Feds: Even Though We've Been Ordered To Reveal Secret Interpretation Of The PATRIOT Act, We're Not Going To Do That

from the secret-laws! dept

You may recall that, back in early September, the FISA Court (FISC) agreed that its various rulings that secretly interpreted Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to mean something entirely different than any plain language reading of the law implies should be declassified. Here's what the court said at the time:
The unauthorized disclosure in June 2013 of a Section 215 order, and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215. Publication of FISC opinions relating to this provision would contribute to an informed debate. Congressional amici emphasize the value of public information and debate in representing their constituents and discharging their legislative responsibilities. Publication would also assure citizens of the integrity of this Court's proceedings.

In addition, publication with only limited redactions may now be feasible, given the extent of the government's recent public disclosures about how Section 215 is implemented. Indeed, the government advises that a declassification review process is already underway.

In view of these circumstances, and as an exercise of discretion, the Court has determined that it is appropriate to take steps toward publication of any Section 215 Opinions that are not subject to the ongoing FOIA litigation, without reaching the merits of the asserted right of public access under the First Amendment.
It then instructed the DOJ to figure out what to redact, so it could be declassified and released. Except... the DOJ instead fought that order, and while it did find some documents that meet the criteria -- namely a ruling from February of this year -- the DOJ is now telling the FISA Court that despite the order, it would really prefer to keep that interpretation of the law a complete secret. Actually, it goes further than that. It doesn't ask for permission to keep it secret, it just says that it cannot reveal the interpretation.
After careful review of the Opinion by senior intelligence officials and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Executive Branch has determined that the Opinion should be withheld in full and a public version of the Opinion cannot be provided.
Got that? This secret court interpretation of a law that we all live under, which the court itself has ordered to be revealed, is unlikely to be revealed because the intelligence community really, really doesn't want it revealed. Again, this is not about so-called "sources and methods." This is entirely about understanding how a US court interprets a US law. But that interpretation is secret, meaning that the law itself is secret, and apparently the executive branch of the federal government is going to fight to keep it that way.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 9:53am

    Impeach ALL of them!

    Put them all in prison.

    Do it before we have another PAX situation.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    I wonder what would happen if the average citizen tried this argument...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:08am

    Can we arrest and try these ass clowns already?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:16am

    The NSA, The Department of Justice is working contrary to the interests of the American People.

    Remind again why the NSA and the DoJ thinks that their opinion is more important than the rights of the American People? I thought it's the role of the government to look after our interests. It's not the job of government to take it upon themselves to ignore court orders, to spy on the American People and to violate our constitutional rights.

    I think that this country is heading toward a time when the people are going to say "enough is enough" and simply overthrow the idiots who are giving our country a black eye.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    The government isn't satisfied with being big brother, it wants to be big father. In their eyes, we are all just children and need to do as we are told.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Violated (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:21am

    Poo

    So the US Administration really wants to be accountable to no one which basically means their interpretation is complete bullshit where they just don't want people to laugh at how unlawfully they have acted.

    Yet another example of Obama's Secret Government where all documents, as to their true operation, must be kept top secret, where even their existence is redacted, so that the US public is blissfully unaware of how many times they break and abuse the law.

    Not that Obama created this system where he is just the willing new King sitting on this throne of turds.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    That reads like we decide what the law is, regardless of what any lawmaker or judge says. Next target will be suspension habeus corpus.

     

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  8.  
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    Violated (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    They should take example from the last English Civil War where you can still visit the railings outside Parliament where we impaled their decapitated heads.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Violated (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    They should take example from the last English Civil War where you can still visit the railings outside Parliament where we impaled their decapitated heads.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anon E. Mous (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    And you wonder why people don't trust the U.S. Government including it's own citizens.

    The U.S. Government just gave the FISA court justices and the court system in general the finger.

    The U.S. Government is basically saying we wan't to have blanket authority to do what we will and we will not reveal our methods or the reasons behind them, even if we are told to do so in a court of law.

    The Government and it's Justice Department along with the Intelligence agencies have run amok and seem to be beyond control of anyone and seem to answer to no one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Transmitte (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    I find nothing shocking in the revelation. Our government has long since lost it's fear of the people and found it's true calling in suppressing them.

    Liberty as we have known it has been gone, and has been for longer than we realize.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    ondigo (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Publish anyway

    Why can't the FISC go ahead and publish the opinion itself? Who's going to prosecute them and under what authority?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Jasmine Charter, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    Liberty died...

    So... how exactly does one follow a secret law? Ignorance of the law IS a plausible defense in this case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    We need a list

    After WWII it was tough for the nazi hunters to figure out who everyone was that ruined their country. I say we don't make that mistake.

    I think we need to start a centralized site that can list the pertinent information on anyone who is damaging the U.S.

    Whether it lists people in power who have dumped on the citizens, to the name on a badge of a TSA agent or border guard who goes too far, we need to start accounting for who is responsible for this crap.

