Domestic spying

Mitch McConnell: USA FREEDOM Act Would Be 'Tying Our Hands Behind Our Back.' Yes, That's Actually the Point of It.


Uncle Sam Spy

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote this evening on a watered down version of the USA FREEDOM Act that aims to rein in some of the worst domestic surveillance abuses of the National Security Agency (NSA). The Guardian reports:

"This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our back," said McConnell, who will become majority leader in January.

"At the moment, we should not be doing anything to make the situation worse."

Libertarianish Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said that he won't support the bill because it's too weak. That is a mistake. When NSA-enabler McConnell and his minions take over the leadership of the Senate in January, they will certainly do nothing to prevent further unconstitutional NSA violations of the privacy and liberty protections afforded Americans by the Fourth Amendment.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes:

The new Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act would:

-Rein in the NSA's illegal collection of millions of Americans' telephone records by amending one of the worst provisions of the PATRIOT Act, Section 215.

-Create a special advocate position that will serve as an amicus in the secret surveillance court, arguing for civil liberties and privacy.

-Provide new reporting requirements about surveillance, so that the NSA is forced to tell us how many people are actually being surveilled under its programs, including the program that allows the NSA to see the contents of Americans' communications without a warrant.

The bill is far from what is needed, but it's better than nothing.


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  1. -Create a special advocate position that will serve as an amicus in the secret surveillance court, arguing for civil liberties and privacy.

    Uh-huh. A “special advocate”, whose checks are written by the same government whose actions he will be hired to argue against.

    Illusory freedom at work.

    1. Eh, some of the best defense attorneys out there work for public defender offices. Of course, they’re bound by ethical rules to zealously represent their clients, no matter who pays… which won’t be the case for the advocate.

    2. And who can file helpful suggestions that the public will never see and the courts will ultimately ignore because national security.

      Oversight! Accountability! Democracy in action!

    3. A kind of “Liberty Ombudsman” eh?
      We’ll that’s just lovely.

    4. I agree that there are problems with the special advocate, as pointed out by others, but this is a lot better than what we have now which is nothing.

      1. The problem is that “something” that has the same effect as “nothing” is worse because it allows the bullshit to continue unabated while allowing the politicians to congratulate themselves and then forget that it’s a problem because they’ve “done something about it.”

        1. ^^This.

  2. Tough shit Mitch. If you don’t like this act blame the NSA and Clapper and company. Those are the fuckers that managed to over draw a blank check and shown the country some adult supervision is required. Sorry but “this will make things hard for us” doesn’t feed the bulldog.

  3. Tar and feather.

  4. Mitch McConnell: USA FREEDOM Act Constitution Would Be ‘Tying Our Hands Behind Our Back.’

    Yeah, fuck you, Mitch.

  5. Will the freedom act also give immunity to Edward Snowden? Maybe a medal too, to show our gratitude? No? didn’t think so.

  6. This seems apropos:

    Clarity Campaigns can tell us what percentile each of these names are on the political spectrum. When I plugged all of them in, the median douchebag name was in the 98.5th percentile for Republicanness. In other words, with a little bit of noise the top ten douchiest names are pretty much the top ten most Republican names.

    1. While that is a cool tool, this sends me into a berserker rage mode

      Use the power of the Coop voter file and the latest in Democratic campaign analytics to choose a partisan name for your baby

      GET. THE. FUCK. OUT.


        1. Seriously, what kind of loathsome creature looks at the name of THEIR CHILD, the label that will be used to identify them even after they are dead, as an opportunity to signal how politically right-thinking they are??? This is another human being we are talking about NOT A FUCKING BUMPER STICKER TO SHOW OFF TO YOUR FRIENDS!

          I thought that fucking BuyPartisan app was scraping the bottom of the barrel. Fuck me.

          1. Absolutely. Naming your child after a Rand novel character is OTOH totally cool.

            1. If you have the kid in your early 20s, you can be forgiven. If you have the kid after reading Rothbard or post-Rand Branden, you smoke a rational brand of cigarette and probably haven’t laughed in a decade.

