.

As ever, we have to look back and acknowledge that Lee was prophetic:

As I’ve written extensively before, Bush is only a temporary occupant of the White House, and every power that we give to him now will be available to every president who follows him. So many people don’t have a problem with these type of warrantless searches because, on some level, they trust Bush to do the right thing. My problem is that a future president could very easily use these same powers to do some very, very bad things, and as a conservative, I can’t support setting up this type of perilous political situation.

Pen register and trap and trace doubled under Bush and were rising steadily when he left office. But he was a piker compared to the uber-liberal professor now ensconced in the Oval Office who basically took these powers, said “thanks” and exploded them beyond all measure.

The ACLU, bless them, has been all over Obama on this, fighting numerous legal battles to just to find out what they’re doing. But the rest of the Left? The people who called Bush a fascist? You can hear the crickets.

Comments are closed.

  1. Mississippi Yankee

    Pen register and trap and trace doubled under Bush and were rising steadily when he left office. But he was a piker compared to the uber-liberal professor now ensconced in the Oval Office who basically took these powers, said “thanks” and exploded them beyond all measure.

    When I first started to read this post I just fuckin knew it wuz gonna be Boosh’s fault. You are to be commended for holding off until almost the end of your post.

    Now, I’ll bet, that except for the obligatory gnashing of teeth (yanno, pissin’-n-moanin’) nothing ever gets done about… EVAH!

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  2. Mississippi Yankee

    Are you sure it wasn’t Nixon or Eisenhower maybe even Hoover?

    As per Wikipedia wire-tapping has been going on since before Bush Sr. was even born. In fact FDR had a ‘big old time’ with it too.

    Telephone wiretapping began in the 1890s, following the invention of the telephone recorder, and its constitutionality was established in the Prohibition Era conviction of bootlegger Roy Olmstead. Wiretapping has also been carried out under most Presidents, sometimes with a lawful warrant since the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional in 1928. On October 19, 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who served under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, authorized the FBI to begin wiretapping the communications of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The wiretaps remained in place until April 1965 at his home and June 1966 at his office.[20]

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  3. Mississippi Yankee

    And what is warrant less wireless surveillance called? Is it more or less fascist?

    MY point is that all warrantless surveillance should have been covered in the 1928 Supreme Court decision BUT Wiretapping and/or wireless tapping (drones, beta,gamma,X-ray mind-melds) has also been carried out under most Presidents not starting with Boosh. There wasn’t even a frame on that portal when he got there.

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  4. hist_ed

    The Clinton Administration, in the person of Jamie Gorelick (maybe that’s how she got the job, licking the Vice President?? Ick) argued to Congress that the Constitution gives the executive the power to conduct warrantless physical searches if the searches are in pursuit of national security goals. Never mind a bug or your cell record, Billy Bob’s G-Men were gonna search your car, your house, your business, maybe even your rectum without a warrant.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    That’s right, hist_ed! Bob Barr pointed that out. That the Clinton Admin sought all the Patriot Act powers to fight the War on Crime but Congress refused. The second 9/11 happened, they brought it all back.

    Who knew that Bush would turn out to be more trustworthy with this power than Obama?

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  6. hist_ed

    You don’t have it quite right, HAL. The Clintons didn’t seek these powers from Congress, they asserted that the Constitution already gave those powers to the President. Remember, Congress can’t amend the Constitution, so the Clinton administration argued that the executive had essentially unlimited search powers as long as they were pursuing national security goals. The FISA court essentially agreed in one ruling.

    There was even a New York Times editorial endorsing Clinton’s position. Don’t have time to dig it up, but it makes amusing reading if one wants to wallow in the political bias of the press.

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  7. Seattle Outcast

    But he was a piker compared to the uber-liberal professor

    As I understand it, Obama was only a “lecturer”, and outside of his first couple years, wasn’t considered a very good or popular one. One of his first big lies was telling people that he was a “constitutional law professor” that “respected the constitution” when neither of these conditions was even remotely correct.

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