Democrats Introduce Privacy Bill Before Election . . . Obama Administration Reportedly Opposes Privacy Protections After Election

Many civil libertarians refused to vote for President Barack Obama given his dismal record in the expansion of the security state, surveillance law, and assertions of unchecked executive power. The Administration went into radio silence on such issues during the campaign in an effort to win back liberals (as they did on medical marijuana) only to announce after the election that they would resume the same policies. The Democratic leadership has shown the same duplicity on civil liberties for years — including hiding knowledge of the Bush torture program and surveillance programs as well as blocking any meaningful investigations into those alleged crimes. Now, some Democrats have reportedly put that hypocrisy on public display again. Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the bill which, as originally written, required warrants for the reading of emails and was heralded by Democrats during the campaign as their showing of fealty to privacy and civil liberties. The Justice Department then took the bill and flipped it to serve as a sweeping denial of privacy rights . . . and some Senators are pushing on passage now that the election is over. The bill includes warrantless access to university email systems.

The re-written bill now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail for over 22 federal agencies with only a subpoena and no probable cause. State and local agencies will have access to email system, including university emails. Internet providers will have to give notice if they are thinking of informing customers of access given to such agencies. Such notification can be postponed by up to 360 days. While not speaking for his Democratic colleagues, Leahy says that he does not support some of the exceptions. Leahy was once an ally for civil libertarians but is now viewed with great suspicion given his authorship of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act as well as the Protect IP Act. An article in The New Republic concluded Leahy’s work on the Patriot Act “appears to have made the bill less protective of civil liberties.” He also inserted controversial portions of the Patriot Act. Leahy however insists that he will oppose rollbacks. Yet, the Justice Department has objected to protections in the bill according to reports and some Senators are pushing for the restrictive version of the bill. Leahy’s staff says that he will push a draft closer to the original in committee. [Update: CNET is standing by its story
and says that Leahy only backdown after criticism following its story and that Leahy is abandoning amendments of his own making].

There is no denial of the opposition to the privacy protections by the Administration.

However, the Obama Administration is quoted as objecting that privacy protections would have an “adverse impact” on national security investigations. Democratic members doing the bidding of the Administration will find likely allies in the GOP, including Senator Chuck Grassley who has warned about the dangers of too much privacy.

The control of the security establishment over both White House and Congress appears now completely unchecked and unabashed. After securing reelection, President Obama wasted no time in returning to his prior record of disregarding privacy and civil liberties concerns. Once again, both the media and liberals are muted in any response when the same re-writing of the bill would have produced outcries under the Bush Administration. Of course, Obama can certainly point out that liberals should have had no illusions. On torture, military tribunals, surveillance, undeclared wars, and other issues, Obama made himself painfully clear. His campaign was one of personality over principle and only the personality remains.

[UPDATE: after the CNET story gained national attention, Leahy’s people went into full action in denying that Leahy supports warrantless access to email communications. However, there is still no denial of the quoted Administration officials opposing the privacy protections. Moreover, there is confirmation that a number of versions — including some with these exceptions to the warrant requirement — are being circulated. The bill can be changed in Committee or on the floor. Likewise, if the civil liberties community rallies to oppose warrantless searches, the Administration could seek to kill the bill or gut the provision to leave the status quo.]

Source: CNET

127 thoughts on “Democrats Introduce Privacy Bill Before Election . . . Obama Administration Reportedly Opposes Privacy Protections After Election

  1. I read this story this morning and hoped you would catch it too, but I must say “woe back liberals” is one of the funniest/saddest/Freudian typos ever.

  2. 1984 Whores, We charge you, We kiss you, then We tell on you.

    Freedom of expression is getting anally probed by Orwellian Pols.

    The first thing they discovered up there was the 1st amendment, and a whole lot of Dem heads.

