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Senate panel approves Patriot Act renewal

Dem-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee extends PATRIOT Act provisions

Capitol Hill Blue
October 9, 2009

Key US lawmakers passed legislation Thursday extending three key provisions of the PATRIOT Act, the sweeping intelligence bill enacted after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Backing a White House request, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure 11 votes to 8 to extend until 2013 three clauses that would have expired by 31 December. The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The provisions include the “roving wiretap” clause, used to monitor mobile communications of individuals using multiple telephone lines, and the “lone-wolf” provision, which enables spying on individuals suspected of terrorist activity but with no obvious connection to extremist groups.

Lawmakers also extended the life of controversial section 215, known as the “library records provision” that allows government agencies to access individual’s library history.

The committee had earlier met in a closed-door meeting with members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the intelligence community on ensuring their actions would not impede investigations already underway.

The senators also debated freeing up law enforcement actions that have been hampered by legislation and court rulings since the first program was launched by former president George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11, which enabled collecting sensitive information for years without a court order.

Republicans senators have remained critical of placing restrictions on the intelligence community, saying they should more of a free hand in the early stages of investigations.

But their Democratic counterparts have decried the fact that the provisions still do not in their view adequately respect the privacy of ordinary Americans.

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold said he feared handing a “blank check” to law enforcement agencies and criticized the Democrat-controlled committee for not passing safeguards that even Republicans supported during the Bush administration.

“Among the most significant problems is the failure to include an improved standard for Section 215 orders, even though a Republican controlled Judiciary Committee unanimously supported including the same standard in 2005,” he said in a media advisory.

“But what was most upsetting was the apparent willingness of too many members to defer completely to behind the scenes complaints from the FBI and the Justice Department, even though the administration has yet to take a public position on any of the improvements that I and other senators have proposed. … [While] I am left scratching my head trying to understand how a committee controlled by a wide Democratic margin could support the bill it approved today, I will continue to work with my colleagues to try to make improvements to this bill.”

Michael Macleod-Ball, acting director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office said the rights group was “disappointed” that further moves were not made to protect civil liberties.

“This truly was a missed opportunity for the Senate Judiciary Committee to right the wrongs of the PATRIOT Act,” he said.

“We urge the Senate to adopt amendments on the floor that will bring this bill in line with the Constitution.”

Obama Supports Renewing The PATRIOT ACT

 



Telephone Companies Are An Arm Of Government Admits DOJ

Telephone Companies Are An Arm Of Government Admits DOJ

Wired News
October 9, 2009


AT&T was the first of many telcos sued for helping the NSA spy on Americans without warrants

The Department of Justice has finally admitted it in court papers: the nation’s telecom companies are an arm of the government — at least when it comes to secret spying.

Fortunately, a judge says that relationship isn’t enough to squash a rights group’s open records request for communications between the nation’s telecoms and the feds.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation wanted to see what role telecom lobbying of Justice Department played when the government began its year-long, and ultimately successful, push to win retroactive immunity for AT&T and others being sued for unlawfully spying on American citizens.

The feds argued that the documents showing consultation over the controversial telecom immunity proposal weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act since they were protected as “intra-agency” records:

“The communications between the agencies and telecommunications companies regarding the immunity provisions of the proposed legislation have been regarded as intra-agency because the government and the companies have a common interest in the defense of the pending litigation and the communications regarding the immunity provisions concerned that common interest.”

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffery White disagreed and ruled on September 24 that the feds had to release the names of the telecom employees that contacted the Justice Department and the White House to lobby for a get-out-of-court-free card.

“Here, the telecommunications companies communicated with the government to ensure that Congress would pass legislation to grant them immunity from legal liability for their participation in the surveillance,” White wrote. “Those documents are not protected from disclosure because the companies communicated with the government agencies “with their own … interests in mind,” rather than the agency’s interests.”

The feds were supposed to make the documents available Friday, but in a motion late Thursday, the Obama administration is asking for a 30-day emergency stay (.pdf) so it can file a further appeal.

