Congressional Selective Amnesia
Listening to the outrage on the Congressional Right, one is quickly reminded of Casablanca's Prefect of Police Louis Renault, who was "Shocked, shocked!" to find that gambling was going on at Rick's Cafe (while one of Rick's employees was handing him his winnings). This is particularly true of the primary GOP attack dog, Darrel Issa (R-CA), but it also applies to many other members of Congress who seem to have become so senile in their long tenure that they have forgotten that it was Congress that authorized the collection of this data, and the creation of the NSA database.
Darrel Issa was elected to the House in 2000 and began his service in January of 2001. The NSA data collection program was initially part of the Patriot Act, which passed the House on October 24, 2001 by a vote of 357 to 66. Issa voted in favor. The Patriot Act was re-authorized in 2006 - Issa voted in favor again. In fact, this 'great revelation' of the past few weeks is just to much smoke and blather. This exact program was 'exposed' in 2006, in articles published in newspapers across the nation. It has been challenged in court several times. And yet, Darrel Issa and his friends on the Right Wing seem to have been unaware of the program until it's existence was 'leaked' to The Guardian.
So, just to summarize...
- The GOP is attacking President Obama and his administration for this secret NSA data collection program.
- This secret program has been in place since 2004.
- This secret program was made public in 2006.
- This secret program has been challenged in court several times.
- This secret program was authorized by Congress in 2001 as part of the Patriot Act.
- Many of the same people who are up in arms about this secret program were in Congress when the Patriot Act was passed.
- This includes Darrel Issa
- This does not include Barack Obama.
But Is This Unconstitutional?
Before Congress acts to end the program, though, they really should examine the legal ramifications of what the NSA is doing. Is this program, in fact, a violation of a person's Fourth Amendment right to privacy? And the answer to that issue boils down to one simple question - who owns the data?