And Now the Republicans Will Try to Use Orlando Attack to Undermine Citizens' Rights

Attempt to expand unwarranted FBI surveillance authority fails (barely) in Senate.


GOP senators
Michael Reynolds/EPA/Newscom

We know full well that the failure to stop Omar Mateen's deadly attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was not because the federal government didn't know about him or didn't know that people had concerns about him. He was under government surveillance for some time, but they failed to predict (and perhaps it was not possible to predict) that he would act out in such an explosive fashion.

Just as gun control advocates are using this incident to try to pass gun control laws that have absolutely no relationship with what happened in Orlando and wouldn't have prevented it, surveillance state advocates are using the Orlando incident to push for more snooping powers that have nothing to do with what happened.

The legislation to stop people on federal watchlists from buying guns had been previously proposed, and the Orlando incident was used to create a groundswell to try to get it passed. The push failed, but now there's compromise legislation on the table for gun purchase bans targeting those on more exclusive, smaller no-fly lists.

A similar background is true for this surveillance push. I made note of it in May, and in the wake of Mateen's attack, now surveillance supporters (mostly Republicans but also a few notable Democrats) in the Senate are attempting to give the FBI more snooping powers. The vote failed this morning to get enough support for cloture, ending at 58-39, two votes short of the 60 threshold. It was actually one vote shy of cloture toward the end, but realizing they didn't have enough support, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) changed his vote to no so that he could bring it back later for reconsideration. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that a second attempt to pass it could happen later today)

The vote is over a "gap" in what can been collected under National Security Letters (NSL's). These orders are special secret demands whose uses were greatly expanded after September 11 and authorize the feds to demand that tech companies provide a list of specific data about a targeted user, all without a warrant. Furthermore, the tech companies are gagged to prohibit them from warning the user or the public about the data collection or even to let the public know they had received an NSL.

But there are some gaps in the kind of data an NSL could gather, and despite the controversies behind their use in the first place, the FBI has been pushing to expand them to collect more metadata about email communications and some browser search history data. The FBI had believed that they already had this authority but were told that wasn't the case in 2008. They want this expansion in snooping to be made permanent.

The push pits Republican surveillance enthusiasts like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the amendment's sponsor, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) against Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), a stalwart opponent of expanding federal surveillance. Reuters notes:

"In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations," Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and sponsor of the amendment, said in a statement.

The bill is also supported by Republican Senators John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions and Richard Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers.

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, criticized a similar effort last month as one that "takes a hatchet to important protections for Americans' liberty."

It's also worth noting that the Obama administration supports this expansion, and the FBI has taken the position that the failure to permit even wider surveillance is actually just a "typo" that needs to be corrected.

Read more from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the serious problems with expanding this scope in surveillance here.

NEXT: Virginia Keeps Third Parties at the Bottom of the Ballot

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  1. The Constitution is one big typo, really.

    1. The Constitution is just a big list of legal loopholes little people use to get around the good work of top men.

    2. The Constitution is like 200 years old and was written by racists. They made it really hard to change because of racism, so now we’re stuck with their antiquated racist Constitution.

      1. The communists and Methodist White Terror changed the constitution by adding the Force Amendments: communist income tax and teetotalitarian dry law prohibition. That took less than 2% of the vote over some five decades. When the GOP became a Mohammedan State and destroyed the economy during Herb Hoover’s single term in office, the dry amendment got repealed. But its comrade still stands.

  2. But ISIS. They hate our freedom.

    Just like the citizens of the USSR hated freedom. I know I hate freedom. I just want gulags and to see my relatives shot in the streets like all enemies of merica.

    1. Yes, they hate us for our freedom. So the only way to fix this, is for the government to take away our freedom. Then they won’t hate us anymore!

      No way common folk could come up with such a brilliant plan, that’s why It’s so great to have team purple protecting and saving us.

      Murika, fuck yeah!

      1. The government isn’t taking our freedom. It is giving us freedom. Only when you must ask permission and obey orders can you be truly free. Only when your betters are keeping watch over your every move can you be truly free. Freedom is slavery. Just ask the Top. Men. They’ll tell you.

    2. I just want gulags and to see my relatives shot in the streets like all enemies of merica.

      Sadly, for many in this country, this isn’t sarcasm.

    3. Islamic State and Grand Old Prohibitionists define “freedom” the exact same way.
      Both fanatical collectives hate the way Ayn Rand explains it.

  3. They hate our freedom, they hate food, they hate shelter, they even hate oxygen.

    All those things make sense.

