How Patriotic is the Patriot Act?

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

When the Patriot Act was signed into law back in 2001, there was significant discussion about and distrust in the broad powers granted to the FBI and other intelligence gathering agencies. I won’t go into the uproar that ensued back then, but I do want to discuss the latest events pertaining to the infamous Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the section that has been dubbed as the “business records” provision of the Act.  In the last few days, two United States Senators reconfirmed their concern over the possible misuse of the broad powers granted to the government in Section 215.  Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Mark Udall have made public their recent letter to Attorney General Holder expressing their grave concerns on just how Section 215 is being interpreted and used to spy on Americans.

“It is a matter of public record that section 215, which is a public statute, has been the subject of secret legal interpretations. The existence of these interpretations, which are contained in classified opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or “FISA Court”) has been acknowledged on multiple occasions by the Justice Department and other executive branch officials.  We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.

As we have said before, we believe that it is entirely legitimate for government agencies to keep certain information secret. Americans acknowledge that their government can better protect national security if it is sometimes allowed to operate in secrecy and as such, they do not expect the Obama Administration to publish every detail about how intelligence is collected any more than early Americans expected George Washington to tell them his plans for observing troop movements at Yorktown. However, in a democratic society — in which the government derives its power from the consent of the people — citizens rightly expect that their government will not arbitrarily keep information from them. Americans expect their government to operate within the boundaries of publicly-understood law, and as voters they have a need and a right to know how the law is being interpreted, so that they can ratify or reject decisions made on their behalf. To put it another way, Americans know that their government will sometimes conduct secret operations, but they don’t think that government officials should be writing secret law.”  ACLU  The full text of the letter can be found here.

What is amazing to me is not that the government is spying on us, but that they have no qualms in spying on us using any and all legal and maybe not so legal measures as hinted at by Senators Wyden and Udall.  If I understand the concern of the Senators and the ACLU, the issue revolves around how the Justice Department is interpreting Section 215 and how easily the Feds can spy on Americans without any showing of actual criminal behavior on the citizen’s part.

“This isn’t the first time the ACLU has sought information about the government’s use of this provision. Back in 2002, we filed a FOIA suit that eventually resulted in the release of a few hundred documents — including this, this, and this. But now the FBI is using Section 215 much more aggressively. It’s using it more often. And statements by Obama administration officials raise the distinct possibility that the government is using the provision to support entire surveillance programs.

As Wyden and Udall say, the secrecy surrounding the government’s use of new surveillance powers is unwarranted and fundamentally antidemocratic. The public should know, at least in general terms, how the government interprets its surveillance authority and how that authority is being used.” ACLU

The linked articles in the above quote from the ACLU hint that intelligence experts believe that Section 215 is being misused to allow the government to obtain massive amounts of geolocation information obtained from cell  phones.  Of course, unless the government discloses just how they are interpreting Section 215 in their dealings with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), we may never know.  However, when United States Senators are publicly nervous about the use of this allegedly misguided data collection process, then we should probably be really worried.

If the government is “stretching” the logical interpretation of the language in Section 215 to allow for massive date collection programs, what good is the FISA court if they are rubber stamping this type of alleged program?  What happened to the Obama Administration’s promise to be more transparent than past administrations when it came to their dealings with the Patriot Act and the FISA court?

We should not be surprised at the government’s “handling” of these Section 215 matters since Senator Durbin and then Senator Feingold went on record in the Senate with their grave concerns over misuse of Section 215 powers.

Section 215 has been repeatedly abused  On October 1, 2009, Senator Feingold made several statements regarding abuses of Section 215 during a Senate Judiciary Committee markup hearing:  “I remain concerned that critical information about the implementation of the Patriot Act remains classified. Information that I believe, would have a significant impact on the debate….. There is also information about the use of Section 215 orders that I believe Congress and the American People deserve to know. It is unfortunate that we cannot discuss this information today Mr Chairman, I am also a member of the intelligence Committee. I recall during the debate in 2005 that proponents of Section 215 argued that these authorities had never been misused. They cannot make that statement now. They have been misused. I cannot elaborate here. But I recommend that my colleagues seek more information in a classified setting.I want to specifically disagree with Senator Kyle’s statement that just the fact that there haven’t been abuses of the other provisions which are Sunsetted. That is not my view of Section 215. I believe section 215 has been misused as well.”  Likewise, after the Senate rejected several reforms of Section 215 powers in 2009, Senator Durbin told his colleagues that:   “[T]he real reason for resisting this obvious, common-sense modification of Section 215 is unfortunately cloaked in secrecy. Some day that cloak will be lifted, and future generations will whether ask our actions today meet the test of a democratic society: transparency, accountability, and fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution.” ‘ Paranoia

I only wish that I had Senator Durbin’s confidence that the cloak of secrecy will ever be lifted.  Do you think the government should be required to disclose the Office of Legal Counsel memos that reportedly have authorized this over broad interpretation of Section 215?  If the government is allowed to spy on Americans who are not subjects of criminal or terror investigations, have the Fourth and Fifth Amendments been essentially neutered?  Is there any hope of the Patriot Act being brought under control, especially when so much of its use is hidden under the National Security label?  What do you think should be done?


