Skip to main content

I am not here to defend the surveillance programs our government has been operating.  In fact, I have serious qualms about them. I need to know more, and from different kinds of sources, before I form my final opinion. I also recognize no one is actually waiting for me to issue that opinion before doing, well, anything.

What I'm focused on here is the claim that -- now that the curtain has been pulled back -- we can see that President Barack Obama is essentially no different from President George W. Bush on the matter of surveillance. Well, in the words of Mitt Romney:

"Poppycock."
The most important distinction between the surveillance programs operating now and those operating under the previous administration is this: President George W. Bush claimed absolute power, and did so in an area where a duly enacted law specifically limited presidential authority. Bush claimed that -- even though the law required him to get warrants from the FISA court before wiretapping or eavesdropping on communication --  the Constitution gives him essentially unchecked authority on matters of national security. According to the Washington Post, the Bush Administration argued that:
The inherent presidential powers in Article II of the Constitution -- to wage war -- cannot be abridged or impended in the context of a global terrorism fight. Justice lawyers say they believe that the president's powers are consistent with FISA but that if there is any question of a conflict, the president's powers trump FISA.
This argument, the so-called Unitary Executive Theory, was linked most often to John Yoo, a Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in Bush's Department of Justice. It means that the President can operate essentially by decree on matters of national security, with the President himself defining what falls under "national security." Barack Obama has not claimed nor has he sought any such power for the office of the President.

That matters.

The surveillance programs operating under President Obama are being supervised by the courts as called for by law. The administration also has been briefing Congress, as called for by law. The administration has not claimed any special authority to go outside the existing FISA law, which has been amended a number of times. Of course, just because something is legal doesn't make it right. But it matters that President Obama followed the law and President Bush did not.

If you want to argue that the kind of surveillance being done under President Obama is very similar to or even more extensive than that done under President Bush, then fine, make that argument. The changes to the FISA law have broadened the scope of what is allowed, without question. If you want to argue that these surveillance programs are a disastrous invasion of privacy, then fine, make that argument. Those are questions worth debating. Let's have a vigorous debate about privacy and surveillance and the role of government.

However, you cannot argue that there is no difference between the two Presidents on this matter. The claim that the President can ignore the law -- that his authority when it comes to defending the country is unchecked -- makes a mockery of our centuries-old tradition of separation of powers and makes the President virtually an elected dictator. By claiming such authority as justification for his surveillance programs, George W. Bush pointed a dagger at the heart of democracy. Barack Obama did no such thing.

PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.


Originally posted to Ian Reifowitz on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Jews For President Obama and The Federation.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (150+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WeNeedKerry, DemInDuluth, Abby Hemani, shortmama, Gale Hollis, jiffypop, Argyrios, rudewarrior, MartyM, Catte Nappe, Dave in Northridge, Gowrie Gal, raptavio, ord avg guy, Loge, remembrance, SneakySnu, skillet, Matt Z, GoGoGoEverton, Glen The Plumber, Free Jazz at High Noon, Onomastic, theKgirls, BenderRodriguez, cfk, FG, madmsf, anodnhajo, SaintC, mikidee, HamdenRice, fou, rivercard, envwq, MRA NY, science nerd, Hubbard Squash, jkay, puakev, wader, carolanne, Sybil Liberty, arizonablue, kenwards, Sylv, Radiowalla, cotterperson, blueyedace2, Puffin, johnny wurster, Haf2Read, charliehall2, blue aardvark, zenox, kirbybruno, SilverWillow, broths, Diogenes2008, karmsy, Patate, Mnemosyne, greengemini, dizzydean, doroma, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, Isaacsdad, NYWheeler, slippytoad, a2nite, Gator Keyfitz, JerryNA, Fishgrease, kharma, rg611, Gary Norton, Native Gator, Bob Duck, nickrud, exNYinTX, FiredUpInCA, triciawyse, LABobsterofAnaheim, hannah, Railfan, nomandates, Fe Bongolan, Little Flower, Mets102, Imhotepsings, jan4insight, blue jersey mom, joe from Lowell, leevank, Vicky, Fury, FindingMyVoice, VickiL, Tony Situ, peagreen, Smoh, Lying eyes, Kokomo for Obama, fumie, StellaRay, vixenflem, KayCeSF, TheOpinionGuy, joanbrooker, Chitownliberal7, scribe, Desert Scientist, Lefty Ladig, truthhurtsaz, Wisper, ColoTim, skrekk, Libbylalala, Wee Mama, Fonsia, onanyes, gramofsam1, RandomNonviolence, Jeff Simpson, sebastianguy99, hooper, middleagedhousewife, Sue B, aaraujo, artmartin, cordgrass, Jim R, rmx2630, indie17, UtahLibrul, Ebby, subtropolis, ratcityreprobate, badlands, Nulwee, MrAnon, Louise, OleHippieChick, annan, HipHopAnonymous, CalGal47, lastman, eeff, politik, BleacherBum153
  •  But this does lend support to the idea... (46+ / 0-)

    that something must be done about it NOW. Another President can easily use the same argument as Bush, based on Bush's precedent. And since someone has done it before it justifies being done again ad infinitum.

  •  So what do we do when the next President claims (22+ / 0-)

    absolute power?

    The most important distinction between the surveillance programs operating now and those operating under the previous administration is this:
    The point is the law, not the individual

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:48:00 AM PDT

  •  This is a useful reminder. (37+ / 0-)

    People will jump on you for claiming this is legal. But that isn't our judgment, it's the judgment of the FISA court. Like it or not, deciding whether the programs are legal is their job -- and even if we think the FISA court is wrong on the merits, our judgment has no legal significance if we're not the FISA court.

    If we don't like this, then the law needs to change.

  •  Bush cleared the path that Obama is following. (23+ / 0-)

    Obama didn't have to use the powers that were essentially codified post-hoc in response to Bush's overreach.  The fact that he is - and, importantly, that the legal interpretations of the law are not transparent - does not relieve Obama of the moral responsibility of what ihe is allowing to continue.   So, yes, Obama is not acting unilaterally like Bush did, but he is behaving as Bush did.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:50:15 AM PDT

  •  Drone Program. Kill List. ---maybe you should try (6+ / 0-)

    again in claiming Obama isn't claiming absolute power.

    There is no oversite there.

    The evidence doesn't support your assertion. Going after whistleblowers. The secrecy.

    I'll assume your book is equally apologetic and worthless.

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:53:06 AM PDT

    •  Assume away. (32+ / 0-)

      We all know what assumptions are worth. Absolute power is a specific thing, with a specific meaning.

      And I don't appreciate the personal insults. Stick to facts.

    •  According to the administraiton, itself (14+ / 0-)

      if 2/3 of Congress voted to repeal the AUMF, the drone program goes away.  

      The conditions under which the programs come into place impose their own limitations, against the slippery slope arguments.

      That it would be irresponsible not to track at least some overseas communications or kill overseas terrorists or aggregate non-private information (in the form of call records) is a separate argument against "overreach," let alone absolutism.  The problem with Bush is that his overreaches were such that people who objected to the legal framework and people who object to the government doing much of anything had no real reason to disagree.  The serious objections to the program would involve a series of discrete, technical fixes constraining use of data, durations of storage, access, etc., but either Congress has to get more specific, or the FISA court has to be more specific; and even there, it's tipping off potential terrorists to a work around.  

      Indeed, the only thing we really know for certain is Obama has declared a bright line rule against listening in on the contents of phone calls of Americans without warrants.   Indeed, if the government really wanted to "control" citizens, they wouldn't hide the program; instead, they'd want people to think they were being watched.  

      I'll stipulate to your moral rectitude; are you still interested in the program?  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:09:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you really believe this? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CT Hank, greenbastard, Ian Reifowitz
        if 2/3 of Congress voted to repeal the AUMF, the drone program goes away.
        The arguments I've heard linking the AUMF to the drone program are rather weak. It's not a large leap to suppose that the drone program was decided on first, and legal justifications cooked up afterward. If the AUMF was repealed, I strongly suspect they'd find some other way to "justify" the program.
        The serious objections to the program would involve a series of discrete, technical fixes constraining use of data, durations of storage, access, etc., but either Congress has to get more specific, or the FISA court has to be more specific; and even there, it's tipping off potential terrorists to a work around.
        Except all the information about the program is classified, so all we know about it is what's leaked. Us ordinary citizens have no idea what "discrete, technical fixes" might be appropriate, or indeed if there's any way to make this program not a serious violation of privacy without completely overhauling it, unless the information about it gets declassified.
        Indeed, the only thing we really know for certain is Obama has declared a bright line rule against listening in on the contents of phone calls of Americans without warrants.
        Well, so he says in public. Again, who knows what actually happens behind the veil of secrecy?
        Indeed, if the government really wanted to "control" citizens, they wouldn't hide the program; instead, they'd want people to think they were being watched.
        They don't have enough power to be that brazen about it. The danger is that they'll abuse the information they have to go after people who aren't "terrorists." Once again, since everything is classified, we have no idea what measures (if any) are in place to prevent such abuse.

        "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

        by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:29:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The fact they don't have the power to be brazen (9+ / 0-)

          proves the point.

          And even if you wanted to quibble with the administration's justification for the drone program -- the fact that they rooted it squarely within the AUMF does indeed answer the question.  They did not say inherent Article II powers.  They did not say the ERISA Act of 1974.  The fact of rooting it in the AUMF is what matters, and the legal arguments are better than decent, but I'm not a professional anti-government person.

          I don't support wholesale declassification, but certainly the congressional panels could do more by simply raising the showing for what justifies a warrant.  We could also listen to the accounts from people who know this stuff and could tell you what information could be gleaned, and how useful it could be.  Nevertheless, without a much, much stronger case that there's an invasion of a protected 4th amendment interest, I am not inclined to treat this as presumptively troublesome, and the fact that the outrage meter went to 11 within 30 minutes of the leak, with many people actively assuming contents of calls are gathered (implicit, I think, in the word "surveillance"), makes me question the basis of the objections, whether they're motivated based on facts or emotion.

          I'd also distinguish between secrecy and confidentiality.  Secrecy is a loaded term, assuming its wrongdoing, and tends to arguments like yours where lack of evidence (he says so in public) has a role in constructing the argument.  The confidentiality, itself, is pursuant to law, and is not without justification.

          The last point is fair, but we don't really know what "abuse" consists of in this context.  If mere collection and analysis of public data is abuse, then no.  I think Obama's statements about coming in skeptical and making certain changes give the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe his word wouldn't be sufficient, except where there are countervailing reasons not to talk about the operational details outside of the intel committees, where they have been discussed.   It's still, however, a dodge.  Based on what has so far been publicly reported, nothing in and of itself reveals anything that tells me there's a disregard for the law or the constitution, and nothing that particularly suggests overreach (I'm agnostic, but generally trustful of Obama), given the risks of inaction versus the benefits of information gathered.  Which was the point of the diary.  Proof of accessing content of phone calls, proof of no warrant, proof of sharing of information not related to national security, any of these would be troubling; and all of them characterized the Bush admin.

