O’Reilly Suddenly Opposes Warrantless Surveillance

Bill O’Reilly has had a change of heart. During the Bush administration when it was engaging in wholesale data mining and warrantless wiretaps, O’Reilly was all for it and attacking anyone who questioned it as traitors who want Americans to die. Now that the Obama administration is doing the same thing, it’s a “massive intrusion” on our privacy. How about that.

During the Bush administration, opposing the National Security Agency’s warantless wiretapping program meant you wanted “Americans to die.”

But now Fox News host Bill O’Reilly believes the NSA’s massive collection of data under the Obama administration is an unconstitutional government overreach.

On his show Monday night, the conservative host described the NSA’s surveillance programs as a “massive intrusion.” O’Reilly warned that “corrupt government officials” could leak sensitive data to hurt their political opponents. He said that amassing telephone records might be “acceptable,” but keeping actual content of private conversations on file was “flat out unconstitutional.”

O’Reilly’s tune was far different under the Bush administration. At the time, he voiced strong support for the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, which collected the telephone records of millions of Americans. In 2006, after a judge ruled the program was unconstitutional, O’Reilly speculated that she didn’t care if Americans were killed by terrorists.

In fact, here is what he said in 2006 when Judge Anna Diggs Taylor struck down (temporarily) a similar program by the Bush administration:

See, I don’t understand Judge Taylor. Maybe you can help me. Does she want Americans to die? There isn’t any criminal proceeding in this case. This is an overarch to try to get intelligence information from calls to suspected Al Qaeda overseas, not domestic. Does she want people to die?…

Does she want dead people in the street here in America? Because I’m sure that she would not only oppose the NSA program, she would oppose coercive interrogation, profiling at the airports. She would oppose every anti-terror measure the Bush administration has put in just because they’re the Bush administration. But the unintended consequences of the opposition is death.

Gosh, I’m so surprised. Aren’t you surprised? Of course, there are many Democrats who’ve done the same thing on the other side, been outraged at such things when Bush did them and then suddenly trusting Obama to do them because he’s just such a wonderful guy he would never abuse his power. The word naive hardly seems strong enough.

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  • busterggi

    Bill didn’t change his mind – surely this is black magic!

  • Something I may start asking any party loyalists I encounter: “If you’re afraid of how the other party is using the power, why were you supporting it when your party was in office? You do realize that the opposition is eventually going to win an election and gain those same powers, right?”

  • Nathair

    Nonsense, Bill has always been at war with Eastasia.

  • Sean Hannity has had the same change of heart. Media Matters put together a clip juxtaposing his defenses of data mining under Bush with his new-found love of the 4th Amendment when Obama’s in the White House.

  • Alverant

    I’ve seen more liberals critisize Obama for spying on US citizens than conservatives do the same for Bush. This is clearly a case of IOKIYAR.

  • davefitz

    Rush did the same thing on his show yesterday. Literally said it was ok when Bush did it but he doesn’t trust Obama. Now that’s principled conservatism!

  • mikeyb

    The only principled conservatism these days is Obama derangement syndrome.

  • eric

    If this meant that conservative legislators would actually support laws, now, that restricted the executive branch’s power (or oppose laws that expanded executive power), I’d be fine with it. For me that would be a case of good policy being passed for a bad reason.

    But let’s face it; the right is going to publicly complain about government overreach on one hand while happily supporting patriot-act like bills with the other.

  • When it comes to Republitarian hypocricy on this issue, this sort of thing is only the tip of the dungberg. There’s a far deeper — and possibly more harmful — layer of hypocricy here, with so-called conservatives bitching about government spying while ignoring or excusing equally-pervasive spying by private entities: advertizers who monitor our Internet usage to tailor their ads to our observed tastes, spyware that monitors every keystroke and mouse-click we make on the machines they’ve infected…and let’s not forget the other private entities (and Chinese hackers) that may be hacking into the private information collected by others. All with absolutely zero transparency or oversight by anyone. Call me a pinko if you must, but I feel safer being spied on by my elected government than I do being spied on by unelected businessfolk looking to make a buck any way they can.

    I’ll say this for the head of NSA: he wasn’t mealy-mouthed about what his agency did — he talked a lot straighter than a lot of corporate bigwigs do when they’re caught out in their scams.

    And besides, most of the damage that’s been done to our country, and our personal freedoms, since 1980, has been done, not by people with access to lots of private information, but by people who MAKE SHIT UP. Supply-side economics, anti-communist testeria, creationism, AGW-denialism, “death panels,” and those reports of WMDs in Iraq…did any of that come from warrantless surveillance?

  • Bill didn’t change his mind. He still believes that the government should have unlimited surveillance powers whenever the republicans are in charge.

  • Karen Locke

    I think Raging Bee has a point; there’s lots of business surveillance going on all the time. The NSA may actually be the good guys in the surveillance world, scary as that thought is. But all spying without oversight can get out of hand, and there are worse motives than trying to make a buck.

  • … and there are worse motives than trying to make a buck.

    I agree. One such worse motive is the desire to silence critics and neutralize opposition — something private entities have at least as much as governments. And corporate secrecy and thuggery can be just as vile as that of a government. Imagine a propaganda and SLAPP campaign by, say, BP, the Koch brothers, or Bane Capital, augmented by extensive data-mining of people’s Internet and email activity…

  • Karen Locke

    Raging Bee, you scare me. And I think that’s good.

  • …or, for that matter, notice how employers have taken to using the Internet to gather information about job-applicants’ private lives and ideological leanings. And remember, once hired, you can be fired for just about any reason, including your boss’s dislike (or fear) of your willingness to question authority.