On Thursday (Jan 11th) this week, the House will vote to reauthorize the soon to be expired Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Section 702 is intended to allow US intelligence agencies to spy on foreigners under the supervision of the FISA court. Many people agree that Section 702 has been an important and useful tool in the fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, the law’s implementation has been twisted beyond Congress’s original intent to allow for warrentless collection and searches of Americans’ communications.
Over the last few days, Kristi Noem has been sponsoring some Trump inspired fear and anger campaign ads to goat people into signing up for her campaign’s mailing list. The first up from two days ago:
In it, I see the Northeastern United States, a passenger jet pointed downward, and a masked Middle Eastern fighter. It’s clearly aimed at portraying refugees as terrorists and eliciting memories of Sept 11, 2001.
Today, there’s an updated ad:
Now we see the entire country, no more Middle Eastern fighter, and the airplane is no longer pointed to the ground. Why the change? Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps Noem realized that refugees are actually the victims of terrorism.
At the request of Attorney General Jackley, Senate Bill 25 would make any criminal booking photograph a public record. AG Marty Jackley says of the bill:
“The release of criminal booking photographs to the public will result in greater transparency in the criminal process, enhance public safety, and will further assist the media and the public in the proper identification of individuals in the criminal process,”
The facts of the matter, are that this bill is full of unintended consequences:
Last month Rep. Kristi Noem voted against a bi-partisan amendment that would have required the government to seek a warranty prior to querying the internet data of American citizens. Opponents of the bill politicized the Orlando tragedy in order to defeat the amendment which had passed the previous two years.
Rep. Noem has a mixed track record on this amendment. She voted yes three years ago, and then has voted no the last two years. I sent a letter asking why she changed her vote, but I never received a reply. I’m speculating that Rep. Noem has been influenced in part from the intense lobbying from the FBI and intelligence community regarding this amendment. After all, the FBI would rather not bother with judicial oversight and warrants.
Just yesterday, Rep. Kristi Noem voted in favor of the deceptive H.R. 5606: Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act. Fortunately, the bill failed. As Republican Rep. Justin Amash put it, “… H.R. 5606 will permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion.” Reasonable suspicion by the way, is the same legal standard federal officials used when needlessly strip searching a teen-age Sturgis girl.
H.R. 5606 is deceptive in that it’s not really about stopping terrorists. Section 314 of the Patriot Act already allows law enforcement to seek financial records of suspected terrorists and money launderers. H.R. 5606 allows law enforcement to seek financial records based on the low “reasonable suspicious” standard for any matter of crime, all without a search warrant/judicial oversight.
Just days after voting down several gun related bills in defense of the Second Amendment, Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds voted to undermine the Fourth Amendment and grant the FBI the power to gather transaction email, chat, and web browsing data without a warrant or judicial oversight via National Security Letters (NSL). Senator Rounds even co-sponsored the measure.
Republicans are taking advantage of the shooting tragedy in Orlando to push the measure, but as noted in the Christian Science Monitor:
Senator John Thune sponsored the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 which passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent a few weeks ago. Per the Congressional Research Service (CRS):
Senators Rounds and Thune dealt a severe blow to consumer privacy when they helped to pass Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on Oct 27th 2015. From Senator Round’s press release,
The bipartisan cyber security bill we passed in the Senate today will help protect Americans from such cyber-attacks by allowing companies to share information about cyber-threats to prevent other businesses from falling victim to similar threats. It does so while protecting Americans’ private information from being shared and is 100 percent voluntary.
Senator Thune hosted a field hearing on the topic of cyber-security at Dakota State University. You can read all about it at KELOLAND.com. I’m happy to see that Sen. Thune is seeking input from industry experts in an open forum. Hopefully that information will aid in the crafting of sensible cyber-security legislation. Kudos to Sen Thune for this.
Unfortunately, Senator Thune still used to opportunity to promote CISA, the cyber-security legislation that was crafted absent public input in closed door sessions of the Senate Intelligence Committee. If you don’t recall, CISA could actually make us less secure.
Defying all logic, both Senators Thune and Rounds voted to renew the Patriot Act as is without changes. The Patriot Act was set to sunset on June 1st, 2015. Though the Patriot Act had been renewed in the past, this time was different. In May 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents to several journalists which shed light on how the Patriot Act was being actually being used. One of the most startling revelations was that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting the phone records of virtually every American on a daily basis. This gave rise to a number of developments: