Surveillance state is a done deal
January 21, 2014
Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said over the weekend NSA surveillance is not going anywhere despite Obama’s less than lukewarm assurance last week there will be reforms.
“The president has very clearly said that he wants to keep the capability” to surveil Americans without court-issued warrants, Feinstein said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “So I think we would agree with him. I know a dominant majority of the — everybody, virtually, except two or three, on the Senate Intelligence Committee would agree with that.”
“A lot of the privacy people, perhaps, don’t understand that we still occupy the role of the Great Satan,” she continued. “New bombs are being devised. New terrorists are emerging, new groups, actually, a new level of viciousness. We need to be prepared. I think we need to do it in a way that respects people’s privacy rights.”
Feinstein, Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, and others in Congress continue to spread the debunked claim that giving the NSA a blank check has stopped terrorist attacks. ABC News, CNN and the New York Times have repeated the falsehood.
If we can believe corporate polls, the American people have tuned out the debate over the destruction of the Fourth Amendment and the Bill of Rights.
“The latest evidence comes from a new Pew Research Center poll showing that half the public said they had heard nothing at all about President Obama’s speech Friday outlining new restrictions on the National Security Agency. Only 8% of those surveyed said they had ‘heard a lot’ about Obama’s plans,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Polls also indicate a majority of Americans believe the whistleblower Edward Snowden is a criminal who should be prosecuted.
“Overall, the public is divided about whether Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information, which brought the program to light, has served or harmed the public interest: 45% say it has served the public interest while 43% say it harmed it,” Pew Research reported on Monday. “Nonetheless, a 56% majority wants to see the government pursue a criminal case against Snowden, while 32% oppose this.”
Defenders of the Fourth Amendment place hope in a positive ruling by the Supreme Court. Following rulings by lower courts, however, this appears unlikely.
Last month, U.S. district Judge William Pauley of New York ruled in response to an ACLU lawsuit that the NSA surveillance is reasonable, a “vital tool” in the battle against terrorism and less intrusive than the data people “voluntarily surrender” to “trans-national corporations.”
“Given the Justices’ preference for percolation in the lower courts,” writes Orin Kerr, a prominent Fourth Amendment scholar at George Washington University, “they may want to wait until the lower courts work through them.”
“I think a lot of commentators overestimate the chances that the Supreme Court would step in,” he added. “It’s certainly possible, but it’s not at all a sure thing.”