Read Full Article Here

Obama Pushes For Renewal of Warrantless Spying

 



Obama Supports Renewing The PATRIOT ACT

Obama Pushes For Renewal of Warrantless Spying

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
September 16, 2009

President Barack Obama has once again betrayed his promise to restore liberties eviscerated by the Bush regime by pushing Congress to renew Patriot Act provisions that allow for warrantless spying on American citizens, even in cases where there is no link to terrorism whatsoever.

According to a Wired News report, the “Obama administration has told Congress it supports renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at year’s end, measures making it easier for the government to spy within the United States.”

Obama’s support for the provisions should come as little surprise because he first voted for warrantless wiretapping of Americans in 2008 when he was an Illinois Senator, while also lending support for immunizing the nation’s telecommunications companies from lawsuits charging them with being complicit in the Bush administration’s wiretapping program.

One of the provisions Obama is pushing to renew is the so-called “lone wolf” provision, enacted in 2004, which allows for the electronic monitoring of an individual without the government having to prove that the case has any relation whatsoever to terrorism or a foreign power. This is in effect a carte blanche for the government to use every method at their disposal to spy on any American citizen they choose.

The “lone wolf” provision is opposed by the ACLU, whose legislative counsel Michelle Richardson told Wired, “The justification for FISA and these lower standards and letting it operate in secret was all about terrorist groups and foreign governments, that they posed a unique threat other than the normal criminal element. This lone wolf provision undercuts that justification.”

Another Patriot Act provision Obama wants Congress to renew gives the government access to business, library and medical records, with the authorities generally having to prove that the investigation is terrorism related. However, since according to Homeland Security guidelines the new breed of terrorist is classified as someone who supports a third party, puts a political bumper sticker on their car, is part of the alternative media, or merely someone who disagrees with the authorities’ official version of events on any given issue, the scope for the government to use this power against their political adversaries is wide open.

The third provision Obama is pushing to renew allows a FISA court to grant “roving wiretaps” without the government having to even identify their target. This is another carte blanche power that gives the state the power to monitor telephone calls, e mails and any other form of electronic communication.

Barack Obama swept into office on a mandate of “change” and a commitment to restore liberties that were eviscerated under the Bush regime. Despite promising to do so, he has failed completely to overturn Bush signing statements and executive orders that, according to Obama, “trampled on liberties.” Indeed, despite promising to end the use of signing statements, he has continued to use them.

Obama has failed to close Guantanamo Bay or any other CIA torture “black site” as he promised to do.

Obama has failed in his promise to “reject the Military Commissions Act” and instead has supported the use of military commissions.

Obama has continued to allow the rendition and torture of detainees, while protecting Bush administration officials who ordered torture from prosecution and blocking the release of evidence related to torture.

Obama has gone even further than the Bush administration in introducing “preventative detention” of detainees, ensuring people will never get a trial.

In restating his support for warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, Obama has once again proven that his promise of “change” was nothing more than a hollow and deceptive political platitude to ensure his election. Since he took office, Obama has betrayed almost every promise he made and effectively become nothing more than the third term of the Bush administration.

 



Obama Votes YES on FISA Spy-Bill, McCain Skips

Obama Votes YES on FISA Spy-Bill, McCain Skips

The Nation
July 9, 2008

Hillary Clinton just voted “no” on cloture and final passage of the FISA bill expanding the government’s domestic spying powers and guaranteeing retroactive legal immunity for the telecom companies that assisted the spying program.

Barack Obama voted “yes.”

The New York Times calls the passage of the bill “one of Mr. Bush’s most hard-won legislative victories in a Democratic-led Congress where he has had little success of late. And it represented a stinging defeat for opponents on the left who had urged Democratic leaders to stand firm against the White House after a months-long impasse.”

Here’s the roll call.

 

Activist: Obama defense of FISA support a ’stiff arm’ to constitution

Raw Story
July 3, 2008

After more than a week of growing criticism of his support for a flawed surveillance bill, Barack Obama quietly responded late Thursday evening. He’s not likely to quell his growing cadre of critics.