    A central site where a photo of a bad actor could be put up and others could comment on it with name/address/etc... to supply additional information on them. The personal info could be hidden from general view till needed.

    A central database of information on all those who seek to harm us could do wonders a few years down the road when the end comes for these monsters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: We need a list

    I'll start:

    Barack Hussein Obama II
    Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.
    Eric Himpton Holder, Jr.
    George Walker Bush
    Richard Bruce Cheney

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: We need a list

    Because proscription always leads to great outcomes ... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proscription).

    But seriously, what should we do? We can comment about decapitated heads, but does anyone really want to go that far? The historical outcomes of armed revolts aren't that good -- the odds of ending up with something better than we have no are not high. But is there any way to make real progress, to have real reform, within the current political and economic framework? Or to overthrow it without civil war?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    and, of course, countless people could be arrested and charged with breaking that secret law, never know what the hell they did wrong, but be imprisoned anyway!
    and some people still say that there is nothing wrong with the way the USA is being run? and some still say that the President is in control of all the various levels and departments of government? you must be out of your tree!!
    it also shows that, i bet, even if the funding was removed from the NSA, there would be a 're-arranging' of funding so that all, including the NSA were able to carry on ,even if no one else in government knew it or approved it! is this country fucked up or just fucked? either one dont look good to me!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Richard (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

    "...which the court itself has ordered to be revealed..."

    Any Cherokee could 'a' told you how ineffectual the courts actually are - no enforcement powers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    The order was weak

    They were given full power to redact as much as they liked.

    They did exactly what was ordered, and answered that it's all redacted and they will release none of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    Next target will be suspension habeus corpus.
    Interesting you should bring that up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    S. T. Stone, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re: We need a list

    an enemies list?

    I dont think thatd go over too well with a lot of people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    The next logical step

    would be to repeal the Patriot Act then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Alt0, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    At this point

    I don't even care what their secret justification is.

    I just want them to stop doing it (even if their secret reason was a good one)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Crusty the Ex-Clown, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    Whatever happened to .....

    ..........the statement originally made by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer that "If a law isn't public, it isn't a law?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Liberty died...

    It's pretty clear that the secret law is not one that restricts what you & I do, but one that allows the government to do things. We aren't the ones who are called upon to follow or not follow the law, the government is.

    It's still egregious and wrong, but not of the sort that might cause you to go to jail accidentally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: We need a list

    Your starting in the wrong place. Start with the CEOs of the large defense contractors and other special interests - people like the Koch brothers. THAT'S where the real problem lies. Without the corruption that comes from their influence, we wouldn't be in this position.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Whatever happened to .....

    It died when America became a dictatorship.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    Re: The next logical step

    The Patriot Act is just a symptom. A more important and effective first step would be overturning the Citizens United ruling.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re:

    I hit post and then thought
    ...GITMO

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The argument there is two fold:

    1. The claim is that those being held there are not US Citizens or people in the United States and therefore are not protected by the laws (including the Constitution) of the United States.

    2. That is a military detention during a time of war rather than incarceration as a result of a criminal prosecution. Military detentions during war time don't have the due process rules that would force you to release captured enemy combatants without a trial that could easily go back to fighting against your country.

    If the premise was that they were US citizens arrested for crimes against US law, due process would be required. Habeous corpus is supposed to remedy issues where due process is violated. This is not to say that I agree that should be allowed to continue as is or even that there should be accountability for much of what has happened there. There should be. However for those held there habeous corpus really doesn't apply.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Whatever happened to .....

    More of a corporate oligarchy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Both of those claims are extremely dubious.

    Point 1: The US Constitution does not "protect" people, citizens or otherwise, directly. It restricts what the US government can do. In some cases, those restrictions are lower when it comes to behavior toward non-US people, but not in all cases. It's easy to tell which is which because it says so outright in the Constitution.

    Point 2: We are not at war, so this is not a "time of war", so there is no part of that claim which is actually applicable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: We need a list

    Hey, no one said we couldn't add them. ;)

    but still, the Koch bros. only have so much influence, while it's a lot, they still can't order the DoD to do something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Whatever happened to .....

    Nah, America was that a LONG time ago, we're far beyond that now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

    Constitution? Wassat?

    So much for "checks and balances"...
    I was under the impression it was kinda naughty to say "Fuck off" when told to do something by the judicial branch?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

    Re: We need a list

    In all seriousness, it may not be a bad idea to have a record of those who participated in the downfall of what was a wonderful country.

    The good die young, immortality is reserved for the greatest of Cheneys.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Publish anyway

    They could.

    But do you really think the cowards would?

    Never.

    This is probably the scariest bit of everything in this whole NSA debacle so far. The Executive Branch is ignoring a Judicial order? And nothing will be done? What kind of a precedent is that going to set?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Torg (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    Re:

    I'm sure the Penny Arcade Expo wasn't as bad as you're making it out to be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: We need a list

    .

    More like a "Traitors List", I'd think.