    1. They envy our freedom. They just hate our culture and government.

      1. No no no. They hate our freedom. I hate their freedom to hate our freedom….and so on….

      2. They just hate our…government.

        Hey, me too!

        1. Sometimes assholes manage to get some things right for the wrong reasons.

  4. The FBI failed miserably in Boston, San Bernardino and Orlando so now they will be rewarded for those failures with more money and more authority. Sounds about right.

    1. When continuing with what doesn’t work, that just means you just didn’t do enough of the same, you need to do more.

    2. For extra fun, the FBI lost track of Mateen’s wife. She should be going on trial for 49 charges of conspiracy to commit murder, but nope the feds have no idea where she scampered off to.

      1. OK, I read the article that someone posted on the other thread that Mateen’s father told reporters he didn’t know where she was. I interpreted that as a simple “fuck off” to the press. Has the FBI really lost track of her?

        1. Well, derp, derp, derpity derp. Tundra’s article below says that they have.


          This would seem to lend credence to the theory that they were jihadis all along.

          1. Or that she realized that she really fucked up badly by not reporting him and ran. Either seems pretty possible.

    3. Hey, that’s only because they didn’t have enough power. When people are allowed to move freely and communicate freely, they’re going to slip through the cracks. It just isn’t fair that our protectors have limited powers. How can they protect us if their powers are limited? They can’t. So it’s the fault of stupid libertarians and those slave-owners who wrote the Constitution. They caused Boston, San Bernardino and Orlando. It’s their fault for limiting government.

      1. You know I wouldn’t mind the government intruding on our liberties in order to catch the bad guys, if they were at least competent at catching bad guys.

        I wouldn’t be thrilled about it, but at least there would be a token reason for it.

        Instead, now the feds know what books I’m reading, and how long I talk to my buddies, but when given an actual accomplice to a terror attack served up on a silver platter, they can’t be bothered. So it’s just the worst of both worlds.

        1. Nonsense. Any failure on the feds’ part that may appear to be due to incompetence is really due to the public having too many freedoms and the feds having too little money. If you get less freedom, and they get more money, and they still look incompetent, then they need more money and you need to give up more freedom.

        2. …and because they (the feds) can’t catch the real criminals they make themselves look good by picking up people for bullshit violations.

        3. You know I wouldn’t mind the government intruding on our liberties in order to catch the bad guys, if they were at least competent at catching bad guys.

          And, when there are not enough ‘bad guys’ to arrest, they will simply expand the defiinition of ‘bad guy.’

          In fact, someone like you who questions the competence of our beloved governments IN THE FREE WORLD is probably a ‘bad guy.’

  5. The People demand SOMETHING must be done, and this is SOMETHING, so it must be done.

    Thanks, stupid party, for reminding everyone once again how you earned your epithet.

  6. The people keep rejecting politicians’ solutions and eventually the politicians get tired of embarrassing themselves. Meanwhile, other headlines press their way to the front page.

    Isn’t this how we move forward?

    If the Olympics had started this week instead of a month from now, we might not even be talking about Orlando anymore.

    Besides, a lot of people are going on vacation.

    The American people are busy. Get back to us with issues in September. If you want to talk fishin’ well I guess that’ll be okay.

    This comment has been brought to you by the Millennial Education Commission:

    1. Get back to us with issues in September.

      Yes, please do. Gun control hysterics going into the November elections would be hi-larious.

  7. Freedom’s greatest enemies, hiding in plain sight.

  8. Any law passed “in the wake of” is a bad law.

    1. Wait a year. If its still a big deal, then consider something.

      1. Ooooooo…..idea.

        All legislators must live in a bunker cut off from all news/contact with civilization during their tenure in office.

        If they met only in odd years following elections, we might let them out during even years.

        1. Check out Anathem for variations on this idea put into practice.

          1. I havent read that one. I kind of got away from reading him after The Baroque Cycle.

            1. I skipped that, I couldn’t get into it.

              This one is a little more old-school. It’s my favorite after Diamond Age.

            2. Lived them both, but I actually liked Baroque better. For some reason, I thought Anathem could have lost a few pounds.

              1. Some reviews say that. I was thoroughly engrossed all the way.

          2. Been a while since I’ve read it, but isn’t the basic idea that most of the monks don’t bother with earthly affairs, and they treat outsiders the same way you would treat Cletus the slack jawed yokel?

            1. I prefer The Baroque cycle. Yeah any book in that series can be used as blunt instrument, but who doesn’t enjoy reading about the misadventure of half-cocked Jack?

      2. I bet the Democrats hardly bring it up at the convention.

        They don’t want to talk about taking away swing voters’ gun rights any more than the Republicans want to talk about abortion.

