There’s A "Secret" Patriot Act, Senator Says - It's far worse then you think...

Author Topic: There’s A "Secret" Patriot Act, Senator Says - It's far worse then you think...  (Read 12442 times)

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charrington

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You may think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you’ve heard.

Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself — entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a “dragnet” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.

“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”

What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.

“It is fair to say that the business records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,” Wyden says. “I know a fair amount about how it’s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.”

That’s why Wyden and his colleague Sen. Mark Udall offered an amendment on Tuesday to the Patriot Act reauthorization. The amendment, first reported by Marcy Wheeler, blasts the administration for “secretly reinterpret[ing] public laws and statutes.” It would compel the Attorney General to “publicly disclose the United States Government’s official interpretation of the USA PATRIOT Act.” And, intriguingly, it refers to “intelligence collection authorities” embedded in the Patriot Act that the administration briefed the Senate about in February.

Wyden says he “can’t answer” any specific questions about how the government thinks it can use the Patriot Act. That would risk revealing classified information — something Wyden considers an abuse of government secrecy. He believes the techniques themselves should stay secret, but the rationale for using their legal use under Patriot ought to be disclosed. “I draw a sharp line between the secret interpretation of the law, which I believe is a growing problem, and protecting operations and methods in the intelligence area, which have to be protected,” he says.

Surveillance under the business records provisions has recently spiked. The Justice Department’s official disclosure on its use of the Patriot Act, delivered to Congress in April, reported that the government asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for approval to collect business records 96 times in 2010 — up from just 21 requests the year before. The court didn’t reject a single request. But it “modified” those requests 43 times, indicating to some Patriot-watchers that a broadening of the provision is underfoot.

“The FISA Court is a pretty permissive body, so that suggests something novel or particularly aggressive, not just in volume, but in the nature of the request,” says Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s resident Patriot Act lobbyist. “No one has tipped their hand on this in the slightest. But we’ve come to the conclusion that this is some kind of bulk collection. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if it’s some kind of Internet or communication records dragnet.” (Full disclosure: My fiancee works for the ACLU.)

The FBI deferred comment on any secret interpretation of the Patriot Act to the Justice Department. The Justice Department said it wouldn’t have any comment beyond a bit of March congressional testimony from its top national security official, Todd Hinnen, who presented the type of material collected as far more individualized and specific: “driver’s license records, hotel records, car rental records, apartment leasing records, credit card records, and the like.”

But that’s not what Udall sees. He warned in a Tuesday statement about the government’s “unfettered” access to bulk citizen data, like “a cell phone company’s phone records.” In a Senate floor speech on Tuesday, Udall urged Congress to restrict the Patriot Act’s business records seizures to “terrorism investigations” — something the ostensible counterterrorism measure has never required in its nearly 10 year existence.

Indeed, Hinnen allowed himself an out in his March testimony, saying that the business record provision “also” enabled “important and highly sensitive intelligence collection operations” to take place. Wheeler speculates those operations include “using geolocation data from cell phones to collect information on the whereabouts of Americans” — something our sister blog Threat Level has reported on extensively. It’s worth noting that Wyden is pushing a bill providing greater privacy protections for geolocation info.

For now, Wyden’s considering his options ahead of the Patriot Act vote on Thursday. He wants to compel as much disclosure as he can on the secret interpretation, arguing that a shadow broadening of the Patriot Act sets a dangerous precedent.

“I’m talking about instances where the government is relying on...

Continued...

Offline Valerius

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Would not doubt it at all. There are no brakes on this ride.
"No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck."  -Frederick Douglass

charrington

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Would not doubt it at all. There are no brakes on this ride.

No breaks -- I like that. Scream all you want to it's not stopping.

Offline TahoeBlue

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But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business records provision,” which empowers the FBI [ Just the FBI? really? ya think? ] to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.

This is a keystone of Fascism/Corporatism - ie Insider information, They can make themselves all "Winners".... and the congressmen and senators all get spoon fed golden opprotunities to pay them off....

The is fascism Mussolini style.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole ; He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. - Job 5

Offline Kilika

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No question the federal government has it's own interpretation. It's called "Unitary Executive Theory". The Bush administration was rather open about it. Once a person understands the mindset of that theory, then their actions become more clear. Their actions are intentional and deliberate with forethought, claiming they believe in Unitary Executive Theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Yoo

Quote
Unitary executive theory

This section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. See the talk page for details. (March 2009)

Yoo suggested that since the primary task of the President during a time of war is protecting US citizens,[citation needed] the President has inherent authority to subordinate independent government agencies, and plenary power to use force abroad.[48] Yoo contends that the Congressional check on Presidential war making power comes from its power of the purse, and that the President, and not the Congress or courts, has sole authority to interpret international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions "because treaty interpretation is a key feature of the conduct of foreign affairs".[49] His positions on executive power are controversial because the theory can be interpreted as holding that the President's war powers place him above any law.[49][50][51][52]
 (cont.)
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
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Offline Monkeypox

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Does it really matter what the law says?  They'll just do what theory want to anyway.
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Offline Freeski

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Does it really matter what the law says?  They'll just do what theory want to anyway.

