Friday, June 14, 2013

The United States Secret Courts, Secret Surveillance and Other Dealings in Secret Combinations Behind Closed Doors.

I've been reading about what a surveillance state actually is.  Remember Demolition Man?  It's the movie with Sylvester Stalone and Sandra Bullock in which a cop from the past is brought to the future...anywho, this future is ruled by laws where people get tickets for saying the wrong words and other behavioral things.  In other words, they don't get to have individual rights and therefore no individuality at all.

While members of Congress refuse to admit that they are in the know on the NSA secret snooping program, it has all been done with the approval of congress, so it is not very likely that the truth is being told here.  So, is there anyone in Washington who actually tells the truth?

"A top Republican lawmaker claimed Thursday terrorists have already started to change their behavior after a self-described NSA whistleblower leaked information about classified U.S. surveillance programs to various media outlets, saying the leaks may make it "harder to track bad guys." (Read more: Fox)

In steps the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  They had a victory Wednesday towards the release of a ruling on violations our precious (and now severely troubled) 4th Amendment rights.  Even the Director of National Intelligence has revealed that the SECRET FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE COURT (FISC) ruled that there has been 4th Amendment violations in the surveillance by our government.  While we talk about the citizens of China having a lack of freedoms, at least in China you know what to expect with the state.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation scored a remarkable — and remarkably timely — legal victory on Wednesday. The secret court at the center of the recent NSA surveillance revelations allowed the group's push for the release of a ruling on violations of Americans' Fourth Amendment rights to move forward.
In May, we reported on what was then a fairly sleepy issue, a distant node on the EFF's longstanding push to uncover how the NSA's intelligence-gathering systems conflicted with the Constitution. In July 2012, a letter from the Director of National Intelligence to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon revealed that a ruling by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) found Fourth Amendment violations in the government's surveillance. source: Atlantic Wire 
In the Federalist Papers, No. 16 (Hamilton), it reads that this secret surveillance is deemed unconstitutional.  It reads as follows...

The State leaders may even make a merit of their surreptitious invasions of it (the Constitution) on the ground of some temporary convenience, exemption, or advantage.

Hamilton also talks about the power hungry leaders and how they may have a tendency to be wanton of domination instead of working for the citizens they represent.

An experiment of this nature (exertion of unconstitutional power) would always be hazardous in the face of a constitution in any degree competent to its own defense, and of a people enlightened enough to distinguish between a legal exercise and an illegal usurpation of authority.
... The regulation of the mere domestic police of a State appears to me to hold out slender allurements to ambition.  Commerce, finance, negotiation, and war seem to comprehend all the objects which have charms for minds governed by that passion; and all the powers...would contribute nothing to the dignity, to the importance, or to the splendor of the national government.

Were the Founders and those who wrote the Federalist Papers psychic?  Sure seems like they envisioned a future much like what we have, which has exploded into scandal after scandal that is ignored by Obama and his administration.  I agree with the following statements regarding the attitude of Obama and his administration.  I know that this was not started under Obama, but it has literally exploded with corruption under his administration because he has ignored the U.S. Constitution, as he has stated that he thinks of it as a nice historical document.

Surely, you might think, such all-encompassing surveillance must be unconstitutional, and ultimately will be stopped or modified by the Supreme Court. 

Think again. President Obama, among many others, has assured us that the government’s spying operations are entirely legal. 

The problem is not that the president has taken leave of his senses, or suddenly taken the rest of us for fools. The problem is that he may well be correct, at least according to the way the Supreme Court has thus far interpreted the Constitution. 

Because of their classified status, and notwithstanding the recent press revelations, the NSA surveillance operations’ extent and exact methodology remain largely unknown. But from a civil liberties standpoint, what we do know isn’t very encouraging. 

Phone RecordsOperating under various code names, such as Trailblazer, Stellar Wind and Ragtime, authority for the collection of telephone metadata—the phone numbers each of us calls and the numbers of those who call us—derives from Sections 215 and 505 of the Patriot Act, which was initially passed in 2001 and amended key provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

Section 215 (codified at 18 United States Code 1861) authorizes the FBI on behalf of the NSA to apply for court orders requiring phone companies to produce business records “to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” The section served as the legal basis for the order published by The Guardian that was issued in April by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to Verizon Business Services. 

The court deliberates in secret, issues its orders on an “ex parte” basis without hearing from those affected by them, and only rarely publishes its decisions, although the Justice Department reports annually to Congress on the overall volume of surveillance applications. In 2012, the FBI submitted 1,789 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. One was withdrawn; all the others were approved. 

