Congress Passes Gutted Beyond Recognition Anti-NSA Bill; Original Co-Sponsor Votes "No"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

 

- Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, original cosponsor of the USA Freedom Act

In what will come as no surprise to any of you, there are very few members of Congress I have even the slightest degree of respect for. However, Justin Amash is one of them.

Rep. Amash is 34 years old and was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been on my radar screen for several years now as one of the few elected representatives who act more like statesmen than politicians. He has been on the right side of many civil liberties related issues, including his opposition to the NDAA’s provision that allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial. More recently, last summer he authored an anti-NSA amendment known as the “Amash Amendment,” which was defeated by establishment authoritarians in both political parties. I covered that story in my post: NSA Holds “Top Secret” Meeting to Stop Powerful Anti-Spying Amendment.

Being the fighter that he is, Amash regrouped and came back with an anti-NSA spying bill with some teeth to it: The USA Freedom Act. This bill concerned the establishment to such a degree that Senator Feinstein launched her own competing bill, which believe it or not, intended to codify the NSA’s unconstitutional practices into law.

In the end, what the status quo did was water down the once robust USA Freedom Act into oblivion. Don’t take my word for it, Justin Amash wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Today, I will vote no on ?#‎HR3361?, the ?#‎USAFREEDOMAct?.

 

I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government’s unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

 

I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

 

However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.

 

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

 

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616″ or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

 

The bill does include a few modest improvements to current law. The secret FISA court that approves government surveillance must publish its most significant opinions so that Americans can have some idea of what surveillance the government is doing. The bill authorizes (but does not require) the FISA court to appoint lawyers to argue for Americans’ privacy rights, whereas the court now only hears from one side before ruling.

 

But while the original version of the Freedom Act allowed Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act to expire in June 2015, this morning’s bill extends the life of that controversial section for more than two years, through 2017.

 

I thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte for pursuing surveillance reform. I respect Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Rep. John Conyers for their work on this issue.

 

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

 

The American people demand that the Constitution be respected, that our rights and liberties be secured, and that the government stay out of our private lives. Fortunately, there is a growing group of representatives on both sides of the aisle who get it. In the 10 months since I proposed the Amash Amendment to end mass surveillance, we’ve made big gains.

We will succeed.

So it is this watered down, toothless bill that passed this morning. Just in case you still had any doubt what the cretins in Congress are all about. As Mark Twain famously stated:

“There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress.”

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IridiumRebel's picture

They won't be happy until we all have RFID chips in us.

madcows's picture

No, they certainly don't want to lose their slaves, do they?

synergize's picture

At least I know i'm voting for Amash next election

gh0atrider's picture

....because everyone really believes NSA/CIA/TSA/FBI, etc really care and follow what congress passes or says.

flacon's picture

Freedom act?! Really? They have to pass an act with the title "Freedom"?! Come on now - this is so easy to see through. 

Looney's picture

...As Mark Twain famously stated

This Twain dude must be infestigated [sic]. He must be a terrisst and raciss ;-)

Looney

whstlblwr's picture

Of course. "They hate us for our freedom"

edotabin's picture

So they pass the "Free from Freedom" act.

NoDebt's picture

We've crossed the Rubicon.  I don't see many lining up to make the return trip.

Look on the bright side, though.  Progressives/liberals/statists are some of the stupidest motherfuckers I've ever had the sad misfortune to cross paths with (at least at lower levels).  All you have to do is spout a lot of phrases like "if we could just save one life" or "it's for the children" or "how can the greatest nation on earth allow xxxxx to continue" and you are IN.  The best part is when they start talking about how to fix it, you can rest assured the solution is always the same- get the government to FORCE people to do it.  You could set your watch by their opinions and ideas.

Am I saying you can LIE to them?  Absolutely!  They're the easiest people to trick I've ever met.  They're like CHILDREN.  You can tap dance around them all day long and they think you're on their side, even when you're mocking them.

 

James_Cole's picture

 Progressives/liberals/statists are some of the stupidest motherfuckers I've ever had the sad misfortune to cross paths with (at least at lower levels).  All you have to do is spout a lot of phrases like "if we could just save one life" or "it's for the children" or "how can the greatest nation on earth allow xxxxx to continue" and you are IN.

The 51 Republicans and 70 Democrats voted against the bill...

IndyPat's picture

So this means they have more dirt on the elephant team...for now. If team elephant "wins" next time, surely there'll be hell to pay.

It's like I've always said, whoever has their dirty dick pickers on the finished version of the blackmail machine stays in power for keeps.

Fuck all these guys.

Confused's picture

No offense, but I'm failing to see the connection here. 

Anusocracy's picture

I hope you used the word 'statist' to include the conservatives.

Michigan has a republican governor, house, and senate, and they are pushing through a higher minimum wage and higher gas and sales taxes for road repair.

Who needs liberals anymore?

IndyPat's picture

Fucking awful if that's true.

In any case, my political party has no name.

Until we die, of course. Then we have a name.

One of We's picture

You insult my children....

pods's picture

Hmmm, seems that the government will keep fucking you even when they are try to put in rules against fucking you?

Sounds like the land of the free and will of the people to me.  

How's that voting thing working out for y'all?

pods

 

madcows's picture

it's a frigging show so they can pretend to their voters that they protected them from the evil government.  It's all a bunch of crap and the mindless voters show up every election to put them back in.  Just look at how well the current repugnicans did in their primaries.  that'll tell you everything.

