NJ Congressman Rush Holt Is Attempting To Repeal The Patriot Act And FISA Amendments Act
from the incremental-improvement-is-off-the-table dept
Just recently, we discussed Rep. Justin Amash’s plan to defund the NSA through an amendment to the defense appropriations bill working its way through the House. At this point, I would normally say “following on the heels of that news,” but in this case, Rep.
Steve Rush Holt !!! of New Jersey made his announcement on the 11th, while Amash’s arrived on the 15th.
Holt’s news? A plan to repeal two laws notorious for their encroachments on civil liberties.
Soon, I will introduce legislation that would repeal the laws that brought us our current “surveillance state”: the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act. My bill would restore the probable cause-based warrant requirement for any surveillance against an American citizen being proposed on the basis of an alleged threat to the nation.
As a bonus, Holt is also proposing “genuine legal protections” for whistleblowers, a big step up from the current climate in which whistleblowers are persecuted and prosecuted.
Holt’s editorial/announcement, which appeared in the Asbury Park Press, details how the NSA collects and retains data without warrants, providing special “dispensation” for those who circumvent the normal routes.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, analyzing how the National Security Agency is apparently utilizing this data, said on its website: “In sum, if you use encryption they’ll keep your data forever. If you use Tor, they’ll keep your data for at least five years. If an American talks with someone outside the U.S., they’ll keep your data for five years. If you’re talking to your attorney, you don’t have any sense of privacy. And the NSA can hand over your information to the FBI for evidence of any crime, not just terrorism.
These two acts have resulted in agencies that are long on data and short on accountability. This situation is a direct result of administrations and legislators in thrall to a calculus of fear that has persuaded them to exchange liberty for safety despite being completely unable to guarantee their end of the bargain. Holt quotes Alexander Hamilton to make this point:
“Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”
And that’s where we are today — more than a decade removed from the event that resulted in the PATRIOT Act and seeing nothing but continual escalation and expansion of government incursion on our rights and privacy. Instead of spending the last 12 years attempting to find a balance, our elected officials (and the agencies under their purview) have chosen to see how far they could push before meeting resistance. Repealing these two laws completely may be excessive (or more negatively, impossible), but finding a balance is much easier when you start from a clean slate, rather than attempting to inch back miles of overreach until the scale settles.
Minor update: Eric Hellman points out that Rush Holt is in the middle of a Senate race, which means NJ voters have a chance to (somewhat indirectly) cast their vote on these two laws.
Filed Under: 4th amendment, fisa amendments act, nsa, nsa surveillance, patriot act, repeal, rush holt
Comments on “NJ Congressman Rush Holt Is Attempting To Repeal The Patriot Act And FISA Amendments Act”
Repealing these two laws completely may be excessive
They are unconstitutional. Complete eradication of those laws is the only way out. In fact they should have never come into effect in the first place.
I would argue that pocket nukes would be the correct response – a Constitutional Amendment barring an increase in executive and intelligence powers, and shrinking them to a much more moderate level.
Secondary to this, everyone in the NSA and the administration involved should be jailed for life without parole.
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“everyone in the NSA and the administration”
only the present administration of course … because prior administrations are not complicit in the least bit – amirite???
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Indeed, those in previous administrations who allowed such things to happen should be held accountable too.
“They are unconstitutional. Complete eradication of those laws is the only way out. In fact they should have never come into effect in the first place.”
That’s simply not correct. PARTS of them are likely unconstitutional. But the Patriot Act did accomplish several things that needed doing, namely in streamlining the way various domestic and international agencies communicate intelligence with one another. Other parts of the Patriot Act include:
1. Giving the USAG authority to offer rewards to the public for information that stops terrorist plots
2. Changes in how aid money from VOCA can be more quickly distributed to the families of terrorism victims
3. Tighter controls on who can have certain equipment domestically, like hazmat suits, as well as grants for first responders and stricter punishments for anyone found laundering money for terrorist groups.
Now, a giant, menacing razor blade should indeed be taken to a large portion of the Patriot Act, but you don’t want to lose everything in there, trust me.
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I understand that there may be some good parts in there. Much like SOPA had one or two insights in the middle of all the mud. However if the great majority of the bill was unconstitutional from the beginning it should have never been approved in the first place. Or it should have been shot down via judiciary.
I’m not sure if you can revoke parts of a law in place or if it could have been put in effect with a huge chunk of it vetoed or something. Regardless the laws as a whole are unconstitutional.
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I normally like most of Dark Helmets posts but he is way off base on this one.
