Mike Masnick comments:
I have to admit that I’ve been a bit in shock over Congress’s decision to simply renew the Patriot Act, recently, without a single safeguard to protect against abuse. That’s because just before all this happened, we wrote about how a report from the government found (not for the first time) that the FBI regularly abused its authority to get phone records it had no right to. This went well beyond earlier reports of abusing National Security Letters. In this case, the FBI didn’t even bother with NSLs. Instead, sometimes it would just use a post-it note. On top of that, reports came out noting that just weeks before this report was released, the Obama administration issued a ruling with a blanket absolution for the FBI’s activities — basically saying that if the President said it was okay, it was fine.
This is not how our government is supposed to work.
Julian Sanchez has a fantastic article that should be a must read, detailing how Obama went from being a candidate who insisted there would be “no more National Security Letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime” because “that is not who we are, and it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists,” to one who appears to have no problem regularly spying on citizens and covering it up. President Bush was really bad with warrantless wiretapping and retroactive immunity for telcos — and most people figured Obama would at least be marginally better on that issue. But it’s really scary how the entirety of the federal government doesn’t seem to care much about these blatant privacy abuses — and the public and the press has shrugged them off as well.
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