In a blog response posted just before 5 p.m. headed into a three-day holiday weekend, Obama reiterated his support for an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act the Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday. (No mention of the blog post seems to have been distributed to Obama’s normal press list, either.)

Obama says he is against a provision in the bill to give legal immunity to telecommunications companies that facilitated the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans as authorized by President Bush. He vowed to support amendments that would strip immunity but would vote for the final bill regardless.

“It’s a stiff arm to the people that care about the Constitution,” said Mike Stark, a blogger and liberal activist who started a group on Obama’s social networking page to urge him to fix the FISA bill.

“It’s left a question in a lot of people’s mind about how committed he really is to change,” Stark told RAW STORY.

Responding to the 17,000 supporters who made the group the largest on my.barackobama.com, the Democratic candidate said he was glad to hear their concerns but reminded them that they really didn’t have any other choice in this election.

“I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have,” Obama wrote. “After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer.”

Justifying his support for the FISA bill, Obama cited a provision in the latest version that provides FISA is the “exclusive means” through which a president can authorize surveillance. Of course, the original FISA bill, passed in 1978, had the same qualification, and three federal judges have ruled that President Bush did not have inherent authority to conduct warrantless surveillance like he claimed to have had.

He also noted the fact that surveillance authorizations under the Protect America Act, a stopgap FISA update Obama opposed when it passed last year, would expire in August. Glenn Greenwald debunks this justification here.

If opponents of Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program can take any encouragement from Obama’s statement, it is that he does repeat earlier pledges to instruct his Attorney General to fully investigate just what Bush authorized, if he’s elected.

“Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise,” he writes. “I do so with the firm intention — once I’m sworn in as President — to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.”

Stark allowed that electing Obama remained the larger goal for him, but said the disappointment many feel about his decision to support FISA could linger even if he were elected.

“Of course I’m going to vote for him in November,” he said. But “we’re keeping score, and there’s going to be a time when he needs us. … We have long memories.”

Today’s coverup of surveillance crimes and Barack Obama
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/07/09/fisa/index.htmlOnline Movement Aims to Punish Democrats Who Support Bush Wiretap Bill
http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/07/online-activist.html

Obama Losing Voters Over FISA Support
http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/08/07/10/1341207.shtml

Obama unequivocally says some constitutional rights must be suspended
http://www.huffingtonpost.co..sa-and-the-netroo_b_111116.html

Group urging FISA ’no’ vote is largest on Obama’s social site
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/..g_FISA_no_vote_largest_0703.html

Obama planning ’civilian national security force’ as powerful and well-funded as the US military
http://bulletin.aarp.org/states/il/a..plan_for_national_service.html

Obama: Blackwater Is Here To Stay
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/07/obama-blackwate.html

 



4th Amendment Destroyed: FISA Spy-Bill Passes

4th Amendment Destroyed: FISA Spy-Bill Passes
ACLU Announces Legal Challenge To FISA Law To Follow President’s Signature

ACLU
July 9, 2008

Today, in a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy, the Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

“Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”

The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The bill further trivializes court review by authorizing the government to continue a surveillance program even after the government’s general spying procedures are found insufficient or unconstitutional by the FISC. The government has the authority to wiretap through the entire appeals process, and then keep and use whatever information was gathered in the meantime. A provision touted as a major “concession” by proponents of the bill calls for investigations by the inspectors general of four agencies overseeing spying activities. But members of Congress who do not sit on the Judiciary or Intelligence committees will not be guaranteed access to the agencies’ reports.

The bill essentially grants absolute retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that facilitated the president’s warrantless wiretapping program over the last seven years by ensuring the dismissal of court cases pending against those companies. The test for the companies’ right to immunity is not whether the government certifications they acted on were actually legal – only whether they were issued. Because it is public knowledge that certifications were issued, all of the pending cases will be summarily dismissed. This means Americans may never learn the truth about what the companies and the government did with our private communications.

“With one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This bill – soon to be law – is a constitutional nightmare. Americans should know that if this legislation is enacted and upheld, what they say on international phone calls or emails is no longer private. The government can listen in without having a specific reason to do so. Our rights as Americans have been curtailed and our privacy can no longer be assumed.”