Just to keep this focused: how could you possible balance your three reasons for keeping this act (which boil down to the ease of moving money around for some), against the loss of liberty for everyone one in the country; including future generations?
We have gotten so use to Congress ignoring/ignorance of the constitution that we have been placated into not tar and feathering them within an inch of their lives….
They violate their oaths of office daily, if not by the hour. They have been doing this generations (but has really picked up steam starting in the 90’s). So the reality is, by continuing to vote for these idiots, the conversion of the ‘home of the free’ into the ‘home of the whiners’ is completely our fault.
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You seem to think that I want to keep the entire Patriot Act intact. I don’t. I was responding to someone who said repeal the entire law. I don’t want that either.
It is possible, you know, for a law to be bad without being ALL bad. Keep the good bits, throw out the bad. It really ain’t that hard to understand if you can keep your emotions in check….
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I got what you were saying. My point is the small amount of good you have pointed out is hardly even worth mentioning.
To frame it another way: your suggestion, that we try to surgically save the few little healthy cells from this massive flaming ball of cancer growing so large that is pushing us ever closer to the sun, is some we should all definitely get behind.
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“I got what you were saying. My point is the small amount of good you have pointed out is hardly even worth mentioning.”
Grrrr, all I’m saying is keep the good parts and get rid of the bad. You agreed the parts I mentioned were good. How are we even arguing about this?
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As I said at the top, I usually really like your stuff so I don’t want to argue with you. My stuff on the other hand can seriously use an editor.
One last point, and I’ll let you move on to more useful activities: we will be very lucky to get even a tiny improvement in your liberties (in our lifetime). When dealing with congress keeping things as black and white as possible is important. So “Repeal the Patriot Act, Now” is more likely to have an impact than: “but don’t forget about the hazmat suits”.
Keep up the good work Dark Helmet!
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Look, if you want to repeal the Patriot Act entirely and replace it with the Dark Helmet Said This Shit Act Of 2013, in which intelligence agencies can still, you know, talk to each other, as well as the other provisions I mentioned, that’s fine by me too.
My point is that too many people think that the Patriot Act was all surveillance and nothing else, when that just wasn’t the case.
And to anyone who thinks the changes made to how agencies speak with one another and share information were of little consequence, they seem to forget the discussion about who knew how much that occurred directly after 9/11, when a TON of people knew the guys were in the country, were taking flight lessons, heard chatter, etc. etc. etc., except they never talked to one another….
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Seems to me that improvement in information sharing was a key feature that sold us DHS.
As a layperson looking on from the outside, I see no signs that a decade of improved intelligence gathering has improved our lot in the least. I then balance that against the clear unmistakable fact that Americans have lost essential liberties that we are not likely to get back.
Not to mention that all these “improvements” will never give use perfect security. So I for one would, far and away, prefer more liberty and freedom than having the biggest daily intel report known to man.
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You’re right, Tim, but I’m really sick of this idea that the “part” of a law can be unconstitutional and the rest can stick. Maybe it’s always been that way. I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve been really bothered lately by SCOTUS doing that.
I’d much rather throw the whole thing out and start over.
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Honestly given their habits I’d err for staking it, burning it, and scattering the ashes at a crossroad before trusting them to cut away abuse.
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So it’s relevant to regulate who can buy survivalist gear like hazmat suites? Now that’s really sensible… Please do also limit all potential parts for a suitcase nuke and so on.
Re: Response to: Ninja on Jul 17th, 2013 @ 3:40am
Repealing these laws is one thing and necessary, but the abusive preidential administration and the intelligence agencies will continue to snub their now at the Constitution and our rights. So major cuts in funding to NSA and other agencies and to the federal Govt will limit their ability for tyranical actions.
The legislative branch created and voted on this law.
The executive branch did not veto and is enforcing it.
The judicial branch has interpreted it as the law.
Sorry. It may be a piece of shit but it is still the law.
In other words even with the checks and balances of the Constitution we can still end up with crap laws (Patriot act) being passed and enforced.
They bark, but will they bite?
I’m curious what these senators will actually do to achieve what they promise.
It’s quite a chance to gain popularity by being pro-human rights, and more and more politicians seem to realize that.
They better make sure it’s veto proof…
I can’t picture Obama wanting to repeal the Patriot Act since he signed off on it’s renewal when it came time for it to expire…
It won’t even make it that far. This bill is DOA. Most of congress, much less the president, have no desire to roll back and surrender power now that they’ve obtained it.
The best chance of getting these abusive laws reigned in is their constitutional challenge before the supreme court. Even then, I have my doubts whether they will do the right thing.
