Key components in the USA Patriot Act are set to expire at the end of the year, but President Barack Obama is seeking to extend them, reversing his stark opposition in the past to the same provisions.
“The president’s reversal on Patriot Act reform is a major travesty,” said Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel for the leading civil rights group ACLU, in an interview with Raw Story. “There have been many, many abuses of power in the last four years.”
These three main aspects in question allow the government to acquire private information about civilians through warrantless wiretapping of phone calls and emails, as well as seizure of records from credit reporting companies, banks, internet service providers and libraries. Another component includes the loosening of conditions under which an individual can be accused of providing “material support” to terrorists.
In 2005, then-Senator Obama pledged to filibuster a Bush-sponsored bill that included several of these exact components, calling it “just plain wrong” in a Senate speech.
“Government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document — through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made,” he declared, adding: “We don’t have to settle for a Patriot Act that sacrifices our liberties or our safety — we can have one that secures both.”
ABC News reports that “Four years ago, then Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who taught constitutional law, voted down the same provisions along with all Senate Democrats who insisted on changes to the bill that better protected libraries, limited clandestine search warrants, roving wiretaps, and FBI gag orders.”
“This was the most opportune time for the surveillance authorities to reverse course,” Richardson told Raw Story. “If these programs continue, more abuses of power are absolutely inevitable — there’s no way around it. The level of secrecy granted by Congress is very troubling.”
Obama has championed the continuation of all three provisions until at least 2013, a wish that has been granted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and two-thirds fulfilled by the House counterpart. (The House version slaps greater oversight and restrictions on acquiring personal records of non-US citizens.) While he has always been resolutely opposed to former President George W. Bush’s vision of the Act, he has defended certain parts of it, and voted in 2006 to re-authorize an altered version.
“Overall, the Obama administration has made marginal improvements but is largely a continuation of the Bush administration with respect to civil liberties,” Richardson told Raw Story, referring to the president’s rising acquiescence to his predecessor’s approach.
The Patriot Act, initially pushed through Congress quickly after 9/11 by the Bush administration as an alleged necessity to combat future attacks, has long been fiercely criticized by the ACLU and other civil libertarians as a gross violation of privacy rights under the Constitution.
Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, a former civil rights litigator, recently wrote: “Democrats spent so many years screaming bloody murder over Bush’s use of indefinite detention, military commissions, state secrets, renditions, and extreme secrecy — policies Obama has largely and/or completely adopted as his own.”
Eric Trump bashes the children of politicians profiting off their family name to enrich themselves: ‘It is sickening’
President Donald Trump third child blasted children of politicians profiting from their relationship during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News with Jeanine Pirro.
"So where does Joe Biden get off been so pompous and above it all?" Pirro asked.
"If I was doing the same thing that that family was doing I’d be in jail," Eric Trump said.
"Why is it that every family in politics enriches themselves?" he asked. "It is sickening."
Trump ‘has done nothing wrong’: Lindsey Graham does not think ethnic cleansing is an impeachable offense
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) slammed President Donald Trump for allowing Turkey's ethnic cleansing of the Kurds in Syria, but then defended the president against impeachment during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News.
Graham told Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro that he worried that 15,000 ISIS fighters could escape, allowing the terrorist caliphate to reconstitute.
The South Carolina Republican declared that America "will not tolerate" ethnic cleansing.
But then he was asked about impeachment.
"Impeachment is a bunch of bull," Graham declared. "It is BS."
"The president has done nothing wrong," Graham argued.
Trump is ‘feeling threatened and running scared’ to cancel G-7 at Doral: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-author
President Donald Trump announced late on Saturday evening that he was reversing his administration's decision to hold the G-7 Summit at his Trump National Doral Miami golf club.
Trump had received harsh criticism for the selection violating the constitution’s domestic and foreign emolument clauses.
Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump, said the announcement was a sign Trump is feeling threatened.