Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Return Of President Odubya

Obama's real, lasting failing has been on civil liberties post-Bush, and the administration is at it again, this time on eliminating probable cause on email and electronic communication in the name of "stopping terrorism".   WaPo's Ellen Nakishima:
The administration wants to add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the "content" of e-mail or other Internet communication.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, said the proposed change would broaden the bureau's authority. "It'll be faster and easier to get the data," said Baker, who practices national security and surveillance law. "And for some Internet providers, it'll mean giving a lot more information to the FBI in response to an NSL." 
Right, so the FBI may not be able to read your email or your web pages, but they can at any time declare you a "person of interest" and find our who you are sending emails to and which web pages you've been to, and force your ISP to give them that info, if the Obama administration has their way, all with the added benefit of bypassing any judicial oversight.

That seems like a great idea that will never, ever be abused at all, right?

Obama has repeatedly dropped the ball on civil liberties in a post-9/11 world, at every opportunity expanding on Bush's many power grabs and overreaches.  it's not like Hillary Clinton or John McCain would have been any better, either...but it's depressing as hell to see Obama go down this same path without blinking.

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