92 thoughts on “How Patriotic is the Patriot Act?

  1. “The government” is supposed to be of the people, by the people, for the people. We don’t need to be treated like a bunch of illiterate imbiciles. It is common these days for the bills in Congress to be written in a mountain of legal gibberish. Simple bills, put to a vote of We the People since this corrupt congress does not seem to be able to handle the job.

  2. One use of section 215 is possibly Google’s personal history function which tracks and logs your use of your web browser, if you use their Gmail or other account where you accept their conditions as required to use that service.

    Have no proof of section 215 in this, however previous disclosure of telephone companies cooperation and granting of immunity to them is enough to raise suspicion.

    Someone warned for this, gave a link to help disable, and that upset my IE9 web reader, when it was disabled by presumably Google within the day, but fortunately only temp.

    Amazing the things they install without asking permission.
    Good luck, America.
    In 1984, they had a listening device in every apartment. Now all internet devices, even the new TV’s (guess you have one) are spy points.
    Your in-house router is sending a copy of URLs to them, and upon order will send all traffic to them as well. .

  3. PPS
    Who says all Op systems on all devices don’t include the function for URL and external ordering of traffic copies routing to FBI/CIA/NSA….???

    Thanks Rafflaw.

    Can we support these senators?

  4. idealist707 1, March 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Your in-house router is sending a copy of URLs to them, and upon order will send all traffic to them as well. .
    Here is a list of some of “them”:

    * Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

    * An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

    * In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

    * Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

    * Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

    (The Keystone Complex To The Rescue).

  5. Regarding “any hope of the Patriot Act being brought under control”, it’s my feeling that until “the comfortable are sufficiently afflicted” and feel the weight of “the state” in some significant way, we’ll see no movement. I hope that I’m wrong. Absent a leak (akin to the release of the Pentagon Papers) or a Watergate-like moment, life will go on as usual, tragically for some.

    Thanks for this posting, rafflaw.

  6. AN
    And the chief leak threat was Wikileaks, I say WAS.
    Which Senator is going to do an “et tu Brute”-attack on the executive power?

    Thanks, Dredd. Sad to see.

  7. What is even more distressing, if possible, is that even with these powerful laws, the FBI still breaks the law.

    If we are to believe news reports, the IG at the FBI reports that frequently agents do not adhere to the agency’s own rules or meet the standards for these powerful laws.

    What next? “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

  8. Magginkat,

    Unfortunately, we have evolved into a government of the privileged, by the privileged, and for the privileged and we are the illiterate imbeciles who have allowed it to happen. We voted for the best lookers, the best liars, and the most sanctimonious. And now it’s crashing and none of us idiots will be able to stop the crash. On the bright side, we may have a hand in rebuilding it in a fashion that would somewhat reflect the intentions of our founders. Alas, I’m getting a bit long in the tooth and probably won’t live to see it. Good luck.

  9. From the ACLU article:

    “Contrary to core principles of American democracy.” That’s how two U.S. senators describe the Justice Department’s refusal to release a secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act.

    “Contrary to core principles of American democracy.”

    And are most Americans raising their voices on this one? Nope.


    As long as the practices of which I’m aware are permitted to continue, the rule of law in this country is but an illusion. Likewise, the Constitution has been rendered meaningless. Whatever vestiges of either that remain are merely for show. Thomas Drake’s words resonate with me. He has asked, “Is this the country we want to keep?” It isn’t, but you’d never know it by the response of the majority of the American people.

    Hyberbole? It might seem so, but it isn’t.

  10. DOD

    Ain’t it a bitch? We fought our fight.

    They gave us a house, a new car, and two college kids.
    But then they got too control minded.

    An apocalyps is all we can actually hope for. Or that other nations will succeed where we failed.

    Why not, using intellectual/knowledge based qualification, let a broad proletariat govern by consensus referendums, and by carefully cóntrolled representatives?

    Just a thought.

  11. raff,

    Excellent article. What do I think should be done? The Patriot Act should be repealed and the DHS dismantled. It’s a Constitutional abomination and it was the day Bush used fear to force it through a spineless, unthinking and corporate cash corrupted Congress. If there is a Hell, there is a special room reserved for everyone responsible for the Patriot Act.

    It’s going to be crowded too.

  12. From Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary:

    “Patriot, n. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.

    Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate his name.
    In Doctor Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.”

  13. Of course, there will always emerge self-named elitists who feel the sheep are too easily stirred by stimuli into stampeding.
    We see this in units so small as a family or clan. Is intellect a self-defeating gene? Any geneticist can prove that negative genes far exceed the positive ones in number**. The relatively few species with a higher level speak in confirmation that intellect belongs to the negative ones—-although the latency of working over time will take awhile to cause our extinction.

    Replies please, tired of standing in the echo chamber.

    **Reason?: The environment contains many constraints to life’s survival.
    For that reason few genetical changes fit the small wiggle room of getting through these constraints.

  14. Gene H and Dredd,
    If we combine ýour lists, the unemployment will kick up by 1 percent.
    Good news, ehhh?
    If we could only guarantee they stayed there—–at least those from Congress.

  15. Mespo727272,

    As I vaguely recall, nobody gave me a house. I only had one new car (1966) and never paid a college bill, although all of my five kids made it through. You’re right. They did get too controlling. But they had to. They had to maintain their lifestyles and the lifestyles of their families and friends. Without control, you can’t do that. Without that lifestyle, you would have to find honest work.

    I’m not a big fan of apocalypses. They generally can’t be counted on to result in much that would be considered beneficial. My hope is for nothing that drastic. Think of the poor insurance companies. On the up side, I’ve made plans for this Dec 23 and I have no intention of cancelling just because of the End of Times.

    I wouldn’t bet that other countries may succeed where we’ve failed. I’ve lived and worked abroad and nowhere had a potentially better government than here. I did say potentially.

    And finally, I congratulate you on your idea of governing by the proletariat. Today, it could all be done on-line in real time. Fantastic! But you should check out some history sites. It may have been tried before.

  16. Here’s definition of “Democracy” from WikiPedia.
    I think most people would agree that it described their concept of what it means.

    “Democracy is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizens of a nation together determine public policy, the laws and the actions of their state, requiring that all citizens (meeting certain qualifications) have an equal opportunity to express their opinion. In practise, “democracy” is the extent to which a given system approximates this ideal, and a given political system is referred to as “a democracy” if it allows a certain approximation to ideal democracy. Although no country has ever granted all its citizens (i.e. including minors) the vote, most countries today hold regular elections based on egalitarian principles, at least in theory.

    The most common system that is deemed “democratic” in the modern world is parliamentary democracy in which the voting public takes part in elections and chooses politicians to represent them in a Legislative Assembly. The members of the assembly then make decisions with a majority vote.”

    If representatives vote in laws that are imperfect, then the problems can be seen as issues hit the courts in plain view of all. Laws can be amended or repealed if the unintended consequences are unacceptable.

    The Patriot Act, as implemented, appear to be a law that nobody actually voted for.
    Public policy has not been determined by citizens or their representatives. An administration refuses point blank to explain and to be answerable to the people and their representatives.

    This is not democracy.

    It’s Totalitarian Democracy

    In short: It’s Democracy Jim, but not as we know it.
    (Start Trek reference – for those wondering)

  17. I call upon every dog in Washington DC to trek over the Congress and take a dump on the steps of the Senate Office Building. Then go to K Street and give them some poop and then to C Street and catch the schmucks with their hookers and take some photos.


  18. Lawrence,
    I enjoy reading your posts, but I must say that it is obvious to the most casual observer that Obama and Holder are either fascists, or they have no clue about the principles that this country were founded on, or both.
    In any case, they are screwing us over and need to be in jail for treason imo.

  19. DOD,
    I do it all the time myself.

    As for sites, check out the Harappian culture of the Indus valley about 2000 BC. They had the most uniform culture ever. A city plan repeated at many sites, all streets were at right angles, of uniform width (2 ´widths), all houses built with uniform brick size, all streets lined with underground sewage ducts, and the only variations of note seem to come from external cultures in Central Asia and ev. the australian aborigine type seen in south india today.
    They were noted for their beatiful and skillful handwork and tools, notably expressed in their seals used in marking trade goods. Their script has never been dechiffered.

    With or without you degree, you’re fine by me.
    Thanks for the nice reply and the suggestion. while as I’ve noted that the Sumerians in 1500 BC seemed to have developed infinitesimal calculus, which was redone by Newton and Liebnitz some 3000 year later. Just shows that maybe they had laptops too then. All Newton could show was a prism.
    Just think, 3000 to 4000 years lost. We’d be on some other planet lightyears from here by now otherwise.

  20. Talking to a techie friend the other day and this subject came up….. He was rather lacking in the need for privacy…. His response was all of the nets are routed through a place in virginia…… Makes one wonder why they even bother with the requests….. I just wonder if it’s the CIA headquarters……

    Yes… The PA is about as unpatriotic as you can get….

