A Necessary Conversation ….. NSA Phone Record Collection And Our Security!!!

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So, today, we see headlines such as this …..

Paul battles critics as NSA collection program expires

The linked article ….

Republicans and Democrats engaged in a fervent round of finger-pointing Monday after inaction in the Senate led to the expiration of key counterterrorism programs including the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. 

Absorbing the heat was Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the GOP presidential candidate who was able to gum up the works in the Senate and force those programs to lapse, for now, after lawmakers missed a Sunday midnight deadline. 

Though lawmakers are likely to forge ahead in the coming days with legislation that could lead to those programs resuming, hawkish lawmakers warned that even a temporary lapse poses risks. 

“We cannot go back to a pre-9/11 mentality,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., told Fox News, while predicting lawmakers will be able to pass a bill in the Senate in the coming days. 

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a statement he is “extremely disappointed lawmakers allowed a lapse in our ability to hunt down terrorists plotting against Americans.”

Paul, meanwhile, cheered the expiration as a “big victory” for the American people. 

He raised eyebrows on the floor Sunday night when he went so far as to accuse his critics of “secretly” wanting to see “an attack on the United States, so they can blame it on me.” 

Speaking Monday on Fox News, Paul conceded, “I may well have exaggerated” with those remarks. 

But he challenged the notion that Americans are in danger, saying the bulk collection program has not effectively prevented terrorist attacks so far. He said the problem with the so-called 215 program is that it authorizes a “generalized warrant” of all phone records, and not specific records. 

“This is a big rebuke to the president,” Paul told Fox News. 

Paul’s stand against the Patriot Act provisions has led to high-intensity fighting within the Republican Party. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his allies originally fought for a short-term extension of the Patriot Act surveillance provisions. Not only were they stymied, but Paul refused to support even a House compromise bill that would end, and reform, the NSA collection program. 

McConnell and his allies reversed course on Sunday to advance that House bill, called the USA Freedom Act. But Paul was able to leverage Senate procedural rules to draw out the process and force the expiration of the programs overnight. 

In the coming days, the Senate is expected to take up that House bill. The USA Freedom Act ends NSA bulk collection of U.S. phone records but allows the agency to search records held by the phone companies. 

The question is whether they will amend that legislation – and if they do, whether the House would accept those changes. If so, the surveillance programs will resume, with some significant changes in how the phone records are handled. If not, they will remain dormant. 

The Senate vote on the measure known as the USA Freedom Act can come no earlier than 1 a.m., Tuesday. Senate Republican aides said they expected some amendments, but no major revisions to the bill. 

“Having gone past the brink, the Senate must now embrace the necessity of acting responsibly,” said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, in a statement after Sunday’s Senate vote. 

The high-stakes drama played out as Congress debated the most significant changes prompted by the disclosures of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed the phone records collection and other main surveillance programs. With no deal reached in time, the NSA stopped collecting American phone records at 3:59 p.m. EST Sunday, officials said. 

Other authorities that expired allowed the FBI to collect business records in terrorism and espionage investigations, and to more easily eavesdrop on a suspect who is discarding cellphones to avoid surveillance. 

Intelligence officials publicly warned of danger, but were not deeply concerned with a lapse of a few days or weeks, given that the authorities remain available in pending investigations. What they most fear is a legislative impasse that could doom the programs permanently. 

“The Senate took an important–if late–step forward tonight,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible.” 

President Obama supports the USA Freedom Act. That bill, which preserves the other expiring provisions, passed the House overwhelmingly May 13. 

Senate Republicans blocked that legislation on May 23, arguing that it undercut the NSA’s ability to quickly search the records. It fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance. 

But with no other options, McConnell, in an about-face, reluctantly embraced the House-passed bill Sunday night. 

“It’s not ideal but, along with votes on some modest amendments that attempt to ensure the program can actually work as promised, it’s now the only realistic way forward,” McConnell said. 

The Senate then voted 77-17 to move ahead on the USA Freedom Act.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue, this is a conversation the people need to have.  I can certainly understand people who wish to live a secure life.  It’s reasonable to expect some security from our government. 

However, I believe many of our elected officials are displaying a lack of intelligence, or, a lack of candor.  I think it more reasonable to ask our government to keep us safe from terrorism without the imagined necessity of spying on its citizenry.  Indeed, I see this as exchanging one form of tyranny for another. 

Of course, the simple answer is to secure our borders and vet the people coming into our land.  Sadly, people like Ayotte are too stupid to understand there may be other, less intrusive ways to ensure the security of the citizenry.  Or, perhaps, she’s simply being dishonest. 

I find it interesting that the Dims are letting Paul take the heat for all of this.  But, then, look at who their “front runner” is. 

Personally, I don’t know enough about the “USA Freedom Act” to accurately describe it, but, from what I can see, it isn’t much different than the “Patriot Act”.  But, making the simple step of ending the arbitrary and all-encompassing bulk collection of Americans’ phone records seems to be a step in the right direction. 

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16 Responses to A Necessary Conversation ….. NSA Phone Record Collection And Our Security!!!

  1. leftinflagstaff says:

    ‘I can certainly understand people who wish to live with a false sense of a secure life. It’s reasonable to expect some false sense security from our government. ‘

    There you go.

