The hysterically exaggerated, intellectually dishonest portrayal of the workings of the NSA surveillance program by many on the left is something I have catalogued on this site since its existence was revealed by the New York Times way back in December of 2005.
To be honest, the netroots have made themselves ridiculously easy targets for ridicule.
My own reservations about the program remain. Reasonable, honest people can debate how this program skirts the law and may – depending exactly how it works which is something that to this day remains hidden – cross the line of legality. The fact that debate raged in the Justice Department over the legality of the program with many career prosecutors opposed while others supported it should demonstrate to any reasonable person that at worst, the Terrorist Surveillance Program was an extremely close call.
Not so scream the netnuts. To the hysterical three year olds who make up the “reality based community,” facts don’t matter nor does it cross their infantile minds that such a surveillance program is even necessary. The program is illegal – no debate is allowed.
To such an incurious crowd we are now about to hand the reigns of government.
What is most worrisome is that they have so much invested in denying the reality of the terrorist threat – that the whole thing was dreamed up by Bush to seize power and become dictator – that one can legitimately question just how serious these mountebanks will be about national security. No doubt they will be relentless in their pursuit of terrorists – after we’ve been hit again. Cold comfort for those Americans who die as a result of their “terrorists are innocent until they commit an overt act” mindset.
Holy Christ! Even Barack Obama thinks the NSA surveillance program is indispensable to our national security. Of course, Obama has no better idea that the program is or was illegal despite his claims to the contrary. He is simply “playing the rubes” in the netroots community as Ian Welsh tells it at Firedoglake:
The FISA Cloture vote just passed. The Senate will now consider the motion to proceed with the bill, then they’ll head to the bill itself (corrected procedural details, h/t and thanks to CBolt). Various motions will be put forward to strip immunity, odds are they will fail. Then a number of the 80 who voted to restrict debate will vote against FISA so they can say they were against the bill. However this was the real vote, and the rest is almost certainly nothing but kabuki for the rubes.
Obama and McCain were both absent, as was Clinton. Unimpressive, but unsurprising, though I suppose I’m disappointed by Clinton (Obama has made it clear he didn’t intend to try and stop the bill.) Clinton and Obama will claim there was no point since it wasn’t close. But, with their leadership, it might well have gone the other way.
The folks who actually voted for the Bill of Rights are listed below. Remember, after the debate there’ll be a larger number of people who vote against this bill, but this was the real vote, and those Senators are just playing the rubes.
In less stressful, less partisan times, it may have been possible to debate the necessity for this surveillance program and even whether or not it actually steps over the line of legality, although how any definitive answers could have been arrived at with key parts of the program still classified and unknown to all but a very select few in government would have been problematic indeed.
So instead, we get ignorant rantings about the Constitution being torn up while brave liberals manned the battlements trying heroically to save American democracy:
A few weasel words from there, but Obama is totally cool with the precedent of the government giving a slip of paper to a corporation allowing them to break the law. He’s cool with the premise of “we were just following orders” that was shot down at Nuremberg being revived. He’s cool with if the President does it, then it isn’t illegal. He’s cool with a bunch of the other really dangerous aspects of the bill, including the vacuuming up of every communication that leaves or enters the United States without even the caveat that they be related to terrorism. He’s cool with a national surveillance state.
Just plain cool with it.
Gee. If all that is true, I am going to turn in my Captain America outfit and move to Brazil. Maybe Lambchop has a spare room he can let me stay in.
Of course, the above is wildly exaggerated – childishly so. Nice touch raising the spectre of Nazis, don’t you think? Battling fascism has always been the counterpoint to righties bravely battling Sharia law here in the US. Neither exists in the real world but boy is it goddamned heroic to see yourself doing it.
The only germ of truth in dday’s idiotic rant above is the “vacuuming up” of communications – a data mining program evidently carried out by the NSA with the assistance of the Telecoms. It is unclear whether this is a separate program or part of the NSA surveillance made public by the Times. But the USA Today reported back in May of 2006 that this data mining project includes a massive number of purely domestic calls as well. The program may have been confirmed by internal AT&T documents.
Question: Did the Telecoms violate the privacy rights of Americans by handing over records to the government of purely domestic calls? Once again, the nuance of the issue escapes the potato heads on the left who are licking their chops at the prospect of massive class action lawsuits against some major corporations that could easily bankrupt them as the legal fees alone could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Supreme Court decided a case that many experts believe bears directly on the privacy issue:
The U.S. Supreme Court has drawn a legal line between collecting phone numbers and routing information, and obtaining the content of phone calls. In a ruling in 1979, the court said in Smith v. Maryland that a phone company’s installation, at police request, of a device to record numbers dialed at a home did not violate the Fourth Amendment.
“We doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote. He noted the court had said “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”
As I said, another gray area where technology and perceived necessity have outstripped – temporarily – the law’s ability to be absolutely clear about the line that must be drawn.
So instead of reasoned debate, we’re stuck with these wild charges that bear little resemblance to what the actual situation is much less the important questions raised by the actions of the Administration in developing and carrying out these programs.
The left just isn’t satisfied with opposing problematic programs. They have to ratchet up the rhetoric to unbearable levels of sophistry and stupidity in order to be seen as saviors of American civilization, standing alone in thwarting the evil machinations of Bush who, after all, is planning another 9/11 attack before the election so that he can cancel it and seize power indefinitely.
Their self image just couldn’t bear the thought of being reasonable and discussing the issues rationally. Too boring. Too vanilla. Only by playing the drama queen will their psyches be assuaged and their egos be satisfied.
Eventually, thankfully, Bush will be gone and chances are they will have Obama to kick around. But somehow, I just don’t see them getting so all-fired upset at a President Obama if he were to continue these surveillance programs or even expand them. At that point, all the nuance involved disappears and a new light of reason and rationality will shine on this debate. The “reality based community” will accept the reality that one of their own is in charge – which is what this whole thing has been about to begin with.