Glenn Greenwald is out with another piece about the NSA:
The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian.
The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata “every 90 days”. A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011.
So we have a program that was put into place in the first year of Bush’s presidency, but Greenwald appears to be going after Obama because he let it continue for two years before cutting it. Now reading the piece, you get a feeling Greenwald is going after Obama, but I get a different feel. This may be intention or not, but check out this part:
George W Bush briefly “discontinued” that bulk internet metadata collection, involving Americans, after a dramatic rebellion in March 2004 by senior figures at the Justice Department and FBI, as the Washington Post first reported. One of the leaders of that rebellion was deputy attorney general James Comey, whom Barack Obama nominated last week to run the FBI.
But Comey’s act of defiance did not end the IP metadata collection, the documents reveal. It simply brought it under a newly created legal framework.
There was a rebellion against the program within the administration and one of those rebellious people just so happens to be the guy Obama now wants to head the FBI. Sounds like Obama is working towards making things right.
Any rational person should be able to forgive Obama for letting this program continue. Let’s create a hypothetical:
- January, 2009: Barack Obama becomes President Obama and instantly halts the collection of emails.
- 2010: A major terrorist attack occurs. It is later revealed that they organized via email.
How would have the right reacted to that? The answer should be easy. We would have non-stop yelling about how the “Liberal Obama had to stop a program that President Bush created and that kept us safe”. If you don’t believe that to be the case, then go ahead and leave. I’ll let you, because there also isn’t any unicorns or buckets of gold at the end of the rainbow here.
But that hyopthetical never did happen and so we have today’s right acting like this was some big criminal thing that only Obama has done:
Not one mention of Bush creating the program and letting it run for 8 years. Of course what do you expect from fact-avoiding right wing bloggers, like Weasel Zippers?
So, let’s revise my hypothetical, using what we know today. Let’s start by building upon some factual events that we know.
- 2011: President Obama puts a halt to the NSA collection of emails, more than 2 years after taking office.
- 2013: Numerous bombs are detonated at the annual running of the Boston Marathon. Investigations reveal this to be an act of foreign terrorism.
That’s our facts. Now let’s put a little hyopthetical into it:
- Tomorrow: News comes out that an NSA email collection program, started under Bush and discontinued under Obama, would have detected the plans of the Boston Marathon bombers.
Now what would the reaction be from the right? Actually this would really put them in a pickle. They have been after Obama for simply continuing something started under the previous President, but now they can use what Obama did to blame him for a terrorist act.
My guess is we would see a lightning fast episode of revision. Posts would be edited or deleted. These people would go into full spin; “Don’t take my complaining out of context!”. Pandemonium would ensue and the right would be at a total loss.
It’s well known that Republicans are quick to act, but never consider the consequences. I can see how this would bite them in the ass with this story. Hell, it already has, but this would be the biggest bite to date.
And as far as Obama letting this gone on for two years, well I’m glad he did. Sounds like that two years is about the amount of time the government needs to scrutinize something, which was something he promised to do.