  21. I agree with Gene (above). The Department of Homeland Security is horribly misnamed, and has made us less secure rather than more secure. The Patriot Act should have been reviewed by the SCOTUS sua sponte as soon as it was passed and declared unconstitutional.

    The damn TSA needs to be disbanded and those working for it should find real gainful employment, maybe parking cars or working at the wastewater plant–but then, we do not want to place them too much above their functional capabilities.

    Where has the Patriot Act and other similar exercises gotten us? Well, for one thing Cecily McMillan is now in the hospital with very serious injuries, but even after a police officer stomped on her head and she had a seizure, police would not let EMTs attend to her, and she was not allowed to call her doctor.

    I will let Horace Boothroyd III pick up Cecily’s story here:

  22. Speaking of patriots, the president signed an Executive Order on Friday that makes “patriots” of all of us, according to one blog:

    In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.

    (Activist Post).

    Another blogs agrees:

    On Friday, March 16, Barack Obama signed the “National Defense Resources Preparedness” Executive Order, authorizing his administration to begin “under both emergency and non-emergency conditions,” … ” to employ persons of outstanding experience and ability without compensation,” and to retain other individuals and organizations with specialized knowledge or abilities, or otherwise important to the adminstration.

    (Above Top Secret).

    Whether you agree or not with their interpretation, one has to consider that “patriot” is getting some new meaning these days.

  23. Dredd,
    I posted that hours ago on Turley. Glad you do too, maybe it’ll get noticed,
    I got no response.
    Willy Loman posted it 20 hours ago, 03/17.
    He has a good analysis.

    The executive order text was embedded and linked also.

    So hope for lots of reaction.

    Here was mine there:

    idealist707, on March 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm said:

    Taken all together with the religious attacks, the nut circus in the primaries followed by a Jeb Bush compromise, the recent laws, the recent exec orders,________make your own list.
    It does seem to add up to a “how long can we go” test.
    A totally surveilled, subdued, subjugated, enslaved, and incarcerated America within our own borders if not in prisons, will be the result

    I’ve also sent it to friends stateside. Good luck with it.

  24. Here is a mysterious section of the order:

    Sec. 502. Consultants. The head of each agency otherwise delegated functions under this order is delegated the authority of the President under sections 710(b) and (c) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(b), (c), to employ persons of outstanding experience and ability without compensation and to employ experts, consultants, or organizations. The authority delegated by this section may not be redelegated.

    (bold added).

  25. idealist707 1, March 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I posted that hours ago on Turley. Glad you do too, maybe it’ll get noticed,
    I got no response.
    Very sorry … did not see it. Please consider this a respectful response.

  26. As I said to AN about peaceful demonstrations of disturbingly large size.
    They will be contained and incarcerated indefinitely in camps as suspected supporters on terror, etc. That will freeze it very effectively. We lost the war. Only bloody chaos remains. Or slow emaciation of our spirits and bodies.
    Good luck with that.
    Your old doddering pessimist.

  27. Dredd,
    My initial childish reaction was replaced by happiness that it would be noticed now. Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel.
    This is bloody serious. Some say, it’s Iran and WW3 next. Or just a step more to the next and the next…..

  28. Dredd,
    You’re the lawyer but there is two notable points there to me:
    One is first the right in a situation that the Pres can’t confirm in case of challenge, then that agency head has the Pres delegated right to sign such orders. Seems like self-evident since 1776.

    And as you mention:
    Two, the “without compensation” does not mean slave labor, although it might, but a way of dissociating the orderer from the usual responsibility for the agent’s actions.

  29. Notice also that foreign travels will also be according to delegated decision right. It’s WW2 all over again, as some have commented. That, as they pointed out did not come until 1942, after our starting our engagement.

    Now Obama is out ahead of time. We are fatter and slower to react now.
    And again it may be a trial balloon, like DoJ’s speech on killing citizens.
    Who knows.

    Good night all. It’s one AM here.

  30. Being rationing I mean etc control measures of supply of materials, production, transportatin, etc.
    How nice he leaves water as food as not being restrictable. Etc
    It’s a pearl of an order.
    Nuf said. Getting to excited again. Nightty night. Pulling the big switch.

  31. When a nation passes a series of laws to combat a perceived threat, like say the Communists, and the law allows the dissolution of constitutional protections and previous statutes (laws) protecting civil rights, the next step is the imposition of a Nazi tyranny. The 1933 parallels are here for you all to see but you ignore history. The Reichstag Fire Decrees are the same as the Patriot Act. President Obama is President Hindenburg. Hotsie Totsie, I smell a Nazi.
    Google: The Reichstag Fire Decrees; The Judges Trial at Nuremberg; Herr Alstoffer.

    Wake up and smell the manure.

