Years behind the left and groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Sean Hannity is just now beginning to complain about the the government being too intrusive. Hannity pretended today not to know the government is already collecting our calls and emails, but he was in a snit to hear that Democrats have proposed new telecommunications rules that would require providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and others to retain text messages for two years in case they are needed by law enforcement.
Hannity erroneously suggested this could violate our First Amendment rights (he surely meant the Fourth Amendment) but the idea he would suddenly be alarmed at the invasion of privacy rights is baldly hypocritical because Hannity helped usher in these changes throughout the War on Terror.
From the Patriot Act to the AUMF and hair-trigger invocation of War Powers, our rights have been steadily eroded since President Bush made bold moves to prevent a second terrorist attack on his watch. Hannity cheered these moves along, like a weasel in pom poms. Hannity supported Bush wholeheartedly in December 2005 when we found the NSA was conducting a massive warrantless surveillance operation in direct violation of the FISA law meant to prevent abusive Nixon-style eavesdropping.
Here is stunning video of Hannity going far beyond his tacit everyday support for Bush’s controversial NSA surveillance program by ignoring the issue and suppressing debate or dissent. In the 2006 clip, Hannity actually tells Dick Cheney he is surprised the country is divided over the Patriot Act and the NSA surveillance, asking Cheney if he is as surprised Americans don’t just roll over for it all.
Per Bush’s former press secretary, Hannity was “helpful” as Karl Rove and the Office of Strategic Initiatives sought to dupe the public with color coded terror alerts, false threats of imminent attacks and daily fear mongering for over a decade. Bush’s ham-handed response to 9-11 clearly traded civil liberties for greater security – but reports flooded in of government infiltration of everything from eco-activism groups to senior sewing circles.
Hannity was the PR arm of the Bush administration, “selling” war, terror and fear to the public every single day with provably wrong claims and according to Scott McClellan, undisclosed White House-provided propaganda:
Matthews: So, you wouldn’t use Brit Hume to sell stuff for them, but you’d use some of the night time guys?
McClellan: Yeah, I would separate that out, and certainly I, you know, they’ll say, that’s because they agree with those views in the White House.
Matthews: Did you see FOX television as a tool when you were in the White House? As a useful avenue to get your message out?
McClellan: I make a distinction between the journalists and the commentators. Certainly there were commentators and other, pundits at FOX News, that were useful to the White House. [...] That was something we at the White House, yes, were doing, getting them talking points and making sure they knew where we were coming from.
Matthews: So you were using these commentators as your spokespeople.
McClellan: Well, certainly.
Notably, Bill O’Reilly, the top “night time guy” at Fox made it a point to insist he had NOT received talking points from the White House, demanding an apology from Scott McClellan. But more notably, Hannity did not.
Suddenly, following the 2012 election, seeking arguments to weaken President Obama, Hannity seems to be taking up the cause of our privacy rights. As Hannity has tried to push the economic collapse of the economy that happened under Bush off onto Obama, we now see Hannity trying to paint Obama as the fearsome Big Brother, rather than Bush’s “Brother” who inherited and embraced the surveillance programs.
Particularly following the abrupt ruin of the career of CIA Director David Petraeus in discovery of embarrassing email correspondence, Hannity seems to just recently have found religion on this – or perhaps a healthy paranoia.
Though it’s never too late to join the bandwagon of citizens who actually understand the US Constitution’s guarantees of individual privacy, it’s lame for Hannity to whimper about this now, now after saying nothing about tens of thousands of improperly issued National Security Letters, illegal surveillance of innocent Muslims in NJ or the Department of Defense illegally spying on Planned Parenthood and peace groups.
Hannity knows we lost important civil liberties long ago. But now facing four more years of Obama, now facing the fact that authorities have every email he (and everyone else) is sending, he is getting a little worried.
Hannity is right that retention of our texts is disturbing – it’s illegal, it’s immoral and wastes taxpayer resources. But where the hell was Hannity when these same companies turned over private phone records to the feds? Where was he when they got retroactive immunity despite widespread outcry? Where was Hannity when NSA whistleblowers went public with the details of the mega-macro-data collection operation called Stellar Wind?
Hannity was nowhere, because he was helping Karl Rove and George Bush strip our privacy rights away under fake threats of terror strikes from Iraq and radical Islamist sleeper cells. But just like on immigration, Hannity has had another post-election loss flip-flop.