    .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Liberty died...

    you can't... that way, The They (tm) can jack you up for anything at anytime...

    the whole thing is so bizarre, it makes me shake my head in open-mouthed wonder: SECRET laws ? SECRET interpretations ? ? SECRET judges ? ? ? SECRET trials ? ? ? ? SECRET prisons ? ? ? ? ?

    cue gil scott heron:

    And now it's winter
    Winter in America
    And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
    Yeah, and the people know, people know
    It's winter
    Winter in America
    And ain't nobody fighting
    Cause nobody knows what to save
    And ain't nobody fighting
    Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
    And ain't nobody fighting
    Cause nobody knows what to save

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: We need a list

    i will not comment on whether i think this brilliant idea is appropriate or not; i would only commend you to google 'assassination politics', and learn that only secret gummint assassins can make lists, not mere citizens...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 6:55pm

    Yeah - and $5 gets you a nice latte at Starjunk

    I think the reason why the DOJ and its co-conspirators want to keep this "secret" is that if it came out into the public eye, there would be a LOT of high-level government officials facing serious jail time for treason!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:54pm

    Is this the government equivalent of the "fuck you that is why" meme?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    NSA sucks, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: We need a list

    No, its gone too far. Our kids will end up fighting this war.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:38am

    Obviously they have gotten a secret court to overrule the public one

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re:

    You mean like THIS guy?

    How interesting - Ronald J. Riley is involved in that story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    To expand a little on John's comment, regarding point 1 they claim that A) the base at Guantanamo Bay is not the US, therefore US law doesn't apply and B) it is also not in Cuba, so Cuban law does not apply. So they're claiming a zone completely free of any nation's laws. Clearly that's a problem.

    And for point 2, as John said we're not at war, and even if you want to claim we are at war that's just as problematic, because it would be a war with no clear enemy and certainly no obvious end date. It's a war against no one in particular that could go on for generations, and that cannot be a legitimate reason to detain someone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    Seegras (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Treason

    Ah, forget it, whether this comes out or not won't make a dent. There's enough material already out there to try the whole executive, the uppermost NSA echelon, a lot of people in the USTR and many more as traitors -- Sadly, the law not as succinct as it could be:

    "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

    But given that the sovereign of the United States is its people, something could probably be constructed. Especially, declaring a US citizen "enemy combatant" would actually make you a traitor, since you wage war against him, and thus the US. Even if you are the government (The right way to do it would be trying him as a traitor, of course; but NOT as "enemy combatant").

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re:

    I was talking about the shooting of TSA agents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Letter of the Law

    "This is entirely about understanding how a US court interprets a US law. But that interpretation is secret, meaning that the law itself is secret, and apparently the executive branch of the federal government is going to fight to keep it that way."

    Well of course it is going to fight to keep it that way.

    To allow the public to know how the fed uses the law to spy on the public, is in effect, aiding and abetting the enemy - of the fed.

    That of course, is the fed's new secret interpretation of "treason" - giving aid or comfort to the non-wealthy public.

    Let's face it. The only people that US law protects today, are criminals. You want to be protected by the laws of the land, you must join the ranks of the crooks, but you have to steal a bundle of cash first to prove you're worthy.

    Reminds me of the way the wealthy ran the dark ages.

    They gave the peasants a choice:

    Join the ranks of the castled soldiers and get fed and housed in return for looting and torturing peasants, or remain a peasant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    raintree, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:36am

    tyranny

    This is why the Feds stock piled ammunition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    Re: We need a list

    Actually, there's an easier and far more productive way.

    Simply list everyone currently holding office in the USA and then, as they each seperately, or in groups, come forward with information about their fellow politicians' crimes, their names are removed from the list.

    In the place of their names, a "smiley" should link to the disclosed information they brought to the table.

    Make this list publicly known and readily available online and make sure it is heavily archived, as it will be cyber-bombed regularly by the NSA, CIA, and FBI, as well as by most of the high tech american and international corporations that currently run the USFed as a public relations and funding agency.

    My thinking is that, if you're a member of government and are not exposing the criminal activity of your fellow politicians, then you too are guilty, whether you personally have committed crimes against the american people or not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re:

    They already did that in the NDAA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Araldo, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 10:06am

    General Alexander and his minions in the NSA, GCHQ and other secret agencies already have unfathomable more secret power and information about us citizens, than Lavrentiy Beria or Heinrich Himmler both infamous secret services chiefs during Stalin's rule of the Soviet Union or Hitler's rule of Nazi Germany. Now, they want to destroy the freedom of the press in order to have total control. They are no different from other human beings anywhere, when given uncontrolled power they become corrupt, arrogant, paranoid and quite dangerous to us all. It is high time to stop them using any available non-violent means of resistance as our freedoms and democracies are at stake!

    Here is a link to a an article by Sheldon Wolin which everyone should read it:


    A Kind of Fascism Is Replacing Our Democracy


    http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0718-07.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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