      2. I’m not sure it’s possible for people using the tool for that purpose to actually feel shame. Unfortunately.

    2. Third [hypothesis], “douchebag” is a tribally-coded slur. If someone asks “Have you ever noticed that all assholes are named things like ‘Moishe’ or ‘Avram’ or ‘Menachem’?” ? then they’re telling you a lot more about the way they use the word ‘asshole’ than about the Moishes and Menachems of the world.

      Interesting article, and I agree most with this hypothesis of the findings.

  7. I like to have my hands tied behind my back while my partner spanks me.

      1. Then my partner slowly sticks a needle up my urethra…

        1. Sadly, I can’t tell if this is sarcasm.

  8. “”This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our back,” said McConnell, who will become majority leader in January.”

    No, it’s not. It’s the best time to do so, as is every other time.

  9. Libertarianish Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said that he won’t support the bill because it’s too weak.

    That’s disappointing, and a really weak excuse. Makes me think he is grasping for reasons to just fall in line. You make progress where you can.

    1. Standard Rand bs. He knows his voice won’t matter, same as when he sided with Romney over his own father, so he bends to the party will while hedging his ideological bets.

      If he actually accomplishes something serious through this GOP-goodwill campaign, like wrecking the NSA or, god help us all, being elected president, I’ll admit he’s a better political thinker than me. If he doesn’t, he’s a shadow of his father and will lack Ron’s populist appeal as an uncompromising outsider twenty years from now.

      Rand wants to be a successful Taft, but I think he’s gonna be a Howard Baker instead.

  10. *hides face in shame since McConnell and Paul represent home state*

    1. Now, now…

      *wraps blanket around CE and offers hot chocolate*

  11. If the concern is “the terrorists” fine. Set up special rules for terrorist investigations. But do not allow them to be used in any other kind of investigation.

    Forget for a moment if or why there is a “terrorism” exception to the 4th Amendment. That is not my point. My point is that these people scream “terrorism” but if you called their bluff and said “okay here you go”, they would never agree. They want these methods to be available in every investigation and would never agree to limiting it to terror investigations.

    1. Great comment!

    2. John|11.18.14 @ 4:21PM|#
      “If the concern is “the terrorists” fine. Set up special rules for terrorist investigations. But do not allow them to be used in any other kind of investigation.”

      Who ‘does not allow’?

      1. The law. Make the evidence obtained in those investigations inadmissible for any charge other than terrorism.

  12. Libertarianish Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.

    What kind of relish?

    1. The sort I mucked out and added to my compost pile this afternoon.

  13. Slightly OT: As someone noted on the Tweeterz earlier today,

    “Before you complain about your life, remember, somewhere today, two parents are having to ponder Charles Manson as their future son in law”

  14. Originally the IT only operated overseas and on non US Persons. When it was like that, the old wall between the IC and law enforcement didn’t make any sense. If the IC community is listening to a phone call in Pakistan and find out that I am involved in a criminal enterprise with someone, they should be able to tell law enforcement and that is just too bad for me. My constitutional rights don’t extend to my business partners in Pakistan and if the government while listening to them stumbles upon evidence of my criminal activity, I have no right to complain.

    The problem arose when they used the Patriot Act to start listening to US persons and to phone calls and such within the United States. If they are going to do that, then wall has to go back up. If the IC can listen to my phone calls even though I am a US citizen living in the US and turn what they find out over to the police, then we don’t have a 4th Amendment anymore.

    1. That bird flew the coop long ago. If the police can stop “random” cars at a checkpoint, we don’t have a 4th amendment.

      1. At least not with regards to cars. The whole “reasonable expectation of privacy” doctrine is horseshit. It is just the courts saying “you get privacy if the government thinks its reasonable for you to have it.”

        1. Slopes are sometimes slippery. If you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you’re driving, how can you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you’re talking to someone?

