Congress Quietly Decides To Delete Key NSA Reform In CRomnibus Agreement

from the congressional-failure dept

You may recall, back in June, that there was a key House vote that took NSA supporters by surprise. An amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill pushed by a bi-partisan team of Thomas Massie, Jim Sensenbrenner and Zoe Lofgren passed overwhelmingly, with a plan to slam the door shut on questionable NSA "backdoor searches" (as described in detail earlier). The House voted 293 to 123, making it a pretty clear and overwhelming statement that Congress did not, in fact, support such practices by the NSA.

But, of course, the NSA gets the last laugh. As part of the big lameduck CRomnibus effort in Congress, it appears that the House leadership has agreed to drop that amendment, despite the fact it passed overwhelmingly. Apparently, this is angering many who supported that amendment, and in response, according to Cato's Patrick Eddington, Congress is going to bring up the CRomnibus under closed rule to basically block anyone attempting to add it back in as an amendment (which is what some had hoped to do).

It's basically yet another giant middle finger to the idea of any meaningful surveillance reform -- even one that the majority of Congress wanted.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 7:07pm

    So...

    About that 'oversight' and 'control' the other branches of the government are supposed to have over the NSA, in order to keep it in check...

    Anyone still think those words are more than smoke and mirrors? As this demonstrates, all it takes is having the 'right' person or people supporting the NSA and running interference for them, and all the rest are stuck.

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

    • identicon
      Ryan, 3 Dec 2014 @ 9:31pm

      Re: So...

      Thats all it is. Checks and balances are a bullshit fairy tale. Thats it.

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

      • identicon
        David, 3 Dec 2014 @ 9:49pm

        Re: Re: So...

        Why would you say that? I am pretty sure that a number of checks were signed over this decision and a number of accounts were balanced. Sure, there might have been a bit of blackmail involved as well, but overall, Congress is directed more by carrot than by stick.

        And isn't it reassuring that where the duopolistic "democracy" still leads to bad decisions, there are safety nets in place to let the military entertainment complex fix those before they result in consequences?

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

  • icon
    Beta (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 9:46pm

    by their works shall ye know them

    "The House voted 293 to 123, making it a pretty clear and overwhelming statement that Congress did not, in fact, support such practices by the NSA."

    If there was such a statement, it now appears to have been false.

    I know that there's a lot of overt posturing and covert favor-trading in Congress; perhaps someone who understands the rules of congressional procedure better than I can verify that these 293 representatives do not actually have the power to stop this move. And I really would love to know how many of them knew when they voted in favor of the amendment (perhaps currying favor with the public) that it was marked for a quiet death in the swamp (perhaps currying favor with the executive branch).

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

  • icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:21pm

    What is the state of democracy in the US if not even a majority of the Congress are able to make their will heard?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2014 @ 11:32pm

    So, now we know where those mythical terrorists are....

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

  • identicon
    anomynous, 4 Dec 2014 @ 2:41am

    this is good

    All these failures to amend could end up making the Patriot Act reauthorization in June 2015 *extremely* difficult.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 7:55am

      Re: this is good

      Such unrestrained optimism is pleasant to see! I just wish that I could share in it.

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

      • identicon
        anomynous, 4 Dec 2014 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re: this is good

        Not optimism, just analysis.

        House Amash amendment - almost passed, scuttled by Pelosi
        House USA Freedom Act - passed (but watered down)
        Senate USA Freedom Act - failed with a majority
        House Massie / Lofgren amendment - passed but dropped

        If any of them had been successful, then it would have relieved some of the pressure and the reauthorization would be easier. But with practically no action (except some presidential policy directives) in spite of an apparent will to do *something*, and the shift in leverage from passing something to just letting it expire... Well, I suspect it will be a very interesting battle.

        Of course, the intelligence community will start howling about all the dangers out there. (Want to bet 'something' happens to convince the public?) And given all the money involved, expect lobbying pressure from all the companies raking it in from the current system. Conversely, a few more well-timed Snowden / whomever disclosures should also heat things up.