  3. No,…… Romney was far worse than Bush and his vp was a theocratic disciple of Ayn Rand. I probably line-up more with Jill Stein, but she only got .35% of the vote. The voters that place civil liberties high on their list of priorities is miniscule… not a good thing but the way it us. Women’s rights rank much much higher.

  4. And Rubio says the age of the earth is one of the great mysteries. So after all the election kerfuffle, nothing has changed. The crazy religious wing of GOP is still nuts and the democrats are determined to further dismantle civil liberties. Why did we spend billions to end up in the same place where we were before?? Somin’ ain’t right!

  5. If more good Americans knew what’s really going on in the U.S., perhaps we’d see some push-back but, for now, most are content with their illusion of safety and security.

    But make no mistake — it’s ugly out there.

    “In 1935 Germany… many citizens felt uneasy and sensed that doom was on the way. More laughed such talk off and continued to find reasons to smile and enjoy the day. We all know the end of that story.” -refer to the following link

    If all of this is lost on you? Well, when you, personally, feel the pinch of the state, you’ll get it.

    “Everybody’s a Target in the American Surveillance State”

    By John W. Whitehead
    March 26, 2012

    “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”—A senior intelligence official previously involved with the Utah Data Center

    “At five times the size of the U.S. Capitol, the UDC will be a clearinghouse and a depository for every imaginable kind of information—whether innocent or not, private or public—including communications, transactions and the like. Anything and everything you’ve ever said or done, from the trivial to the damning—phone calls, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Google searches, emails, bookstore and grocery purchases, bank statements, commuter toll records, etc.—will be tracked, collected, catalogued and analyzed by the UDC’s supercomputers and teams of government agents. In this way, by sifting through the detritus of your once-private life, the government will come to its own conclusions about who you are, where you fit in, and how best to deal with you should the need arise.”

    America already has its own Stasi-like apparatus but, for those who aren’t yet aware of it? Well, it’s just crazy-talk.

    “It can’t happen here.” Right?

  6. Disgusting. This is the stuff that the true journalists in this country should be raising hell about and bringing to the forefront. This should be on the front page of every major newspaper. Most citizens of this country don’t and won’t even know about it.

    “The re-written bill now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail for over 22 federal agencies with only a subpoena and no probable cause. State and local agencies will have access to email system, including university emails. ”

    I am no constitutional scholar, but it sounds like it is clearly violative of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution to me.

  7. Sure Romney was worse than Obama exactly how…… I didn’t like either one of them….. But yes he is the lesser of two evils….. Evil is still evil….

    Good catch Gene on Woe-fully…… Woe is me….. But he…. He says he’ll back women’s right….. You can bank on it…..

    Heard this morning the FBI raided the Detroit Public Library this morning…

    It’s crazy…..

  8. Some civil libertarians that voted for Jill Stein might not know that she is for increasing gun control laws and more hate crime legislation and prosecution.

  9. Democrats reading our emails and evangelical republicans wanting to get in our pants. WTF?

    We are doomed to be a police state and broke to boot.

  10. This is an interesting and sad story. However, we have a duty to push Obama to the left and to the side of civil liberties. We would not have any chance to be successful in this area in a Romney administration. We also need the Judiciary to step up and denounce this legislation as unconstitutional, if it is allowed to pass as is.

  11. Juris; I’ll take this chance to appropriate a theme from Glenn Greenwald’s writings in stating that this kind of thing is proof that while specific media outlets may lean left or right, they ALL share a fundamental bias of being statist/authoritarian and rarely question what the government is doing (unless it reaches a magical combination of being just TOO absurd AND going against their partisan bias at the same time). So no…they won’t get up in arms about this at all; hell they didn’t even really care about SOPA/PIPA when those were out, they were covering the protests not the actual bills when all that happened.

    And yeah…I saw this coming in 2008 when B.O. was first elected; coming from IL and knowing what Chicago pols are (power hungry SOB’s), it was a safe bet that none of Duh-bya’s additions to the imperial presidency would vanish.