          And yes, I do believe what I write.  

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:57:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, well said. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge, Onomastic, Libbylalala, StellaRay
          •  I don't see what point it proves (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz, kj in missouri

            Now, to address these in order:

            the fact that they rooted it squarely within the AUMF does indeed answer the question.  They did not say inherent Article II powers.  They did not say the ERISA Act of 1974.
            The AUMF was passed in the wake of 9/11 because we wanted to get the people who orchestrated the attacks. It wasn't meant to let the President kill people in Yemen or Pakistan who had nothing to do with 9/11. (Barbara Lee had the foresight to see what it could be used for and the courage to vote against it, but needless to say most congresspeople are not Barbara Lee.)

            As such, I don't see that rooting it in the AUMF is any better than rooting it in inherent Article II powers. Either way, it's still claiming the President has the power to kill whoever s/he wants with no judicial oversight. That's even worse than the powers Bush claimed.

            The fact of rooting it in the AUMF is what matters, and the legal arguments are better than decent, but I'm not a professional anti-government person.
            So objecting to due process-free killings makes me a "professional anti-government person." Nice. Might as well call me a DFH.
            Nevertheless, without a much, much stronger case that there's an invasion of a protected 4th amendment interest, I am not inclined to treat this as presumptively troublesome,
            I understand that your standards for a violation of privacy are much higher than mine. I want you to understand that your position is not any more rooted in facts than mine is.
            Secrecy is a loaded term, assuming its wrongdoing, and tends to arguments like yours where lack of evidence (he says so in public) has a role in constructing the argument.  The confidentiality, itself, is pursuant to law, and is not without justification.
            I don't particularly enjoy semantic debates. The program itself and the legal justifications for it are both classified. It is, effectively, secret law. I do not have an inclination to give the government the benefit of the doubt in this regard.
            If mere collection and analysis of public data is abuse, then no.  I think Obama's statements about coming in skeptical and making certain changes give the benefit of the doubt.
            Wait, let me get this straight--you're giving the benefit of the doubt to Obama because he says he was "skeptical" and "made changes"? It seems remarkably easy for government officials to gain your trust.
            Based on what has so far been publicly reported, nothing in and of itself reveals anything that tells me there's a disregard for the law or the constitution, and nothing that particularly suggests overreach (I'm agnostic, but generally trustful of Obama), given the risks of inaction versus the benefits of information gathered.
            Yes, it's clear to me that you're generally trustful of Obama. Ask yourself: would you be as trustful of Chris Christie, or Jeb Bush, in charge of the same program? The entire basis of our Constitution is that those in power will inevitably abuse it.

            To put it another way: Assume, for the sake of argument, that abuses were occurring--that content was being obtained without warrants, data was being collected on political opponents and not "terrorists," etc. Given all the secrecy (or "confidentiality") surrounding the program, how could these abuses possibly be stopped? And if they can't be stopped, why should we trust the government to have this kind of power?

            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

            by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:26:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i don't have faith in Bush or Christie (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ian Reifowitz, dcotler

              to have the same program.  

              the fact a phone call was made from one number to another, as a matter of law, does not implicate a 4th amendment privacy interest.  and if you want to argue otherwise, you have to show why.  we can't reinvent all of the wheels, so when I say mine is grounded in fact, it actually is.

              The text of the aumf is sufficient to cover successors to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; it was understood at the time of enactment to cover more than the immediate perpetrators.  if there's something in the drafting history to support you contention of what the original understanding was, bring it forth.  But by making this argument, you're already placing yourself in the position of arguing what the democratic process should yield, not what it did.  unforced error.  Also, not acknowledging any countervailing interest in using technology or military tools to fight terrorism today does put you in "DFH" land, or earn some pejorative.  Obama has forthrightly acknowledged that all of the options are bad and all have risks.  It's at least engaging with the issues.  Your passing commentary on the due process issues does not.  (I'll concede reasonable people can disagree on this question; but not conceding that renders you unreasonable.  I haven't seen an argument that disputes the factual claims that Alwaki wasn't capturable, instead discussing "blowback" as if it only cut in one direction and reduced to the conclusion that Alwaki wouldn't plan terrorist attacks if only we'd let him live.  Based on the law as written, the administration made a credible case it was the best of a bad set of options, and it would be up to Congress to impose any greater restraint -- and putting it to a vote would not yield the most expansive anti-government position.)

              Lastly, the problem with the slippery slope argument you raise -- without proof of any crossing the lines i set forth -- is it proves too much.  We know that the federal government has the technical ability to do a lot more than it does.  Ultimately, it's a dodge of the actual question of what we so far actually know.  The very disclosure of the program on which you rely fails to allege the very point you argue for.

              Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

              by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:55:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Whoever's President in 2016 (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kj in missouri, JVolvo

                will have the same program. The arguments you're making now will support their having the same program. The more people like you there are who support the program under Obama, the easier it will be for the next Republican President to have the same program. So I don't understand how you can support the program under Obama but not under Bush/Christie.

                the fact a phone call was made from one number to another, as a matter of law, does not implicate a 4th amendment privacy interest.  and if you want to argue otherwise, you have to show why.
                So said the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision in the 1970s. I happen to disagree with the interpretation those 6 justices made of the 4th Amendment. Which violations of privacy are acceptable and which aren't isn't a "fact," it's a value judgment.
                The text of the aumf is sufficient to cover successors to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; it was understood at the time of enactment to cover more than the immediate perpetrators.
                The people we're bombing in Pakistan and Yemen right now aren't "successors" to the perpetrators of 9/11 unless you attach an extremely broad meaning to the term 'successor.'
                But by making this argument, you're already placing yourself in the position of arguing what the democratic process should yield, not what it did.  unforced error.
                The democratic process yielded a bill that says "Go after the guys who caused 9/11 and any of their collaborators." That bill has been systematically twisted by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
                Also, not acknowledging any countervailing interest in using technology or military tools to fight terrorism today does put you in "DFH" land, or earn some pejorative.
                Of all the threats to American lives there are in the world (car accidents, disease, falling out of chairs), terrorists rank very low on the list. The "threat" of terrorism has been systematically heightened by our political class in order to frighten Americans into giving up our civil liberties. There is an interest in fighting terrorism, but it's not nearly enough to outrank the dangers of giving so much power to the Executive.
                Obama has forthrightly acknowledged that all of the options are bad and all have risks.  It's at least engaging with the issues.
                I don't see anyone denying all options have risks. That's kind of the point of the whole "Anyone who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserves neither" line. There's always going to be risk. I feel the risk of giving the government so many powers of surveillance and extra-judicial punishment (drone strikes) far outweighs the risk of terrorism.
                I haven't seen an argument that disputes the factual claims that Alwaki wasn't capturable, instead discussing "blowback" as if it only cut in one direction and reduced to the conclusion that Alwaki wouldn't plan terrorist attacks if only we'd let him live.
                If the government had evidence Awlaki was engaged in terrorist activities (and not simply advocating for them), it should've offered that evidence to a neutral court. Then, if he was convicted, they would be justified in either capturing or, if that was untenable, killing him. Absent such judicial backing, they should've just left him alone.
                We know that the federal government has the technical ability to do a lot more than it does.
                Technical, yes. Legal, no. If we give the government the legal authority to do something, they will do it. If we give the government the ability to abuse their authority with no possibility of sanction, they will abuse it. I don't see how you can look at history and doubt these things.

                "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:11:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  my point is, I do not expect (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ian Reifowitz, StellaRay

                  Jeb or Christie to adhere to the largely self-imposed legal constraints that Obama has embraced.  Without that, the program would likely look different.  I can see how that might be confusing if you don't think Obama's shift in rationale from inherent power to statute matters, but otherwise not.

                  If the Supreme Court was wrong, show why.  I don't see a sound basis to criticize the administration otherwise.  Once you start in with the notion that case law is just a value judgment, anybody can justify anything.  What if someone wanted to follow Olmstead and say no warrants are required for any phone calls?  After all, it's just a value judgment.  No, best to think about what the Constitution is as the body of precedent interpreting it.

                  I do respect the argument that there are few terrorist attacks, therefore we shouldn't overract, but I don't know if that's the most convincing argument against a potential reason why terrorist attacks have been relatively few, especially one so inexpensive and indeed, unintrusive.

                  I can think of an arugment for requiring "terrorist" warrants in the Alwaki situation, but I strongly suspect that if they did that, we'd hear about how it's ex parte; indeed, the same arguments you are raising about aggregating nonprivate data.  And why on earth would the government put itself in a position to be overruled, when the law reasonably permitted them to do what they do.  (The narrative that all Alwaki did was engage in propaganda is questionable because it's precisely so convenient to the argument that there's only one side to the debate).  Again, a narrow, technical, dull fix.

                  I don't see a disagreement on the last point -- the whole point I'm making is the government doesn't have the legal authority do do certain things it might otherwise do, but does have the legal authority to do many of the things it does.  That's inherent in the distinction between an objection to the program and its consequences, where the program exists out of the very constraints imposed by law.   But if you treat everything to the right of William O. Douglas as violating the law, then you've blown the abiltiy to object on lesser grounds to actions that might lack statutory grounding, e.g., or might intrude on what black letter law would tell you is private.  Of course, having written the paragraph from which you're quoting, you were very selective.  One of the other replies made this point more clear, though.

                  Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                  by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:07:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Isn't that a huge problem, then? (0+ / 0-)

                    If the only constraints on Obama are "self-imposed," there's nothing stopping the next President from taking them away. That sounds like the kind of thing that should be fixed.

