Obama’s Betrayal of the Fourth Amendment

Barack Obama voted for cloture on the bill to give Bush all he wants on illegal warrantless surveillance. And then he voted for the bill. Hillary Clinton voted against cloture, then voted against the bill. All it took for Obama to become less civil libertarian than Hillary was getting the nomination. What will he do as president?

Here’s Glenn Greenwald on Obama’s wholesale reversal on his campaign promise to oppose the FISA bill (so long as it had telecom immunity):

Obama’s vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama’s spokesman—in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama’s views on the spying controversy after he had previously given a vague and noncommittal statement—issued this emphatic vow: “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

But the bill today does include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Nonetheless, Obama voted for cloture on the bill—the exact opposition of supporting a filibuster—and then voted for the bill itself. A more complete abandonment of an unambiguous campaign promise is difficult of imagine.

For more on the Democrats and FISA, see my recent Op-Ed, “The Democrats Betray the Fourth Amendment,” and my piece two years ago predicting this betrayal, “Will the Democrats Save our Civil Liberties?

In “FISA and the PATRIOT Act Are the Abuse,” I criticized the very notion that the statutory law that Bush found necessary to circumvent is itself enough to protect our privacy. I discussed how such surveillance programs have been directed against benign political and partisan enemies of the state in “FBI, Please Protect Us from Terrorists and the ACLU.”

Immediately after the NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal erupted with an expose in the New York Times, I commented on it here: “Bush’s Secret Surveillance State.” And in reflecting on Alberto Gonzales’s testimony at a Congressional hearing, I discussed how the GOP support for unchecked executive-directed surveillance is consistent with a general “Ideology of the Total State” seen these days on the right. With the Democrats’ last betrayal, what we have is a fullblown bipartisan surveillance state, as it has been for a long time but now in a much bolder, grander form.

Anthony Gregory is a former Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
Posts by Anthony Gregory | Full Biography and Publications
Comments
  • Catalyst
  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org