    Yeah Mittens would have been just as bad…although a slightly different bad; like 2 venn-diagram circles of almost pure suck overlapping 80%, with 20% of each being their own unique type of bad.

    The net effect nowadays; whoever wins, we lose…especially on civil liberties.

  12. @CNET has it wrong. Sen.Leahy does NOT support an #ECPA exception to search warrant requirement 4 civil enforcement or agncies like FTC, SEC (see below)

    Sen. Patrick Leahy ‏@SenatorLeahy

    @CNET & rumors re:warrant exceptions 2 #ECPA R NOT accurate.Others want such chnges;SenLeahy does not.His whole point is 2 strengthen privcy
    41m Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy ‏@SenatorLeahy

    Technology has created vacuum in privacy protection. Sen.Leahy believes that needs to be fixed, and #ECPA needs privacy updates #tech #cnet
    47m Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy ‏@SenatorLeahy

    The whole point of the Leahy reforms is 2 require search warrants 4 govt to access email stored with 3-party service providers under #ECPA
    49m Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy ‏@SenatorLeahy

    Ideas from many sources always circulate b4 a markup 4 disc., but Sen.Leahy does NOT support such an exception for #ECPA search warrants
    52m Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy ‏@SenatorLeahy

    The whole impetus of Senator Leahy’s efforts to update #ECPA is to remedy the erosion of the public’s privacy rights as #tech has mushroomed
    52m Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy ‏@SenatorLeahy

    @CNET has it wrong. Sen.Leahy does NOT support an #ECPA exception to search warrant requirement 4 civil enforcement or agncies like FTC, SEC

  13. Reblogged this on herlander-walking and commented:
    We voted for the lesser of two evils….but evil it remains. Unintentional results of the fear-flogging; now our government so fears us it will spy upon us and use the Constitutional guarantees for toilet paper.

  14. Here is where I want Jesse Junior out of the Mayonaise Clinic or Wrigley Field and back in the House to vote against this. This is where we need a liberal bi polar who is half arctic and half grizzly bear.

  15. AP, I am a little too pc for many of the posters here but that “monkey” talk about Obama is way out of line. Hope you are right about Leahy. He is usually a good guy.

  16. If a Republican tried to get this bill passed there would be a huge outcry. Obama will get away with it. I think I said this before the election when I compared Obama to Clinton taking down Pappy Bush so “they” could get NAFTA and GATT. Oh, hum. More of the same.

  17. SWM, “The other guy is worse” is the meme from both sides in our stifling duopoly. The topic is the Obama administration, not the election..that’s over.

  18. In reference to the aforementioned Bill O’Reilly link/clip, the comic relief comes from the Stewart clips, not from O’Reilly himself, to be clear… though some of O’Reilly’s remarks are laughable.

  19. “… there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said at press conference in Thailand”

    focking hypocrit ^*&^*)(^T%

  20. SWM, No remorse, I made one of my many quixotic picks w/ Johnson. I contributed and voted for Obama in ’08. My old man drilled into me to “Never make the same mistake twice.” Go ahead, bust my balls and tell me Johnson’s %..I can take it!

  21. nick, I am not looking it up again but if I remember it was around 1 %. I thought he would do better in the west. He and Jill Stein were both good candidates. The libertarian candidates made a difference in 9 congressional races but especially in the Mourdock and Aken ones.

  22. I called Leahy’s office after sending him this blog article and he says he doesnt agree with your depiction. Please publish the Bill and the amendments and the Who, What, Where, Why and When here.

  23. Wow. You guys are paranoid. OUR government would NEVER do anything that was not in our best interest. Especially under a democratic regime.

  24. “[President Obama’s] campaign was one of personality over principle and only the personality remains.” — Jonathan Turley

    Unfortunately for the United States of America, the other (and even further) right wing of the Corporate Oligarchy Party ran a candidate without either a personality or a principle, which only resulted in the continuance in office of the Barack Obama personality: one without any principle but power for the sake of the Apartheid Zionist Entity and the 1% , neither of which voted for him.

