Senate Introduces Bi-partisan Bill to Ban Bulk Record Collection

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The Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a revised version of the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday promising “more oversight, transparency and privacy requirements aimed at the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone and Internet records.”

It’s unclear when the bill will come to a vote, as we’re days away from the August recess,  and the silly season will be in full swing when lawmakers return to Capital Hill in September.

Via USA Today:

The Freedom Act – first introduced in October by Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., in the House – is unique from other bills responding to revelations of broad NSA surveillance because it would end the automatic bulk collection of phone records. Leahy has been negotiating with the Obama administration and other members of the Senate and the intelligence community on changes to the legislation since a compromise version of the legislation passed the House in May.

Leahy said in a statement that the revised bill balances privacy and transparency with the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor national security threats.

“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA Patriot Act 13 years ago,” he said. “This is a debate about Americans’ fundamental relationship with their government – about whether our government should have the power to create massive databases of information about its citizens.”

 Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill,  released the following statement regarding the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014:

“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Sen. Cruz. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms. Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights. I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”

The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 was introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont. Sen. Cruz and Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are original co-sponsors.

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Rand Paul: “Today Is The Day We Begin To Fight Back” (Video)

On a day that that the GOP threw in the towel on the debt ceiling fight – these are welcome words.

Senator Rand Paul’s PAC announced today that he is suing the Obama administration over the NSA’s illegal  surveillance of American citizens.

“The Constitution is not a disposable piece of parchment to be ignored and abused at the president’s whim,” he said in a video statement, earlier today.  “Washington leaders are expected to obey, and protect what they took an oath to uphold. And if this means taking them to court over it – so be it. If the seizure and surveillance of Americans’ phone records across the board is now considered a legitimate security precaution, there’s literally no protection of any kind guaranteed to any American citizen. We cannot allow this administration to continue to treat the Constitution as a dead letter. I will continue to fight this overzealous government surveillance program, and I invite you to join me. Today’s the day we begin to fight back.”

Via PJ Media:

Paul will file his lawsuit on Wednesday morning at the U.S. District Court in D.C., joined by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe.

The class-action lawsuit will be filed against Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the National Security Agency Keith Alexander and FBI Director James Comey.

The complaint? “I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the 4th Amendment,” Paul said in a statement. “The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants. I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win.”

You can join Paul’s class action lawsuit, here.

SEE ALSO:

Since we’re talking about “Big Brother” sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.

AoSHQ: The FCC Will Begin Investigating Bias In the Media (and By That, They Mean Conservative Bias)

The transformation of America continues apace.

News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.

I was wondering when they get to work on a new version of “the Fairness Doctrine”.

Ace:

I understand that leftists, of course, have the right to agitate politically for their preferred policies. I do not deny that.

But we are witnessing here the government — the government! — actively seeking to create a hostile and frightening legal environment for anyone who disagrees with the leftist cause.

They are basically putting people on notice that there is a “right” way to report the news, and a “wrong” way, and the right way will let you keep your broadcasting license, and the wrong way might just lose it for you.

The Obama administration targeting critics and punishing its enemies? Who could have seen this coming?

White House Rejects Privacy Board’s Finding That NSA Data Sweep is Illegal (Video)

Last month, a federal judge said that he believed the National Security Agency’s  mass collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the government’s bulk collection of metadata  probably violates privacy rights.

Today, in a newly released report, the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board said that the NSA’s data collection isn’t legal, isn’t doing anything to stop terrorism, and should be stopped.

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,” the board wrote in the report released Thursday.

Unfortunately, the board doesn’t have any legal teeth, so the Regime feels free to ignore its recommendations.

Fox News reported:

“We simply disagree with the board’s analysis on the legality of the program,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

He was responding to a scathing report from The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), which said the program ran afoul of the law on several fronts.

“The … bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation,” the board’s report said, adding that it raises “serious threats to privacy and civil liberties” and has “only limited value.” The report, further, said the NSA should “purge” the files.

The president did not go nearly as far when he called last week for ending government control of phone data collected from hundreds of millions of Americans.

Carney claimed the president, in his address last week, did “directly derive” some of his ideas from the board’s draft recommendations. But he made clear that Obama does not see eye to eye with them on the legitimacy of mass phone record collection.

“The administration believes that the program is lawful,” he said.

