Last week, the federal court of appeals ruled that the Executive Branch is within its rights to conduct warrantless wiretapping on U.S. citizens – but not allowed to use this information against them.
The court ruled that warrantless wiretapping is permitted under Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), started by the Bush Administration, but since this recent ruling highlights the powers of the executive branch, it is our current president’s stance that is of the greatest interest.
Unfortunately, it seems that the aspects of FISA that Obama criticized during the Bush administration are the very aspects that carried over to the Obama’s Administration – as evidenced by a record of Obama's discussion over FISA in 2008.
Other parallels that exist between the two the administrations are seen within the Obama Administration’s proposal of the Cybersecurity Act.
In 2007, before Obama was inaugurated, he criticized Bush’s administration as “putting forth a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the securities we provide.” Obama continued this speech by promising that he would provide security agencies tools that will “wipe out terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.”
“That means no more illegal wiretapping,” he continued.
Technically, Obama did not betray his words because the recent ruling by the federal court of appeals dictates that “warrantless wiretapping” is not necessarily “illegal wiretapping.”
More of Obama's criticism over FISA in 2008 is seen when he proposed to strike Title II from the bill, which is specific to this cause. Obama claimed that Title II is an executive abuse of power since it “potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses.”
However, that is exactly what just happened, when a judge ruled that the plaintiff, Al- Haramain, “cannot bring suit against the government…” over this wiretapping situation.
The U.S. Court for the 9th Circuit wrote this of its decision: “This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs' ongoing attempts to hold the Executive Branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization.”
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Edited by Braden Becker