Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2014

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WASHINGTON:

Reid on reaction to furor over phone records: ‘Just calm down’

Interest groups, political observers and private citizens spent Thursday up in arms over revelations that the U.S. government has been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers for years.

But Sen. Harry Reid wasn’t ruffled by the news.

“Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand that this isn’t brand new,” Reid said. “It’s been going on for some seven years.”

That the government has been collecting so much information for so long is precisely the point that stirred such voices as The New York Times editorial board to declare that President Barack Obama’s administration “has now lost all credibility,” and was “proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”

The administration currently gets its authority to collect such data through secret court orders, the most recent of which it received in April. The basis for that authority comes from the Patriot Act.

Reid has a mixed history with the Patriot Act: He supported its initial iteration in 2001, but objected that the reauthorization gave the government too much latitude to conduct domestic surveillance.

“Liberty and security are not contradictory,” Reid said when the bill was being debated in 2005. “Additional congressional and judicial oversight of the government’s surveillance and investigative authorities need not hamper the government’s ability to fight terrorism.”

After a few more months of debate and changes, Reid would vote to reauthorize the version of the Patriot Act that established the procedure that would lead to the telephone data collection.

Reid defended the anti-terrorism program.

“It’s a program that’s worked to prevent not all terrorism but certainly the vast, vast majority,” Reid said.

But when asked about the controversy, Reid only suggested that there may be room for unspecified improvement of the program.

“Is the program perfect? Of course not,” Reid said. “We’ve tried often to make it better and we’ll continue to do that.”

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  1. Calm down? CALM DOWN????

    Isn't this guy supposed to defend the Constitution? "It's been going on seven years"? Who gives a crap? Obama was going to be different, remember?

    Not only has Obama, but now Reid, have lost what little credibility remained.

  2. It's had to believe pinky was ever an American, he is certainly not at this point.

  3. Calm down. Obama said he will only put the head in.

    Obama has been nothing but lies, abuse, corruption, oppression, and attacks on the American Bill of Rights. The real solution is to Impeach Obama and vote for a Republican who will repeal every thing Obama has done.

  4. "Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand that this isn't brand new," Reid said. "It's been going on for some seven years."

    So, Harry, this has all been on your watch. What part of your oath about the Fourth Amendment dis you conveniently discard? Or is it because there are zero consequences for violating it? This is just another kind of prostitution!

    "Calm down? CALM DOWN???"

    howzie -- what you said!

    "Calm down. Obama said he will only put the head in."

    RexCrouch -- and he said he'd pull out in time!

    From a famous dissent from a famous wiretapping case --

    "In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means - to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal - would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face." -- Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928), Justice Brandeis dissenting

  5. Thanks KillerB, that was awesome.

  6. "Don't worry calm down Harry and Diane Feinstein have your back."

    chuck333 -- no, they have the feds' backs. Have a look @ "NSA Phone Record Collection Has Bipartisan Support in Congress" -- http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/governmen...

    "If the exercise of constitutional rights will thwart the effectiveness of a system of law enforcement, then there is something very wrong with that system." -- Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 490 (1964)