House Approves Rep. Lamar Smith's Bill To Keep Spying On Americans

from the of-course-they-did dept

As was expected, despite not knowing the details of how the feds interpret the FISA Amendmens Act, which grants massive spying and surveillance power to the feds -- in fact, while proactively stopping any efforts to find out more about the interpretation, the House of Representatives today approved Lamar Smith's FISA Amendment's Act by a vote of 301-118. You can see which representatives voted which way at that link. The bill would extend the current rules (and the secret interpretation) for another five years. Republicans, who are supposedly against bigger government, only had 7 members vote no, while the remaining 111 no votes came from Democrats.

There had been an attempt to introduce amendments, but that was shot down procedurally. And an hour debate did little to get to the heart of the matter. Rep. Zoe Lofgren fought the good fight, pointing out that "I think the government needs to comply with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution all the time... We can be safe while still complying with the Constitution of the United States." However, Rep. Dan Lungren -- who previously had insisted that there was no evidence that the NSA was abusing its powers, while refusing to even ask the NSA for basic info on how it was using the powers -- insisted based on absolutely nothing that "this is critical to the protection of the American people."

Even worse, Rep. Terry Gowdy made a ridiculously ignorant statement in response to Lofgren's highlighting of the 4th Amendment:
”Intelligence is the lifeblood of our ability to defend ourselves,” he said. Moments later, he added: “Are we to believe that the Fourth Amendment applies to the entire world?”
But, uh, the concern isn't with the rest of the world. Even without the FISA Amendments Act, the NSA already had the right to seek info on foreign communications. They have no 4th Amendment rights, so that's not even an issue. The issue is that the FISA Amendments Act appears to include some weasel words that have been twisted by the government to suggest that it can spy on Americans too. But Gowdy misleads the public by pretending, falsely, that this is about foreigners? It's not. Has he asked the NSA how many Americans it's spied on? Even the NSA has admitted that it's violated the 4th Amendment under the act in spying on Americans... but Gowdy pretends this is just about foreigners? How do you stand up and call yourself a "Representative" when you can't even get the very basics right?

Of course, House approval is just one step. The Senate version remains on hold thanks to Senator Wyden, who is one of the only elected officials who is actually asking the NSA and the Obama administration to (a) reveal the secret interpretation and (b) disclose how many Americans are being spied on under the rule.

As Julian Sanchez explained recently a former DOJ official has basically revealed part of the secret interpretation, which more or less says that if the target is al Qaeda, then anything goes:
For example, an authorization targeting “al Qaeda”—which is a non-U.S. person located abroad—could allow the government to wiretap any telephone that it believes will yield information from or about al Qaeda, either because the telephone is registered to a person whom the government believes is affiliated with al Qaeda, or because the government believes that the person communicates with others who are affiliated with al Qaeda, regardless of the location of the telephone.
Take that and expand it, and you've basically given the feds and the NSA a blank slate to spy on Americans by claiming that if it believes the spying will yield information about a threat, then it's fine. And our "Representatives" are standing up and -- either through ignorance or straight-up dishonesty -- are pretending that this is about spying on foreigners only. Shameful.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Forest_GS (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 4:11pm

    Is there an e-mail list for all that voted yes?

     

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    Christopher, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 4:17pm

    This is seriously getting ridiculous

    Why do we need these expansions? They do not help to protect us from the 'terrists' (as Republicans say) and just leave lax laws that are open to abuse.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 5:07pm

      Re: This is seriously getting ridiculous

      Gotta do something, otherwise their political opponents might paint them as "soft on terrorism".
      Can't do something effective though, otherwise they wouldn't be able to keep using the threat of terrorism as a scapegoat.

      Collect a few bribes, make a stupid statement, brush off any complaints, pass a horrible law, make plans for the reelection campaign. All in a day's work for a slimeball politician.

       

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    kenichi tanaka, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 4:17pm

    The United States has been slowly transforming into a communism/dictatorship ran country instead of the country who respects the human dignity and basic civil rights that used to be enjoyed.

    This is why I no longer respect the government, who is supposed to be protecting my rights under the constitution and why I don't have any respect for those we have elected to protect our interests.

    Where is "violating my first and fourth amendment rights" anywhere in those choices?

     

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    (A), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 4:24pm

    The demons must be exorcised from the House.
    B.A.M.N.

     

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    gorehound (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 4:41pm

    I most certainly hate this Government.Bunch of fucking asshole rich pricks.Trash the 4TH Amendment and defecate on it.I have no respect for Washington Politics.
    Lamar Smith and the rest of you losers who Voted this in you love to lick dirty dog butts.

     

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      art guerrilla (profile), Sep 13th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

      Re:

      while i do agree with your sentiments in general, i can't get behind -so to speak- your call for them to 'lick dirty dog butts'...
      my dogs keep their butts quite clean by licking themselves, thank you very much; and i certainly do NOT want some dirty politicians (who *KNOWS* where those filthy mouths have been) licking my dogs' already clean butts...

      otherwise, *my* fantasy is that i could projectile vomit over the WHOLE of washingtoon; after all, turnabout is fair play...

      PS its only about half the kongresskritters that are millionaires+, surely they 'represent' all us li'l peeps scraping by paycheck-to-paycheck...
      surely they do... *cough*cough*

      art guerrilla
      aka ann archy
      eof

       

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    Rapnel (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    Nothing

    Not only can they listen but you can no longer protest within a location of two degrees longitude and latitude of any location of any given secret service agent.

