As a result of a Freedom of Information Act request from the ACLU, the federal government released records from 2009 to 2016 showing how little regard the Obama administration had for the civil liberties of everyday Americans. According to The Hill, the documents show that the National Security Agency and the FBI were together responsible for more that 90 civil liberty violations during that time period, most of which were related to the agencies searching citizens without court warrants. The newly-released documents show, for instance, that NSA analysts disseminated the names of American citizens throughout the department even when those citizens were merely caught up through incidental surveillance. This, you’ll recall, is what Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, was forced to defend in the unmasking controversy earlier this year.
These violations don’t simply amount to lawbreaking, nor do they constitute a “gray area.” These warrantless searches and failures to redact surveillance reports go directly against the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In their review of the documents, The Hill found several other categories of violation which the Obama administration’s law enforcement agencies regularly indulged. They include:
- Numerous “overcollection incidents” where the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
- “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
- The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
- Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”
If there is any area where liberals differed from the Obama administration, it was in the vast expansion of the surveillance state. This is far more important than pandering issues like transgender acceptance in schools or free community college and it speaks to how little concern President Obama had for the law he was sworn to uphold. Instead of doing his actual job and fighting Islamic terrorism with the tools available to him, he let his intelligence agencies run wild all over the rights of American citizens. We don’t know what Obama himself was doing all this time – eating almonds at 11:00 at night, dreaming up new ways to let illegal aliens into the country, making playlists for Spotify, or finding inventive schemes to destroy the Second Amendment – but he certainly wasn’t watching the wheel.
We pray Trump, who has seen firsthand how an out-of-control intelligence community can damage an American’s life, will not make the same mistakes.