Yes, Virginia, Barack Obama’s Warrantless Wiretapping is a Broken Promise
Sometimes Democrats get upset with liberals who criticize Barack Obama’s warrantless wiretapping programs. As president, Obama has maintained George W. Bush’s regime of warrantless wiretapping against people neither accused nor suspected of crime. More than that, President Obama is currently striving to expand the warrantless surveillance regime with new powers to study even our web browsing habits with none of the prior judicial approval required by the 4th Amendment to that ratty piece of paper called the Constitution.
Democrats sometimes get upset when we mention these matters, telling us we ought to have expected this from Barack Obama. But no, no, we oughtn’t to have expected this. In an official position paper during the 2008 presidential race, the Obama campaign made its promise explicit:
Eliminate Warrantless Wiretaps. Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration’s initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law.
Barack Obama has not “eliminated warrantless wiretaps.”
Barack Obama has not updated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to do anything, much less provide “greater oversight and accountability.”
Barack Obama has not even appointed the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board he is legally required to staff. Its job: providing “greater oversight and accountability” by collecting information on Obama administration surveillance activity and reporting to Congress on whether such activity has been constitutional. Under Barack Obama, this board is merely hypothetical, and there is no oversight.
Candidate Obama made us a promise. President Obama has broken it. It matters.