  2. DirkH says:

    ““We cannot go back to a pre-9/11 mentality,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., told Fox News,”

    He’s right. You can’t. Because the same people are still in power.
    On 9/11, 16 different agencies all failed catastrophically on the same day.
    Amazing coincidence.

  3. kim2ooo says:

    The biggest problem…. Not many, pushing for or in defending this, are telling the truth about it.

    The defeat of this part of NSA’s eavesdropping………. DOES NOT PRETAIN TO foreign TERRORIST. The “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolution”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorization_for_Use_of_Military_Force_Against_Terrorists

    PROVIDES this ability… INCLUDING THE DOMESTIC SIDE OF THE CONTACT.

    Yet, they try to scare us by telling us half truths and lies.

    SOME HISTORY:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_(2001%E2%80%9307)


    NSA surveillance program[edit]

    Main article: NSA electronic surveillance program

    Soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks U.S. President George W. Bush issued an executive order that authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct surveillance of certain telephone calls without obtaining a warrant from the FISC as stipulated by FISA (see 50 U.S.C. § 1802 50 U.S.C. § 1809 ). The complete details of the executive order are not known, but according to statements by the administration,[52] the authorization covers telephone calls originating overseas from or to a person suspected of having links to terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda or its affiliates even when the other party to the call is within the US.

    The legality of surveillance involving US persons and extent of this authorization is at the core of this controversy which has steadily grown to include:

    Constitutional issues concerning the separation of powers and the Fourth Amendment immunities.
    The effectiveness[53] and scope[54] of the program.
    The legality of the leaking and publication of classified information and the implications for U.S. national security arising from the disclosure.
    Adequacy of FISA as a tool for fighting terrorism

    MORE AT LINKS

    • kim2ooo says:

      ON the hill -They say: “Don’t take away our tools”.

      Ironic that they bemoan losing a tool – yet, insist on WARRANTLESS collections of data from INNOCENT Americans… a VIOLATION of American civilian rights… The Fourth Amendment….. OUR TOOL from an ALL KNOWING INVASIVE GOVERNMENT!

      GET A specific TO THE CASE …WARRANT – COLLECT WHAT YOU WANT.

      They say: “We are just reading the outside of the envelope”

      That is a STRAWMAN…. You aren’t STORING the envelope.

      They say: “Amazon knows more about your likes, than NSA”.

      WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE TRUE…. BUT AMAZON ISN’T MY GOVERNMENT… I HAVE RECOURSE AGAINST AMAZON for using that information… AND I’m DIRECTLY INVOLVED with Amazon…..

    • kim2ooo says:

      NSA GETS BY WITH WARRANTLESS ACTIONS…………. GUESS WHO FOLLOWS?

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/2/fbi-behind-mysterious-surveillance-aircraft-over-u/

      “U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services. Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

      ——————-

      The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations.

      If used for “specific ONGOING investigation” .. GET A WARRANT.

    • kim2ooo says:

      Say you end up in court… an innocent [ you called a phone number that used to belong to your friend… BUT now is flagged ].

      Without that WARRANT TRAIL………. how do you legally defend yourself?

      • cdquarles says:

        The same way you do with the tax and drug laws, basically, you don’t. You plead. Atlas Shrugged was fiction; but dang it, we are living it.

        Open your eyes and read all of Title 18 of the US code. Prepare to be shocked, and remember that what you see there today took roughly 100 years to do.

      • cdquarles says:

        How are you handling reading the US Code, Kim?

        Anyway, a recent adventure in making a high dollar online purchase got me to thinking and I want to pass on this story.

        First, an observation. As bad as Jim Crow was, in some respects, we had more liberty then than we do now.

        Now for the rest of the story. In the news recently we have seen people attacking Rand Paul over his fight to amend how the NSA does its job with broadcast phone records. Tied into this are various other, and older, statutes aimed at ‘organized’ crime. What they’re really aimed at is ordinary people minding their own business. The current banking rules, tied to criminal money laundering statutes and criminal income tax related monitoring of financial transactions, can literally make anyone technically guilty of structuring. I won’t go into details; but just like the drug laws criminalized certain commercial transactions, these rules basically make you have to hop through hoops if you want to make certain purchases that are high dollar value. It is sickening, and given my own personal experiences with how the courts and justice system work, I might get that knock on the door.

        • DirkH says:

          FATCA has as a consequence that when you open a bank account in Germany (I did last year), they ask you a list of 18 questions all saying “Have you got ANYTHING to do with the USA” in one form or the other…

          BUT, now I heard from a German guy who wanted to open an account in Switzerland, the bank refused; bank employee told him, we don’t do business with Germans anymore. He continued to quiz the employee about the reasons, amongst them were, we expect the Euro to be gone 5 years from now, so what’s the point opening an account denominated in Euros anyway.

          This looks like contagious breakdown of trust.

    • kim2ooo says:

      ‘It seems Sen. King left out a great deal of information imparted by the Fourth Amendment. In recap, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the united States of America states as follows:

      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.

      The qualifier “shall not be violated” is similar to “shall not be infringed.” Specifically, the people have the “right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This right “shall not be violated.” There is no balancing act between that portion of the Fourth Amendment and “national security responsibilities” “in light of risk and in light of technology.” The tenet of the Fourth Amendment recognizing the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures was made absolute.

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