The Times has inexplicably tempered its critique. See how, and what Sean Hannity had to say about it, here.
The New York Times has declared that President Obama & Co. have “now lost all credibility.”
In a scathing editorial published today, “President Obama’s Dragnet,” the NYT blasts the president and his administration for the latest episode in a series of stunning overreaches of authority: The NSA collects phone data from millions of Verizon customers.
(Note: This Times editorial ran before today’s bombshell revelation regarding the NSA’s massive PRISM surveillance program, involving nine Internet companies.)
The Times writes that administration’s “just trust us” platitudes “have never been persuasive—whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism—especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.”
The Times characterizes as “lame” an administration official’s reassurance that collected phone data doesn’t include callers’ names—as if there would be any difficulty in “matching numbers to names.”
On the matter of the data collection as “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats,” the Times is unsympathetic:
That is a vital goal, but how is it served by collecting everyone’s call data? The government can easily collect phone records (including the actual content of those calls) on “known or suspected terrorists” without logging every call made. In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was expanded in 2008 for that very purpose. Essentially, the administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know who Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where.
The Times editorial savages a prominent defender of this practice, Senator Dianne Feinstein, “who as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be preventing this sort of overreaching.” It says Feinstein’s reasoning “that the authorities need this information in case someone might become a terrorist in the future” is “absurd.”
As for another reassurance that the executive branch checks surveillance programs to make certain that they “comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties,” the Times shows no mercy:
That’s no longer good enough. Mr. Obama clearly had no intention of revealing this eavesdropping, just as he would not have acknowledged the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, had it not been reported in the press. Even then, it took him more than a year and a half to acknowledge the killing, and he is still keeping secret the protocol by which he makes such decisions.