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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

USA Patriot Actors’ “USA Freedom Act” falls far short of stopping lawlessness

Righting long train of government wrongs requires upholding rule of law: independent adjudication and oversight; reining in of the head of state’s foreign and domestic reach; imposing penalties, that is, prosecution of government officials and henchmen discovered in breach of law, human rights principles and conventions.
Editing and commentary by Carolyn Bennett

Given the murderous abuses committed over the past many years (at least from LBJ-RM Nixon heir Ronald Reagan) by U.S. government officials and their henchmen ─ key points of U.S. legislator Sensenbrenner’s draft “USA Freedom Act” illustrate again how this government repeatedly and selfishly falls far short of getting to the core of issues and effectively solving problems.

These points as listed in the Guardian this month do not cover “foreigners” including a variety of “non-Americans,” foreign individuals and groups, foreign leaders and heads of state who have been repeatedly and with impunity threatened, tortured, abducted, imprisoned without charge or standing before a court of law, targeted and cold-bloodedly assassinated (many unknown numbers of civilian children and women and other innocents, “innocent until proven guilty” slaughtered and covered up with lies) by the U.S. officials and their “allies,” agents, and hired assassins. The points of this new Act, this show, do not restore or shore up, unequivocally, habeas corpus, equal protection under law.

Tenets embedded in the proposed “USA Freedom Act” do not ensure unbiased, independent review and adjudication free of influence by prejudicial nations with their agendas or private corporations, domestic revolving-door "patriots" (lobbyists), political sectarians and partisans (private, public or nonprofit) or office holders within U.S. branches of government.

Critical of all, they do not include penalties for past, present and future breach (or appearance of breach) of domestic or international laws and abuse of human rights. They do not allow for charges of conflict of (or appearance of conflicts) of interest by officials in government or their direct or indirect allies, agents or hires.

Key points “USA Freedom Act” (abbreviated)

END BULK METADATA COLLECTION: Section 215 of USA Patriot Act tightened, placing onus on intelligence agencies to show they are looking for specific suspects, not inadvertently sweeping up information on innocent Americans. Show a FISA court judge that the target was thought to be an agent of a foreign power, was engaged in activity that was the subject of an investigation, or was an individual in contact with an agent of foreign power.

Brought to you by
DISCLOSE: Attorney general required to disclose decisions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law, but may continue to classify confidential parts. Specific information on individuals not disclosed, policy changes disclosed.
Bush tenure

TRANSPARENTIZE: Internet and telephone companies that received FISA court orders would be allowed to report the number of FISA orders and national security letters complied with and number of users on whom information was demanded.

Obama tenure
ADVOCATE PRIVACY: Office of special advocate created within the FISA court and would have standing to appear and represent public and privacy concerns. FOREIGN LOOPHOLES: The bill amends section 702 (b) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prevent intelligence agencies from ‘reverse targeting’ that may allow them to intercept email and internet communications of Americans. It also calls on the U.S. inspector general to investigate whether current minimization procedures adequately protect the constitutional rights of people of the United States and gives more legal powers to the privacy and civil liberties oversight board.

BLOCK END RUNS: Title 4 of FISA (aka the pen register and trap-and-trace provisions) amended to ensure that the government does not just rebuild its metadata dragnet using different authorities.  

Saying they did “something” does not address fundamental concerns or solve problems. And I expect the drafters of this “USA Freedom Act” (the same ones who sponsored the earlier breach of rights “USA Patriot Act”) are very much aware of this.

Officials in elective office often say ─ especially in election seasons and always as they are covering their backsides and the hind parts of their paymasters ─
“It’s better to have something to show (pull off anything, appear to do something ─ the hucksters don’t even hide their charlatanism any more) than nothingto pacify America’s gullible, consumer-distracted electorate. 
I won’t even call the American public “voters” because usually they don’t bother to vote.    
If a public official is doing something wrong ─ say, abducting and torturing people, throwing them into prison without due process, charge or trial, intercepting people’s private, business or official-government communications ─ that official can tell you, "yes, Im torturing people and spying on them," thus complying with the "transparency" rule. But if he is not made to stop torturing people, stop surveilling; then the wrong, the injury, the breach deepens and becomes the ‘norm.’ Lawlessness with impunity becomes lawful. 

I don’t want to live in that kind of world. 

My father was fond of saying, “We get the government we deserve”  ─ until we stop allowing ourselves to be bamboozled and distracted; and, by god, demand what this country deserves, what the world deserves and should expect of us. A good start, in my humble opinion,  would be to begin shoveling out of office all of the current legislators and executives. 

Sources and notes

“The USA Freedom Act: a look at the key points of the draft bill: Republican Jim Sensenbrenner prepares to publish legislation and says it's time 'to put their metadata program” by Dan Roberts in Washington theguardian.com, October 10, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/the-usa-freedom-act-a-look-at-the-key-points-of-the-draft-bill


Representing the state of Wisconsin and the Republican Party, Frank James (Jim) Sensenbrenner Jr. has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives starting with the Ninety-sixth Congress and for eighteen succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1979-present).

[This means it is way past time for Sensenbrenner to leave the Congress]

Congressman Sensenbrenner SPONSORED THE USA PATRIOT ACT and has chaired committee on Science (One Hundred Fifth and One Hundred Sixth Congresses) and the Judiciary (One Hundred Seventh through the One Hundred Ninth Congresses). He has been involved in bringing several impeachment proceedings against U.S. public officials. Before entering the U.S. Congress, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly (1969-1975), the Wisconsin State Senate (1975-1979) and assistant minority leader (1977-1979); and a lawyer in private practice. Though a native of Chicago (b. June 14, 1943, in Cook County, Illinois), Sensenbrenner took his academic credentials at Stanford University-Stanford, California (A.B.) and University of Wisconsin Law School-Madison (J.D.).
“Lawmakers propose USA Freedom Act to curb NSA’s powers” by Brendan Sasso, October 29, 2013, http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/331199-usa-freedom-act-would-curb-nsa-power

Dozens of lawmakers from both parties introduced legislation Tuesday to rein in the National Security Agency’s spying powers.

The USA Freedom Act, which has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate and more than 70 in the House, would end the agency’s massive phone record collection program — one of the most controversial revelations from the leaks by Edward Snowden.

The bill was authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the original author of the Patriot Act in 2001.


Representing the state of Vermont and the Democratic, Party Patrick Joseph Leahy has been a member of the Senate of the United States since in 1974 his current term scheduled to end on January 3, 2017.

[This means it is way past time for Leahy to leave the Senate]

Senator Leahy has been president pro tempore (December 17, 2012-); and has chaired committees on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry (One Hundredth through One Hundred Third Congresses) and on the Judiciary (One Hundred Seventh Congress [January 3-20, 2001; June 6, 2001-January 3, 2003], One Hundred Tenth to One Hundred Thirteenth Congresses). Before entering the U.S. Senate, Leahy was Chittenden County, Vermont, State’s Attorney (1966-1974; and a lawyer in private practice (Burlington, Vermont).

A native of Montpelier (Washington County, Vermont b. March 31, 1940), Leahy took his academic credentials at St. Michael’s College (baccalaureate, Winooski, Vermont, 1961) and Georgetown University (J.D., Washington, D.C., 1964). http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=L000174

Other Senate co-sponsors: Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 
Other House of Representatives co-sponsors: Representatives John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).


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