  25. ” Electronic Communications Privacy Act: Patrick Leahy Hits Back At Report That Legislation Would Decrease Americans’ Privacy”

    The Huffington Post | By Adam Goldberg Posted: 11/20/2012 4:03 pm EST Updated: 11/20/2012 4:03 pm EST

    “”Senator Leahy is a privacy guy and supports strong privacy laws,” said Jessica Brady, a Leahy spokeswoman. “This bill is almost 30 years old and needs to be updated to address email. But this doesn’t mean warrantless searches of email will be in it. It won’t. Whatever that was is not the posture of the committee,” she continued, referring to language in the CNET report.

    Brady said that Leahy’s bill would require a warrant to search email and would include a provision requiring people to be notified if such a search had occurred.

    The original ECPA bill was passed in 1986, an era far removed from today’s digital landscape. The new version of the legislation is up for a vote in committee next week, reports The Verge.

    Per RT, the reported loosening of privacy protections is connected to concerns raised by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National District Attorneys’ Association. The organizations reportedly asked lawmakers to “reconsider acting” on a previous version of the bill pending a “review of its impact on law enforcement investigations.”

    McCullagh lists multiple federal agencies that would have “civil subpoena authority” to access digital correspondence under the tweaked legislation. He reports that these agencies would include, among others, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Maritime Commission.

    Forbes reached out to an unnamed Senate Judiciary aide who was equally dismissive of the charges related to privacy violations. “Senator Leahy does not support broad carve outs for warrantless searches of email content,” the aide told Forbes. “He remains committed to upholding privacy laws and updating the outdated Electronic Privacy Communications Act.””

  26. shano, Thanks, hope you’re correct. Social media has become the real check and balances in our govt. It’s very difficult now to do nasty things in the middle of the night w/o it being exposed.

  27. Yes, nick, twitter is the best format for breaking news. No doubt.

    Accuracy depends on which people you choose to follow, or ymmv…
    twitter tells me when JT puts up a new post!

  28. I was glad to read that Leahy has not gone over to the dark side as that side is top-heavy as it is.

    However, as it now stands any email left on a server over 6 months is considered abandoned and a federal prosecutor can issue a warrant.
    Google, Yahoo, even Facebook etc. fall under the definition of server.

    In other words it is, as ap continually reminds us, already bad out there. The Germany/Hitler/early ’30’s analogy is apropos.

  29. I am pleasantly surprised at the antipathy expressed here by Prof. Turley.
    I know he has been critical of Obama in the past, but I often felt it was a grudging criticism.

    This blog makes it abundantly clear he is not taking anymore of Obama’s duplicitous crap.
    That is the one thing that makes me despair, is exactly that, the hope and change that was promised by Obama, and then a virtual repeat of the grandiose promises of electorate empowerment, and then when he wins, it is a complete 180.

    I love the fact of Obama’s win, basically proof that you can start from almost the lowest rung on the socioeconomic ladder, and make it to be president.

    But this amazing fact is tossed upon the political corruption heap, as Obama has apparently been subsumed into that machine.

  30. “In other words it is, as ap continually reminds us, already bad out there. The Germany/Hitler/early ’30′s analogy is apropos.”

    It has been bad since Bush and getting steadily worse. Civil liberties and human rights are under attack in the West at alarming levels and by alarming means. It’s funny when you try tell people that though. You can sit there and rattle off historical parallels and patterns and you get the full range of reactions; dismissal, disbelief, denial, concern, and what I find most often among friends the reaction of concern but that they’d simply rather not think about it consciously. Outrage comes up as does fear and loathing. Bad times.

    But it can’t happen here.

    Nobody wants there to be a monster under the bed and will go to great lengths to ignore the problem. The monster likes it that way. So much easier to grab your foot.

    Ignoring the monster doesn’t make it go away.

    It makes it easier to sneak up on you.

