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The current president appears to be taking the same stance as the former by supporting a renewal of the Patriot Act.

The Obama administration has told Congress it supports renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at year’s end, measures making it easier for the government to spy within the United States.

The three provisions due to expire which Obama supports extending are:

  • A secret court, known as the FISA court, may grant "roving wiretaps" without the government identifying the target. Generally, the authorities must assert that the target is an agent of a foreign power and/or a suspected terrorist. The government said Tuesday that 22 such warrants — which allow the monitoring of any communication device — have been granted annually.

  • The FISA court may grant warrants for "business records," from banking to library to medical records. Generally, the government must assert that the records are relevant to foreign intelligence gathering and/or a terrorism investigation. The government said Tuesday that 220 of these warrants had been granted between 2004 and 2007. It said 2004 was the first year those powers were used.

  • A so-called "lone wolf" provision, enacted in 2004, allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of an individual even without showing that the person is an agent of a foreign power or a suspected terrorist. The government said Tuesday it has never invoked that provision, but said it wants to keep the authority to do so.

Civil rights groups oppose renewing all three provisions.  Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s legislative counsel, had this to say:

"The justification for FISA and these lower standards and letting it operate in secret was all about terrorist groups and foreign governments, that they posed a unique threat other than the normal criminal element. This lone wolf provision undercuts that justification."

An internal DOJ audit has found widespread abuse of the Patriot Act, which will be debated at hearings scheduled next week.

The Justice Department inspector general issued blistering audits in 2007 and 2008, finding, for instance, that FBI agents had used demands for information known as national security letters in many cases where they were not authorized and had employed other tools called exigent letters to quickly obtain data without proper follow-up.

Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees scheduled hearings on the reauthorization of the expiring provisions in the Patriot Act for next week. And Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who raised strong objections to the problems in the previous administration, said Tuesday that they will introduce a bill that would enhance privacy safeguards.

"We must take this opportunity to get it right, once and for all," they said in a joint statement.

Several civil liberties groups are exhorting Congress to use the expiration to begin debate on an array of domestic surveillance issues. One priority is national security letters, which require disclosure of sensitive information by banks, credit card companies, and telephone and Internet service providers. No judge signs off on these, and recipients are usually barred from talking about the letters.

Released last year, the documentary Washington, You’re Fired breaks down pieces of legislation including the Patriot Act that have collectively dismantled the U.S. Bill of Rights under the guise of keeping Americans safe.

A long list of legitimate concerns have been raised over the Patriot Act including the violation of the 1st and 4th amendments.

  • Violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.

  • Violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech by prohibiting the recipients of search orders from telling others about those orders, even where there is no real need for secrecy.

  • Violates the First Amendment by effectively authorizing the FBI to launch investigations of American citizens in part for exercising their freedom of speech.

  • Violates the Fourth Amendmentby failing to provide notice - even after the fact - to persons whose privacy has been compromised. Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

The issues go beyond that of surveillance. The Act:

  • Puts CIA back in business of spying on Americans. The Patriot Act gives the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements. That opens the door to the same abuses that took place in the 1970s and before, when the CIA engaged in widespread spying on protest groups and other Americans.

  • Creates a new crime of "domestic terrorism." The Patriot Act transforms protesters into terrorists if they engage in conduct that "involves acts dangerous to human life" to "influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." How long will it be before an ambitious or politically motivated prosecutor uses the statute to charge members of controversial activist groups like Operation Rescue or Greenpeace with terrorism? Under the Patriot Act, providing lodging or assistance to such "terrorists" exposes a person to surveillance or prosecution. Furthermore, the law gives the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to one of these broadly defined "domestic terrorist" groups.

  • Allows for the indefinite detention of non-citizens. The Patriot Act gives the attorney general unprecedented new power to determine the fate of immigrants. The attorney general can order detention based on a certification that he or she has "reasonable grounds to believe" a non-citizen endangers national security. Worse, if the foreigner does not have a country that will accept them, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.

Update (h/t realityworld): The ACLU issued a press release yesterday:

"We are very encouraged to learn that the Obama administration has stated a willingness to discuss reforming the deeply flawed provisions in the Patriot Act, though we are disappointed at its support for the reauthorization of the three expiring provisions," said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. "Though there may be some value to these provisions, they – like many other Patriot Act provisions – are written much too broadly and have already proven themselves to be problematic in the hands of law enforcement. The privacy rights of all Americans will continue to be at risk if we continue to let these statutes remain as they are."

