© Office of the Inspector General
Senator Wyden Puts A Hold On Intelligence Authorization Bill To Block FBI Warrantless Surveillance
from the there-goes-that-wyden-guy-again dept
As we’ve discussed, some surveillance/law enforcement hawks have tried to rush through a law to expand the power of national security letters (NSLs) to paper over the long standing abuse of NSLs, by saying that they can use those documents (which have basically no oversight and don’t require a warrant) to collect a ton of private info, including email info and web browsing histories. The rushed vote on this — stupidly citing the Orlando attacks, despite the fact it would have done nothing to stop that — failed but just barely. Basically, if Senator Dianne Feinstein were able to attend the vote, it likely would have passed. The support for it was one vote shy, and then Sen. Mitch McConnell changed his vote for procedural reasons to be able to bring it back for a quick follow up vote.
Now, as Congress rushes towards that vote, Senator Ron Wyden stepped up today to use his power as a Senator to put a hold on the entire Intelligence Authorization bill. He gave a short floor speech explaining his reasons.
I certainly appreciate the FBI’s interest in obtaining records about potential suspects quickly. But Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges are very capable of reviewing and approving requests for court orders in a timely fashion. And section 102 of the recently-passed USA FREEDOM Act gives the FBI new authority to obtain records immediately in emergency situations, and then seek court review after the fact. I strongly supported the passage of that provision, which I first proposed in 2013. By contrast, I do not believe it is appropriate to give the government broad new surveillance authorities just because FBI officials do not like doing paperwork. If the FBI’s own process for requesting court orders is too slow, then the appropriate solution is bureaucratic reforms, not a major expansion of government surveillance authorities.
The fact of the matter is that ‘electronic communication transaction records’ can reveal a great deal of personal information about individual Americans. If government officials know that an individual routinely emails a mental health professional, or sends texts to a substance abuse support group, or visits a particular dating website, or the website of a particular political group, then the government knows a lot about that individual. Our Founding Fathers rightly argued that such intrusive searches should be approved by independent judges.
It is worth noting that President George W. Bush’s administration reached the same conclusion. In November 2008, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advised the FBI that National Security Letters could only be used to obtain certain types of records, and this list did not include electronic communication transaction records. The FBI has unfortunately not adhered to this guidance, and has at times continued to issue National Security Letters for electronic communications records. A number of companies that have received these overly broad National Security Letters have rightly challenged them as improper. Broadening the National Security Letter law to include electronic communication transaction records would be a significant expansion of the FBI’s statutory authority.
And unfortunately, the FBI’s track record with its existing National Security Letter authorities includes a substantial amount of abuse and misuse. These problems have been extensively documented in reports by the Justice Department Inspector General from 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2014. As one of these reports noted, “the FBI [has] used NSLs in violation of applicable statutes, Attorney General guidelines, and internal FBI policies.” No one in the Senate should be surprised by this pattern of abuse and misuse, because this is unfortunately what happens when federal agencies are given broad surveillance powers with no judicial oversight. In my judgment, it would be reckless to expand this particular surveillance authority when the FBI has so frequently failed to use its existing authorities responsibly.
Of course, to some extent, this is little more than show. It’s pretty clear that McConnell has the votes to get this passed, which is why Wyden has now taken the dramatic step of putting a hold on the bill. But the 60 votes here are usually what is necessary to break a hold (which remains a widely used, but informal, Senate rule). So in the end this won’t mean much, but we’ve been here before again and again and again. And by now it should be clear: When Ron Wyden says that the government is abusing laws to spy on Americans, he’s not lying. We shouldn’t then paper over that abuse and give the FBI or the NSA or anyone else greater powers to spy on Americans. Because they use that power and they don’t tend to use it wisely and judiciously.
Can anyone explain, seriously, why the emergency powers that allow the FBI to do the search in an emergency and then get the warrant after are somehow too problematic? Or why the FBI can’t go and get a warrant at all? It’s a petty quick process for them these days. This whole effort seems designed solely to wipe out what little oversight there is of the FBI and its use of national security letters. (Techdirt.com)
AND, how much coverage of this was out there in the “press” (again, in air quotes)?
More importantly, why doesn’t the American Public care?
