Daily Archives: June 6, 2013

NSA phone snooping shows need to scrutinize Patriot Act

It’s hard to know which is more disconcerting – that the National Security Agency is getting telephone records for millions of Americans via a secret court’s order or that such sweeping intelligence gathering is routine, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The White House hasn’t confirmed the Guardian newspaper’s report that a Verizon subsidiary was ordered in April to provide the NSA with daily information on all calls by its customers within the U.S. and from foreign locations into the U.S. But an anonymous White House official defended the practice Thursday “as a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” A dozen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, however, the nation is due for a hard look at the constitutionality and necessity of the USA Patriot Act, under which such snooping is legal. UPDATE: The NSA and the FBI also have been tracking people’s movements and contacts by tapping directly into the servers of nine big Internet companies, the Washington Post reported Thursday. The classified PRISM program began in 2007 and now accounts for 1 in 7 intelligence reports, according to the Post.

GOP obstruction of judicial nominations is ‘unprecedented’

Though both parties have been terrible about blocking judicial nominations, President Obama is correct that GOP obstructionism is “unprecedented.” Sheldon Goldman, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, developed an “Index of Obstruction and Delay.” The rating for the most recent Congress was the highest ever recorded. “It approached total obstruction or delay,” he told the Washington Post. The Congressional Research Service also recently concluded: “President Obama is the only one of the five most recent presidents for whom, during his first term, both the average and median waiting time from nomination to confirmation for circuit and district court nominees was greater than half a calendar year.”