http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/351752

New York Times: 'Obama administration has lost all credibility'

Posted Jun 7, 2013 by JohnThomas Didymus
The New York Times has published a scathing editorial on recent revelations about the Obama administration's secret surveillance programs. Its June 6 editorial said the "Obama administration has now lost all credibility on this issue."
The New York Times
The New York Times
Haxojoe
The Hufington Post reports that the original statement in the editorial had been, "The Obama administration has now lost all credibility." The paper later updated the statement to read: "The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue."
According to the editorial:
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
The NYT's criticism of the administration followed a statement by its executive editor Jill Abramson, during an appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation," in which she said that the administration was criminalizing news gathering. She said that with the Justice Department's aggressive investigations of leaks following reports that the administration had been secretly monitoring the AP as well as Fox News, "the reporters who work for the Times in Washington have told me many of their sources are petrified even to return calls."
The editorial described the administration's defense of its "overreaching use of powers" as "platitudes," insisting that its repeated reliance on the argument that the administration uses the surveillance powers to fight against terrorist threats has "never been persuasive."
It described the argument by a senior administration official that phone metadata does not include names of callers as "lame," pointing out that it is never difficult to match "numbers to names" if the need arises. The official being quoted had argued that information collected in surveillance programs have been critical tools for protecting the nation from terrorist threats and allowed the government to track terrorists and their contacts inside the US who may be planning attacks.
The NYT asked: "how (is the goal of tracking terrorists) served by collecting everyone’s call data?" and argued that "The government can easily collect phone records (including the actual content of those calls) on 'known or suspected terrorists' without logging every call made. In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was expanded in 2008 for that very purpose.
"Essentially, the administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where."
It also criticized Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) defense of phone metadata collection in which she said it was useful for predicting who would be a terrorist in the future and recalled warnings by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado) about the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act 50 USC 1861 when it was being renewed in 2011. According to Wyden, who served on the intelligence committee with Udall: "I believe that when more of my colleagues and the American public come to understand how the Patriot Act has actually been interpreted in secret, they will insist on significant reforms too."
The NYT reports that the two Senators, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder: "We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions (i.e the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn't know what its government thinks the law says."
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Winsconsin), who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, also denounced the NSA, saying it had overstepped its bounds. He said: "As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI's interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American."
The NYT editorial recommended repealing or "curtailing" the Patriot Act.