Remember When Obama Thought the FISA Amendments Act Was Imperfect?

Four years ago, when Obama caved and supported the FISA Amendments Act, he said in part,

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who opposemy decision to support the FISA compromise.

This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn’t have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush’s abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration’s program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses.


Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention — once I’m sworn in as President — to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.


I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States — a White House that takes the Constitution seriously,conducts the peoples’ business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny.

Since that time, Obama’s DOJ has litigated the FISA Amendments Act so aggressively that it has, in fact, completely gutted the deterrent effect of the law. It has refused to share with all of Congress what activities the government actually conducts under the law, much less with American citizens. It has refused to tell Congress–even the Intelligence Committees–how many Americans have been spied on under the program. And it has been caught violating the Fourth Amendment.

And yet here’s what Obama’s Administration said today about the extension for the FISA Amendments Act, which essentially will extend the bill Candidate Obama once admitted still had problems for five years, all the way through his second term.

The Administration strongly supports H.R. 5949. The bill would reauthorize Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which expires at the end of this year. Title VII of FISA allows the Intelligence Community to collect vital foreign intelligence information about international terrorists and other important targets overseas, while providing protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans. Intelligence collection under Title VII has produced and continues to produce significant information that is vital to defend the Nation against international terrorism and other threats. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure the continued availability of this critical intelligence capability.

Change we can believe in.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

15 Responses to Remember When Obama Thought the FISA Amendments Act Was Imperfect?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @bmaz Great. You are now IN CHARGE of great political movement to change this, after dawdling for 14 years. @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor
bmaz @emptywheel @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor No, I am not, and the solution is to prefer common criminal charges+better exercise of discretion
emptywheel @bmaz Great. Find some political fix. @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor
emptywheel @bmaz Yes. You are endorsing bias. I find that unacceptable, especially absent some remedy. @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor
bmaz @emptywheel @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor Never endorsed, simply think the solution is less "terrorism" cases, not more.
emptywheel @bmaz No. I mean for Kevin Harpham to spend his life in prison if some 20 yeard old entrapped by FBI will @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor
emptywheel @bmaz I think you mean 2332a and b? My point is there is bias. You're endorsing it. That's fine. But own that @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor
bmaz @emptywheel We need all the help we can get in the Pac this year. Pretty bleak. At this rate, we'll end up with a 4 loss USC as champion.
bmaz @emptywheel @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor And again, we have had this same discussion for years. I am not buying your position, nor you mine
bmaz @emptywheel @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor You want to expand it where does not fit simply to make your point. I consider that silly.
bmaz @emptywheel @_JGR @Ali_Gharib @dangillmor And even when do fit, my view is should be left to state charges in all but exceptional cases.
emptywheel @bmaz Anyway, I'm rooting for the fecking PacWhatever bc my dog's namesake plays for the Tree.
September 2012
« Aug   Oct »