        So, if things get stirred up enough that NOBODY can pull together a majority, what happens? It simply expires...

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 9:41am

          Re: Re: Re: this is good

          Except that, despite all of that, Patriot Act renewals have never come even close to being something that might not happen.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 4:15am

    There is no way to spin it. Our leadership has failed us, the citizens. Unquestionable and completely.

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

    • identicon
      David, 4 Dec 2014 @ 4:37am

      Re:

      Our leadership has failed us, the citizens.

      Oh, that was never in doubt. The surprise here is merely that they don't get to pretend being in charge this time.

      They will probably think twice about such decisions in future since it makes them look foolish when their decisions are trashed unceremoniously. Next time they'll stick to the playbook and do the job they are paid to do.

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

  • icon
    Cal (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 5:29am

    This may seem like it is off topic, but it is not.

    Anyone here been watching what Oathkeepers (.org), and citizens of Ferguson have been doing? They are enforcing the US Constitution. They are USING their NATURAL Rights PROTECTED by the US Constitution.

    So who is supposed to enforce the US Constitution and the Constitution of each state? WE ARE. We are the Militia of the several states, and we can be used by the Governor of our state or by the congress to defend our state, or/and our nation. We are responsible for our own defense, not the police.

    Preamble to the US Constitution makes that very clear and is backed up within the Constitution.

    Preamble: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    The Preamble to the US Constitution says who is responsible for doing certain things within our nation, and it is NOT the congress, the executive branch the judicial branch it is us. Those things are to be done to “form a more perfect Union”.

    “We the People of the United States” are to:
    - “establish Justice”
    - “insure domestic Tranquility”
    - “provide for the common defence”
    - “promote the general Welfare”
    - “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”

    WE were supposed to be ready to supply the weapons of war to ourselves if necessary because we maybe got a congress who was full of domestic enemies or/and traitors.

    George Washington: "A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies."

    Starting to understand the Second Amendment now?

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    Clause 15: “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel invasions.

    But remember, we can call ourselves out if needed. We ARE our countries defense.

    Clause 16: “To provide for organizing, ARMING, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress”.

    Each state's Militia is made up of “We the People” protecting our own interests, homes, states, nation, and enforcing our governments. The Militia has as its constitutionally assigned duties to:

    - Enforce the US Constitution and each state's Constitution,
    - Enforce and keep the “Laws of the Union” (which is constitutional laws ONLY),
    - Protect the country against all enemies both domestic and foreign, and
    - “to suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”.

    The US Constitution guarantees to each state its own “Republican form of government”. It is every state's Militia that is the ONLY Constitutionally assigned force to “counter Invasions” and “Domestic Violence” within our nation.

    You are seeing this in action by volunteers - Oathkeepers are not the Militia, but they do have trained people - military, law enforcement, first responders.

    They are tr4aining for free, Community Response Teams. An example of what you would learn:

    "The latest class on combat medicine covered blood stoppage. As a prop, I fired a .308 round through a Christmas sized ham (yes, a perfectly good ham) at about 50 yards (the most common range in which contact is made). One of our resident medical experts placed a plunger and tube into the “wound” and pumped fake blood through it to add realism. We practiced applying Hemostats to the fake artery, Celox application for blood clotting, gauze insertion and packing, as well as how to use the famous “Israeli Bandage”. This presentation ended up being an excellent class, and I would love to do it again for new members in the future. Hands on training is the only way to go.

    After blood stoppage, we reviewed some new technologies becoming available in the combat medicine field, then started a preliminary review on Tension Pneumothorax, the second most common cause of death amongst combat casualties. This will be covered in more detail in our next class on response to wounds interfering with the human airway."

    All of what you will learn would be handy in a crises situation - hurricane, flood, earthquake, etc.

    Take the government our of the equation and learn to be responsible for yourself and those you love, your community, etc.

    Then create a Militia within your state and train. There are a lot of arrests that need to be performed, and it is OUR duty to do them.

