Seeing Opportunity, Congress Tries To Rush Through Its Plan To Legalize FBI Abuses Citing 'Orlando!'

from the let-no-crisis-go-unwasted dept

Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about the FBI pushing strongly for an update to the law that covers National Security Letters (NSLs) to cover up the fact that the FBI has been using them to get electronic communications records. The current law on NSLs doesn’t cover that information, though the FBI insists that it’s just a “typo” in the law, and still frequently asks for them in its NSLs, because NSL recipients often don’t know the law themselves and will still turn over the info. Of course, it helps that the NSLs often come with gag orders. Reports going back a decade have shown that the FBI has a serious problem with abusing its NSL powers to get lots of information it’s not supposed to have. And rather than do something to stop such abuses, the FBI’s friends in Congress have, instead, been trying to legalize such abusive practices to allow the FBI to do even more.

And, in the spirit of “leave no crisis unexploited,” Senator Mitch McConnell is pushing forward on the amendment put forth by Senators McCain and Cornyn to expand NSLs. And, cynically, they’re citing the Orlando shootings as the reason why, despite the fact that this amendment was being pushed for before the shootings even occurred and the fact that this would have done absolutely nothing to stop the shootings.

?In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations,? Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and sponsor of the amendment, said in a statement.

The FBI and others in law enforcement already have plenty of tools to do counterterrorism investigations (and, again, it’s not even clear that the Orlando shooting was a terrorist activity in the first place). Nothing in this amendment would change how the FBI was investigating the attack. This is just McCain, McConnell and others exploiting the shooting to help the FBI further abuse its surveillance powers.

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Comments on “Seeing Opportunity, Congress Tries To Rush Through Its Plan To Legalize FBI Abuses Citing 'Orlando!'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If you want to help, at least do this much.

Rule 41 is coming.

So at the very least, email your objections to FBI abuses to your representative. And as always, post your objections anywhere and everywhere.

***Excerpt from email on Rule 41 from the EFF:

On or before June 21, you can send an email to your member of Congress. Please post about Rule 41 on social media or a blog, and ask your friends to speak out. Feel free to get creative by hosting events in your home community, taking a photo, and sending it our way. And if you do plan something, please let us know!

Thanks for your help,

Rainey Reitman
Activism Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeap, never waste a crisis. Only the boat already sailed on this one. The FBI had more than a fair chance at nabbing the individual before he committed this act. It didn’t require more haystack, since it already had it.

Throwing gasoline on the fire doesn’t put it out. This is basically what these idiot senators are doing.

Anon says:


Is it really religious extremist terrorism when a guy shoots up the gay bar he’s been frequenting for 3 years? Just as, is it really religious terrorism when a guy goes postal on his workplace in San Bernardino? Especially when in either case, we have seen zero evidence of any two-way conversation between them and real terrorists, or even with FBI fake terrorists…

Peter (profile) says:

Sadly, our law enforcement agencies have failed again to protect us, despite being given all the tools they asked for, and despite being forgiven for taking liberties not granted to them by law.

Rather than empower the law enforcement agencies to conduct yet another antiterror investigation, how about Senator McCain and his peers started to do their job, and investigate why the FBI and other agencies failed yet again (and deliberately misled the public by broadcasting theories based on nothing but wishful thinking?).

Senator McCain’s job is to protect America, not the DOJ!

Anonymous Coward says:

Same with gun laws. Let’s ban anyone on the no fly list or terror watch list from buying guns (actually, I think this is a no brainer.) Of course, that ignores the fact that neither this douchbag or the San Bernardino shooter were on either lists, which means if these laws were in place, they would have had absolutely no impact on either of these shooters. Hmmm, wouldn’t have stopped the Connecticut shooting either.

Seems talking about passing ineffective laws is popular nowadays.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Same with gun laws

Even if only the police, military and private security firms had access to guns. Criminals would still get them.

