In Patriot Act debate, a victory for freedom and civil liberties

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reassured Congress that the government was not compiling information on hundreds of millions of Americans. That reassurance was false.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reassured Congress that the government was not compiling information on hundreds of millions of Americans. That reassurance was false.

Somewhere in Moscow, Edward Snowden is smiling. And he ought to be.

Almost two years ago now, Snowden leaked information that for the first time exposed the scale of spying conducted routinely, and without warrants, by the U.S. government against its citizens. He did so not to harm the country, he said, but instead to alert his fellow Americans about what their government was doing in secret, in his opinion in violation of the Constitution and the law. The American people at least ought to know, he said, because once armed with information they could make their own decisions about whether such spying was legal, constitutional and necessary.

That is exactly what is happening.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court decided that the spying was not legal, ruling that the collection of so-called metadata — data revealing every phone call, email or text message that you send, to every person, how long you spoke and from where — far exceeded the surveillance authority granted by Congress in the Patriot Act.

And last week, Congress itself balked at reauthorizing the Patriot Act, which is scheduled to expire June 1. The House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan alternative bill — itself a minor miracle — that extends some provisions of the Patriot Act while significantly restricting government surveillance in other areas, including the bulk collection of metadata. The Senate last week came three votes short of the 60 needed to pass that alternative, called the USA Freedom Act.

If those three votes can’t be found in the next few days, the entire Patriot Act will expire and Congress will be forced to start over again. That would be fine with me.

It’s important to note that none of this debate would be happening if the federal intelligence community had its way. Before the Snowden revelations, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked point blank by Congress whether such programs were underway.

Sen. Ron Wyden: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper: “No, sir.”

Wyden: “It does not?”

Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”

That was a lie. The NSA has been collecting significant data on every one of us, every day, tracking with whom we communicate. And the irony is, the government itself admits that the  bulk-collection effort exposed by Snowden has played no role in stopping terrorist attacks. The logic driving that program seems to be that since we have the technology to do something, we should do it, with little regard to its effectiveness or even legality.

And in many cases, those pressing hardest for a renewal of the Patriot Act’s most intrusive provisions are also those who profess concern about growing government power and intrusion. For example, both Georgia senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, voted against the more limited alternative bill, preferring instead the false security offered by the Patriot Act.

As Isakson explained on Facebook:

“While I firmly believe our national security should never compromise our privacy, this administration has failed to lead the world against radical Islam. I am not willing to bring our capabilities to fight terrorism back to pre-9/11 levels. That’s why I fully support a clean reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. ISIL is getting stronger and threatening the lives of millions. We have a responsibility to the world to fight radical Islamic terrorists and protect the freedoms generations before us have fought for.”

 

We do not “protect the freedoms generations before us have fought for” by surrendering those freedoms to our own government, as Isakson proposes. There will always be threats to our security, and there will always be those who are willing to use those threats to justify more government surveillance and authority. And on the scale of those threats — past, present and future — the truth is that ISIS is pretty damn minor. The only realistic threat it poses to “our freedom” is the excuse it offers for surrendering that freedom voluntarily.

The proposed alternative bill is not perfect, but it is workable. Under its provisions, the data about every phone call, text or email that you send would still be retained for use in an investigation. However, that data would be kept by telecom companies, not by the government. If the government wanted that data, it would be required to seek warrants to access it and to show just cause for needing it.

Because the Fourth Amendment is clear as a bell:

“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.”

 

Reader Comments 0

1274 comments
Peachs
Peachs

If this government gets my information as wrong as they got Iraq I expect an invasion of my home any moment now.  

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Use strategic air power. America’s unrivaled air forces can hit ISIS from anywhere: neighboring countries, the sea and the continental U.S. Yet the sorties flown so far have been minimal, and damage inflicted still less,even as ISIS held a parade in broad daylight in Rutba, Iraq, last week.

That is the kind of target our aviators dream of. Rules of engagement need to be loosened, U.S. air controllers sent to the front to call in strikes, and more combat aircraft put into the fight.


The United States is on the side of al qaeda right now.


http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-prevent-the-fall-of-baghdad-1432683027

Peachs
Peachs

@IReportYouWhine#1 I always am amazed at the advancements the military makes and the thought occurs to me that we might have won Viet Nam with these advancement but then we would have to have wanted to tangle with the Chinese, which a little like Iraq was a byproduct not predicted until we had gotten war started. 

