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 George W. Bush's 4th term? 
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Post George W. Bush's 4th term?
Politico wrote:
George W. Bush's 4th term?
By GLENN THRUSH | 6/6/13 1:14 PM EDT

The outrage over President Barack Obama’s authorization of a nearly limitless federal dive into Americans’ phone records obscures a hiding-in-plain-sight truth about the 44th president many of his supporters have overlooked for years:

For all his campaign-trail talk of running the “most transparent administration” in U.S history, never promised to reverse the 43rd president’s policies on domestic anti-terrorism surveillance — and he’s been good on his word.

Obama’s effort to strike what he’s repeatedly called “a balance” between personal liberty and homeland security has exposed what amounts to a split political personality: Candidate Obama often spoke about personal freedom with the passion of a constitutional lawyer — while Commander-in-Chief Obama has embraced and expanded Bush-era surveillance efforts like the 2011 extension of the Patriot Act, which paved the way for a secret court order allowing the gathering of Verizon phone records.

In an irony now being savored by his conservative critics, Obama administration officials are now relying on Republicans to defend him against charges from liberals and the libertarian right that he’s recklessly prioritized national security over personal liberty.

“Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. Renditions. Military commissions. Obama is carrying out Bush’s 4th term, yet he attacked Bush for violating the Constitution,” said Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary.

“He’s helping keep the nation safe, vindicating President Bush, all while putting a bipartisan stamp on how to fight terror,” Fleischer added.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged Attorney General Eric Holder defended the record-grab Thursday, publicly urging Attorney General Eric Holder to stay the course even if some corrections needed to be made.

“You keep up what you’re doing,” Graham said. “President Bush started it. President Obama’s continuing it. We need it, from my point of view.”

White House officials declined to comment on the record for this story.

By seeking what administration officials call “metadata” — phone numbers, the duration of calls, frequency of contact between individual callers at home and abroad — Obama can technically deny that the surveillance is deeply intrusive because actual wiretaps require additional court orders in most cases.

But the data cadged in the Verizon case can be used as a menu — giving agents an idea of which individuals or organizations warrant further scrutiny.

“The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber,” said an aide who requested to be identified only as a “senior administration official” as a condition of sharing the administration’s thinking on the matter.

“It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call. Information of the sort described… has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”

But critics in Obama’s own party say the net cast by the order poses a grave threat to free expression and the right Americans have — and Obama has so often championed — to live their lives without Big Brother poking into their affairs.

“This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) who has repeatedly raised concerns about surveillance overreach by the administration.

“I have had significant concerns about the intelligence community over-collecting information about Americans’ telephone calls, emails, and other records and that is why I voted against the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act provisions in 2011 and the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act just six months ago.”

“This bulk data collection is being done under interpretations of the law that have been kept secret from the public. Significant FISA court opinions that determine the scope of our laws should be declassified. Can the FBI or the NSA really claim that they need data scooped up on tens of millions of Americans?”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), one of the few Obama allies to vote against the 2011 extension of the Patriot Act, said, “The United States should not be accumulating phone records on tens of millions of innocent Americans. That is not what democracy is about. That is not what freedom is about.”
That tone was strikingly similar to the tone of Obama’s own comments when he was a back-bencher in the upper chamber.

In 2005, then-Sen. Obama spoke out against the Bush-sponsored Patriot Act extension on the grounds that FBI agents would have been given wide berth in obtaining personal records on people suspected of terrorist links without having to get their searches approved by a federal judge under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act

“This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law,” he said during a much-publicized Senate floor speech at the time.

“[F]ederal agents [can] conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive or wide-ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove that the search is necessary. They simply need sign-off from a local FBI official,” he added.

“If someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document - through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made - this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case.”

Yet despite the vehemence of his remarks — which were to be repeated on the campaign trail two years later — Obama ultimately backed a 2006 compromise bill that limited but didn’t eliminate the use of so-called “National Security letters” allowing the FBI broad surveillance power without a court order.

Like many Democrats, Obama was never philosophically opposed to deep dives by federal authorities if they served the broader interest of national security.

Moreover, when it came time to extend the Patriot Act in 2011, Obama, now president, quietly sought to expand the reach of extra-judicial surveillance outside the jurisdiction of the FISA court.

