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Barack Obama’s FISA shame

How did Barack Obama go from saying this on January 28:

Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people — not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

To saying this on June 20:

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives — and the liberty — of the American people.

Talking Points Memo has a collection of Barack Obama’s statements on the subject. Glenn Greenwald has also been all over this issue.

Update: Barack Obama responded directly to his critics on his blog today. I continue to disagree with his rationale for supporting the compromise but I’m somewhat pleased that he’s engaging with his critics. Be sure to read Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of Obama’s statement. I agree with every red flag he raises.

10 Comments

  1. Two things spring to mind…

    1) Now that he’s close to gaining the Presidency, he realizes he doesn’t want to diminish the power of that office.

    2) Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, he’s being given higher level briefings which may include information that has changed his mind on the subject?

    …I certainly hope its the later.

  2. he’s being given higher level briefings which may include information that has changed his mind on the subject?— Jeff

    I could care less if he had access to the “Osama bin Laden Determined to Attack the US” PDF.

    My privacy and liberties are worth more than abating my “fear” (of which I have none) of “terrorism.”

    Terrorism is a political boogeyman that is pulled out and trotted around whenever a politician wants to let the sheeple know that they need to let Big Daddy do what he wants.

    If Obama wants to play such games, then he will not have my vote in the next primary 4 years from now.

  3. If Obama wants to play such games, then he will not have my vote in the next primary 4 years from now.

    Assuming he wins in November 2008, he won’t need your primary vote in four years – when was the last time a sitting president seeking reelection didn’t win the primary and get his party’s nomination?

  4. He described clearly why retroactive immunity is wrong, but then supported the bill. In addition to its wrongness he might consider that: 1-giving retroctive immunity in a bill is a retroactive bill and hence forbidden in the constitution and 2- since the immunity is directed at specific individuals (companies) it is a bill of attainder and hence forbidden in the constitution.

  5. when was the last time a sitting president seeking reelection didn’t win the primary and get his party’s nomination?

    Eh? No black man has ever won a presidential primary before 2008, either, yet here we are. Past actions are not a priori causal of future events.

    In ’92, ‘daddy’ Bush (sitting President) was seriously challenged by Robertson, who won 37% in the NH primary. This is/was unheard of for a sitting president to fail to capture nearly 2/5ths of a primary.

    I worked many long hours for his campaign, and was elected an Obama district and then state delegate. I would be just as happy to work twice as hard for a clearly superior opponent, who respected and believed that no administration is above the law.

  6. Linda Wetherby

    July 8, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Now that Obama has earned the support of the citizens of this country, he is secure in showing us that he can trample on our basic civil liberties as well as Bush has. I will continue to support Obama, but my money will remain in my pocket with my enthusiasm. There is no compromise for those politicians who have the nation’s best interest at heart.

  7. Disagree with you completely. I don’t think Bush really needs all the power he has, but there is a very real threat to our safety, and it’s a daily struggle to keep attacks from happening here on American soil. Since 9/11 how many terrorist attacks have you read about in other countries? England, China, etc have all experienced them. Did the “bad guys” decide we’ve had enough? Now does the government need to listen in on every phone call, and trace every text message, or have access to all of our emails? I don’t think so, but if letting them read about my porn habits, or tracking my ebay purchases will keep us safer, I don’t care. If you aren’t doing anything illegal, don’t worry about it. The people still have the right to bear arms, and if the government gets to nosy or overbearing, we can still rise against it.

  8. “If you aren’t doing anything illegal, don’t worry about it.”

    Modern day McCarthyism at its finest… If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If only that weren’t verifiably false from a historical perspective (and modern events such as “aggressive interrogation”/”extraordinary rendition” of proven innocents).

  9. I have been a Democrat all of my life. I rang doorbells for Hubert Humprey in Minneapolis. By going along with George W. Bush in voting for FISA, you have compromised the civil rights of the American people as well as your own ethics. If this is a preview of how you will govern, I prefer that you do not become the 44th president of the United States of America. Shame on you!

  10. In the latest series of “shifts” by Obama, this is by far the most disturbing. I am having an increasingly difficult seeing the “Change” message.

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