The Obama Administration's Complicity In Covering Up Illegal Surveillance

Glenn Greenwald explains what candidate Obama promised:

When Obama sought to placate his angry supporters after he voted for the Bush/Cheney FISA-telecom immunity bill last June (after vowing the prior December to support a filibuster of any such legislation), this is what he said . . . :

[The FISA bill] also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

Glenn then explains what PRESIDENT Obama has done:

President Obama, however, has now become the prime impediment to precisely that accountability, repeatedly engaging in extraordinary legal maneuvers to ensure that "past offenses" -- both in the surveillance and torture/rendition realm -- remain secret and forever immunized from judicial review. Put another way, Obama has repeatedly done the exact opposite of what he vowed he would do: rather than "seek full accountability for past offenses," he has been working feverishly to block such accountability, by embracing the same radical Bush/Cheney views and rhetoric regarding presidential secrecy powers that caused so much controversy and anger for the last several years.

Now you can care about this or not, but you can not pretend to care about it and say nothing about what President Obama has done. Some folks need to declare themselves on this issue - either you care about this or you do not. But you can't pretend to care and then shut up about what President Obama is doing. Or at least, you should not.

Speaking for me only

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    Is it too early to start the primary season? (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:28:10 AM EST
    Someone is feeling a little too safe, I fear.

    Every pol always feel too safe (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:31:58 AM EST
    imo. Even when they are scared, they are not sacred enough.

    Hell, I believe in primarying Teddy Kennedy.


    And when they are sacred, (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:41:26 AM EST
    they are not scared enough!

    I know it was a typo, but I like it.

    I'm all for all primaries also. That's why I'm against term limits - we should always be able to get rid of them when the time has come.


    I'm with you regarding Ted Kennedy. (none / 0) (#55)
    by AX10 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:03:57 PM EST

    Hey, He Is Not As Bad As The (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:25:04 AM EST
    other guy. What more do you want?

    The majority of the voters that care about this issue gave approval for Obama's actions when they decided that Obama would get their vote regardless of his actual vote on the issue. He was not as bad as a Republican, even if voted like one.

    As long as we vote for politicians that vote to support the same agenda as Republicans just because they are running with a "D" after their name, nothing will change  except the names of the players.  


    Hey (none / 0) (#51)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:11:54 PM EST
    People tried to make them change in 2000 by making a stand and voting for Nader but everyone criticizes them for it.

    Huh, (none / 0) (#50)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:10:46 PM EST
    Who would be crazy enough to challenge Obama and thereby quite possibly end there own forward progress.

    On the upside (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:51:05 AM EST
    it's nice after all the rhetoric, rationalizations, and reaching out, to have a nice solid lie to hold onto.  When they're this obvious, it's easier to mount political opposition.  "Liar" has a better ring to it than "FISA."

    If you don't like what he's doing, (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by itscookin on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:58:43 AM EST
    how are you going to change it? What tools do you have at your disposal "to hold his feet to the fire"? You've elected him and given him a Democratic congress. Can you trust that putting up alternative Democrats in the 2010 primaries will get us different results? Are you proposing we work for a Republican landslide in 2010?   You bought it and found out it was broken when you got it home. Unfortunately, it was a final sale, and now you're stuck with it. Unfortunately, so are the rest of us. I fear that BTD's typo is correct.  Obama doesn't feel "scared"; he feels "sacred".

    My voice and my computer (5.00 / 6) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:00:19 AM EST
    are tools at my disposal right now.

    I will not respond to the silly straw man that says you can't critique the Obama Administration without embracing a GOP agenda. That is dkos talk and ridiculous.


    I believe we can criticize the President (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by itscookin on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:19:22 AM EST
    and should. What I'm asking you is if you think that it will make any difference? I don't embrace a GOP agenda any more than you do, but if you want to put the brakes on Obama, how are you going to do it? If you convince people that you are right by using your voice and your computer, will his drop in popularity in the opinion polls be enough to sway Obama? Do we put the brakes on Obama by changing the landscape in congress? Would different Democrats be enough? Or do we have to give him real opposition? I'm interested in how you propose to change Obama's path on this and on any other paths you disagree with. I don't think he cares much about what the rest of us think.

    My voice? alone? Hardly (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:24:45 AM EST
    A number of voices, together? certainly that can make a difference.

