Is the current NSA scandal an inevitable result of the Patriot Act?

When some long time news junkies read of President Barack Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) collection of internet and phone data, they got confused.  The skeptics–those that President Barack Obama told Ohio State graduates to reject–had already informed all of us that this was a very real possibility in 2001, when the Patriot Act was signed into law.

courtesy Sergey Page of

Courtesy of Sergey Page at

Most of those skeptics were left-wing, haters of President George W. Bush, but some of them remained just as skeptical throughout the Obama administration.  They warned us that such allowances were provided for in the Patriot Act, and that these allowances would eventually be fully explored.  These skeptics said that it was not a question of if progressed violations of our privacy would occur, but when.

Some conservative voices have stated that Congress has been informed for the last seven years, but that the American citizens weren’t.  It’s possible that some of us watched too much left-wing loon TV, or hung out with too many tin foil hat, left-wing loons during the Bush years, where the possibilities of the Patriot Act were fully explored, but we all thought this matter was all hashed out seven years ago.  The only substantive argument conservative voices have made in recent days, is in regards to the scale of scanning that Obama’s NSA has employed, but even that was detailed in the warnings of left-wing warnings during the Bush administration.

Those of us that have had jobs in which we scanned data for patterns of nefarious activities, lived with the mindset that those that weren’t engaged in nefarious activities had nothing to worry about.  We wouldn’t fall into the statistical models that were set up to catch patterns, and if we’re going to be consistent, we have to say that if we had no problem with Bush’s NSA doing it, we have no problem with Obama’s NSA doing it either…unless, of course, Obama’s administration is overdoing it.

The best argument some conservatives have made regarding the differences between the two administrations is in the climate that currently exists in Washington, as detailed by the Obama administration’s misuse of the IRS, and that Obama’s IRS: “Leaked the donor list of The National Organization for Marriage to their political opponents, the pro-gay-marriage Human Rights Campaign. This is not idle speculation: The documents had an internal IRS stamp on them. The list of names was then published on a number of liberal websites and NOM’s donors were harassed.”{1}

As a result of the IRS harassment, specifically, and all of recent scandals that have exposed this administration, we have good reason to be suspicious of the ways in which this administration might use any NSA information gathered to harm their opponents.  Yet, the very idea that tenets in the Patriot Act could be abused in this manner is exactly what the Bush hating, paranoid, privacy nerd, tinfoil hat wearing, left-wing loons warned us about. Perhaps, we should all take a moment to apologize to them for not taking them seriously enough.

If you supported Bush’s Patriot Act, and you had a Bush hating, paranoid, privacy nerd, and left-wing loon friend, you heard them cite Benjamin Franklin’s quote: “He who gives up liberty for a little security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”  If you knew your history, and you appreciated the greater nobility that Bush used to fight terrorism, you replied that Abraham Lincoln went through a similar Constitutional crisis, and his general sentiment at the time was that he felt he should be bound by the Constitution, but that he should not be strangled by it.  If you knew your history, you also knew that Thomas Jefferson employed some unconstitutional tactics when fighting the first Muslim terrorists, the Barbary Pirates, on the shores of Tripoli.  If you knew your history, you knew that some of our country’s greatest men violated the Constitution when facing extreme situations, and you told your left-wing friends this.

“Fair enough,” said the left-wing loons at the time, “But has there ever been a government bill that allowed for such unconstitutional practices?  What happens when we have a less than ethical leader that begins abusing these allowances?  Do you, at least, acknowledge that there could be a worst case scenario in which this particular bill could allow for progressive violations of our privacy?”  The left-wing loon, if they had any objectivity at all, would then say, “Okay, let’s take Bush and (one of the Patriot Act authors) Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) out of the equation.  Let’s not question their ethics for just a second. Let’s talk about the precedent this intrusion into our privacy allows.  Let’s talk about the idea that a progression that could occur if we allow this to go without a fight.  Let’s talk about the general ability this Patriot Act allows a leader that isn’t as concerned with limiting the scope of it.”

Republicans are now saying that Bush did, indeed, limit that scope, and that Obama has expanded it enormously, even though candidate Obama sold himself to the American public on the basis that he was highly skeptical of the surveillance strategies used in the War on Terror, and that he would:

“Call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.”{2}

On this matter, and others, President Obama has broken, shattered, and disregarded many of his campaign promises.  His violation of his vow to have the most transparent administration in the history of this country, is laughable at this point, but the question is if Mitt Romney had succeeded in winning in 2012, would he have “enormously” expanded the scope of the NSA scanning in the same manner?  Would Rick Santorum have expanded the scope, or Newt Gingrich, or Rick Perry?  Was the expansion an inevitable progression based on the CIA reports of terrorist activities detailed in the Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs)?  Would this NSA program, and the drone program, have been given the green light by any president trying to thwart terrorism and appease a war-weary nation at the same time?  As the man trying to deal with these two things at the same time, President Obama, said:

“You can’t have 100% privacy,” says Obama, “and then have 100% security.” 

Left-wing partisans are probably having a tough time dealing with the fact that it’s their guy that expanded the scope of this NSA program to where it is now, and that he’s now talking about in such an casual manner, compared to the manner in which candidate Obama did, but the question has now become: are conservatives now becoming the Obama hating, paranoid, privacy nerd, and right-wing loons, or is there something–based on the ways in which the Obama administration used the IRS–that we all need to really worry about here.  Regardless, anyone that has had a paranoid, privacy nerd, and left-wing loon friend, knows that they’re dancing in the worst case scenario aisles singing: “I tried to warn you!”




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