Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut – and never, ever, ask national security officials if they think there should be more shortcuts around the Constitution’s protections of our civil liberties.
Whether you asked for more shortcuts or not, here they come! The Obamacans have just issued new guidelines for snooping by the government’s sprawling counterterrorism complex. The old guidelines on how spy agencies collect, search, and store our private data are to be “relaxed.” What a gentle term!
But you might not feel very relaxed about being caught up in their massive fishing expeditions. Lest you think that only the “bad guys” are being netted, the spooks are grabbing everything from driving records to credit card bills. Allowed to copy entire databases, they can merrily mine your and my personal information – even though there is no suspicion that we have any connection to terrorists.
Even under the dark Bush-Cheney Regime, data collected on innocent Americans had to be deleted from the central computer within 180 days. Under Obama’s relaxed rules, however, Spy Central may hold data on innocent citizens for up to five years. That’s not “relaxed,” it’s positively loosey-goosey.
Officials say that these shortcuts around our Constructional rights were prompted by the government’s failure to nab the haplessly-incompetent “underwear bomber” in 2009. But, come on – how pathetic to rip our nation’s privacy protections out of the Constitution over one goofball who couldn’t even ignite his underwear and was captured not by spies, but by alert private citizens.
Tellingly, the new, invasive guidelines were issued without allowing any advance comment from the public. For information and action, connect with the Electronic Privacy Information Center at www.epic.org.