Supreme Court Allows NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping to Continue

On October 9, the Supreme Court denied review of an appeal court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Federal Information Securities Amendments Act (FISA).

The FISA Amendments Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008 after being overwhelmingly passed 293 to 129 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate. Just a couple of days prior to its being enacted, Representative Ron Paul and a coalition of Internet activists united to create a political action committee, Accountability Now, and conduct a money bomb in order to raise money to purchase ad buys to alert voters to the names of those congressmen (Republican and Democratic) who voted in favor of the act.

George W. Bush’s signature was but the public pronouncement of the ersatz legality of the wiretapping that was otherwise revealed to the public in a New York Times article published on December 16, 2005. That article, entitled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” described the brief history of the “anti-terrorist” program:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency (NSA), whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

At issue in the case the Supreme Court refused to hear, Hepting, et al v. AT&T, et al, was the government’s use of provisions of FISA to grant retroactive protection from prosecution to several telecommunications giants including AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. These companies aided the government in wiretapping the phones of subscribers without obtaining a warrant.

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Some Advice for Military Contractors (and other Government Employees)

Over at Red State, Eric Erickson has concluded that the law means nothing. This revelation is nothing new for Tenthers, who’ve long understood the futility of relying on the federal government to solve problems created and compounded by the federal government. Specifically, Erickson was writing on the cuts to military spending that sequestration is supposed to bring, should congress fail to arrive at some agreement to bilk the taxpayers a little but more come January, 2013.

This threat of cuts to the Sacred Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex, forever praise its name, has many on the Right foaming at the mouth about the need for fiscal restraint, but in the proper way. I mean, let’s get real, how could anyone seriously suggest any cut to the Pentagon? This subject truly is the third rail. At least we hear rhetoric about reforming social security or Medicare on occasion, but military spending is strictly off limits.

Never mind that many of these now-outraged Republicans voted for sequestration when they agreed to the debt ceiling compromise last fall. And so what if John Boehner said he liked 98% of what was in that bill; we cant be derailing the MICC’s gravy train; not now, not ever. Especially with unemployment being what it is, cutting military spending will surely force tens of thousands of more folks to seek unemployment benefits in the coming months.

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Members of Congress Financially Benefit from Legislation They Support

A Washington Post investigation found that 73 members of Congress have “sponsored or co-sponsored legislation in recent years that could benefit businesses or industries in which either they or their family members are involved or invested.” Here’s the part that caught my eye: When the House and Senate wrote their first set of modern ethics rules in the…

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Colorado Nullification Up 10 Points in Latest Poll

Seventeen states already have medical marijuana laws on the books, but now Colorado, Oregon and Washington want to expand that to recreational use. If the measure passes in any of those states, it could serve as a bellwether, creating a de-facto nullification of federal laws on pot with an even greater effect than 17 state medical marijuana laws have had

Three other states are voting on medical marijuana this November, including Arkansas, which is the first southern state to consider it.

The University of Denver has just released a new poll of likely Colorado voters and the results are encouraging for marijuana law reform advocates. With just under a month until election day, Colorado’s Amendment 64, which aims to regulate marijuana like alcohol, is still enjoying a ten point lead in the polls.

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