Obama Administration Removes Ban on Warrantless Surveillance of Americans

President Obama sought and obtained permission from a secret surveillance court to disregard previously enacted restrictions on the domestic, warrantless spying programs of the National Security Agency (NSA), the Washington Post reports.

According to sources cited in the story, in 2011, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, former chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, issued an order “permitting the agency [NSA] to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases.”

Also included in the order was an extension of the amount of time the NSA can store the electronic communication data it collects in the United States. Prior to the judge’s decision, such files could be retained for only five years; the limit was pushed back to six years by the terms of the ruling.

The order, the story claims, reversed an “explicit ban” on such unconstitutional searches imposed by the same court in 2008. These restrictions reportedly were “not previously acknowledged.”

A decision of this type would cause immediate and irreparable harm to the Constitution and the right of Americans — and all free people — to be free from unwarranted surveillance by agents of their own government.

What’s more troubling and tyrannical is the fact that none of these changes to exceptions to the Fourth Amendment was ever debated or passed by the people’s elected representatives in Congress. Rather, this fundamental civil liberty was repealed by a judicial appointee at the behest of the very department who sought the expanded authority.

Details

Obama Packs Surveillance Review Board With D.C. Insiders

After the uproar over his plan to appoint Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to head his intelligence review board, President Obama promised to pack the group with “outside experts.”

News of the names of board members reveals that the president’s definition of “outside” comes from somewhere outside the dictionary.

The five men tapped to lead the panel known officially as the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies are Richard A. Clarke (shown), Michael Morell, Cass Sunstein, Geoffrey Stone, and Peter Swire.

It would be challenging to assemble a group more “inside” the government.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s response to the announcement of the board members sums up the situation exactly. Said EFF: “A task force led by General Clapper full of insiders — and not directed to look at the extensive abuse — will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying.”

Details

Fed. Judge Rules Oklahoma Challenge to ObamaCare May Proceed

In yet another indication that ObamaCare must be repealed, a federal judge ruled last week that a challenge to the healthcare “law” filed by the state of Oklahoma may proceed.

According to a report in the Washington Times, the suit filed by the Sooner State “claims the federal government is unlawfully extending tax credits to states that opted not to set up their own insurance exchanges under the new health care law.”

In his order, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald A. White refused to rule on the merits of the case, but simply permitted the challenge to proceed along the path of adjudication.

Although not all of the state’s assertions were accepted by White, among those that the judge did sign off on was the claim that the state as an employer would be harmed by the administration’s application of various provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Specifically, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt argues that President Obama is permitting federal healthcare agencies to ignore the letter of the law in order to benefit the federal government. The Washington Times explains the government’s alleged errant interpretation:

Details

Ruling Reveals NSA Lies to Courts, Congress About Scope of Surveillance

originally posted at The New American

The National Security Agency was forced to de-classify a document, the contents of which make it easy to see why the snoops wanted it kept secret.

In an 85-page ruling handed down by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (commonly known as the FISA court) judge John D. Bates, the NSA was called out “for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year,” the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Bates found that the NSA routinely misled the court as to the scope of its domestic surveillance activities.

“The court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding N.S.A.’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” former FISA court chief judge Bates wrote in his ruling.

Most of the secret NSA programs recently brought to light by the Edward Snowden leaks are mentioned by Bates as being evidence of the NSA’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and for legal limits on its surveillance authority.

As reported by the New York Times:

Details

NSA Uses Loophole to Justify Collecting Domestic E-mail, Phone Calls

The National Security Agency (NSA) is using a “secret backdoor” to conduct warrantless searches of the e-mails and phone calls of American citizens, the Guardian (U.K.) reports. As with earlier reports, this latest revelation comes from information given to the newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Spencer Ackerman and James Ball, reporting for theGuardian, write that a rule change that was previously unreported is giving the NSA the inroad it needs to monitor “individual Americans’ communications using their name and other identifying information.”

In a statement to the Guardian, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) reportedly said that this rule change makes it possible for the NSA to conduct “warrantless searches for the phone calls or e-mails of law-abiding Americans.”

The regulatory restatement relied on by the NSA to justify their unconstitutional surveillance was “approved in 2011” by the Obama administration, in direct contradiction to the president’s commitment to protect the constitutionally protected privacy of the American public “from the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs.”

The federal spy apparatus is relying on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008 (FISA). This provision purports to grant the government the “authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.”

Details

Feds Instruct Law Enforcement to Cover Up Investigations of Americans

Agencies of the federal government are sharing the massive database of personal information being obtained by surveillance, and police are being taught how to hide the details from judges and lawyers, a Reuters report reveals.

The documents obtained by Reuters:

show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence — information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

There is nothing more fundamental to the pursuit of justice than due process, and there is no principle suffering from more sustained attacks from all fronts.

