Senate Approves Intelligence Bill, But Extension Of Secret Law Allowing Spying On Americans Cut Back

from the well-that's-good dept

While there’s been plenty of (quite important) focus on the National Defense Authorization Act and its ability to detain Americans indefinitely, the Senate also recently passed the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2012, which (as the name implies) authorizes various intelligence activities. One important thing was missing from this bill: a multi-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act.

As you may recall, earlier this year, the Senate tried to rush through a multi-year renewal of the FISA Amendments Act. The FAA, originally approved in 2008, retroactively made warrantless wiretapping efforts by the US government legal. The supposed intention of the bill was to make it easier to tap foreigners outside the US. However, it appears that the government has interpreted parts of it in ways that go beyond what people might expect, leading to significant surveillance of Americans inside the country. Senator Ron Wyden had sought information on just how many Americans had their communications intercepted under this law and was told it was “not reasonably possible” to answer that question. In response, he put a hold on the bill, and the Senate chose not to fight him on it, choosing not to put such a multi-year extension into the bill — meaning that the issue will have to be voted on again in 2012. According to Wyden:

?I?m pleased that the final version of the 2012 Intelligence Authorization Act does not include the multi-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act that was included in the Senate version of the bill. I opposed the Senate version of the bill, and I announced a public hold on it, because I believe Congress has an obligation to get more information about the effects of this law before extending it for several more years. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was intended to give the government new authorities to conduct surveillance of foreigners outside the United States, but right now nobody in government knows how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected and reviewed as a result of this law. Congress will inevitably need to debate the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act at some point during 2012, and when this debate occurs I plan to continue to press for more information about the impact that this law has had on the privacy of law-abiding American citizens.?

Unfortunately, if the past few years have been any indication of how this all works, there will be no significant debate until the deadline is close, and then Senators will demand that everyone quickly reauthorize things or we’re all going to die (or some equally horrible scenario). It’s the “give us all sorts of extra powers immediately with no real oversight or we’re all going to die” form of government that has been so in vogue lately.

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Comments on “Senate Approves Intelligence Bill, But Extension Of Secret Law Allowing Spying On Americans Cut Back”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Pirate Masnick

The act of listening in on peoples private conversations often leads to paranoia, as you learn what people actually think of you. Which will lead to a push to extend surveillance even further.

Oh and your comment … “You just don’t want them tapping your line because you don’t want them finding out you’re really a pirate.” is just a rehash of bullshit the line, if you aren’t doing anything wrong you shouldn’t worry about us spying on you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Pirate Masnick

One word for that post: ignorant and willfully blind to the probable consequences.

You claimed to have one word and went on to tell me that I was either ignorant or stupid. Do you see your fallacy, or shall I point harder?

You are the reason that pirates all look like chubby, basement dwelling morons. If you have just one word, say it. If you have more, don’t claim to have just one to sound pithy. You aren’t being clever, ironic, or hip. You are being idiotic.

Brandt Hardin (user link) says:

Living in a Society of Fear

The NDAA only goes to further stifle our Constitutional Rights without the approval of the Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist?s blog at

Dan Scott says:


U.S. Government wants the power without a warrant, to introduce as evidence in criminal prosecutions and government civil trials, any phone call record, email or Internet activity. That would open the door for Police to take out of context, any innocent?hastily written email, fax or phone call record to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person?s arrest, fines and or civil asset forfeiture of their property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture: Government civil asset forfeiture requires only a civil preponderance of evidence for police to forfeit property, little more than hearsay.

If the Justice Department has its way, any information the FBI derives from circumventing the Fourth Amendment, i.e. (no warrant searches) of a Web Server Records; a Citizen?s Internet Activity, personal emails; and phone calls may be used by the FBI for (fishing expeditions; to issue subpoenas in hopes of finding evidence or to prosecute Citizens for any alleged crime or violation. Consider that neither Congress nor the courts?determined what Bush II NSA electronic surveillance, perhaps illegal could be used by police or introduced into court by government to prosecute Americans criminally or civilly. If U.S. Justice Department is permitted (No-Warrant) surveillance of all electronic communications, it is problematic state and local law enforcement agencies and private government contractors will want access to prior Bush II /NSA and other government illegally attained electronic records: American?s Internet activity; emails, faxes and phone calls to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes, businesses and other assets under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on ?Asset Forfeiture? to help pay their salaries and budget operating costs?

