NSA

FISA Reminder: Rand Paul and Ron Wyden Warned You

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Back in November of last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) made a video decrying the abuse of PATRIOT Act Section 215, warning that it authorized the secret government acquisition of "gazillions" of records, and that in terms of Americans being snooped, "the number is beyond normal cognition." Watch:

The in late December, the Senate convened an "unusual special session" to re-authorizing the FISA Amendments Act. Among the amendments to the re-authorization that were overwhelmingly shot down were a Rand Paul measure to extend Fourth Amendment protections to email, and an attempt by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to require estimates from intelligence agencies of how many Americans were being surveilled. Said Wyden at the time: "I think, when you talk about oversight, and you can't even get a rough estimate of how many law-abiding Americans had their communications swept up by this law … the idea of robust oversight, really ought to be called toothless oversight if you don't have that kind of information."

Wyden and Paul may be at the forefront of a nascent bipartisan Civil Liberties Caucus, but make no mistake: They are vastly outnumbered. Only when civil libertarians win national arguments, and only when a majority of lawmakers are consistent defenders of the Fourth Amendment no matter which major political party holds power at the moment, will America begin the process of even slowing down the relentless advancement of the surveillance state.

Rand Paul praised Ron Wyden in his recent Twitter Q&A with Reason.

UPDATE: Paul reacts to the latest news, calling it "an astounding assault on the Constitution."

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  1. On topic: ‘1984’ was published on this date in 1949.

    It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

    As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience.
    http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/0.html

    1. In the spirit of fucking things up I’m going to claim, without foundation, that a 13hour clock would stop global warming. or maybe stop terrorism. Whichever is more effective at causing the devastating economic repurcussions that replacing all time pieces and modification of hardware and software would entail.

      Enjoy.

      1. Gabriella. you think Jimmy`s blurb is super, last saturday I got Fiat Multipla after having made $4545 this-last/5 weeks and also ten-grand last month. with-out any doubt it’s the best-job Ive had. I began this nine months/ago and pretty much immediately started making a cool at least $81 per hour. I went to this website….. Grand4.com
        (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

  2. Another so-called “scandal”. Pfffft.

    The President and the atty genl are making America safer!

  3. Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party — an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed…

    1. “he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed…”

      And the audience said: “Bush did it too!”

      1. And his sissified daddy.

      2. It’s not like I’m a Verizon customer.

  4. Fear not, the state’s agents won’t target you.

    1. Of course not. We like you.

      So. How about that drink?

    2. First they came for the communists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
      Then they came for the socialists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
      Then they came for the Catholics,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
      Then they came for me,
      and there was no one left to speak for me.

  5. ‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’

    1. I know it’s just coincidence, but besides being a character from 1984, Julia was also the name of the representative citizen who realizes all the “wonderful benefits” of the Nanny state in a progressive video touting cradle-to-grave public services.

      1. I made that connection and was screaming in agreement to torture that bitch.

  6. What has been broken, cannot be mended.

  7. I hope the point gets emphasized at some point here that FISA really does look like a rubber stamp.

    According to the Department of Justice’s own report to Congress, of the 1788 FISA requests submitted for approval in 2012, the courts approved every single one of them.

    http://www.wired.com/images_bl…..acases.pdf

    I suppose the problem the Obama Administration had when it wanted to do electronic surveillance on, oh, say 20 million people is that it’s physically impossible to submit 20 million FISA requests and get them all approved in a reasonable amount of time.

    But there’s no reason to think that a court would reject any FISA request, and that presents a danger, here. If I know the Obama Administration at all, they’re going to emphasize that because FISA is a rubber stamp, it’s basically a waste of time–and so we should get rid of it.

    We libertarians should be arguing that if FISA is a rubber stamp, then the solution isn’t to ignore our 4th Amendment rights completely–it’s to make it so FISA isn’t a rubber stamp anymore.

    1. ignore our 4th Amendment rights completely

      Sure, negate the whole point of the exercise.

      1. That’s how they see it for sure.

        It’s just that…Obama is going to use the argument that FISA is a rubber stamp against us.

        Just like when we criticized the rent seeking behavior of the banks–he used that to justify TARP, Dodd-Frank, etc. When we criticized the way Medicare and Medicaid work to destroy the healthcare markets–he used that as a justification for ObamaCare…

        He’ll use anything we say about how FISA is really a rubber stamp as a justification for getting rid of FISA completely. He’s an individual rights hating bastard.

        1. Yes he is. Do you think maybe he’s a SOCIOPATH? I think he experiences duping pleasure, becuase HE JUST SAID THIS:

          Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.

          1. Anyone who seeks to wield the power possessed by the President of the United States should be viewed with utmost suspicion and no statement made by them should be believed unless backed up with incontrovertible evidence. It should then be taken with a Kaaba-sized grain of salt for good measure.

    2. “…they’re going to emphasize that because FISA is a rubber stamp, it’s basically a waste of time–and so we should get rid of it.”