813kml's picture

I'm just going to join the Amish, their NSA isn't very sophisticated.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

He is like rand Paul to me. I really, REALLY want to believe in them, I just can't quite do it. Every time they do something I really like, they do something else to pander to the neocon/ traditional republicans. Amash did vote for Paul Ryan's joke of a budget that did nothing to really address our debt and tax issues. He hasn't made a believer out of me yet.

viahj's picture

sorry, but this is the best that this "system" will produce for the American people.  not much at all, except tyranny.   

Blano's picture

You better, because IIRC he's one that the RINO establishment (especially & including the Grand Rapids crowd) has targeted for defeat.

percolator's picture

Yeah, I'd imagine the Amway crooks can't be to happy with Mr. Amash as they prefer Fascists and usually they get what they want.

Real Estate Geek's picture

The USA Freedom Act.  What a bunch of shit.

I see that Sensenbrenner has his hands all over this too.  IIRC, he's the scumbag who drafted the so-called "Patriot Act."  Thanks a bunch for re-electing him five or six times since then, you dumb fucking cheeseheads. 

BeerMe's picture

Exactly.  It is unnecessary if we had courts that actually upheld the constitution.

Tinky's picture

As the excellent Marcy Wheeler calls it: The Freedumber Act

Her blog is the very best for real insights into this, and other NSA outrages:

http://www.emptywheel.net/

 

 

Joebloinvestor's picture

I suggest you watch: " The President's Analyst".

Hillarious and scary.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

And YOU become the walking, talking crypto-currency, backed by the SDR, and enforced by the LEAs and IRS.

IridiumRebel's picture

Absolutely. Welcome to the herd.... Or be culled.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Aye... To be or not to be.  That is the question.

Whether 'tis nobler to have "intel inside", or to suffer the slings and arrow of outrageous (mis)fortune...

messymerry's picture

I've long said:  "Facebook is like a feedlot.  Two things happen at a feedlot:  The sick get weeded out and the rest get fattened up."  Looks like just exactly that is happening...   ;-D

messymerry's picture

I hear the buttocks are the location of choice.  ;-D

IridiumRebel's picture

Then the doctor won't mind when I projectile shit in his face.....oh wait, I will never be implanted. 

Perfecthedge's picture

I applaud this image.  How true.  Sad and true.  Now, we have it in our hands to not let history repeat itself.  What would YOU have done back then in Nazi Germany 1933...?

IndyPat's picture

Non enim est aliquid

Edit: suggesting that we change Latin motto "many from one" to "something for nothing"...
Not entirely sure of my translation. Maybe the Roman solider can correct me like in Life of Brian.....

taoJones's picture

In what will come as no surprise to any of you, there are very few members of Congress I have even the slightest degree of respect for. However, Justin Amash is one of them.

I think the author meant to say "However, Justin Amash is NOT one of them"

 

 

 

RaceToTheBottom's picture

I really hate that FaceBook has become a method of communication like press releases.

 

It is somewhat ironic that one who is fighting the information freedom war uses one of the enemy as part of his fight...

Ignatius's picture

See 'Corporate History in the USA' for full explanation.

hot sauce technician's picture

I know. How can you expect to be taken seriously as a freedom advocate and partiipate in the Matrix's favorite circus?

And it's not like there aren't superior decentralized, open source alternatives that allow you complete freedom and privacy. But then again, the bankster behemoth has monopolized the PC market by forcing you to purchase Microsoft NSA Windows when you buy a machine. Notice, when you buy a machine, that you get charged an extra +$100 for Windows. I once asked a PC salesman if I can forego the pleasure of having windoze on my machine and buy it sans operating system, and he of course said no and really couldn't muster a coherent explanation as to why. I realized it's a futile battle. The manufacturers (dell, hp, acer etc.) are paid a nice royalty for each machine sold by M$oftNSA so of course they preinstall windoze on their machines. Users are coerced to use M$oftNSA's products and as they are mostly simpleminded folks when it comes to tech, they submit.

Try talking to people about using GNU/Linux. They look at you like you're some kind of being from Alpha Centauri. Even after you show them the beauty, ease of use, privacy, security etc. of GNU/Linux software they say "ahh, I'm used to windoze, leave me alone." or, even worse, "what do I care about <security/privacy/versaitility>?". People are idiots. These are the same poeple who also believe that fiat has intrinsic value.

outamyeffinway's picture

But Brother Rat I said, "what about the weak the helpless and the small....."

 

He just sneered and said, "Fuck 'em all. Fuck 'em all."

Kreditanstalt's picture

"Our country" would be safer if ALL spying were completely outlawed, prosecuted and ended.

But Our Dear Leaders would never understand that...

pods's picture

"Our country" is safer when the government shuts down. (Our country can apply to pretty much the entire world.)

pods

 

y3maxx's picture

Manifest Destiny...How long will Canada last until the USSA gobbles up its neighbour to its North?

Kreditanstalt's picture

What's the difference?   We all enjoy the same managerial-authoritarian government.

IndyPat's picture

Right.

As soon as they untie themselves from Her Majesties' apron strings?

God save her, and all...

mvsjcl's picture

Hmmm. That's not what was meant. Instead, look at the monetary system. Ignore the faces on the bills. How do those "notes" come about? That will give you your clue.