          1. Slipperiness, as in a tendency or bias toward continuing downhill, are inherent in sloped surfaces.

            People who say its a fallacy don’t know what the word fallacy means. Hint: fallacy does not mean “by definition”.

    2. This. The “wall of separation” is constantly invoked as the justification for the original PATRIOT Act, but the fact is that it involved much more than eliminating this absurdity and that if the “wall of separation” was the only issue, a bill could have been passed which would have satisfied civil rights concerns.

      The PATRIOT Act (and other bills like it since 9/11) have been at least as much about fulfilling 90s-era wishlists of our surveillance agencies than making our counter-terrorist actions more effective.

      1. There never was a wall. There was a policy a political hack at DOJ named Jamie Gorelich invented.

        The problem was the NSA fucked up. They knew the highjackers were in the country and were dangerous. All they had to do was pick up the phone and call INS and tell them to deport them for over staying their VISAs. There was no law preventing them from doing that. They just fucked up and didn’t do it because God fucking forbid anyone in the IC community ever share any information.

        But instead of admitting to the fuck up, they blamed the law and INS, as if INS had some magic way of deporting every student who overstayed their VISA, and got the Patriot Act passed.

  15. What did Mitch pony up for Rand’s support in the last election? Is he going to back him for prez even tho’ they disagree on such a basic issue?

  16. The WSJ was pouting and crying over the USA Freedom Act. What a bunch of assholes.

    I am torn on Paul’s position. You make progress when you can, but what if accepting a weak compromise now substitute and excludes real progress later? You’d basically be giving the surveillance statists the tactical retreat they need to keep the bulk of their apparatus.

    1. When you’re the underdog and it’s early in the game, take the points.

    2. I hears ya, but I tend toward the “take what you can get, and use it as a precedent for getting more later” approach.

      It seems to work 99.9% of the time when it comes to embiggening government.

      1. It seems to work 99.9% of the time when it comes to embiggening government.

        That doesn’t mean it work for shrinking it. Indeed, the only successful efforts at clipping government seem to come in big fell swoops, such as Canada’s mid-90s reforms. The modest ‘incremental’ approach failed wrt to police reform in the ’70s.

  17. So…..these new pieces of paper are needed to protect “freedom”…. What happened to the other piece of paper they swore an oath to protect and defend that was already supposed to “secure the blessings of liberty”?

    “It’s better than nothing”. WTF! They have SOMETHING called the effing CONSTITUTION which they already disregard and walk all over. What in the hell difference is yet another piece of legistation going to do other than serve as yet more sheisser paper for these douche bags?

    Minarchist: Oh, but anarchy is chaos cause RoADz, and we need totalitarian police, courts and defense! So we only need a little government that uses a little force, theft, and violence against others….

    Ancient Ireland lasted over a millennia and medieval Iceland lasted for around 300 years without government. Take your mini slavery elsewhere. Free individuals will do fine without the violent gov’t.

  18. “Ancient Ireland lasted over a millennia and medieval Iceland” were aberrations that can’t be replicated. They weren’t exactly great places either. No Somalia for me. You can’t have freedom without government.

    1. This is such nonsense. Please look at the definition of freedom and liberty. Government is antithetical to both. Brehon law in ancient Ireland was private law. The Brehon judges were held accountable for mistakes. Women had rights, could own property, and could initiate divorce proceedings. There were no totalitarian police forces, or rulers of others. The Tuaths didn’t constantly war with one another…. The violent governments warred with Ireland, yet they resisted government all the way up to the 17th century. They had freedom without government, so to say it can not happen is nonsense.

      Somalia isn’t a condition of freedom, but is a result of government intervention both internally and externally. The Somalia argument fails on so many points. Liberals love to use “Somalia” any time someone brings up freedom. Also, Somalia has fared better economically without gov’t than with it.

  19. my roomate’s mother-in-law makes $66 /hr on the computer . She has been without work for 8 months but last month her paycheck was $21762 just working on the computer for a few hours. take a look at the site here….


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