When I read articles online, I sometimes play a game called How soon will it take me to say something aloud to the monitor? (yes, I have dumb names for some of the things that I do): doing it can give me an idea of how goofy the article is. In this one (“In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ’s New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush’s“, via Instapundit), I didn’t make it past the first sentence:
We had hoped this would go differently.
The author goes on to complain about FISA, and the way that the current administration is apparently arguing for much broader definitions than the last one ever did over what the government can and can’t be held liable for when it comes to surveillance. This is done without a trace of visible irony, or with any indication that we – not to mention Glenn Greenwald, who this guy is apparently holding up as an example of moral rectitude* – knew all along that the President wasn’t going to be the anti-FISA warrior of the Left’s dreams. We weren’t exactly shy about saying so at the time, either**. A bit odd, don’t you think?
But not as odd as us not being told what Tim Jones was actually hoping for. Let’s take a look, shall we? The below is from his 11/07/2008 article ” A Privacy Agenda For The New Administration:” I’ve isolated out the bullet point headers – and added some commentary in italics.
- Repeal or repair the FISA Amendments Act (FISAAA). Yeah, based on a blog search of obama fisa nobody’s buying that one as happening anymore.
- Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). I somehow suspect that the noted right-wing rag Mother Jones would hesitate to call what’s apparently coming down the pipe ‘reform.’
- Reform the State Secrets Privilege. Well, we already knew that Tim Jones was inexplicably shocked about recent developments on this one.
- Scale back the use of National Security Letters to gag and acquire data from online service providers. Ever hear of the National Security Letters Reform Act? Bipartisan legislation designed to regulate use of NSLs. Probably one-half of the reason why you may not have heard of it: Rep Jeff Flake (R, AZ-06) was rude enough to be involved in the bill, and this is not helpful to the larger objective of getting Democrats elected. The other half is, it’s probably going to die anyway. The rest of this bullet list has, after all.
So, basically, three out of four of the digital libertarian wish list shot down and we’re not even one hundred days out. And the fourth one will probably start belching smoke soon.
This would be the place where the ‘grave concerns, and an outstretched hand’ will go in pieces like this. Not this time, and for a real simple reason: we don’t have time to humor the digital libertarians any more on this. They burned an incredible amount of goodwill with the GOP and conservatives generally by screaming about what were fairly reasonable data mining techniques, and in the process they also frankly libeled a large number of our public officials who were motivated primarily by a sincere desire to do their job. I’m sorry to say this, but even in politics there is a limit to how often you can forgive and forget: and the dig-libs are over that limit. If they want our help, there’s some things that they’ve said that need to start getting retracted. As loudly, and as publicly, as they were asserted in the first place.
Alternatively, they could sit there and stew some more. Maybe three more months of being without friends will prove… instructive.