...The ACLU has urged Congress to take the opportunity presented by the expiration of some Patriot Act provisions and use it to revisit other problematic sections of the law, as well as other changes made to surveillance laws since 2001. Specifically, the ACLU is asking that Congress:

  • Narrow the scope of the NSL authority, adding judicial oversight to all NSL requests;

  • Reform the overly broad material support statute;

  • Revisit the changes made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last year that gave the government sweeping and overbroad new surveillance power;

  • Narrow the recent expansion of authorities given to FBI agents by the revamped Attorney General Guidelines that allow agents to conduct physical surveillance without suspicion;

  • Expand oversight mechanisms such as audits by inspectors general and public disclosure requirements related to the Patriot Act and statutes that allow for surveillance of Americans.

"Over the last eight years, Congress has allowed numerous expansions of executive authority that have worked in tandem to infringe upon Americans’ rights," said Michelle Richardson, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "It’s time for our lawmakers to take apart the massive surveillance mechanism it has built and examine each piece to develop wiser policies."

Originally posted to The Anomaly on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:16 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning...and end.

    by The Anomaly on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:16:17 AM PDT

    •  Well at least (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnoftheRedSun

      they're open to discussing the patriot act.  I'm relieved.  Because that means they don't intend to extend the Bush era authoritarian rule at all.  

      "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." -Bob Herbert

      by Nada Lemming on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:54:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What do you make of this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elmo, gchaucer2, realityworld

     

    Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the administration is willing to consider stronger civil rights protections in the new law . . . Leahy responded with a statement saying it is important for the administration and Congress to "work together to ensure that we protect both our national security and our civil liberties."

     And then, after waiting all the way until the last line of the entire article, we finally discover that the ACLU is actually heartened:      

    "We're heartened they're saying they're willing to work with Congress . . . [It's] definitely a sea change from what we've seen in the past."

    from this diary

  •  add to that..... (0+ / 0-)

    The Washingtion Times reports this morning that the White House is keeping twitter, you tube, facebook, postings WITHOUT permission.

    what gives???

  •  I dont see a problem, not with the right wing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    broadwayliberty

    terrorist organisation running rampant now days. LOL

    •  I wish you'd cream it louder. Here's why. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IndianaDemocrat

      The more Democratic nutjobs call for totalitarian measures against the right, the easier time Russ will have rounding up Republican votes to restore Privacy protections.



      Medical Marijuana is Healthcare. does YOUR bill cover it?

      by ben masel on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:29:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Letsee... (0+ / 0-)

    How the right and Glenn Beck react to this.  Obama wants to keep provisions to spy on average Americans.  This would be great theater if it weren't so goddamn serious.

    [Journalism] is media agnostic. - Kos

    by RichM on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:26:05 AM PDT

    •  Obama EXPANDED On Bush's Wiretapping Defense (4+ / 0-)

      Took a while to find this, but I thought I remembered it!

      Obama Administration quietly expands Bush's legal defense of wiretapping program
      John Byrne
      Published: Tuesday April 7, 2009

      In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government's legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency's eavesdropping efforts.

      In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.

      http://74.125.95.132/...

      •  But but but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rabbithead, DawnoftheRedSun

        Obama's willing to TALK about it.  That's change, see?  

        "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." -Bob Herbert

        by Nada Lemming on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:56:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ACLU on change (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1, DawnoftheRedSun

          "We're heartened they're saying they're willing to work with Congress . . . [It's] definitely a sea change from what we've seen in the past."

          •  So now it's a SEA CHANGE (3+ / 0-)

            I can believe in!  Thanks!  I feel better now, now that the ACLU is approving of the patriot act extensions.

            Because Obama didn't REALLY say they wanted to extend the lawlessness of the Bush administration in the form of continuing the worst parts of the patriot act.  They just want to talk about it.  

            I will go back to sleep now.  Nothing to see here people, move along.  

            Wait, did the ACLU really approve of these extensions?  No?  You mean they just approved of Obama's willingness to talk?  

            "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." -Bob Herbert

            by Nada Lemming on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 08:11:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Better that Feingold's leading than Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming, DawnoftheRedSun

    as he'll have a better chance of finding Republican votes. I just wish that the Administration had made clear they'd not take initiative earlier, so that the Congress would have gotten to work sooner.