        1. Nope, there aren’t any yellow dogs left in the Dems anymore. They actually think that going after guns is actually a great plan.

          1. I bet Hillary’s campaign is smarter than that–even if congressional Democrats aren’t.

            Donald Trump is pulling union votes away from her. This Presidential election is all about swing voters. Alienating anybody unnecessarily might cost her the whole thing.

            She doesn’t need more votes in California and Massachusetts to win. She’s already got those electoral votes sewn up. She needs votes in Ohio, Missouri, and central Pennsylvania to win.

            1. And Florida, which she’s winning handily.

              1. I wouldn’t call 3 points, handily. That’s within the 4 pt margin of error.

            2. Hillary is going to go full on apeshit crazy about guns. She’s already started doing so. This will be at the top of her platform.

            3. It kind of depends if she’s willing to bring in some cynical campaign managers, like a James Carvile. From what I’ve read, Hillary prefers to surround herself with yes men who drank the cool aid.

              Which isn’t exactly a great sign for winning over independents, although it might be enough to get out the vote, which Trump will probably have problems with.

      3. We need a waiting list so that a thorough background check can be performed. Any pol under investigation or who has unpaid taxes or is delinquent on FOIA requests, etc., is not allowed to pass laws.

        1. *waiting period

          1. Would both men and women suffer that period?

            1. Let’s all just agree that you have the right to suffer that period.

            2. Why are you always on about periods, Stan?

            3. background checks coming out of her..wherever

        2. Silly you, laws are for little people, not your elected betters.

      4. America has a “mass shooting” every, depending on your definition, couple of days to couple of months. It is highly likely that whenever we pass legislation intended to address such things, it will be “in the wake of” some event or other.

  9. they failed to predict (and perhaps it was not possible to predict) that he would act out in such an explosive fashion.

    The FBI just needs more fortune tellers and palm readers.

  10. because it was not possible

  11. Have they inserted the word ‘children’ into any of these failed ‘after Orlando’ bills? Sometimes it’s really good that most politicians are of very low IQ. They can’t remember what works every time, so we get saved from more of their mendacious shit for a while. Eventually one of the tards will remember the simple one word formula for passing any legislation, no matter how shitty, and we’ll continue down the road to serfdom.

    1. Having met several politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats in my life, I found it truly amazing how stupid these people are. Seriously dumb. And they hold the reigns of power. Scary shit.

  12. From the average small town mayor to the US president – they are all so very stupid.

    It’s like they went to a school to learn the same mannerisms and platitudes.

    They must get a tutorial on the first day in office.

    “talk about crime, roads, and vilify the other party. What kind of hookers do you like?”

    1. This is because the same type of person is always the most attracted to that type of job. They have an obsession with power and control over other people. The only way to cure this is to take power and money out of politics, and strict life long term limits on holding public office. IOW, make it impossible to make a career of politics and outlaw cronyism.

      1. Nobody wants solutions here. That would require education.

  13. The FBI was investigating the guy. Maybe we’ll never know any details of what they were investigating or what they found. But unless he was making specific threats to someone or caught involved in plotting an attack, what could they do? You can’t just arrest every person who is acting in crazy and suspicious ways.

    I think the best solution to something like this, is anytime there is a large public event going on like this, you have at least a few armed people around watching the place. If there would have been even say 3 or 4 guys there who were armed and watching out, this guy at least wouldn’t have been able to kill nearly that many people before someone took him out.

    If the Democrats ever succeed in their desire to disarm the public, petty crime and more serious crime, like car jackings and home invasion will be every day things all over the country. There will be an explosion of crime, guranteed. Criminals will be very emboldened against a defenseless populace.

    1. Apparently the guy made quite a few threats against a few people, that’s how he ended up on the FBI’s radar.

      I’m not a big fan of using psychiatry to go after people for holding unpopular opinions, but it seems like after the third death threat or so, maybe he should have spent 48 hours in an institution getting his head shrunk.

      1. I just wonder how much PC doctrine is embedded into the FBIs rules of conduct. I mean it seems like that shit has infiltrated everything in the country, so why not the FBI too? Where they too busy investigating the next teabagger jihadists to have time to fuck with this guy?

        1. Or trying to sell fake explosives to some other Muslim guy.

    2. Right. And if we lived in a police state, they would have picked the guy up, forced a confession out of him, held a quickie trial, and either moved him into a camp or killed him. All in a relatively quick fashion. Instead, we live in what still passes for a free country so they have to cut him loose, and he commits an atrocity.

