Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.
– Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice, in 1928
While most Americans are busy Christmas shopping and making preparations for trips to see family, Congress remains hard at work doing what it does best. Giving gifts to Wall Street and trampling on citizens’ civil liberties.
I knew the plebs were about to be royally screwed a week ago when I published the post: Wall Street Moves to Put Taxpayers on the Hook for Derivatives Trades. The piece concluded with the following:
Remember what Wall Street wants, Wall Street gets. Have a great weekend chumps.
Naturally, Wall Street got what it wanted. In fact, this provision was so important to the financial oligarchs that Jaime Dimon called around to encourage our (Wall Street’s) representatives to support it. The Washington Post reports that:
The acrimony that erupted Thursday between President Obama and members of his own party largely pivoted on a single item in a 1,600-page piece of legislation to keep the government funded: Should banks be allowed to make risky investments using taxpayer-backed money?
The very idea was abhorrent to many Democrats on Capitol Hill. And some were stunned that the White House would support the bill with that provision intact, given that it would erase a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, one of Obama’s signature achievements.
But perhaps even more outrageous to Democrats was that the language in the bill appeared to come directly from the pens of lobbyists at the nation’s biggest banks, aides said. The provision was so important to the profits at those companies that J.P.Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon himself telephoned individual lawmakers to urge them to vote for it, according to a person familiar with the effort.
The nation’s biggest banks — led by Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America — have been lobbying for the change in Dodd Frank, which had given them a period of years to comply. Trade associations representing banks, the Financial Services Roundtable and the American Bankers Association, emphasized that regional banks are supportive of the change as well.
But the regulatory change could also boost the profits of major banks, which is why they are pushing so hard for passage, said Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
“It is because there is a lot of money at stake,” Johnson said. “They want to be able to take big risks where they get the upside and the taxpayer gets the potential downside,” he said.
While that’s bad enough, the lame duck Congress clearly didn’t consider its job done without legislating away the 4th Amendment. Here is some of what one of the only decent members of Congress, Justin Amash, wrote on Facebook:
When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room)—I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.
On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote on the bill so that everyone’s vote would have to be recorded. I also sent the letter below to every representative.
With more time to spread the word, we would have stopped this bill, which passed 325-100. Thanks to the 99 other representatives—44 Republicans and 55 Democrats—who voted to protect our rights and uphold the Constitution. And thanks to my incredibly talented staff.
Block New Spying on U.S. Citizens: Vote “NO” on H.R. 4681
The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.
Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309—one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.
To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.
Now watch the following video:
Finally, this is what I think of Congress:
@SenSanders Yes, and that's because Congress is a bunch of money grubbing, treasonous cowards.— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) December 12, 2014