  31. GaryT, Obama is a Chicago pol w/ a beautiful grin and great demeanor. Everytime you look @ him you should picture in your mind the late Mayor Daley. Then everything will make sense. Yes he was born in Hawaii, educated in Ca. and Ma., but he was weaned on Chicago politics. When you understand that undenialable fact, it all makes sense.

  32. oh I think this would happen to the majority of men elected to POTUS. The MIC, private prison industry and Multinationals are so rich now they can dictate policy.
    And who gets appointed to high office in any administration.
    These various corporate factions even have their talons in the Justice Department.

  33. DDay gives a succinct description of Leahy’s involvement with HR2471., the modified spying is fun bill, and he is in it up to his ears. As Professor Turley notes above, he back-peddled as fast as he could when word leaked out (thus the Forbes article). As soon as the noise dies down a little , you can be sure he will be back to his mischief.

    In fact, this is probably a good time to let Obama know, one final time, just what I think of him. He is so handsome, for one. And so smart! And he’s protecting us so well and foreigners just love us due to all his nifty model air-planes and in our own country locals just love all the out-door camping trips they and their children have had to go on…indefinitely, since they abruptly left their houses, and our senior citizens will soon be singing his praises to eternity in what-ever freezing back alley they are dumped in when they fail to come up with the Bill Gates league co-pay.

  34. Said it before I’ll say it again this guy is a neo-con in liberal clothing. His admin only cares about protecting secrecy and expanding govt control. Happy voting liberals. That’s sarcasm in case there was any confusion. I’m no conservative either, so spare me the con comments.

  35. I apologize for my Who What Why Where criticizm. This time when I punched the blue CNET tab on the article the thing opened up for me. The information was there. We need to call Congress today. This sucks.


    Section By Section Breakdown Of Senator Leahy’s ECPA Amendment

    November 20, 2012

    The rumors about warrant exceptions being added to ECPA are incorrect. Many have come forward with ideas for discussion before markup resumes on my bill to strengthen privacy protections under ECPA. As normally happens in the legislative process, these ideas are being circulated for discussion. One of them, having to do with a warrant exception, is one that I have not supported and do not support. The whole thrust of my bill is to remedy the erosion of the public’s privacy rights under the rapid advances of technology that we have seen since ECPA was first enacted thirty years ago. In particular, my proposal would require search warrants for government access to email stored by third-party service providers – something that of course was not contemplated three decades ago.

    [The following is the text of the amendment Senator Leahy introduced in September 2012.]


    The substitute bill clarifies that video tape service providers may obtain customer consent to share video viewing information on an ongoing basis and that such consent may be given via the Internet. The substitute also updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to enhance consumer privacy and meet the new privacy challenges posed by cloud computing and other new technologies.



    This section designates the title as the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments of 2012.


    Section 102 amends title 18, United States Codes, section 2710(b)(2) to clarify that video tape service providers may obtain a customer’s informed, written consent to share video viewing information on an ongoing basis and that such consent may be obtained via the Internet. The provision includes a requirement that video service providers provide their customers, in a clear and conspicuous manner, with the opportunity to withdraw the consent given to share video viewing information at any time.



    This section designates the title as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2012.


    Section 202 amends title 18, United States Code, section 2702 (the Electronic Communications Privacy Act or “ECPA”) to prohibit an electronic communication or remote computing service provider from voluntarily disclosing the contents of its customer’s email or other electronic communications to the Government. There are limited exceptions to this prohibition under current law, including, customer consent and disclosure to law enforcement to address criminal activity.


    Section 203 amends ECPA so that the disclosure of the content of email and other electronic communications by an electronic communication or remote computing service provider to the Government is subject to one clear legal standard — a search warrant issued based on a showing of probable cause. The provision eliminates the confusing and outdated “180-day” rule that calls for different legal standards for the Government to obtain email content, depending upon the email’s age. The provision also requires that the Government notify the individual whose account was disclosed, and provide that individual with a copy of the search warrant and other details about the information obtained, within three days.

