In addition to increasing deportations of illegal aliens to a pace only dreamed of by the Bush administration, Barack Obama is looking to expand the FBI’s extrajudicial, and much abused National Security Letters beyond what Dick Cheney wanted in his most paranoid fantasies:
Today, The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration wants Congress to expand the type of data that can be gained through the use of National Security Letters:
The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.
This is on the heels not only of the administration blocking reasonable restrictions on what has objectively been widespread misuse of NSLs, but of the FBI recently beginning to investigate whether or not “hundreds” of agents cheated on the exam meant to “ensure that they could follow aggressive investigative guidelines without intruding on Americans’ privacy rights.” That’s on top of threatening to veto the meager intelligence-oversight reforms being proposed by Congress. As Gene Healy wrote yesterday, “Our interminable war on terror sometimes seems designed to justify every bad thing libertarians have ever said about government.” Having acted irresponsibly with the surveillance power it already has, and blocked reform that would have made the government more accountable, the Obama administration now wants even more power to violate the privacy rights of American citizens. When it comes to national security, there’s nothing like failed government performance to justify giving the government more power.
My sense on these matters is that there are a number of issues which are driving this:
- Barack Obama feels that he and his administration are good people who can responsibly handle this authority, and so he, and his administration, do not need to constrained by constitutional checks and balances.
- Which would put former adjunct Professor Obama in serious running for “Worst Constitutional Law Professor ever.”
- Barack Obama has been successfully cowed by the professional state security apparatus in the United States, which is doubtless feeding him alarmist horror stories, and so he is giving them their wish list.
- That, much like he is in the case of expanded deportations, and the war in Afghanistan, he sees this as a way to inoculate himself against attacks from the right in 2012.
- If this one is true, it means that Dick Cheney has more ideological integrity than does Barack Obama, as scary as that sound.
- Because he can, which, as former President Bill Clinton noted is the worst possible reason.
It is really remarkable how despite my low expectations, he continues to manage to disappoint.
To a large degree I blame those who protested the excesses of Bush and His Evil Minions™ who are not largely silent, because Barack Obama is the leader of their party.