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

  • icon
    TruthHurts (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 6:40am

    U.S. Government fielding WCD - Weapons of Constitutional Destruction

    Why is Congress cow-towing to the executive branch in matters like this, where it's been repeatedly shown that they have no interest in helping the public, and in fact are harming the public more than ever.

    Why is Congress allowing the judicial branch to castrate the Constitutional Amendments that made our Country what it was after so much blood was shed to grant us the right to govern ourselves?

    Why do we, as Americans, allow such a small subset of people (less than 550) to wield Weapons of Constitutional Destruction to harm our Country, our people, our selves?

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

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 4 Dec 2014 @ 7:48am

      Re: U.S. Government fielding WCD - Weapons of Constitutional Destruction

      Divide and conquer has always been a popular strategy because it flippin' works.

      As long as people continue to back down, cringeing, when somebody says, "You must be a liberal socialist," this crap will continue. The day we unite and work together to take back the reins of power via the ballot box is the day it ends.

      Vote third party. One vote won't achieve much but if you could talk one hundred thousand into voting third party, you'd see things change pretty damn quick, believe me.

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

      • icon
        TruthHurts (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re: U.S. Government fielding WCD - Weapons of Constitutional Destruction

        That's how I voted.

        3rd party available, picked one, no 3rd party available, I selected the one running against the incumbent.

        For those that were just votes to keep judges on the bench, I voted no.

        Get rid of all incumbents.

        Make it prohibitively expensive for the Corporations to buy them, and devilishly difficult for the alphabet boys to find the new skeletons in the new closets.

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

        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 5 Dec 2014 @ 2:38am

          Re: Re: Re: U.S. Government fielding WCD - Weapons of Constitutional Destruction

          Agreed.

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

          • icon
            vijaya (profile), 5 Dec 2014 @ 10:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: U.S. Government fielding WCD - Weapons of Constitutional Destruction

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

  • identicon
    Whoever, 4 Dec 2014 @ 8:13am

    Blackmail

    There are plenty of things that people do that they don't want made public, even more so for elected politicians. These are not necessarily illegal activities. Things like extra-marital affairs, being gay, unacknowledged children, investments in certain types of industries, etc..

    The NSA is perfectly positioned to find out these activities and blackmail the politicians.

    Why should we believe that NSA staff have never blackmailed a politician to vote in favour of the NSA?

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

  • icon
    DavyB (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 10:24am

    Types of resident in the US

    As I see it from my side of the Pond, there are 9 types of resident (an any country)

    1) those that are allowed to vote and do vote DEM
    2) those that are allowed to vote and do vote REP incl. TeaLeaves ;)
    3) those that register, are SICK of IDIOT politicians and so register a protest vote
    4) those that register to vote, and DON'T vote (Lazy IDIOTs or any other expletive you can think of)
    5) those that are allowed to register and DON'T (again IDIOTs)
    6) those that are allowed to register and are BLOCKED (go Figure - someone, somewhere is blocking them for vested interests)
    7) those that are NOT allowed to register (as they are not citizens - Unfortunate)
    8) those that are incarcerated and so cannot vote in person or without malign outside influence
    9) those that could not give a RAT'S ARSE (the apathetic)

    I think 100% of the population can be allocated each into one of these groups

    What proportion fit into each group, I do not know, but I am sure over 50% fit into groups 3…9

    Politicians need to buck up in their moral and ethical standards, and be interesting !!! - so people want to vote for them
    If should be statutory to register and vote

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

    • icon
      TruthHurts (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 10:43am

      Re: Types of resident in the US

      don't make it statutory, but make it something that benefits the voters.

      For each local, state and national election that you cast your vote, if you are not one of the 1%ers, you can reduce your state and federal income tax rate by 1%.

      If you're on welfare, well, sorry, you get no benefit for voting, but if you go and get a job, you will.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 11:28am

      Re: Types of resident in the US

      I don't fall into any of those groups. I vote, but I don't vote based on party affiliation so I don't fall clearly into #1 or #2. Also, despite appearances, there are more than two parties in the US.

