In an October 2001 appearance on Chicago public television State-Sen. Barack Obama predicted a “majoritarian check” when mass surveillance started encroaching on the majority of Americans’ civil liberties.
“I’m always more concerned about encroachment on civil rights and civil liberties that apply selectively to people. When they apply to everybody there tends to be sort of a majoritarian check,” Obama said. “When we come to the wiretap provisions for example if those laws start encroaching too much on people’s privacy the average person, me, Joe, everybody starts griping and complaining.”
Earlier in the future president’s appearance on the panel show when discussing the 4th Amendment, Obama argued “there always has been a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. It means something to be a citizen and that’s important. One area where we haven’t made that distinction though is with respected to criminal charges under the 4th Amendment. I mean, the 4th Amendment states that these protections are provided to persons not citizens. And the Supreme Court has consistently applied them to persons who are within our borders.”
On Friday, President Obama defended the National Security Agency collecting phone records and electronic communications — revealed in leaks in The Guardian and Washington Post — saying that members of Congress were briefed regularly on the programs and while labeling some of the media response as “hype.”