From my friend Old NFO (in part)…
In a news conference, Deanna Favre announced she will be the starting Quarterback for the Green Bay Packers football team next season.
Deanna asserts that she is qualified to be the starting QB because she had spent 16 years married to Brett while he played QB for the Packers – even though she has actually never played football at any level from grade school up, never ran the offense of any team, nor ever played the game.
During this period of time, she became familiar with the definition of a corner blitz, the nickel package, man-to-man coverage, so she is now completely comfortable with all the other terminology involving the Packers offense. A survey of Packers fans shows 50% of those polled supported the move.
Does this sound idiotic and unbelievable … or familiar to you?
Hillary Clinton makes the same claims as to why she is qualified to be the President of the United States and 50% of Democrats polled agree.
She has never run a city, county, or state during her “career” as being Bill Clinton’s wife. When told Hillary Clinton has experience because she has 8 years in the White House. My immediate thought was, “So does the pastry chef, and the person who picks up dog shit from the White House Lawn” (…)
Of course, you should go and read Old NFO’s whole essay!
I had a supervisor at TMCCC for a number of years, who claimed to be able to analyze our personal problems and offer solutions.
She had been married to a clinical psychologist for 20 years (before their acrimonious divorce)!
She had a college degree, but not in psychology or counseling.
I wonder what proximity has to do with actual qualification? Perhaps if you are an amoeba?
So, a woman who was fired from her job as a Watergate committee lawyer for legal and ethical violations magically becomes a U.S. Senator (from New York (being an Arkansan, and all!) then U. S. Secretary of State. After some years as a schlock lawyer. Her only qualification is she was married to a serial rapist, who happened to squirm his way into The Presidency.
And, of course, she is a woman, making her as qualified as the current President, who was voted in because he was Black! (He, too, also has a questionable and inexperienced background).
Qualification by Proximity! It’s all the rage.
Conservative media folk like to paint John Kerry as a defacto traitor. Or at least as a wimp. His Swift Boat companions did derail him, albeit temporarily. And now he’s out there making innocuous statements about war, terrorism and Iran. As the United States’ Secretary of State.
Speaking of who knew (this is what’s known as a segue – albeit a poor one) RINO Arizona Senator John McCain has always been a mystery to me. Sometime-Republican, sometime-conservative, sometime NOT, the man has made more waffles than the WAFFLE HOUSE!
And now THIS:
While they certainly do not bring points for the most civil, moral or efficient. Or Constitutionally libertarian. They are definitely not the WORST!
Exhibit One (courtesy of Cato @ Liberty)
The 31st Congress, which passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850
The 5th Congress, which passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798
The 21st Congress, which passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830
The 77th Congress, which passed Public Law 503, codifying President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 authorizing the internment of Japanese, German, and Italian Americans, in 1942
The 65th Congress, which passed the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition), the Espionage Act, and the Selective Service Act, and entered World War I, all in 1917
And let us not forget the rubber stamping of Constitutional Amendments changing election of Senators to popular vote (effectively eliminating State Power and increasing Federal Power) and creation of The Federal Income Tax, AND the National Firearms Act, Gun Control Act and Assault Weapons Ban. AND, The Patriot Act and her illegitimate children.
I could go on. And on.
Why do they insist on being called LAWMAKERS? Shouldn’t they MODERATE and ADJUST for REMOVAL of Laws, not just add to them?
(as received in my Email, yesterday, from The National Association For Gun Rights :-( )
I’ve got bad news.
Last night, Harry Reid’s attempt to muzzle pro-gun free speech with a new
Constitutional amendment passed its first Senate vote with enough Republican support
to secure the 2/3 needed for final passage.
Fortunately, we’ve still got time to convince swing Senate Democrats and
weak-kneed Republicans to change their minds before the final Senate vote happens
in the next few days.
Please sign your Emergency Fax Petition against SJR-19 by clicking here so we can
deliver it to your Senators while there’s still time.
Then, if you live in one of these swing-Senators’ states, please let them know you’re
disappointed they voted to advance the anti-gun and anti-free speech Constitutional
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi)
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado)
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas)
Remember, the goal of this amendment is to eliminate our ability to band together to
oppose gun control and expose anti-gun politicians for their voting records. It’s vital we stop it now.
