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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?
If you’ve shot anything more than a revolver or a single-shot firearm, you are probably aware of the safety problems inherent in ejected brass.
It’s dirty. It’s fast. It’s HOT!
Most folks learn rather quickly why experienced shooters wear safety gear. Not only hearing and eye protection, but proper clothing.
Burned fingers, hands, arms. I’ve known two guys who had ejected brass wedge between their shooting glasses and faces! Not pretty. And most of us have been beaned in the head a few times.
A brimmed hat or cap, and an ‘appropriate’ shirt. Female shooters especially can be in danger from hot brass, if they wear a low neckline. I used to know a woman who was president of a group of female shooters called The Annie Oakleys. She would often joke their unofficial salute was to bend forward at the waist and shake rapidly! :-) (to divest themselves of ejected, hot brass)
But this is not just about minor discomfort or humor.
(from The Firearm Blog, in part)
Just this past weekend, a father took his 14 year old son out to an indoor range in Sarasota Florida to celebrate Independence Day early. You can read about it here. They were using the far right hand lane. The father was shooting a handgun when the brass ejected and hit the wall. It bounced off and went inside his shirt. Nothing out of the ordinary there. What happens next is the problem. The father reaches back with his right hand to pull his shirt so he can get the hot brass out. The handgun was still in his right hand. He had a negligent discharge and his son was shot. I am sad to say that son died due to his injuries.
We can bleat about The Four Rules all we want, but unless we take them to heart and use them religiously, even during a perceived emergency, there isn’t much point.
My heart goes out to the father and family in this story.
NOT the Glendale store!
Of course, there’s that store in Glendale, Arizona, (in)famous for allowing straw purchasers to buy quantities of guns for them to smuggle South-of-the-Border, at the behest of the federal government.
The end-recipients were cartels, who used them to murder their own people, and some Americans, and more recently (it’s been reported) some Europeans.
I’ve heard tales of stores who sell to private citizens, pretending they don’t know they are selling to straw buyers, who ultimately sell to unknown folks this side of the border. As little attention is paid to smuggling into Mexico, it’s possible sales are to individuals (including Mexican police officers) who are simply flaunting U.S. and Mexican gun laws to try to protect themselves from the cartels! And, being the capitalists they are, the gun dealers are looking the other way, knowing if they don’t do the sale, the store up the street will!
When outlining this post, another example came to my memory. Not far from the now-defunct Royal Bookstore (as recounted in these pages), a small gun shop appeared. The ubiquitous U-shaped glass display case, containing perhaps 40 handguns, and some long guns on the wall.
With a staff of eight or nine guys, all visibly armed!
SERIOUSLY – how can they afford to pay that many clerks?
I’d stopped by to check out their wares a couple of times, and the last time found them to be closed. I then went to the nearby bookstore to see if they knew what had occurred. It seems the gun store had been a front for a bookmaking operation! This explains the large number of staff!
Hopefully, with Gunwalker (Fast & Furious) having made the front pages through the death of federal agents, legitimate gun stores have tightened up their procedures and are no longer allowing straw purchases!
Interestingly, the Glendale store remains in business! :-0
Remember GUNWALKER aka Fast & Furious, wherein the U.S. Government facilitated the illegal sale of firearms to have them smuggled across the Mexican border? The idea was they could then be tracked to the end users and arrests would be made?
And the FUBAR* result, where thousands of Mexicans were murdered, and a number of Americans also, including some federal law enforcement officers?
And the high-ranking BATFE officials played rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic with the folks involved, lest anyone actually see prison time for such heinous activity?
Remember how this is now old news?
Well, the adventure continues…
One of the guns used in the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks came from Phoenix, Arizona where the Obama administration allowed criminals to buy thousands of weapons illegally in a deadly and futile “gun-walking” operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
A Report of Investigation (ROI) filed by a case agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked the gun used in the Paris attacks to a Phoenix gun owner who sold it illegally, “off book,” Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources confirm. Federal agents tracing the firearm also found the Phoenix gun owner to be in possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon, according to law enforcement officials with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.
It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
*FUBAR – for the unfamiliar, Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition (a military epithet). Some folks substitute another F-word for fouled.
Joel posts THIS!:
Here comes a link from Landlady to further damage my calm…
State Supreme Court Finds Dogs Are “ Sentient Beings,” Not Mere Property, In Landmark Ruling
[T]he court granted legal significance to the dog’s “ sentient ”—his capacity to experience feelings, and pain.“It is really a landmark ruling,” says Attorney Lora Dunn of the Animal Legal Defense Fund—which filed an amicus brief in this case, on behalf of the winning side. “In this specific context, the animal sentience matters.”
Find me an animal, from an earthworm to a gorilla, that can’t feel pain.
“A landmark ruling?” That’s a scary ruling. “Feelings and pain?” By that definition, the rabbits currently infesting my yard and the pork currently warming my stomach are or were sentient.
I recognize that the word has such wide meaning as to be essentially meaningless. But as far as I can tell, the Oregon court just outlawed meat-eating. And for that matter, the ownership of all animals.
PETA (and their fellow four-footed travelers) must be dancing!
In homage to this well-thought-out (sarcasm) decision, I bring you the following, courtesy of Tamara:
(Now, if I could only afford a good one…😦 )
from Bayou Renaissance Man (in part)
Today’s award goes to the journalist(s) and/or editor(s) responsible for this utterly ludicrous headline:
It is, of course, complete and utter bull. Naturally (and I mean that both literally and figuratively) women are, indeed, the only people who menstruate! It can’t possibly be any other way. Those responsible for this absurd headline are stretching reality in such a pretzel-like fashion that it’s grotesque to the point of ridiculousness.