From unwarranted wiretaps to the indefinite detention under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the federal government is consistently depriving Americans of the right of due process guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution mandates that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

This amendment is a protection of a timeless principle of liberty and justice. In fact, due process as a check on monarchical power was included in the Magna Carta of 1215. This list of grievances and demands codified the king’s obligation to obey written laws or be punished by his subjects. Article 39 of the Magna Carta says: “No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”



Details

California State Senate Committee Set to Vote on NDAA Nullification Bill

On August 12 at 1:30 p.m., the California State Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider and vote on a bill to make it more difficult for residents of the Golden State to be indefinitely detained under provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, AB 351, is known as the California Liberty Preservation Act.

On June 25, the California State Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously approved AB 351 by a vote of 7-0.

The bill’s primary sponsor is current gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-33rd District).Donnelly’s bill specifically guarantees the right of citizens of California to be free from any federal law, including the NDAA, that would authorize their indefinite detention in violation of habeas corpus.

Known as the California Liberty Preservation Act, AB 351 is backed by a politically diverse coalition, including Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Tenth Amendment Center, the California American Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, the Libertarian Party of California, and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.

Specifically, if enacted, the bill would shield from federal assault several fundamental constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, “including the right of habeas corpus, the right to due process, the right to a speedy and public trial, and the right to be informed of criminal charges brought against him or her.”

Relying on the 10th Amendment’s reservation to the states and the people all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, the bill is a constitutionally sound expression of state sovereignty.

Details

Vote on Amash Amendment Reveals Ruse of Two-Party System

For all those who still believe that Republican=Constitutionalist and Democrat=Liberty-hating liberal, something happened on Capitol Hill that might change your mind.

As was reported by The New American, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment to the defense appropriations sponsored by Republican Congressman Justin Amash (shown) of Michigan and Democratic Congressman John Conyers, also of Michigan.

The Amash Amendment would have revoked authority “for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. It would also bar the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215” of the Patriot Act.

Despite the threat to the Establishment (or perhaps because of it), Amash’s measure failed by a vote of 205-217.

It’s the identity of the “ayes” and “nays” that tells the rest of the story.

An analysis of the roll call reveals that a majority of Democrats voted in favor of restricting the Obama administration’s wholesale surveillance of Americans, while a majority of the GOP voted to uphold the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance of all electronic communications.

Details

FISA Court Colludes with NSA to Allow Unconstitutional Surveillance

Documents obtained by The Guardian (U.K.) reveal that the court that was ostensibly created to keep the federal domestic spy apparatus from invading the rights of Americans is actually routinely giving the National Security Agency (NSA) and others the go-ahead to use data “inadvertently” collected during unwarranted surveillance of American citizens.

The newspaper that broke the story of the NSA’s activities as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden published on June 20 “two full documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.” Both documents were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and were issued in July 2009.

According to the article written by Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, the documents “detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target “non-US persons” under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance.”

Not surprisingly, neither the Fourth Amendment nor the freedoms against tyranny that it protects are honored by Holder or the other architects and construction crews erecting the surveillance state.

As Greenwald and Ball report, the leaked documents demonstrate that when the NSA is conducting surveillance under the pretense of monitoring foreign targets, any U.S. communication caught in the dragnet is “collected, retained and used.”

Using Section 215 of the Patriot Act as justification, the NSA is now known to monitor and seize the phone records of millions of Americans who are not now or ever have been suspected of any crime that would justify the issuing of a search warrant. This wholesale watching of the telephone activities of citizens was revealed by The Guardian a few weeks ago as part of Snowden’s release of information on his former employer.

Details

Constitutional Sheriffs Convention a Successful Promotion of Liberty

originally published at The New American

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) held a successful convention last Friday and Saturday at the Ameristar Hotel in St. Charles, Missouri, a large suburb west of St. Louis. (See video below.)

Featuring a variety of nationally recognized speakers delivering dozens of liberty-promoting messages, the hundreds of lawmen and lawmakers in attendance were reminded of the vital role played by state and local law enforcement and elected officials in repelling the federal government’s assault on freedom.

A central aspect of the state and local counter-offensive is the nullification of any and all unconstitutional acts of the federal government.

Presentations on the first day of the convention were divided into four sections: The Constitution and the Oath of Office; The Right to Keep and Bear Arms; State Sovereignty and the Tenth Amendment; and American Liberty: Whose Job is it?

Representing the John Birch Society, this reporter spoke during the fourth segment, describing threats to liberty posed by the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the effectiveness of state measures refusing to enforce those provisions inside state borders.

Other keynote speakers included Sheriff Richard Mack, founder of the CSPOA, who recounted his experience fighting the Brady Bill and winning his case at the Supreme Court.

Details