Thursday, January 15, 2009

No Need for Apologies

Remember all the hyperventilating about "warrantless wiretaps" and gross invasions of the civil rights of Americans that we heard about from our friends on the Left for the past few years? Remember the breathless recounting of the depredations that Evil W had perpetrated through this program? Never mind.

No need for anyone to apologize about it. I'm just glad that Barack Obama will have one of the same tools available to him that his predecessor has. Obama is going to need it.


my name is Amanda said...

In rejecting the company’s complaint, the FISA appeals court found that the administration had so carefully carried out the Protect America Act that it was not in violation of the Fourth Amendment. It concluded that the procedures put in place under the law properly balanced the constitutional rights of American citizens and the national security interests of the government.

Bringing the NSA under the jurisdiction of the FISA courts is an example of the right way to do things. Warrantless wire tapping that took place before the Protect American Act is an example of the wrong way to do things. Citizens in a free country have an obligation to hyperventilate when their civil rights are at risk to being fringed upon. One day it's warrantless wire tapping to protect us from terrorists, but if such unilateral behavior was never checked, we'd be living in some 1984 dystopia 100 years from now!

Brad Carlson said...

Citizens in a free country have an obligation to hyperventilate when their civil rights are at risk to being fringed upon.

Agreed. I usually cringed when my fellow supporters of the NSA program endorsed it by saying "I've got nothing to hide." Allowing one's civil liberties to be eroded just because one has "nothing to hide" is indeed a dangerous thought process.

That said, it wasn't as if these wire taps were conducted at random. There was first a data mining process which monitored calls being made to/from terror suspects' numbers. Only after a certain pattern was established (i.e. continuous calls to/from suspected terror cells) was surveillance performed.

Since President Bush was the first Commander in Chief to aggressively fight terrorism, all this was rather uncharted waters. However, it appeared that there was a successful balancing act between fighting terrorism while preserving the rights of American citizens.

Mark Heuring said...

Thanks for your comments, Amanda. I don't think we disagree. There are quite legitimate grounds for concern about any domestic surveillance program, especially since the tools that the government has at its disposal are a lot more effective than they once were. Your vigilance is necessary, proper and welcome.

On balance, though, I agree with Brad. I think that as we get some distance from the events and the reaction to the events that have caused the ruckus, it will become clear that the Bush administration was actually pretty mindful of civil rights. There's a lot of gray involved, which is a problem when we need bright lines. The good news is that the FISA court did draw a bright line yesterday. And our next president will have choices to make as well, but the choices he makes will have more clarity precisely because his predecessor was willing to help establish some guidelines in an ever-changing game.