So, please sign your Emergency Fax Petition against SJR-19 by clicking here right away.
(OKAY, the election AFTER that!)
Now that we’re focused on BENGHAZI, and keeping (the do-nothing and dangerous)
Senator Secretary of State Bill Clinton’s wife-in-name-only from becoming President, remember…
No one fired over Fast and Furious
According to the ATF Director, no one was fired over Fast and Furious.
An Inspector General investigating the matter also found that allowing one employee to take accumulated leave prior to retirement while working full time for private company violated ATF policy… but no mention was made of any punishment for the violation.
The Justice Department is still withholding documents:
Though the failed operation has been out of the news for some time, Congress is still pressing the Justice Department to release documents on the matter. In a bipartisan vote in 2012, 17 Democrats joined House Republicans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. President Barack Obama even invoked executive privilege in the course of the investigation. The matter is being fought in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Take a close look at that. The House held Holder, still the sitting Attorney General, in contempt of Congress in 2012. The matter was taken to court around the same time. It is now 2014, two years later. Holder has announced retirement plans. An election approaches. And the Justice Department is still withholding documents.
I have no doubt that Obama will manage to destroy anything incriminating on his way out of office, and none of the criminals in his administration will be brought to justice.
Dave Hardy has a transcript of selected remarks, and points us to a summary of actions taken to silence whistleblowers. (c/o Say Uncle)
And, of course, there’s what’s-her-name having been FIRED from the Watergate Committee due to being self-serving and lacking ethics. And Whitewater, Vince Foster, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
But it’s important to elect a WOMAN because they all think alike and…George Bush!
Remember, they are all part of the same team whose goal it is to fundamentally transform the United States into something NOT Constitutional. And they have had successes.
I know, I’m largely preaching to the choir, here.
And this woman is a United States Senator!
AND, a gun owner and a CCW holder in California!
Can you say idiot and hypocrite? I knew you could.
h/t John Bradley, Doomsday Economy
or at the very least, Emails.
The Campaign for Liberty sent me an interesting one the other day.
Imagine if government bureaucrats could remove children from their homes without having to prove the parents were unfit or without even granting the parents due process…
Imagine if your workplace, your home, and maybe even your house of worship had to conform to international standards…
Imagine if the US Government could be hauled into an international tribunal if it cut foreign aid or domestic welfare spending…
These are real possibilities if the United States Senate ratifies the misnamed United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Fun stuff, eh? And they detail even MORE potential for abuse on behalf of the United Nations – You know, because they’re so good at doing everything else!
If it sounds unbelievable, just take a look at what the treaty contains:
>>> Article 4(10)(a) requires that ALL American law that could affect anyone defined as disabled conform to the “standards” of the one-world socialists at the UN, while section 4(5) forces state and local governments to change their laws to please the UN;
>>> Article 4(1)(e) gives UN bureaucrats the power to make “any person, organization, or private enterprise” conform to their standards, thus allowing them to impose costly, job-killing regulations on private businesses and give international bureaucrats unprecedented authority to violate our property, association, and even free speech rights;
>>> Article 4(2) creates an entitlement to government-provided “economic, social and cultural” rights, thus creating a legal obligation for Congress to continue welfare spending;
>>> Article 4(2) also creates a legal obligation for “wealthy countries” like the United States to provide “the maximum of its available resources… where needed, within the framework of international cooperation….”
This creates an open-ended obligation for the US to provide ever-increasing levels of “foreign aid”;
>>> Article 7(2) creates a new legal “best interests of the child” standard, while Article 23(4) allows for the removal of children from their parents anytime “competent authorities” decide the government knows the best interest of the child better than parents do.
The bureaucrats do not even have to prove the parents are unfit or grant the parents any due process rights before taking their children!
Clearly, this UN Treaty is a statist’s dream come true. And a nightmare for supporters of liberty and constitutional government.
Here’s a link to to fax a memo to the Senate opposing ratification of the CRPD.
Just in case your are interested. Of course, do your own research first.
And yes, they do ask for money. I can’t afford it – perhaps you can.
Knuckledraggin’ My Life Away gives us yet another example of the misdirection this administration is so (in)famous for…
A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a “massive” online database capable of pulling up individuals’ personal information, connections and associates.