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Hell, the Chief Justice appoints the judges on the FISA court, the secret court that (surprise) is made up of 11 Republican judges….out of 12! Slight conflict of interest here.
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When has SCrOtUmS done anything right lately?
And he’s a physicist too! Rush Holt may now be the third member of the current Congress that I actually respect, along with Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Zoe Lofgren.
All Democrats. That makes you a dirty hippie and probably a communist, according to mainstream American political thought as expressed on the AM radio.
Heck, even most Democrats are hostile to actual Democrats. Today, you have to be a “pro-business Democrat” which means you don’t believe in workers’ right to organize unions and believe corporate lobbyists should write all the laws.
I’ll bet Rush Holt, Ron Wyden and Zoe Lofgren have to eat lunch at their own table in the Congressional cafeteria, and constantly have other congressmen knocking over their trays. Thomas Jefferson and FDR would weep.
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Was that a troll or sarcasm, I couldn’t tell.
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Re: Physicist Rush Holt
Rush Holt had finished his own education and started teaching when I started school at Swarthmore College. He was either an instructor or associate professor of physics.
He was well-liked at Swarthmore, He isn’t an extremist about anything, despite Swarthmore College’s extensive reputation as a bastion of communist-socialists and militant feminist-lesbians. Yes, they have free speech, as is their right. But their are many viewpoints held by students and academic staff at Swarthmore. I didn’t realize that until years later. .
I agree with you, Prashanth. I have followed Rush Holt’s career, though not that observantly. He is one of the only members of the current Congress that I respect and trust, unequivocally. I hope I can say that in five years, or ten, and that he remains in public office.
How long until he gets into a convenient car crash?
nono they will start off by screaming on the talk show circuit how he is out to turn us into a Sharia law nation and loves terrorists and wants them to kill us pure americans.
Rush Holt is also on the right side of the debates over electronic voting machines.
The problem is that these laws will never, ever be repealed because they are supported by the Democratic and Republican parties. History has shown, especially in this country, that once you give the government unspecified, unlimited power, it is very reluctant to give that up and it will do its best to retain that power.
There isn’t support for these laws to be repealed and these laws should never have been introduced in Congress in the first place.
Repeal rights to veto first
Repeal the whole damn government. We need a complete reboot.
good luck w/ that
Hey! Great idea!
Let’s defund The NSA, put 15,000+ employees on the street, bankrupt Anne Arundel County in Maryland, and give Al Queida the shot in the arm they’ve been waiting for. Then we can all get our AK-47’s and hide in the basement until we learn to speak Arabic and read the Koran!
Re: Hey! Great idea!
I hope you meant that comment as a joke… Because it’s really freaking funny. I’m still wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes.
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LOL Well played sir.
I see what you did there.
Dark Helmet, you are MISSING the point. The Patriot Act should not even be a law any longer. Unless I’m mistaken, the law was supposed to expire (the sunset clause) in 2005. But that was before Democrats and Republicans decided they didn’t want to give up that power, so they keep re-authorizing it. And it’s the morons who keep voting for these same genetically mutated assinines in the U.S. Congress as to why they have never been repealed.
If you want to keep The Patriot Act and FISA, vote in 2014 and in 2016 for the same moral defectives currently running this country into the ground.
“If you want to keep The Patriot Act and FISA, vote in 2014 and in 2016 for the same moral defectives currently running this country into the ground.”
Are you guys kidding me w/this? If the next time the Patriot Act came around for reauthorization, they decided to gut it to only include the provisions I mentioned, you’d have a problem with that? How is that in any way sane?
… and so it begins.
there are clearly those with ‘dictator tendencies’ in very powerful positions in government and law enforcement as well as in the shadows but pulling the strings of those in the spotlight! to get these two bills repealed will be almost impossible simply because, like all things that in themselves give power to a certain few, the voices will be the loudest. they wont be so because of what is in place being right or losing what is in place being damaging. those voices will be shit scared of losing the power, the wealth and the influence they have enjoyed for far too long, molding a country far removed from how it started and the beliefs it had, all for personal gain! unfortunately, unless these bills are repealed, it is going to be almost impossible to correct the wrongs they have brought about!
It's about time.
Now is the time to try to help the citizens, not hinder them.
What ever happened to the constitution?
This is supposed to be ‘for the people’, not against.
I am all for repealing the Patriot and a whole host of legislated abominations like Obamacare and the NDAA. Go for it! Liberty is never legislated, and a free man need not ask permission from anyone. Legislation restricts. Freedom is execised. Live free or die trying!
As a layperson looking on from the outside
Jersey Resident Here
He has my vote for striking out against those abominations.