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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Releases Report

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has released a 191 page report on the electronic surveillance program operated under FISA's Section 702. (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008.) The full report is here.

In response to the requests from Congress and the President, the Board began a comprehensive study of the two NSA programs. The Board held public hearings and met with the Intelligence Community and the Department of Justice, White House, and congressional committee staff, privacy and civil liberties advocates, academics, trade associations, and technology and communications companies.

The report "examines the collection of electronic communications under Section 702, and provides analysis and recommendations regarding the program’s implementation." It finds two areas of concern: [More....]

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DOJ to Use Warrantless Surveillance in Criminal Case

The New York Times has an article about DOJ notifying a criminal defendant in Colorado that it intends to use warrantless surveillance obtained under FISA in its case against him.From the Notice:

...the government intends to offer into evidence or otherwise use or disclose in proceedings in the above-captioned matter information obtained or derived from acquisition of foreign intelligence information conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as amended, 50 U.S.C. 1881a.

The case is an interesting one. I wrote about it here. [More...]

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White House Defends Verizon Phone Records Dragnet

Today the White House, without confirming the Guardian article about the FISA order requiring Verizon to turn over call detail records for all of Verizon's customers for at least three months, defended such an action in the name of terrorism and keeping us safe. The order is here. The Guardian reports:

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

According to an unnamed White House Official: [More...]

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Supreme Court Rejects FISA Surveillance Challenge

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Alito, today ruled civil rights groups and lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees lacked standing to challenge the 1998 FISA Amendment that allowed their overseas conversations and e-mails to be intercepted. The case is Clapper v. Amnesty International, the opinion is here.

Split 5-4 on ideological lines, with conservatives backing the government and the liberal wing in the minority, the country's highest court said none of the three categories, including human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have legal standing to sue because they could not show they had suffered any injury.

The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, says: [More...]

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New Report on FISA Threat to Europeans' Cloud Privacy

A new report produced for the European Union finds Europeans face a significant threat to individual privacy from the ability of the U.S. Government to spy on material stored in the cloud without a warrant, as a result of the renewed FISA Act amendments.

The report, by the Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Liberty and Security, says that FISA allows “purely political surveillance on foreigners' data” if it is stored using U.S. cloud services like those provided by Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

The full report is here. [More...]

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House Passes Re-Authorization of Warrantless NSA Surveillance

The House of Representatives today reauthorized the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and emails. The Supreme Court will hear the ACLU's challenge to the 2008 law in October.

The ACLU says:

“Yet again, the House has rubberstamped a law so broad and vague that, despite its passage four years ago, we still have little idea how the government is using it,” said Michelle Richardson, ACLU legislative counsel. “It is at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment that Americans and their communications are fiercely protected from government intrusion. This law should be amended to include much stronger privacy protections when the Senate takes it up later this year.”

Sen. Ron Wyden has put a hold on the Senate's consideration of the bill until later this year. Voice your opposition now.

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9th Circuit Upholds Telecom Immunity Under FISA in NSA Lawsuit

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the constitutionality of FISA's grant of immunity to telecom companies assisting the Government in terrorism investigations. The opinion is here.

The statute is § 802 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”), 50 U.S.C. § 1885a, known as the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

The complaints were filed in the wake of news reports in December 2005 that President Bush had issued an order permitting the NSA to conduct warrantless eavesdropping. Under a program known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program (“TSP”), the NSA “had obtained the cooperation of telecommunications companies to tap into a significant portion of the companies’ telephone and e-mail traffic, both domestic
and international.”

[More...]

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Chief Justice Roberts Appoints Two New FISA Court Judges

Chief Justice John Roberts has appointed two new federal judges to the secret FISA Court, replacing two judges whose 7 year terms are up.

They are U.S. District Judges Jennifer Coffman of Kentucky and F. Dennis Saylor of Massachusetts. Judge Coffman was appointed to the federal bench by Bill Clinton and Judge Coffman was appointed by G.W. Bush. [More...]