There’s more at the link.
Look . . . if a woman chooses to self-identify as a man, but chromosomally, genetically and otherwise is female to the point that she still has periods, THEY ARE NOT A MAN. THEY ARE A WOMAN. PERIOD. (Pun intended.) Even if the relevant organs are surgically removed, so that periods are no longer physically possible, that won’t change the reality of the situation.
This is political correctness gone mad, and should be treated as such. To do otherwise would be dishonest – and the hallmark of a doofus. It’s as simple as that.
I applaud Peter for his directly addressing the complete absurdity of this concept!
Having said that, I commend the company for (ahem) thinking outside the box (sorry!) to gain a larger market share. Capitalism at it’s weirdest.
As stupid though it may seem.
Hard to imagine what is, or could be next…
(I shudder at the prospects!)
Kelly McGillis said she plans to apply for a concealed carry gun permit after she was assaulted by an intruder in her North Carolina home Friday, June 17.
The actress, who is best known for playing Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood in “Top Gun,” recalled the scary incident in a recent Facebook post.
“Upon entering the house I notice a pair of girls pink sandals and a black larger pair,” McGillis wrote. At first, she thought it her daughter might be home and she called out several times for her.
“[But then] a stranger, a woman, came barreling down the hallway and began yelling at me. I asked her who she is and why she was in my house and she said ‘you know why you’ve been stalking me in Twitter.’ Not true.”
The 58-year-old wrote that she keeps guns and ammunition in her home and was concerned one of the intruders had gotten a hold of them.
“That’s when I started to panic” and “ran out the front door and called 911.”
McGillis wrote that the intruder ran after her and “began punching and scratching [me] trying to grab the phone out of my hand. I began screaming as loud as I could hoping someone somewhere might hear me.”
It was a Friday night so not many people were around, McGillis explained. She managed to set off her car alarm since she had her car keys in hand. “More fighting ensued.”
McGillis ran to her truck and drove off. She eventually flagged down another driver who called 911 for her.
The intruder, 38-year-old Laurence Marie Dorn, was arrested by the Henderson County police and charged with second-degree burglary, misdemeanor larceny, misdemeanor stalking, assault and battery and interfering with emergency communication. She is being held on $60,000 bond, according to her arrest report.
McGillis wrote that she was left “scratched and bruised” but is “very thankful it turned out well.”
She added, “But who I feel heartache for is the little girl that was with her. Mental illness takes many hostages. I don’t know her name… but I would like to asked that you pray for her and her mother.”
In a separate post, McGillis shared her plans to protect herself from future invaders.
“I have decided to get a conceal and carry permit. And you can be sure I will be setting the alarm from here on out.“
This isn’t the first time McGillis has been the victim of assault; she and her girlfriend at the time were raped in 1982. She has said the experience led her to play the role of attorney Kathryn Murphy in the 1988 film “The Accused,” based on the gang rape of Cheryl Araujo.
O-kay. She owns guns, but left them in her house, and failed to set the alarm!
Just because you no longer live in L.A. doesn’t mean you are safe. Hopefully, she gets proper training and her permit and starts setting the alarm from this day forward…
Some folks don’t get second chances.
This Administration is (in)famous for the promotion of firearms sales, through it’s attempts to strip rights from the law-abiding. (Better than Clinton through HIS attempts!)
And that’s saying something.
One of the more recent efforts is to deny The Right To Keep And Bear Arms from those relegated to the No-Fly List.
The brilliant, beautiful (and snarky) Tamara says it better:
(And, now for something completely different – as promised)
22 VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE DAILY
Even ONE of these heroes making this choice is unacceptable! (Day #15 of 22)
“Thirty-one states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. “
–Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000
We did. There are now over 45 Pink Pistols chapters nationwide, and more are starting up every day. We are dedicated to the legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community. We no longer believe it is the right of those who hate and fear gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or polyamorous persons to use us as targets for their rage. Self-defense is our RIGHT.
(More from their site…)
I’m not gay. And, I’m not Black, or a religious minority, or even a Republican!
But, given recent sad, horrifying events it occurred to me that while I believed all law-abiding people have the right to self-defense, I was only promoting Black and Jewish groups on my blog.
And I’m certain this is the first (and perhaps the last) time I’ve quoted Salon on my blog!
I do know some gay folks. And have worked with some when I was in the work force. Like every other minority (or majority member) I encountered, some were excellent at their jobs, some mediocre, and some downright near unemployable (in my opinion).
But all have a Right of Self Defense.
Let’s promote that, accompanied along with the abolition of so-called gun free zones, and bring the fight back to the terrorist and criminal.
We all owe it to each other.
(And, now for something completely different – as promised)
22 VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE DAILY
Even ONE of these heroes making this choice is unacceptable! (Day #11 of 22)
(as oft intoned by Tamara!)
Thank Joel for this! (in part):
I have no idea what this is all about, but a vision of lamp posts danced in my head…
The honorary degree will be folded into five sharp corners and shoved where the moon don’t shine.
Because a group of idiots in charge knows better than the individual idiot!
There was a time (I think I was 5 or 6) when I remember telling my parents I wanted to go to Harvard or M.I.T. (!) I’m certain, as we had recently moved from New Haven to Phoenix that it hurt them I didn’t even mention Yale…
But, I was young and impressionable.
Alas, it appears most of the Ivy League and other ‘famous’ schools have now become infamous…
A shame, really.
And my grades didn’t get me a needed scholarship, so I attended a local party school and junior college. And paid for it all myself.
Guess I learned something after all.
(And, now for something completely different – as promised)
22 VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE DAILY
Even ONE of these heroes making this choice is unacceptable! (Day #5 of 22)