    Section 203 also reaffirms current law to clarify that the Government may use an administrative or grand jury subpoena in order to obtain certain kinds of electronic communication records from a service provider, including customer name, address, session time records, length of service information, subscriber number and temporarily assigned network address, and means and source of payment information.


    Section 204 amends section 2705 of ECPA to provide that the Government may seek a court order to delay notifying an individual of that fact that the Government has accessed the contents of the individual’s electronic communications for up to 90 days. This delay period may be extended for a period of up to an additional 90 days at a time by a court. Section 204 also establishes a 90-day time limit on the period that the Government could prevent a service provider from informing its customer about the disclosure of electronic communications information to the Government. This time period may be extended by a court for up to an additional 90 days at a time.

  37. BrooklinBridge,


    If people don’t give a eff .. eff them. too bad the rest of us gets effed too.

    Life as it was, life as it is , life as it will be. DUMB EFFERS!!!

    myself included, I wanted Obama over Romney. ….SIGH…

  38. Gene H.

    “Ignoring the monster doesn’t make it go away.

    It makes it easier to sneak up on you.”

    Awesome. True. Thank you. Leahy is done I hope, but the damage will continue. Way to go Pat. YOU BIG DI**. CK

  39. I have been around long enough to know that bills are written by staffers, often under pressure from….somewhere. However, it seems to me that a Senator ought to READ what is being introduced under his or her name.

  40. Hephaestus:

    “Yeah Mittens would have been just as bad…although a slightly different bad; like 2 venn-diagram circles of almost pure suck overlapping 80%, with 20% of each being their own unique type of bad.

    The net effect nowadays; whoever wins, we lose…especially on civil liberties.”

    “His campaign was one of personality over principle and only the personality remains.”

    Nicely stated Hephaestus.

    Buyers remorse? Oh HELL naw’.

    The election wasn’t about the 80% and hasn’t been since 2004. It’s that other 20% of difference that this election was about and that 20% of difference does have substance. Reading this blawg before the election made that pretty apparent. Professor, surly you read your own blawg?:-)

  41. It is so curious that Leahy has sometimes quietly taken on the worst civil liberties cases. He backed SOPA and connived with the just as bad offspring when it failed. Now this terrible bill. Then drops out of sight when he gets any scrutiny or attention.

    What are they trading to get a Vermont home boy to even try to sneak these things by quietly, if that is what he is doing. Who knows?

  42. Just a note: The story at CNet appears to be wrong: He got a draft put forward by Chuck Grassley that was never seriously considered. (see

    This does not means that what comes out next week will be good, it will probably suck, because that is what the Obama administration is demanding.

    But it does mean that this report, and BTW, the reporter who “broke” the story is now claiming that he’s responsible for a “retraction”, is not credible.

    Neither is the reporter, who manufactured the “Al Gore created the internet” meme in 2000.

  43. The ACLU or some organization with skill and funds needs to bring some lawsuits in specifically chosen venues to strike down the many provisions. A best approach would be to attack a privacy theft by the most innocuous federal agency in a favorable venue. As a former atty from Missouri I would suggest shying away from former slave states which, like Mizzoura, remain Unreconstructed to the federal constitution. California might be a good venue. First Fourth, Fifth Amendments, and Fourteenth but do not forget the sleeper here, the Ninth Amendment and the right of privacy. 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and 1988 for damages. How do we employ this when it refers to State action not federal? Sue a state employee who has gotten ahold of your email from the feds. Sue for damages and you get a jury. Sue for big money and you get their attention.

    For a historical parallel one must not forget that we prosecuted the Germans and in particular, Judges, for failing to uphold human rights during the Nazi era. Google: The Judges Trial. Herr Alstoffer (sp?). We are getting right up there with the Nazis arent we? Or down there. Gotta do anything to get those commies, they burned the Reichstag. Gotta do anything it takes to get those muslims, they crashed into the Twin Towers.

