Obama Defends Bush's Domestic Surveillance
by Deacon Blues
The wingers are probably laughing tonight over this one, and they should. The man appears to be all talk and no action on this issue.
The Obama administration is again invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration's wiretapping program, this time against a lawsuit by AT&T customers who claim federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records.
Disclosure of information sought by the customers, "which concerns how the United States seeks to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security," Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed Friday in San Francisco.
Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lawyer for the customers, said Monday the filing was disappointing in light of the Obama presidential campaign's "unceasing criticism of Bush-era secrecy and promise for more transparency."
I think we can close the book on any hope that Obama will actually do anything differently than Bush on domestic surveillance. The truth is that Bush and Cheney did all of the illegal and saddening things on their watch, Congressional Democrats knew about it and let them, and now Obama wants those powers as well.
The Justice Department said Friday that government agents monitored only communications in which "a participant was reasonably believed to be associated with al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization." But proving that the surveillance program did not sweep in ordinary phone customers would require "disclosure of highly classified NSA intelligence sources and methods," the department said.
Individual customers cannot show their messages were intercepted, and thus have no right to sue, because all such information is secret, government lawyers said. They also said disclosure of whether AT&T took part in the program would tell the nation's enemies "which channels of communication may or may not be secure."
When Bush was president, he said "just trust me." And we all screamed and refused because he was a lying, illegally installed Republican. Now Obama is saying "just trust me - no innocent people were scooped up during Bush's watch."
Sure. What Obama really wants is for the courts to order him to release the information, rather than end this practice and do it on principle.