In October 2001, a month after 9/11, Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, appeared on the TV show “Chicago Tonight” on an episode titled “Civil Liberties vs. Safety.”
A video clip posted from this episode on Buzzfeed showed state Sen. Obama concerned about civil liberties.
“I’m always more concerned about encroachments 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, 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,” Obama said.
But further on in that same show, Obama expressed understanding about the changing intelligence landscape. “I actually am more sympathetic to the need to modify our statues to catch up with technology. I mean I think the fact that we have cellphones out here means that a set of statutes that are premised on tapping a particular phone line in a particular place is just untenable.”
He continued, “That view that we need changes in respect to technology is not inconsistent with Colleen’s point that the critical issue here is do we have a judicial oversight of some sort?”
Obama stipulated that judicial oversight needed to “continue and still take place even as it adapts to this new technology.”
Watch the video clip of state Sen. Barack Obama above.