Most Senate Intelligence Committee Members Are Fine With Domestic Surveillance By The NSA

from the 13-of-15-Senators-agree-to-ignore-the-Fourth-Amendment dept

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released its report [PDF] on its Section 702 reauthorization plan. Rather than adopt any serious reforms -- like those proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden -- the SIC plans to move ahead with its non-reform bill, one that's actually weaker than the watered-down offering from the House.

The bill remains pretty much as bad as it was when it was first introduced. It still allows the NSA to start up its "about" collection again, although it does require approval from the FISA court first and contains a safety valve for introduction of legislation forbidding this collection. (I guess Wyden's reform bill doesn't count.)

Other than that, it's still just bad news, especially on the Fourth Amendment front, as it allows both the collection of wholly domestic communications and backdoor searches of NSA data stores. The upshot of the report is this: eleven senators are perfectly fine with domestic surveillance.

As the bill report lays out, Senators Burr, Risch, Rubio, Collins, Blunt, Lankford, Cotton, Cornyn, Warner, King, and Manchin are all cool using a foreign surveillance program to spy on their constituents, especially given that Burr has hidden precisely the impact of that spying in this report.

Any bets on whether they might have voted differently if we all got to know what kind of spying on us this bill authorized.

That, of course, is only eleven senators who are cool with treating their constituents (or at least those using location obscuring techniques) like foreigners.

There are two more you can add to this list: Sens. Feinstein and Harris. Although they voted against allowing the NSA to collect wholly domestic communications, they did vote against Wyden's amendment, which would have limited the use of domestic communications by US government agencies to only a few national security-related crimes.

Their vote against this means Feinstein and Harris are no better than the other eleven when it comes to domestic use of supposedly foreign-facing dragnets if there's any evidence of domestic criminal activity caught in the net. That includes a longer list of crimes which really aren't the sort of thing we should be using dragnets to investigate: "serious bodily injury," CFAA violations and human trafficking -- the latter of which could be nothing more than US citizens helping stranded foreigners.

On top of that, there's no judicial review involved when the government makes a determination that something "affects, involves or is related to" national security. As Marcy Wheeler has pointed out, this allows the DOJ to decide what it can or can't collect on US persons using NSA surveillance programs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions could decide tomorrow that it can collect the Tor traffic of BLM or BDS activists, and no judge can rule that’s an inappropriate use of a foreign intelligence program.

So, the Senate version is way worse than the House version, which wasn't all that great to begin with. The fact that it's now mid-November and these bills are now just taking the next step towards a floor vote pretty much guarantees these non-reform efforts will be stapled to the backend of a must pass appropriations bill, where they're less likely to rejected on their own merits.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 4:28am

    Their fine with it, as long as it doesn't suddenly affect or include them.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 5:22am

    until those senators are the ones being 'surveilled', that is!

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

  • identicon
    David, 17 Nov 2017 @ 5:44am

    Can we get some reservation for those guys?

    I mean, obviously they don't enjoy living in a land governed by the U.S. constitution, so maybe get them some private place where they can make up their own rules without doing damage to the U.S. in the process?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 7:21am

      Re: Can we get some reservation for those guys?

      "they don't enjoy living in a land governed by the U.S. constitution,"

      Well... no body else does either... so why should they.

      People want to remove the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments when it serves their politics and ONLY support them when they are the ones under fire.

      America is the land of double standards and hypocrisy.

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

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 17 Nov 2017 @ 6:45am

    "... stapled to the backend of a must pass appropriations bill..."

    Just like a migrant in the back of a cross-border Greyhound, hoping to avoid detection, the best place for garbage legislation to avoid scrutiny is the back of a 'bus... an omnibus spending bill.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 8:46am

    Yet, spying does not prevent terrorism and is often used to abuse law abiden citizens.

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

  • identicon
    Tin-Foil-Hat, 17 Nov 2017 @ 9:38am

    Misguided

    There you go again. Thinking the US is a free country with a representative government. Then you act surprised or annoyed about corruption and constitutional violations.

    We're living in a corrupt police state. Everything makes more sense from that perspective including the part where corrupt leaders are not subject to the laws imposed on their subjects.

    The "independent" judicial branch of government and regulatory agencies are stacked with rubber stampers or elected from gerrymandered districts.

    The executive branch is filled with authoritarian bigots who use propaganda to manipulate the public. Scapegoats are selected from the community least able to defend themselves. They promise to get tough and pursue "justice".

    Just google "police state". The definitions provided describe the USA.

    Our only hope is to grovel to our masters and beg them to be more benevolent.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 11:09am

      Re: Misguided

      "The executive branch is filled with authoritarian bigots who use propaganda to manipulate the public. Scapegoats are selected from the community least able to defend themselves. They promise to get tough and pursue "justice"."

      You are not wrong, just being too exclusive.

      humanity is filled with authoritarian bigots... the rest just comes naturally.

      Put any group of people together and an authoritarian bigot will appear, followed by a pile of sycophants looking for all of the falling crumbs only opposed by an oppositional group that calls out their corruption but are really just pissed off that their asses are not the winning dirt bags...

      shit I just described just about every political party on earth...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 9:54am

    And 99.9% Of Bloggers Are Fine With Domestic Surveillance By The Google

    Because brings them money, they actively want every visitor's machine to run several hundred K of Google's javascript to track everywhere forever.

    The gov't surveilling doesn't okay corporate surveilling -- according to Snowden, the latter gives "direct access" to NSA.

    Being against gov't surveilance is only part of what's needed.

    Once again, the basis and "business" of teh internets is SPYING -- for CONTROL. The Internet is literally the telescreen system with LURES (for now) to help put it in place, but they're already reducing the carrot and showing the stick more. To extent you believe otherwise, you're a fool.

    YOU are living in the sci-fi dystopia predicted and planned before you were born. -- And evidently you're the unthinking masses in the novels, carrying around spy gadgets and thinking you're cool.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2017 @ 5:11pm

      Re: And 99.9% Of Bloggers Are Fine With Domestic Surveillance By The Google

      That RIAA surveillance phallus tastes good, doesn't it blue?

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

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 17 Nov 2017 @ 12:34pm

    Living in the Once was Republic of America

    Most Senate Intelligence Committee Members Are Fine With Domestic Surveillance By The NSA

    Have Most Senate Intelligence Committee Members been blackmailed into supporting NSA's total surveillance scheme?

    Have the tawdry bits of Most Senate Intelligence Committee Members lives been captured and stored for maximum leverage in one of NSA's many data storage repositories?

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


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