  32. “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny” – Thomas Jefferson

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

    “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke

    “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” – Edmund Burke

    “To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.” – Thomas Jefferson

    Now ask yourself why the neoconservatives have been and are so steadfastly against public education and wage an agenda designed to purposefully dumb down American students from the removal of civics and history from curricula to the politicization of attempting to teach religion and economic dogma as science instead of real science.

    Talking Dog has a point. Every day, the parallels between pre-Nazi Germany and the United States become more evident. This is a democracy. If we let the enemies of our freedoms from within win, we have no one to blame but ourselves when speaking the truth on its own becomes a revolutionary act. When the day comes where oppression inevitably leads to resistance and freedom is once again paid for in the bloody currency of revolution, just remember what else Edmund Burke is famous for saying: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Walt Kelly

  33. I don’t understand why there should be a debate. For crying out loud, they have the NDAA now, where they make people disappear. Anybody, guilty or innocent! And you’re worried about them SPYING on people? If we can get the stupid and treasonous NDAA abolished, THEN would be a good time for a debate on the spying that they are having so much fun with!

  34. No one really denied the patriotism of Rudolph Hess when he went nuts, got on a plane, flew to England late in the war and tried to broker peace. He was tried for war crimes at Nuremberg (not the peace mission). No one really questioned his sanity enough and none dare called him treasonous. Nope, he was a Patriot. That is why the Patriot Act is so pure. None dare call it treason. Congress, the President, the military schmucks who employe the Act to commit crimes against humanity are war criminals. But, maybe partirots. Just like Hess. See ya in Spandau Prison some day Cheney.

  35. Have previously had comments published in the NYTimes, article related.

    Yesterday I sent in a LTE/Op-ed submission, fat chance. Can’t show it as they demand exclusivity.

    It portrayed the government’s “necessary” solution to the massacre in Kandahar of the 16 civilians.
    Before sending it, I was full of myself, expecting to be praised for my pas des deux with myself and I on their stage.

    However, after sending my ruelse came, “What if “they” come for me, I thought..

    The point? Most folks have these sober realizations before the fact.
    And thus there is a lack of volunteers to stick up their heads in protest.

    It’s a very high price to pay where no evidence is shown nor judicial review is made.

    Lifetime in a camp at the best, or death by decree for suspected sympathies.

    It sounds so incredible, I can’t get my head around it, Can you?

  36. Talkin dog,
    Good story on Hess.

    Hess crazy, not really, It wasn’t only the Sovjets who had spies in the Manhattan project, I presume. Hess heard that we were soon ready with the A-bomb, so he wanted to save them from that fate, Perhaps.
    I love to speculate.

  37. Dredd old buddy,
    You’re banging your DOOM drum in vain. The text of the order does not support your preface before the text of the order. Sorry to say it.

    Here’s why:
    “b) assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;

    (c) be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements”

    You wrote:
    “That the said order gave him and his cabinet members the authority to take your money, your home, your children, your guns, your labor, and your services”

    Paragraph b) specifies the areas to be surveyed, and paragraph c) specifies the action to be taken. I can not see that the resources surveyed in b) are seized in c). ie “skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel”. The equivalent words in b) are not in c), IMO.

    Thus your contention that viz. “your labor, and your services” will be taken,
    as you say, is supported here in the executive order. It may be elsewhere, please show it in which case. Or correct my interpretation, please.

    I share your general worry over this EO, and am also certain that the government will find ways of coercing us. But based on examination it is not clear what they declare they can do vv your labor and personal services, as you imply.

  38. Dredd,
    Your response was welcome, as I said. And will not belabor the point.
    but in respect to you and my need to prove my claim, here’s my second post on the Doom exec order.

    “idealist7071, March 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm


    I buy that. Glad you did not play the Obama card, just that helps us here.

    But I must play it now. Here is Obama’s latest deal with corporated America. It is to heighten our war preparedness.
    See his executive order from Friday, and give feedback.
    I’ve posted it earlier and got none. There are blogs, but will save them for now.

    from here.

    Your buddy who digs your stuff. No offense. Just humor me.

  39. idealist707 1, March 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Dredd old buddy,
    You’re banging your DOOM drum in vain. The text of the order does not support your preface before the text of the order. Sorry to say it.
    I hope so!

    I have read several blogs that agree with your assessment.

    I will repeat what I put in the DOOM post and a comment there:

    How we interpret the EO is not important, what is important is how the administration interprets it.

    Normally that would be meaningless.

    But in this thread about the Patriot Act that rafflaw kindly brought up the classified interpretation of the Patriot Act and the EO is paramount.

    I added a link to the ACLU blog which is saying that YES! the government has a classified interpretation, which two Senators would SHOCK us if we heard or read their interpretation of the statute.

