During a scene in the 2006 Oscar-winning movie “The Departed,” Martin Sheen’s cop character points at government agents who are working with police during a sting operation and remarks: “All cell phone signals are under surveillance, due to the courtesy of our federal friends over there.” Alec Baldwin’s cop character then slaps the back of a fellow officer in glee, exclaiming: “Patriot Act, Patriot Act! I love it, I love it, I love it!”
I considered this scene to be a Hollywood liberal dig at then-President Bush, whose Patriot Act legislation was considered an assault on civil liberties by the left. At the time, liberals’ greatest beef with Bush was unquestionably on the issues of foreign policy and civil liberties — with the warrantless wiretapping and government eavesdropping permitted by the Patriot Act at the top of the list.
But that was then.
Under a Democratic administration, the left antiwar movement has become a distant memory, and liberal support for civil liberties has evaporated now that Obama wields the power to spy on citizens. Which he does — far more than Bush.
The American Civil Liberties Union reported last week under the headline “New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance:”
Justice Department documents released … by the ACLU reveal that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability.
The ACLU reported that between 2009 and 2011 the number of people subjected to telephone wiretapping had doubled or tripled depending on the category. The government conducted more telephone surveillance in those two years than it had in the previous decade. As far as snooping through your email, the ACLU reported that the number of authorizations the Justice Department received to use certain devices to conduct Internet surveillance increased 361% between 2009 and 2011.
Read the entire column at The American Conservative