Since when has the President waited for Congressional authority to do anything?
Source: Steve Watson
Senator Rand Paul called out the president Tuesday, urging that if he were really serious about ending NSA bulk data collection, then he would do it immediately.
“The interesting thing is he unilaterally instituted this program without congressional authority,” Paul said on the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends.
“Now he’s saying he has to wait for congressional authority to undo it. I think he could unilaterally stop the program if he were serious about it.” the Senator added.
The comments came following more half hearted assurances by the President that the NSA would be reigned in.
When Obama says he needs to wait for Congressional authority to action something, you can take it to the bank that he is stalling. After all, since when has this president catered for the Constitutional process? What happened to his infamous magic pen and his “year of action”?
Many commentators feel that it is no coincidence that Obama’s renewed declarations come at the same time as movements in Congress that appear to be aimed at diminishing the NSA’s powers, but that in reality may actually allow for even greater searches of data.
Rep. Mike Rogers introduced a bill yesterday that claims to be focused on ending NSA bulk data collection, but that actually simply re-categorizes the data concerned, potentially allowing the practice to continue unhindered. Rogers’ true intentions may be gleaned from the fact that he also penned an op-ed in USA Today, claiming that the NSA’s program was “necessary” and “vital”.
Rand Paul warned that the proposed solutions also do not go far enough to curtail the NSA’s spying powers. The president intends to effectively outsource the data retention to telecommunications companies, making them the NSA’s lapdogs.
“I don’t like the idea of collecting the data. If it’s left in the phone company’s hands, and you have to have a warrant with an individual’s name on it, then that I think meets the law, the Constitution,” Paul said. “But we’ll have to see what happens. The president sometimes says one thing and does another. So the devil is in the details here.”
Still, the Senator is happy that the issue is gaining some traction following his own efforts to sue the government over the collection of the meta-data of innocent Americans’ communications.
“I don’t want to take all the credit for ending this. But I think our lawsuit had something to do with bringing the president to the table, some of it depends on what actually happens.” Paul stated.
He also added that he has severe reservations over the claims of the wider intelligence community that NSA spying is essential for national security.
“I’m not sure whether to believe them or not,” Paul said. “We have the CIA now illegally searching congressional computers, giving access and then removing access, and I really think that there needs to be an overall investigation of the intelligence community. I favor a select committee like they had in the 1970s, the Church Committee, to look into all of these. There is a certain amount of arrogance here that needs to be checked.”
Meanwhile, the outgoing head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, had some choice words for the Senator, describing his efforts to bring transparency to the situation as “disheartening”.
“Knowing what we do — if you talk to other members of Congress they will tell you that we’re doing the right thing here. From my perspective, we aren’t doing anything illegal. And if we do, we’ll be the first to catch it and we’ll report it.” Alexander said in an interview with Fox News.
“He ought to come up here and meet the people,” he continued. “Some of them are from his state. And I’ll tell you that these are the people, the noble people. I’d rather have this conversation today than to have been sitting here answering why we didn’t stop a terrorist attack.”
Of course, independent reviews have concluded that the NSA’s actions have had absolutely no impact on preventing terrorism, but Alexander and his cronies continue to dutifully follow the talking points handed to them by their shadowy higher ups.
During the interview, Alexander also defended the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who lied to Congress over the NSA’s actions. Alexander described Clapper’s actions as a “mistake” (rather than a felony). He also said that whistle blower Edward Snowden should be subjected to “Justice, the American way,” claiming his actions should “haunt him for the rest of his life.”