                    If the Supreme Court was wrong, show why.  I don't see a sound basis to criticize the administration otherwise.
                    Metadata is just as intrusive as actual content. In our other conversation, I've provided a link to an article that argues as such.
                    Once you start in with the notion that case law is just a value judgment, anybody can justify anything.  What if someone wanted to follow Olmstead and say no warrants are required for any phone calls?  After all, it's just a value judgment.
                    Once again, you're confusing "legal" with "moral." Whether or not gathering phone metadata is constitutional is a legal question. Whether or not it violates privacy is a moral question.
                    I do respect the argument that there are few terrorist attacks, therefore we shouldn't overract, but I don't know if that's the most convincing argument against a potential reason why terrorist attacks have been relatively few, especially one so inexpensive and indeed, unintrusive.
                    There's zero evidence this is a reason terrorist attacks have been low. The government has cited one questionable case where the program stopped a terrorist attack.
                    I can think of an arugment for requiring "terrorist" warrants in the Alwaki situation, but I strongly suspect that if they did that, we'd hear about how it's ex parte; indeed, the same arguments you are raising about aggregating nonprivate data.
                    It depends on how precisely the legal oversight was to be implemented. But do you agree or disagree that, absent such oversight, the drone strikes are wrong?
                    And why on earth would the government put itself in a position to be overruled, when the law reasonably permitted them to do what they do.
                    Are you still talking about the AUMF? I've already made clear I don't believe the AUMF allows the Executive to kill whoever they want without judicial oversight; and anyway, it's never been taken to court so you don't even know that a judge would accept their reasoning.
                    (The narrative that all Alwaki did was engage in propaganda is questionable because it's precisely so convenient to the argument that there's only one side to the debate).
                    Awlaki may very well have helped plan actual terrorist attacks. That's irrelevant to the question of whether the government should have to prove that he did to a neutral court.
                    Again, a narrow, technical, dull fix.
                    The President can declare anyone s/he wants to be a "terrorist" and kill them with no oversight--that's "narrow," "technical," and "dull"?
                    the whole point I'm making is the government doesn't have the legal authority do do certain things it might otherwise do, but does have the legal authority to do many of the things it does.
                    We don't know everything the government does; we don't know what legal authority they claim; and we don't know if they're abusing their power beyond the bounds of their legal authority. You seem inclined to trust them. I'm not. That's the difference between us.
                    But if you treat everything to the right of William O. Douglas as violating the law, then you've blown the abiltiy to object on lesser grounds to actions that might lack statutory grounding, e.g., or might intrude on what black letter law would tell you is private.
                    Anything that violates the Constitution violates the law.

                    I'm sorry you felt I quoted you selectively. I try my best to quote everything relevant to the point I'm making, but only the things that are relevant so that my comments don't become even longer than they are currently.

                    "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                    by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:46:41 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  at minimum, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Onomastic, Ian Reifowitz, joanbrooker

          we know about this because of Snowden, but his own account does not address actual abuse, but rather, per the WaPo, "horror at its capabilities." That seems to conflate technical and legal capabilities, but the absence of a "whistleblower" for that proposition is at least somewhat interesting.  And generally, I'm not going to believe what hasn't even been alleged, let alone proved.  If a statute has to be affirmatively broken, it's in some respects a technological obstacle -- how to design a system so it's circumvented and nobody does anything about it.

          I also don't really care what happens to Snowden -- extradite, prosecute, or not.  

          Glenn Greenwald's other leak this weekend, on the cyber strikes, ironically made the government look better. It was thoughtful and measured, and required considerations of risks.  It goes to show that what someone may think of as misconduct or troublesome may not turn out to be.  

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:13:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How can we stop the gov from abusing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz

            the powers you seem to eager to grant it?

            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

            by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:28:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The word "stop" begs the question, here, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ian Reifowitz, StellaRay

              and I've already addressed that in two ways.  First, if the abuse is usurpation of the powers delegated to the legislative and the judicial branches, by designing a system with them to have a role.  Second, by electing leaders who insist on the importance of grounding their actions in statute.  If you disagree with the statutory grounds, that's fine, but reasonable disagreement that there's statutory authorization is not "abuse."  

              But I'd flip it around -- what would you have Congress or the White House do, if in their position?  It's very easy to be sanguine about risking terrorist attacks sitting where you or I sit.  The broader question isn't how to stop abuse, it's how to solve the underlying problems in such a way that the risks of abuse are minimized.  The separation of powers checks are, or can be, an incidential protection of the public's sensitivity to this information, and helps ensure the data are actually used somewhat effectively for the stated purposes.  I don't know of a better one without creating an unnecessary risk.  This story is ultimately very dull.

              Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

              by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:06:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Except whatever role the judicial (0+ / 0-)

                and legislative branches have is also secret. We don't have access to the court rulings; the congresspeople who've been briefed on this stuff aren't telling us about it. We don't know why the courts are acquiescing, or why people like Dianne Feinstein are fine with the program. And another thing history has shown us (quite recently in fact) is that politicians who talk about the values of transparency and judicial oversight during a campaign often sing a different tune when they're actually in office. Elections aren't a cure-all.

                what would you have Congress or the White House do, if in their position?
                If they have a reasonable suspicion that a particular person is engaged in wrongdoing, they should present it to the courts and get a warrant. They should not be allowed to take data, or "metadata," from all or most Americans just in case something turns up. Not even if they have "oversight" from the FISA Court.
                This story is ultimately very dull.
                Perhaps to you.

                "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:16:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, how do you obtain the reasonable suspicion? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ian Reifowitz, mikidee, StellaRay

                  That's what the metadata are for, in part, and then there has to be an additional application to tap the actual contents of the communications.  I would be troubled if the government made determinations about who was a terrorist based on metadata, alone, but the particularity requirement only really matters to the extent there's an invasion of an otherwise protected zone. When courts have for longer than I've been alive held that these data are not private, I have a hard time justifying a conclusion otherwise.  There's also the odd situation of such confidentiality having something of a point to it.  

                  The elections matter because they tell us, all things being equal, who a majority of people expect to protect their interests, including legitimizing statutory compromise.  I get what you're saying about this being a closed system, where all parties are adverse to your interests.  But that means you have to do a better job of showing how this disclosure, standing alone violates what you see as your rights, unless the answer is just the slippery slope point, in which case why even have a 4th amendment so long as we have a President?  

                  Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                  by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:46:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Old-fashioned police work (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ian Reifowitz

                    is how you obtain reasonable suspicion.

                    When courts have for longer than I've been alive held that these data are not private, I have a hard time justifying a conclusion otherwise.
                    First of all, the courts have held that gathering metadata may not be a violation of the 4th Amendment; that doesn't mean it's not a privacy violation. There's a difference between believing the program is unconstitutional and believing it's immoral. I happen to believe both, but the two positions are independent.

                    Second, the SCOTUS decided that in a 6-3 decision, which may be overturned next time a similar case is brought before them. It wouldn't be the first time a later Supreme Court overruled an earlier one.

                    The elections matter because they tell us, all things being equal, who a majority of people expect to protect their interests, including legitimizing statutory compromise.
                    No, elections tell us who a majority of the voting public would rather run the country, based on who knows what reasoning, given a choice between 2 candidates. Speaking personally, I expected neither Romney nor Obama to protect my interests in this regard.
                    But that means you have to do a better job of showing how this disclosure, standing alone violates what you see as your rights,
                    How's this?
                    “The public doesn’t understand,” [Susan Landau] told me, speaking about so-called metadata. “It’s much more intrusive than content.” She explained that the government can learn immense amounts of proprietary information by studying “who you call, and who they call. If you can track that, you know exactly what is happening—you don’t need the content.”

                    "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                    by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:02:02 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  "old fashioned" (0+ / 0-)

                      you know how East Germany maintained a police state?  They got neighbors to inform on each other.  

                      The idea that you could keep up with the volume of electronic data through shoe leather is a mix of laughable and isn't even costless.  I'd rather have the government drawing statistical inferences from telephone data than, say, racial profiling. The data are at least impersonal.

                      As i mentioned in an earlier reply, the Supreme Court could go the other way and say electronic transmissions over phone lines are not protected as given over to third parties.  After all, Katz overturned Olmstead.  It's a very, very weak argument.  As for "immoral," you haven't justified it.  I agree I feel somewhat uncomfortable about it, but immoral seems to relate to a violation of a duty, and I don't get that without a violation of law.  Many things can be immoral without being illegal, but until your last block single sentence, you don't meet your burden.  At the very least, the actual policy can't simply relate to the tastes of the most vocal minority.  What if the public disagrees, or agrees but doesn't do shit about it?   You could vote for a candidate who'd stop it, but I'd expect that candidate to have a theory of why that does more than assume away or minimize the risks associated with not analyzing the data.  It's a problem with framing arguments exclusively in terms of morality, without any objective point of comparison -- why is your morality interesting to anyone but yourself?  At least law has the hope of objectivity, even when people don't reach consensus.

                      I think what you're quoting from the New Yorker shows why the program could be effective, but "information about someone" is not coextensive with "privacy," and I don't see "intrustion."  That's the sort of "value judgment" that aren't facts when you disagree with them.  These data gives you testable hypotheses, but you'd still need the contents of the communications to confirm them, and that's by law a tier of scrutiny protected.

                      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                      by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:37:08 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I don't see how East Germany, (0+ / 0-)

                        shoe leather, or racial profiling are relevant to this conversation.

                        As i mentioned in an earlier reply, the Supreme Court could go the other way and say electronic transmissions over phone lines are not protected as given over to third parties.  After all, Katz overturned Olmstead.  It's a very, very weak argument.
                        Indeed, we don't know which way the current Supreme Court might rule. My point is only that "The Supreme Court said it isn't unconstitutional decades ago" doesn't settle the argument, because interpreting the 4th Amendment is controversial and one can quite reasonably disagree with the decision that was made.

                        I don't quite understand most of your argument about morality, but this seems to be the pertinent part:

                        It's a problem with framing arguments exclusively in terms of morality, without any objective point of comparison -- why is your morality interesting to anyone but yourself?  At least law has the hope of objectivity, even when people don't reach consensus.
                        Many seem to think like you do, that studying morality is pointless because it's not "objective" and there's no possibility of reaching "consensus." Perhaps that's so. But morality is still incredibly important; indeed, I don't see a way to argue something should be illegal unless one says it's immoral (with rare and obvious exceptions such as "Don't drive on the left side of the road"). Most importantly, however, if one doesn't frame arguments "exclusively in terms of morality," it's impossible to change the law.

                        I'm not saying you have to agree the NSA programs are immoral just because I believe they are. But because I believe they're immoral, I can't support them.

                        I think what you're quoting from the New Yorker shows why the program could be effective, but "information about someone" is not coextensive with "privacy," and I don't see "intrustion."
                        Um..."information about someone" is the definition of privacy. I have no idea what you're talking about.
                        That's the sort of "value judgment" that aren't facts when you disagree with them.
                        Hate to break it to you, but you're relying on value judgments just as much as I am. Yours just happen to be "If the courts say something doesn't violate the 4th Amendment, it doesn't violate privacy." That is in no way an objective fact.

                        "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                        by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:01:09 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I don't think morality is pointless, (0+ / 0-)

                          but I also don't see it as self-evident.  My feelings are a matter of personal privacy :)  There are any number of alternative approaches:  you could justify your moral intuitions on commonly recognized grounds; you can say what you object to doesn't accomplish its own goals; you could argue something violates the original intent of the 4th amendment.  But each would involve a more robust theory of why there's something immoral than you've offered.  The fact of a moral intuition is not terribly worth studying, but the reasons to justify it are, and that's what you don't offer.  And yes, you are arguing the administration should follow your morality because if you concede it's legal, and if you concede that people identically situated to you wouldn't think of the information gathering as immoral, then there's nothing left.  The fact of how the Supreme Court has ruled in the past does, however, settle the argument of whether the administration is violating its duty to fidelity to the law.  Say what you will about the more general morality of the program, it's very hard to argue for bad faith at this point, or to argue it's immoral and everyone knows it and here's this external data point that shows us so.  It's circumstantial support that the administration is respecting privacy to the degree that it is morally obligated (being morally obligated to follow the law as it reasonably understands it).

