Moreover, for anyone who defends the Obama administration here and insists that the U.S. Government simply must have access to all forms of human communication: does that also apply to in-person communication? Should home and apartment builders be required to install monitors in every room they build to ensure that the Government can surveil all human communications in order to prevent threats to national security and public safety? I believe someone once wrote a book about where this mindset inevitably leads. The very idea that no human communication should ever be allowed to take place beyond the reach of the Government is definitive authoritarianism, which is why Saudi Arabia and the UAE — and their American patron-ally — have so vigorously embraced it.
Greenwald points out that the FBI does not need this, because they can go to a judge, get a warrant, and use traditional surveillance when it’s necessary. “But what about encryption?!” Well:
the problem cited by the FBI to justify this new power is a total pretext: “investigators encountered encrypted communications only one time during 2009′s wiretaps” and, even then, “the state investigators told the court that the encryption did not prevent them from getting the plain text of the messages.” As usual, fear-mongering over national security and other threats is the instrument to justify massive new surveillance powers that will extend far beyond their claimed function.
I’m profoundly disappointed in the Obama administration’s record on civil rights and privacy. I expected better from a president who is a Constitutional law scholar.
tl;dr: The very idea that no human communication should ever be allowed to take place beyond the reach of the Government is definitive authoritarianism