In 2005, President Obama, then a U.S. Senator, spoke about wiretapping.
President Obama‘s response to the troubling news of “indiscriminate government collection of communication information was meant to be “reassuring:” The NSA is operating under supervision by all three branches of government, he assured us.”
“The Fourth Amendment only applies when you take the book off the shelf.”
In this video below, Obama supporter, Lawrence O’Donnell explains his support for the Socialist Agenda.
“I’m going to repeat until this changes. I feel tonight completely unthreatened by anything the NSA has been reported been doing so far and I’m sitting here waiting to be seeing this is a system doing something scary to me at the NSA is doing that isn’t the equivalent of Google and all the other phone companies were not already doing.
Every phone call that ever made my life left in record in the company somewhere it always has and it always will. And so far I am not scared by what the NSA is up to.”
The most constructive response to these recent revelations that I can think of is my usual: Make our voices heard. Inform others and be informed. Get involved. Run for office, or make sure the right people do, from the bottom up. We need to fix a broken system, but we can’t do that if we’re all running in different directions screaming our heads off.
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Obama administration on Tuesday over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed last week by a former National Security Agency contractor — is illegal and asking a judge to stop it and order the records purged.
The lawsuit could set up an eventual Supreme Court test. It could also focus attention on this disclosure amid the larger heap of top secret surveillance matters revealed by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who came forward Sunday to say he was their source.
The program “gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations,” the complaint says, adding that it “is likely to have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers and others who would otherwise contact” the A.C.L.U. for legal assistance.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the suit. No surprise there.
In other lawsuits against national security policies, the government has often persuaded courts to dismiss them without ruling on the merits by arguing that litigation would reveal state secrets or that the plaintiffs could not prove they were personally affected and so lacked standing in court.
This case may be different. The government has now declassified the existence of the program. And the A.C.L.U. is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services — the recipient of a leaked secret court order for all its domestic calling records — which it says gives it standing.
The call logging program keeps a record of “Metadata” from domestic phone calls, including which numbers were dialed and received, from which location, and the time and duration.
The effort began as part of the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 programs of surveillance without court approval, which has continued since 2006 with the blessing of a national security court. The court has secretly ruled that bulk surveillance is authorized by a section of the Patriot Act that allows the F.B.I. to obtain “business records” relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.
Congress “never openly voted” to authorize the collection of logs of hundreds of millions of domestic calls, but some lawmakers were secretly briefed. Some members of Congress have backed the program as a “useful counterterrorism tool;” others have denounced it. But none of their claims have actually been proven.
“The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can,” Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “I disagree. I authored the Patriot Act, and this is an abuse of that law.”
Over the weekend, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said that officials may access the database only if they can meet a legal justification — “reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization.” Queries are audited under the oversight of the national security court.
Timothy Edgar, a former civil liberties official on intelligence matters in the Bush and Obama administrations who worked on building safeguards into the phone log program, said the notion underlying the limits was that people’s privacy is not invaded by having their records collected, but only when a human examines them.
“When you have important reasons why that collection needs to take place on a scale that is much larger than case-by-case or individual obtaining of records,” he said, “then one of the ways you try to deal with the privacy issue is you think carefully about having a set of safeguards that basically say, ‘O.K., yes, this has major privacy implications, but what can we do on the back end to address those?’ ”
Still, privacy advocates say the existence of the database will erode the sense of living in a free society: whenever Americans pick up a phone, they now face the consideration of whether they want the record of that call to go into the government’s files.
Moreover, while use of the database is now limited to terrorism, history has shown that new government powers granted for one purpose often end up applied to others. An expanded search warrant authority justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, was used far more often in routine investigations like suspected drug, fraud and tax offenses.
Executive branch officials and lawmakers who support the program have “hinted that some terrorist plots have been foiled” by using the database. In private conversations, they have also explained that investigators start with a phone number linked to “terrorism,” and scrutinize the ring of people who have called that number — and other people who in turn called those — in an effort to identify “co-conspirators.”
