Yet again, Obama shows just how pointless it is to work within the system.
Remember the hue and cry over NSA telephone spying which Obama promised would be curtailed?
Remember the celebrations on how all the mainstream talking heads and “conservatives” glad handed one another on how responsive he was to objections and how petitions, editorials, and generally being cooperative can work to change the system?
Yeah, well here’s how tyranny responds to that effort:
The Obama administration has asked a special court for approval to hold onto National Security Agency phone records for a longer period–an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the phone-surveillance program.The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Justice Department was considering such a move, which would end up expanding the controversial phone records database by not deleting older call records.Under the current system, the database is purged of phone records more than five years old. The Justice Department, in a filing made public Wednesday, said it needs to hold onto the older records as evidence in lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others.Under the proposal made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the older data would continue to be held, but NSA analysts would not be allowed to search it.
As far as I can tell only one effort is underfoot in Congress to end this garbage: the USA FREEDOM Act. The bill, HR 3361, has been referred to committee so it’s a ways off from being voted on. Does it ban collection? No. Does it end the NSA? No. So what does it do?
Let’s look at a bit of the official summary of the bill:
Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to set forth additional requirements for obtaining orders for business records in counterterrorism investigations, including requiring that the records sought pertain to a foreign power, an agent of a foreign power, or an individual in contact with, or known to a suspected agent of, a foreign power.
Ok, so still no ban on US citizens. As long as the US citizen is a “suspected agent of a foreign power” they are a target. Good thing for tyranny that phrase, “suspected agent of a foreign power,” isn’t narrowly drawn or defined…
Amends the USA PATRIOT Improvements and Reauthorization Act of 2005 to require the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), for 2010 through 2013, to report on an examination of the minimization procedures (procedures designed to minimize the acquisition and retention of information and to prohibit its unauthorized dissemination) used in relation to business records orders.
Oh good, the DOJ, that cabel of Obama lawyers currently preventing the investigation of Fast and Furious will report on the efficacy of the NSA program. That should be quite helpful to patriots.
Imposes additional requirements on the authorized use of pen registers and trap and trace devices (devices for recording incoming and outgoing telephone numbers), including that: (1) the information sought must pertain to a foreign power, agent thereof, or individual in contact with or known to such an agent; and (2) the application must contain a statement of proposed minimization procedures. Requires audits of the effectiveness and use of such devices.
Again, as long as the target is an “agent” of a foreign power, the government is still good to go.
Prohibits the searching of collections of communications of U.S. persons, except: (1) under an order or authorization for electronic surveillance or physical search, (2) with the consent of such person, or (3) under a reasonable belief that the life or safety of the person in threatened and the information is sought to assist that person.
“Except.” Of course there is no blanket prohibition. That would be much too helpful to patriots.
Limits the collection of wholly domestic communications of a U.S. person to those communications: (1) to which any party is a target of the acquisition; or (2) that contain an identifier of a target of an acquisition, only if the communications are acquired to protect against international terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
What a neat little circular logic. NSA is not suppose to do any domestic spying, but this bill would apparently allow spying a US citizen who communicates with another US citizen who is a “suspected agent of a foreign power.” It is interesting, however, that the other exception is limited to “international terrorism.” Patriots and militias have not been identified as a part of international terror…yet. Lots of chatter about “false flags” linking militias to al Qaeda, but I’ll need more tin foil on my hat before I go there.
Prohibits receiving into evidence any information obtained in an acquisition against any U.S. person for which a deficiency in the procedures for acquiring such information is identified by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). Authorizes the FISA Court, if the government corrects any deficiencies so identified, to permit the use or disclosure of information acquired before the correction under such minimization procedures as the FISA Court shall establish.
Nice to see they incorporated a “fruit of the poisonous tree” exception. If they illegally gain the information, the door is open to “correct” the explanation on how the info was gathered.
Establishes within the judicial branch an Office of the Special Advocate to participate in proceedings before the FISA Court and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, request reconsiderations of FISA Court decisions, and participate in appeals and reviews. Requires the Special Advocate to vigorously advocate in support of legal interpretations that protect individual privacy and civil liberties. Requires the Attorney General to publicly disclose specified information in connection with FISA Court or FISA Court of Review decisions appealed by the Special Advocate. Requires the release of as much information regarding the facts and analysis in such decisions as is consistent with legitimate national security concerns.
This is the portion of the bill that is being trumpeted over and over, in that a group will be designated as constitutional protectors to litigate the efforts of the NSA’s requests. Nevermind the group is employed by the same government that is trying to get the information. Nevermind the group doesn’t actually represent the target. Paper catle, much?
Authorizes the FBI Director to request from a communication service provider the name, address, length of service, and local and long distance billing records of a person as part of a national security investigation only if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the information sought pertains to a foreign power, an agent of a foreign power, or an individual in contact with, or known to a suspected agent of, a foreign power. Provides similar requirements with respect to an FBI request for information from financial institutions and consumer reporting agencies. Revises provisions prohibiting the disclosure of the receipt of a national security letter by such providers, institutions, and agencies to except disclosure to: (1) those persons to whom disclosure is necessary to comply with the request, (2) an attorney in order to obtain legal advice or assistance regarding the request, or (3) other persons as permitted by the FBI. Includes under such prohibition (with the same exceptions) national security letters issued in connection with the investigation of persons with access to classified information. Allows affected communications providers, financial institutions, and consumer reporting agencies to seek judicial review of requests for information. Requires the DOJ IG to report results of audits of national security letters issued during 2010 through 2013.
Here’s more of the same broad, vague “suspected agent” language but this time applied to phone records and financial records.
It would be honest and helpful if it was a simple bill:
No government agency is permitted to spy on US citizens without a warrant issued “upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
But that’s not going to happen this side of a revolution.