                          information about someone is not the definition of privacy; some information may be private, some may not be; and some can be both depending on who the audience is.  There are also statutory rights to privacy (per your last fake quote there, and the role of statute is something I've cited repeatedly and yet you persistently miss).  There's also more to privacy than the "public disclosure of private facts" tort -- often, privacy is a means to an end, usually autonomy or protection against discrimination or arbitrary conduct.  If you want to get all philosophical, then it's hardly sufficient to treat privacy as an end itself, if the law itself is what's in question.  

                          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                          by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:22:31 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Apologies, but I don't really feel like giving (0+ / 0-)

                            a robust defense of my moral theories on this blog. I think gathering phone metadata on all (or most) Americans is a massive invasion of privacy. You clearly don't. It's fine for us to just leave it at that.

                            The fact of how the Supreme Court has ruled in the past does, however, settle the argument of whether the administration is violating its duty to fidelity to the law.
                            Well, maybe. The constitutionality of the program itself has yet to be ruled on. Who knows what would happen if someone challenged it in court and appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court level?
                            Say what you will about the more general morality of the program, it's very hard to argue for bad faith at this point, or to argue it's immoral and everyone knows it and here's this external data point that shows us so.  It's circumstantial support that the administration is respecting privacy to the degree that it is morally obligated (being morally obligated to follow the law as it reasonably understands it).
                            Following the law as one "reasonably" understands it is only one of the many moral obligations we have. In addition, the fact that the program, as well as the legal interpretations used to justify it, are classified (and so can't be challenged in court--at least until now) somewhat undercuts your argument that they're operating in good faith.
                            information about someone is not the definition of privacy; some information may be private, some may not be; and some can be both depending on who the audience is.
                            Knowing any information about me reduces my privacy. Now, many of these reductions are minimal/unimportant. But if this is right (from the link I gave earlier:
                            Metadata, Landau noted, can also reveal sensitive political information, showing, for instance, if opposition leaders are meeting, who is involved, where they gather, and for how long. Such data can reveal, too, who is romantically involved with whom, by tracking the locations of cell phones at night.
                            Then the reduction in privacy of the government obtaining phone medata appears quite large indeed.
                            There are also statutory rights to privacy (per your last fake quote there, and the role of statute is something I've cited repeatedly and yet you persistently miss).
                            I don't persistently "miss" it; I persistently deny that it's the be all and end all. Even if the NSA program passes full constitutional muster, it's still wrong.
                            If you want to get all philosophical, then it's hardly sufficient to treat privacy as an end itself, if the law itself is what's in question.
                            What's in question is not the law. What's in question is the amount of information the government should have access to about its citizens. Right now, the government knows a lot about us; on the other hand, we don't know very much about the government (because of all the secrecy, or "confidentiality" if you prefer). That situation, in my opinion, is the precise opposite of how a democracy should function.

                            Information is power. The more information the government has about us, the more power they have over us, and the more "government by the people" becomes "government over the people."

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:31:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's presumptively constitutional, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            based on statute and caselaw.  While nothing is completely known, legal analysis doesn't proceed from first principles in each and every case.  If the court is going to overturn its precedent and the judgment of the political branches, it needs a theory on which to do so.  What's the source of the obligation for the administration to agree with you?  If there's no such obligation, why did you initially present your argument as a criticism of it for "being Bush's 4th term."

                            If you want to change the law, the law is what's in question.  If you want to argue that the government should comport itself to a standard of behavior that falls short of what the law otherwise allows, you have to articulate a sound theory for that.  The link shows indeed that some information is sensitive in the aggregate and some is not.  Section 215 of the Patriot Act explicitly precludes use of metadata for that purpose.  So, as long as statutory limits matter -- which is exactly the basis on which I'm distinguishing Obama from Bush, by Obama's own statements which then box him in and rightly so -- these data are not at issue.  Of course, if the political metadata consist of information relating to planning to blow up airplanes (or even abortion clinics), good that it's disclosed.  This illustrates some confusion over how Clapper testified?  Does the information gather data?  Yes, but it's not collected 'on Americans' without efforts to tie it to particular individuals, in the form of dossiers or whatever.  If this number calls this number isn't tied to anything, then nothing really happens.  What Ms. Landau skips over is that while the data can suggest these things, it still requires a deliberate judgment to make sense of the data, and in those examples, such judgments would be an illegal use of the data.  Failing to distinguish between contacts with terrorists and contacts with loved ones trivializes the latter and ignores the baisc insight that not all interactions implicate the same values to be enhanced by a right of privacy, and if they did, some are more easily overcome (by law, through warrants) than other countervailing showings.

                            Greg Sargent had a piece with possible limitations - the trouble is one is ineffective, one is already the law as I understand it, and one discloses too much information.  Jeffrey Toobin had a good point as well about Snowden's motives -- he doesn't give any indication of understanding the way the data are used or gathered, only how they technologically might be.  He is uneducated and doesn't see the legal framework, and as such, I'm not sure his moral objections are worth all that much, even setting aside the problems of giving government contractors vetos over policy by going outside of internal channels.   If not even he can frame a coherent objection, you need to do a lot better to vitiate it than I'd initially assumed.  

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:03:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There's no obligation for the admin to (0+ / 0-)

                            agree with me, obviously. Correspondingly, there's no obligation for me to agree with, or trust, them. I don't think this is "Bush's 4th term" in general; on civil liberties issues, however, Obama hasn't been any better than Dubya. It doesn't matter that he has a (secret) legal interpretation that says what he's doing is lawful--so did Bush.

                            If you want to change the law, the law is what's in question.
                            No, what's in question is what we want the country to look like. We mold the law around that.
                            If you want to argue that the government should comport itself to a standard of behavior that falls short of what the law otherwise allows, you have to articulate a sound theory for that.
                            Dude, these are comments on a blog post; I don't have to write a 20-page article outlining the philosophical basis of my political theory for you.
                            The link shows indeed that some information is sensitive in the aggregate and some is not.  Section 215 of the Patriot Act explicitly precludes use of metadata for that purpose. . . . What Ms. Landau skips over is that while the data can suggest these things, it still requires a deliberate judgment to make sense of the data, and in those examples, such judgments would be an illegal use of the data.
                            My worries are not put at ease by the knowledge that, despite the fact that the NSA has all the information necessary to know a hell of a lot about any particular person, it would be illegal for them to "make sense" of the data in that way. What mechanisms are in place to prevent such illegal misuse is, of course, unknown to us. Indeed, as far as we know, the admin might have some secret interpretation of Section 215 that lets them do whatever they want with the metadata.
                            Failing to distinguish between contacts with terrorists and contacts with loved ones trivializes the latter and ignores the baisc insight that not all interactions implicate the same values to be enhanced by a right of privacy, and if they did, some are more easily overcome (by law, through warrants) than other countervailing showings.
                            If they think someone is contacting terrorists, they can present their evidence to a judge and get a warrant for that person's metadata. If they use the metadata to determine who's in contact with a terrorist, then they can just as easily use the metadata to determine who's in contact with a political dissident they don't like.
                            Jeffrey Toobin had a good point as well about Snowden's motives -- he doesn't give any indication of understanding the way the data are used or gathered, only how they technologically might be.
                            Except "how they technologically might be" is one of the big points at issue here. If you give the government (or anyone, really) power, they will abuse it--history demonstrates this clearly. If government officials have massive data on Americans, could easily analyze it in such a way to learn an awful lot about them, do you really think a potentially-unenforceable regulation "forbidding" them from doing so will stop them?

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:45:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  ok, then what does it mean (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            to give someone power?  If it's get rid of the NSA entirely, which contradicts the way you think some limitation might work (although really, what's the point once you bring in the contacts of the contacts of the contacts, each with a separate application; in contrast, specifying the investigation the data are sought under is more elegant).  By contrast, power that is diffused among different branches poses no greater risk than anything else, and less of a risk than  whatever it is that's supposed to be prevented, by its prevention.  If you think this is a distinction without a difference, say so; speculating about what might be the right response if a totally different set of affairs prevailed like a future Supreme court ruling or an executive order contradicting the face of a statute doesn't do the job, not when Obama's already put such emphasis on the importance of the statute itself, as the source and embedded limitation.

                            What we do know is whatever Obama's legal interpretation is -- there is a reasonable basis to believe the actual conduct disclosed is consistent with constitution and statute.  To the extent you want to feel that to be a continuation of Bush, that's not a legitimate ground.  This is because you seem to be arguing that no circumstances could justify this based on "the kind of country" you want.  But you object to justifying it, and when you make it about the whole country, it directly challenges those of us who don't object to living in a country with this program, including our elected representatives.  If you don't want to justify your intuitions, the trouble is that's exactly what you implictly do with everything under your block quotes.

                            Insofar as we're only discussing this because of a particular leak, I'm not going to indulge anything the leak doesn't disclose.  It's not too far different from debates that are premised on complete misreprentations of what the actual program is -- in each case, it's inherently one sided.  And by the way, the block quote response is annoying because it gives the illusion of faithful representation of the arguments to which you are responding, and you haven't shown that.  Visually, it looks like you've even managed to respond, and yet you haven't.  When tested, you just take your ball and go home, or argue what might be the case if facts were as they could be, if not for the fact there's no basis to treating them as such.

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 03:40:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The blockquotes are a courtesy to you (0+ / 0-)

                            (and, admittedly, a holdover from academia, where you always have to summarize arguments before you rebut them) I can get rid of them if you prefer.

                            Separation of powers is a useful tool, but it's not enough by itself. It's not uncommon for politicians to collude together and help themselves at the expense of the public good. That's why you also need things like elections, an independent media, etc. Absent leaks, these programs are secret, their legal justifications (interpretations of the Patriot Act) are secret, and citizens cannot challenge their legality in court. The fact that they get a rubber stamp from the FISA Court and tell a few congresspeople about it (in secret) doesn't make up for that.

                            If the programs are so obviously legal, why are the justifications for it secret? Furthermore, how often are you going to make me say that your position is not any more objective than mine? We clearly have different opinions about the correct balance of security and privacy. I do not expect to convince you that I'm right and you're wrong about it, even if I wrote a 20-page essay citing Locke, Mill, and Rawls. We're just coming from different starting places on this issue.

                            The leak discloses that the government claims the authority to obtain phone metadata from all Americans. Discussion about what they might do with that metadata is not off-topic--indeed, that is precisely what is so worrying about the leaks. If an argument about how abuses are supposed to be prevented under the current regime is one-sided, that might be a sign that your position is not as reasonable as you think it is. And I always respond to all your points; you just don't like my responses.