  44. David Blauw,

    SOYLENT GREEN, Interesting that that reactionary, Charlton Heston, played the major role in what amounts to a grand climate change catastrophe flick.

    I consider viewing Obama as the lessor of two evils a bit like doing business with Lucky Luciano because Al Capone plays dirty.

    Nevertheless, I certainly didn’t begrudge anyone their vote, nor do I subscribe to the “people get what they effing deserve” school of thought. That’s a bug, not a feature. Many sincerely believed that voting the man rather than voting a strategy was the way to go. So what we have is what many warned us about; a president who may arguably be the better man, marginally I would argue, but who will get his destructive policy through an obedient Senate far more effectively than the other mobster who regardless of his intentions, would have been up against a gridlock in the legislative branch where the Dems were required to play the same game of obstruction the Republicans are playing now. We also lost an opportunity to send a message to the Democratic party machinery, which has become pretty much as reactionary as Charlton Heston, that we the progressive part of the Democratic electorate would hold any politician to account any more than Obama’s justice department is holding any of the 1% to account for the breathtaking crimes they have committed. For those two reasons alone, we can expect both Obama and the TBTF banks and insurance companies and fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex to double down on their behavior. The sucking sound will continue to get louder, and it won’t just be civil liberties that disappear. We won’t know if the gridlock strategy might have worked, so it’s probably not worth worrying about, but let’s fact it, even had it significantly slowed the damage, it would have been a grim choice anyway.

    I would also mention that I do not see women being exempted from these bills. Women will be spied upon just as men, they will suffer the same reductions to Social Security and/or Medicare. They will continue to be evicted from their homes just as men due to illegal foreclosures that Obama’s administration completely ignores in an incestuous effort to <foam the runway for the too big to fail mortgage servicers. On climate change, there is no clause in nature that gives women a free pass from the disastrous consequences Obama’s e wanton policy of unrestrained development of oil reserves, oil extraction, coal and fracking. Even on such issues as woman’s rights over her own body, Obama’s technique is to pay lip service when it suits him and yet use woman’s hard won rights like cheap bargaining chips when push comes to shove.

  45. Another aspect to the “good” guy – presidential pardons.

    Pardons and commutations can be given by governors for people convicted of state crimes. Presidents can give them for federal crimes.

    Obama has given pardons to roughly 1 of every 50 individuals whose applications were processed by the Justice Department. At this point in his presidency, Ronald Reagan had pardoned 1 of every 3 such applicants. George H.W. Bush had pardoned 1 in 16. Bill Clinton had pardoned 1 in 8. George W. Bush had pardoned 1 in 33.

    Obama also has been stingy with commutations, applications for early release by those still serving federal prison sentences.

    Under Reagan and Clinton, applicants for commutations had a 1 in 100 chance of success. Under George W. Bush, that fell to a little less than 1 in 1,000. Under Obama, an applicant’s chance is slightly less than 1 in 5,000.

    He has commuted the sentence of one individual, a woman with terminal leukemia whose case was championed by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

  46. The Democrats we get are as bad as what we settle for.

    We’re settling for worse and worse. I voted for Jill Stein this year…Obama has gone too far over the line for me (on civil liberties, on attacking Social Security, and on blowing up foreigners for corporate profits).

  47. I & others called on our government reps yesterday & I see today this one bill has been pulled, at least for now.

    My message was as short as I could get it. I recommended the senator put forward Jonathan Turley’s name to Prez Obama for a replacement for Holder as the new US Attorney General.
    😉 So sorry Mr. Turley, I know it’s a messy job, but I know we can trust your good work.

    I also recommended Jim Sinclair of for US Treasury Secretary.

    In order to fix some of the US’s current problems we need sharp leaders right now, so I hope you also recommend to your Reps people you think would do a good job for the country instead of them working only for Wallst Wallst Banks/Insur/Energy companies.