      IF ONLY they applied the same logic to all the other government programs that are basically a waste of time. The debt would disappear.

      1. I doubt they’d apply it to making government spending programs more efficient, but Individual rights are the biggest inconvenience for the government and when they’re not busy spending our money, they’re trying to find more efficient ways to inflict their will on the rest of us…

        “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.”

        Eugene McCarthy

        http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/1195.html

        Damn Nazis could make the trains run on time–that should have been a red flag as to how truly dangerous they were, right there.

        1. Wasn’t that the Italian Fascists?

          Having reliable trains isn’t really such a big accomplishment. Not until you live under a regime that is so badly run, capricious, and abusive that even a marginally competent dictatorship seems like an great improvement. That’s when things get really, really dangerous.

    3. Well, the government’s narrative, even before 2001, was that the DOJ only submitted air-tight cases to the FISA court. I do recall seeing a small number rejected warrants (ten or fewer per year, back in the late nineties or early 2000’s) in the official stats that DOJ releases every year. These may have been egregious applications deliberately submitted so as to give the appearance that the system worked; or they may have been applications which the DOJ thought would pass muster but which didn’t pass scrutiny.

      If we call for more rejections then a higher number of applications will be made and some of the egregious ones will be approved thus further eroding liberty.

      There is no good solution to this; the current situation is unsatisfactory.

      1. The only good thing about FISA is that at least the DOJ had to at least pretend that 4th Amendment was binding.

        It’s long past time to recognize that the Bill of Rights in its entirety is a dead letter.

        I would not at all be surprised if Obama decided to quarter soldiers in private dwellings without owners’ consent. That’s the only amendment that doesn’t seem to be actively violated.

        1. Does using eminent domain to take people’s property and use it to house soldiers count? Because that would be legal-ish.

  8. There is no hope for society; there is no happy ending.

  9. If you can’t beat them, join them.

    I wonder if the NSA/FBI/DOJ needs any aging engineers to help them data mine the billions of records that they are collecting.

    1. Get in while you can. They’ll give you an extra share of chocolate each day. And less vigorous lashing.

      1. You will still wind up in Room 101 eventually.

        1. Is that where they keep the chocolate?

          1. The caged rats I think?

          2. You’ll get a ration of 20 grammes, increased from 30 grammes by the Ministry of Plenty.

    2. BuSab agent kinnath, report for duty!

  10. Anyone here remember when libertarians were being accused of ‘fear-mongering’ for predicting that this would happen?

    1. Still are.

      1. “Still are.”
        Absolutely!
        These so-called scandals only mean the chosen one is delayed in his work of saving the planet and the world’s people!

    2. Yes, and those predictions have gone down the memory hole of everyone except libertarians.

    3. Look you people are the same kind of nuts who keep all crying out, all chicken little like, that if we give government too much power they might abuse it, like using the IRS as a tool against political enemies. Or using government goons to spy on reporters. Or force all citizens to carry identification papers. Or restrict our travel across borders. Or spy on every electronic communication we engage in.

      Obviously these things never happened, otherwise we would have had a revolution.

      Stop fear mongering.

      1. Let’s call the Real ID what it really is: an internal passport.

        That’s what US anticommunist propaganda called the mandatory Russian identification papers.

        1. Surely nobody is stupid enough to float the idea of an internal passport.

          I just want my happy neocon ignorance back. Fuck, fuckety, fuck fuck, fuck.

  11. The mice will win eventually, but in the meantime the cats will be well fed.

    1. The mice will only win if they reject entrenched politicians on a large scale at voting time. The mice also need to stop identifying themselves with a political party. State of mind means a hell of a lot more than Republican or Democrat.

  12. someone with more time on his hands than me (haha!) should collect the libs response when this same story broke in 2006.

  13. The Obama Administration is responding.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    “The Obama administration called government review of complete phone records of U.S. customers a “critical tool” in protecting the public from terrorists.

    The information “allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” a senior Obama administration official said Thursday.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/…..98922.html

    1. “The Obama administration called government review of complete phone records of U.S. customers a “critical tool” in protecting the public from terrorists.”

      So, this wasn’t confined to just Verizon customers, right?

      All the phone companies are involved?

      1. Probably, but hard to determine for sure.

      2. Terrorists only use Verizon. That’s a well-known fact.

        1. It is known.

    2. “The Obama administration called government review of complete phone records of U.S. customers a “critical tool” in protecting the public from terrorists.”

      Parsed: ‘We piss upon the 4th amendment’

      1. It’s complete contempt.

        He’s daring Congress to impeach him.

        1. The dems will claim it really doesn’t mean anything and ‘rethuglicans!’ besides!

        2. But no lawmaker wants to be seen as soft on terror.

          1. Really?

            From a practical, electoral perspective, is there hard evidence to support the proposition that a lawmaker is vulnerable if he is perceived by some neoconmen and neoconmen pressure groups as “soft on terror”?

