“Maybe someone who reveals a secret program that multiple federal judges say is ILLEGAL is a whistleblower who deserves gratitude — not prison?” — Glenn Greenwald
How many times has the mainstream media mentioned the USA Freedom Act? Well, if you did hear of this legislation, you must have been watching C-SPAN or a foreign press channel. Read a report from NPR, that government funded broadcast, which never fails to present a known editorial viewpoint.
“The USA Freedom Act extends many parts of the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which expires June 1. The measure’s fate in the Senate is less likely.
The surveillance issue has sparked “rare bipartisan unity” in the House, NPR’s David Welna reports for today’s All Things Considered. He notes that the push to change the law comes from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
“Despite changes to the NSA bulk telephone metadata program announced by President Obama last year,” Goodlatte says, “the bulk collection of the records has not ceased, and will not cease, unless and until Congress acts to shut it down.”
Wednesday’s vote comes nearly two years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the U.S. government’s secret program to collect and store huge amounts of data from millions of Americans’ phone records.”
Missing in the lack of “all things considered” press coverage is a comprehensive national debate on why Congress is renewing most of the components of the Patriot Act to begin with? The questionable support in the Senate for supporting this House measure, speaks to the nature of the “world’s greatest deliberative body”.
The Boston Herald provides the likely outcome from Senate leaders propose extending NSA phone records storage.
“Weeks before a key surveillance law expires, Senate Republicans have introduced a bill that would allow the National Security Agency to continue collecting the calling records of nearly every American.
The measure by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr would bypass Senate committees and reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act, including the provision under which the NSA is requiring phone companies to turn over the “to and from” records of most domestic landline calls.”
In order to understand the distinction in the House bill, read H.R.3361 – USA FREEDOM Act.
SEC. 103. PROHIBITION ON BULK COLLECTION OF TANGIBLE THINGS.
(a) Application.—Section 501(b)(2) (50 U.S.C. 1861(b)(2)), as amended by section 101(a) of this Act, is further amended by inserting before subparagraph (B), as redesignated by such section 101(a) of this Act, the following new subparagraph:
“(A) a specific selection term to be used as the basis for the production of the tangible things sought;”.
(b) Order.—Section 501(c) (50 U.S.C. 1861(c)) is amended—
(1) in paragraph (2)(A), by striking the semicolon and inserting “, including each specific selection term to be used as the basis for the production;”; and
(2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
“(3) No order issued under this subsection may authorize the collection of tangible things without the use of a specific selection term that meets the requirements of subsection (b)(2).”.
TITLE II—FISA PEN REGISTER AND TRAP AND TRACE DEVICE REFORM
SEC. 201. PROHIBITION ON BULK COLLECTION.
(a) Prohibition.—Section 402(c) (50 U.S.C. 1842(c)) is amended—
(1) in paragraph (1), by striking “; and” and inserting a semicolon;
(2) in paragraph (2), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon; and
(3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
“(3) a specific selection term to be used as the basis for selecting the telephone line or other facility to which the pen register or trap and trace device is to be attached or applied; and”.
(b) Definition.—Section 401 (50 U.S.C. 1841) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
“(4) The term ‘specific selection term’ has the meaning given the term in section 501.”.
Now these measures are being lauded as addressing the NSA domestic spying methods, which has caused such uproar among civil libertarians. However, placing your trust in such language misses the fundamental point why an outright repeal of the Patriot Act is not being passed.
The correct approach is outlined by Ron Paul: Don’t Be Fooled by Un-American ‘USA Freedom’ Act.
“The political group Paul founded, Campaign for Liberty, released a statement Tuesday criticizing the “inaptly named” USA Freedom Act. Campaign for Liberty went on to encourage lawmakers to endorse the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which would fully repeal the Patriot Act and the equally controversial 2008 FISA Amendments Act.”
From this proposed alternative legislation:
“Surveillance State Repeal Act – Repeals the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (thereby restoring or reviving provisions amended or repealed by such Acts as if such Acts had not been enacted), except with respect to reports to Congress regarding court orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and the acquisition of intelligence information concerning an entity not substantially composed of U.S. persons that is engaged in the international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Requires orders approving certain electronic surveillance to direct that, upon request of the applicant, any person or entity must furnish all information, facilities, or technical assistance necessary to accomplish such surveillance in a manner to protect its secrecy and produce a minimum of interference with the services that such carrier, landlord, custodian, or other person is providing the target of such surveillance (thereby retaining the ability to conduct surveillance on such targets regardless of the type of communications methods or devices being used by the subject of the surveillance).
Prohibits the federal government from requiring manufacturers of electronic devices and related software to build in mechanisms allowing the federal government to bypass encryption or privacy technology.”
This shell game that passes for “good government” is discussed in the Inherent Autonomy essay, The Fourth Amendment, NSA and Metadata. The summary concludes:
“The snoops view you as an enemy of the state, unless you can prove differently, whereas the reality is that The Strange World of NSA Mind Control is the true foe of the liberty of people and a free nation.”
This is the essence of the motivation behind the original passage of the Patriot Act. Celebrating restriction on domestic surveillance, when the entire intent of the original legislation destroys the constitution is hardly a reason for jubilation. When the executive branch technocrats ignore any law, which conflicts with their intended tyrannical purpose of government dominance, Congress needs to defund any agency that refuses to protect the true public interest.
The absurdity that a total scrutiny society will make citizens safe is beyond intelligent debate. Yet the country has been willing to endure the prying eyes of Homeland Security, rationalized with a trumped up excuse that trashing the constitution is necessary to achieve a crusade against a phantom bogyman.
Jay Syrmopoulos writes in Why are People Celebrating? USA FREEDOM Act is a Big Win for the NSA- Not Civil Liberties about the USA Freedom Act.
“What no one wants to say out loud is that this is a big win for the NSA, and a huge nothing burger for the privacy community,” said a former senior intelligence office, while speaking to The Daily Beast.
The bill doesn’t actually end or suspend the phone records program, but simply requires phone companies to hold onto these records rather than the NSA.
Additionally, under this bill the NSA will now get cell phone records in addition to the landline call records. Under the current collection regime, only landline call records are kept.
“The NSA is coming out of this unscathed,” Joel Brenner, the NSA’s former inspector general, told The Daily Beast. “I think no one thought it was in the realm of the possible before this bill.”
The irony is that this is exactly what former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander had wanted to implement previously, but the idea was shelved due to the extreme unlikeliness of Congress being willing to pass such legislation.
“The USA Freedom Act”—the supposed reining in of the NSA—“was literally born from Alexander,” the former official said.”
This assessment is not a surprise, because the District of Criminals generates every opportunity to create a false straw man in order to justify a more punitive response.
The Orwellian culture that has engulfed America goes unnoticed in the daily lives of a submissive populace. The courts only protect the despotism of the federal government. The few remaining civil libertarians are ignored or marginalized through the mass media propaganda that views any dissent to the established order as a threat to the entire Washington political class.
The NSA has proven that it operates above the law and no new legislation will curb the totalitarian appetites of the outlaw monitoring institution. Privacy has been destroyed in the United States intentionally to control the population.
Authoritarianism has replaced personal solitude in order to dissect every aspect of one’s life. If people are not angry over this reality, they deserve submissive enslavement. The Patriot Act has always been a national disgrace. Now the USA Freedom Act will be the next scorn.