In advance of the president’s signature, the ACLU announced its plan to challenge the new law in court.

“This fight is not over. We intend to challenge this bill as soon as President Bush signs it into law,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The bill allows the warrantless and dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international telephone and email communications. It plainly violates the Fourth Amendment.”

 

Constitutional expert Turley on FISA bill: ’The fix is in’

Raw Story
July 9, 2008

http://youtube.com/watch?v=MsRQtL64-Vc

Read Full Article Here

Senate Rollcall Vote for H.R. 6340
Obama: Yes, Hillary: No, McCain: Skipped
http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll..ongress=110&session=2&vote=00168

Bush wins passage of spy bill to protect telecoms
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSWAT00975320080709

Traitors In Senate Approve Surveillance Bill
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2..Ar4mXNDa49uWmlkRl2iTP_hv24cA

Judge Walker ruled, effectively, that President George W. Bush is a felon
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/07/09/alharamain_lawsuit/

Report: Because of Bush obstinance, civil liberties board exists ‘in name only’
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Re..sh_obstinance_civil_0709.html

Domestic spying quietly goes on
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/bal-te.fisa07jul07,0,2783557.story

As FISA nears toward vote, Feingold warns against immunity
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/As_F.._vote_Feingold_0708.html

 



Why Did 94 House Dems Change Votes on FISA? Money.

Why Did 94 House Democrats Change Their Votes on FISA?
(A: Money)

Politico
June 25, 2008

In March, the House passed an amendment that rejected retroactive immunity for telecoms that assisted the NSA in illegal wiretapping. Most of us have wondered what happened to change the minds of 94 Democrats. What happened between June 20 and March 14 to change 94 Democratic hearts and minds?

The answer might well be simple: money. Could it be that simple?

MAPLight.org has published a breakdown of contributions received from Telco PACS by the 94 Dems who experienced the change of heart. [Maplight.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Berkeley, California. Its search engine at MAPLight.org illuminates the connection between Money And Politics (MAP) via an unprecedented database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes.’]

Here’s the bottom line:

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint gave PAC contributions averaging:

$8,359 to each Democrat who changed their position to support immunity for Telcos (94 Dems)
$4,987 to each Democrat who remained opposed to immunity for Telcos (116 Dems)

88 percent of the Dems who changed to supporting immunity (83 Dems
of the 94) received PAC contributions from Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint
during the last three years (Jan. 2005-Mar. 2008). ( MAPLight.org)

Of course the average amount received is a bit misleading. A few of the very prominent Dems who changed their votes took a lot more than $8000. According to this website,

Nancy Pelosi [CA], Speaker of the House, allegedly received $24,500.

Steny Hoyer [MD] allegedly received $29,000.

James Clyburn [SC] allegedly received $29,500.

Rahm Emanuel [IL] allegedly received $28,000.

Frederick Boucher [VA] allegedly received $27,500.

Gregory Meeks [NY] allegedly received $26,000.

You can see the complete list here.

I guess with campaign finance laws in the state they’re in, we can’t expect them to turn down free money. I would like to believe that there are other reasons why they supported the current incarnation of FISA. I wish I could think of some.

Read Full Article Here

 

HR 6304 – A Bill To Abolish the 4th Amendment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIJdmePn4lY

 

Hatch compares FISA critics to those ‘who wear tin foil hats and think 9/11 was an inside job.’

Think Progress
June 26, 2008

Speaking today on the Senate floor in favor of the Foreign Service Intelligence Act legislation, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) compared critics of the bill — which include Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), among others — to deluded conspiracy theorists. Hatch mocked the what he called “onerous oversight provisions” included in the bill, and said those who raise the specter of unchecked executive wiretapping power “feed the delusions of those who wear tin foil hats around their house and think that 9/11 was an inside job.”

Those “onerous” oversight provisions Hatch maligns? A ban on “reverse targeting” of Americans and a new requirement of probable cause for surveillance of Americans abroad.

