(NaturalNews) The USA Patriot Act, passed so fast in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that a conspiracy theorist might proffer that it was pre-written for just such an event, contained a trove of civil rights abuses that, to this day, continue to weaken our constitutional order.
Later, the program was expanded. As reported by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR):
The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), without specifically mentioning wiretapping, grants the president broad authority to use all necessary force "against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the [9/11] terrorist attacks." This includes, administration officials say, the powers to secretly gather domestic intelligence on al-Qaeda and associated groups.
The Bush administration maintained that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was an outdated law-enforcement mechanism that was too time-consuming given the highly fluid, modern threat environment. Administration officials portrayed the NSA program as an "early warning system" with "a military nature that requires speed and agility." Moreover, the White House stressed that the program was one not of domestic surveillance but of monitoring terrorists abroad, and publicly referred to the operation as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program." Opponents of the program referred to it as "domestic spying."
The Bush administration vowed to disband the warrantless program but never did. In fact, Bush pressed for institutionalizing the program; in 2007, he signed the "Protect America Act," which "gave the attorney general and the director of national intelligence temporary power to approve international surveillance, rather than the special intelligence court," the CFR reported. "It also said warrants are unnecessary for surveillance of a person 'reasonably believed' to be located overseas. This six-month stopgap measure expired in early 2008, but the FISA Amendment Act passed just months later contained similar provisions."
By all accounts, the domestic spying program under the current administration has gone much further than it ever did under Bush, though clearly both programs exist outside the confines of the Constitution.
For one, in the years since Obama has been in office, the NSA's program has expanded to include American tech firms; companies like Yahoo!, Google and Cisco have been caught sharing users' personal metadata with the agency, though there was no probable cause and none of it was obtained via search warrant, as called for by the Fourth Amendment.
'War on whistleblowers'
Furthermore, the perpetuation of the "war" mentality - and specifically, the "war on terror" - by the Obama administration has institutionalized constitutional abuses within a number of U.S. government intelligence agencies, all of course under the rubric of "defending the nation."
As noted by Breitbart News:
Obama has had five years to prevent and reverse these Constitutional abuses but has deliberately chosen otherwise. By renewing the Patriot Act, he not only went back on yet another campaign promise but also has taken the level of governmental abuse to new lows with each passing year in office. So much for the President's understanding that the Constitution was designed to be a limitation document and not some social-utopian permission slip.
This sort of response is on par for an administration that makes a habit of apologizing rather than asking for permission. Obama is even worse on civil liberties abuses than George W. Bush. As hard as that is to believe, this was not the conclusion of some right-wing rag but instead a conclusion of the left's beloved American Civil Liberties Union.
Indeed, when compared to Bush, the results are in: Obama's record of civil rights abuses is worse.
James Bamford, the world's foremost expert on the NSA, recently said in response to a question at the National Press Club about the record of both administrations, "Obama is worse than Bush, especially when you consider the war on whistleblowers."