Uncle Sam is watching you

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 11:40 am by

This week, Congress prepares to abuse the Constitution again, by extending its 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). With the House of Representatives poised to vote today on a premature five year extension, will members remember what they heard when theatrically reading the Constitution on the House floor, or instead entrench the Bush-Cheney legacy beyond even the next administration?

I'm Watching You

When Congress first voted back in 2008 to give the National Security Agency the power to eavesdrop on any—in other words, every–American without any reason for individual suspicion, it did so without a full picture of what it allowed. Indeed, the full contours of the program remain secret even today.

The only reason the NSA’s spying powers have survived this long is because courts have refused to consider claims that they are unconstitutionally invasive. The Supreme Court will consider one such case this fall — which, if successful, will merely allow the several year process of a litigation challenge to finally begin.

Even though much of it remains shrouded in secrecy, we do know a few things about the NSA’s warrantless spying program authorized by FISA.

We know that it began illegally, without any authorization by Congress and in clear violation of the FISA law crafted by Congress in the 1970s to stop our government from spying on Americans.

We know it is so vast and unchecked that, nearly ten years ago, Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to authorize it, even despite coercion from the Bush White House.

We know that an architect of the program, alarmed at how his work was co-opted to abuse the rights of Americans, blew a whistle about fraud and waste, only to face prosecution by the Obama Administration for espionage–until a federal court ultimately told the government to stop chasing a loyal servant of the American people.

We know that the NSA has violated even this incredibly permissive law, abusing its own powers and the rights of untold numbers of Americans. Our government has admitted to that much, without offering any way to know how widespread those violations have been — or remain.

We know that the executive branch currently interprets parts of other surveillance laws in secret, allowing government activities even beyond the intentions of their authors.

We know that congressional Democrats–including then Senator Obama–joined their Republican colleagues in 2008 to approve FISA, even while both parties paid lip service about defending constitutional values in Washington. Despite the partisan rancor apparent on many issues, Congress marches in lockstep on national security, elevating government power well beyond constitutional limits.

We know that, despite Washington’s wrangling over the budget crisis, the NSA has never justified its massive costs to the American people. In fact, Congress knows neither what the program costs, nor when the NSA’s program has actually helped national security, let alone whether those costs are justified!

We know that FISA has enabled the most pervasive state surveillance system ever known to humankind. The only settings in which powers like it have ever existed are dystopian science fiction novels.

Even the former Soviet Union and contemporary China, for all their efforts to control their people, lacked the resources to conduct the kind of monitoring that the NSA does every day — not only on terror suspects, but on you and your family.

We also know that the Obama administration has supported the Bush-Cheney NSA policy, extending it once before — even though Senator Obama, before winning the White House, promised at one point to vote against it. Until President Obama signed a 2011 law granting our military the potential power to detain any American indefinitely without proof of crime, FISA was the high water mark of the post 9-11 national security state.

Finally, we know that the American people can still defend our rights when aroused. Earlier this year, a grassroots firestorm stopped SOPA and PIPA before they transformed the Internet.

Congress already gave our government the power to conduct mass domestic spying by approving FISA four years ago, but a grassroots clamor this fall could stop that power from being renewed in the Senate — or at least force Congress to finally do its job and ask tough questions that should have been answered long ago, before writing the NSA yet another blank check.

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22 Responses to “Uncle Sam is watching you”

  1. Shahid Buttar Says:

    The Protect America’s Privacy Act (S. 3515) is the best legislation that has been introduced to curtail the NSA’s dragnet surveillance regime under FISA. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.3515:

    It remains a far cry from the more assertive JUSTICE Act from which Congress retreated after Senator Feingold (the only Senator to resist the PATRIOT Act) developed it, but given the state of play, S. 3515 is currently the best bill for which members of Congress could vote this year.

    And with the House taking action today to entrench the NSA, and President Obama having flipped in 2008 to support dragnet NSA surveillance, the Senate looms as the last line of defense before the NSA becomes entrenched beyond even the next administration.

  2. FISA Amendments to Be Renewed By House Today | OccuWorld Says:

    [...] greatly expanded that surveillance into a program that is as secretive as it is expansive, as Shahid Buttar explains: When Congress first voted back in 2008 to give the National Security Agency the power to [...]

  3. People’s Blog for the Constitution » Uncle Sam is watching you | American Spring Says:

    [...] http://www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/?p=9805#.UFEtsRpZ5gh Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Data Mining, Domestic Politics, FISA, Judiciary, Military Industrial Complex, NSA, Police State Tactics, Stellar Wind, Surveillance State, whistleblowers by americanspring2011. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  4. Duane R. Olson Says:

    Apparently, “WE, the sheeple” don’t care, after all, the executive and judicial branch of the government of the United States have, for nearly 40 years, arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced hundreds of thousands of men and women from nearly every nation on this planet for conduct alleged, admitted, or found to be in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) pursuant to the PENALTIES prescribed by the Ninety-First Congress specifically and with purpose of intent, reserved, restricted, and limited to “any person who violates subsection (a) of this section! For those folks unfamiliar with these federal statutes, may I be precise? THERE IS NO FEDERAL CRIMINAL STATUTE that would PROHIBIT, FORBID, or make it UNLAWFUL and a federal crime for any person NOT registered with the attorney general for federal jurisdiction to be federally regulated to possess and distribute drugs! That’s right, “WE the sheeple” have been scammed again by the greatest “trickster” in politics, RICHARD M. NIXON!!