But he couldn’t cite one terror plot that had been disrupted using the data collected.

Ted Cruz: Focus of NSA Programs Too Much on Law Abiding Citizens – Too Little On Actual Terrorists (Video)

In today’s  Senate Judiciary Committee “Hearing on the Report of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” Sen. Ted Cruz asked witnesses, Richard A. Clarke, Michael J. Morell, Professor Geoffrey R. Stone,  Cass R. Sunstein, and Professor Peter Swire, if government surveillance programs have focused too much on gathering information on law-abiding citizens and too little on people who are actually tied to terrorism.
“I think a great many Americans have concerns about the current state of NSA surveillance”, he said. “I have concerns on two fronts: I am concerned on the one hand that the federal government has not been effective enough monitoring and surveilling bad guys. That we have not succeeded in preventing what should have been preventable terrorist attacks. And that the same time I am concerned that the sweep of the surveillance has been far too broad with respect to law-abiding citizens. And I think a great many Americans would prefer to see that reversed.”
“Despite all of our surveillance capabilities, despite having significant indications that Major Hasan was engaged in these communications, the federal government failed to prevent the horrific terrorist attack that claimed the life of 14 innocents at Fort Hood. So the first questions I would like to ask the panel is in your judgment why is that?
Cruz concluded that “the focus of the programs has been far too much on law-abiding citizens and far too little on people for whom we have significant reason to believe there may be real danger of terrorism.”

Good News: The NSA Spies on All U.S. Persons Equally

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The openly Socialist Senator Benie Sanders  pressed the NSA on Friday to come clean on  whether its highly questionable spying practices extended to members of Congress. “Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked in a letter to NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander released from the senator’s office.

Fox News reported:

Sanders, who has introduced legislation to curtail the agency’s spying capabilities, said the United States must be “vigilant and aggressive” in protecting the nation from terrorism, but he also cited U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s recent ruling that certain practices by the NSA are “almost Orwellian.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, responded to Sanders’ letter, saying it’s a question “millions of Americans would like answered.”

On Saturday, the NSA responded to Sanders’ query, saying Congress has “the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.” Not the most reassuring of answers given the fact that the NSA has been spying on all US persons.

“NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons,” said the agency in a statement obtained by CNN.

The response goes on to promise the agency will continue to work with Congress on the issues – without ever addressing the senator’s real question.

Via the  WaPo:

 The answer is telling. We already know that the NSA collects records on virtually every phone call made in the United States. That program was renewed for the 36th time on Friday. If members of Congress are treated no differently than other Americans, then the NSA likely keeps tabs on every call they make as well.

It’s a relief to know that Congress doesn’t get a special carve-out (they’re just like us!). But the egalitarianism of it all will likely be of little comfort to Sanders.”

 

 

 

 

Video: Rand Paul Files Suit Against Obama and the NSA

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is leading a class-action with lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of Americans against Obama and the NSA over its spying on the American people.

Sen. Paul will be discussing the lawsuit in an exclusive appearance on Fox News with host Eric Bolling at 10 PM ET on Friday. Breitbart News has learned that Paul will file the class action lawsuit soon in the D.C. District Court and that he will be filing it as an individual, not as a U.S. Senator. For a U.S. Senator to file a such a class action lawsuit against the President of the United States would be extremely rare.

This lawsuit allows the American people to join together in a grassroots manner against President Obama’s NSA with a sitting U.S. Senator at the helm. Two prior class action lawsuits were filed in June. Classes have not yet been certified in those cases.

Ken Cuccinelli is leading the legal team with the hopes of taking it to the Supreme Court.

During his appearance on Fox News, Eric Bolling asked Paul if he was worried that he was being monitored by the NSA and other agencies.

The Kentucky Senator replied, “The potential for abuse exists. Think about it in this context – we now have an administration that has used the IRS to go after people who are of conservative political bent or have certain religious beliefs. So they’ve already shown that they will use what is supposed to be impartial – the IRS – to do it… it leads me to wonder and worry whether or not they would use the NSA that way.”

Yes, Virginia – there is a Big Brother. And he may be watching you – especially if you’re a a member of a tea party or pro-life group.

Rand was careful to note, “I have no proof that they have, but I am concerned that it could be abused. But I’m also concerned that even if a president isn’t going to abuse a power, I’m concerned that the president thinks he has the power to collect all our records.”