  48. Will President Obama Restore the Rule of Law During His Second Term?

    Friday, 23 November 2012 10:30
    By Stephen Rohde, Truthout | Op-Ed


    “According to news reports, President Obama maintains a list of alleged militants to be assassinated. Some are U.S. citizens. None will get to plead his case. The president tells us to trust that this is all perfectly legal and constitutional, even though Congress is not allowed to see any legal justification.

    According to Rep. Kucinich, “targeted killing of suspects is becoming institutionalized as a permanent feature of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy, without any oversight, transparency or accountability. Victims of drone strikes – including U.S. citizens — are secretly stripped of their right to due process and are arbitrarily deprived of their life, in violation of international human rights law.”

    As the authors of a recent groundbreaking report by Stanford and New York Universities on drones in Pakistan powerfully stated:

    “In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling ‘targeted killing’ of terrorists, with minimal downsides of collateral impacts. This narrative is false.”

    Four years into the Obama administration’s vast expansion of the program, members of Congress and the public are still being denied access to internal legal memos, which purportedly serve as the basis of the legal justification for such killings.

    “These strikes do not occur in a vacuum,” according to Rep. Kucinich. “They have very real consequences for our long-term national security. In Pakistan, they have fueled significant anti-American sentiment and serve as a powerful recruitment tool for terrorists. According to some estimates, our drone strikes have resulted in the death and injury of thousands of innocent civilians. Despite repeated claims that such drone strikes are vital to ensuring our safety, the number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — estimated at just two percent.”

    At the Congressional briefing, Rep. Kucinch declared:

    The world is now our battlefield. Our credibility as a voice for human rights has been undermined. A dangerous precedent has been set for all nations. We must reject the notion that Congress and the American people have to be kept in the dark when it comes to modern warfare. We must begin with a full and robust debate on the ramifications of these policies. We must insist upon full accountability and transparency.

    Finally, President Obama’s legacy will forever be tarnished, and our constitutional system forever diminished, if he persists in blindly refusing to authorize his Justice Department to launch a comprehensive investigation (and if warranted to file criminal charges), to determine whether officials in the Bush administration violated federal law and treaty obligations in its eight-year “War on Terror.”

    Was it all cynical electioneering when President-Elect Obama told the Boston Globe in 2007, with reference to specific executive powers the Bush administration had claimed or exercised, that he rejected “the view that the President may do whatever he deems necessary to protect national security, and that he may torture people in defiance of congressional enactments;” that the “detention of American citizens, without access to counsel, fair procedure, or pursuant to judicial authorization, as enemy combatants is unconstitutional,” that “[w]arrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional”?

    The president itemized the specific counts of an indictment yet in his first four years he utterly failed to take any step whatsoever to hold the Bush administration accountable for any of its crimes, preferring instead to use the vast resources of his Justice Department to actual defend members of the Bush administration on the one hand and vigorously prosecute whistle-blowers on the other.

    Progressives, civil libertarians, faith leaders and Democrats by and large held their noses during the 2012 presidential campaign regarding the president’s abject failure to restore the Rule of Law and worse yet his dangerous expansion of unilateral executive power, fearing far worse if the right-wing of the Republican Party took over the White House and, in addition to implementing other catastrophic policies, secured the power to solidify a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for generations to come.

    But that disaster has been avoided. And now everyone who cares about the future of the Constitution must organize, advocate and demand that President Obama spend a considerable share of his political capital to fulfill his constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

    For if he is excused by the rest of us from his solemn duty, we should tremble over the prospect that the unrestrained executive powers, born in the Bush administration, to subject citizens and non-citizens alike to ever widening abuses, including unwarranted surveillance, indefinite detention, torture and targeted killings, which have since gone unchecked and indeed have taken root and been cultivated during the Obama administration, will spread and grow even stronger in future administrations, blossoming with poisonous thorns and unbreakable branches, choking off constitutional rights, suffocating dissent and strangling democracy.”

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