Obama on Surveillance-State Snooping: Not Nearly as Good as … uh, Richard Nixon?

There's a lot of bad Nixon/Obama art out there. ||| SayAnythingBlog.comLast night, in one of the only
passages that departed in any significant way from his four
previous State of the Union Addresses (plus his 2009 SOTU-like
speech), President
Barack Obama
made a curious and passing reference to
drone-warfare due process and America’s increasingly controversial
surveillance state:

So even as we actively and aggressively pursue terrorist
networks—through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity
of our foreign partners—America must move off a permanent war
footing. That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of
drones—for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike
within their countries without regard for the consequence.

That’s why, working with this Congress, I will reform our
surveillance programs, because the vital work of our intelligence
community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that
privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.

You can't unsee. |||As

J.D. Tuccille
Ed Krayewski
have pointed out in these pages, what Obama calls
“prudent limits” are basically things that exist inside in his own
cranium, and therefore not particularly useful as a legal template
going forward. (Do remember that the Obama team
scrambled to think about creating drone rules
before the 2012
election when they thought for a brief moment that they might lose
it…. Don’t worry, the fever soon passed.) And Jacob Sullum can
give you a succinct tour of Obama’s late-breaking
on surveillance reform.

But here’s a startling historical nugget I turned up when
conducting my annual
of reading past SOTUs of presidents at the same juncture
of their second terms: Do you know who had a longer and more
convincing passage about personal privacy vis-a-vis the
surveillance state? Richard Nixon.
In 1974

One measure of a truly free society is the vigor with which it
protects the liberties of its individual citizens. As technology
has advanced in America, it has increasingly encroached on one of
those liberties—what I term the right of personal privacy. Modern
information systems, data banks, credit records, mailing list
abuses, electronic snooping, the collection of personal data for
one purpose that may be used for another—all these have left
millions of Americans deeply concerned by the privacy they

See? Told ya. ||| BeforeItsNews.comAnd the time has come, therefore, for a major
initiative to define the nature and extent of the basic rights of
privacy and to erect new safeguards to ensure that those rights are

I shall launch such an effort this year at the highest levels of
the Administration, and I look forward again to working with this
Congress in establishing a new set of standards that respect the
legitimate needs of society, but that also recognize personal
privacy as a cardinal principle of American liberty. 

On the one hand, this is an always-timely reminder that
presidents are inherently full of shit, presiding over actions that
make a mockery of their rhetoric. On the other, it’s hard to think
of a more damning indictment than the most imperious president of
my lifetime coming off as more robustly concerned with the 4th
Amendment than the constitutional law professor who was elected in
a spasm of disgust at executive-branch overreach. Whoever thought
that saying “Obama, you’re no Nixon!” would be an insult?

from Hit & Run

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