GOP conveniently forgets it supported programs during Bush years
January 24, 2014
On Friday the Republican National Committee passed a resolution denouncing the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance programs.
Despite RNC resolution, some Republican staunchly defend the destruction of the Fourth Amendment
The resolution renounces “the secret surveillance program called PRISM targets, among other things, the surveillance of communications of U.S. citizens on a vast scale and monitors searching habits of virtually every American on the internet.”
House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, an author of the Patriot Act and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Section 215 of that bill was passed, said NSA surveillance is “an abuse of that law.”
He said “based on the scope of the released order, both the administration and the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court are relying on an unbounded interpretation of the act that Congress never intended.”
Instead of repealing the Patriot Act, the RNC has called for legislation to amend Section 215, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to “make it clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence — electronic, physical, and otherwise-of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court,” as stipulated by the Fourth Amendment.
The RNC resolution is highly partisan. The NSA dragnet of communications began during the Bush administration and was supported by a majority of Republicans at that time.
In December, Obama’s Director for National Intelligence, James Clapper, declassified documents revealing “the existence of collection activities authorized by President George W. Bush” including vacuum collection of internet and phone metadata under the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (TSP).
The Bush administration was intimately involved in the unconstitutional collection of data by the NSA. President George W. Bush personally issued authorizations for the programs every 30 and 60 days. The secret FISA court now authorizes the massive surveillance of American citizens and Obama is not required to issue authorization.
Hypocrisy by establishment politicians is nothing new. However, although the resolution is a welcome move and a small step in the right direction, it is a startling and some would say immensely hypocritical turnaround for Republicans.
In 2006, the RNC attacked Democrats for their opposition to NSA surveillance programs and characterized a judge’s ruling that the programs are unconstitutional as “a blow to America’s national security.”
The Bush administration argued, as the Obama administration now argues, that the surveillance programs are constitutional.