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

      • identicon
        anon Coward (UK), 4 Dec 2014 @ 12:02pm

        Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

        apart from the occasional so called, independent candidate campaigning on local issues in local politics the US is a 3 party state

        • DEMOCRAT
        • other, with no chance of power, so no real influence except with the assistance of dissenters from the 2 others
        • REPUBLICAN

        and there is no chance of anything else until true electoral reform occurs.

        Many other states in the world are in a similar position, and the worst of these are one party states such as Zimbabwe.

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

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 12:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

          ... and there is no chance of anything else until true electoral reform occurs.

          That constitutes no. 10 on the list: the game's rigged, so no matter how much you care and want to do your bit to change things, it's little more than spitting into the wind, a complete waste of time and effort, and too depressing to even care enough to bother with going along with the charade.

          I'm sympathetic to that argument, but not quite there yet. Close, but not quite.

          I vote against incumbents, I vote to shake things up trying to make it difficult for anyone to make sense of the current situation, and I expend my efforts on other things which might have more of a chance to make *something* happen for better or worse. Better would be good, but worse might be better if it hastens the collapse of the house of cards. The sooner it collapses, the sooner we can begin to start over.

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

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 2:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

            My response to that argument is a logical one: no effort to make a difference has zero impact. The impact it has might be insignificantly close to zero, but it's never zero. If you don't do anything, though, then you do actually have zero impact. So, no matter how tiny your impact is, some impact is better than no impact at all, and is worth doing.

            Also, US history (and beyond) shows that it's never actually true that efforts to enact change are pointless -- but it's almost always true that such efforts appear to be pointless and having no effect. Right up until the day when, practically overnight, dramatic change occurs. People often say that the moment of change was "caused" by an event that happened closest to the moment, but they are always wrong: that event was just the straw that broke the camel's back. All of the straw that came before it was essential to and more important than the one the finally tipped the scales.

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

            • icon
              tqk (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 4:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

              My response to that argument is a logical one: no effort to make a difference has zero impact.

              To which I reply, no effort to make a difference in that area has zero impact in that area.

              Lines of riflemen slowly marching towards each other is one way to fight a battle, but it's certainly not the best way. There are many other ways, and some are much better than others. I've been aware of gerrymandering for at least forty years, I'd say. It's grown worse over time. I've been aware of oppressive voting rights laws for just as long, and watching the news reported during the last go round, I see it's grown worse over time. That's just two facets of the problem and I can think of *many* just as significant ones. Present day elections are very much a rigged game, controlled by the insiders, and nobody but the insiders have any control over the situation.

              I'm well aware of how unpopular the following is today, however, I believe there's a lot of truth to it:
              The significance of this reference appears in a conversation between the characters Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden, in which d'Anconia asks Rearden what advice he would give Atlas upon seeing that "the greater [the titan's] effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders". With Rearden unable to answer, d'Anconia gives his own response: "To shrug".

              Or, in this case, give up that battlefield, and go find one upon which you have at least a chance of winning.

              I'm not greatly fond of democracy, but I thought it was at least passably tolerable and functional while backed (or limited) by a strong constitution. For the longest time, I thought the USA was that combination, the only one on the planet! But in my lifetime, I've seen it proven false, over and over and over again. Not only that, but the rot is accelerating.

              The Forces of Darkness aren't even trying to hide their malevolence any more. The press has been co-opted in service of the insider establishment. The police may as well be considered little better than Gestapo, KGB, Savak, or Stasi. We lost.

              I'm not sure it's significant (yet), but my favorite character from that book was Ragnar Danneskjold, the terrorist, yet you hardly ever even saw or heard of him. I thought it tragic that he was driven to such extraordinary lengths. I like Socrates a lot too, and look what happened to him.

              I'm not campaigning to sell my position to anyone else. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to come up with a solution. I don't believe the ballot box is the answer at this stage, nor do I know what is.