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Oral Arguments Weds. on FISA Re-Write Law

An hour after former President Bush signed the new FISA bill into law, the ACLU and other civil liberties groups filed a federal lawsuit in New York challenging it. Oral arguments will be heard Wednesday. (Received by e-mail, no link yet.)

The American Civil Liberties Union will be in court Wednesday for oral arguments in its landmark challenge to the unconstitutional FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the government virtually unchecked power to intercept Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls. The ACLU filed a lawsuit to stop the government from spying under the FAA less than an hour after the Act was signed into law by President Bush on July 10, 2008. Recent news reports have indicated that the National Security Agency has exceeded the already overbroad limits granted to it under the FAA.

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Denver: ATT thanks Blue Dogs Sun. Night

The SF Chronicle reports on corporate lobbyists taking advantage of a loophole in rules preventing them from throwing lavish parties to "honor"House lawmakers, which exempts parties for groups of Members.

Prominent, a Sunday evening bash thrown by ATT for the "Blue Dogs" to thank them for the FISA amnesty.





Lobbyist parties for lawmakers bend rules

Congress, pledging to clean up Washington's culture of corruption, approved a rule last year to end the practice of lobbyists or their clients throwing lavish events honoring lawmakers at the parties' national conventions.

But the House ethics committee opened a huge loophole in the rule by issuing guidelines in December saying it was fine for lobbyists or their employers to throw parties for a group of House members - just not for a single lawmaker...

...AT&T is among the sponsors of a party celebrating the conservative House Blue Dog Democrats on Sunday night.





Perfect spot for the first appearance of my "STOP GOVERNMENT SPYING" banner.

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St. Paul's yanked our Permit (RNC)

On March 5th, dailykos denizen norahc (Ben Plunkett) obtained permits in the name of "Swift Students for Truthiness" from the St. Paul Parks Department for use of Hamm's Plaza for non-partisan issue oriented expressive activity on Sept. 3d and 4th, 8AM to 8PM. Planned, a "Shutdown Guantanamo Stop Torture" event the 3d, "Stop Government Spying" on the 4th, both starting at 4:00. I'm co-ordinating the "spying" event.

Hamm's is tiny, not much more than a traffic island, so the limit of 91 in attendance at any time was acceptable.

Yesterday, Ben received a Certified Mail from the Parks Department, dated August 5th, indicating that the permits had been revoked, offering alternative space at Ecolab Plasa or Mears Park, both much less visible. Hamm's is 2 blocks from the Convention site at the Excel Center, and faces the St. Paul Hotel, a major delegate hub. I've just lined up an attorney, we'll be seeking a Temporary Restraining Order directing that the Parks Dept. honor the original permit.

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DOJ Asks FISA Court to Review New Law in Secret Without Amicus Briefs

Via the ACLU (link will be up here shortly):

In a brief filed late yesterday with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Bush administration asked that any review of the new warrantless surveillance law be kept secret and that the court refuse to accept legal briefs from anyone other than the Justice Department itself. The government is responding to a motion the American Civil Liberties Union filed earlier this month asking the FISC to ensure that any proceedings relating to the scope, meaning or constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) be open to the public to the extent possible.

As to the lack of transparency the Bush Administration is seeking, the ACLU says: [More...}

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Bush to Sign FISA Into Law Today

President Bush will sign the new FISA bill into law today at a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

Just like when I watch the Bachelorette, I'm counting down to his final rose ceremony.

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Hillary's Statement on FISA

Hillary's statement on FISA:

One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty. As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today's vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form.

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FISA Passes Senate, Vote 69 to 28

Update: Hillary voted against the motion to invoke cloture and the bill, Obama voted for both. It passed 72 to 26. The cloture roll call vote is here. The votes on the final bill will be available here shortly. All votes this session are here.

Via the ACLU (no link yet but check here soon):

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69-28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

On the bill:

[T]he Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance.

“Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”

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