    So, if they are hiding the shocking meaning to the Patriot Act, there is no reason as far as we can see, for them to issue this EO unless they have another meaning for it.

    I am sure this is a shocking EO, just like the Patriot Act is.

    We just don’t “know” the shocking truth … except to the extent we follow out ancestors and expect the very worse interpretation that we could think of.

    They sure as hell will.

  40. anon nurse 1, March 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    From the ACLU article:

    “Contrary to core principles of American democracy.” That’s how two U.S. senators describe the Justice Department’s refusal to release a secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act.

    “Contrary to core principles of American democracy.”
    That is what I am talking about!

  41. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”
    ~~ Theodore Parker… and repeated by Martin Luther King, Jr. on occasion

    It “bends towards justice” and, hopefully, towards democracy, as well, Dredd.

  42. idealist707 1, March 19, 2012 at 10:14 am


    Just humor me.
    I did.

    Now you humor me by telling me the secret “shocking” interpretation that the administration (DOJ) gives the Patriot Act as well as the 3/16/12 Executive Order.

    Otherwise, hear these TOM TOM drums(video) baby! ;)

  43. Dredd,
    Did I promise a “secret shocking interpretation of DOJ?????
    Am confused. As for nitpicking that’s all am good for.
    The two senators letter to DoJ is a shock enough.
    got a video from FoX by judge napolitano where he condemns with explicit facts the P act as the greatest act against the big C. since 1776.
    He said, I believe that the P must have taken over 5 years to prepare, as it contained short changes to the wording of over 200 existing laws.
    And it was released 3 hours before it was voted on. No congressman could have read it before voting. And only 3 voted no, I believe he said.
    Don’t watch fox, but a link on P got me to his video clip.

  44. Dredd,
    that shocker was promised by the two senators referring to the publics reaction if they would know what they knew—but were forbidden to reveal.
    And they were asking what else does DoJ have secret about DoJ interpretation of the P act which the senators don’t know of and the ACLU wants to know about——I think.

  45. Dredd,
    Have we not been in accord in this. I posted it, you posted it. We both see it as war preparation. Thanks fo the Huff link anyway.
    Saw (where?) a claim that Israel using our tech, made a creuse missile, sold it to China, who sold their version to Iran, which are threatening US war ships in Hormuz straits.
    Heard of it?
    A buck is a buck as some say.

  46. As I understood the FISA Court, its purpose is to review *specific*, particular affidavits for search, arrest, or wiretap warrants in camera & then grant them or not; either way, the result would be classified.

    But PRECEDENTS & case law–no, no, no, that is much more sweeping & probably unconstitutional. What if FISA judges issue a classified ruling that warrantless wiretaps are legal? How would a potential litigant even know that they might be victimized? How would they know to file for a writ of certioarari, and with whom would they file it? Would a FISA judge refuse to submit to the authority of the Supreme Court itself b/c its justices lack security clearance? Then what of Article III, Sec. 2: “The judicial power [of the S.C.] shall extend to *all* cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which *shall be made*” (emphasis added)?

    To me, FISA making classified case law is no better than military tribunals for Americans & terror suspects being unable to see the evidnd3e against them oe confront their accusers. Extraordinary measures may be needed, even proper, but only if FISA is a check, not a rubber stamp.

  47. A little OT, but connected, if one is aware of what it currently taking place domestically:

    Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012

    “Ironies in American justice and political cheerleading”

    by Glenn Greenwald


    A reader reminded me of this yesterday and it’s really quite something: in July, 2009, NBC‘s Chuck Todd went on Morning Joe to defend President Obama’s decision to shield all Bush officials from prosecution for torture, arguing that because Bush got his lawyers to say he could torture, it was legal. I interviewed/debated Todd a couple of days later about those views, but before I did, I wrote a reply to the argument he made on television. When doing so, I tried to think of the most extreme tyrannical and lawless power possible which a President could hypothetically assert, in order to reveal the invalidity of Todd’s reasoning, and this is what I wrote:

    I’d like to ask Chuck Todd: if Bush had John Yoo write a memo opining that it was perfectly legal for Bush to deploy hit squads within the U.S. to assassinate American citizens without any due process, would it be wrong to investigate and prosecute that, too, on the ground that everyone had permission slips from a DOJ lawyer and that’s just what lawyers do?

