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:

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Questioning Congress’s legislative authority to implement treaties

by Amanda Frost, SCOTUSblog

Bond v. United States is back before the U.S. Supreme Court, and this time it raises a question that has long interested academics:  What are the limits on Congress’s power to implement treaties?  Missouri v. Holland, decided in 1920, held that Congress could enact legislation implementing a treaty even if such legislation was otherwise outside the scope of its Article I, Section 8 authority.  The decision is now canonical, and it has been widely accepted by most academics and followed by courts.  Then, in a 2005 article in the Harvard Law Review, Professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz challenged Missouri v. Holland’s rationale and asserted that it should be overruled.  His arguments are now front and center before the Court in Bond.

The facts of Bond are unusually colorful.  After Carol Anne Bond’s husband had an affair, Mrs. Bond sought revenge by sprinkling toxic chemicals around the car and mailbox owned by the woman involved.  Prosecutors charged her with violating a federal statute implementing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (also known as the “Chemical Weapons Convention”), to which the United States is a signatory.  Mrs. Bond argued that Congress lacked the authority to criminalize her conduct, asserting that the statute is a “massive and unjustifiable expansion of federal law enforcement into state-regulated domain.” 

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Judicial Fallacies That Promote Tyranny

Three fallacies articulated by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in his article The Court and Constitutional Interpretation, and promoted by the judges, lawyers and others who desire a national government with unlimited powers at the expense of the states and the people are quoted below.

I’ll address each judicial fallacy in turn starting with -

Independent

“The Constitution of the United States is a carefully balanced document. It is designed to provide for a national government sufficiently strong and flexible to meet the needs of the republic, yet sufficiently limited and just to protect the guaranteed rights of citizens; it permits a balance between society’s need for order and the individual’s right to freedom. To assure these ends, the Framers of the Constitution created three independent and coequal branches of government. That this Constitution has provided continuous democratic government through the periodic stresses of more than two centuries illustrates the genius of the American system of government.” (Emphasis added)

Judicial independence implies freedom from interference or control by either the legislative or the executive branch of the federal government. However, nothing could be further that the truth – constitutionally if not in reality. The powers of the Supreme Court and the lesser courts may be enumerated in the Constitution, but makeup, number and members are determined by the legislative branch with nominations coming from the executive.

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Why So Much Faith in Supreme Court Justices?

A quick reading of the decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) should cause any reasonable person to question the assumption of judicial infallibility, and the wisdom of granting judges the definitive and final say in all cases. In essence, the Supreme Court declared black people inferior and that even free blacks were not citizens under the Constitution. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roger Taney argued that the framers of the Constitution held blacks were, “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

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Tsarnaev not guilty of federal charges?

by Jon Roland, Constitution Society

The Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with multiple federal offenses, but none of them are authorized by the U.S. Constitution for offenses committed on state territory, as the acts in Boston were. If the federal courts were constitutionally compliant, they would be compelled to dismiss them all, and let the State of Massachusetts prosecute him under its laws.

The following is a summary of the main federal charges:

  1. Use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy.
  2. Bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy.
  3. Malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy.
  4. Use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
  5. Use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.
  6. Carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury.
  7. Interference with commerce by threats or violence.
  8. Aiding and abetting.

Contrast this with the following, taken from the second of the unanimous Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, written by Thomas Jefferson, summarizing original understanding of the U.S. Constitution:

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Federal Court Permanently Vacates Injunction Against NDAA “Indefinite Detention”

The Second Circuit has permanently vacated the injunction issued by the District Court against NDAA 2012 indefinite detention powers.   The case has been remanded to District Court Judge Kathryn Forrest. who originally issued the injunction.

In layman’s terms, Forrest put a stop to indefinite detention, and the Second Circuit overturned that.  It also permanently prohibited Forrest from attempting to do so again, ordering her to proceed with the case consistent with their opinion.

NDAA “indefinite detention” powers are alive and well.

