This weeks Jack Kelly column "The NSA's close shave: For now, let's hope that government incompetence will protect our privacy" is interesting for the reasons I describe below. What is below is a copy of a comment (mostly unedited here) I made on the online PG edition.
I found this Jack Kelly piece pretty interesting. First of all, I found I agreed with large parts, although not his ultimate conclusion.
Second, I will encourage people to read this Glenn Greenwald Guardian UK OpEd piece where he asserts that the Republicans do not block every Obama program as Democrats like to say. On this bill, as Jack Kelly suggested, the House Democratic and Republican leadership made common cause in voting against this bill. Now, if I say it should give the White House and Nancy Pelosi pause to be making common cause with John Boehner, maybe I am being too partisan. But I think I am on safe ground when I say that this White House has a considerable problem with its whole "anti-terrorism" program, that is increasingly looking like a domestic comprehensive surveillance program.
Third of all, I am confused by Kelly opposition to the Amash amendment. He says it "would have removed the legal authority for the National Security Agency to collect communications "metadata" on U.S. citizens." Well, then he goes onto to clarify the amendment would "permit surveillance only if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decides that individual business records are relevant to a specific investigation." Frankly I thought that was how the Patriot Act was supposed to work anyway, that if a suspected or suspicious foreign person contacted a US citizen (at least on US soil), the NSA would make a request to monitor that US citizens "metadata" to the FISA court. I guess that was blown wide open (or made wide shut) in 2006, dropping the FISA court part if it had ever been there. As I have been reading, there was a debate to that effect in 2006, the last year the Republicans held Congress under Bush.
But if we are not going to rely on the FISA court to at least keep a record when it rubber stamps every NSA request, then what does Jack Kelly suggest we should do? He suggests nothing, which I suspect will always be is position.
This *is* an interesting Kelly piece, in that Republicans appear to be tying themselves in knots over whether to consistently oppose the President or in this case to preserve the ability to spy on American citizen for the next Republican President who comes down the line (whoever that might be and whenever that might be). And some Democrats show how little they care for what are supposed to be their principles, and rubber stamp White House that also should be following principles.