Monday, June 10, 2013

Obama Administration Continues Bush Administration Policy of Massive Collection of Data on Private Citizens and Residents

Which Should Be to the Surprise of - - - No One

Whatever else can be said about the Obama Administration, no one can say that it has a great respect for civil liberties.  Except for the official sanction of kidnap and torture (which is a big difference) the Obama people seem little different from the Bush people in targeting individuals and information in pursuit of national defense and protection against terrorist attacks.

A few comments are required (well not required but necessary because without them there would be no Post here)

  1. Who exactly is surprised here?  Nothing the Administration has done would indicate that they are more respectful of individual privacy as it regards national defense and terrorism defense than any other U. S. government.

  1. The technology for massive data mining has existed for years.  Of course the government is going to obtain communications data and mine it.  That is what governments do and have always done.  Today it can just be done in greater detail and with greater accuracy because of computer technology.

  1. That the NSA has been spying on Americans for years is only unknown to those who have just returned from a decades long trip in outer space.

  1. This is a lose-lose political situation.  If the Administration is not using data mining techniques to collect information on suspicions of terrorism, Fox News and its cohorts would be castigating Mr. Obama for endangering America by adhering to pointy headed liberal demands of groups like the ACLU.  Since the Administration is using these techniques, Fox News and its cohorts can castigate the Administration for its abuse of civil liberties. 

  1. The would be terrorists should but probably don’t have known for years that their communications are being targeted.  These people are intensely dedicated but not very bright.

Okay, it is a given that no government and no President is going to abandon these techniques.  The political cost is just too great.  If another attack occurred and it was known that a President had abandoned an intelligence gathering program, no matter how intrusive that program was, that President would be condemned by friend and foe alike.

So what is needed here are a couple of things.  The first is transparency, everyone needs to know what is being done by whom and by how much.  No, this will not compromise the programs, in fact it may hinder the terrorists by having them think the government knows much more than it really does and is more competent than it really is.  The government of course knows much less than people think it does and is generally so incompetent that the word competency and U. S. government should never be used in the same sentence.  But as we said, these would be terrorists are not very smart and probably don’t know that.

A second point is that massive safeguards must be built in to ensure that the data mining does not result in government intrusion into private conversations that are unrelated to national security.  No, we do not know exactly how to do this, but surely someone smarter than use can figure it out.

Everyone will have to wait for history to sort out the issue of whether or not Mr. Obama was always insensitive to personal privacy and civil liberties, or whether or not this was something he, like almost everyone else who obtains high office, was infected after he became President.  It is more likely than not that the anti-liberties virus infected the President after he entered the White House, but that is largely conjecture at this point in time.

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