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:41:58 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The justifications are the statutes, (0+ / 0-)

                            Section 702 of FISA amendments and 215 of the patriot act, smith v. Maryland, and a few other things.  How it works, operationally, is disclosed to intel committees but not as broadly, based on the sensitivity of the nature therein.  If they're not doing anything wrong, they have nothing to hide?   It'd be ironic to broadly disseminate a warrant application for the contents of phones or emails, in order to show how protective we are of privacy.  Further, you've already more or less conceded that any rationale you'd find objectionable. That's what's overly subjective - the irreducible premise is your feeling that its not what you want.  If nobody should care about that, I don't disagree.

                            The other point isn't that what the government "might" do is irrelevant, it's that it's not very illustrative of what it is doing, especially in the face of contrary information, or the legal framework under which it does it.  I see indications that Obama has taken these implications seriously.  But the argument of the inevitability of abuse proves everything, and therefore nothing.  If you're right, how that happens still relevant.  Defining abuse so broadly as to include things that aren't illegal and aren't obviously harmful to support that claim is just circular.  

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:30:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, you claim those are the justifications (0+ / 0-)

                            We have no idea what the government's actual interpretation of those statutes is, because it's secret. Disclosing a broad warrant application, which doesn't mention any particular persons (and that's what we're dealing with here) would in no way infringe on privacy. And it's not a "feeling that it's not what I want"--it's a thought-out position on what levels of government surveillance are healthy for a democratic society. Your opinions, or "feelings," on what levels of surveillance are fine are no more objective than mine.

                            My definition of 'abuse' is using these powers to spy on ordinary citizens instead of "terrorists." The inevitably of abuse does not prove "anything"--it means we should, at the very least, be extremely careful about granting the government broad powers and not creating any mechanisms to prevent their abuse; that's one of the lessons of the Constitution. And I frankly don't care how much Obama has thought about the implications of his actions: what matters is the actions themselves.

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 03:50:33 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  well, they might not work, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            or they might not be justified in a broader sense, but these are things in the world that can be pointed to as a reason why in a democratic society the government can do what it is doing.  And i think the way you defined abuse in the second paragraph largely confirms my point - i see no evidence of "using" these things to "spy on" Americans, because i don't think it's spying, and the actual mechanism of the Constitution (separation of powers, 4th amendment protections where applicable) are being followed.  My position isn't so much objective in not being opinion, but in that the opinion itself derives from generally available data.  One who doesn't share your initial "thought out position" can't get to your conclusions based on your arguments.  Which is fine, except to the extent you are imbuing them with public policy implications.  The last sentence is a bit ironic -- his "thought out opinion" is no more objective than yours, but yours is right and what everyone should follow.  You had ample chances to explain why.

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 06:27:16 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This is the last I'll say in this conversation (0+ / 0-)

                            (Partly because I'll be unavailable for a while.)

                            Lawyers are good; they could probably cook up reasons for anything the government does to be "legal." They certainly did for everything Bush did. So pointing to something as a reason is a really low bar.

                            Right now, we don't have proof that the programs are being abused. They could be, of course. But even if they aren't right now, absent a regulatory mechanism which I don't see, there's nothing stopping the government from abusing it in the future.

                            Both of us are reasoning from a previous moral position. You seem to believe that if it doesn't break the law, it doesn't violate privacy. I believe otherwise. That your belief derives from "generally available data" doesn't make it any more objective or better. Again, I don't feel any obligation to argue for my moral view in detail in this comments section--it would kind of take a book. You certainly haven't argued for yours: you haven't given a detailed explanation for why it's fine for the government to gather up vast amounts of phone metadata and internet content.

                            Let me end, then, with this:
                            1. I believe that gathering up massive amounts of phone metadata is a violation of privacy, and is inherently morally wrong.
                            2. In addition, I believe that the government is very likely to abuse the metadata they have and go after political dissidents, personal enemies, etc., as well as "terrorists."

                            You disagree. That's fine! But if your only argument is that it's technically legal, I'm not convinced. Because you, too, have had ample chances to explain why the program is morally justified.

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:10:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  if that's the conclusion you drew, too bad (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            the reasons why they're legal (not "technically legal") are significant, because they derive from two different sources of protection against that abuse.  Statutory authorization, and legislative and judicial oversight are that regulatory apparatus.  But if the collection of metadata itself is problematic, then that'd obviously be insufficient, but the fact that this is the outcome of both a series of elections and significant deliberation, raises the bar for objection.  At the very least, the idea that it isn't particularly obvious in one direction militates against making strident political conclusions.

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 08:05:07 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, I lied about not posting anymore (0+ / 0-)

                            No, it doesn't raise the bar. Just because something is legal, does not in any way make it more likely to be moral. That it was decided on by elected politicians doesn't matter, because (a) that a majority of people believe X is moral doesn't mean that X is moral and (b) most people didn't vote for Obama, Feinstein, and co. thinking they would implement this spying program (hell, the damn thing's secret anyway). Furthermore, I frankly don't care how much "deliberation" preceded it, because deliberation that starts from bad premises ends at a bad conclusion (call it the GIGO principle).

                            There are always two sides to every issue. Not everyone values "On the one hand A, on the other hand B, so who can say really?" faux-reasonableness.

                            (On a different note, I honestly have no idea what you mean in your response to my other comment.)

                            Finally--and this truly is the last I'll say in this conversation--I wouldn't mind, in the abstract, debating with you about the extent to which something being legal gives it the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. But you are approaching this conversation as if your view, that the legal definition of privacy just is privacy, is somehow more "objective" than mine. Until you recognize that we are both coming from equally moral starting places, that you haven't defended your moral stance any more than I have mine, there's no value in a debate.

                            Thanks for your time.

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 09:14:00 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  nope (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            yours could be the closer to the immanent platonic form of privacy.  mine, however, is based on a combination of similar intuitions but also how similar issues have been addressed by people other than me, so there's at least something I can point to.  Legal systems can and do get things wrong, but there's virtue in the notion that these ideas have been tested by smart people with vested interests in the outcome.  One result is to reveal a strong distinction between what's said in a conversation and the fact of one.  Even if this distinction doesn't make moral sense (which I think it does), the very fact the law makes it means it would color the reasonability of any expectation of privacy in that which isn't protected.  

                            and as criticism of government, it's a different argument that they both violated the law and did an immoral thing, to they followed the law but did an immoral thing.  That's why it's a higher burden.  we both agree bush's programs were bad but with, yes, different starting points.  if the program itself is inherently wrong, that's the argument, and it's not in and of itself invalid, but it's also not an argument that anyone else can rely on without that starting point.  My problem is you're using this relativism as both a sword and a shield, where it's a basis for blasting the Obama on very loaded grounds, but also exempts you from criticism for that.  

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 09:35:10 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Actually, you know what? (0+ / 0-)

                            As a parting gift, here's my argument to you for why the NSA program is an invasion of privacy:

                            1) If the government gathered up the content of all calls, that would obviously be a massive invasion of privacy.
                            2) Many experts have argued (each word is a different link) that phone metadata gives as much information as content.
                            3) Therefore, gathering phone metadata is also a massive invasion of privacy.

                            Do with that what you will.

                            "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

                            by TealTerror on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:21:58 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you already made those arguments. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            the content is fundamentally different, however.  It's not degree of information that's the point, it's the effect on the relationship, itself between two people talking.

                            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                            by Loge on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 08:01:52 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  The warrants are rubber stamped (0+ / 0-)

        Okay, so the government needs a warrant to listen to phone call content.

        One minute, don't watch what happens over here behind this curtain....

        **STAMP!**

        Done, now I have a warrant to listen to the phone calls of 100 million people.  Don't you just feel so much better?

        •  That's not how it works, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mikidee

          and that's exactly what the FISA court didn't do when Bush asked it.  What the best accounts of the programs reported on in the last few days say is the NSA uses the metadata to present more particularized warrants to track calls they believe to be overseas, where there's some reasonable suspicion at work.  There are undoubtedly false positives, but the FISA court's approval rate doesn't tell you all that much about the warrant applications, themselves.  Is it your contention that the government is listening to 100 million phone lines?  It's not Snowden's, and again, that was specifically disavowed as an inaccurate description of the actual Vinson warrant.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:15:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They can if they want to (0+ / 0-)

            They're supposed to have a paper trail that gives them probable cause.  Yes, they're supposed to have reasonable suspicion.  But I don't believe it.

            Are they listening to 100 million calls?  No.  What is the real number?  I don't know, and that's the point.

            As long as they're operating in absolute secrecy, I'm going to assume they're doing whatever the hell they like.

            •  absence of evidence is not evidence (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Norm in Chicago, Ian Reifowitz

              i'd feel worse about that if there weren't sound reasons for not dislcosing too much information, and it's not absolutely secrecy when disclosed to various congressional committees.  What we do know is Obama's said they are not listening into phone calls without this standard being met, and that nothing Snowden leaked suggested otherwise.  If you're going to assume a  program to object to, it's harder to see objections to this one as serious.

              Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

              by Loge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:14:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Using Romney to bolster the argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Victor Ward

      When you have to resort to using quotes from Mitt Romney to bolster your argument about good government, you have a pretty weak argument.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:08:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Political Pendulum Was Replaced in 1968 (5+ / 0-)

    by a ratchet. As the Republicans move the country to the right and the people downward, Democratic governance since then has at best been a holding action, and that judgement has always been downgraded after enough time has passed to see what Democrats have done to the country and to the people.

    I'm so glad Obama isn't Bush.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:53:10 AM PDT

  •  Yes, I want to complain that Obama is using it (19+ / 0-)

    Seriously, how is a secret court like FISA in any way related to transparency? How, in fact, is "because terrorism" related to transparency?

    And now we're in a second term where this administration has every reason to believe we approved the whole damn package because of the margin of victory. Maybe I'm old and crotchety, but this, well, gets a "D" on the smell test.

    BETTER Democrats, please. In the administration.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston (h/t Charles Pierce)

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:53:18 AM PDT

  •  Obama has not disavowed Bush's usurpation... (7+ / 0-)

    ...of power, nor has he limited himself when given the opportunity (we are, for example, with his blessing, still sending drones into Pakistan to kill supposed Talibani or al Qaeda members or whoever).  And the NSA's spying on Americans has not only continued unabated since Bush left office, it has intensified.

    We must judge Presidents by what they do, not what they publicly embrace.  At least with respect to anything falling even vaguely within the ambit of the Patriot Act, we're essentially in GWB's 4th term.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:55:44 AM PDT

  •  Keep telling yourself that (7+ / 0-)

    when two Presidents DO the same thing what difference does it make what they claim?

  •  It's an important distinction. (26+ / 0-)

    Obama preserved an important part of our democracy -- separation of powers -- and Bush did not.

    The Constitutional question related to the program overall are certainly worthy of a vigorous and sustained debate and I hope that debate continues over time (ideally, culminating in a partial repeal of the PATRIOT act).

    But people who can't see daylight between Bush and Obama on this either aren't paying attention or don't want to.