The ?Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000? (effectively eliminated) the ?five year statue of limitations? for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture: the statute now runs five years (from the date) police allege they ?learned? an asset became subject to forfeiture. It is foreseeable should (no warrant electronic surveillance) be approved; police will relentlessly sift through Citizen and businesses? (government retained Internet data), emails and phone communications to discover possible crimes or civil violations. A corrupt despot U.S. Government too easily can use no-warrant- (seized emails, Internet data and phone call information) to blackmail Americans, corporations and others in the same manner Hitler utilized his police state passed laws to extort support for his fascist government, including getting parliament to pass Hitler?s 1933 Discriminatory Decrees that suspended the Constitutional Freedoms of German Citizens. A Nazi Government threat of ?Property Seizure? Asset Forfeiture of an individual or corporation?s assets was usually sufficient to ensure Nazi support.

Under U.S. federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. Most U.S. Citizens, property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture claim an ?innocent owner defense.? This defense can become a ?Catch 22? a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial of guilt made to government when questioned about committing a crime ?even when you did not do the crime? may ?involuntarily waive? a defendant?s right to assert in their defense?the ?Criminal Statute of Limitations? past for prosecution; any fresh denial of guilt even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence; including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent Americans, property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579. U.S. See paragraph (6) at:

Sue Riley says:

The Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (retroactive)?

Is The Passed Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (retroactive) To Detain Americans?

The Defense Authorization Act of 2012) appears more threatening to Americans than Hitler’s (1933 DISCRIMINATORY LAWS. Hitler’s laws set time limits that Germans could be incarcerated for e.g., Serious Disturbance of the Peace and Rioting. But Senators Carl Levin and John McCain?s bill broadly mandates holding Americans indefinitely in Military Custody for being a Belligerent.

Why should anyone be surprised President Obama insisted on indefinite detentions of U.S. Citizens in The Defense Authorization Act? It was widely known that Obama gave a speech in May 2010 at a Security Conference that proposed, incarcerating anyone in indefinite detention without evidence of wrongdoing that government deemed a ?combatant? or likely to engage or support a violent act in the future; including U.S. Citizens.

Now that Obama has signed The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Obama like Hitler, will have the power to arrest members of Congress, drag U.S. Citizens off the street and from their homes to be imprisoned indefinitely based only on Government?s premise someone is a ?Combatant? or Belligerent? having or likely to engage in or support a violent act in the future or do something that (might) threaten National Security.

Now that Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, could millions of lawful U.S. activists be subject to indefinite military detention. When you examine Obama?s May 2010 speech, it appears Obama wanted (retroactive power) to incarcerate anyone that government alleged had (prior) committed or supported violent acts on the premise he or she is likely to engage in or support violent acts in the future: some U.S. activists may be vulnerable because no activist knows what other activists or groups they associated or networked did in the past or might do illegally in the future domestically or overseas. U.S. Government need (only allege) a person; group, organization current or former inmate?has committed or might commit a violent act or threaten U.S. National Security to order Indefinite Detention of Americans in military custody with no evidence whatsoever.

Historically when countries have passed police state laws like S.1867, many Citizens abstain from politically speaking out; visiting activists websites or writing comments that might be deemed inappropriate by the Government, i.e. cause someone to be investigated or detained in Military Custody. Are some writers dead-meat with Obama?s signing of S. 1867? It is foreseeable any ?American? who writes on the Internet or verbally express an opinion against any entity of U.S. Government or its coalition partners may under the Patriot Act and The Defense Authorization Act of 2012 be deemed by U.S. authorities a ?Combatant or Belligerent? or someone likely to engage in, support or provoke violent acts or threaten National Security. U.S. Government can too easily allege an author?s writings inspired Combatant(s) or Belligerent(s) in the past; could in the future or currently, to order an author?s indefinite military detention.

