Tag Archives: USA Freedom Act

He helped expand the surveillance state. Now he’s its victim. by Simon Black

There is some cosmic justice after all. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the whole impeachment thing.

I’m a resident of Puerto Rico, so I couldn’t vote in the Presidential election if I wanted to. Which I don’t. I haven’t voted in years because I have a hard time believing that my vote really matters.

Plus, as the animated comedy South Park so eloquently puts it, an election decision usually comes down to a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

But from time to time the political circus does display some noteworthy acts, and one of those is taking place right now.

We all know that the US has become a giant surveillance state. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either deliberately ignorant or is named Dick Cheney.

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The Spies Who Ruin Us, by Andrew P. Napolitano

From Andrew P. Napolitano at antiwar.com:

In an effort to draw attention away from the intelligence failures that permitted the attacks of 9/11 and create the impression that it was doing something – anything – to avoid a repeat, the federal government tampered seriously with freedoms expressly guaranteed in the Constitution. Its principal target was the right to privacy, which is protected in the Fourth Amendment.

At President George W. Bush’s urging, Congress passed the Patriot Act in October 2001. This 315-page statute passed the House of Representatives with no debate, and there was very limited debate in the Senate. I have asked many members of Congress over the years whether they read this bill before they voted upon it, and I have yet to find a member who did. In the House, that would have been impossible; the bill was made available to representatives only 15 minutes prior to their vote.

This law permits FBI agents to write their own search warrants for business records, and it has been used to induce the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to issue warrants on a made-up basis to read emails and listen to telephone calls in real time. The members of Congress who voted for it were largely unaware of the liberties they were sacrificing.

The personal liberties that Congress surrendered have been a necessary bulwark against tyranny – the constitutional requirement of warrants as a precondition to searching homes and records, with warrants based on probable cause and specifically describing the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.

When Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the domestic spying that the government unleashed upon us post-9/11 and made us all aware of its use of the Patriot Act to do so, the authors of the Patriot Act expressed outrage and anger.

What was the government doing?

The government was secretly gathering data on all of us and using warrants that were not based on probable cause and that did not specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. When members of Congress realized that they, too, were being spied upon, the outrage grew. That outrage and anger metastasized into a new law enacted earlier this year, called the USA Freedom Act, which took effect this week. That law, its supporters have argued, will tame the National Security Agency into constitutional compliance and keep its 60,000 agents and contractors out of our private affairs. In fact, it is now worse.

To continue reading: The Spies Who Ruin Us

Life in the Electronic Concentration Camp: The Surveillance State Is Alive and Well, by John Whitehead

From John Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order […] and the like.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice

Bottle up the champagne, pack away the noisemakers, and toss out the party hats.

There is no cause for celebration.

We have secured no major victories against tyranny.

We have achieved no great feat in pushing back against government overreach.

For all intents and purposes, the National Security Agency has supposedly ceased its bulk collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, but read the fine print: nothing is going to change.

The USA Freedom Act, which claimed to put an end to the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, was just a placebo pill intended to make us feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance.

In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.

You cannot restrain the NSA. The beast has outgrown its chains.

You cannot reform the NSA. A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing does not voluntarily alter its behavior.

You cannot put an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.” Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages, transactions, communications and activities.

Indeed, the government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep niggling, inconvenient laws aimed at ensuring accountability, bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

It has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the so-called end of the NSA’s metadata collection of Americans’ phone calls.

This, of course, is no end at all.

To continue reading: The Surveillance State Is Alive And Well

Lies the Government Is Telling You, by Andrew P. Napolitano

A spot on analysis of the recently passed USA Freedom Act, from Andrew P. Napolitano at antiwar.org:

Under the Patriot Act, the NSA had access to and possessed digital versions of the content of all telephone conversations, emails and text messages sent between and among all people in America since 2009. Under the USA Freedom Act, it has the same. The USA Freedom Act changes slightly the mechanisms for acquiring this bulk data, but it does not change the amount or nature of the data the NSA acquires.

Under the Patriot Act, the NSA installed its computers in every main switching station of every telecom carrier and Internet service provider in the U.S. It did this by getting Congress to immunize the carriers and providers from liability for permitting the feds to snoop on their customers and by getting the Department of Justice to prosecute the only CEO of a carrier who had the courage to send the feds packing.

In order to operate its computers at these facilities, the NSA placed its own computer analysts physically at those computers 24/7. It then went to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and asked for search warrants directing the telecoms and Internet service providers to make available to it all the identifying metadata – the times, locations, durations, email addresses used and telephone numbers used – for all callers and email users in a given ZIP code or area code or on a customer list.

The first document revealed by Edward Snowden two years ago was a FISA court search warrant directed to Verizon ordering it to make available to NSA agents the metadata of all its customers – more than 113 million at the time. Once the court granted that search warrant and others like it, the NSA computers simply downloaded all that metadata and the digital recordings of content. Because the FISA court renewed every order it issued, this arrangement became permanent.

Under the USA Freedom Act, the NSA computers remain at the carriers’ and service providers’ switching offices, but the NSA computer analysts return to theirs; and from there they operate remotely the same computers they were operating directly in the Patriot Act days. The NSA will continue to ask the FISA court for search warrants permitting the download of metadata, and that court will still grant those search warrants permitting the downloading. And the NSA will continue to take both metadata and content.

http://original.antiwar.com/andrew-p-napolitano/2015/06/10/lies-the-government-is-telling-you/

To continue reading: Lies the Government Is Telling You