ZAZ
ZAZ

OK, you MSNBC hacks. wake and let's inventory overnight looting and burning of CVSs and QTs by democrats. 

ZAZ
ZAZ

@Visual_Cortex @ZAZ @LordHelpUs Why not? We've taken the liberty to 'self-ID' republicans, so we ought to just get it over with and 'self-ID' democrats, right? Shouldn't we use that broad stroke for minions on both sides of the isle? We can begin with a couple generalizations made here routinely:


Democrats are all non-racists & republicans are all racists. 


Let's just go down the list on the main planks.

LeninTime
LeninTime

Did the fasciwhinoes finally hang it up for the evening?

Brosephus
Brosephus

Y'all have a good night.  Time for me to go burn a few castles.  Laters!!!!

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

When I wore my apron low
Couldn't keep you from my do'
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

Now I wear my apron high
Scarcely ever see you passing by
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

Now my apron's up to my chin
You pass my door and you won't come in
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

If I had listened to what my mama said
I'd be at home in my mama's bed

Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezZqe5cVoXw

josef
josef

BROSEPHUS

Is Alexander classing me with you (below)?  Oh, my...  LOL 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@josef 

I think so...  Not really sure what to make of that one.  I guess he's saying that I don't debate and you're a switch hitter.  I thought you only played for one side though.  I guess you really have some skeletons in your closet and under the bed.  LOL!!!

alexander2
alexander2

@josef nope, reread, BELOW ! Thought you'd keep the discussion out of the gutter,( or your closet).. BRO, when your minds in the gutter,you waste it, I think you can do better, perhaps I am wrong (AGAIN), but we'll see.

josef
josef

@alexander2 @josef 

Oh, please, what's wrong with a little levity or silliness...it does a spirit good not to take things too seriously...

Brosephus
Brosephus

@josef 

There is that.  I find it interesting that I'm always accused of throwing attacks, but nobody ever mentions that I respond to attacks as opposed to initiating them.  There is a stark difference between the two.

I'm not going to play meek John here and let someone think they can trample all over me.  That dog won't hunt.  If you have balls enough to throw attacks, then you'd better have thick padding around those balls because I'm going to return serve.

alexander2
alexander2

@Brosephus I'll simplify it , "duality" might be confused with honesty: I can't debate a point I don't understand , you can't debate a point you refuse to be objective about.This one issue does not exist in a vacuum < i have read you "debate " other subjects such as tha ACA where you use highly subjective data and severely biased thinking..it's not a debate it's name calling and I simply cannot believe what you write. You may have complete information on this issue but your history suggests otherwise..

alexander2
alexander2

@Brosephus "debate " is not about "balls" and your point justifies not engaging your perceived slights.. 

alexander2
alexander2

@Brosephus I have little stress and little anger, you need to read my posts without bias and ease up, again it;s not about "balls" and perceived slights", look within....

Brosephus
Brosephus

@alexander2 

josef got the joke right off the bat.  He and I do have a bit of a brotherly relationship.  We've joked with each other about much more than that and laughed the entire time.  You have to learn to lighten up sometimes.  Stress and anger shortens the lifespan.

alexander2
alexander2

@josef Agree, heard that the nanchez place parkway is beautiful...

GaBlue
GaBlue

@josef

You didn't call him the b-word, did you?

Brosephus
Brosephus

@alexander2 

And read what I posted.  You're hung up on the word balls and you obviously missed the context of what I was saying.

"If you have balls enough to throw attacks..."

I was addressing those who throw attacks at me, not debate me.  There is a difference, a stark difference, between those two.

josef
josef

@alexander2 @Brosephus 

He "needs" to, or "should?"  I know you may be one of those who dismisses "just semantics,"  but our use of language often betrays a line of thought/an attitude we might think is not in evidence...

josef
josef

@Brosephus @josef 

I sorta thought that, too!  Oh, well, as they say, life's too short not to have a little variety!  As for my closet, I wouldn't know what's in there...been a long time since I was there.   LOL 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@alexander2 

I didn't say debate was about balls.  I said people throwing attacks having balls.  Read what I posted instead of what you think I posted.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@alexander2 

So, you're basically owning up that your "opinion" about my debating skills is as biased as you claim me to be.  Thanks for being honest.  

