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Domestic Spy Expansion Bill Sails Through the Congress
Townhall.com ^ | January 2, 2013 | Bob Barr

Posted on 01/02/2013 6:03:26 AM PST by Kaslin

Neither Congress nor the White House has proved itself capable of reaching a decision on how to begin trimming the $16.5 trillion national debt with which these two institutions have saddled the American taxpayers. They even have been unable to come up with a reasonable measure to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” they themselves constructed months ago. Yet, when it comes to expanding the power of the government to spy on American citizens without warrants, both the House and the Senate last week fairly tripped over themselves in a rush to pass legislation doing just that; with President Obama almost gleefully waiting to sign the bill.

The power to electronically surveill citizens without so much as asking a judge for leave to do so, stems from 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The rapid action by the Congress last Friday was prompted by fear that this extraordinary power would lapse at the end of this month – forcing Uncle Sam to actually justify its surveillance by seeking a warrant in advance of spying on citizens.

The federal government’s abject fear it might actually have to meet the constitutional requirement of having a good reason to eavesdrop on American citizens’ conversations before doing so, prompted a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Congress – who can hardly agree on the time of day right now – to come together and make sure our intelligence agencies were not going to be hamstrung by law or the Bill of Rights.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the fight for surveillance with the standard, post-911 cry that such extraordinary power was absolutely “necessary to protect us from the evil in this world.” His colleagues on both sides of the aisle quickly fell in line, saluted, and passed the measure by a lop-sided vote of 73 to 23. The House had offered similarly little opposition.

The dismissive manner in which the Senate refused seriously to consider a handful of amendments that would have brought a minor degree of accountability to the FISA reauthorization was particularly distressing:

· Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) proposed reducing the FISA Amendment’s sunset clause to two-and-a-half years, rather than the bill’s proposed five years, in order to allow for greater debate on the impact of FISA on privacy. This amendment was defeated 38 to 52.

· Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) proposal requiring the Attorney General to declassify FISA court decisions, which include significant legal interpretations, so Americans could have at least some opportunity to understand the authority on which warrantless wiretaps are executed. This amendment was defeated 37 to 52.

· Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) proposal would have required the Director of National Intelligence to disclose approximately how many communications from American citizens have been subject to wiretapping, including “wholly domestic” communications -- an answer he has yet to receive from intelligence officials. This amendment went down 43 to 52.

· Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed what possibly was the most “radical” of the four amendments to FISA. It would apply Fourth Amendment protections to all electronic communications, and barred government at any level from obtaining these communications without a warrant, even if held by a third-party. This amendment was defeated 12 to 79.

The shallow Senate debate and quick dispatch of any constitutionally-based amendments did a disservice to the American people and to the Constitution; which, as Merkley noted, was accomplished “under a falsely created pressure that it needs to be done without any amendments in order to match the bill from the House.” This, he added, is simply “a way of suppressing debate on critical issues here in America.”

There is a faint possibility the Supreme Court may in the coming year take up a challenge to the warrantless FISA surveillance; but the High Court in recent years has shown itself troublingly differential to almost every claim of executive power in the name of “national security.” Some federal courts have gone so far as to deny persons subjected to warrantless surveillance the ability to even bring a lawsuit challenging such power, on the theory they could not definitively prove they were the subjects of secret monitoring – a virtual impossibility given the secretive nature of the government’s actions.

Thus, even though warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens is unconstitutional on its face, the broad reach of FISA coupled with the inherent nature of secret surveillance make it virtually impossible to challenge what we all know to be illegal.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: intelligence; judgesandcourts; randpaul; ronwyden; spying; surveillance

1 posted on 01/02/2013 6:03:39 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world, these measures are necessary.


2 posted on 01/02/2013 6:14:19 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: Wolfie

Sorry, but these measures won’t be used against “terrorists” - they will be used against Americans.


3 posted on 01/02/2013 6:19:16 AM PST by PGR88
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To: Kaslin

George Soros will be happy. We may a well burn the constitution.