Section 505 (codified at 18 USC 2709) authorizes the FBI to issue national security letters, without any judicial oversight, to obtain subscriber information and toll billing records from telecom carriers. Recipients of national security letters are subject to gag orders that forbid them from ever revealing the letters’ existence. In 2011, the FBI issued 16,511 such letters.Those seeking to declare these sections unconstitutional face at least one enormous obstacle: the 1979 case of Smith v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court held that telephone users have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the records of their calling activities. As the Smith ruling instructs, absent a privacy expectation, no illegal search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment occurs. Unless the Supreme Court overrules or distinguishes Smith from the NSA’s current spying platforms, legal challenges to orders like the one issued to Verizon are likely to meet with little success. 

Internet Content SurveillanceThe obstacles facing those seeking to halt or limit the collection and reading of emails and other electronic communications under the PRISM program are in some ways even more daunting, courtesy of the Supreme Court’s decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International, released in February. In a 5-4 majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court dismissed a complaint brought by Amnesty International and other human rights groups, reasoning that none of the organizations had suffered actual legal harm, and thus lacked “standing” to sue. None could show, the majority argued, that its communications in fact had been intercepted in the past or that they would likely be intercepted in the future.  

Although domestic wiretapping warrants issued by judges must be supported by probable cause, the collection of emails challenged in the Clapper case and involved in the PRISM program is governed by another set of legal provisions, found in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (codified at 18 USC 1881). These permit the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approval of surveillance operations against foreign targets upon certifications of reasonableness that fall short of the warrant requirement for probable cause. The provisions also authorize such operations to proceed without any court approval for up to seven days in “exigent circumstances,” as determined by the attorney general. 

Although the PRISM operation on its face is directed solely at foreign targets, even the sleuths at the NSA can’t always determine where a person is located. As a result, the agency reportedly collects information on targets believed with only 51 percent certainty to be outside the U.S. 
American journalists and others who investigate national security issues are thus left in a Kafkaesque dilemma, validly concerned that their emails to and from people abroad are being swept up in secret government data dragnets yet foreclosed on technical standing grounds from challenging the dragnets because they are unable to penetrate the very secrecy they object to.In the absence of a highly improbable constitutional turnaround by the Roberts court or some equally improbable decisive reform of the Patriot Act and FISA by Congress, this is the legal structure we will have for the foreseeable future. 

All nations have the right to protect themselves against terror. But in a country that prides itself on the values of transparency and the rule of law, we can do better than the current system, which seemingly falls short in both respects. source: Truth Dig

 What is a top secret court doing in our United States?!  They work in secret combinations behind closed doors, allowing for the signs of the times to come forth, written almost in exact wording with the Biblical prophecy.  They are an organization, like more organizations that we are finding out about, that are running our country from behind closed doors and by a few elite individuals.

Are we ready now for that discussion about secrecy? In December, in a holiday-season rush to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the U.S. Senate shot down several amendments intended to limit the powers the act grants to the government and to scale back the near-total secrecy that it authorizes. source: Bloomberg

Additionally, many are waking up to the fact that the votes for government leaders are fraudulent and are created behind closed doors as well.  What a frustrating thing to wake up to!  To wake up to the fact that your vote does not really count is a rough thing, especially for those of us who are instinctively and deeply patriotic to our United States of America.

The question for Barkin is not whether we should have a surveillance state since the surveillance state is certainly here but what type of surveillance state we will have. He notes that there are a number of dangers posed by the surveillance state. With all the data collected there may be a move towards a parallel track of preventative law enforcement that may be contrary to guarantees of a bill of rights.
Traditional law enforcement may begin also to follow this parallel track. With the vast data base of information collected by the government, local police forces will want to access and mine this information not just intelligence agents. Similarly social service providers will want access to information to serve clients better but also no doubt to weed out "undeserving" clients. Finally, Barkin claims that the government may use more and more private agencies to collect information for it, in order to circumvent constitutional guarantees. I am not sure that the government worries that much about such constitutional issues. James Clapper. National Intelligence Director, claims that the snooping is all perfectly legal under the Patriot Act and has been authorized by Congress:"Clapper said the data collection under the program, first unveiled by the newspapers The Washington Post and The Guardian in Britain, was conducted with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court and with the knowledge of Internet service providers."
The obvious reason to have the work done by private entities is that they can make a profit from this activity and then donate to election campaigns of politicians who helped privatize the data collection.
Balkin claims that there can be a democratic surveillance state or an authoritarian surveillance state. A democratic surveillance state collects as little data as possible and tells the public as much as possible about what it is being collected and what is being done with information. An authoritarian surveillance state will collect as much information as possible about its citizens and tell them as little as possible. Paul Krugman claims that the US should be classified as an authoritarian surveillance state. His position is stated in the appended video clip.
source: Digital Journal 

How do you feel about your 4th Amendment and about the secret dealings of our government?  I really want to hear from you!

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