My Point Exactly

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.

4 thoughts on “My Point Exactly

  1. I think the Focus needs to be placed on the whole Liberal Progressive SYSTEM as the enabler of Obama…who is the symptom.

    The NSA should NOT be forgotten….perhaps Snowden can be…..but the NSA and Prism and further along Eshalon ( remember THAT one)…..they are connected to the DOJ scandal involving Fast and Furious, the Lieing by the Holder,the abuse from the Justice Dept in not prosecuting the Panthers, the Leaked info from the IRS to Liberal Websites, the IRS Intimidation of political opponents of Obama….the IRS suppressing the Conservative Vote BY DESIGN, The IRS attempting to STOP certain groups and individuals from excercising 1st Amendment rights, The DOJ and Eric Holder going after Reporters at AP and Personally Targeting FOX’s reporter, the Huge political Smear campaign in partnership with the Media against the NRA to Target and get rid if the 2nd Amendment…………………..This is ALL part of a Pattern of Govermental Abuse excercised by those in power who push Progressive dictatorial power over Constitutional Law onto us.

    Any one issue Ben Gahzi…IRS …NSA.. etc should be exposed a just another Piece of the whole abuse fostered by those in power!

    • Don: everything that I have posted adds up to exactly your point. I understand the visceral reaction to the NSA issue. I don’t want the government to know anything more about me than is minimally necessary for the exercise of my constitutional rights but until they are proven to have acted outside the law on this specific issue, I think it is part of the whole, not the “ah ha!” moment that it is being portrayed as by some. What we typiclly find in situations like these is that these agencies push the limits of the laws and have to be slapped back periodically – I think that is what is happening here. As I have always said, if they are proven to have exceeded their mandate, by all means, we should aggressively pursue whatever remedies are necessary but like it or not, the Patriot Act is law and it allows this kind of activity. Plus, if Andy McCarthy is right, the data that the government is obtaining is third party data that has already been “sold” to them by the phone customers. He makes an important distinction – numbers/records are not protected under the 4th Amendment but content is. If they didn’t listen to content with out a warrant, I think they are in the bounds of the law.

      I’m having trouble understanding the outrage on this when we already are tracked by the government by our social security numbers, we voluntarily give information to internet sites and we allow law enforcement to place cameras in public spaces. Is it disturbing…sure it is. Should the government be doing it, maybe, maybe not…Do we have evidence of harm to innocent people or even that they have broken any laws…none that I am aware of.

      If we don’t like it, we change the law. We sue to get in in open court. We use the system. We don’t gain anything through impotent anger.

      However, taking the NSA issue in context with the other abuses that are in my mind clearly illegal, we have the sum total of an out of control, far too powerful central government that needs to be pruned and the bad actors, like Obama and Holder, removed and prosecuted if that is possible.

      My friend has chosen to pick this one issue to pillory me and attempt to paint me as some sort of Obama appeaser. We have a history of arguing philosophy and the ability to implement it. He is always at the ready with the “why” but seldom the “how”. I fully understand the Constitution and its relationship to the NSA situation but as I said before, I’m not sure that the mere collection of phone numbers and transaction records fall under the unreasonable search and seizure. If they listened to content without a warrant based on probable cause, then it does.

      I use IRS tax data on this blog all the time to illustrate trends and to make points. It is collected from 142 million taxpayers by the IRS who knows your name, your address, your income, when and how frequently you get paid, your employer, how many kids you have and what deductions you take. Is my use of this data unconstitutional? Is the publication of this data illegal? The IRS has just proven, without a shadow of a doubt that it has used that access motivated by politics to attack individual citizens, so why is the NSA issue suddenly bigger than the IRS situation, which we know to be a scandal?

      My esteemed friend wants to storm the walls at dawn – and maybe that winds up being the right solution – but even the Founders exhausted every venue available to them under the Crown’s law before accepting that revolution was the only option. That is why they bequeathed us the Constitutional ability to root the worms from the apple without having to shoot the apple with 12 gauge double-aught buck.

      Is/can government be corrupt? Yes it can – and I believe that it is but I simply do not agree that to save the Constitution, we must act in a way that destroys it. Is revolt against tyranny an aspect of natural law? Again, yes it is but again, not until there is no other option and there are many definitions of “revolt”.

      • You know I have “Cautiioned” …..”your Friend”….repeatedly on the importance of the REALITY of politics versus the appeal of a purely Philosophical stance. It is partly why I don’t believe a 3rd Party is doable for the 2014 Midterms….which Must be a re-do of the Tea Party success in 2010 !!

        BUT wrt your comment ….. You are right the NSA ISN”T BIGGER than the IRS scandal… is part and Parcel of the whole out of Control move to absolute Govermental Control of everything and everybody. If the issue is Not elevating Snowden beyond a small part of the picture then we ( You and I ) agree. But there are points you have not addressed and this appeal to Lawyering up the process of Government as somehow representative of the “Legitimate Business of the Constitution and living within a Constitutional Republic”, I find ………. disturbing. …Not YOU, but the assumption…..which I have heard in mutivarious forms quite frequently when people refer to the …”rule of Law”.

        Some points so as not to vere into verbosity ( something offensive to some of my Critics here… ;- ) ).

        -What WORMS have been rooted out exactly ?
        – With respect to the Jap Detentions under the Fascist FDR… point that “correcting” the LEGAL wrong done them DECADES later ( after many were already dead)….makes us fel good about our “System”…..but it was effectively irrelevent to those immediately affected. They were ruined and lived and died in that ruin, while others benefitted from their situation. Having Constitutional Protections was basically irrelevent for them…..they might as well have been living in another country.
        -The recent Lung transplant case of the Little Girl in PA…….Great….Success. But what is perhaps being missed is that, she had Large Press coverage…..what happens to all the other People in the Future when those stories aren’t interesting any more ?? WHY should she even HAVE to petition in that way…..Doesn’t the Constitution LEGALLY protect her right to LIFE ?? Apparantly it actually doesn’t.
        – The Patriot Act opponents when it was FIRST proposed warned of these privacy rights. They were called any number of names…..even by those touting the “Rule of Law”……And even one of the authors of the P Act says this was NOT within its’ purview.

        But somehow “The Rule of Law” and our “Constitutional Rights” have come to mean the ability to appeal to a Priestly-like cast of “Judges” and their Court system. Which if one really thinks about it has effectively Stripped us of our Constitutional Rights…..and as both you and Joe know more than I….stripped us of our Natural Rights.

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