In fact, several news organizations reported at the time that Obama’s lawyers wanted to add a new provision to include internet browsing and e-mail records — “electronic communication transactional records” that didn’t include content — to a list of sources the FBI could demand without a judge’s approval.

Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, told the Washington Post in 2010 that the change meant investigations would broaden the bureau’s authority by making it “faster and easier to get the data.”

The provision was eventually added to the bill.

For all the criticism the administration is attracting for the Verizon bombshell, Obama aides are counting on a very Bush-like political calculation that carried the president through his first term and second election: That the public’s desire for protection outweighs their outrage over even a massive breach of privacy.

And here, at long last, is one issue where Obama can legitimately claim to have bipartisan backing.

Thursday morning at a hearing scheduled long before Glenn Greenwald of U.K.’s Guardian newspaper broke the NSA/Verizon story, Holder said the Obama administration kept Congress informed completely in the loop about a Verizon dragnet that the administration says is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

“Members of Congress have been fully briefed as these issues, these matters have been underway,” Holder said at a pre-scheduled Senate hearing Thursday.

But even Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), the author of the Patriot Act, wasn’t comfortable with the turn things have taken, saying he is “extremely troubled” by a move he called “excessive and un-American.”

“While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses,” Sensenbrenner said. “The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act. I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/n ... z2VSWaCXTv

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June 6th, 2013, 1:44 pm
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Post Re: George W. Bush's 4th term
After the second of the twin towers was hit, but before either one fell, I was worried not about the horrors of war with whoever was responsible. I was worried that we were about to get legislation that would dismantle our individual liberties.

I could give a rat's behind about going to war with Hussein or bin Laden, or with whichever tin pot dictator who thinks he can F with us.

I was, and am, much more concerned with how Congress, in a fit to do something, does something horrible. In so doing, we acknowledge that the bad guys won.

I say this as a staunch supporter of the Desert Wars, but a staunch antagonist of the badly named 'Patriot' Act.

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June 6th, 2013, 2:48 pm
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Post Re: George W. Bush's 4th term
TruckinMack wrote:
After the second of the twin towers was hit, but before either one fell, I was worried not about the horrors of war with whoever was responsible. I was worried that we were about to get legislation that would dismantle our individual liberties.

I could give a rat's behind about going to war with Hussein or bin Laden, or with whichever tin pot dictator who thinks he can F with us.

I was, and am, much more concerned with how Congress, in a fit to do something, does something horrible. In so doing, we acknowledge that the bad guys won.

I say this as a staunch supporter of the Desert Wars, but a staunch antagonist of the badly named 'Patriot' Act.


So you were more concerned with your phone records getting out than the lives lost in war? Yet another example of the disconnect between our military and our civilians...


June 6th, 2013, 5:10 pm
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Post Re: George W. Bush's 4th term
TruckinMack wrote:
After the second of the twin towers was hit, but before either one fell, I was worried not about the horrors of war with whoever was responsible. I was worried that we were about to get legislation that would dismantle our individual liberties.

I could give a rat's behind about going to war with Hussein or bin Laden, or with whichever tin pot dictator who thinks he can F with us.

I was, and am, much more concerned with how Congress, in a fit to do something, does something horrible. In so doing, we acknowledge that the bad guys won.

I say this as a staunch supporter of the Desert Wars, but a staunch antagonist of the badly named 'Patriot' Act.


I agree completely, on all accounts.


June 6th, 2013, 5:33 pm
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Post Re: George W. Bush's 4th term
TruckinMack wrote:
After the second of the twin towers was hit, but before either one fell, I was worried not about the horrors of war with whoever was responsible. I was worried that we were about to get legislation that would dismantle our individual liberties.

I could give a rat's behind about going to war with Hussein or bin Laden, or with whichever tin pot dictator who thinks he can F with us.

I was, and am, much more concerned with how Congress, in a fit to do something, does something horrible. In so doing, we acknowledge that the bad guys won.

I say this as a staunch supporter of the Desert Wars, but a staunch antagonist of the badly named 'Patriot' Act.

Well said.

They want to destroy our way of life.