      1. I think if someone keeps going around threatening to kill people to the point that the feds have to get involved on multiple occasions, then a 48 hour psych evaluation seems warranted.

    3. Seems like petty theft, muggings, burglary and home invasions with people home are a more common in disarmed Europe and Britain. Some places in the US are probably as bad, but it seems like most places over there if it’s not locked down, it gets stolen. While I never lock my house or car and have never had anything stolen (not that it couldn’t happen, but I can’t be bothered).

  14. The left seems to think it is fine to lose a few gay voters from time to time so they can push their anti gun agenda. If the Democrats are so concerned about gun violence then why do they refuse to address black on black shooting problem in our major cities. Maybe it is the days when the KKK was the enforcement arm of the Democratic party are still hiding in the shadows

    1. The left seems to think it is fine to lose a few gay voters from time to time so they can push their anti gun agenda

      Gotta break a few eggs sometimes to create the utopia omelet, right?

    2. why do they refuse to address black on black shooting problem in our major cities

      They do “address” it – by taking away your right to defend yourself and then patting themselves on the back when they win 90% of the vote. Doesn’t “solve” anything but that’s not their job. Their job is to get re-elected. That is all.

    1. They can sit there until hell freezes over as far as I’m concerned. In fact, the longer they sit there and do nothing, the better. I just wish I was close enough that they could hear my heckling.

    2. OMG. Which one is the stupid party again?

      1. The one that decided Trump was the solution to the above.

        1. Trump – stupid.

          Hillary – evil.

          Yup, I’d say both parties were staying true to form.

        2. I think of him as more of a punishment

      2. How dare you disrespect such deep thinkers like Elijah Cummings, Hank Johnson, and Sheila Jackson Lee.

    3. Look at that group of heavy hitters.

    4. “Now is the time for us to find a way to dramatize it, to make it real,” Lewis, D-Ga., said. “We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action.”

      Maybe you should bring in a gun and start a shooting spr– I’m just joking! It was just a joke! I’m onl

      1. Great, now you’re on Preet’s list. Hope you’re proud of yourself. Might as well go change your name to something involving woodchippers.

    5. How is that supposed to work if the house is not in session?

      “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
      I used to go to bed so high and wired.

    1. And that doesn’t seem to include the pension she’s getting by extending her doing-nothing into 2018, so tack on another couple mil at least.

  15. While we wait for Bailey’s article, here’s a taste of climate science from a known climate science denier:

    Global temperatures are heading downward, and fast

    It’s no surprise to us that the “monster” El Ni?o of 2015/2016 created a very large global temperature spike, after all, that’s what the natural process that creates the phenomenon results in due to the Pacific ocean near the Equator not being able to dissipate heat to space as effectively as it usually does. NOAA says that “ENSO is one of the most important climate phenomena on Earth due to its ability to change the global atmospheric circulation, which in turn, influences temperature and precipitation across the globe.”

    The latest forecasts show La Ni?a conditions developing this fall, and with it, global temperatures will come down

  16. So Democrats sputter in rage at the suggestion of not letting in Muslim immigrants but once they’re here it’s perfectly acceptable to throw them on a list they know damn well is mostly Muslims and which removes their Constitutional rights. I guess gun-grabbing trumps victim politics.

    1. Democrats need a growing under class to increase their voter base. Why do those people need rights anyway? They didn’t have any where they came from. So they’ll be happy with an EBT card, some free housing in the ghetto, and they’ll vote Democrat to keep that going. I mean, this is how Democrats think, anyway.

  17. Well, at least Rand Paul and a couple of occasionally sympathetic repubs like Mike Lee had their heads on straight on this one. As dumb as this Republican bill is, at least Republican dissent kept it from going through.

    1. Barely. None of these bills are going away, they’ll just get reworded, stuffed with more pork and totally unrelated non-sense cronyism, repackaged and reintroduced until the new bigger crony pork stuffins look attractive enough to buy off the small group of dissenting party poopers.

    2. Actually Rand Paul didn’t exactly come out of this whole thing smelling like a rose. It’s hurt my level of support for him, but at the same time he’s still vastly preferable to any of the current options on display.

  18. Alt-test gold.

    Thanks Shack…kinda makes me feel better after yelling at Rico all morning.

    1. text not test…but whatevs

  19. If you don’t make any money, don’t own guns, shut your trap, stroke it to old style porn mags, you’ll be fine. Don’t know what you guys are always bitching about.

  20. So my fellow libertarians, will America as a whole be open to the idea of a police state like we have in the Airports?

    Will the TSA be stationed at supermarkets, schools, etc. ? Are we going to stand for this ?

