The RNC did something astonishing today. With a voice vote, they passed a resolution decrying the NSA collection of American phone records “unconstitutional”:
The resolution, affirmed by a voice vote at the GOP’s winter meeting, was a remarkable move from many of the same party activists who vigorously defended controversial surveillance programs during George W. Bush’s administration.
They even went as far as to name a specific program:
Sponsors of the measure worry that the program called PRISM targets U.S. citizens and suggest that the NSA is leading “the largest surveillance effort ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens.”
PRISM is the name of the program we were given by Edward Snowden’s documents. The documents reveal that the program launched in 2007, more than a year before George Bush was set to leave office. But we also know that this collection of our phone records was happening before 2007. As matter of fact, it was the revelations first reported by the New York Times in 2005 that lead to the creation of the FISA court and changes that brought about programs like PRISM. Here’s that 2005 article:
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.
One month later, then President Bush defended the program. Then a year later we had a video interview by ABC with the whistle blower, who provided far more evidence than Snowden ever did that this happened.
And while this was all over the news, anyone questioning the legality of the program was accused of siding with the terrorists by the Bush administration, as well as Republicans in Congress and in the media. In 2006, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) proudly claimed in Senate that “you have no civil liberties if you are dead”, which was the same sentiment echoed by his entire party.
So has the Constitution changed in the past 6 years and we weren’t told? Nope. The only thing that has changed is the person in the White House. That means that this resolution must also carry the same guilt upon the previous administration as the current. If they refuse to agree to that, then they are only worried about politics and not the true meaning of our Constitution. There’s no two ways about this one.
And what about the countless Republican congressional members that have continued to support the program, even under President Obama? This includes people like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Well they are now complicit in this violation of our Constitution, and as two of the top leaders in the second branch of government, charged with oversight of the first per our Constitution, it would now mean that they are also guilty of not defending the Constitution, as sworn to when taking office. This isn’t some crazy liberal conspiracy or left wing talking point, this is backed 100% by the very actions taken by their own party today.
I just hope some in the media have the gonads to ask Boehner, McConnell or any other Republican congressman if they will change their stance now, or if they will continue to violate the Constitution in the eyes of their own party. That would be very interesting.