Posted by Brad @ 10:25 am on August 31st 2011

How’s That Obama Administration Working Out for You, Civil Libertarians?

Here is what John Yoo had to say in essentially fiating the legality of the warrantless wiretap program begun under Bush, and continued and expanded under Obama:

“Intelligence gathering in direct support of military operations does not trigger constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures.”

What else does the federal government think in terms of illegal searches and seizures, and the executive branches ability to runaround them? We don’t know. That quote is from one of only 8 sentences not redacted in John Yoo’s 21-page memo giving what has been institutionalized as the federal government’s thinking on the matter.

The Obama administration has refused to declassify a secret memo from the George W. Bush presidency that justified the warrantless spying conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Matthew Aid, a writer who’s covered the NSA and surveillance policy, requested a copy of a 2001 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion by John Yoo that discussed the legal grounds for electronic spying without permission from a special federal court. The Department of Justice mostly denied Aid’s Freedom of Information Act request, saying the redacted information in the OLC opinion was “classified, covered by non-disclosure provisions contained in other federal statutes, and is protected by the deliberative process privilege.”

Not only do we have no right to know whether the government is spying on us, we don’t even have the right to know why they think they can spy on us.

Really, the only daylight between an Obama administration on this question, and a McCain 2008 or Romney/Perry one in 2012, is that at least the Republicans are relatively upfront about their position. In terms of practice? No difference at all that I can see.

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