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All Da King's Men

Obama Administration Lifted Restrictions On NSA

By David King Published: September 9, 2013

Back when Sen. Barack Obama was running for President, he promised to reverse post-9/11 Bush era wiretapping policies. Obama promised there would be "no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens", saying the Bushies were "putting forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide."

That was the phony Obama, the speechifying political opportunist.

Back in June, we found out a bit about the real Obama, the President who went further into spying on Americans than Bush ever did. What started out as an NSA program under Bush to intercept communications from foreign terrorist suspects, which didn't trouble me too much in the wake of 9/11, provided there was sufficient congressional oversight (which there wasn't), has now morphed into NSA programs that universally spy on all Americans under Obama. That is troublesome to the max.

Now we discover that in 2011, the Obama administration lifted the restrictions on the NSA that were put into place late in the Bush years. I guess the "liberties we cherish" were no longer of any importance to Obama once he was in charge. From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.

In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.

The [2011] court decision allowed the NSA “to query the vast majority” of its e-mail and phone call databases using the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of Americans and legal residents without a warrant, according to Bates’s opinion.

As a result, we now have near universal warrantless surveillance of Americans, and the Obama administration thinks such warrantless surveillance is hunky-dory. It sees no reason to obtain warrants to spy on Americans:

Senior administration officials [said], “If we’re validly targeting foreigners and we happen to collect communications of Americans, we don’t have to close our eyes to that. I’m not aware of other situations where once we have lawfully collected information, we have to go back and get a warrant to look at the information we’ve already collected.”

See how that works ? According to the Obamas, once the government has "legally" shredded the Fourth Amendment into tiny pieces and flushed it down the toilet, well heck, there's no reason left to get warrants to act on the information collected, even against American citizens. They have closed the logical circle on their own tyranny.

Hope And Change 101, from the same guy who banned the waterboarding of terrorist suspects like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on principle, and started assassinating terrorist suspects with remote drones instead, even if those suspects were American citizens. I'm mystified as to how Obama's way is more in line with our "principles". Someone should ask Obama about that, but I'm sure it's all "classified".

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