I’m starting to think that the Obama administration’s plan to deal with the scandals is to have so many of them we can’t keep them straight any more. In the latest scandal, the NSA collected call data on all telephone calls placed on Verizon’s network in the United States. (The dragnet explicitly excludes calls that originate and terminate in foreign countries.) Before I got a chance to note it here, it was revealed that the NSA is collecting credit-card transactions as well.
This was Barack Obama in 2007, pledging to end the supposed abuses of the Bush administration:
Obama proclaimed, “No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” He then cast his massive dragnet to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime using the FISA court rather than national security letters. Oh, that’s much better.
I feel it necessary to contrast what Obama is doing (I suppose I should say, what Obama’s administration is doing, since he will surely turn out have been out of the loop once again) with what happened during the Bush administration. The Bush-era terrorist surveillance program was tapping the phones of specific foreign terrorists.
That, of course, is exactly what they should have been doing. The part that somehow became controversial is they kept listening when those foreign terrorists placed calls to the United States. Of course. It’s utter foolishness to suggest that we should stop listening to terrorists when the call the United States; indeed, those are the calls we most need to hear. But a dishonest media reported the matter as though the administration was tapping domestic phones rather than foreign ones.
The Bush-era program was spying on foreign terrorists, not Americans. The Obama-era program is the exact opposite: It spies on every American who uses Verizon or a credit card, and it specifically excludes foreigners!