    Please select one (and ONLY one) from the following menu:

    A. Zero Gun Control and heavy FBI/Police secret investigation of all (or maybe certain) people in the United States.
    B. Full Ban on Weapons and Firearms and no FBI/Police secret investigations

    Option C, Zero Gun Control and no FBI/Police Secret investigation is not available unfortunately.

    We as libertarians may have to make a choice between our privacy and weapon possession.

    I know the NRA and the Gun nuts are winning the Anti-Gun law battles but I think this is going to weaken if these mass shootings continue. Somethings gotta give.

    1. Option D. Ritual suicide.

    2. B. Full Ban on Weapons and Firearms and no FBI/Police secret investigations

      This is the least plausible outcome of the three, actually.

      1. To explain:

        1. There’s not going to be a “full ban”, a la China. No Western government has that much control, at least not since the fall of East Germany.

        2. The FBI and the state/local cops aren’t going to stop being the FBI and state/local cops just because the populace has been disarmed.

        3. The more effort put into getting rid of guns, the more “secret investigations” the FBI et al. will be engaged in. They’re not mutually exclusive; if anything, they’re complementary.

        1. I’m afraid your are right.

          Even if we did get rid of all of the guns, the FBI/Police will still be the FBI/police.

          My point is that setting up a NAZI police force will be god-awful and probably completely ineffective.

          1. Well, I’d say you should probably go with A. then use your weapons to enforce C. but perhaps that’s just crazy talk.

            1. SHHHHHH.

              The FBI is looking at this post right now.

  21. If members do not leave the floor and no compromise is reached, it is largely up to Speaker Paul Ryan to decide whether to use the authority of the House to seek to clear the floor and/or sanction members, or to keep the House in recess and wait out the issue.

    I’m pretty sure the Capitol Police are issued pepper spray. Let’s have some authenticity.

  22. will America as a whole be open to the idea of a police state like we have in the Airports?

    I see no evidence to the contrary.

  23. So, right now, the Republicans in the Senate are fighting to rid us of the 4th amendment while the House Democrats are sitting on the floor in an effort to rid us of the 2nd and 5th.

    I was thinking of a snarky response here, but I can’t. I’m too sad.

    1. Compromise means taking 6 inches from both ends rather than 3 from one. Need better deal makers.

    2. Nobody’s trying to gut the 1st Amendment? Slow day in Congress, I guess.

  24. Fuck.

    As I approach retirement age, I find that my patience grows short. Why don’t they just go ahead and declare that the U.S. is an empire now?

  25. Alt alt-text:


    1. “Blow up the damn SHIP Jean-Luc!”

      1. “Blow up the damn SHIP Jean-Luc!”

        Thank you for giving me an excuse to post this.

  26. The federal government is the real terrorist threat.

  27. This guy was under FBI surveillance. They talked to him three times. So whatever the problem, it wasn’t that they were unable to keep him under surveillance. But OMG we must do something!!

  28. Why would you say this?–

    The push pits Republican surveillance enthusiasts like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the amendment’s sponsor, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) against Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), a stalwart opponent of expanding federal surveillance.

    I don’t care if you’re quoting Reuters or using it as a source–surely there’s someone in the Senate–someone who actually IS a friend of liberty, someone who famously took a stand against surveillance that reason could have mentioned? Someone named Rand Paul perhaps? Someone whose opposition to surveillance is principled rather than principaled?

  29. Give them the power to read all Grindr messages. It’s the only way to stop events like Orlando.

  30. “In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations,” Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and sponsor of the amendment, said in a statement.

    What *are* you talking about, John? Even the *President* does his many jobs just with a pen and a phone.

  31. The GOP adopted ku-klux prohibitionism in 1928. The liberal party formed to defeat it and the Dems elbowed it aside to lunge for those spoiler votes. Defeated, the GOP took to referring to “liberals” the same say a certain German had in Mein Kampf. Of course they are still out to undermine individual rights! What else is new?

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  33. Was there a link that could have been posted that would give the Yea’s and Nay’s on that 58-39 vote?

  34. There is nothing that can not be fixed by getting rid of the worst president ever and replacing him with Trump. The only limits on our investigating agencies were placed there by obama and bush trying to placate the saudis. There was ample warning on the Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando murderers. So much it seems that the government was enabling them as an unindicted co conspirator. In obama’s case the evidence is beyond dispute.

  35. Us bitching, on a forum, what difference does it make?

  36. The evidence is pretty compelling that this event was staged, another false flag scheduled just before four anti-gun bills came up for vote in congress.…..ting-27725

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