It is problematic that indefinitely detained U.S. Citizens not involved in terrorism or hostile activities, not given Miranda Warnings or allowed legal counsel that are interrogated, will be prosecuted for non-terrorist (ordinary crimes) because of their (alleged admissions) while held in Indefinite Military Detention. Obama will have the power to override the U.S. Constitution. Obama will have the power to detain indefinitely any American without probable cause or evidence. What American will dare speak out against the U.S. government now that Obama has signed The Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

Obama appears to be centralizing the power of federal Government, by getting legislation passed that U.S. government can potentially use to intimidate and threaten any individual or corporation. Hitler got passed similar laws shortly before the burning of the German Parliament building blamed on the communists: immediately after the fire, Hitler used his prior passed police-state laws to coerce corporations and influential Citizens to support passage of fascist legislation e.g., the (1933 DISCRIMINATORY LAWS / DECREE OF THE REICH PRESIDENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE PEOPLE AND STATE that suspended provisions of the German Constitution that protected Citizens? freedoms and civil liberties. Senators Carl Levin and John McCain?s (Defense Authorization Act of 2012) appears more threatening to Americans than Hitler? (1933 DISCRIMINATORY LAWS. Hitler?s laws set time limits that Germans could be incarcerated for e.g., Serious Disturbance of the Peace and Rioting. But Senators Carl Levin (D) and John McCain?s ? bill broadly mandates holding Americans indefinitely in Military Custody for being a Combatant or Belligerent. A U.S. Police State Government can use The Defense Authorization Act; and Patriot Act that includes more than 350 civil asset forfeiture laws to threaten or seize the assets of any corporation or individual; to strong-arm U.S. corporations, institutions and others to support government actions including passage of more Police State (Fascist) legislation that will intimidate, threaten and curtail the civil liberties of Americans.

Immediately Below: Compare The 1933 Nazi Decrees with Senators Carl Levin and John McCain?s National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

1933. ROBL. I 83.


Note: Based on translations by State Department, National Socialism, 1942 PP. 215-17, and Pollak, J.K., and Heneman, H.J., The Hitler Decrees, (1934), pp. 10-11.7

In virtue of Section 48 (2) of the German Constitution, the following is decreed as a defensive measure against Communist acts of Violence, endangering the state:

Section 1
Sections 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. Thus, restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press, on the right of assembly and the right of association, and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications, and warrants for house-searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

Section 2
If in a state the measures necessary for the restoration of public security and order are not taken, the Reich Government may temporarily take over the powers of the highest state authority.

Section 4
Whoever provokes, or appeals for or incites to the disobedience of the orders given out by the supreme state authorities or the authorities subject to then for the execution of this decree, or the orders given by the Reich Government according to Section 2, is punishable?insofar as the deed, is not covered by the decree with more severe punishment and with imprisonment of not less that one month, or with a fine from 150 up to 15,000 Reichsmarks.

Whoever endangers human life by violating Section 1, is to be punished by sentence to a penitentiary, under mitigating circumstances with imprisonment of not less than six months and, when violation causes the death of a person, with death, under mitigating circumstances with a penitentiary sentence of not less that two years. In addition the sentence my include confiscation of property.

Whoever provokes an inciter to or act contrary to public welfare is to be punished with a penitentiary sentence, under mitigating circumstances, with imprisonment of not less than three months.

Section 5
The crimes which under the Criminal Code are punishable with penitentiary for life are to be punished with death: i.e., in Sections 81 (high treason), 229 (poisoning), 306 (arson), 311 (explosion), 312 (floods), 315, paragraph 2 (damage to railroad properties, 324 (general poisoning).
Insofar as a more severe punishment has not been previously provided for, the following are punishable with death or with life imprisonment or with imprisonment not to exceed 15 years:

1. Anyone who undertakes to kill the Reich President or a member or a commissioner of the Reich Government or of a state government, or provokes to such a killing, or agrees to commit it, or accepts such an offer, or conspires with another for such a murder;
2. Anyone who under Section 115 (2) of the Criminal Code (serious rioting) or of Section 125 (2) of the Criminal Code (serious disturbance of the peace) commits the act with arms or cooperates consciously and intentionally with an armed person;
3. Anyone who commits a kidnapping under Section 239 of the Criminal with the intention of making use of the kidnapped person as a hostage in the political struggle.

Section 6
This decree enters in force on the day of its promulgation.

Reich President
Reich Chancellor
Reich Minister of the Interior
Reich Minister of Justice

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