Civil libertarians are getting a real good look at what Obama meant by 'change'. It means, 'status quo'. Cue up that line from that Who song, and read this item from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration's made two deeply troubling arguments.Ok, so I was wrong. Obama is worse than Bush. Yikes.
First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue "would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security." As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.
It's an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration "invoked a legal tool known as the 'state secrets' privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court." He was right then, and we're dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.
Sad as that is, it's the Department Of Justice's second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.
This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one — not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration — has ever interpreted the law this way.
I guess power is so tempting, so delicious, that when the people around you build you up endlessly, you start to believe that even though that same power was dangerous in the other guy's hands, because you and you alone are righteous, the old arguments don't apply.
That's hypocrisy, of course. Pure civil libertarians like EFF are noting it. The partisan left seems defensive, not wanting to face up to the disappointment of the Administration not yet 100 days old. When you bought the lines "hope" and especially "change", you might have thought it could wane in time, as memory fades. But in less than 100 days? We're in for a long, rough ride.