One of the major casualties of the war on terror, along with my optimism and my trust, has been American civil liberties. We have given away so much in such little time against an enemy that has become a rhetorical device.
“There is a very important choice and a big difference between the
candidates in this race. I am in the solutions business. My opponent is
in the promises business,”
–Hillary Clinton, Feb. 13, 2008 in Texas
Hillary’s in the solutions business, not the promises business? Let’s take a look.
This week was a chance to take a step at restoring our civil liberties. It didn’t require a new law to undo another law that abrogated them, it just required letting the courts enforce our rights against unreasonable search and seizure. You see after Sep. 11, 2001, the White House went to the major telecom companies whose wires and satellite carry all our Internet traffic and said, "Usually we require a warrant to look at someone calls, e-mails, and Internet traffic, but right now we don’t feel like we need one." Whether or not the telecomm companies put up much of a fight, I don’t know. What I do know is that at least some, and probably all of them said, "Here you go, we’ll make an exception for you during a time of war." Not only was there no warrant for this traffic, but it appears that they just looked at everything. No way you could get a warrant that potentially covered every American.
When this finally started coming out, people started filing lawsuits against the telecomm companies. After all the Fourth Amendment isn’t hard to find in the Constitution, it’s the fourth one down. And no law had been passed that abrogated it in this case.
These lawsuits were proceeding through the court and so the White House suggested something novel. "Let’s make the companies immune from any wrongdoing. RETROACTIVELY." The Congress fought in both chambers for months, and this week the Senate took a vote on it. An amendment that would have removed the retroactive immunity for the Fourth Amendment violations we’ve all now been subject to was supported by 31 Senators right before the Virginia, DC, and Maryland primaries. Where was Obama? Apparently he’s in the "solutions business", because he was on the floor of the Senate voting to ensure that the telecomm companies end up in court explaining themselves and restoring our Fourth Amendment rights. Where was Hillary?
She didn’t vote. She skipped the vote. To campaign for President. I’m sure she promises that civil liberties and the general loss of privacy Americans have suffered during the "War on Terror", but that’s all she did. She just promises, we needed a vote and we didn’t get it.
Apparently Obama is the one in the solutions business.