Congress Expands NSA Data Collection

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Published on: December 14, 2014

There has been much ado about the indiscriminate spying on American citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA) and rightly so. Speculation about the government using the data against those opposed to their agenda, political opposition, and to “fabricate” wrong-doing by data manipulation has been brought forth. Even citing this intrusion as a violation of the Fourth Amendment has not produced any results with one judge claiming that “privacy is over-valued.”

With the circus surrounding amnesty and the $1.1 trillion dollar budget negotiations that include funding for Obamacare and the criminal amnesty, Congress, ever so quietly, passed a bill expanding the collection activities of the NSA. In a 325-100 vote, Congress gave broad new powers to the NSA to “collect Americans’ phone and email communications without warrants, share the data with the FBI and foreign governments, and, in some instances, retain the records indefinitely, according to reports.”

Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash, referring to Section 309 of the bill, took to Facebook, stating, “[The bill] grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.” The outspoken privacy advocate called this “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative.”

What started out as “just metadata” has now expanded to phone and email communications.

And just what are “lawmakers” using as justification for this action – Executive order 12333 signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In 1981, the electronic communications of today did not exist. Executive order 12333 was originally intended to “target foreign surveillance” even though an unknown amount of US data is tracked “incidentally” when citizens are overseas or citizens communicate with foreigners. It is similar to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But, this Reagan “order” has been amended twice by President George W. Bush. It is Section 215 of the US PATRIOT Act that allows for the mass collection of domestic telephone metadata.

According to John Napier Tye, former State Department Internet policy official who wrote extensively about this in The Washington Post, “Executive order 12333 contains nothing to prevent the NSA from collecting and storing all such communication – content as well as metada – provided that such collection occurs outside the United States in the course of a lawful foreign intelligence investigation. No warrant or court approval is required, and such collection never need be reported to Congress. ….”

Tye contends that it is good Congress is attempting to regulate order 12333 activities. He states, however, that “the language in this bill just endorses a terrible system that allows the NSA to take virtually everything Americans do online and use it however it wants according to the rules it writes.”

In case you missed the important part, here it is in bold italics – allows the NSA to take virtually everything Americans do online and use it however it wants according to the rules it writes. What you can take from this is the government can use that information however the government wants according to the rules the government writes. Basically, the government can tweak, edit, splice, and dice information together, if it so chooses according to their rules, to fabricate “wrong-doing” on the part of anyone the “government” views as a threat. Also, that newly created information can be shared with the FBI and foreign governments.

So, those individuals who still claim that it’s acceptable for the government to collect their data since they are not engaged in wrong-doing maybe should reconsider their position as it is no longer “innocent” metadata the government is now collecting, but now content of communications. But, didn’t Edward Snowden reveal that already? Didn’t we hear about “monitors” listening in on intimate conversations between spouses and significant others, particularly military members, when one was out of the country? It was only a matter of time before the “hoovering” of domestic communication content would take place. Well, here it is or maybe this has been going on for quite some time and just now being revealed to the citizens of America.

Not only will the government collect the metadata and contents of communications, that data will now be possibly shared with federal law enforcement and foreign governments. Again, those who have no qualms about any of this, please go ahead and make the contents of all of your communications public. It is suggested that Congress, Obama, all federal agency employees, judges, left liberal progressives, and those working in the White House or connected with this administration go first. If this is all so innocent, there should be no problem; after all, those who are unwilling to do so must have something to hide. Right, Barack?

Critics of the passed “quiet bill” say it was sold as a “regulatory check on the NSA” by the congressional backers of the new language but it turned out to be a veritable pass for “unregulated spying on Americans.” It was members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who quietly wrote the bill language and backed it.

One can probably look no further than Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers for the bill language.

Under this new bill, any “nonpublic telephone or electronic communication” the NSA hoovers from Americans can be retained for five years. It can be longer if there is evidence of a crime. As indicated previously, it can also be shared with the FBI and foreign governments. Remember, none of this requires a warrant under oath of probable cause.

Neema Guiliani, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states, “The provisions in the intel authorization appear to be an attempt by Congress to place statutory restrictions on the retention of information collected under Executive Order 12333, which is not subject to court oversight, has not been authorized by Congress, and raises serious privacy concerns. However, these restrictions are far from adequate, contain enormous loopholes, and notably exclude the information of non-US persons.”

It’s a very nice assessment by Guiliani, but totally neglects to point out all of these “spying” activities, data collection and sharing with other agencies are a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

According to an unidentified spokesman for the Senate Intelligence Committee, “Nothing in Section 309 authorizes any intelligence collection/acquisition at all. The only thing the section does is require new procedures governing the information the [intelligence community] already collects. The purpose of this section is to limit the [intelligence community’s] existing ability to retain information, including US person information.”

How special. One would not expect a different response from the “Senate Intelligence Committee.”

As this debate rages back and forth, this new attack on the privacy of Americans does nothing to restore trust in the US government. In fact, it does the exact opposite as Americans made it perfectly clear in the mid-term elections that it is time for the Democratic Party Socialist agenda to cease. It appears, once again, that Americans have been betrayed by skilled, crafty, opaque RINOs and Republicans, along with the usual Demo-commies.

All of this bears the question, “how do you stop a 285,000 pound dry weight locomotive traveling at 70 miles per hour when you are not the engineer?”

Congress has opened the throttle on the locomotive of despotism aimed at crashing the last barriers of freedom enjoyed by the citizens of this nation. Americans are facing a runaway train – the brakeman has been thrown off after the engineer sabotaged the brakes. The end of the line is fast approaching.

The United States is already a surveillance state. Soon, we will be looking at all-out tyranny, despotism, and oppression under the guise of “security” proclaimed by the “nanny state.” But, Americans will have no security, much less freedom and liberty.

“Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be even a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” – Winston Churchill

You be the judge where American citizens stand at this point in time.

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