Saturday, June 26, 2010


What follows below is an interesting piece discussing what appears to be startling news to the civil libertarian left about just how bad (by which I mean, how much worse), the Obama Administration is in its assault on Civil Liberties than was Bush's. Anyone paying real attention during the 2008 campaign could tell you Obama was no civil libertarian, but the left, caught up in its infatuation with Obama (like a moth in a spider web), refused to see him for what he really was and still remains, a consummate Statist. Welcome to the Obamaphate.

H/T Becky Chandler

Police State Spying Powers Increase under Obama, Napolitano

Tuesday, 22 June 2010 20:43

By Elliot Cohen

According to a June 18 AP article, Obama’s Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano has defended monitoring Internet communications as a "civil liberties trade-off the US must make to beef up national security." In addition, she said "it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed." Unfortunately, it is incomprehensible how "beefing up" national security can be both a civil liberties trade-off and not a sacrifice of liberty.

This contradiction betrays the sad reality that the Obama administration has followed the lead of the Bush administration in escalating the abridgment of civil liberties in the US to protect "national security."

According to Napolitano, there have been an increasing number of homegrown terrorists who have used the Internet to "reached out" to Islamic extremists for training and inspiration; and the AP article points to the recent Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and accused Fort Hood Texas shooter Major Nadal Hasan as possible examples.

It is not clear, however, how a relatively few instances of homegrown terrorists who may have been influenced by their online activities to become radicalized can warrant government abridgment of the privacy of millions of Americans. However, it is not hard to see how easily such a principle could be expanded to include any private activities that may possibly be linked to radicalization. Thus, the communications that may occur inside a mosque may be deemed grist for the mill of government monitoring. And the same logic could well be applied to private communications in the homes of Americans because there may possibly be plans afoot by a few homegrown, would-be terrorists.

It should be emphasized that the Internet monitoring that Napolitano is defending is mass warrantless surveillance of millions of Americans. This is significantly different from the FBI's obtaining a warrant to spy on the conversations of specific individuals where probable cause exists to suggest that they are planning a terrorist attack.

During the Bush administration, the justification for such mass warrantless surveillance had been to gather foreign intelligence. This meant that the government would not intentionally attempt to spy on American citizens. In fact, so-called minimization standards of the FISA Act, including the amendments to it passed in 2008 require the government to make all reasonable accommodations so as not to target American citizens.

What Napolitano is saying is therefore illegal because it directly advocates mass surveillance sweeps for the specific purpose of targeting American citizens who may be involved or contemplating involvement in terrorist activities.

This is a chilling expansion of the Bush warrantless surveillance program that was exposed in 2005. It suggests that the Obama administration, far from being more interested than the Bush administration in preserving the civil liberties of Americans, is actually more vigilant in undermining these rights.

Napolitano has now boldly announced that the Obama administration will be engaging in mass warrantless spying targeting Americans, not just Al Qaeda or other organized groups of terrorists. Will it also soon announce that Americans may be labeled "unlawful enemy combatants" (the Obama administration now uses the label "unprivileged enemy belligerents")? Will such individuals be whisked off to an undisclosed location and be denied their constitutional rights to a fair trial?

The Obama administration has lost the faith of many of its liberals, democratic constituents and according to the AP article, Napolitano's comments were intended to reach out to this group to try to assuage their fears that the administration's concern for stopping terrorist attacks would erode civil liberties. Her remarks however should only increase these concerns. In fact, they should underscore the grave danger the Obama administration poses to the survival of Americans' civil liberties.


  1. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The obama regime hasn't managed to reach that demanding standard. From the outside, the regime has considered Americans to be a greater threat to their continued power than foreigners who are responsible for "Man-caused disasters" (terrorism). From the outset, Secretary Napolitano outlined the profile of these 'domestic terrorists' (you can use the word 'terrorist' if you're speaking of non-Muslim Americans): Pro-Life, Military Vets, Anti-ILLEGAL Immigration, etc.

  2. When the Patriot Act passed, I came to oppose it for just this reason. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the next Dem administration would use it against us and not the actual enemy.

  3. Matt had it right, still is.

  4. Which reminds me... the poseurs in the libertarian camp who voted for O'Bama, such as Weigel. They knew the freakin' leprechaun was an arch-typical statist tyrant. There was absoeffinglutely no basis for a "libertarian" vote for O'Bummer. Zippo.

    They're all of them today looking like a cluster o' muts.