Domestic spying

Obama Administration to Expand Unconstitutional Warrantless NSA Spying on Americans

The new surveillance rules have nothing to do with stopping terrorism.



Spy agency officials and lawyers are putting together a new set of rules that will allow the National Security Agency to share whatever information it garners from its extensive electronic surveillance efforts about American citizens with other law enforcement agencies, reported the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. No warrants needed.

This expansion of domestic surveillance is particularly galling coming from the administration of a man who declared in 2007:

This [Bush] administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

The Massachusetts ACLU blog Privacy SOS explains how the new rules being promulgated by the Obama administration imperil Americans' privacy and their Fourth Amendment rights:

What does this rule change mean for you? In short, domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. FBI agents don't need to have any "national security" related reason to plug your name, email address, phone number, or other "selector" into the NSA's gargantuan data trove. They can simply poke around in your private information in the course of totally routine investigations. And if they find something that suggests, say, involvement in illegal drug activity, they can send that information to local or state police. That means information the NSA collects for purposes of so-called "national security" will be used by police to lock up ordinary Americans for routine crimes. And we don't have to guess who's going to suffer this unconstitutional indignity the most brutally. It'll be Black, Brown, poor, immigrant, Muslim, and dissident Americans: the same people who are always targeted by law enforcement for extra "special" attention.

Former Reason editor, now at the Washington Post, Radley Balko adds:

This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar. We've known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in "parallel construction" when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn't be alone. And it certainly isn't the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information — see the Stingray debacle. This isn't just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy. We're now learning that the feds had these agreements with police agencies all over the country, affecting thousands of cases.

Over at The Week, reporter Ryan Cooper offers this terrifying headline: "Think the NSA is scary now? Wait till Donald Trump controls it."

Some days I fear for my country.

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  1. This is my shocked face…

    1. Yeah, I never knew that the executive branch could simply make up their own set of rules negating the Constitution. Huh!

  2. Hey NSA, I am not wearing any pants, take a look at this!

    1. Your hands, on the keyboard, they seem, small.

    2. Well I’m not wearing anything but my skin. I have patches of it covering my whole body.

      1. I heard cannabis cures that.

  3. Best president ever!

    1. Well, he did stop Bush from shredding the Constitution!

  4. You mean there are days when you don’t fear for this country?

  5. Think the NSA is scary now? Wait till Donald Trump controls it.

    So, vote Hillary?

    1. It’s from The Week so, yes?

  6. And we don’t have to guess who’s going to suffer this unconstitutional indignity the most brutally. It’ll be Black, Brown, poor, immigrant, Muslim….AND dissident Americans

    The problem with many people in this country is that they either

    Only think surveillance is bad when it affects these highlighted certain-kinds-of-oppressed people, and don’t really care if its applied to so-called “dissident” Americans
    Think its fucking great BECAUSE it targets those highlighted people, because they probably need oppressing!

    Neither group gives a shit about the issue from the POV of the core principle of the matter. Which is why even the ACLU is reduced to framing it in that stupid ‘victim-classes’ formula.

    Also, there’s a third class of people who think “”BUT someone got pushed at a Trump rally!??! I want to whine about that, you misogynist yokels!!”””. They’re not that big a deal, but they’re fucking boring.

    1. misogynist yokels

      As opposed to misandrist cosmos.

      “You realize this means war?”

      1. The quote is attributed to Marx.

      2. take a number

    2. Neither group gives a shit about the issue from the POV of the core principle of the matter

      I believe this is the principals over principles theory.

  7. I actually don’t worry about Trump and spying nearly as much as the current administration. Trump is a thin skinned asshole who’ll use the full power of the state to settle petty grudges, but we’ve already had that for eight years. Trump isn’t an idealist, which I believe will limit his forays into the unconstitutional. Obama wants to tear it all down.

    1. C.S. Lewis’s comment about robber barons vs. moralists comes to mind. Although, Obama is hardly above settling petty grudges.

    2. Trump isn’t an idealist, which I believe will limit his forays into the unconstitutional.

      That is an interesting delusion.

    3. The only reason I’m not terrified by Trump is that he hated by all elements of the political elite — right and left, Democrat and GOP, Wall Street and Main Street, Labor and Management, Hawk and Dove, etc.

      The inevitably awful excesses of a Trump presidency will therefore be resisted by the political elite who have no loyalty to the guy.

      1. Sure.

        Until he gives them his Gucci discount.

      2. he hated == he is hated

      3. Yep. Also i think if the economy is good (not due to him of course). It will diminish the importance of the TOP MEN being needed to run things (one can hope i guess).

  8. “Think the NSA is scary now? Wait till Donald Trump controls it.”

    This seems to gloss over the fact that FISA and the legislation providing the NSA with its “anything goes” mandate is the creation & responsibility of Congress.

    If you think “voting for a president” is the one-size-fits all solution/source of problems, then you’re fucked to begin with, because you’re abandoning the more-important role of electing congresspeople to actually take on these specific issues.

    1. !This! And because Americans elect the same fucksticks to congress year after year, they deserve their police state good and hard.

  9. “Think the NSA is scary now? Wait till Donald Trump controls it.”

    Yeah right. As is Ted Cruz, Clinton, Inc., or Rubio would be any different. We’ve tipped of the edge and have been falling down the rabbit hole for at least since the start of the drug war. Then got a good ephedrine shot with the 9/11.

  10. Dreamy Progressive Icons Have Dinner, Sycophant News Media Swoon Like its The Oscars

    The star-studded evening concluded a day of more prosaic meetings and announcements by the two leaders, who spoke of protecting the countries’ shared natural resources and offered new commitments to reduce planet-warming methane emissions.

