You've seen this, I assume:
The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that -- if approved by Congress -- would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials.John Cole and Esquire's Michael Maiello state the obvious: this wouldn't be happening if it weren't for Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. I don't have to like them, Greenwald in particular, to be grateful to them for bringing the NSA's surveillance excesses to light.
Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans' calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order....
But, of course, Greenwald will not allow himself to be pleased at this development. Faced with the opportunity to write about a president who's had a welcome change of heart on surveillance, Greenwald decides that he's going to stick with his villains of choice -- Democrats and liberal supporters of the president:
I vividly recall the first time I realized just how mindlessly and uncritically supportive of President Obama many Democrats were willing to be. In April 2009, two federal courts, in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, ruled that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) required the Pentagon to disclose dozens of graphic photos it possessed showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration announced that, rather than contest or appeal those rulings, they would comply with the court orders and release all the photos....Wait -- this is Greenwald's response to the president's reversal on NSA bulk phone record collection? Yes, Greenwald's getting to that. First he had to excoriate pro-Obama liberals for hypocrisy, while giving himself a big round of applause.
But then -- just two weeks later -- Obama completely reversed himself, announcing that he would do everything possible to block the court order and prevent it from taking effect....
Now, obviously, the people who had been defending Obama's original pro-transparency position (which included the ACLU, human rights groups, and civil liberties writers including me) changed course and criticized him. That's what rational people, by definition, do....
But that's not what large numbers of Democrats did. Many of them first sided with Obama when his administration originally announced he’d release the photos. But then, with equal vigor, they also sided with Obama when -- a mere two weeks later -- he took the exact opposition position....
Many paragraphs later, he gets to the current news. Even while acknowledging that this is a very real and (in his opinion) positive change in policy, Greenwald has to take a shot -- several shots, in fact -- at the guy who's proposing the policy change:
This proposal differs in significant respects from the incredibly vague and cosmetic "reforms" Obama suggested in his highly touted NSA speech in January.... under Obama's latest proposal, the telecoms "would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would" (the law currently requires 18 month retention) and "the NSA could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order."And while he's establishing that Obama, despite the good things in this proposal, still sucks, he has to take a shot at his backers:
As always with Obama, it remains to be seen whether his words will be followed by any real corresponding actions. That he claims to support a bill does not mean he will actually try to have Congress enact it. The details, still unknown, matter a great deal. And even if this did end the domestic bulk collection spying program, it would leave undisturbed the vast bulk of the NSA's collect-it-all system of suspicionless spying.
We're now about to have a similar lab experiment, this time in the context of the NSA....So the real news in all this, to Greenwald, is not the welcome policy change. The real news is that Democrats and liberals are still evil.
[It] puts hard-core Obama loyalists and pro-NSA Democrats -- the ones that populate MSNBC -- in an extremely difficult position. They have spent the last 10 months defending the NSA (i.e., defending Obama) by insisting that the NSA metadata program is both reasonable and necessary to Keep Us Safe™. But now Obama claims he wants to end that very same program. So what will they do?
If they had even an iota of integrity or intellectual honesty, they would instantly and aggressively condemn Obama. After all, he's now claiming to want to end a program that they have been arguing for months is vital in Keeping Us Safe™. Wouldn't every rational person, by definition, criticize a political leader who wants to abolish a program that they believe is necessary to stop terrorism and preserve national security?
But that's not what will happen. After spending months praising the NSA for responsibly overseeing this critical program, they will now hail Obama for trying to end it.
And do I have to point out the irony in this? Greenwald says that no matter what Obama does, his liberal backers will still support him, even if they're backing him for doing the opposite of what they backed him for in the past. Meanwhile, Greenwald has attacked Obama and his backers for not wanting the NSA curbed, and now he's attacking them for wanting the NSA curbed. He hates Obama and pro-Obama liberals no matter what they do. while accusing Obama supporters of loving Obama no matter what he does.
But still: what journalist deserves the most credit for the change in policy? Glenn Greenwald -- alas.