Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Pox on Comprehensive Legislation


This is from Ben Domenech's "The Transom," on the NSA's data capture program:

And why are we at this point? Because, in some sense, Congress never understood what it was authorizing in the first place when it came to the Protect America Act, which swept through Congress with bipartisan support.  “In reality, the PAA represented a sweeping change to American surveillance law. Before conducting surveillance, the PAA only required executive branch officials to “certify” that there were “reasonable procedures” in place for ensuring that surveillance “concerns” persons located outside the United States and that the foreign intelligence is a “significant purpose” of the program. A single certification could cover a broad program intercepting the communications of numerous individuals. And there was no requirement for judicial review of individual surveillance targets within a “certified” program. Civil liberties groups warned that the PAA’s vague requirements and lack of oversight would give the government a green light to seek indiscriminate access to the private communications of Americans. They predicted that the government would claim that they needed unfettered access to domestic communications to be sure they had gotten all relevant information about suspected terrorists.” 
I maintain Congress never really understood the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), nor Dodd-Frank, and probably doesn't understand the comprehensive immigration reform bill. It seems that much of the comprehensive legislation is more of a guideline for the regulatory state to fill in the details.

The result is the atrocity of the IRS targeting political speech,  HHS forcing the Catholic Church to violate its principles, hundreds of new regulations on banks, brokerages, and publicly traded companies and of course the NSA's collection of meta data on our phone calls and postings to the cloud.

Not to worry we are told, it's for our own good. Obama defends it saying this has caught terrorists, ignoring the point it violates our civil liberties. Comic relief can alway be found from the Burns and Allen of the Senate, McCain and Feinstein, who lecture us not to worry since the program has been ongoing for seven years.

The proponents of big government have a big challenge, in my opinion. Tell me again why I should favor these big programs when they appear to run amok in frightening ways.


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