Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Minor Rant About NSA Seizing All Of Verizon's Customers' Call Records

I didn't vote for Obama in 2012 because I believed his civil liberties record did not merit my vote. After yesterday's revelation about the NSA getting a FISA warrant for all Verizon phone records, I have to rank that protest vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson as the best vote I have ever cast.

For those of you wondering about why I didn't vote for Mitt Romney, I give you Lindsey Graham:
Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he is “glad” that the National Security Agency is collecting millions of telephone records — including his own — from one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies in an attempt to combat terrorism.
Mr. Graham said that he is a Verizon customer and has no problem with the company turning over records to the government if it helps it do its job. The South Carolina Republican said that people who have done nothing wrong have nothing to worry about because the NSA is mining the phone records for people with suspected ties to terrorism.
If I have done nothing wrong, I suppose I have nothing to worry about if the police bring drug dogs into my house without a warrant. If I have done nothing wrong, I have nothing to worry about if the police stop me without probable cause while I'm walking around the park and take me to the police station to ask me questions about my associations with Al Qaeda or if I've ever been a member of the Communist Party.

In case the preceding paragraph didn't make it clear why I won't support Republicans because of their civil liberties views. let me be a bit more blunt. I didn't support Obama because he talked the talk in 2008 but walked a far different walk during the next four years. I can't support Republicans because for all their talk about respecting constitutional principles and small governement, they babble banalities like those Graham uttered on issues that matter.

Since this post is turning into a rant, let me go a step further to discuss which current issues really matter by using a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being "it just doesn't matter" and 10 "as urgent as avoiding a speeding bus without operable brakes."

  • Scheduling a 40th vote to repeal Obamacare rates a 1.
  • Benghazi is a 1.7
  • The IRS snooping should be seen as a  6.5
  • Stopping sexual abuse in the military is an 8
  • Subpoenaing journalists' records is a 5.5
  • The NSA getting a FISA warrant  for every call for every Verizon customer is a 12.


bwschwartz said...

Wonder if Senator Graham also feels that background checks on all firearm purchases are alright as well . If you've done nothing wrong than you should have nothing to worry about right?

(obviously I knew the answer to that question before I asked it)

It never ceases to amaze me that all these so-called Constitutionalist's especially on the right will scream bloddy murder when they think their 2nd Amendment rights are supposedly being challenged but don't say a word when their 4th Amendment rights are actually being trampled on...

P&R said...

Since the purpose of such lists is to give folks like us an excuse to quibble...

40th vote to repeal Obamacare - 1
Benghazi - 2
IRS snooping - 9
Sexual abuse in military - 9 (but I don't think we're really prepared to do what's necessary to stop it)
Subpoena of journalists records - 6
NSA/FBI getting all phone records from Verizon - 12+

Kal Lis said...

Mr. Schwartz,

You are preaching to the choir with your last paragraph.


Having my words from a previous post stings a little :)

Am I misreading or are we agreeing within the margin of error except for the IRS snooping? If so, we may be stretching the definition of quibble.

I too wonder if the military will do what's necessary

P&R said...

I think we're pretty close on these. I just think the IRS stuff is much more serious. Using agencies of the government to harass and abuse those whose viewpoints vary from the current group in power is no small thing.

It's a cliché, I know, but if this had been Bush, or say Gov. Daugaard using the state tax agency to go after Heidelberger? We know what happened when it was Nixon - this sort of thing was included in the articles of impeachment.

M Larson said...

I put the the IRS issue much lower. I think the bigger issue is allowing these political groups to be able to get a special tax designation. I posted on my blog about this issue with the more LDish question: When does security trump right of privacy?

I guess the bigger question I have is how can these records be of actual use? I actually rate this much lower than a 12. It is more of a 6 in this case. I think that the sexual abuse in the military rates much higher.

Ken Santema said...

I mostly agree with your list. I would maybe put the Subpoenaing journalists' records up to about an 8 and The NSA getting a FISA warrant for every call for every Verizon customer up to about a 20 (still on a scale of 10).

Kal Lis said...

Quickly from the top--

I would rank the IRS higher if there were solid evidence back to Obama. None seems to exist as of now.

Mike is right about the problems determining which groups should be tax exempt, but the targeting is a problem for the reasons P&R mentions. I would add that the IRS under Bush seems to have gone after the NAACP.

20? Ken, you sound like some policy debaters I judge: We'll see your nuclear war and raise you two extinction level events.

I'm worried that DC folk will decide to deal with the least serious and ignore the more serious because there's no easy solution or they can't use the issue to score politcal points.

Ken Santema said...

I agree with what your worried about. I don't think any of these situations will be 'resolved'. Any issues that get attention will be done to score political points.

(In my defense I've been hanging out with my 6 and 8 year old all week. Exaggeration is required for little boys apparently).

Ken Santema said...

One more comment. I didn't vote for Obama either time (L both times). But I REALLY hoped he would live up to his transparency promise from the first election.

Policy-wise I see very little different between Bush and Obama. But I am a lot more disappointed in Obama. He had a real chance for 'change'.