    “When not busy being fabulous, they made banal offhand comments about saving the planet by strangling the mining and energy sectors.”

    1. I wonder how much power the White House uses on any given day.

      Dollars to Donuts it’s more than some small 3rd world countries. And he want’s to lecture us on the dangers of “planet-warming emissions”.

        1. If I use a million watts for a nanosecond the energy is .001 joules. Not a lot.

          1. Bah! My professors would not be pleased with that screw up.

        2. True though wouldn’t you be using more power if you are running more stuff? And then it would be energy over a given time

          1. Energy = power X time. So yeah.

    2. No mention of Obama the Statesman blaming James Cameron for all that has gone wrong in Libya? I mean, thank god we will have Obama for a little while longer. We may have a thin-skinned egomaniac like Trump next rather than a cool, rational, and calculating man like the Light Bringer.

      1. I seem to recall this woman as SoS beating the drum about killing Qaddafi. What was her name?

        1. What difference at this point does it make?

    3. Next time shoot me over a trigger warning first. That article was painful and I feared for my safety.

  11. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.?

  12. But…but…The Hill just ran a story two days ago talking about how Obama was the good guy when it came to spying or at least trying to ream Apple, and which blamed it all on Comey! The Obama admin totally didn’t host meetings a year ago looking for non-legislative solutions after they gave up the public fight!

    Fuck these guys. And the media that enables them to act with such ease.

  13. Blah blah blah, Obama is going to SXSW. He is sooooo cool.

  14. Ryan cooper is a full blown prog and a hack. He is one that thinks austerity has slowed this recovery, that Gerald Friedmans econ analysis of Bern’s plans may be off, and climate change is the most pressing issue of our time.

    1. Wait, there are people out there that actually think we’ve implemented ANY austerity measures?

      1. Yes. I think it was back in November…the republican congress allegedly was full blown austerity. Let’s not mention the deficits have all been 500B+ along with increasing revenue each year. Also it had in there if only the stimulus package went farther.

        1. Wow, that’s a special kind of stupid.

          1. The worst was he was upset that left wing economists were ripping Gerald Friedman’s analysis

            Ryan cooper said it may be off but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Those economists are hacks for ripping Bernie. While later ripping on ripping on the republican econ plan as being pure fantasy (like Jeb’s 4% growth per year thing). The cognitive dissonance was alarming

      2. You know… Nothing left to cut.

    2. Also he proposed raising taxes on couples who earn a total of 100K….by 10 grand on top of what they already pay. The reasoning was analysis paralysis. The government is better at deciding what you need for healthcare, college, daycare, and maternity leave.

    3. Oh one other thing…Coop came to the aid of Sally Kohn who once said government coercion is a good thing. His reasoning was ROADZ and following things like speed limits, stop lights and signs.

      1. Fuck off, Tulpa.

        1. Ok. Nice argument there. Is a winner…would read again.

        2. You still bitter about yesterday where i questioned why that the frye character supporting Sanders would want to start a family in america due to being so terrible?

          The frye character had said since 1776 america has practiced darwinian capitalism where it is the survival of the wealthiest. That there is no sense of community.

          Oh frye didn’t specifically say it was terrible so you took issue with my comment.

  15. Is there anything this administration has initiated that IS constitutional?

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  20. Slowly but surely government is chipping away at our liberties, and we’re mostly blind to it. Will we get to 1984, with screens in our homes that monitor daily activity, so that we never have a private moment? Perhaps. If we do, we will have been complicit in the loss of our liberties because we send the same feckless, irresponsible career politicians to DC every election, instead of voting out every incumbent who has had a hand in taking our liberties from us. We have the power to take back control of our government at the ballot box, but we’re not engaged enough to exercise it.

  21. Four-year-old who ‘mispronounced the word cucumber’ threatened with counter-terrorism measures

    Boy’s family say nursery staff said saying ‘cooker bomb’ instead of ‘cucumber’ could lead to youngster being referred to deradicalisation programme

    Nursery workers suggested a four-year-old boy who mispronounced the word “cucumber” as “cooker bomb” should be referred to a counter-terrorism project, his family has claimed.

    The Asian family said concerns were raised with them after the child drew a picture of a man cutting the vegetable with a large knife.

    Nursery staff in Luton, Beds, told the child’s mother they believed he was saying “cooker bomb” when he was asked about the drawing, and discussed referring the case to the Home Office’s ‘Prevent’ deradicalisation scheme.

    However, the case was eventually referred to police and social services panel instead, who decided not to take further action, the BBC Asian Network reported.

    The boy’s mother, who has not been named, said: “[The member of nursery staff] kept saying it was this one picture of the man cutting the cucumber, which she said to me is a ‘cooker bomb’.

    “I was baffled. It was a horrible day.”

    She added that she feared her children would be taken away from her.

  22. “This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar.”

    that is probably the worst part. these tools were only allowed at all to fight terrorism… everyone who talks about how wrong they are gets terrorism charges thrown at them…. but we all knew it was being used for other crimes as well… with the caveat that they had to go find legal evidence… it was just the tip off to go look… they knew it was wrong enough to keep it in the shadows… now they are going to get blatant about it? now they are going to make it policy, and invite the practice? (not just the worst of the worst, but literally for anyone?!?) they are not even going to lie about it anymore?

    this is how the 4th amendment disappears. as soon as they open the NSA up to all law enforcement, they are going to forget they were only supposed to be looking for terrorists to begin with.

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