Rick Noriega on FISA

I was just watching some videos for this previous post and I ran into the one below.

That video was posted in June.

This is the story [posted here], from this week.

WASHINGTON – The Senate Select Intelligence Committee is looking into allegations from two U.S. military linguists that the government routinely listened in on phone calls of American military and humanitarian aid workers serving overseas.

“These are extremely disturbing allegations,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in a statement issued Thursday. “We have requested all relevant information from the Bush administration. Any time there is an allegation regarding abuse of the privacy and civil liberties of Americans it is a very serious matter.”

ABC News first reported the charges Thursday, citing one current and one former military linguist by name. They are contained in the book “The Shadow Factory,” to be published next week.

Rick Noriega was one of the guys they listened to.  His was some of the pillow-talk they recorded and passed around.  He didn’t like it.  Now he’s running for Senate.  Works for me.  Heckuva lot better’n Cornyn who spent 2004 talking about how great the war on Terror (in Iraq) was going, not fighting it in Afghanistan.

BTW, here is Cornyn on voting with Bush to approve warrantless wireless of the communications of American citizens.

Earlier this week,Vince Leibowitz of Capitol Annex
mentioned an article written on Texas Insider in which Senator Cornyn made clear his stand on FISA.

[John Cornyn:]

America’s elected leaders have a duty to keep the American people safe. We know that the ability to obtain the right information at the right time is critically important in our struggle against radical Islamic terrorists….”

Yeah right.

With all due respect, Mr. Cornyn, it is also the duty of our elected leaders to serve the people whom they represent and to protect our Constitutional rights. The warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is not only unconstitutional, it is also a mechanism only a police state would use. We elect Presidents in this great nation thank you. We do not install dictators or crown kings.

[full post]

To be clear, Obama also voted for that dang FISA bill.  Hopefully he’ll flip-flop on that now that we know what it has been used for.  I can understand why he’d vote for it to avoid the “weak vs his Mulin terrist brothers” nutters, but that’s about it.   It needs to be fixed.


How They Justify Spying on American Citizens and Baracks Betrayal

Understanding Recent Changes to FISA — A Visual Guide (Flowchart) | Ketchup and Caviar

“Ketchup and Caviar” (which is a euphemism for “West and East”, one would guess) has put together this wonderful guide for how the government decided we were scared enough as a people to accept them monitoring everything we say.  But hey, they only keep the parts where people say (or it sounds like they say) something about the terrorism and/or terror-related stuff (said stuff to be slowly expanded to drugs, crimes, and then finally pr0n).

Go and look at the charts.  Pay special attention to the loopholes.  The guys who worked on this stuff were pretty smart and know how to build in loopholes (like the ones they built at Guantanamo to allow for torture).

Here’s the gist of it…

What New FISA does is create a special case involving our bold red line in the first chart. It provides a way for the executive branch to engage in warrantless (but “certified”) wiretapping of wire and cable (including email and phone) of any Foreign-to-U.S. communications collected inside the U.S. You’ll see the new set of criteria for certification in this special case. It does add new protections for U.S. Persons (citizens or greencard holders) by requiring the typical FISA warrant in all cases in which they are targeted.

On the face of it, this new loophole might not seem to be such a big problem, barring the facts of a) retroactive telecom immunity and b) the implication that Bush will never be held accountable for numerous felonies. Unfortunately, it also really is, as far as I can tell, a back door to greatly expanded wiretapping powers. Beyond the obvious fact that it requires only certification and loose judicial review rather than a warrant, it does so in the following way:

  1. It Eliminates the requirement that there be probable cause that a foreign target is a suspect of any kind — terrorist, criminal, ore “foreign agent.” They merely need be your French grandmother, as long as they are outside the United States and not a U.S. person, and if the government says wiretapping them is for the purpose of collecting “foreign intelligence information” (e.g., her Pommes Frites recipe)
  2. It requires the cooperation of telecoms in these efforts
  3. It eliminates of the need to specify a particular email address or phone number to be wiretapped
  4. 1-3 together imply that certifications of wiretapping on individuals is not the issue. The point is to use telecom cooperation to target large collections of data on communications between U.S. Persons and foreigners. This implies data mining — where, for instance, because a foreign target has communications passing through a given domestic switch, any communications (domestic or international) passing through that switch are subject to collection, analysis, and storage.  There are “minimization requirements” meant to ameliorate this, but it is unclear if they really help.
  5. The compromise of domestic communications in (4) is exacerbated by the fact that targets need only be “reasonably believed” to be outside the U.S.
  6. It includes only minimal court oversight — who it is that is subject to warrantless wiretapping will not be know to the FISA court; the government can wiretap before it court order is sought and continue to do so even if it is denied — during a lengthy appeal process.