It might, for the sake of compartmentalization. There are whistle blower allegations that there were/are two versions of NAFTA - at least here in Canada: one for the trade partners (the truth) and a different one for the provincial premiers (the spin). Call it a case of not wanting the truth!
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Offline MonkeyPuppet

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Does it really matter how "they" interpret it when the People are too ignorant (or downright stupid) to understand it in the first place?  You'd be hard-pressed to find even so-called "educated" Americans that have even heard of Jabez Sutherland or his work which has been reproduced and updated continually for over 100 years.  Statutory construction is a term lost on the majority of the public, yet every single federal and state law is governed by these rules.

"Plain meaning" becomes relative to those interpreting the law.  After all, who is to judge the "average" comprehension level of those who would be subjected to (or wrongfully embraced by) enacted statutes?  Judges colluding with those same would-be democratic tyrants?

For instance, it is obvious that the majority of the population fails to understand the very basic concept that the federal government has severely limited jurisdiction within the 50 states of the union.  In fact, there was a time when it was understood that the average domestic citizen would rarely, if ever, have any interaction with the federal government... that includes the imposition of taxes.  What we have now is gross and malicious misapplication of the law, possible only due to the ignorance of the population which is in willful lockstep with that misapplication.

Making this point is as futile as voting, though.  The population will continue to become "experts" in sports stats and what passes for "news" these days, allowing legislators and judges to do all but decide how many squares of TP they use... and that "liberty" will eventually be lost as well.  Will it take a "two squares" rule for the People to wake up or can we get on with watering the tree of liberty already?!

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Offline Freeski

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MonkeyPuppet, do not overlook the fact that the "ignorance of the population" is a planned and orchestrated thing -- primarily due to public education, the complicit media and the political cheerleaders.

Our battle is immense!
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Offline MonkeyPuppet

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MonkeyPuppet, do not overlook the fact that the "ignorance of the population" is a planned and orchestrated thing -- primarily due to public education, the complicit media and the political cheerleaders.

Our battle is immense!


I'm not a "genius" and I overcame my public school fool system education indoctrination... anyone can do it.  I wasn't always this cynical, but I've yet to meet anyone face to face in my daily life (short of a recent encounter with a visiting Brit) that is aware of much more than the recent homo-erotic'esque sports engagement.  I trust in liberty, but not so much in my fellow countrymen in defense of it.

There comes a time when blaming political leaders and the parroting media just doesn't cut it anymore.  None of their corruption and the resulting imposition of tyranny is possible without the willful ignorance of the People... short of losing a bloody revolution, of course.

Income Tax: Shattering The Myths
w w w . original intent . o r g

The 1911 in .45 ACP... don't leave home without it!  Safety first!!

Offline Freeski

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I'm not a "genius" and I overcame my public school fool system education indoctrination... anyone can do it.  I wasn't always this cynical, but I've yet to meet anyone face to face in my daily life (short of a recent encounter with a visiting Brit) that is aware of much more than the recent homo-erotic'esque sports engagement.  I trust in liberty, but not so much in my fellow countrymen in defense of it.

There comes a time when blaming political leaders and the parroting media just doesn't cut it anymore.  None of their corruption and the resulting imposition of tyranny is possible without the willful ignorance of the People... short of losing a bloody revolution, of course.

I fully agree, hence my signature quote.

In a sense our own worst enemies are our friends and family. Maybe enemies is too strong... but they certainly need a kick in the arse!
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." Martin Luther King, Jr.

EvadingGrid

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How can they justify keeping the interpretation of the law a secret ?

What is it that they are so ashamed ?

Does not the simple act of hiding the interpretation imply guilt ?

charrington

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How can they justify keeping the interpretation of the law a secret ?

What is it that they are so ashamed ?

Does not the simple act of hiding the interpretation imply guilt ?


In a public document it would imply that -- but I'm sure you don't want your personal SSN given out to others (not that we should even have one) but just saying somethings are personal.

IN THIS CASE if the laws apply to it's citizens it should be open to the public. But this isn't new because they have created many laws now that you are responsible for keeping and haven't told you about - such as parts of the copyright act.

I'd love to know what it says.