Tag Archives: patriot act

The People’s Voice On FISA

13 Jun

FISA?I’m willing to stipulate that the data mining reforms the Obama administration put into effect are more sophisticated than the previous clumsy, illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral eavesdropping regimes. Yet, there’s one weak link: the FISA court. Ron Fournier asks, “Why does a secret federal court almost always side with the government’s requests to seize information.” Penza responds:

The problem might arise from the nature of FISA itself: it is a non-adversarial process where only the government presents information and where that information is not subject to challenge. In a regular investigation, there is at least some potential for the target of the investigation to cry “foul” and bring information to the court that undermines the government’s basis for pursuing the investigation. Regular warrants can be challenged as overbroad, overly intrusive, or not supportable by probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. No such mechanism exists in FISA. Indeed, this is a feature not a bug because doing so in the regular way would alert targets that they have been detected, making it more difficult to track and counter an organization like al-Qaeda.

But a mechanism could be added to adjust the FISA process to introduce some check on the government’s ability to obtain a rubber stamp from a court without compromising its ability to hide its activities from the targets of national-security investigations. And no, the best such process does not lie in allowing egomaniacs like Snowden and Greenwald to have veto power over what the government is allowed to do. Rather, it lies in introducing an adversary — call it an ombudsman or a public defender — into the FISA proceedings as an institutional skeptic, empowered to participate in FISA proceedings to challenge the government’s requests as overbroad or not supported by reasonable suspicion.

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Super-Hawk And No Hypocrite

8 Jun

Obama SuperhawkThe U.S. president, Barack H. Obama, asks us to trust our leaders.

“In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok,” Obama said, without discussing details. “But when you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance.”

He’s a super-hawk, but he’s not a hypocrite.

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Trust The Power-Hungry

7 Jun

bush-nsa-obama-316x207This is just one of the all-too-many public officials we are asked to trust with our “metadata”.

Judge Vinson was the trial judge who presided over the most high-profile challenge to the health law, brought by governors and attorneys general from 26 states, along with other private plaintiffs.

In January 2011, Judge Vinson ruled unconstitutional the law’s requirement that individuals carry health coverage or pay a penalty, calling it “a bridge too far.” He found that the insurance mandate was so central to the law that the entire measure must be voided.

The Supreme Court, of course, later upheld most of the law on a 5-4 vote, one of the biggest high-court rulings in a generation. The four dissenters agreed with Judge Vinson in calling for the nullification of the whole law.

The renewed attention on Judge Vinson comes after he just completed his seven-year term on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews government surveillance requests related to national security investigations.

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