There would be a black market, corrupt people in those organizations that would sell off weapons for cash to the criminals. Also murdering people to get the weapons they carry.

There will never be a way to stop criminals from having access to weapons in our lifetime.

Why disarm the law abiding citizens when criminals will never follow these anti gun laws anyway?

Would it not be better to have every criminal outgunned by law abiding citizens?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Same with gun laws

While I do not support banning guns (something for which there is nearly zero support anyway, despite the rhetoric)…

“Would it not be better to have every criminal outgunned by law abiding citizens?”

No. It would most certainly be worse. The last thing we need is for multiple, uncoordinated, and untrained (for this sort of thing, not for guns) people to start shooting no matter how good their intentions.

We get enough of that nonsense just from the cops.

Rapnel (profile) says:

You all realize that when the regime realized that the military had tapped the planet that they wanted in, right? Enter the Patriot Act. Enter LEAs. Enter equipment grants. Enter parallel construction. Exit stage left.

Can we just dispense with the formalities and call this duck a duck yet? When law enforcement gets unfettered, or barely fettered, access to each and every digital print you lay down then that’s called tyranny, by default. And fuck-all any good intentions.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s probably because they’ve been, or are being, bootstrapped to the logic of tyranny. This would be readily accomplished via interactions, influence and advisors of the military and defense establishment – these are not democratic. It’s the natural and frighteningly logical progression of laws and enforcement. Sight begets power and unnatural sight begets unnatural cravings for yet more power.

As we are seeing play out in front of us – tyranny can easily and readily take hold beneath the appearance of, or perhaps even true, democracy. The onion is rotting.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This makes sense to me. Your comment reminds me of an interaction I had that stunned me so much that it remains near the top of my consciousness.

I was talking with a staunch right-winger and said that I was deeply concerned about the growing amount of fascism in the US. His response was “we need more fascism in the US.”

It stunned me not because that was his belief, but because he was so unabashed and above-board about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Assault Rifle? Yeah, legally bought. You do realize that a “Assault Rifle” ban is completely stupid right? All it does is ban a gun for how it looks, not how it performs. I can go an buy a more powerful rifle (7.62) that will cause more damage, kill from a longer range, accept more powerful ammunition (which will penetrate body armor much better than your typical AR 15 .223)and is semi automatic (just like the AR 15) and it isn’t classified as a assault rifle.

The truth is, in a confined area (like a school or a nightclub) a shotgun is the weapon of choice, because your targets are close and nothing beats a shotgun at close range. You can buy a shotgun that is fed with a 17 round clip. Now that is something you wouldn’t want to run into.

Anonymous Coward says:

The world would be a better place,

if the Republican Congress spent a little time in gay dance clubs. They just need a full scale attitude change.

Brand R, and brand D don’t care about about guns, or gun control. they just care about the related donations. It’s just Congressional theater. They bang their drum, and 30 round clips fly off the shelves at every gun shop in town. All the while wailing fearful mothers send cheques to that good girl whose going to stop the meanies.

My guess is the Clintons probably bought every domestic 30 round clip they could find before the campaign as an investment, so they could sell them to fund their campaign as prices rise.

Anonymous Coward says:

John, if someone in that bathroom in Orlando had a gun, the outcome couldn’t have been worse. Here is the problem, if you ban assault rifles (which are cosmetic) it makes sense to ban all semi automatic weapons.

A 9MM semi automatic handgun at close range is just as lethal as a AR 15, as its rate of fire is just as fast (and in fact fires a more lethal round at close range). Semi automatic shotguns are even more dangerous at close range.

The majority of gun owners in the US are law abiding citizens who are responsible gun owners. Should they be denied guns? Should they have to undergo background checks? If you are talking terrorist act prevention, since the few acts of terrorism are done by Muslims, would anyone accept a government requirement for a background check or a database list done on US Muslims?

Deny gun ownership to No Fly lists or watch list? Who is on that list or how do people get put on that list? Oh, that is a government secret.

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