Tag Archive: Patrick Leahy


A Floor, Not A Ceiling: Supporting The USA FREEDOM Act As A Step Towards Less Surveillance

 

 

” Over the last few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the USA FREEDOM Act1, a bipartisan bill authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). If passed, this bill (also known as S. 1599) would be a substantial improvement to America’s laws regarding mass surveillance. It brings new levels of transparency to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA court), introduces a special advocate to champion civil liberties in the FISA court, and appears to create new statutory limits on mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). We are proud to support this bill and urge others to join us in working to ensure its passage. However, we consider this bill to be a floor, not a ceiling. “

EFF highlights the significant changes to current law in seven categories which we list below :

1) It would likely stop the NSA’s call records program. 2)The bill modifies Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.  3)The bill creates a special advocate in the FISA court. 4)Significant decisions” by the FISA court must be disclosed by the Attorney General. 5)It increases protections designed to limit the potential harm from the use of National Security Letters (NSLs). Nevertheless, NSLs would still be unconstitutional. 6)Transparency. 7)It grants subpoena powers for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).

 

 

   Each of these sections is explained in greater detail in the post and is well worth your time . The Electronic Frontier Foundation makes quite clear that this bill must be just a starting point in the battle to retrieve our 4th Amendment rights from the usurpers in the federal government , beginning with but not limited to , the NSA and their infamous snooping programs . 

 

 

” So while we are happy to support the USA FREEDOM Act, we also acknowledge that there is still much to do to dial back the NSA. This can happen through ongoing improvements to the USA FREEDOM Act as well as through additional bills.”

 

 

   The writer then proceeds to list numerous privacy/surveillance issues that the bill , in it’s present form , does NOT deal with and leaves the reader with the understanding that even if this bill is passed we still have a long way to go to stop the abuse of State and to return our government to it’s founding principles . This is what Sen Sensenbrenner’s web page has to say about H.R. 3361/ S. 1599 aka The USA FREEDOM Act

 

 

THE USA FREEDOM ACT

” Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act  
H.R. 3361/ S. 1599

Purpose:  To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.  

End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records

• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.   • The bill would strengthen the prohibition on “reverse targeting” of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American.  • The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.

Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.  • The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole. • The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight  Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.

Increase Transparency

• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law.   • Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.  • The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records. 

National Security Letters

• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection.  It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.”

 

 

 Senator Leahy’s webpage is here , and this is an editorial co-authored by Sen’s Leahy and Sensenbrenner and published in the Politico .

Here is the bill itself . It runs 118 pages . 

Here is the ACLU’s take on S.1599

Freedom Works offers their opinion

 

TechCrunch :                                      This is the Snowden Effect in legislative form.

” The bill is a solid first effort, but does not go far enough. We will likely see other bills of similar ilk. This specific bill is interesting given that one of its authors, Representative Sensenbrenner, played a key role in the creation of the Patriot Act, something that he is now trying to rein in.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration Bill To Be Released Day Before Hearing

 

 

 

 

” The “Gang of Eight” senators will release their immigration bill on Tuesday, just one day before the only scheduled hearing, according to news reports, bolstering GOP charges that advocates are planning to rush the controversial bill through the Senate before the public knows what is in it.

The bill is to be released April 16, according to a Friday report by The Associated Press.

The next day, before other senators have time to understand what is in the complex bill, Vermont Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy is slated to hold an April 17 hearing with one witness, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REPORT: ‘GANG OF EIGHT’ TO OPPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THEIR IMMIGRATION BILL

 

 

 

” In response to Nakamura’s article on Monday, Gang of Eight member Sen. Marco Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant told Breitbart News that his description of the process being worked on is not correct. “The legislation that the eight senators are working on is only the start of the process; we expect several committee hearings, a full debate, and an open process for other senators to offer amendments,” Conant said. “It’s premature to speculate about what sort of amendments might be offered, but if another senator offers an amendment that improves the legislation consistent with the principles Senator Rubio has outlined, then I would expect members of the group of eight to support it.”

But Rubio’s words are unlikely to do much to assuage the concerns of conservative Republicans in Congress, especially as fellow Gang of Eight member New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, and other Democrats appear poised to rush whatever bill the bipartisan group comes up with through as fast as they can once the legislative text is presented.

Nakamura notes the bill is expected to be around 1,500 pages long, and that the Gang of Eight “is trying to strike a deal in which all the members agree to oppose any amendments to the core provisions, even if they might agree with the amendments, people familiar with the talks said.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explosive Exchange at Gun Hearing Between Ted Cruz and Dianne Feinstein

 

 

” Ted Cruz and Dianne Feinstein had this explosive exchange at a Senate Judiciary Hearing on guns earlier today:”

 

    Watch the video , wherein Senators Feinstein , Leahy and Durbin amply demonstrate the “reverence” that the leaders of the democratic party reserve for our most sacred legal document .

  Your rights are what we say they are … unless by some chance the courts rebuke us, but the burden of proof lies with you “the citizens” to prove us wrong .

   That is exactly backwards . There was a time when congress was made up of such men that the constitutionality of any new law was well and truly debated BEFORE it became law and it wasn’t left to the citizenry to try and keep their rights from being usurped every time congress was in session .

Mark Twain said it best : “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the congress is in session.”

 

 

Senate Bill Rewrite Lets Feds Read Your E-mail Without Warrants

Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans’ e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

 

 

 

 

 ” A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy’s staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Revised bill highlights

 

 

✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.

✭ Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.

✭ Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim “emergency” situations exist.

✭ Says providers “shall notify” law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.

✭ Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.

 

Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.

CNET obtained a draft of the proposed amendments from one of the people involved in the negotiations with Leahy; it’s embedded at the end of this post. The document describes the changes as “Amendments intended to be proposed by Mr. Leahy.” “