We’ve already covered the conflicting statements that Barack Obama has made concerning government surveillance. As a United States Senator and presidential candidate, Obama said that the Bush Administration “puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and security we provide.” He made a similar statement during his inaugural address, also invoking the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. This rhetoric presents quite a contrast to what Obama is saying today.
Though he’s remained quiet on the current issues with the NSA obtaining the phone records of millions of Americans, Joe Biden wasn’t so quiet on the issue back in 2006. During an interview with CBS News, Biden, who was then-serving as a United States Senator, was very pointed in his oppositition to what he described as “intrusive” surveillance that was being conducted under the Bush Adminstration.
“If I know every single phone call you made, I’m able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. And the real question here is, what do they do with this information that they collect that does not have anything to do with al-Qaeda?,There’s a whole deal when you talk about this kind of stuff where under the law, they’re supposed to demonstrate that they’re getting rid of and not keeping any extraneous information that the pick up on wiretaps and/or pick up in sweeps like this,” said Biden. “And the President’s saying, I think I wrote down, he said, ‘This is not mining or trolling.’ If it’s true that 200 million Americans’ phone calls were monitored, in terms of not listening to what they said, but to whom they spoke and who spoke to them, I don’t know. The Congress should investigate this.”
When it came to trusting President Bush with this kind of power, Biden dismissed it out of hand. He said, “And we’re going to trust the President and Vice President of the United States that they’re doing the right thing, don’t count me in on that.”
You can watch the clip below:
It’s important to note that the argument Biden presented wasn’t about warrantless surveillance, which is what was going on under the Bush Administration, it was policy statement about this sort of broad intrusion into the lives of Americans. And he nailed it, as far as it goes. The only thing that should be added is that this sort of power isn’t good under any administration, regardless of their party.
But Biden will no doubt toe the White House line on the current surveillance being conducted by the NSA, past statements be damned.