It is a commonplace on the Left that the anti-terrorism policies of George W. Bush represented a grave threat to civil liberties. This view centered chiefly on two aspects of his policy: the enhanced interrogation procedures, like water-boarding, and surveillance procedures authorized under the Patriot Act.
As to the former, the Obama Justice Department pretended for a while that it might prosecute Bush Administration lawyers for advising then President Bush that the interrogation procedures were legal. This week that pretense was dropped. That hardly amounts to an endorsement of the Bush policies, but it is just as surely inconsistent with the view that those policies amounted to a serious violation of law or human rights.
Today President Obama signed an extension of the Patriot Act. The MSM has been rather quiet about this. Neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times has done their own story. Both rely on the AP story, and both bury it where only a search can find it. Here are some bits from the AP story as it appears in the WaPo:
The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government's ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.
Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:
-Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.
-Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.
-Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.
Obama's signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.
The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.
The Patriot Act has been kept, without changes that some critics in the Senate wanted. That does count as an unambiguous endorsement of Bush's surveillance policies. President Obama is now responsible for protecting Americans against terrorists, and he wants the same powers that Bush wanted and got from Congress. Powerline says:
I suppose it's too much to expect the Democrats to admit they were wrong all along.
Yes, and it's too much to expect from our major newspapers.