UpdateLate this afternoon, the Senate voted 80-15 to invoke cloture on the FISA bill. Ian Welsh at FDL writes that this “was the real vote” and applauds the 15 senators who “voted for the Bill of Rights.”

Why Obama supports FISA: His fundraising firm takes money from AT&T
http://mparent7777-1.livejournal.com/649045.html

Obama: Immunity not that important. Won’t support filibuster
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPljokDWERg

Whistleblower: Spy Bill Will Create Police State
http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/06/att-whistleblow.html

Report: FISA vote may be delayed until July
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news..il-after-july-recess-2008-06-26.html

Obama Adviser On FISA: We’ll Trust The Inspector General To Prevent Surveillance Abuses
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m.s.-b..-well-trust_b_108904.html

The Real FISA Vote Passes 80 to 15 With the Presidential Nominees Passing
http://firedoglake.com/2008/06/2..e-presidential-nominees-passing/

Ron Paul: The FISA bill clearly violates the Fourth Amendment
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2008/cr062008h.htm

 



Spy Bill Destroys 4th Amendment

Spy Bill Destroys 4th Amendment

AFP
June 20, 2008

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZaSbSRqwHE

In a late-term triumph for US President George W. Bush, the US House of Representatives on Friday approved spy-powers legislation that has drawn heavy fire on civil liberties grounds.

Lawmakers voted 293-129 for a bill that may shield telecommunications firms facing massive lawsuits over their work with Bush’s secret, six-year, warrantless wiretapping program, begun after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has opposed granting retroactive immunity to companies that cooperated with a program thought to have skirted established surveillance laws.

During often bitter House floor debate, many Democrats broke with the measure, the fruit of months of talks among Senate and House leaders of both parties that ultimately gave in to key White House demands.

“It’s Christmas morning at the White House thanks to this vote,” said Caroline Fredrickson, a top official with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which has fiercely opposed the legislation.

Earlier, Bush had used a hastily announced public statement at the White House to press lawmakers to approve new funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and pushed hard for House passage of the intelligence bill.

“It’s vital that our intelligence community has the ability to learn who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning,” Bush said in the two-minute statement.

The spending bill would provide 162 billion dollars for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, fuelling both for months after Bush’s successor takes over in January, without attaching a withdrawal timetable sought by Iraq war opponents.

But the bitterest feuding was over the intelligence bill, which came amid a pitched political battle raging over Bush’s decision to secretly launch a warrantless wiretapping program believed to have skirted surveillance law.

Critics charge the secret program was illegal because it ran afoul of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)’s requirement of a court order to spy on US citizens inside the United States.

The White House says Bush, who brought the program under FISA oversight in January 2007, made proper use of wartime presidential powers under the US Constitution, and that the often-updated law was ill-suited to deal with modern telecommunications and the nature of the terrorist threat.

If passed, the new measure could short-circuit about 40 court challenges targeting major US telecommunications firms that cooperated with the program, which the US public learned about in a December 2005 New York Times article.

Read Full Article Here

 

Feingold, Dodd planning filibuster of wiretap bill

Raw Story
June 24, 2008

In a last-ditch attempt to fix a surveillance bill critics say would essentially legalize President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) have promised to filibuster the bill as long as it offers telecommunications companies retroactive immunity.

“This is a deeply flawed bill, which does nothing more than offer retroactive immunity by another name. We strongly urge our colleagues to reject this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation and oppose any efforts to consider this bill in its current form. We will oppose efforts to end debate on this bill as long as it provides retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that may have participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and as long as it fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans,” the senators said in a joint statement Tuesday.

Read Full Article Here

 

Kucinich Slams FISA Bill

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM2HLbcUafA

293 Traitors Pass Warrantless Spy Bill In House
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJ..Bdh9wDwD91DU8480

Constitutional expert: FISA bill ’is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment’
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Turle.._is_evisceration_of_0619.html

Feingold: ‘Farce’ wiretap deal could be hiding ‘impeachable offense’
http://rawstory.com/news08/200..d-be-hiding-impeachable-offense/

Obama defends new FISA bill as ’compromise’
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Obama_defends_new_FISA_bill_as_0620.html