Friday, January 24, 2014

Marcy Wheeler Offers More Analysis Of The PCLOB Report

Here. emptywheel's assessment begins thus:
PCLOB tells us that the FISA Court approved a new automated query system (versions appear to have been in development for years, and it replaced the automated alert system from 2009) in late 2012 that permitted all the 3-degree contact chains off all RAS-approved identifiers to be dumped into the corporate store at once where they can be combined with data collected under other authorities (presumably including both EO 12333 and FAA) for further analysis.
[extended quote from the PCLOB report; please read at emptywheel's site at the link above]

On December 27, 2012, Jeff Merkley gave a speech in support of his amendment to the FISA Amendments Act that would push to make FISC decisions public. It referenced both the backdoor loophole (which John Bates extended to NSA and CIA in 2011, was implemented in 2012, and affirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2012) and the language underlying the phone dragnet. Merkley suggested the government might use these secret interpretations to conduct wide open spying on Americans.
[another extended quote from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).]
The point, in brief, is that we are being forced to live under a secret law, and that secret law may be in direct conflict with our constitutional rights in the powers it secretly grants to the intelligence agencies. Please note how Sen. Merkley is compelled to tiptoe around the whole issue by stating things as conditionals because he is probably prohibited from stating them outright in a public forum.

Sen. Jeff Merkley
This is not the America I grew up in. That America at least once rejected firmly the secret spying on American citizens undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI for purposes that were never freely debated by Congress and authorized by the President, purposes whose constitutionality was highly questionable at best. Nearly five decades later, here we are again: different intelligence agency; vastly advanced technology... but the same old bullshit subverting the same rights and liberties of the American people. What is it going to take to put a stop to the American surveillance state? Will I... will any of us... live to see the day it is shut down for good?

AFTERTHOUGHT: To the best of my knowledge, I am no relation to Judge John Deacon Bates, or indeed to any other George W. Bush appointee.

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