Questioning Obama on the Patriot Act

By: Harry Waisbren

Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, posts about Obama versus Obama on the Patriot Act:

Disturbingly, Obama Administration officials played a significant behind the scene role in opposing stronger civil liberties protections, directly contradicting Obama’s positions as a Senator.

Marcy Wheeler has also been covering Obama’s role in the watering down of the Patriot Act, and it is something we at Get FISA Right should be taking very seriously.

Previously, I posted about Attorney General Holder’s discussion of the “conversation to be had” about modifications for civil liberties concerns. Our open letter to Obama last summer turned precisely into this sort of conversation through his follow up post directed to us, and his continuing support for such unsupportable actions has me contemplating whether we should go down this route again—-if only to make sure he knows we are paying attention.

Commenter Sally G agreed with this notion and wrote:

Yes, I definitely think that we should follow up on the earlier discussion. The president (then candidate) explained his position quite clearly in the follow-up blog post, we expressed our support at the inauguration with the TV ads, and now that the tone seems to have changed, I think we have the right and responsibility that he gave us in that post. To paraphrase, he said that although we might respectively, grassroots activism was part of the reason for his success, and that he expected to be held accountable. So let’s draft a letter pointing out how administration actions today are in many ways the continuation of Bush’s policies that now-Pres. Obama himself warned us we could expect from John McCain. It is time that we asked him to deliver on the promises he made—especially after the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, which sets a high standard for his current and future actions.

I agree with her particularly about the Nobel Peace Prize providing an even greater impetus for beginning this conversation. Please provide your thoughts as well!

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7 Responses to Questioning Obama on the Patriot Act

  1. Sally G says:

    Harry, thanks for the mention. It inspired me to go to the White House contact page and post the following:
    Mr. President, Congratulations on your Nobel Peace Prize—it certainly puts you in good company and gives you greater responsibility. I am curious to see how your status as a war president—they are now your wars, no longer Mr. Bush’s—and a supporter of continuing the many provisions of the PATRIOT act that I feel have outlived their emergency usefulness, despite the FBI’s claims to the contrary (they have a vested interest in making their work easier; my loyalty is to the Constitutional protection from unreasonable search). Naturally, I cannot as a citizen truly evaluate their claims, but if there is indeed a current TERRORISM-RELATED investigation that could be compromised by a nonrenewal of certain provisions, the renewal could be designed in such a way as to “grandfather in” that particular investigation and the provision in question be terminated upon the conclusion of that specific investigation. I was a supporter during your presidential campaign; I am a member of GetFISARight on Organizing for America and elsewhere, and I hope that the confidence in you that is expressed by the Nobel committee proves to be justified. Please, for our world, our nation, and yourself, make it so!
    I’d love to see the group edit, expand, alter, and improve on this—or toss it out and come up with something better—as the basis for our group letter to President Obama.

  2. Adam says:

    Thanks for the post and the comments on Leslie’s Huffington Post piece.

  3. Gavin says:

    it seems that obama recognized different alternatives once he was pronounced president of the united states.
    has he buckled to the society of the rich and well informed, or he is he still pursuing the equality of all americans ? the people who are disadvantaged are those of us who live in poverty. when will the real obama step up to the plate ?

  4. […] activist website Get FISA Right, after working with the ACLU and EFF this month on an unsuccessful campaign to pressure the Senate Judiciary Committee into making significant surveillance reforms, has begun […]

  5. […] now and then, let’s continue the discussion that Sally, Adam, Gavin and Harry have started in Questioning Obama and the Patriot Act.  Get FISA Right’s claim to fame is our dialog last summer with then-Senator Obama; now is […]

  6. jonpincus says:

    Marcy Wheeler brings up an interesting possibility: pressuring Obama for hiding behind Jeff Sessions. She adds “Obama and Leahy et al went to some length to hide their acquiescence with the last minute package–we might do some good by embarrassing them about that.”

  7. Sally G says:

    Good idea, Jon; let’s talk about it on the conference call.

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