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

    by raptavio on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:57:37 AM PDT

  •  Oh, well I feel better already (5+ / 0-)

    Black Holes Suck.

    by Pi Li on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:09:39 AM PDT

  •  He ain't Bush, but he sure is Cheney's cousin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, Norm in Chicago

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:13:02 AM PDT

  •  Obama is certainly not stopping it (6+ / 0-)

    but to say he set it in motion and that therefore Bush = Obama (I literally just saw that comment again today) is obviously incorrect and probably not worth even a response.

    Does anyone have bookmarked Markos' comment in the 'ask me anything' diary about his response to people who claim Obama is to the right of Nixon?

    I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life. - Aldous Snow

    by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:14:07 AM PDT

  •  You're right, he's worse (10+ / 5-)

    Because he doesn't even have to claim it to inspire people who profess to have the public's best interests in mind to hand it over.

    The best thing about this, to me, is that it has exposed many "progressives" for what they are - weak minded neo-liberal cultists that worship a man, have no real desire for justice, and care only about policies that enhance the comfort of their own lives, and not those of others.

    These people are living the worst kind of lie. One in which they are the benefactors of others only in their own minds, while in reality what they support is destructive to everyone but them. They are not deserving of the shoulders they stand on. Those of people that made real sacrifices to create the opportunity that has made their lives better. People that truly care for their fellow man, and about real progress.

    Now we know who these people are. They are exposed for as leeches on society.

    Slap happy is a platform.

    by averageyoungman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:15:09 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this. (12+ / 0-)

    There's a fascinating piece in the New Yorker that you and others may be interested in.

    Can Justice Sotomayor Stop the N.S.A.?
    http://www.newyorker.com/...

    h/t to fou for the heads up on the piece

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:16:03 AM PDT

    •  There needs to be a case (3+ / 0-)

      Wonder if this one could end up being it:

      In Jewel v. NSA, EFF is suing the NSA and other government agencies on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal unconstitutional and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records.

      Filed in 2008, Jewel v. NSA is aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it.

      https://www.eff.org/...

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:56:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the link, Catte. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, kj in missouri

        That's some fascinating reading. Makes the composition of the Supreme Court even more important, because you know that's where it is all heading.

        Any sense of when the San Francisco Federal District Court is going to rule?

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Onomastic on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:19:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gooood question (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Onomastic, kj in missouri
          In light of the confirmation of NSA surveillance of millions of Americans' communications records, and especially the decision by the government to declassify and publicly release descriptions of the program, the government today [June 7, 2013] asked the courts handling two EFF surveillance cases for some additional time to consider their options.
          In the government's motion, they ask the court to hold the case in abeyance and that the parties file a status report by July 12, 2013.
          https://www.eff.org/...

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:27:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is more than a little interesting. (3+ / 0-)
            The second notice comes in EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case seeking the DOJ's secret legal interpretations of Section 215 of the Patriot Act (50 U.S.C. section 1861), which was the statute cited in the leaked secret court order aimed at Verizon. Sen. Wyden and Sen. Udall have long said publicly that the American public would be "shocked" to know how the government is interpreting this statute. The leaked court order gives us an idea of what they were talking about. The government seeks a status report within 30 days of today, June 7, 2013.

            In both of these cases, the government has long claimed broad secrecy. Obviously, now that the DNI and many members of Congress have confirmed those portions of the surveillance program, any claim of state secrets protection or the classified information privilege under FOIA would fail in the courts.

            We look forward to discussing next steps in these cases with the government.  As always, our goal is to have an adversarial proceeding in open court to evaluate the government's actions in light of the longstanding protections in the Constitution—protections which prevent general warrants that scoop up our "papers" first and sort out whether there's any basis for doing so after the fact.

            https://www.eff.org/...

            For some reason, this is reminding me of how DADT went through the courts.

            Need to think on that some more, obviously.

            "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

            by Onomastic on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:40:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lincoln (3+ / 0-)

              Someone in the thread cited a Lincoln quote:

              The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.
              I think Obama is fond of having these sorts of things tested and wring out through the court system. It's a slow way of getting things done, but it does end up with solid, not so easily reversed, conclusions.

              “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

              by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:55:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ian Reifowitz, kj in missouri

                That makes a great deal of sense and fits with his record.

                And suddenly the Republican who wrote the Patriot law is finding fault with it.

                Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who helped draft the PATRIOT Act, is exploring options to narrow a provision of the law that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to obtain telephonic metadata on nearly all Americans. The comments are the first indication that Congress may act to restrict the government’s ongoing data collection since the Guardian published a secret court order compelling Verizon to turn over its records on a “on an ongoing daily basis” and the Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T and Sprint are also sending their records to the government.

                “I have a big problem because the business records part of the Patriot Act, which is what was used to justify this, was designed for specific investigations,” Sensenbrenner told Fox News on Friday. “We’re seeing big government in action, just like George Orwell predicted but maybe a few years later,” he added.

                Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the government to order businesses to turn over “the production of any tangible things” if it can prove that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the tangible things sought are “relevant to an authorized investigation . . . to obtain foreign intelligence information. . . or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” The government has been obtaining metadata records from telephone companies for years and has used three-month secret warrants fromt the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) court since 2006.  

                http://thinkprogress.org/...

                Curiouser and curiouser

                The President has shown that he doesn't avoid taking hits if it gets the larger goal accomplished.

                I think that is what happened with DADT. He wanted to create a permanent repeal through the courts and getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff on board. By the time the courts and the "Certification" process was through, the Republicans really had no where to go in opposition.

                Yes, I'm really wondering if something similar is going to play out with this issue.

                "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

                by Onomastic on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:11:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  yes, i've been thinking about DADT (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Onomastic, Ian Reifowitz

              for the last several days and hoping Armando or Adam or Scott would weigh in.

              "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

              by kj in missouri on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:04:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Nicely done, Ian -- as usual. eom. (5+ / 0-)

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:18:14 AM PDT

  •  Moreover (11+ / 0-)

    here is roll call for the FISA Amendments act of 2008, which got a 5-year extension from Congress literally days before Obama took office in Jan. 2009: http://www.senate.gov/...

    Obama critics who desire a Whistleblower-in-Chief would be well advised to consider Congress' role in all this, especially with a view toward the GOP and military establishment attempting to poison the well before the new President could start changing things around. Imagine Obama on Day One announcing he was going to attempt to unilaterally invalidate the FISA Amendments. Nah. Gah. Hah. Pah.

  •  Just because he's more clever than Bush (4+ / 0-)

    doesn't make what he's doing any less sickening

    For example, how about this disingenuous statement:

    Obama: No one's listening to your calls
    No, no they're not.  But computers are analyzing their content and will flag it if they become concerned.  But since the Supreme Court has yet to give personhood to computers, that is all on the up and up in POTUSland.
  •  Exactly, what's REALLY important... (4+ / 0-)

    is whether or not the president feels bad about unlimited domestic spying.

    Bush told us that he could do what he wanted because he was the president so NEENER NEENER NEENER!  He didn't CARE what we thought.

    Obama is asking us to close our eyes and trust him to do the right thing.  Except we're also supposed to make him do the right thing, too...

    Wait, I'm confused.  Is the end result that we still get our communications recorded?  Because I'm not certain if I'm supposed to be ok with that because my representative was secretly asked if it was ok, in a secret meeting that I wasn't supposed to know about.  

    /snark

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:25:30 AM PDT

    •  He's not asking you to trust him (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Libbylalala

      His policies are following the law. Don't like the law, oppose the law. That's a reasonable thing to do. But there is oversight, so you don't have to trust him the way Bush asked you to, when his surveillance operated without oversight.

      It's the difference between bad law and a law-breaker.

      •  Right! And a secret law is even better! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norm in Chicago, rigcath

        With it's own secret court!  

        Think they'll get secret decoder rings too?

        Because there's complete oversight when you don't know about it, and wouldn't know about it except for the actions of a lawbreaker, who of course should have only revealed the completely legal process to a person who was sworn to secrecy, and thus would not have been able to inform us of the secret.

        But hey! Oversight!  

        And um, I'm certain that if Bush HAD been a law-breaker the administration would have sought legal remedy, just like they do for all law breakers... uh, wait... I mean...

        Wait, that's it!  Bush TOLD us about his spying!  Clearly he's a criminal because he was whistle blowing on a totally legal program!  We must immediately have him tried for informing the American People of his programs!

        /snark

        I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

        by detroitmechworks on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:19:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Obama.. (4+ / 0-)

    ....also didn't invade and wreck a country under false pretenses.

    If you ask me, I think Bush & Co. had the Iraq invasion on the books before they even came into office. Then they got a perfect excuse when 9/11 happened.

    If you understand anything about Obama, you can infer that he has made an incredibly tough choice to try and keep this country safe.

    He's logical and pragmatic and understands the stakes if another 9/11 or worse were to occur. Look at how careful he's being about getting involved in Syria, he's a guy who looks at every angle before he acts or doesn't act.

    Hey, nobody wants to live in a surveillance state, and I'm the first to admit that there are very troubling aspects about this program.

    But at some point, you have to believe that this country isn't going to become East Germany, despite evidence that we're taking a turn onto that road.

    I think our ideals are strong enough that that won't happen.

    Do you want to be safe, or do you want to protect aunt Edna's secret apple pie recipe from the gov'ts prying eyes?

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    by jkay on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:26:20 AM PDT

    •  Safe from what? And do you actually think that (3+ / 0-)

      putting the entire country under surveillance doesn't make this a surveillance state?

      "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

      by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:42:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Safe from what? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Onomastic, Ian Reifowitz, Libbylalala

        What do you think, or does your willful naivete really stretch that far?

        If the gov't thought police was really all that scary, do you think we'd be able to write the stuff we write on this blog without getting thrown into GITMO?

        I will concede that I think this administrations treatment of "whistleblowers" is way over the top, he seems to have a genuine blind spot there.

        I do have a huge problem with him on that aspect of this issue. What he has done there is puzzling and extremely troubling.

        "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

        by jkay on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:59:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Willful naivete? I could say the same thing about (0+ / 0-)

          you if you believe in George Bush and the neocon's war OF terror, which apparently you've fully bought into.

          "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

          by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:04:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To not believe... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz, Onomastic, Libbylalala

            ...that there are people out there who want to do real harm to this country is not realistic.

            I"m not a "neocon", but I am a realist.

            I would not have invaded Iraq, and I would have gotten out of Afghanistan years ago.

            I get what he's attempting to do, I also understand that it is flawed, like everything else.

            "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

            by jkay on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:15:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Good grief. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward, WheninRome, rigcath, 3goldens

    It's the same shit man. Come on.

    "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:27:29 AM PDT

  •  It was disgusting when Bush did it (4+ / 0-)

    It is even worse that Obama has cemented and expanded it.

    Yes, worse.

