Protect Civil Liberties: Don’t Re-Authorize PATRIOT Act | Demand Progress

Your conversation is being monitored by the U....

Image via Wikipedia

Protect Civil Liberties: Don’t Re-Authorize PATRIOT Act | Demand Progress.

Full Article at above link.

Since it was passed almost a decade ago, some of the most noxious portions of the PATRIOT Act have burrowed their way deep into our legal system.  A year ago, President Obama signed a bill extending three provisions of the original PATRIOT Act; last week Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) introduced legislation to extend them again.

Barack Obama’s justice department has come out in favor of renewing three controversial PATRIOT Act provisions.  The silver lining?  Tthe Justice Department also declares its openness to “modifications” of those provisions designed to provide checks and balances, provided they don’t undermine investigations.  The problem with many of the law’s provisions is that there are needed constraints and oversight mechanisms.

Three of the Potential Changes That Can Be Made:

Consider the much-contested “roving wiretap” provision allowing warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to cover all the communications devices a target might use without specifying the facilities to be monitored in advance—at least in cases where there are specific facts supporting the belief that a target is likely to take measures to thwart traditional surveillance. The objection to this provision is not that intelligence officers should never be allowed to obtain roving warrants, which also exist in the law governing ordinary law enforcement wiretaps. The issue is that FISA is fairly loosey-goosey about the specification of “targets”—they can be described rather than identified. That flexibility may make some sense in the foreign intel context, but when you combine it with similar flexibility in the specification of the facility to be monitored, you get something that looks a heck of a lot like a general warrant. It’s one thing to say “we have evidence this particular phone line and e-mail account are being used by terrorists, though we don’t know who they are” or “we have evidence this person is a terrorist, but he keeps changing phones.” It’s another—and should not be possible—to mock traditional particularity requirements by obtaining a warrant to tap someone on some line, to be determined. FISA warrants should “rove” over persons or facilities, but never both.

 

The DOJ letter describes the so-called “Lone Wolf” amendment to FISA as simply allowing surveillance of targets who are agents of foreign powers without having identified which foreign power (i.e. which particular terrorist group) they’re working for. They say they’ve never invoked this ability, but want to keep it in reserve. If that description were accurate, I’d say let them. But as currently written, the “lone wolf” language potentially covers people who are really conventional domestic threats with only the most tenuous international ties—the DOJ letter alludes to people who “self-radicalize” by reading online propaganda, but are not actually agents of a foreign group at all.

Finally, there’s the “business records” provision, which actually covers the seizure of any “tangible thing.”  The problems with this one probably deserve their own post, and ideally you’d just go through the ordinary warrant procedure for this. But at the very, very least there should be some more specific nexus to a particular foreign target than “relevance” to a ongoing investigation before an order issues. The gag orders that automatically accompany these document requests also require more robust judicial scrutiny.

The link above will take you to Demand Progress and there is an option to sign their petition.

Advertisements

We Need A New Type of Grassroots Movement: What Is Next For Climate Change Policy?

Past clean energy growth 1995-2007. Based on i...

Image via Wikipedia

Daphne Wysham, from the Institute of Policy Studies, talks about dislike of Cap and Trade, AB32 and incentives for renewable sources of energy.

She says that we know the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been “a funnel for a lot of oil, gas, and cola money; specifically to be fighting any sort of clean energy initiatives at the state, local, and national level”.

She also mentions that European polluters have thrown a lot of money into the US election, specifically to climate change deniers.

The Hope Shot?  Grassroot struggles ARE….I repeat ARE…succeeding!!  This includes Native Americans saying NO MORE COAL MINING and The Environmental Justice League saying an incinerator is not a renewable option.  There are also anti-fracking initiatives in the North East advocating clean water, Sierra Club has been taking on coal plants, and more!!

There are Environmental Justice issues that help to mobilize people.

Barack Obama’s Green Agenda Crushed at the Ballot Box | CommonDreams.org

Climate change opinion cause is human by count...

Opinion on man-made climate change by country

“Obama in interviews on the evening of the elections, admitted there was no change of sweeping climate and energy legislation in the remaining two years of his term. He said he hoped to find compromise on “bite-sized” measures, such as encouraging energy efficiency or the use of wind and solar power.”

via Barack Obama’s Green Agenda Crushed at the Ballot Box | CommonDreams.org.

“The new speaker of the House, John Boehner, once said: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” Vicky Hartzler, who took out the 34-year veteran Ike Skelton in Missouri, has called global warming a hoax.

In her election night stint as a Fox news commentator, Sarah Palin singled out the Environmental Protection Agency as an example of big and wasteful government. The Republican leadership has signalled they it is opposed to a whole array of EPA regulations, including those on ozone and mercury. The EPA is seen as a fallback route for the Obama administration to deal with the regulation of greenhouse gases after the US senate dropped its climate bill in the summer.”