Opinion is biased.  Anything I base my opinion on, I have information to back it up.  As far as highly subjective data, it only comes off that way to those who refuse to acknowledge it.

If you're going to not debate people because they post highly suggestive data, then there's no point in you posting here at all.  Everyone posts data that someone else will label highly suggestive because they don't agree with the findings.  That's the interesting thing about mathematics and statistics.  More than one story can be built from the same set of data points.  If I'm wrong, I have no problem with people pointing out where I'm wrong, and that has happened here a bit.  

Brosephus
Brosephus

@josef 

You gotta add flippant to uppity.  Someone threw that word at me a while back at work.  LOL!!

Brosephus
Brosephus

@josef 

"our use of language often betrays a line of thought/an attitude we might think is not in evidence..."

Some don't appear to observe that.  In the absence of visual clues, one can only go from the appearance and context of words here.  The choice of words play a vital part in dictating how a post will likely be read.

josef
josef

@Brosephus @josef 

At which point I would have said what my Mama said when someone used that word with her, "I'm so glad you caught that.  I was afraid it wasn't apparent!"  

josef
josef

@Brosephus @josef 

And sometimes it is something as simple as using the command form of a verb instead of a conditional...the distinction between which, I was always taught, is an essential fundamental of effective debate/discussion 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@josef 

I'm actually confused by his posts now.  Maybe you can help me understand the duality of man in this case.

First, he says:

"Don't flatter yourself, you don't debate, and Bro, the same."

Then, when I challenge him to a debate:

 "Can't debate THIS as I don't know the Exact case and neither do I understand the complete legal aspects of what reagan did or Obama has done. That doesn't mean you'll debate it either with offensive attacks, etc. It's what you do, perhaps it's annoying or simply biased information, but if it's debate you want from me, I won't fake it and throw anything against you hoping it will stick and I won't receive your offerings either..." 

So, I'm one that don't debate, yet he's admitting that he won't receive anything I offer.  So, who really has the issue with debating here?  You can't say I didn't try.

josef
josef

Well, y'all excuse the h3ll out of me if I'm in a good mood.  Took the boys to down the Natchez Trace to Mississippi Museum of Science (their choice)  and out for some ice cream.  They were little gentlemen, learned a lot, had a good time, then it was home to set up the badminton game, neighborhood kids came to play, Mama's cabinets got here two days early, Unmentionable barbecued ribs, water hose bath...just another day in paradise...

josef
josef

@alexander2 @josef 

My first view of the big blue planet was from Frenchman's Bend in Yoknapatawpha...

TBS
TBS

WOW.........

The Hawks had a good season but without a doubt were not ready for the big time. 

Now that they have had a taste of what it takes to go far into the playoffs maybe next year they will be better prepared mentally and emotionally. 

Plus they need a go to guy.  Even the teams who play great team ball have go to guys. 

Play Spurs ball all you like and it is a great system but in their prime they had solid go to guys..... Duncan, Parker, Ginobli etc

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

@TBS -- It's a BEAST to get through the East.  They don't have games in the east, they have WARS.  Hawks need another shooter and a Forward built like Karl Malone with agility and shooting skills.  


But yeah, maybe next year!!


TBS
TBS

@DebbieDoRight @TBS


East overall is weak.  The writing on the wall was their performance against both the Nets and Wizards.

Nets are not that good and Wizards are a little better than average. 

The beast is the West.............. 

Bottom line: They were not ready for the big time and it showed in each series and we are seeing the ending tonight. 

Next year they should be better prepared.  


DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

@TBS @DebbieDoRight -- The East is WEAK?!?!?  WTF?!?  Did you SEE the playoff game with Cleveland and the Bulls?  I was scared they'd have to call out the National Guard!!

TBS
TBS

@DebbieDoRight @TBS


Yep..................As compared to the West , top to bottom, yes it is weak. 

Doesn't mean Cavs aren't capable of winning the championship but the West is an overall better conference.

It is what it is...............

Got to run

Have a great night