The opinion appears to be based only on lack of standing — based on the Clapper case decided by the Supreme Court:

“In sum, Hedges and O’Brien do not have Article III standing to challenge the statute because Section 1021 simply says nothing about the government’s authority to detain citizens.  While Section 1021 does have meaningful effect regarding the authority to detain individuals who are not citizens or lawful resident aliens and are apprehended abroad, Jonsdottir and Wargalla have not established standing on this record. We VACATE the permanent injunction and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”  P. 60

The Tenth Amendment Center, along with a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, filed an amicus brief on behalf of the defendants.  It was cited at p. 4 and note 3 in the District Court’s opinion:

As one group of amici has noted, “[r]arely has a short statute been subject to more radically different interpretations than Section 1021.”

The only other reference to an amicus brief was at p. 40, in note 137 — Center for National Security Studies.

REVIEWING THE “LAW” IN QUESTION

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Even a Blind Squirrel Sometimes Finds a Nut

The Supreme Court just released its opinion on DOMA, and Prop 8.  The justices showed some rare wisdom here, and even applied the Constitution in ways I never expected them to.  I suppose, just when you are certain of the utter uselessness of an organization, they can perform one righteous act to make a liar out of you.

First let me explain what the Constitutional position of the federal government should be on marriage.

None.

It’s that simple. Marriage is not mentioned once in the Constitution. It is not related to an enumerated power, and as a religious institution, it is arguably forbidden for the feds to pass laws concerning it under the First Amendment.

But, I will allow one disclaimer to this position: the full faith and credit clause in Article4:

“Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.”

Both gay rights activists and traditional marriage protectionists rely upon this clause to make the claim that America must either embrace or ban the practice of gay marriage across the nation.  This fight comes down to contract rights.  Gay marriage proponents ask: if marriage is a contract drawn up in one state, why is another state not bound to enforce it?   This is the same argument slave owners used to force the northern states to return runaway slaves during the ante-bellum American period.

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The Florida NAACP Embraces State-Based Solutions

“No we don’t trust the legislators, No we don’t trust our government in Florida or DC either, to do the right thing,” said Adora Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference of NAACP.  The group started a mobilization process in response to the Supreme Court ruling that found section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional.  The plan includes educating voters and contacting law makers who will now control what ever new voting rules are created.–WWSB My Suncoast news story

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When I heard this story  on the radio my first thought was , “A light went on at the NAACP!”

This statement by Florida NAACP president Adora Nweze could have been made by any Tenther or liberty person discussing the proper role of government and the lost federalism of the ratifiers.

Ms. Nweze went on.

” the Supreme Court ruling is “a step back,..   We will require we roll up our sleeves and get busy making sure that our governor, our state legislators and our congresspersons understand the role each of them has in ensuring that this decision does not throw us back to the 60s.”

No rational person feels anything but repugnance  towards Jim Crow laws. I also doubt that a return to those days has any chance of occurring. Tenthers and liberty people would be among the first to join against such laws and move against the state if even the shadow of Jim Crow hinted of a comeback, state sanctioned or otherwise.

This SCOTUS decision is not in fact a step back, but a step forward in what must be a long term reclamation of federalism–keeping the federal government and its courts restrained to their  enumerated powers; leaving to the states the vast residuary mass of  infinite powers reserved to them.

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Federal Court Decides: Federal Rangers Supreme

In a move that would make Joseph Story and John Marshall rise from their graves and offer him high-fives, 10th Circuit Judge David Nuffer made himself the sole arbiter of federal and state powers, ruling last Friday that federal park rangers’ authority supersedes that of the State of Utah in matters concerning local law.nuffer

Gov. Gary Herbert signed  HB155, on April 3. The new law prohibits federal Land Management officers from acting as agents of state and local law by “limiting the authority of specified federal employees to exercise law enforcement authority within Utah.” The bill came in response to officers of the Forestry Service taking it upon themselves to administer local traffic laws, making such unauthorized actions class-B misdemeanors; punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

We don’t want Utah citizens going before a federal magistrate for a speeding ticket,” said Utah AG Swallow, in the AG’s press release on May 13. “Federal officers should be enforcing federal laws and state and local officers should be enforcing state and local laws. We are concerned about the federal government once again encroaching on states rights and we will vigorously defend the constitutionality of HB 155.[Emphasis added.]

Federal attorneys promptly sued, and on May 13th, Nuffer granted a temporary injunction, stopping the law from taking effect. Last Friday’s ruling extends the injunction until the issue is settled at trial.

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