They achieve this in part by causing events that cause us to over react and destroy our way of life for them. Every time I see civil liberties sacrificed in the "war on terror", I wonder whose side those doing the sacrificing are on.


June 7th, 2013, 10:07 am
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Modmin Dude
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Post Re: George W. Bush's 4th term?
Rand Paul wrote:
NSA's Verizon surveillance: how the White House tramples our constitution
Senator Obama once showed great concern to safeguard US freedoms. But as president, he rides roughshod over liberty

Rand Paul
guardian.co.uk, Friday 7 June 2013 06.45 EDT

In December 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama joined then-Senator Chris Dodd in threatening to filibuster the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa). Senator Obama opposed provisions granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that shared private client information with the government. His office released a statement:
Quote:
"Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill …"

Senator Obama was right. Had I been in the Senate, I would've voted with him. I've even filibustered myself over civil liberties issues I believe are important.

Later, supporting an amendment that he believed repealed retroactive immunity from Fisa, Senator Obama said in February 2008:
Quote:
"We can give our intelligence and law enforcement community the powers they need to track down and take out terrorists without undermining our commitment to the rule of law, or our basic rights and liberties."

Senator Obama in 2007 was rightly concerned that telecommunications companies might get away with sharing clients' private information without legal scrutiny. This week, we learned that the president's National Security Agency compelled Verizon to hand over all of its client data records.

Senator Obama in 2008 wanted to track potential terrorist activity "without undermining our commitment to the rule of law, or our basic rights and liberties". Today, President Obama undermines the rule of law, basic rights and core liberties – all in the name of tracking terrorists.

There is always a balance between security and liberty and the American tradition has long been to err on the side of liberty. America's founders feared a government powerful enough to commit unreasonable searches and seizures and crafted a constitution designed to protect citizens' privacy.

Under this administration, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has targeted political dissidents, the Department of Justice has seized reporters' phone records, and now we've learned the NSA seized an unlimited amount of Verizon's client data. Just when you think it can't get any worse under this president, it does. This is an all-out assault on the constitution. These actions are unacceptable under any president, Democrat or Republican.

I can remember well a Senator Obama who joined the Democratic chorus against the warrantless wiretapping of the Bush administration. Now, that chorus has gone mute. The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald has noted what he sees as "a defining attribute of the Obama legacy: the transformation of what was until recently a symbol of rightwing radicalism – warrantless eavesdropping – into meekly accepted bipartisan consensus."

Not every Republican or Democrat is part of that consensus. When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the Fisa Amendments Act over the holidays late last year, Senator Mike Lee (Republican, Utah) and I offered an amendment requiring stronger protections on business records that would've prohibited precisely the kind of data-mining the Verizon case has revealed. Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) introduced an amendment to require estimates from intelligence agencies of how many Americans were being surveilled. Both these measures were voted down.

Just last month, I introduced the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which if enacted would've protected Americans from exactly the kind of abuses we've seen recently. It was also voted down.

On Thursday, I announced my Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013, which ensures that no government agency can search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause. We shall see how many join me in supporting a part of the Bill of Rights that everyone in Congress already took an oath to uphold.

If the president and Congress would simply obey the fourth amendment, this new shocking revelation that the government is now spying on citizens' phone data en masse would never have happened. That I have to keep reintroducing the fourth amendment – and that a majority of senators keep voting against it – is a good reflection of the arrogance that dominates Washington.

During my filibuster, I quoted Glenn Greenwald, who wrote:
Quote:
"There is a theoretical framework being built that posits that the US government has unlimited power. When it comes to any kind of threats it perceives, it makes the judgment to take whatever action against them that it warrants without any constraints or limitations of any kind."

If the seizure and surveillance of Americans' phone records – across the board and with little to no discrimination – is now considered a legitimate security precaution, there is literally no protection of any kind guaranteed anymore to American citizens. In their actions, more outrageous and numerous by the day, this administration continues to treat the US constitution as a dead letter.

Senator Obama said of President Bush and Fisa in 2008:
Quote:
"We must reaffirm that no one in this country is above the law."

No one in America should be above the law. Including this president.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... CMP=twt_gu

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June 7th, 2013, 12:18 pm
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