I have to say I’m really unhappy about this one.

There’s been some other good news recently and hopefully I can get to post some of that today, but this one sucks.  And I’m very unhappy with Obama for supporting it….especially because he said this…

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people – not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

back on January 28, 2008.

And then did this last month.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today announced his support for a sweeping intelligence surveillance law that has been heavily denounced by the liberal activists who have fueled the financial engines of his presidential campaign.

In his most substantive break with the Democratic Party’s base since becoming the presumptive nominee, Obama declared he will support the bill when it comes to a Senate vote, likely next week, despite misgivings about legal provisions for telecommunications corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program of suspected terrorists.

In so doing, Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a “vital national security matter” — and alienating his base.

“Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program,” Obama said in a statement hours after the House approved the legislation 293-129.

[full post]

And so the virgin-fan portion of my Obama love passes into the past.  I ahte to see him reverse so plainly on this topic, yet I can understand why he felt the need to.  I hope he got bad advice on giving in to this and didn’t make the decision himself.  This was exactly the kind of change we needed, Mr. Obama.

The national security thing is bullshit.  People are not that scared.  it’s not the trump card it was in 2004.  Be honest, dammit.

Permission to Spy Granted by U.S. House

UPDATE 3-US House votes to provide protection to phone firms | Markets | Markets News | Reuters

WASHINGTON, June 20 Reuters – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that could shield phone companies from billions of dollars in lawsuits for their participation in the warrantless surveillance program begun by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The White House-backed, compromise measure — which triggered a firestorm of opposition from civil liberties groups — would also overhaul U.S. spy powers and replace a temporary surveillance law that expired in February.

So this is how it works in the fascist countries…the governmnet works through private companies to violate the law.  Then the government protects those companies from prosecution and those companies spare the government from having to break its own laws.

The Senate is expected to give the bill final approval next week with the help of the two major presidential contenders — Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama — clearing the way for Bush to sign it into law.

Ahh, the joys of bi-partisanship.  Calling this bill something needed for national security is retarded.  We have a system in place, where you go and get a warrant, to spy on people.  To do so without warrants is wrong.  Even for private companies.  There should be a price paid for violating the law.  Instead, the power structure just changes the law to protect the companies from the people.  This is fascism.

“It will help our intelligence professionals learn our enemies’ plans for new attacks,” Bush said just hours before the House approved the bill, 293-129. “It ensures that those companies whose assistance is necessary to protect the country will themselves be protected from liability.”

And there you have the argument for.   The argument against would be…1) that warrant thing mentioned in the Constitution, that 200+year tradition against spying on citizens, and the basic concepts of freedom and liberty enshrined in our culture.

Mere trifles, really.

And so the bullshit of government/business deals is illustrated clearly…

The bill would not provide the retroactive immunity that Bush had demanded for telecommunication companies that took part in the warrantless spying program he started.

Instead, U.S. district courts would be able to dismiss a suit if there were written certification that the White House asked a company to participate and assured it the program was legal.

And so Bush Co. gives the Telecoms a get out of jail free card, literally, and gross violations of liberty, privacy and freedom go unpunished.

Critics charge Bush, in authorizing his spy program, violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get approval from a secret court to conduct electronic surveillance on foreign targets in the United States.

The president maintains he acted legally, saying he had the wartime power to authorize the program. But he put it under FISA jurisdiction in January 2007. Terms remain secret.

That’s right.  Because Saddam Hussein bombed the WTC with WMD Bush gets to read your mail.  It all makes perfect sense…if you have a fascist government.