  •  I'm a little confused here... (9+ / 0-)

    You write in one comment in this thread, "Obama got the law changed, but that's something we can change again by voting in new representatives." We tried that. It didn't work.

    Lots of us thought we were doing that by voting for Obama. He pretty clearly staked out the position that he would roll back the assaults on civil liberties. He said he would filibuster immunity for the telecoms who carried out Bush's secret wiretapping program.

    Of course, after he had secured the nomination he immediately betrayed that particular promise. And it has been one betrayal after another on civil liberties since he became President.

    Furthermore, lots of us thought we were doing this when we voted in large Democratic majorities to the House and Senate in 2006 and 2008. But they took a dive on these issues. And they largely avoided adversarial investigation of the Bush administration's criminality.

    I'm not sure why you are staking out a position on Bush's claim of absolute power as being some bright, defining line between him and Barack Obama. One could, in counter-argument, note that only Barack Obama claimed the power to assassinate American citizens without any judicial oversight.

    But I would also argue that by not investigating and prosecuting the members of the Bush administration who abused their power--torture; secret, warrant-less wiretapping--Obama essentially upheld the claim of absolute power. After all, Bush and everybody in his administration got away with it, with the support and protection of Barack Obama and Eric Holder. Nobody was held accountable for the abuse of power so where is the disincentive for any future president to not do what Bush did (and said).

    Or present President, for that matter.

    We all know Barack Obama is smarter than George Bush. Perhaps he realizes that what's important isn't "claiming" absolute power but rather believing you have it and acting on that belief--at least in the so-called "national security" [sic] realm--while publicly professing something completely different.

    •  You've made some strong points here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Libbylalala

      My post has made a specific claim, and your arguments on all those other points are well-founded, other than on absolute power. I disagree that not prosecuting means upholding the claim, but you're right that no one was held accountable and you're right about the disincentive (or lack thereof) on future presidents.

      •  The point is so narrow it is tautological (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jarrayy, SneakySnu, rigcath

        As I understand this, you are agreeing that the ACTIONS taken by President Obama are essentially the same as the ones taken by President Bush, which many people (including myself) use as the basis for claiming that Obama is little better than Bush in many regards.

        By narrowing your article to a point (scope of the law) that is outside his control (Congress has apparently broadened the powers, or at least failed to constrain them) you are able to say that Obama is better than Bush because Obama no longer has the same law that needs to be obeyed.

        I agree that Congress (and the Supreme Court) are also responsible for this mess, but that fact does not absolve President Obama.

        •  I didn't absolve Obama. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Onomastic, Libbylalala

          I said: "I am not here to defend the surveillance programs our government has been operating."

          •  But wouldn't you agree that (4+ / 0-)

            in order to be better than Bush he needs to make some more honest statement or act regarding surveillance?  Shouldn't he be leading on this issue since, as others have noted, the issue of civil liberties with regard to the Patriot Act was part of his campaign?  

            I'm still processing all of this news.  Like BrooklynBadBoy in OPOL's diary also on the rec list now, my initial reaction was not surprise, or perhaps only surprise that technology has reached the point in which some kind of entity (whether corporation or government) can gather a seemingly infinite amount of information, select bits of information from a flow and make certain determinations about what that information means.  As I stated in a comment above, I wonder if the laws have been able to keep up with technological capabilities.  

            I believe Obama when he says "we're not spying on your phone calls."  But, like the vast majority here, am also startled and angered by the potential use of this technology to gather information on average citizens for the purpose of monitoring, say, political activity.  Knowing that the technological capability exists, the President and Congress have a collective responsibility to amend laws in order to uphold the Constitution and protect our rights.  They need to lead on this issue, not wait for an angry public to force it on them.

  •  Yes. This spying is wrong but Obama is not Bush (6+ / 0-)

    I don't know why people have to go to both extremes.

    Obama's spying program (started by Bush) is wrong. Unconstitutional. Against what America should stand for.

    Those who criticize Obama for this are not "doing the Tea Party's work for them."

    Snowden is not a traitor working for the Chinese government. (sigh)

    At the same time, Obama is not Nixon, he's not Bush, he's not "A Republican" because of this. I do believe he thinks he's somehow protecting us by doing this, even though he's wrong. Maybe it's a product of that Washington bubble that makes elected officials lose touch with reality in the 21st century.

    People should have some perspective about this without lashing out at Obama's critics or without typecasting him as a one-dimensional comic-book-style villain. I'm not sure why that's been so hard for some.

    Some would say that I'm off my gourd. I would say that I am a gourd.

    by Hubbard Squash on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:43:29 AM PDT

  •  This appears to be another 'my government' (4+ / 0-)

    is doing something horrible but leave my President out of it' diary.

  •  However, the laws have been modified (4+ / 0-)

    de facto if not de jure by accepted practice, which occurred under Obama. That is, the executive branch and the judiciary branch interpreted the Patriot Act broadly.

    So if you act like you have near-unlimited authority in a certain area without actually claiming you have it, is that really much better?

    Yes, I know the Malignant Shrub via Yoo claimed he could do anything to anyone anywhere because War. I also know he was too much of a coward to ever make that claim in a court of law.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math? @AardvarkBlue on Twitter.

    by blue aardvark on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:53:37 AM PDT

  •  Obama is not Bush. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm sure he isn't in a closet somewhere with headphones on listening to phone calls. I rather think he isn't "on" this at all.
    Obama is gone in 3 years. These gov't contractors need to make the fancy bacon, and the bureaucrats have like......careers. And the clerks and the staff people have nice boring gov't jobs with pensions and healthcare.

    Money is the thing. Not everybody is honest and honorable. The cheese is sitting there, no trap, all secret, no oversight. [don't tell me there's oversight, that's a bunch of crap.].

  •  Thanks Ian (3+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:10:12 AM PDT

  •  FISA + drones = ???? (5+ / 0-)

    As I understand it, the Obama Administration is claiming two separate powers:
    1. The power to comb through any databases they can get their hands on (and to get their hands on virtually any information that exists anywhere), looking for indicators of "terrorism" whatever that means
    PLUS
    2. The power to assassinate, via drones (or covert operations), anyone anywhere in the world, including US citizens and including within the USA, who is determined (by whom? how? on what evidence?) engaged in "terrorism" whatever that means.

    Either one of these individually is scary. The two taken together are truly alarming.

    In other words, if the Feds/NSA had been smart enough to figure out Tamerlan Tsarnaev's intentions a half hour before he placed the Boston Marathon bombs, could they have just "taken him out" with a drone, no due process, no need to bother with an arrest or court warrant or anything? By the Administration's reasoning, I think the answer is "yes" -- and that two-thirds of the American public would have cheered and applauded.

    Everyone is focussing on the 4th Amendment "invasion of privacy." I'm way more concerned with the 5th, the part about "[N]or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . "

  •  Honestly, I can't understand (4+ / 0-)

    why people feel the need to compare Obama and Bush at all, let alone claim they're identical.

    I mean, seriously, if one intends to criticize Obama's policies, what does it add to the criticism to bring Bush into it at all?

  •  This is for this whole diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxschell, joanneleon, 3goldens

    The greatest voice is the voice of the people-speaking out-in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out-in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes-let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind.

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:19:19 AM PDT

    •  Love these clips. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SouthernLiberalinMD

      Send your old shoes to the new George W. Bush library.

      by maxschell on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:21:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you! I can swat trolls, shills, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, maxschell

        and downright unreasonable argument--AND listen to some of the best music around at the same time!

        Plus, this is some of the most cheerful music I've ever heard.  Even the B-52s never reached this pinnacle of good cheer.

        The greatest voice is the voice of the people-speaking out-in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out-in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes-let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind.

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:34:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Does it work? Do these programs actually (3+ / 0-)

    help is the question. If they really do then we find a way to continue while protecting people.

    But if not, then we have to talk about it.

    •  "May this house be safe from tigers" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, Onomastic

      Only one way to find out if the prayer really works, isn't there?

      Too late for the simple life, too early for android love slaves - Savio

      by Clem Yeobright on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:40:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Udall says that the "PRISM" program has had (5+ / 0-)

      benefits (he didn't give specifics), but he's seen no proof that the collection of Verizon phone metadata had benefits.

    •  Very difficult to document what didn't happen (4+ / 0-)

      I periodically have to have this discussion on a much smaller scale. I'm involved with a group that has, on occasion, held an event that involves large public attendance. We hire security. It is quite expensive. So, from time to time the question arises - do we really need to spend that much on that purpose? After all, we haven't had any major incidents. Which leads to back and forth about what a major incident might cost. If the absence to date of major incidents is to be expected regardless of our arrangements, a matter of luck, or...perhaps a result of the presence of security staff.  We have no way whatever of answering the question "does having the security people there work?", unless we wish to try the experiment of not having them there.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:50:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Bush administration had two phases (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic

    Before and after all the revelations of what they were up to.

    The acknowledgement of the CIA black sites, closing them, and moving the guys to Guantanamo is a prime example.

    Waterboarding, and post-waterboarding, is another.

    The presumed FISA court decision allowing the NSA spying is second phase. After the Bush-authorized version of the Program was given an FISA court authorization step.

    I want to see the secret court decision or the secret legal interpretation, though.

    The Verizon request is so bluntly illegal. There's no almost no way to parse words into allowing it. There almost has to be a first-phase Bush aspect to the legal logic.

  •  Actually, even DNI James Clapper admitted... (3+ / 0-)

    that the law (yes, the newly revised, expanded, and amended laws you make reference to) have been broken--unintentionally, of course. Oh, and can you guess who got him to admit to it? Senator Ron Wyden. Read it yourself:
    NSA Broke the Law

  •  If it can't be stopped w/o pasting a president's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, Ian Reifowitz, Libbylalala

    picture on it -- then it can't be stopped. Pasting a president's picture on it makes it unstoppable. Makes it red/blue. The endless volleyball match. Team spirit.

    We are doing this to ourselves, and paying big bucks to do it.

    Lets just stop. Can it be done?

  •  No Obama is worse than Bush (0+ / 0-)

    With Bush everything was obvious.  The guy was an idiot.  With Obama we have the same policies, except that no one from the left dares to criticize him.   In fact, people try to defend the indefensible because it is Obama.   In that sense, Obama is worse than Bush.  Sorry.

  •  you miss the entire point (6+ / 0-)

    The problem is not that Dubya claimed absolute power--it's that nobody smacked him down for it and punished him to make sure nobody ever claimed that again.

    As a result, we no longer have the rule of law.  If the king, uh I mean president, is a good guy and doesn't assert absolute power, we can rest easy.  If the king, uh I mean the president, DOES assert absolute power, we have no rule of law anymore to stop him.

    So we are reduced every election, from now on, to crossing our fingers and HOPING the guy elected really is a good guy after all.

    Which means democracy itself is dead, and we killed it willingly and enthusiastically.