    Yes (none / 0) (#22)
    by joanneleon on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:35:03 AM EST
    I do think that a drop in popularity and confidence polls will cause him to make some changes.  I believe that Obama is a people pleaser and that he is very much affected by negative feedback.  He doesn't deal with it very well at all.

    I don't know if it will result in fundamental changes.  That remains to be seen.  But I think it will sway him.


    all pols are "people pleasers" (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:42:33 AM EST
    that's their jobs.

    What they do forget is that they are judged at elections, not at the time of their vote on bills.


    There is an awful lot of focus (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by joanneleon on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:05:19 AM EST
    on daily polls with this president though.

    ...for now. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Fabian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:47:20 AM EST
    I expect the fascination with approval ratings will fade as the approval fades.

    What do you (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:09:09 AM EST
    do though? Using your voice is a good thing and certainly worthwhile but Obama has never listened and what do you will make him? Maybe the Geither plan being defeated?

    There are also groups like the ACLU (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:36:26 AM EST
    that can magnify our single voices. I get involved with those also.

    I haven't abandoned all hope that Obama will listen, or that a lawsuit somewhere down the road will make him take notice.


    Maybe He'll Listen (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by daring grace on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 12:44:43 PM EST
    But, as you say, we need strategies for amplifying our voices. I wish there was a louder outcry about this in progressive circles.

    It would be great if the MSM were covering this as well, but they don't and as a result I think a lot of Americans are also unaware of what the administration is doing (and not doing).

    I know none of my friends has heard of this or had paid attention to the FISA vote last year. They're mostly good, engaged liberals but they're not as (perhaps obsessively) engaged in day to day politics as I am.

    I would also like to see our Dem majority in Congress push for reform as another way to pressure the administration to do the right thing. But then I remember the passage of the Patriot Act in the first place, and think...

    Well, it's another front to apply pressure on. And the courts.


    I do what I do (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:10:04 AM EST
    what do you do?

    Well (none / 0) (#14)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:14:25 AM EST
    I would write letters to my Rep but he's a knee jerk conservative who'll vote against anything Obama proposes so I'm sure that he'll vote against Geither. IMO, in my little way I support candidates that support the same issues that I do. I guess that's about all you can do.

    That's right (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:25:05 AM EST
    I care about this (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:07:20 AM EST
    I may not viscerally understand it as others do who have represented or prosecuted people who have been harmed or did harm to others through violated privacy.  I care about this though and it isn't okay.  It will always be one of Obama's gravest sins.

    Yup - this hits even we non-lawyers (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:20:22 AM EST
    right in the gut. We're the ones who may need a lawyer someday due to illegally collected information.  Being hit in the gut by Obama does not feel any better than being hit in the gut by Bush. If anything, it is worse because we 'hoped' for better.

    It seems clear (5.00 / 14) (#10)
    by Steve M on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:09:53 AM EST
    that Obama is consciously advancing outlandish theories in support of his surveillance rights, knowing full well that no serious jurist could ever accept them.  This strategy will inevitably lead to a judicial decision protecting our rights in a durable fashion.  The unimaginative approach favored by the predictable purveyors of conventional wisdom, like Greenwald, would create only a temporary  sense of freedom subject to reversal at the whim of the next President or Congress.

    I am disappointed that some of you are so blinded by hatred for Obama that you are unable to appreciate the purpose of this elegant strategy.  Once again, Obama has outsmarted everyone.

    Heh (5.00 / 5) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:10:56 AM EST
    Who do you predict will be the first blogger to forward this line THIS TIME?

    I dunno (5.00 / 4) (#15)
    by Steve M on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:17:49 AM EST
    but I sure hope they quote my comment when they do so.

    My friend Al Giordano (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:41:12 AM EST
    is my bet.

    "Specially this phrase: (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:49:03 AM EST
    predictable purveyors of conventional wisdom

    He's just doing this (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:31:52 AM EST
    for his re-election campaign.  Once he's re-elected he'll rescind this crazy policy.  Just wait and see.  He had to do it for now.  He didn't want to.

    I trust Obama.  Oh, and did I mention hopey-changey?



    LOL! (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:07:06 AM EST
    The sad part is, this was so on the money that it took me a few seconds to realize it was snark.

    The even sadder part is, there are comments just like this all over the comment boards at DU and DK.


