Obama, NSA Metadata Collection, and Our Right To Know Why

Obama, NSA Metadata Collection, and Our Right To Know Why:
There are two things that someone on the left can say that piss off unyielding Obama supporters: 1. Drone missile strikes are immoral and likely illegal in a "war crimes" sense (that's a discussion for another day), and 2. the blanket surveillance of the American people is an unconstitutional violation of privacy. And guess who could stop these practices with a wave of his pen? The motherfucking President.

"How dare you," they say, "how dare you question whether or not Barack Obama can be trusted." And when you point out that President Ted Cruz might not have earned such trust, you get silence. Principles like, you know, the Constitution, matter in these cases and trump your loyalty to one politician or another.

So all the Rude Pundit wants to say to every queasy person on the left, especially to those who called Edward Snowden a traitor or probed Glenn Greenwald's life and writings for anything to impeach his credibility (both of which totally miss the point of the leaked documents), is simple: Suck on Bush-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's ruling that NSA metadata collection is probably unconstitutional and certainly goddamned scary.

You can go through the entire decision, which is filled with a breathtaking amount of steaming anger at government fuckery in the lives of everyone (yes, everyone). But, for the Rude Pundit, here's the money shot right in the face (from page 61): "[T]he Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature. In fact, none of the three 'recent episodes' cited by the Government that supposedly 'illustrate the role that telephony metadata can play in preventing and protecting against terrorist attack' involved any apparent urgency." Judge Leon then discusses how metadata was supposedly used in the three cases and concludes, "there is no indication that these revelations were immediately useful or that they prevented an impending attack."

And then, after kicking the government in the balls, he farts in its face: "Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation - most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative techniques - I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program." The plaintiffs (which means, yes, madman Larry Klayman) have a good chance of showing that the metadata collection violates their Fourth Amendment rights.

For the Rude Pundit, as it is for Judge Leon, as it should be for every American, it's always come down to that proposition for the government: Prove it. Show us you need this blanket surveillance. Show us that you need to keep years of this metadata. Show us that without it we'd have been blown up. (Implicit in there is "No, I don't trust you with my information. I don't give a shit who you are." Also implicit in there is "Yeah, you need to give up some fuckin' 'secrets' here.")

Which brings us back to President Obama. Ryan Lizza writes in The New Yorker about how a FISA judge who oversaw the metadata collection program believed, back in 2009, that the NSA was violating the rules governing its usage. He "was considering rescinding the N.S.A.’s authority to run the program, and was contemplating bringing contempt charges against officials who misled the court or perhaps referring the matter to 'appropriate investigative offices.'"

It gave the Obama administration an out. Fuckers were lying about how the data was being searched. Shut the fuckers down, right? No. In February, the Obama White House told the court, "The government respectfully submits that the Court should not rescind or modify the authority" of the NSA to throw a net over all the info, contempt or lies be damned.

The Rude Pundit doesn't give a damn how we got this information about our government's spying on us. What enrages him is being told he shouldn't worry about it, that he should just go about his business and let the professionals do their work. He naively believes that the failure to call "bullshit" on bullshit just because you like the bull is how you help democracy die faster.