Rightbloggers Find NSA Spying on Americans--And This Time They're Against It!
Many rightbloggers, however, now affect ignorance of the national surveillance state, which they portray as an innovation of the Obama administration. So let us, as an American presidential candidate once said at a national convention many years ago, take them on a little stroll down memory lane.
Thanks to reporting from actual civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian (and revelations by a brave whistleblower), citizens learned a great deal about how the National Security Administration, working under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act, keeps tabs on potential foreign threats by keeping tabs on Americans, via access to Verizon phone records and, through the PRISM program, Internet records maintained by Google, Facebook, and other giant companies.
It is worth mentioning, because many news reports seem to leave it out, that PRISM, FISA, the Patriot Act, et al. all predate the Obama administration--and, despite an understandable exudation of Fourth Amendment concerns in Congress, are likely to survive it, alas.
One thing's for sure: Many of us back in the day opposed the Patriot Act and all the expansions of the national security state that came after the 9/11 attacks, and nobody gave a shit--except rightbloggers, who called us idiots and traitors.
So it has been interesting, if not surprising, to see what great civil libertarians these erstwhile data-cops have suddenly become.
This week Rush Limbaugh told us that we must resist the NSA and tyrant Obama's "coup d'etat." "The mature thinkers that weighed in and sound reason and levelheadedness assured us that there was nothing to fear here because this was just metadata, and in fact this is something we should all be thankful that the government is able to do," said Limbaugh. "... I'm listening to all the smart people tell me this, my mind is about to explode, and I'm saying, 'Do these people not realize what we just learned in the last three weeks?' ... Clearly there's a coup d'etat going. You know it and I know it. This is what animates us. This is why the Tea Party exists."
Something about that sound a little un-Rushlike to you? Let's bring some vintage 2005 Limbaugh up from the cellar: "Ask the families, ask the people who were in the World Trade Center towers right before they were attacked if they are more concerned with the loss of their civil liberties than the loss of their lives," wailed Limbaugh. "... I'm not going to accept the premise that civil liberties have been violated. ... The Patriot Act hasn't been diddly-squat to me. ... The press is disloyal as ever, nobody is stopping their anti-American reporting apart from a prosecutor that they demanded." What changed in the meantime? Oh right--Black Hitler.
Last week, John Hinderaker of Power Line was outraged by the NSA news, and pleaded, "hasn't the time come to lay the government's cards on the table? It strikes me that whatever price might be paid in our anti-terror efforts will be small compared to the value of arriving at a consensus about what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy in the 21st century." Also, he wanted "a much fuller and more systematic disclosure of what the federal government is currently doing by way of data collection. ... As a starting point, we could use some truthful testimony by Obama administration officials before Congressional committees."
Time-tunnel, take us to 2006, when Hinderaker was much less interested in the sight of the government's cards: "Liberals are jumping up and down about USA Today's publication of another leak relating to the National Security Agency," said Hinderaker. "It's considered a news flash that the NSA is collecting data on phone calls, with the cooperation of almost all of the major telecom companies, to look for suspicious patterns." That Hinderaker also said of the then-recent London terror bombings, "sounds like they should have listened in on those calls. These are exactly the kind of communications that are intercepted by the NSA under the terrorist surveillance program that has been widely denounced by Democrats."
Last week Ed Morrissey of Hot Air cried the beloved country: "Contra the training materials, this is very much something to worry about--especially for the Obama administration. ... This means that the NSA and FBI have access to communications of the legislative and judicial branches--at least those that go through public servers, no? Maybe Congress would like to invite Eric Holder up for another session really soon. They'd better send it by carrier pigeon."
A fluttering-calendar montage takes us back to January 2009, where we find Morrissey in a different mood about surveillance: "Hmmm. This should really enrage the Left," chuckled Ghost of Morrissey Past. "The FISA court will make public a ruling that validates George Bush's warrantless surveillance on international communications, including those with one terminus in the United States. ... In the end, though, the biggest beneficiary should be George Bush. He has been unfairly castigated as some sort of fascist for using the power he already had available to track terrorist communications and keep this nation safe. Plenty of people owe him a big apology--and the New York Times and Eric Lichtblau are first in line."
OK, just change the face of the guy on the left and we can wrap the editorial page.
Radio howler Mark Levin, last week: "I tell you what I make of this--we have the elements of a police state here, and I'm not overstating it. ... You don't throw a whole net on the entire country and everybody's phone numbers and check the duration and see if you can come up with some overlaps. That's not law enforcement. That's not how national security works." Radio howler Mark Levin, 2006: "The Constitution and precedent make clear that the president, especially during war-time, can intercept enemy communications, including if those communications involve U.S. citizens within the United States. It is absurd to argue otherwise."
Last week RedState contributor Moe Lane called the NSA revelations "a reminder to big-government enthusiasts: this is in fact what you ordered." Flashback: In 2009, when Eric Holder committed to the Patriot Act, Lane said, "Actually, in this context 'same as the old boss' would be a comfort. To me, at least, if not the folks who made such a hullabaloo over the PATRIOT Act..."
"'He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.' ― George Orwell, 1984," was The Anchoress' reaction last week. But in 2006 -- record scratch! "It looks like President Bush's terrible policies helped foil this latest attempt, despite the best efforts by the NY Times and others to cripple necessary programs," said the Anchoress of Ought-Six. "...I keep remembering Harry Reid crowing, 'we killed the Patriot Act'..." Also, when she found out that the New York Times had tipped off terrorists to the Bush Administration's secret wiretaps by putting them in a newspaper, Anchoress '06 went into a long, maudlin 9/11 reverie, then roared, "We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network.... I'm a New Yorker, and if it happens again in New York, I will hold these 'pure, patriotically motivated' leakers (yes, they're leakers) responsible, because they allowed their hate to take them too far."
(In another recent column, The Anchoress wrote, " Our 'watchdog' media surrendered its teeth to this administration in 2007 and has been rolled over waiting for belly rubs ever since. They gave up all of their credibility to be able to ask Obama how he got so great, and what 'enchants' him..." We thought Obama was first elected in 2008, but maybe NSA's Men in Black have erased our memories.)
We could go on (and on and on and on and on), but we'd need NSA-scale resources to keep track of all the conversion narratives. Suffice to say that these people are so full of shit it's a marvel they haven't all erupted into fecal geysers.
Some of the brethren were at least consistent, War on Whatchamacallit-wise. They believed in the panopticon state back in Bush days, and they by God still believe it. But they mostly labored, or were frog-marched, toward the conclusion that this was different because something something Obama Hitler.