With news of the¬†Obama administration seizing the phone records of every Verizon user in the country, it’s a good time to review the president’s previous comments and votes on the Patriot Act.
On December 15, 2005, for instance, Obama gave a speech on the Senate Floor regarding the Patriot Act.
“…And if someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document – through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made – this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.Giving law enforcement the tools they need to investigate suspicious activity is one thing – and it’s the right thing – but doing it without any real oversight seriously jeopardizes the rights of all Americans and the ideals America stands for.”
Read the full speech here.
In March of 2006, Obama voted yes on the USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 titled, “A bill to clarify that individuals who receive FISA orders can challenge nondisclosure requirements, that individuals who receive national security letters are not required to disclose the name of their attorney, that libraries are not wire or electronic communication service providers unless they provide specific services, and for other purposes.”
On August 3, 2007, Obama voted no on the Protect America Act of 2007, titled, “A bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to provide additional procedures for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence information and for other purposes.”
On July 10, 2008, Bush signed H.R. 6304, FISA Amendments Act of 2008. He said:
“The most important lessons learned after 9-11 was that America‚??s Intelligence professionals lacked some of the tools they needed to monitor the communications of terrorists abroad. It‚??s essential that our Intelligence community knows who our enemies are talking to, what they‚??re saying, and what they‚??re planning‚?¶This law will insure that those companies whose assistance is necessary to protect the country will themselves be protected from lawsuits from past or future cooperation with the government.”
On March 31, 2008, while campaigning for his first term, Obama spoke about the Patriot Act in Lancaster, PA:
‚??Most of the problems that we have had in civil liberties were not done through the Patriot Act, they were done through executive order by George W. Bush‚?¶That‚??s what happened with Guantanamo, that‚??s what happened with the warrantless wire-taps, that‚??s what‚??s happened with the suspension of habeas corpus, that‚??s what‚??s happened in terms of the rounding up of Americans of Muslim extraction- those weren‚??t done through the Patriot Act. Those were all done separately.
There were some provisions in the Patriot Act that actually did address changes that needed to take place‚?¶ Prior to the Patriot Act, you could not wiretap a phone that wasn‚??t land-based. Now think about it, nobody uses a land-based phone anymore. Certainly people who might be engaging in terrorism aren‚??t going to be using an old dial-up phone.”
Caroline Mahony is an editorial intern with Human Events.