              Bon chance, to all. I hope we can fix this mess before too many people get hurt.

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

              • identicon
                Pragmatic, 5 Dec 2014 @ 2:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

                I'll bite. If we give up on democracy, we end up with a power vacuum. What do we replace it with?

                Democracy gives individuals and groups a voice.

                What other system would provide representation in government?

                If trading is the answer, everyone must begin and end with enough money to make an impact otherwise they won't. In practice, the people with the most money win and everyone else loses out.

                Put it this way; if you could afford to hold out for a higher wage, you would. If you're living paycheck to paycheck and can't get the time off for interviews...

                When people go to the ballot box these days they vote for the choices offered by the media because most of them don't think for themselves, and those who do vote for the least worst choice.

                What we need to do is promote third parties until they're considered a viable option. At the moment they're not, but we can change that if we just keep talking about the parties, the candidates, and their policies.

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

                • icon
                  tqk (profile), 5 Dec 2014 @ 7:20am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

                  Democracy gives individuals and groups a voice.

                  They already have a voice just by being, or being made up of, humans. Does a layer on top of that (gov't) amplify that voice, or throttle or muddy those voices?

                  Gov't does have a quality of equalizing between the many competing voices, but it's so easily corruptible, that quality is easily lost, or minimized.
                  What we need to do is promote third parties until they're considered a viable option.

                  Or, we need to get back to where we aren't limited by parties. We need those individual or group voices to be heard again, not institutionalized election machines (parties).

                  I often wonder what it would be like if we made it illegal for news orgs to report on elections and candidates. Imagine if all discussion of politics had to be done face to face, either one on one or in a town meeting hall. Limit individual candidates to stating their positions, then shut up while we discuss amongst ourselves.

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

      • identicon
        Anon Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

        @John, Your clearly fit closest into group 3

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 12:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Types of resident in the US

          No, I don't fit that at all -- I don't choose who to vote for based on protest. I choose based on who I think is the best person for the position.

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 4:23pm

    RANT WARNING: Sign Your Vote, or STFU

    heheheehe

    To Vote or Not To Vote, is not the question?
    The question is, "who will count the desired ballots?"
    The question is, "who will lose the undesired ballots?"
    The question is, "who will buy the vote counters?"

    Let's see how well you chronic voters do when the only choices are Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and the corporate Snake Oil Ringer of the Day.

    All the corporates have to do to screw you on the vote legally, is insure that you have no real choice, by fielding only idiot shitheads running against their pretty, well-groomed and smooth talking corporate candidate.

    Even if they have to fudge the actual vote by 50%, the outcome will look to be obvious and expected and will be repeatedly labelled as such by media. (its always amazing how many will vote for the idiot shitheads simply because they bear the right partisan lapel button, even when the label is obviously just window dressing)

    Want a real Rebellion?

    Enforce the signing and 100% transparent public counting and accounting of every cast ballot, and enforce the one person, one vote mandate.

    Make it law that any and all interference with voters will be treated as treasonous behavior and incur fitting punishments, especially for corporate interference.

    Remove the laws promoting Corporate Human Rights.

    Corporations are not people.

    You want to stand up and be counted as a true patriotic American, then stand by your vote, instead of tossing it unsigned, into the hands of strangers behind closed doors.

    You probably think "Oh no! The bad guys will know I voted against them and take away my job!!!"

    Well, stay silent and vote anonymous and soon, you will only be able to work for the bad guys, or the Chinese, as all the other jobs will be farmed out to China's Slave Work Force, in China. Fascists love slave labor and most of your industrial jobs have already been sent over-seas.

    Vote Blind and you really have no reason to complain that the bad guys used your cowardice to steal your vote for their guy. Prove that American is still the Home of the Brave. Make "Sign your vote", the law.

    Or, sit back, have another beer, and watch your country fall. You really do have a choice, see.

    ---

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2014 @ 11:15am

    The biggest crooks of them all

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


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