Yesterday, I happened to hear David Brooks on NPR. He was asked about the huge NSA surveillance program. He said, "I'm somewhat bothered by the secrecy, but I don't feel it's intrusive. Basically, they're running huge amounts of megadata through an algorithm. That feels less intrusive to me than the average TSA search at the airport. And so I don't think it's particularly intrusive. It is supervised by the court. It has some congressional supervision." Okay, it's Brooks. What's the big deal?
Well, that morning, the Wall Street Journal editorial page wrote, "We bow to no one in our desire to limit government power, but data-mining is less intrusive on individuals than routine airport security." I think it is interesting that Brooks is brought on NPR as a "reasonable" Republican and he just spouts the WSJ editors. Brooks is not supposed to be just some random politician; he's supposed to be an independent thinker. But let's leave that aside.
Jonathan Chait wrote a good article yesterday, "Conservative Freedom Lovers: You're Doing It Wrong." In which he showed the cognitive dissonance in the conservative movement regarding issues of freedom. For example, noted that Jack Welch is a-okay with the NSA spying, even as he claimed that Obama was secretly manipulating the Jobs Report for his own nefarious purposes.
Or consider Roger Vinson, who was one of the lower court judges who struck down Obamacare. He claimed that if the government could force people to get health insurance, it could force them to do anything. So he's a big believer in freedom. Or at least certain kinds of freedom. As Chait noted, "Judge Vinson has reentered the news for having approved the National Security Agency's program of collecting all of the phone records in America."
This is hilarious. The leftists on this board are perfectly OK with a federal program to keep track of every American's phone calls and whom they were calling and where they were calling from because it was ordered by B. Hussein Obama. They're also perfectly OK with Obama's program of monitoring everyone's credit-card transactions, e-mails, etc.
David Brooks compares this monitoring with a TSA search at an airport security checkpoint. This is an invalid comparison. When you enter the secure area of an airport, you are made aware of TSA policy and you are made aware that you will be searched make a de facto agreement to temporarily surrender your 4th Amendment rights in order to gain access to the secure area. By contrast, when you make a cell-phone call or when you sign a contract with your cell-phone carrier, there's nothing in the fine print telling you that your phone records will be handed over to the Obama Administration. The only way we found out about this program was through a British newspaper that did some old-fashioned investigative reporting of the sort that American newspapers no longer do. Furthermore, the metadata is the private property of your phone carrier and should therefore be subject to the protections of the 4th Amendment. Phone carriers should be required to hand over the metadata of a given customer if the authorities can find probable cause and get a search warrant. But for the Obama Administration to force the phone companies to hand over the metadata of every single customer is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment. But we're bing told that this is all OK because Obama is the one ordering it. Give me a frakin' break!
When George W. Bush initiated a program to collect metadata on phone calls made from the U.S. to foreign countries, I and many other conservatives either opposed that program or at had serious reservations about it. When Obama hoovers up EVERYONE's local-call metadata, liberals are fine with it. Geez.