    Yes, its brilliant - the operation was a success (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by ding7777 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:44:39 AM EST
    but the patient died!

    a 12th dimension (none / 0) (#20)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:26:54 AM EST
    to his chess game?

    ROFL (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:37:16 AM EST
    Whew! (none / 0) (#33)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:09:00 AM EST
    I had to read your comment a couple of times - you had me going there!

    Do you think it is possible (none / 0) (#38)
    by CST on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:17:32 AM EST
    the courts will overturn it?

    Didn't Feingold say he was going to introduce legislation on FISA?  

    Is there a way to stop this?


    Yes, Feingold said in a few weeks (none / 0) (#40)
    by Cream City on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:33:53 AM EST
    he would do so, according to Ben Masel here.  But that was several weeks ago.  Let's put pressure on my Senator, who may be one of our few true hopes.

    we need (none / 0) (#41)
    by CST on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:43:39 AM EST
    someone to champion this cause since it clearly isn't coming from the top.

    So is this the 12th dimension to his chess game? (none / 0) (#56)
    by AX10 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:09:43 PM EST
    Or is Obama just being a run of the mill politician?

    Betrayal (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by nellre on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:44:27 AM EST
    This is the issue I care most about.

    Obama has betrayed those who voted for him. When he flip flopped on FISA it should have been a red flag warning, but some voters were enthralled, while others had their choices artificially limited, and so he got elected.

    Then he become somebody else, or simply took the sheepskin off. I have no memory of such a transformation by anybody taking public office.

    Maya Angelou says, (5.00 / 10) (#29)
    by itscookin on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:53:04 AM EST
    "When people show you who they are, believe them." The FISA vote should have been enough.

    "I have no memory . . . (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:16:20 AM EST
    . . . memory of such a transformation by anybody taking public office."

    remember I am a compassionate conservative and a uniter not a divider?



    Nobody bought Bush (none / 0) (#59)
    by nellre on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 06:52:26 PM EST
    His rhetoric was transparent. His history as the governor of TX was who he was. He did not turn out to be a wolf in sheeps clothing. He was a toad, through and through, all along.

    I'm having a really hard time (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by joanneleon on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:53:15 AM EST
    resolving the Obama I see and hear with the Obama decisions I read about.  Since he never addresses these particular issues straight up, in public, it makes it even harder to resolve.

    I don't see a guy who is insincere.  So why is he making or going along with all of these legal decisions and fiscal policies/tactics?

    The only think I can come up with is something I saw early in the primaries.  From my view, there are three main problems: Obama is a big picture person; Obama trusts the wrong people to deal with policy details; Obama does not have his priorities straight.

    I believe the the president is focusing more on the big and more idealistic issues rather than the pressing details of the crisis at home, just like he did during his pre-convention primary.  I think he is relying on the people who believes he can trust, and they are not trustworthy.

    You know what?  I don't know.  I can't resolve it.  I can make these types of arguments on healthcare and economics, but it all falls flat when it comes down to legal and constitutional issues.  The man is supposed to be a constitutional scholar and he's doing everything he said he wouldn't do, and violating some deep and critical tenets that he claimed to hold sacred.  Every time my trust in Pres. Obama begins to solidify, something like this happens to shatter it again.  

    Another reason as to why I was for Hillary. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by AX10 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:13:25 PM EST
    She understood the crisis at hand and like Bill, was going to be personally involved in the decision making process.  Obama, like Bush II, and Reagan believe in delegating this responsibility.  I do not.  Timothy Geithner is going to be Obama's Rumsfeld and Tim is going to drive the country (and the world) over a cliff (if not done already)

    I have never cared for delegation of power and have seen it end up in disaster time and time over.


    Don't believe your lying ears and eyes! (none / 0) (#47)
    by mexboy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 12:49:05 PM EST
    The man is a saint and his actions are definitely about the big picture, which you are too small to wrap your brain around.
    Just trust him!

    He needs to be asked the question, (5.00 / 7) (#36)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:26:19 AM EST
    have his earlier statements read/shown to him, and asked why he is not just going back on his promises, but actually expanding the egregious policies and justifications of the Bush administration.

    And yes, the FISA vote should have been a wake-up call for a lot of people; there should never have been an attempt to cast it as something benevolent or strategic.  His promise to "fix it later" should have been seen as being right up there with "the check is in the mail" and other obvious lies - because clearly it was one.

    More people should have known that you don't have John Brennan as an advisor if you don't share a basic philosophy or world-view.

