Archive for the ‘patriot act’ Tag

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

On Friday, as President Obama gave a press conference announcing his willingness to consider reforms to the National Security Agency’s bulk-collection programs, his administration released two unclassified “white papers” that Obama hailed as steps at transparency. One was a legal analysis of the bulk phone records program; the other was a generic description of the NSA’s foreign-directed surveillance activities.

Neither document provided much in the way of new information for the programs: a significant amount of the legal analysis about the bulk phone records program echoed congressional testimony by NSA and Justice Department officials, especially a lengthy July speech from Robert S Litt, the top lawyer in the intelligence community. Nor was either document a dispassionate recitation of facts: both presented the administration’s case for why Americans should be “comfortable” – as Obama put it today – with bulk collection of their data.

Still, the documents shed light on controversial legal theories that are likely to be tested in court in the weeks and months ahead.

The Obama administration justifies the bulk phone records collection program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes the government to acquire “tangible things” that are “relevant” to an investigation. Since the Guardian disclosed the existence of the bulk phone records program, thanks to the ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, legal scholars have puzzled over how the phone numbers dialed, lengths of calls and times of calls of millions of Americans unsuspected of terrorism or espionage meet that standard.

The administration’s answer has several components. It argues in the white paper, “‘relevance’ is a broad standard”, which can include the “reasonable grounds to believe” that when all the data is collected, “when queried and analyzed consistent with the [surveillance] Court-approved standards, will produce information pertinent to FBI investigations of international terrorism.” To do this requires “the collection and storage of a large volume of telephony metadata.” That is – information about your phone calls.

It further argues that a “tangible thing” can include a phone number or the length of a phone call, and contends that the legislative history of the Patriot Act indicates that Congress always intended that to be the case, despite the incorporeality of phone data, particularly when compared to say, a medical record or a receipt. “There is little question that in enacting Section 215 in 2001 and then amending it in 2006, Congress understood that among the things that the FBI would need to acquire to conduct terrorism investigations were documents and records stored in electronic form,” the administration writes.

Finally comes a problem that was brought up by several members of the House Judiciary Committee during a raucous July hearing. The collection of the bulk phone data comes prior, logically, to any specific investigation. So how can the administration argue the bulk phone records collection is pertinent to any particular inquiry?

“Unlike ordinary criminal investigations,” the administration replies, “the sort of national security investigations with which Section 215 is concerned often have a remarkable breadth – spanning long periods of time, multiple geographic regions, and numerous individuals, whose identities are often unknown to the intelligence community at the outset.

“The investigative tools needed to combat those threats,” it continues, “must be deployed on a correspondingly broad scale.”

Put differently: “If you’re looking for the needle in the haystack, you have to have the entire haystack to look through,” as deputy attorney general James Cole testified in July.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/09/obama-legal-background-surveillance-nsa?CMP=twt_gu

Posted August 10, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

Tagged with , , ,

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday said recent revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency validated his dire concerns about the Patriot Act.

“As one of the few members of Congress who consistently voted against the Patriot Act, I expressed concern at the time of passage that it gave the government far too much power to spy on innocent Americans. Unfortunately, what I said turned out to be exactly true,” he said in a video uploaded to YouTube.

“The United States government should not be accumulating phone records on tens of millions of innocent Americans,” Sanders continued. “That is not what freedom is about. That is not what our constitution is about.”

The Patriot Act was first approved by Congress in 2001, about a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The controversial set of laws was reauthorized in 2006 and again 2011.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/06/bernie-sanders-on-the-patriot-act-what-i-said-turned-out-to-be-exactly-true/

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

Bill Maher about the Petraeus affair “Is anyone bothered by the fact that the FBI could look into all these e-mails so easily?  Do you remember after 9-11 when they passed the Patriot act, and they said this will only ever be used for terrorism?  We will never do anything else, unless two chicks in Tampa are having a cockfight over a guy, and then we get to read everyone’s e-mails.  I find this to be outrageous.”