    As I've recently mentioned: There is nothing that we can do. There is very little ground left to loose. Bear arms and protect your children.

     

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    arrgster, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 5:01pm

    I'd vote for him

    Hope he runs for president one day.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 5:03pm

    oopps hit submit too fast

    was talking about Senator Wyden

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 5:47pm

    Lamar thinks this is wonderful, he should sign off on allowing all of the data mined about him to be publicly displayed.
    I grow weary of these wacky claims that nothing is wrong with this, and its time we demand that they go first.

     

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    B.P., Sep 12th, 2012 @ 6:13pm

    At least there's 118 politicians we can trust...

    I know who I'm voting for.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 6:20pm

    The issue is that the FISA Amendments Act appears to include some weasel words that have been twisted by the government to suggest that it can spy on Americans too.

    As usual, you're way out ahead of yourself Chubby. Congress enacts the law, then if there's a problem the law is challenged in the courts on Constitutional grounds. Shockingly, a declaration by Techdirtbag Nation that a law violates the 4th Amendment doesn't cut it. That determination is actually vested in the judiciary. Who writes this shit for you Masnick, your friends over at Russia Today?

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 6:33pm

      Re:

      Congress enacts the law, then if there's a problem the law is challenged in the courts on Constitutional grounds.

      How do you challenge a law that has a secret interpretation that no one outside of "cleared" individuals is allowed to know? Especially when those who get evidence that they've been illegally spied on then have their cases tossed out due to "national security" reasons. Or, those who gather evidence of the illegality can't bring suit, because they're told they don't have standing?

      Please, do tell.

      We're all interested.

      Shockingly, a declaration by Techdirtbag Nation that a law violates the 4th Amendment doesn't cut it. That determination is actually vested in the judiciary

      That's not even the concern we're expressing here. It amuses me that you're so quick to slam me you don't even understand what's happening here. The problem is that those who voted on the issue don't even know how the Feds have interpreted the law, because that's secret. They don't even bother to ask how often the NSA has spied on Americans, because they don't even want to know.

      Why doesn't this concern you?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 11:10pm

        Re: Re:

        He works for Lamar Smith, or one of his cronies, I'd imagine.

         

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        Ninja (profile), Sep 13th, 2012 @ 4:17am

        Re: Re:

        The lack of response from our Trollie is just telling. It's good to see Wyden trying to put some sanity in the house. I wonder how long till the feds decide he's a threat to American security and take him down with the most rotten tactics...

         

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          Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 13th, 2012 @ 7:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Even if the troll did respond, it is not like they would say anything useful or reply to a single point Mike made. The troll lives completely off of ignoring any point we make and dodging every question.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2012 @ 1:41am

      Re:

      Supporting secret laws for total surveillance makes you the communist-friend.

       

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    brandon (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 6:35pm

    "This is why I no longer respect the government, who is supposed to be protecting my rights under the constitution and why I don't have any respect for those we have elected to protect our interests."

    when you rely on someone else to protect your rights or interests, you automatically empower them to decide what is in your best interest. this might be the biggest problem the american people face today; a perception of the government that is flawed at the foundation. our government was not set up to protect our interests, it was set up to take care of mundane daily business so the people could pursue life, liberty and happiness. we removed the old government of england for exactly the reason that it decided what was in our best interest and would not be persuaded otherwise. it was a bloody work, and likely will be again when the people finally get tired of the same treatment.

     

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    Sam, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 7:32pm

    The 2008 FISA amendments being extended for 5 years was premature, and demonstrates the most pervasive state surveillance in the world. Check out this piece on how today's vote impacts civil liberties from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee: http://www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/?p=9805)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 7:59pm

    What needs to be examined here is who wants the power of the federal government via the executive branch to be so all encompassing as to push for the extension of this act.
    The white house wants this power.
    Obama wants this power.
    Thank god there is one senator in Oregon who thinks Obama nor any other President needs this power.

     

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Sep 12th, 2012 @ 8:18pm

    Worth noting

    Just remember, 111 out of the 118 "no" votes for this domestic spying bill were Democrats.

    I guess the GOP has changed their minds about "small government".

     

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      Rushthezeppelin, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 8:48pm

      Re: Worth noting

      They haven't been small government in a long time....the are basically turtle pace democrats with social "conservative" views which are just liberal slanting to the other side as dems more or less. Government should have no place dictating any social matters in the first place. I'm not sure elections are doing any good anymore because its all just special interests no matter where you look. I'm still amazed there wasn't insurrection on these matters long ago but 9/11 blinded most of the country...slowly people are starting to be able to see again though.

       

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    Rise, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 9:21pm

    Stand

    I refuse to allow this to happen. When will we band together and remove the oppressive boot from our throats? There are enough of us to make our voice heard and there are enough of us to rip the veil from the masses' eyes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2012 @ 1:55am

    why the hell do people keep voting this fucking moronic idiot into office? surely there must be an alternative that isn't quite such a twat? i sure hope this comes back to bite him real hard in the ass!

     

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    Dave, Sep 13th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Vote out Lamar Smith

    Been following all your really great law proposals from the UK, in the hope that OUR politicians pick up on them and do the same in this country. Oops! Switches off sarcasm and cynical modes. Just whose pocket is Lamar Smith in? Is he on something? Is ANYTHING he does of real benefit to the people that elected him? I think we should be told, as it looks from this limey's viewpoint that the guy is just grandstanding and trying to make a name for himself. Wonder what it's like to be so incredibly unpopular?

     

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