    All to "protect" ourselves from a "threat" that barely exists (more people are killed worldwide by lightning strikes every year than by terrorists oh noez!!!!.

  •  "This time it's legal." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

  •  I just went and searched FISA diaries (4+ / 0-)

    The ones that were here in 2006 or so.  

    It's kind of funny to read the diaries, because what many were saying was this- Bush broke the law by not getting authorization from the FISA court.  

    There were others who were making the case that it was just wrong to do.  

    Obviously, the opinions ranged, but the funny thing is that a big chunk of it was just saying that we can fight terrorists by getting approval from FISA.  

    Streichholzschächtelchen

    by otto on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:34:39 AM PDT

    •  From an ACLU brief (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, jdsnebraska, Onomastic
      Even as the White House lobbied to expand the scope of FISA, we now know that President Bush disregarded the rule of law when he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on ordinary Americans' phone calls and e-mails without the warrant FISA requires. Shockingly, Congress voted to temporarily condone this abuse of power in August 2007 with legislation sanctioning this illegal operation. This legislation, which we've dubbed the "Police America Act," is only temporary and will expire in February 2008.
      http://www.aclu.org/...

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:49:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic

      I'm displeased by the collection of phone records, but the fact is that they are following a bad law.  I'm not so naive to believe that a president--D or R--isn't going to use a power he's been given by Congress.  This is the argument PATRIOT Act opponents have been making for a decade.

      My hope is that if it's so disturbing to the grandstanding hypocrites in Congress who knew about it and approved for seven years, then they'll hurry up and repeal or scale back the PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments.  Maybe their faux outrage can be useful for something.

      •  What is the one thing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jdsnebraska, Ian Reifowitz

        The one major thing that a Democrat, especially Obama, would completely wipe out his presidency?  

        A terrorist attack.  Is his presidency going to be wiped out if he follows a bad law that allows too much intrusion into privacy?  No.  

        So when you're sitting in the most powerful place in the world, and you're balancing your shit....

        Streichholzschächtelchen

        by otto on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:32:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You nail it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          otto, Ian Reifowitz

          Do you think there would be one percent of the national unity that existed after 9/11 if an attack occurred under Obama?  Forget it.  His career and legacy would be over.  That goes for every president, but doubly or triply for Obama, for obvious reasons.  And it's not his own legacy he has to be worried about.  The fallout would be unfathomable.

          So I don't really blame the president for taking the reins of this program that was waiting for him when he arrived.  The choice from his point of view was obvious.  It makes more sense to criticize the policy that sits there waiting for presidents to use it.

  •  Criticisms about process are b.s. 99% of the time. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, Onomastic

    When you see someone complaining about a process issue, like the "Unitary Executive Theory" or executive power in general, 99% of the time, the complainer neither cares about not understands the procedural point they are making, and is only using it like some sort of punctuation to make their substantive point sound more impressive.

    Federalism is a good example of this. People take up and discard the question of states rights vs. federal power based entirely on which level of government is doing something they dislike at that particular moment.

    It's the same thing here; people who spent the Bush presidency howling about executive power turn out not to give a damn about matters like Congressional authorization or the administration's narrowing of the sphere of inherent Commander in Chief authority, or not to understand what the issue of executive power even means.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:37:26 AM PDT

  •  I agree... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    Obama != Bush.

    Bush was and is an idiot.

    Obama is Bush with a high IQ.

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:38:17 AM PDT

  •  Bush established a low-bar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    and Obama is now challenging him. Hence the justified comparisons. IMHO, President Obama is worse.

    I didn't abandon the fight, I abandoned the Party that abandoned the fight...

    by Jazzenterprises on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:58:55 AM PDT

  •  Tell it to Aaron Swartz and Bradley Manning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, 3goldens

    Obama doesn't need to claim absolute power -- he just uses it.

  •  In the category of very faint lesser damns (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, Ian Reifowitz, Libbylalala

    (it's certianly not praise!) But, nevertheless, a good counter to some of the hyperbole...there's a thin line between righteous ranting and depressing ourselves into inaction and I think it's important to remember that, while there needs to be VASTLY greater gulf between the Dems and the far-right dominated Republicans, there still is a too small but very important difference.

    Now residing in Van Nuys, but "LaBobsterofVanNuys" isn't funny and besides, Van Nuys is really part of Los Angeles

    by LABobsterofAnaheim on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:36:56 AM PDT

  •  The thing about the unitary executive theory (3+ / 0-)

    is that, if you believe in it, you also believe you don't need to tell anybody when you're exercising it.

    What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

    by happymisanthropy on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:41:53 AM PDT

  •  thanks for a bit of sanity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    Good diary.

    "Obama won. Get over it."

    by onanyes on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:25:37 PM PDT

  •  Similar but not congruent. Like an isosceles vs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    an equilateral triangle, perhaps...

    I'll read the diary now...

    I think it's isosceles vs equilateral - similar but not congruent.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:51:34 PM PDT

  •  Well done (3+ / 0-)

    This diary usefully points out the distinctions between Bush and Obama.  It further highlights that the key issue appears (so far) NOT to be whether the NSA was acting illegally, but whether those legal powers it had been given are overly broad and subject to abuse.

    We can and certainly should examine that and change the laws if that needs to be done.

    But the idea of Obama as Tyrant needs to be fought.  The idea of the US Government as Tyrant needs to be rebutted.

    These are Tea Party talking points...Government is evil and must be gutted.

    How on earth can Progressives hope to use government to do good if they join their ideological opposites in painting a picture of Government as an evil conspiracy?   If they claim there is no difference between Democrat or Republican, Bush or Obama?

    We will end up repeating the same old pattern: let's be holier than thou and absent ourselves from the political process.  That's what got W into the White House in 2000 - a couple hundred votes worth of "they're all the same!" apathy.

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:57:22 PM PDT

  •  Poppycock. (0+ / 0-)
    President George W. Bush claimed absolute power, and did so in an area where a duly enacted law specifically limited presidential authority.
    No, he did not. He claimed that Article 2 applied. And the Constitution always trumps laws passed by Congress when the two are in conflict. That legal reasoning is inherently no weaker than Obama's.

    Obama is the Chickenshit-in-Chief for failing to stand up to Republicans on all their phony scandals, from the "beer summit," to Van Jones, "death panels," Shirley Sherrod, contraception, Benghazi, and the IRS.

    by expatjourno on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:34:58 PM PDT

    •  You're not serious. (0+ / 0-)

      Article 2 does not read in any way shape or form the way that Yoo/Bush claimed. The idea that the Constitution gives the President absolute authority in any arena is as weak a claim as they come.

      •  It's a legal argument. (0+ / 0-)

        You can claim that it is a weak one, and it may well be. I certainly think so. But it is not a claim of "ABSOLUTE power."

        And that makes the entire premise of your diary false.

        If the claim were rejected by the Supreme Court and Bush defied the ruling, THAT would be a claim of absolute power.

        Obama is the Chickenshit-in-Chief for failing to stand up to Republicans on all their phony scandals, from the "beer summit," to Van Jones, "death panels," Shirley Sherrod, contraception, Benghazi, and the IRS.

        by expatjourno on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:37:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And by the way, the biggest transformation... (0+ / 0-)

        ...Obama has achieved is to turn re-create East Germany's Stasi.

        You're not serious if you think Obama has a shred of respect for the Constitution he swore to uphold. He will seize as much power as he can get away with without offending his apologists.

        Obama is the Chickenshit-in-Chief for failing to stand up to Republicans on all their phony scandals, from the "beer summit," to Van Jones, "death panels," Shirley Sherrod, contraception, Benghazi, and the IRS.

        by expatjourno on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:00:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  i'm going to have to disagree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stagarite

    Obama is out bushing Bush, except with style. Shit, not even Bush managed to get cuts in social security... but Obama did.

    •  The real problem is Dem leadership. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz

      This is why Republicans love ConservaDems. In their typical yet breathtaking timidity, the establishment Democratic party gave the Bush administration pretty much everything it wanted in the run up to the Iraq war. Then, terrified of being portrayed as "weak on national security" the Obama administration continued and even expanded many of the Bush-era policies that we elected the president to stop. Now Cantor is hanging these Bush policies around the Democrats' necks. At some point rank-and-file Democrats need to figure out that our real problem isn't unelectable GOP boogiemen but Democratic party leadership that uses said boogiemen to betray core party principles.

  •  Somehow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    the thing foremost in my mind on this isn't whether Obama is as bad as Bush or not. I don't care. The question has no significance to me.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 03:51:02 PM PDT

Meteor Blades, Sylv, Upper West, Radiowalla, Jeff Simpson, madmsf, Fishgrease, cotterperson, eeff, Mnemosyne, exNYinTX, goObama, 88kathy, Wee Mama, whenwego, mikidee, paulitics, badlands, Cedwyn, WeNeedKerry, wader, SneakySnu, kharma, leevank, kj in missouri, wdrath, Catte Nappe, walkshills, KayCeSF, Vicky, rmx2630, sebastianguy99, Frank Vyan Walton, Gowrie Gal, blueyedace2, jiffypop, subtropolis, Lying eyes, vgranucci, triciawyse, Gary Norton, cfk, aaraujo, LABobsterofAnaheim, Inland, Fury, blue jersey mom, onanyes, FindingMyVoice, peacestpete, Alan Arizona, Jim R, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, fou, plf515, middleagedhousewife, Wisper, Nulwee, hooper, puakev, karmsy, Matt Z, Dave in Northridge, Puffin, dizzydean, revm3up, Argyrios, kimoconnor, OleHippieChick, NewDealer, Fe Bongolan, RandomNonviolence, Diogenes2008, jlms qkw, artmartin, Fonsia, rudewarrior, greengemini, shortmama, TheOpinionGuy, lastman, metro50, sfarkash, Little Flower, joe from Lowell, JaceInVA, Lefty Ladig, Railfan, CalGal47, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, gramofsam1, politik, vixenflem, BenderRodriguez, VickiL, rkthomas, cordgrass, ladasue, nickrud, Patate, kenwards, ericlewis0, science nerd, mallyroyal, TheHalfrican, theKgirls, Onomastic, Bob Duck, UtahLibrul, rg611, Ebby, Haf2Read, Kokomo for Obama, MRA NY, Imhotepsings, Desert Scientist, Mets102, ratcityreprobate, zenox, joanbrooker, jham710, truthhurtsaz, Loge, anodnhajo, stills999, charliehall2, SilverWillow, S F Hippie, a2nite, congenitalefty, jan4insight, Free Jazz at High Noon, MartyM, doroma, Isaacsdad, johnny wurster, arizonablue, Glen The Plumber, Gale Hollis, Patrick is Lucky, Sue B, nomandates, Dancun74, remembrance, poopdogcomedy, broths, aresea, JerryNA, Smoh, DemInDuluth, Abby Hemani, Dogs are fuzzy, MrAnon, Tony Situ, Libbylalala

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site