4 posted on 01/02/2013 6:21:46 AM PST by Rappini (Veritas vos Liberabit)
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To: Wolfie
No it isn't.

That line of thinking leads to:

Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world [repealing the 1st Amendment] these measures are necessary.

Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world [repealing the 2nd Amendment] these measures are necessary.

Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world [suspending Ex Post Facto] these measures are necessary.

Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world [declaring martial law] these measures are necessary.

5 posted on 01/02/2013 6:22:18 AM PST by Repeat Offender (What good are conservative principles if we don't stand by them?)
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To: PGR88

But the terrorists are working on American soil, so we have to have these tools available to law enforcement here.


6 posted on 01/02/2013 6:23:01 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: Wolfie

“”””But the terrorists are working on American soil, so we have to have these tools available to law enforcement here.”””

The terrorists won, they now have their king living in the white house. It was easier than bin laden thought it would be.


7 posted on 01/02/2013 6:28:12 AM PST by shelterguy
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To: Wolfie

I think, perhaps, you are on the wrong forum. The forum who wishes to give up their security for safety is a little left of here...


8 posted on 01/02/2013 6:30:05 AM PST by NELSON111
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To: Repeat Offender

Somehow all of that went by the wayside when Bush was in office. So it goes.


9 posted on 01/02/2013 6:30:47 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: PGR88; Kaslin; Wolfie

These measures are not necessary, they are opportunistic, preying on the sensitivity of good people like Wolfie here, steps of over reaching tyranny.

Sadly, both my AZ senators voted to increase the power of the state toward Soviet style strangling. I had hoped at least Kyle could remember that little inconvenience we used to call The Constitution.


10 posted on 01/02/2013 6:47:29 AM PST by Blue Collar Christian (I hope we're ready to get a real candidate next time. C'mon GOP! <BCC><)
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To: Wolfie

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Thomas Jefferson


11 posted on 01/02/2013 6:52:32 AM PST by PGR88
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To: Wolfie
But the terrorists are working on American soil, so we have to have these tools available to law enforcement here.

Horse pucky. For the most part, we already know where they are. Nobody will touch them just like Bush did nothing about open training camps all over the country. Terrorists are most useful toward getting soft-headed fools to allow the government to continue to breach OUR liberties. This is the beginning of taking action on thought-crime. It will detect who is resisting the illegal encroachment of Federal power. It will not be used on terrorists.

12 posted on 01/02/2013 6:58:10 AM PST by Carry_Okie (GunWalker: Arming "a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as well funded")
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To: Kaslin

These measures are circumventing the Constitutional rights of AMERICANS. We pretend it doesn’t matter.

We criticize China, Cuba, etc. and other nations for lack of rights. We are becoming them. The remaining differences appear to be a matter of time.


13 posted on 01/02/2013 7:04:30 AM PST by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international. Gone.)
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To: PGR88

>> Sorry, but these measures won’t be used against “terrorists” - they will be used against Americans.

Bingo! Look at the “anti-drug” property confiscation laws.

BTW, here’s a handy way of dealing with terrorists using laws already on the books:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3pRlXS-KHQ

Title: “US Troops Execute German Spies” (as opposed to “US Lawyers Coddle Towelhead Army Major”)


14 posted on 01/02/2013 7:23:21 AM PST by QBFimi (When gunpowder speaks, beasts listen.)
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To: Wolfie

We have traffic cameras, face recognition street cameras, warrantless emails, snooping on our computers, tracking guns sales, tracking all of our credit card purchases, black boxes on our SUVs, cell phone gps snoops, gathering of our medical records, so hey, why not warrantless wiretaping? What’s one more evasion, right? One here, one there, and it starts adding up fast.


15 posted on 01/02/2013 7:54:49 AM PST by bgill (We've passed the point of no return. Welcome to Al Amerika.)
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To: Wolfie

If they need the survellance, they can bloody well take it to a judge. It’s not like judges don’t just rubber stamp anything put before them, but at least it makes for a paper trail.


