Andrew C. McCarthy is the former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. A Republican, and most notable for leading the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others, he is the author of three books:
- Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad (2008)
- The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America (2010)
- How the Obama Administration has Politicized Justice (Encounter Broadsides, 2010).
So, clearly this man is an Obama loving, Muslim Brotherhood shilling, anti-Constitutionalism crank [that is sarcasm, of course]. He writes:
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is a sensible guy. Nevertheless, the op-ed he has penned in the UK’s Guardiannewspaper, in reaction to revelations that the Defense Department’s National Security Agency has been collecting telephone usage “metadata” on millions of Americans, is rife with error.
Metadata, we have come to learn, is not the content of telephone conversations (i.e., what is said by the interlocutors) but dry record information about the calls that service providers maintain (basically, time and duration of the call, as well as the subscriber phone numbers involved). This is an important distinction because, while the content of our communications is considered private and is protected by the Fourth Amendment and exacting federal statutes, telephone usage records are not private. Indeed, by nature, they are not the phone user’s records at all, they are owned and kept by third-party service providers. As a result, they do not have constitutional protection and have always been rather freely available to criminal investigators and prosecutors. [This is why I asked if anyone knew what their service agreement said. – Utah]
The Patriot Act, enacted shortly after the 9/11 attacks, was largely an effort to give national security agents the same sort of investigative powers law-enforcement agents had been exercising for decades. It is under Patriot’s business records provision – Section 215, which is codified in the U.S. Code in Section 1861 of Title 50 – that the metadata collection has occurred.
That is to say, the metadata collection is not new. It started in the Bush administration. Yet, Rep. Sensenbrenner shrieks that “the Obama administration is collecting records of every call made to, from or within the US, as well as records of many digital communications.” In making this claim, he conflates the NSA revelations with other, genuine Obama administration scandals: Sensenbrenner’s description of the massive metadata collection comes only after recounting “the Obama administration’s policing of the press and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups,” and he heaps the whole mess together under the rubric of “‘Big Brother is watching.’”
This is very foolish. The Obama administration’s abuses of power – not only in the IRS witch-hunts against the president’s political opponents and the spying on the press, but the Benghazi derelictions, the Fast & Furious debacle, new revelations of State Department obstruction of investigations of its personnel, etc. – are authentic scandals involving serious, authoritarian overreach, stonewalling, and probably criminal offenses. They are also unilateral executive branch malfeasance.
By contrast, the NSA’s national security activities (the metadata collection and the “PRISM” program involving eavesdropping targeted at non-Americans) involve longstanding, bipartisan efforts, legitimately pursued under federal laws that prescribe multiple layers of judicial and congressional oversight. By lumping the NSA in with the true Obama scandals, and by falsely portraying it as solely an Obama administration activity, Republicans risk losing the public’s interest in the real abuses of power. Once the facts of the NSA controversy are better understood, people may well conclude that if Republicans politicized the NSA issue just to stick it to the president, maybe they are politicizing everything else, too. The long-overdue opportunity to hold this most corrupt administration accountable will, yet again, be lost.
What he said.
I’m obviously incapable of saying it clearly enough as I apparently can’t comprehend the Constitution, don’t understand the legal system, am poorly read in philosophy and am an ass-kissing serf of King Obama. I actually don’t have a degree in Philosophy to go with the other three degrees I have, so I guess the readers will have to decide if that is a plus or minus.
It occurs to me that so many are so cocksure that they know so much about what turns out to be so little.
Keep your powder dry until we can see the whites of their eyes…or at least consider the possibility of doing so. The NSA is an issue easy to get mad over, easier to misunderstand and is NOT the hill we want to die on.
This issue splits Republican and conservative, classic liberal and libertarian. It does nothing to the “progressives”, liberals and Democrats. They may twist around a little bit and look like they are about to come apart but will close up around Obama at the end of the day like an amoeba surrounding a morsel of food.
Let’s don’t loose sight of the objective. An administration takes on the personality of its leader. The only way to change it is to excise the tumor at the top.