Here’s some promising bipartisan legislation from civil libertarians Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Justin Amash (R-Michigan):
“The recent revelations of the NSA’s data-mining program is just another example of the federal government’s continued abuse of the overly broad powers provided under the Patriot Act. I am proud to stand with Representatives Justin Amash and John Conyers to modify the Patriot Act to protect our privacy,” said Rep. Polis. “Our bill will not only bring much needed transparency to instances of surveillance on innocent Americans, but will also provide limitations to the federal government’s use of the Patriot Act.”
H.R. 2399, the Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email Act (LIBERT-E Act), restricts the federal government’s ability under the Patriot Act to collect information on Americans who are not connected to an ongoing investigation. The bill also requires that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court opinions be made available to Congress and summaries of the opinions be made available to the public.
Great news. If major limitations on the PATRIOT Act come out of this NSA leak, that would be a fantastic step in the right direction.
I also love the linguistic hoops they jumped through to call it the “LIBERT-E Act.”
So I hear you saying, I have no problem with what NSA has been doing.
Well, let me — let me finish, because I don’t. So, what happens is that the FBI — if, in fact, it now wants to get content; if, in fact, it wants to start tapping that phone — it’s got to go to the FISA court with probable cause and ask for a warrant.
But has FISA court turned down any request?
The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.
Should this be transparent in some way?
It is transparent. That’s why we set up the FISA court…. The whole point of my concern, before I was president — because some people say, “Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney.”
POLL: The younger you are, the more likely you are to oppose government surveillance of private communications and approve of whistle blowing/transparency efforts. Young people are also the most likely of any age group to say they would feel violated if they knew the government had been spying on them.
“Because government is force — “a dangerous servant and a fearful master” — it must be watched closely, even — especially — when it does something you like. But eternal vigilance is hard to achieve. People outside the system are busy with their lives, and politicians generally can’t be expected to play watchdog to other politicians.
Therefore, at the least, we need institutional constraints and transparency:
No secret warrants.
No secret courts.
No secret expansive interpretations of laws and constitutional prohibitions.”
“For the sake of argument, we may assume that from President Obama on down, government officials sincerely believe that gathering Americans’ telephone and Internet data is vital to the people’s security. Does that make government spying okay?