Back during the Bush (43) Administration there was a great deal of protesting from the usual suspects on the left regarding the potential for abuse inherent in the Patriot Act and in various related Bush policies concerning intelligence gathering and how those powers might be absused.
George W. Bush was listening, and took the affirmative step of asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the issue and issue a ruling as to what was, and was not, permitted.
In response the court, in 2008, issued a ruling which sharply limited what kinds of searches the NSA could perform.
We learn of this now because documents have been declassified which show that the Obama adminsitration in 2011 asked to have those restrictions thrown out, and the court acceeded.
By Ellen Nakashima,
The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.
In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinionby U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.
Together the permission to search and to keep data longer expanded the NSA’s authority in significant ways without public debate or any specific authority from Congress. The administration’s assurances rely on legalistic definitions of the term “target” that can be at odds with ordinary English usage. The enlarged authority is part of a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to surveillance: collecting first, and protecting Americans’ privacy later.
Let the record show: The dhimmocrats raised a valid point which the Republican Administration of George W. Bush took seriously enough to seek a court opinion on, and then to live by that opinion. The subsequent Democratic administration of Barrak H. Obama had that ruling overturned, and proceeded to surveil American Citizens as no administration before had ever done.
What the dhimocrats warn of, they intend to do.
Glenn Instapundit Reynolds notes:
So to be clear, the Obama Administration removed a ban on spying placed there at the Bush Administration’s urging. And, it’s worth noting, did it the year before the elections.
Redacted Opinion of the FSIC is here.