16 posted on 01/02/2013 8:23:43 AM PST by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: Wolfie

In a post 9/11 world? lol.

How can you not see that 9/11 line is nothing but a joke? If the government had the slightest interest in preventing another 9/11, they would not be sending weapons to the Sinaloa Cartel and keeping the border wide open.

They would not be flooding the nation with every stripe of moslem available, somali, egyptian, iraqi, afghan, pakistani, etc.

They sure as hell wouldn’t be using F-18s in close support of Al Qeida formations in Libya and itching to do so in Syria. They wouldn’t be supporting the moslem brotherhood with billios of dollars.

They wouldn’t do backflips to find ways to call major Hassan workplace violence. The fusion centers wouldn’t be issuing warnings on how to find terrorists that included looking for returnig veterans, Ron Paul bumperstickers, or stickers that advocate the constititution.

We wouldn’t have a moslem brotherhood connected woman accompany the Secretart of state everywhere. FBI and military training materials wouldnt be scrubbed clean of anything that implies moslems are the main terrorist enemy. Deploying troops wouldn’t be warned not to piss towards mecca of to discuss the -widespread- moslem habit of buggering little boys.

The government allows you to be sued for reporting things like the flying Imams to the flight attendant. Couldn’t find it in themselves to issue immunity. “If you see something, say something”? Surrrrrre, and get sued into poverty by one of Grover Norquist’s buddies.

Moslems may never be profiled at airport securites. Blue eyed blond American 5 year olds headed home from disneyland, grandmas whos husband stormed Iwo Jima get felt up and humiliated while moslems sail right through. Hell, sometimes moslems are DOING the screening, thats how insane the government is.

No, they do NOT get it both ways. There is no end to the governmental fellating of moslems. The only time they are aggressive about terror is when they can tighten the screws against Americans. So when they act serious everyhere else, and show a true need, maybe we can talk. But for now, i will not buy into that “post 9/11 world” BS. They government obviously does not take it seriously, so i won’t either.


17 posted on 01/02/2013 8:42:37 AM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
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To: Kaslin

And one another how do you do. 9/11 hit New York City the hardest of all, DC second. Yet, they voted more solidly for a Moslem connected president (being very generous here) than anywhere else, save for a few all black precincts in Philly and Ohio.

So i’m not going to get a case of the fainting vapors over another 9/11. Why should i give up my freedom when those who face the most risk, care so little that they reelect Obama?


18 posted on 01/02/2013 8:56:11 AM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
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To: Kaslin

That was for Wolfie, not you. But it amazes me. The people most at risk for a nuke going off in their town vote that way, then expect ME to be so freaked out, that i’ll be happy that the US government LITERALLY collects more personal information than the East German Stasi ever dreamed of. I fully believe this very post is saved somewhere by them.

This is an unbelievable abuse.


19 posted on 01/02/2013 9:01:45 AM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
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To: Wolfie
The system in its current form is not here to help protect the average citizen, it is here to take more and more of your taxdollars and rights away. It has nothing to do with ‘security’.
20 posted on 01/02/2013 9:02:53 AM PST by 444Flyer (Genesis 12:3)
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To: Wolfie

Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world, these measures are necessary.
////////////////////////

I used to believe that. Now, however, I see that ignoring the Bill of Rights in the name of “National Security” primarily hurts us (the law-abiding citizens).


21 posted on 01/02/2013 9:12:30 AM PST by man_in_tx (Islam is a Hate Crime. (Blowback: Faithfully farting towards Mecca five times daily!))
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To: man_in_tx

Unfortunately, it’s too late. In those fevered days just after 9/11, when they were serving up the PATRIOT Act to cheers of “Let’s Roll!”, a few of us stood up and said it was a bad idea. Of course, we were roundly criticized, but there ya go.


22 posted on 01/02/2013 9:25:21 AM PST by Wolfie
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

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