Sometimes the performance art produced by today's political/media world is simply too much to stomach.
I'll explain...but first a brief review is in order.
Immediately after 9-11, the GOP administration at the time, and without congressional approval, launched an electronic communications eavesdropping and collection program. Warrants and probable cause were thrown entirely out the window....and as Edward Snowden has helped us to grasp.....no communications were off limits. Foreigners, Americans, inside the U.S., outside.....it was a total communications dragnet....it was entirely secretive....and it was illegal according to the 4th amendment.
Furthermore, and not that this matters, there's no evidence that this illegal dragnet prevented any "terrorist attacks." So, not only is the hoovering program illegal, but it didn't work as advertised either.
Before the illegal program(s) began, government officials had the right to obtain a warrant from a judge to gain access to specific communications that were germane to law enforcement cases. Point being that before 9-11 the executive branch had a pathway to obtain the electronic communications records they needed.
That's why this from President Obama is just mediocre theater....
In a speech in January, President Obama said he wanted to get the N.S.A. out of the business of collecting call records in bulk while preserving the program’s abilities. He acknowledged, however, that there was no easy way to do so,....
In other words.....how can we stop doing illegal stuff, please, someone help me from continuing to do illegal stuff. It's just so difficult to stop breaking the law.
To his credit, GOP Senator Rand Paul voiced the obvious....
“They’re looking for congressional permission to stop doing what they’re doing,” said Paul, who was still suing the administration over the metadata trawling. “They never got congressional permission in the first place. There’s nothing forcing them to keep collecting data.”
In other words.....all the president has to do is order the NSA to stop doing the illegal stuff that they've been doing. Seems obvious, I know.....but all the theater performers are simply playing their designated roles, reading from the prepared script designed to, basically, hoodwink the American people.
Here's how we should know for sure that everyone involved here is playacting.....
The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said.
Didn't the federal government always have that ability? Then why would Congress need to pass another law? The answer is: because our elected officials are pretending. For those who might doubt.....do you think that our spooks are going to close this down....
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.
On cue, and following the script, here's one of the Serious Playhouse Players....
“The Congress ought to codify what the president’s done so the message is sent to future presidents,” said Udall.
What "message" will future presidents receive if Congress simply legalizes illegal behavior by the executive branch? Not a trick question. Future presidents who have received the "message" will do almost any darn thing they want in the realization that Congress will simply, retroactively, make their illegality, legal. All any future president would have to do is say the magic words...."national security"....and Congress, like they did in 2008, and now again in 2014, will legalize whatever illegalities have been ordered by the executive branch.
The tough part, however, is the performance. That's the hard part. The play-acting.
...on Tuesday morning, Rep. Mike Rogers officially introduced his new bill concerning bulk data collection by the NSA. Overnight, it appears that Rogers and his staff realized that the originally proposed name of the bill, the End Bulk Collection Act of 2014, was so bogus that they couldn't go forward with that. So the official bill is now called the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act.
....at the same time (Intelligence Chair Mike) Rogers (R-MI) gave his press conference in which he claimed he was ending the bulk data collection by the NSA, he was publishing an op-ed in USA Today claiming the program was "necessary" and "vital" and that was why he was calling for it to end.
No, the script, the playacting doesn't necessarily have to make any sense....it just has to appear as if the players are conducting themselves Seriously.
I have no faith at all that the federal government entities involved have any intention of stopping what they've spent years and billions setting up. Others may be persuaded that the NSA is finally going to be reined in.......but I'm not persuaded.
I've seen this play too many times.