    The current President has, of course, obtained his own DOJ permission slip to assassinate American citizens without due process. Since that permission slip is too secret for us to see, we do not know whether the authorized assassination power is confined to foreign soil or extends to the U.S., although once one embraces the Bush-Cheney-Yoo theory that the entire world is a “battlefield,” there is no coherent way to limit those asserted powers to foreign soil. In any event, the real point here is that our government has become so radical and warped that it outstrips one’s ability to create absurd hypothetical powers to test the validity of a principle: before you blink your eyes, you find that your hypothetical has become reality. (and the article continues)


    So the question posed by Greenwald to Todd was this:

    “I’d like to ask Chuck Todd: if Bush had John Yoo write a memo opining that it was perfectly legal for Bush to deploy hit squads within the U.S. to assassinate American citizens without any due process, would it be wrong to investigate and prosecute that, too, on the ground that everyone had permission slips from a DOJ lawyer and that’s just what lawyers do?”

    Something akin to this is going on domestically. People are being targeted and systematically terrorized in their communities without due process of law. To paraphrase Thomas Drake: “This is not the country we want to keep”, for ourselves or our children and grandchildren.

  48. Further on the Greenwald point:
    What gives a counsel, albeit to the Prez, the right to have a binding interpretation of the law?
    For my money, feel any memos by the counsel should be reviewed by appropriate court—-you to judge which.
    It ain’t legal unless signed off by a court other than FISA.

    BTW, fisa means fart in swedish, yeah, really. fisa is usually used for soundless ones however.

  49. tanis118 1, March 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

    As I understood the FISA Court, its purpose is to review *specific*, particular affidavits for search, arrest, or wiretap warrants in camera & then grant them or not; either way, the result would be classified.

    But PRECEDENTS & case law–no, no, no, that is much more sweeping & probably unconstitutional. What if FISA judges issue a classified ruling that warrantless wiretaps are legal? How would a potential litigant even know that they might be victimized? How would they know to file for a writ of certioarari, and with whom would they file it? Would a FISA judge refuse to submit to the authority of the Supreme Court itself b/c its justices lack security clearance? Then what of Article III, Sec. 2: “The judicial power [of the S.C.] shall extend to *all* cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which *shall be made*” (emphasis added)?

    To me, FISA making classified case law is no better than military tribunals for Americans & terror suspects being unable to see the evidnd3e against them oe confront their accusers. Extraordinary measures may be needed, even proper, but only if FISA is a check, not a rubber stamp.

  50. OT:

    As Occupy Arrestees Arraigned, Iris Scans Affect Bail

    By Nick Pinto
    Mar. 19 2012 at 5:00 AM


    Refuse to have your iris photographed, and your bail could go up.

    ​The first of the more than 70 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested Saturday afternoon and evening were arraigned yesterday in Manhattan Criminal Court.

    Exhausted by a night and day in jail and shaken by the violence of the police response to Occupy Wall Street’s six-month anniversary celebration, many burst into tears of relief when they were finally released to the friendly welcome of the movement’s Jail Support team.

    Unlike many of the other defendants with whom they shared cells, the protesters could feel confident that they would soon be released — Occupy posts bail for those arrested during movement actions.

    But protesters and their legal advisers were surprised yesterday to learn that the size of their bail was being affected by whether defendants were willing to have the distinctive patterns of their irises photographed and logged into a database. (end of excerpt)

  51. Andrew Cuomo’s “All Crimes DNA” Law: Yay Or Nay?
    by James King Tue., Mar. 20 2012


    ​Governor Andrew Cuomo made it official yesterday: anyone convicted of any felony or penal law misdemeanor will have their DNA entered into a government databank.

    There are obvious pros and cons to the new law — on the positive side, having more DNA samples in the state’s database will increase law enforcement’s chances of solving crimes where there is DNA evidence. On the cons side, the law is a bit big brother-y — especially when you look at some of the “crimes” that would give the government the right to someone’s DNA.

    Click here for a list of some of the more ridiculous crimes that would now give the government the right to take your DNA (spoil alert: being too loud in church, adultery, and fortune telling are some of the crimes on the list.

    Additionally, Civil rights groups argue that the law goes too far, and that it opens the door for potential error and fraud at state crime labs.

  52. rafflaw, Thanks for the additional information. What do think about DNA collection for misdemeanor arrests? (I wonder if this is a part of Cuomo’s strategy to position himself for 2016 as a “tough on crime” guy…)

  53. Reprisal, reprisal, reprisal. Wait, they’ve just started.
    They are competing to see which governor comes up with the best cranking of civil rights law. We won’t get to see the award ceremony. Only on CCTV for exclusive group. Top one percent.

    OT every baby is DNA’d at birth here. But requires extraordinary measures to be used in criminal cases.