            1. There hasn’t been yet!

              We’re not going to hear that criticism coming from the Democrats–or people who support Obama. So the only place we’ll get it is from the Republicans.

              The question is whether the Republicans are capable of generating that kind of criticism. A lot of those old line Republicans are the ones who made “soft on terrorism” their bread and butter during the Bush years. I’m not sure they’ve got it in them to withstand that kind of criticism.

              I hope I’m wrong. This is the kind of issue that Rand Paul could certainly distinguish himself on.

            2. This is just my opinion, LM. I didn’t research it. And Sen. Paul immediately comes to mind as an example that I’m wrong that “no lawmaker” stands up for liberty.

              I wish there were enough senators and congressmen standing up for liberty that you could easily and completely demolish my opinion. Prove me wrong, please.

            3. Why not? Being soft on anything from drugs to the Vietnam war, Iraq, Patriot Act, etc. has cost people elections for years. Whatever the latest scare tactic is, it usually works since the media will run with it to get market share (or due to the fear that they may lose market share). I’m sure there have been a few cases where people have won elections years later once a policy was seen as an overreaction, but I’m sure those are many fewer. Not that many laws get over-turned. They just make new laws tweaking the old.

    3. Wouldn’t listening to the conversations in everyone’s house and filtering for “hostile” ideas (you know, so we don’t abuse any innocent person’s liberty), also be a “critical cool”?

      If you don’t have anything to hide…

      1. “critical tool”

  14. This just in: Diane Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss defended this crap because ‘it works’ (CNN just sent me a ‘breaking news’ notice thereof). Some people justify torture for the same reasons. And, of course, strip and body cavity searches of all public transportation passengers would ‘work’ too.
    Yechhhh. Don’t tell me liberals are good on civil liberties.

    1. Geoff Nathan| 6.6.13 @ 12:24PM |#
      “This just in: Diane Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss defended this crap because ‘it works'”

      Exactly! And if the rethugs want to do something about it, tough shit.
      A4? Screw it; means nothing to them.

      1. We still have to endure another year and a half of Zaxby’s term.

        What will it take to get the wretched Dianne Feinstein out of our lives?

        1. Term limits.

        2. What will it take to get the wretched Dianne Feinstein out of our lives?

          Satanic intervention!

          Even then there’s no guarantee.

          1. I think I know what happens. California Republicans invariably nominate someone terrible, so all Boxer or Feinstein have to do is remind women that they’re for “choice,” other issues be damned.

            1. Jon Lester| 6.6.13 @ 2:18PM |#
              “I think I know what happens. California Republicans invariably nominate someone terrible,…”

              Hey, Romney can’t run for CA office, but other than that, you got it.

    2. This just in: They are not actually liberals. They are “progressives”. Anything the government does is actually to help the little guy so it’s A-OK!

  15. And even though it appears that only one application was rejected (see Ken’s link), it is noteworthy that a significant number of applications were approved with modifications by the FISA court. I presume that these modifications were restrictions, not expansions of scope.

  16. and only when a majority of lawmakers are consistent defenders of the Fourth Amendment no matter which major political party holds power at the moment

    You don’t need a majority. You just need to hold the balance of power — enough Senators willing to filibuster every piece of legislation that harms civil liberties, and to insert provisions in budget bills that rescind existing bad legislation, thus killing any spending bill that doesn’t enhance civil liberties.

    Not at that tipping point yet, or even close to it.

    1. Budget bills? That’s so passe. It’s continuing resolutions. All the way down.

  17. I was called a CONSTITUTION NUT for bringing up the 4th amendment over at HuffPost. Tow that party line, it doesn’t matter what your true beliefs are!

    1. At least they didn’t ban you from posting as The Volokh Conspiracy did to me for posting the following in response to a comment from a former prosecutor who was besmirching the arguments of tax protesters:

      “Do you enjoy being a slave, slaver?”

    2. Well, rights only make sense if you’re not the ones in power. And most of these idiots think vicariously that they’re the ones in power (rather than just people inclined to agree with them). Whatssmore, they think their grip on power is now permanent.

  18. Until we starve the beast, the shenanigans will continue. On the bright side, most of those working for gubmint don’t have a fuckin clue what we’re all really up to.

  19. There’s a nice spreadsheet here of who voted for what PATRIOT Act stuff when. You know, in case anyone wants to get an early start on 2014 midterm insurgencies.

  20. Somebody here yesterday mentioned that FISA was intended to control Federal surveillance activities. It’s not really the case. Like most authorizing legislation, the intent is to give a legal framework for the Federal government to do things that were previously thought to be prohibited. All it does is provide procedures and processes through which violating civil rights such as those guaranteed by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

    1. +1
      /thank you

    2. But since the Bush Administration, the DOJ has determined that FISA process is too much trouble. Why should our diligent, hardworking public servants have to fill out paperwork when they can be out there violating the fundamental rights of citizens and non-citizens alike?

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