Obama Still Asking FISA Court To Renew Bulk Phone Collection

from the because dept

After President Obama announced his willingness to really end the bulk collection of phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Senator Patrick Leahy pointed out that the easiest way to do that was to simply not ask the FISA Court to renew that authority this Friday when it expired. The NY Times editorial board picked up that ball and ran with it, publishing an editorial saying that if the President wants us to believe he’s serious about ending bulk phone surveillance he should end the program on Friday.

No such luck.

While plenty of people are still waiting for the actual “legislative package” the administration claims it’s putting together to accomplish its plan to end bulk phone record collection (but not other bulk collections), the White House has now released a “fact sheet” about its plans that concludes at the bottom by saying that the President has still asked the DOJ to renew the authority:

Legislation will be needed to implement the President’s proposal. The Administration has been in consultation with congressional leadership and members of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on this important issue throughout the last year, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals the President has put forward. Given that this legislation will not be in place by March 28 and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities in question, the President has directed DOJ to seek from the FISC a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, which includes the substantial modifications in effect since February.

There are still numerous questions raised by the President’s proposal, and it really seems entirely focused on just one problematic aspect of the NSA’s surveillance capabilities. Yes, it’s the part that has received the most attention, and yes it’s the part that also has been shown to have never actually been useful. But this proposal seems a lot more focused on pre-empting much more comprehensive legislation like the USA Freedom Act. Furthermore, the fact that the President still refuses to just kill off the program while waiting for Congress to act suggests this is all for show. Tossing this on Congress is a great way for the President to pretend to do something while knowing nothing will actually happen.

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Comments on “Obama Still Asking FISA Court To Renew Bulk Phone Collection”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Was there ever any doubt about this? The only reason Obama wants legislation to “fix” the bulk phone collection is because he thinks either congress can’t co-operate enough to produce it or there are several congress critters waiting on it to slip something into the wording the NSA is actually after.

This isn’t about ending it, it’s about changing it to something else unknown. They’ve not be truthful to date, what makes you think they are suddenly going to start now?

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Obama = Slimeball no better than Bush.

I don’t consider it throwing away your vote when you cast it for a party other than Democrat or Republicans. That is what they want you to think so you will say ‘they are the better of the two evils’.

Certainly the person you vote for probably won’t win, but is that really any different than in districts that are heavily one party or the other? If a district is 80% Republican and hasn’t elected a Democratic Congressman for 20 years does that mean you vote republican so as not to ‘throw your vote away’? No! You cast your ballot for the person you think most fit to hold the office, no matter party affiliation.

Telling people that not voting Democrat or Republican is equivalent to throwing your vote away is a way to attempt to maintain a two party system (which needs to go, in my opinion)

Throwing your vote away is pulling the straight party ticket! I can’t think of one time in my life I have ever voted straight party. I take the time to research all candidates which I will be casting a ballot for (It certainly isn’t hard these days). Throwing your vote away is not voting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Obama = Slimeball no better than Bush.

Yes the two party system wants you to believe that casting your vote for anyone other than one of the two is throwing away your vote.

Increasingly, the American people are registering to vote as Independent rather than for either party. Those changing their affiliation have reached the majority. All it will take now to end this is for some incident to happen that really turns away the public from either party. People across the nation are already fed up with a do nothing congress and two parties that look to be in a fight over next to nothing. Giving everything to the corporations while taking it from the public as well as the racism and corruption are killing the two party system without much need to anything else. But it will take some sort of trigger to actually change it. This business with the NSA is probably not it but it is pushing people hard to consider who they are supporting.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: Obama = Slimeball no better than Bush.

I have a feeling the revolution some people say is coming will probably be in reaction to a 3rd Party Presidential Candidate finally winning the Popular Vote by a landslide, but the Electoral College still putting a Democrat or Republican in the Oval Office. That would definitely NOT go over well.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Obama = Slimeball no better than Bush.

Well that’s certainly a chilling idea, all the more because I could totally see something like that happening.

‘Oh you poor little peasants, you actually thought you got to determine who becomes president of the country? No no, you get who we choose, and that’s the end of it.’

Oh yeah, things would get very messy at that point.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Obama = Slimeball no better than Bush.

Agreed. This is the time to start advocating for third party candidates, presenting them as a real alternative. I think most people vote for either of the Big Two because they don’t realize that other parties exist – and that’s because they don’t get much mainstream media attention.

If we talk about the parties and their policies all the time to raise awareness of them, maybe everyone else will sit up and take notice instead of continuing with the defeatist crap they’re doing now.

Digger says:

Congress may pass no law...

How hard is this to understand?

All current NSA operations are violations of the constitution.

This constitutes treason.

All NSA officials, employees, officers, entities should be arrested, held for conviction, and executed to the fullest extent of wartime law. This includes but is not limited to any member of congress past, present or future who supported this, this also includes all judicial officials who did not stomp this, and includes the Presidents (past, present, future) who did not slam a tactical nuke inside the NSA’s offices for even thinking about this.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Congress may pass no law...

You used the word “treason” in a legal sense, implied by your statement that they should be convicted of it. However, TOG’s point is that this is not legally treason (treason has a very specific, narrow definition, and violating the Constitution is not part of that definition) and so no such conviction is in the realm of possible.

Corporate personhood doesn’t enter into it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

About that...

‘Given that this legislation will not be in place by March 28 and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities in question, the President has directed DOJ to seek from the FISC a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program…’

You mean the program that hasn’t done anything to stop or even slow down any potential terrorists, while at the same time trashing the US’s reputation worldwide, and violating the people’s rights like it was going out of style, that ‘program’?

Please, at least be honest enough to tell people they’re being handed a shit sandwich whether they want it or not, don’t try and pretend it’s actually something they’d want or that it’s useful to anyone but the ones pushing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sadly, the smelly star spangled banner singing monkeys didn’t show up either. A severe case of patriotic anal choirs monkeys, of course being preferable to… whatever the hell all this is…

‘we don’t want to stop violating the constitution, until we figure out how to stop violating the constitution without loosing all that violating the constitution gives us- which we cant factually define in any meaningful context with regards to why we purport it’s acceptable to violate the constitution’

the sadly predictable result will be them placing another layer between themselves and the treason, rather then reducing or eliminating it, in any way, save for how it’s reported in the mainstream news.

Kudo’s for transparency though.

“legislative package”

Haa! I C what you did there.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: re: treason.

Because treason is specifically define by the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

(“Aid and comfort” also has specific meaning, and it is a lot narrower than being nice or generally helpful to them.)

If what a person does isn’t one of those three things, it’s not legally treason.

I agree with you about it being unamerican, but being unamerican is also not treasonous (nor should it be — one of our most precious freedoms is the freedom to dissent or agitate even to the point where people would call it being unamerican).

Anonymous Coward says:

“actual “legislative package” the administration claims it’s putting together to accomplish its plan to end bulk phone record collection ..

given the importance of maintaining the capabilities in question, “

Is it just me? Who put LSD in my coffee again?

So, legislation regarding “a plan to end bulk phone record collection” AND “maintaining the capabilities in question”

Yah, I see it. Let’s legislate a plan to stop doing something we have capabilties to keep doing (and then add a law requiring to judges to dismiss all challenges to what we keep doing) then we can all move on.

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