How is it possible that elected representatives in these United States can consider – much less pass into law – any activity that robs Us the People of our Constitutional rights?
Don’t these leaders understand that – thanks to the internet – people are better informed than at any other time in history?
Don’t these leaders fear they are committing career suicide when they support anti-freedom legislature?
Didn’t we learn anything from NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden?
Evidently, the answer to the last three questions is “No.”
Witness the most recent Congressional effort to undermine our civil rights: the so-called USA Liberty Act of 2017 (H.R. 3989). It was introduced to the House of Representatives on October 8, 2017, and one month to the day later, on November 8, 2017, passed the House Judiciary Committee by a clear majority vote of 27-8.
Just like the Patriot Act (2001) and USA Freedom Act (2015) before it, the name is designed to misdirect and misinform.
The USA Liberty Act, plain and simple, calls for violating citizen’s 4th Amendment Right, which protects us from warrantless search and seizure. In case you’re a bit vague on the wording of that important amendment, here it is:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Last month, the USA Liberty Act rolled out for Congressional review. On November 8, 2017, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) tweeted:
“The Liberty Act passed committee 27-8. It allows the government to search our private data without a warrant—in violation of the 4th Amendment. It’s another bill, like the Freedom Act, that furthers violations of our rights under the guise of protecting our rights.”
Yes, you read correctly. This bill is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” – it appears innocent enough, but is actually a wild, ravenous beast, intent on gobbling up Our freedoms.
The real purpose of this draconian bill is to reauthorize and create additional loopholes for Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which will expire on Dec. 31, 2017. According to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee:
“Section 702…authorizes surveillance of the communications of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States in order to protect national security…Although Congress designed this authority to target non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States, it is clear that Section 702 surveillance programs can and do incidentally collect information about U.S. persons when U.S. persons communicate with the foreign targets of Section 702 surveillance.”
In other words, if an American citizen communicates with a “foreign target” being investigated, the American, by association, becomes a target as well. That doesn’t sound so unreasonable, actually.
The problem is that law enforcement agencies have been taking advantage of the vague and undefined word “incidentally” to inspect American citizens’ phone calls and emails without getting a warrant.
U.S. News & World Report published an article by Elizabeth Goitein titled “Congress Can’t Compromise on Privacy” which identifies the illegal practice termed “backdoor searches:”
“Four agencies – the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center – allow their officials to sift through communications collected under Section 702 in search of Americans’ calls and emails. They can conduct these searches without any evidence of wrongdoing, let alone probable cause and a warrant.”
Enter the USA Liberty Act to “better protect Americans’ privacy” by requiring government employees to have “a legitimate national security purpose” before searching an individual’s database.
What is in an individual’s database, you ask? That would be every phone call you’ve made for, oh, let’s just say, the last 20 years or so – the NSA hasn’t admitted how long they’ve been collecting our data, naturally, since that was a criminal activity – plus every email, plus every social media post, plus every website your computer has ever visited (even if you were not at the keyboard). For all we know, an individual’s database might contain video records from traffic and other public cameras.
The 2015 USA Freedom Act also mandated that phone companies keep individuals’ phone records, instead of the NSA – which had been collecting citizens’ phone calls illegally, as revealed in 2013 by Edward Snowden, NSA whistle-blower.
Rep. Amash explained, in 2015, why he did not vote for the USA Freedom Act, proposed originally in 2013, but in a different form:
“Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the bulk telephone metadata program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) is not authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and is thus unlawful…But the win will be short-lived if H.R. 2048, the latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act that’s scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives this afternoon, becomes law.
“Section 215 authorizes the government to collect records and other ‘tangible things’ that are ‘relevant’ to a terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation. To support the bulk collection of data pertaining to millions of law-abiding Americans, the government has effectively claimed that all records everywhere are potentially relevant to a current or future investigation, and thus all records are fair game for collection.”
Yes, you read that correctly: “All records are fair game for collection.” This means phone calls, emails, social media posts, US Mail – even medical and legal records, which are supposed to be protected by client confidentiality.
The problem with the current USA Liberty Act is that it does not solve the illegal spying of US citizens, as allowed under Section 702. With only a supervisor’s approval, any federal investigator can claim to have a “legitimate national security purpose” before conducting a warrantless search on any Americans’ metadata.
What if the target of that investigation were you? Your spouse? Your child? Would you feel violated if your private communications were reviewed by antagonistic persons who would love to find you guilty of some crime – any crime?
In this great nation, our legal system must assume citizens are innocent until proven guilty. Laws with statist names like “Patriot,” “Freedom,” and “Liberty” promote the assumption of guilt, rather than innocence. Unfortunately, our elected representatives appear to believe that our Constitutional rights are not important anymore.
All this anti-civil rights legislature becomes much more ominous if you believe – as more and more Americans do – that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by our own government. The purpose? To begin an unending and unwinnable war (equals Big Profits) on a concept (“Terror”).
The bottom line, according to an October 2017 Electronic Frontier Foundation article by Rainey Reitman is this:
“Perhaps most importantly, the bill [USA Liberty Act] won’t curtail the NSA’s practices of collecting data on innocent people.”
Do not believe – ever, even for one instant – that We the People must forfeit our civil liberties for the sake of national security.
Quoting Albert Einstein:
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Let your elected representatives know how you feel and what you think…while there is still time to “arrest” (stop) the USA Liberty Act.