On March 28, ATF posted the notice
on FedBizOpps.gov, entitled “Investigative System.” The solicitation was updated on April 5 with a few minor changes.
The document says that the system will be utilized by staff “to provide rapid searches on various entities for example; names, telephone numbers, utility data and reverse phone
look-ups, as a means to assist with investigations, and background research on people, assets and businesses.”
The system is described as a “massive online data repository system that contains a wide variety of data sources both historically and current that can be utilized in support of investigations and backgrounds.”
An overview of the solicitation states, in part:
The investigative system will allow ATF to “obtain exact matches from partial source data searches such as, incomplete social security
numbers, address, VIN numbers, etc.”
Wirecutter gets rather earthy in his response to this development. I shan’t quote him here. Not that I don’t have exactly the same feelings.
The ATF was formerly part of the United States Department of the Treasury, having been formed in 1886 as the “Revenue Laboratory” within the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue. The history of ATF can be subsequently traced to the time of the revenuers or “revenoors” and the Bureau of Prohibition, which was formed as a unit of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in 1920, was made an independent agency within the Treasury Department in 1927, was transferred to the Justice Department in 1930, and became, briefly, a division of the FBI in 1933.
In short, it was established for tax collection. After all, violating federal laws regarding cigarettes, booze and guns is bound to generate heavy fines and taxes.
It appears now they are trying to enlarge their purview, as all government agencies do, when it’s ‘gotta verify what your agency is doing is worth while’ time. Especially after Gunwalker/Fast & Furious.
And, of course, we’re looking at U.N. Arms Treaties, and another Assault Weapons Ban, and Lord knows what else.
As I mentioned in a previous post, they keep testing the fences…
How apropos, I was led here by wirecutter!
…is up to her old tricks!
I remember the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban passing. Twenty years ago? The Senate was getting ready for a Thanksgiving weekend break. The media were all saying it wouldn’t pass. Then, after some midnight
negotiation double-dealing, it passed!
Fast-forward to the current pending legislation. A filibuster is threatened – looks like the bill could go away. Suddenly, someone waves their wand, or wiggles their nose, or makes a cash deposit (/supposition), and the filibuster is history, and the bill goes to the floor for 30 hours of debate. Unless they change the rules again!
Sixteen Republican Senators voted to block filibuster, and go for a hearing and vote! So much for differences between the parties. Shame on my Senators McCain and Flake.
Is this all window dressing for the next election in 2014? Don’t want to look pro-gun and lose?
Of course, none of these measures would have prevented Tucson, Aurora or Connecticut massacres.
But the fat lady has yet to sing!
What kind of smoke-filled, backroom, double-dealing is awaiting inclusion into the final bill? Will we be lulled into complacency, yet again, only to have the rug pulled out from under us?
Oh, I forgot, no smoking allowed in the backrooms, now. Who knows what else will be restricted secretly?
Keep those card and letters coming in, folks! And call and email your Senators, again before it’s too late!
Drang @ The Clue Meter has the actual text of the current bill, S649. You should go read it, and make certain there are no late-night anti-rights amendments before the vote. Proposed ‘pro’ amendment excerpts:
Section 122, FIREARMS TRANSFERS
It affirms your right to “transfer” a gun to a relative (t) (2) (C):
…the transfer is made between spouses, between parents or spouses of parents and their children or spouses of their children, between siblings or spouses of siblings, or between grandparents or spouses of grandparents and their grandchildren or spouses of their grandchildren, or between aunts or uncles or their spouses and their nieces or nephews or their spouses, or between first cousins, if the transferor does not know or have reasonable cause to believe that the transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under Federal, State, or local law
Otherwise, private transfers are legal if
“(B) the transfer is made between an unlicensed transferor and an unlicensed transferee residing in the same State, which takes place in such State, if-
“(i) the Attorney General certifies that State in which the transfer takes place has in effect requirements under law that are generally equivalent to the requirements of this section; and
“(ii) the transfer was conducted in compliance with the laws of the State;
In other words, the status quo.
IF THIS PASSES WITH THIS AMENDMENT, this bill has been much ado about nothing…
S649, as currently written.