House Republicans Discover Limits of Executive Power

Last week the House of Representatives passed the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act, of ENFORCE the Law Act (seriously, do they have someone whose job it is to come up with painfully ridiculous acronyms in Congress?). Jacob Sullum notes the hypocrisy: … [Read more...]

Obama Protecting CIA in Senate Standoff

McClatchy newspapers is reporting that the Obama White House is withholding almost 10,000 documents in dispute in the battle between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA, but without actually asserting executive privilege over those documents. … [Read more...]

Cruz’ Convenient Ignorance of History

Ted Cruz spoke at CPAC last week and delivered the standard line we hear from the right these days, who have suddenly discovered the limits on executive power after cheering on George W. Bush for 8 years while shredded the separation of powers and vastly expanded his own power. … [Read more...]

House May Pointlessly Sue Obama

Republicans are throwing a fit over President Obama saying he'll take some vague and unspecified unilateral action to address vague and unspecified problems and Michele Bachmann says that the House of Representatives may try to take him to court over it. Yeah, good luck with that. … [Read more...]

A Tale of Two Court Rulings

In the last couple weeks, two separate judges have ruled on the NSA's cell phone data mining operation. One of them, a Bush appointee, said the program is clearly unconstitutional; the other, a Clinton nominee, said the program is clearly constitutional. Andrew Cohen notes that the two rulings are almost completely opposite one another in every way. … [Read more...]

Al Gore’s Fantasy World

Former Vice President Al Gore must have some rose-colored glasses the size of Jupiter if he really believes what he told an audience in Montreal a few days ago. He said that he expects Congress to rein in the surveillance programs of the NSA and other executive agencies. … [Read more...]

DOJ Notifies Defendants of Warrantless Wiretap Evidence

This is a very interesting development that could lead somewhere important. The Department of Justice is now informing defendants if any evidence in their case was procured through a warrantless wiretap. Why is this important? Because it gives them standing to challenge illegal surveillance. … [Read more...]

The Manning Verdict and the Rule of Law

I was a bit shocked at the relatively lenient sentence that the military court handed down to Bradley Manning. He got 35 years, but could be eligible for parole in as little as ten years with good behavior and credit for time served. The government was asking for 60 years, so Manning is probably a bit relieved by it. But the prosecution and the verdict raise very troubling issues, as Glenn Greenwald put it in a tweet: … [Read more...]

Obama’s Empty Surveillance Promises, Take 2

I wrote the other day that the promises that President Obama made last week about greater transparency were mostly hollow, especially the appointment of a commission to study the problem. Such commission are a political black hole. But it turns out that his "independent" commission won't be independent at all: … [Read more...]

The Bipartisan Consensus On Surveillance

Glenn Greenwald reports on the behind-the-scene battle over an amendment that would have confined NSA data mining only to those who are actually under investigation rather than allowing them to collect massive amounts of data on all of us in the name of stopping terrorism. That amendment failed in the House, but the vote was pretty close -- and the leadership of both parties united to make sure that no limits would be placed on the National Surveillance State. … [Read more...]

The Audacity of Obama

Before he took office, President Obama wrote a book called The Audacity of Hope. He might well have named it the audacity of Barack Obama. Take a look at this clip from All In with Chris Hayes about the search for Edward Snowden. Pay particular attention to what the president says around the 5:00 mark, that we are seeking the return of Snowden to face trial "to make sure that the rule of law is observed." … [Read more...]

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Director of National Intelligence

James Clapper is the Director of National Intelligence and he's been telling anyone who would listen that the NSA's data mining program is perfectly fine and not at all a threat to your privacy. And just to show you that he's an expert on threats, here's one of his greatest hits from October 2003: … [Read more...]