    Does NY have an adultery law? How many have violated that. All of you? (rising intpnation)

  54. (with video)

    March 21, 2012

    Exposed: Inside the NSA’s Largest and Most Expansive Secret Domestic Spy Center in Bluffdale, Utah

    A new exposé in Wired Magazine reveals details about how the National Security Agency is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah, as part of a secret NSA surveillance program codenamed “Stellar Wind.” We speak with investigative reporter James Bamford, who says the NSA has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency. This includes the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases and other digital “pocket litter.” “The NSA has constantly denied that they’re doing things, and then it turns out they are doing these things,” Bamford says in response to NSA Director General Keith Alexander’s denial yesterday that U.S. citizens’ phone calls and emails are being intercepted. “A few years ago, President Bush said before camera that the United States is not eavesdropping on anybody without a warrant, and then it turns out that we had this exposure to all the warrantless eavesdropping in the New York Times article. And so, you have this constant denial and parsing of words.” [includes rush transcript]

    Filed under Domestic Spying, Wiretapping, Whistleblowers, War on Terror

    James Bamford, investigative reporter who has covered the National Security Agency for the last three decades. His latest article for Wired Magazine is titled “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say).” Since his reporting helped expose the NSA’s existence in the 1980s, he has authored of a series of books on the agency including, most recently, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: James Bamford, can you say what your response is to the way in which the Obama administration has dealt with this issue, as against how the Bush administration did, what differences there are, if any?

    JAMES BAMFORD: Well, I haven’t seen a lot of differences. President Obama, for example, when all the furor broke out over the warrantless eavesdropping during the Bush administration, came out and said that he was totally against that, he was going to vote against changing the law to allow that kind of thing and also to vote against giving immunity to the telecom companies. The telecom companies could have been charged with a crime for violating everybody’s privacy. But then, when he—when push came to shove and it came time to vote, he didn’t. He voted opposite to what he said, and he voted for the legislation, sort of creating this warrantless eavesdropping change to the law that he was—said he was previously against, which basically legalized what the Bush administration had been doing in their warrantless eavesdropping. And he also voted against—or he voted in favor of giving immunity to the telecom companies, which is again opposite of what he said previously.

    And now he’s, you know, the president here last three years, while they’ve been building this enormous—or at least completing this enormous infrastructure, and they hadn’t even started this when he became president, the large data center in Bluffdale. So I don’t really see an awful lot of difference between the two in terms of what’s going on with NSA. If anything, it’s gotten much larger under Obama than it was under Bush. (end of excerpts)

  55. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.

    ~~former NSA official and crypto-math William (Bill) Binney, as reported in Wired Magazine, April 2012, as he held his thumb and forefinger a short distance apart

    March 21, 2012 | By Trevor Timm

    NSA Chief Appears to Deny Ability to Warrantlessly Wiretap Despite Evidence

    Feeling that “stellar wind”… but, hey, “it could never happen here”…

  56. I know it is a bit of a cliche’ but could someone please print up some of those bumper stickers that say:

    “Honk if you are not under surveillance by NYPD”.

    I just want to know if there is anyone still out there.

  57. bigfatmike,

    Tragically for some it goes way behind mere surveillance (“mere” — as if surveillance alone is all right). I don’t recognize my country — or my life — anymore. But moving right along:

    NSA denies eavesdropping on Americans
    Published: 22 March, 2012, 21:53


    Also, if anyone will be in NYC and wants to attend:

    National Security Secrecy and Surveillance: Defending the Public’s Right to Know

    Location: OSI-New York
    Event Date: April 4, 2012
    Event Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    Speakers: Steven Aftergood, Nancy Chang, Thomas Drake, Jameel Jaffer, Jesselyn Radack, Tim Shorrock

  58. “The NYPD has become a full subsididiary of the CIA and NSA.” -rafflaw

    As essay that might be of interest:

    Monday, March 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

    “Police State Blues: Our rights do not end where the caprice of authoritarian bullies begins.”

    by Phil Rockstroh

    (Hopefully, there’ll still be some cherry blossoms left when you’re in DC, rafflaw.)

  59. Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

    by Chris Hedges
    Apr 2, 2012


    “There are now 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States, The Washington Post reported in a 2010 series by Dana Priest and William M. Arken. There are 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances, the reporters wrote, and in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2011. Investigative reporter James Bamford wrote in the latest issue of Wired magazine that the National Security Agency is building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah, as part of a secret NSA surveillance program code-named “Stellar Wind.” Bamford noted that the NSA has established listening posts throughout the country to collect, store and examine billions of email messages and phone calls.

    If we lose this case it will hand to the vast network of operatives and agencies that investigate and demonize anyone who is not subservient to the corporate state the power to detain citizens and strip them of due process. It will permit the security and surveillance state to brand as terrorists any nonviolent protesters and movements, along with social and political critics, that in the government’s imagination have any trace of connection to al-Qaida or “associated forces.” If the National Defense Authorization Act is not reversed it will plunge us into despotism, leaving us without a voice, trapped in eddies of fear and terror, unsure of what small comment, what small action, could be misinterpreted to push us out of our jobs or send us to jail. This is the future before us. And we better fight back now while we can.”

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