    There is no comfort in having seen this coming.  None.  And there is even less in knowing there is probably damn little anyone is going to be able to do about it.  I can tell you one thing, though: if this kind of thing keeps up, there is no way anyone should assume or accept that Obama should be the de facto nominee in 2012.

    And no, I am not getting ready to suggest that Hillary challenge him; what I am suggesting is that no Democrat who argues for this kind of perversion of the Constitution should be allowed to run as the representative of the party.  We're supposed to be better than that, and America deserves better than that.

    Gonna be a long four years at this rate, people.

    Silly you. (none / 0) (#37)
    by scribe on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:45:06 AM EST
    He made the promise to fight "in the Senate" to change the statute.
    He's not in the Senate any more.
    He probably did some miniscule "fight" to change it then said "f*ck it, I have to campaign".
    So, he's fulfilled his promises and, since he's no longer in the Senate, can't be compelled to address them, let alone do anything to carry them out.

    Get with it.

    I recognize most people's minds have been dulled or worse by eight years of listening to the inarticulacy of Bush but be clear on this one thing, if nothing else:  every word that passes Obama's lips, he means.  No more, and no less.  He is a lawyer, speaking with lawyer precision, to convey precise meaning.  

    He did that in the Senate.  And he's doing it now.

    Get with it.


    Obama gave fair warning with his FISA vote and (5.00 / 5) (#39)
    by Bluesage on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:31:30 AM EST
    No one listened!  You welcomed the hoodwinking and bamboozling from Obama and his fawning media and now we are all stuck with your choices. And, No, there is no comfort in knowing that you were smart enough to see this coming and saying "I told you so".  There is no comfort in being a 40 year committed Democrat and watching your party implode and become a bunch of groupies for a rock star.  After eight horrifying years of Bush we deserved better.  

    Actually, Obama gave fair warning (5.00 / 3) (#44)
    by ding7777 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:49:01 AM EST
    when he showed his admiration for Ronald Reagan because Reagan " was able to get Democrats to vote against their [...] interests"

    The Democratic National Convention was sponsored (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by kempis on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 12:38:26 PM EST
    by AT&T.

    Until we take big money out of politics, politicians will always have to defend their patrons more than the Constitution.

    But (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:23:42 AM EST
    Greenwald has always hated Obama hasn't he? <snark>

    Even with the snark (none / 0) (#13)
    by Fabian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:13:15 AM EST
    I can't summon up even the most fleeting chuckle.

    Maybe it's just me.


    Disillusion (none / 0) (#48)
    by DancingOpossum on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 03:36:00 PM EST
    I knew that disillusion with Obama was inevitable but I truly did not expect it to happen this quickly. I'm astonished. And no, there is no satisfaction in my saying this -- I didn't vote for him but once he won I wanted him to do well. We are in desperate times but also a time of great opportunity for the right leader. And I actually do care more about the country than my personal lingering resentment (although I still have plenty of that :)

    To those of us who saw him as a smooth-talking charlatan and wondered about the mass psychosis around us, this is a Pyrrhic victory.

    "smooth talking charlatan" (none / 0) (#49)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:07:32 PM EST
    Amazing that he's done things like push Stem Cell Research, SCHIP, repeal the Global Gag Rule, Release presidential papers, etc. its almost like he actually believes what he's said but has to move slowly in order to preserve public support.

    I'm not saying that I agree with everything the admin has done this is egregious and while he's moving in the right direction in Iraq and Gitmo he's moving a little to slowly, but its not like he's done nothing as some like you would argue.


    Does (none / 0) (#52)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:36:05 PM EST
    that make up for all the Bush economic policies and restriction of civil liberties that he's now endorsing?

    And moving slowly to (none / 0) (#53)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:37:58 PM EST
    "preserve" public support is a fallacy. He needs to act WHILE he has public support because once those approval ratings go down, and they will, the GOP will have a steamroller parked on the White House lawn.

    I am with you. (none / 0) (#58)
    by AX10 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:18:02 PM EST
    I want Obama to be successful too.
    Though my feelings towards the Democratic party have weakened much after the primary season.
    Add in the groupies and Hollywood luvvies, it is just to much to watch.

    Another (none / 0) (#54)
    by JRoy29 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:14:34 PM EST
    Contradiction by President Obama but why m I surprised Obama works for the bankers and big corporations now.