Still, that analysis may generally be performed without a wholesale sweep of call records, since investigators can instead use subpoenas to obtain relevant logs from telephone companies. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, two Democrats who have examined it in classified Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, have claimed that the evidence is thin that the program provided uniquely available intelligence.
It remains unclear, however, whether there have been any “real-world” instances in which a terrorist was identified through NSA surveillance foiling any terror plots.
If the US government is right, and Cubic is selling Trapwire to law enforcement, the company has its hands on passenger data for the over 8 million daily MTA riders, suspicious activity reports from New York City, and access to the TrapWire surveillance network.
A 1979 ruling over small-scale collection of calling metadata held that such records were not protected by the Fourth Amendment and Right to Privacy since people have revealed such information to phone companies. In a 2012 case involving GPS trackers, however, the Supreme Court suggested that the long-term, automated collection of people’s public movements violates our Fourth Amendment issues.
The secret court that apparently authorized this program operates nothing like the judicial branch… Its decisions are made in secret and not generally subject to appellate review. And there is no role built into the system for someone to counter the government’s arguments.
N.S.A. Disclosures Put Awkward Light on Previous Denials (June 12, 2013)
- “I’m worried about somebody in our government might kill him with a cruise missile or a drone missile,” Paul said. “I mean we live in a bad time where American citizens don’t even have rights and that they can be killed, but the gentlemen is trying to tell the truth about what’s going on.”
3 Tech Giants Want to Reveal Data Requests (June 12, 2013)
Related in Opinion
Op-Ed The Price of the Panopticon (June 12, 2013)
Here’s the letter to Attny Eric Holder
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR.
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME. TERRORISM, AND
HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE. AND TECHNOLOGY
The Honorable Eric H. Holder
Attorney General U.S.Department of Justice
Dear Attorney General Holder:
June 6, 2013
As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely disturbed by what appears to be an overbroad interpretation of the Act. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) applied for a top secret court order to collect the phone records of virtually every call that has been made by millions of Verizon customers. These reports are deeply concerning and raise questions about whether our constitutional rights are secure.
The Patriot Act was a careful balancing of national security interests and constitutional rights. While I believe we found an appropriate balance, I have always worried about potential abuses of the Act.
The FBI‘s broad application for phone records was made under section 2l5– the so called business records provision– of the Act. To obtain a business records order from the court, the Patriot Act requires the government to show that:it is seeking the information in certain authorized national security investigations conducted pursuant to guidelines approved by the Attorney General; lf the investigative target is a U.S. person, the investigation is not based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment;2 and (3) the information sought is relevant to the authorized investigation] In addition, the Patriot Act requires the government to adhere to minimization procedures that limit the retention and dissemination of the information that is obtained concerning U.S. persons.
I insisted upon unsetting this provision in order to ensure Congress had an opportunity to reassess the impact the provision had on civil liberties. I also closely monitored and relied on testimony from the Administration about how the Act was being interpreted to ensure that abuseshad not occurred. On March 9, 2011, Acting Assistant Attorney General Todd Hinnen told theJudiciary Committee:
Section 215 has been used to obtain driver’s license records, hotel records, car rental records, apartment leasing records, credit card records, and the like. It has never been used against a library to obtain circulation records … On average, we seek and obtain section 215 orders less than 40 times per year.
The Department’s testimony left the Committee with the impression that the Administration was using the business records provision sparingly and for specific materials.
The recently released FISA order, however, could not have been drafted more broadly.
I do not believe the released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot
Act. How could the phone records of so many innocent Americans be relevant to an authorized investigation as required by the Act? Please respond to the following questions by June 12, 2013:
I. Do you believe that the recently released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act?
2. Why was the order so broad?
3. Is the released FISA order consistent with the FBI’s interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act?
4. Does the FBI believe there are limits on what information it can obtain under section 215? If so, what are those limits?
Section 215 is an urgent tool and crucial to intelligence agencies, but if such abuses are not reined in, it will be very difficult to reauthorize these provisions when they sunset in 2015.
Thank you for your prompt and personal response to this serious matter.
F James SensenbrelU1 Member of Congress
–Statement of Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, House Judiciary
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Crime Homeland Security (March 9, 2011).