Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: Do Americans care if Big Brother is watching?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Morning Examiner,National Security

Less than 24 hours after the Guardian first reported that the National Security Agency was collecting all of America’s telephone records from Verizon, other media outlets have not only confirmed the story, but reported that the government’s surveillance dragnet is far more expansive than previously thought.

Big Brother is watching
The Washington Post reports Friday that the NSA and the FBI are using a program code-named PRISM to tap directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. The Wall Street Journal adds that this same program also collects similar data from all of the major credit card companies as well.

In other words, pretty much every second you spend online is being collected and archived by the federal government.

Our leaders all knew
As scary as that thought is, here is an equally scary thought: Not only is everything the NSA is doing perfectly legal, but all three branches of our federal government, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, not only knew about this program but approved it.

“This is nothing particularly new. This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this,” Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told reporters Thursday. “It is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress,” Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., added. “It’s called protecting America.”

There is a resistance
But not everyone was so sanguine about the program. “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows,” Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Udall, R-Colo., wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last year.

Are Wyden and Udall right? Americans do seem to be surprised by the breadth of the NSA domestic spying program. But after the surprise wears off, how many of them really care enough to punish the elected representatives who approved it?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is promising to introduce an amendment that would close the “business records” loophole that is allowing the NSA to blanketly collect all this data.

If the American people do not rally around his legislation, then it appears they are fine with Big Brother watching them.

From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: California trashes privacy rights so unions can collect dues
Richard Pollock: IRS cites Watergate-era law to justify refusing documents sought by Congress
Michael Barone: Democrats’ steep uphill road to recapture House
Charlie Spiering: Huffington Post denounces “George W. Obama”
Byron York: John Cornyn opens new front in immigration fight
David Drucker: Democratic leaders blamed for holding up deal on immigration
Conn Carroll: Rand Paul to introduce bill closing the FISA business records loophole
Shikha Dalmia: Canada’s Tories show GOP how to win immigrant votes

In Other News
The Washington Post, U.S. mines internet firms’ data documents show: NSA records show agencies tapping into nine firms’ servers; top-secret program allows extraction of audio, video, photos, e-mails and documents, enabling analysts to track movements and contacts.
The Wall Street Journal, U.S. collects vast data trove: The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit card transactions.
Associated Press, IRS workers say supervisors directed targeting: Two Internal Revenue Service agents working in the agency’s Cincinnati office say higher-ups in Washington directed the targeting of conservative political groups when they applied for tax-exempt status, a contention that directly contradicts claims made by the agency since the scandal erupted last month.
The New York Times, Same-sex marriage is seen in poll as an issue for the states: The latest New York Times/CBS News poll comes as the Supreme Court prepares to issue decisions on two high-profile gay marriage cases.
Pew, In gay marriage debate, both supporters and opponents see legal recognition as ‘inevitable’: As support for gay marriage continues to increase, nearly three-quarters of Americans — 72 percent — say that legal recognition of same-sex marriage is “inevitable.” This includes 85 percent of gay marriage supporters, as well as 59 percent of its opponents.

Lefty Playbook
The New York Times says Obama “has now lost all credibility” on civil liberties.
Lee Fang attacks Republicans for requesting Obamacare grant money for hospitals and clinics in their districts.
Think Progress defends Obama’s spying programs.

Righty Playbook
John McCormack catches Nancy Pelosi promising insurance rates would go do for everyone under Obamacare.
Kimberly Strassel constructs a timeline showing why the IRS started targeting conservative groups.
Andrew Stiles on the House vote to defund Obama’s DREAM Act amnesty.

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