  5. Uncle Sam Is Watching You: Stop FISA Renewal | worldwide hippies Says:

    [...] civil liberties, FISA, Orwellian, Politics, Uncle Sam by Worldwide Hippies By Shahid Buttar, People’s Blog for the Constitution | News Analysis – This week, Congress prepares to abuse the Constitution again, by extending [...]

  6. Donnas Robet Says:

    Uncle Sam blog was nice. The Congress prepares the constitution to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is great ….

  7. People's Blog for the Constitution » September 17th: Constitution Day Says:

    [...] elected officials contains many helpful tips on how to take action this Constitution Day. With the recent House vote to extend the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendments and Judge Forrest’s recently ruling the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [...]

  8. People's Blog for the Constitution » Supreme Court denies review of NSA case Says:

    [...] September, Congress again renewed these controversial amendments to FISA, and prolonged one of the most extensive surveillance measures in the United States. While [...]

  9. People's Blog for the Constitution » Supreme Court to issue decision in FISA case Says:

    [...] functioning checks and balances. Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of  BORDC explained that this Congressional failure spans across party lines, saying: “We know that congressional Democrats–including then Senator Obama–joined their [...]

  10. People's Blog for the Constitution » Will Obama’s second term finally fulfill his 2008 promises? (Part I) Says:

    [...] Yet, reflecting a disturbing pattern of bipartisan abdication repeated over the past decade, the House recently voted to reauthorize the 2008 FISA amendments for another five years, even beyond the next [...]

  11. Jackie ONeil Says:

    I am really getting tired of being lied too and left out of what is really going on, remember when at least from an honest media we were able to get a little bit of news, sometimes I wonder was it all real? We must regain our integrety of honest and truthful information and quit trying to tell people it is alright when it is not, regain our integrit and trust, try it might worth a try.

  12. People's Blog for the Constitution » Will Obama’s second term finally fulfill his 2008 promises? (Part III) Says:

    [...] already admitted to violating the law—even under powers granted in 2008 to legalize plainly unconstitutional spying initiated in secret by the Bush administration—the agency has refused to disclose how many Americans have been [...]

  13. People's Blog for the Constitution » 4 ways Congress could either protect your rights, or instead assault them Says:

    [...] Vote against the proposed extension of the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) until the National Security Agency finally answers congressional questions about how many [...]

  14. People's Blog for the Constitution » Congress turns to civil liberties Says:

    [...] pending before the Senate, next week may seen even more action on civil liberties issues. Given how skewed the FISA debate has become, however, the result is not likely to adequately protect [...]

  15. People's Blog for the Constitution » Call your Senators to demand privacy and transparency Says:

    [...] a moment and contact your Senators and demand they vote against the proposed extension of FISA until the NSA finally answers congressional questions about how many Americans have been [...]

  16. People's Blog for the Constitution » ECPA amendment gains support from wide political spectrum Says:

    [...] a moment and contact your Senators and demand they vote against the proposed extension of FISA.  Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with [...]

  17. People's Blog for the Constitution » NSA spying revealed: Uncle Sam is watching you, and both Congress and the courts are complicit Says:

    [...] confirming concerns raised by civil libertarians (including me) for years. In light of Congress’ recent decision to extend the law permitting such abuses for another five years, and the Supreme Court’s [...]

  18. FBI & NSA Spying Revealed: Uncle Sam Is Watching You, and Both Congress and the Courts Are Complicit | BirchIndigo Says:

    [...] basis for the FBI surveillance approved by the secret order disclosed by the Guardian. In light of Congress’ recent decision to extend the law permitting even worse abuses by the NSA for another five years, and the Supreme [...]

  19. Green Shadow Cabinet: Confirmation of America’s fears that the government is spying on us | Independent Political Report: Third Party News Says:

    [...] for the FBI surveillance approved by the secret order disclosed by the Guardian. In light of Congress’ recent decision to extend the law permitting even worse abuses by the NSA for another five years, and the Supreme [...]

  20. People's Blog for the Constitution » Overlooked reasons why NSA secrecy is senseless and offensive Says:

    [...] can an agency allocated (at least) tens of billions of dollars a year evade budgetary scrutiny at a time when the rest of the government is suffering dramatic cutbacks?  Largely overlooked in [...]

  21. People's Blog for the Constitution » Civil liberties movement wins by losing a key House vote Says:

    [...] to the greatest extent since the PATRIOT Act was enacted over a decade ago. Unfortunately, however, Congress recently extended FISA powers for another five years — even without knowing the full contours of the agency’s [...]

  22. People's Blog for the Constitution » Raise your voice on Bill of Rights Day Says:

    [...] basis for the FBI surveillance approved by the secret order disclosed by The Guardian. In light of Congress’ recent decision to extend the law permitting even worse abuses by the NSA for another five years, and the Supreme [...]

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