    This isn't "Obama = Bush," more like Obama = Ford.



    Medical Marijuana is Healthcare. does YOUR bill cover it?

    by ben masel on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:27:23 AM PDT

  •  ACLU:Obama Admin Open To Patriot Act Reform (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wmdrpa, soms, gramofsam1

    this how the ACLU characterize the debate.

    They also said:

    "We're heartened they're saying they're willing to work with Congress . . . [It's] definitely a sea change from what we've seen in the past."

    From the press release

    We are very encouraged to learn that the Obama administration has stated a willingness to discuss reforming the deeply flawed provisions in the Patriot Act, though we are disappointed at its support for the reauthorization of the three expiring provisions," said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. "Though there may be some value to these provisions, they – like many other Patriot Act provisions – are written much too broadly and have already proven themselves to be problematic in the hands of law enforcement. The privacy rights of all Americans will continue to be at risk if we continue to let these statutes remain as they are."

  •  If I rec and tip this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tlemon, Nada Lemming, DawnoftheRedSun

    will I end up on a 'list'?

    If there is no such thing as anonymous anymore!

    Why use monikers?

    This proves that, once a power is grabbed, future administrations are loathe to let go of the power grabbed by previous administrations.

    23,000 Businesspeople Get Threat Info from FBI Before Public. In Turn, They Supply Tips to FBI. Two Members of Private Sector Group Say They Have “Shoot to Kill” Permission in Emergency.

    The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.

    http://www.progressive.org/...

    What do you make of this Citizen Spy concept?  I wonder who these people are?  Your neighbor?  My neighbor?

    Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

    by War on Error on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:35:02 AM PDT

  •  Oh great. Hardly a surprise. Because, you know, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dems 2008, DawnoftheRedSun

    there's a terrerister behind every tree.

    When an old man dies, a library burns down. --African proverb

    by Wom Bat on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:41:05 AM PDT

  •  As i said before (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GlowNZ, soms

    The Secret Service is probably insisting on the lone wolf and roving wiretap provisions.  And I would be too, considering the atmosphere today...

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 07:55:43 AM PDT

  •  one step at a time..... (0+ / 0-)

    imagine if we the President suggested giving us everything we want in one go:

    "My fellow Americans, tonight I want to announce that I am reforming health care, cancelling the Patriot Act, closing every detention facility, recalling all troops from the Middle East....effective immediately!"

    yeah, that would work.

    as I've said before, the campaign slogan was "CHANGE", not "Instantaneous Transformation".

    gotta get through health care before we start do dismantle the enormous and unprecedented pile of shit Bush left on Obama's 'presidential plate'.

    a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

    by quinn on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 08:49:10 AM PDT

  •  Obama = Bush? Shocking!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. Bipartisanship is acting more and more like the shrub from Texas. Except he can form coherent sentences when speaking.

    Iraq war still going on? Check.

    Bin Laden still running free? Check.

    Massive bailouts for Wall Street masters? Check.

    Soaring deficit? Check.

    Don't ask Don't tell? Check.

    Thousands lose health insurance every day? Check.

    Toxic coal mining? Check.

    BLM ran by and for ranchers? Check.

    Massive offshore tax loopholes? Check.

    Highest unemployment in decades? Check.

    Sweet incentives for outsourcing jobs? Check.

    DOMA? Check.

    Bipartisan govt alive only in his dreams? Check.

    Protect Cheney from war crimes tribune? Check.

    Spy on population? Check.

    Etc.
    Etc.
    Etc.

    If this is change, God help us!!

    (Gay) money stops and Obama jumps!

    by Dems 2008 on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 08:54:59 AM PDT

    •  obama is not fucking bush. (0+ / 0-)

      http://politicz.wordpress.com/

      by GlowNZ on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 09:13:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ask Obama's MAJOR contributor... (0+ / 0-)

        AP - WASHINGTON – Sen. Max Baucus, a leader in the troubled effort in Congress to write a health care overhaul bill, has received more campaign donations from the health industry than any elected federal official except President Barack Obama and three other senators.

        I'm sure the Health Industry disagrees with you.

        (Gay) money stops and Obama jumps!

        by Dems 2008 on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 09:38:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Security v Liberty (USA Patriot Act Debate) (0+ / 0-)

    What man could resist absolute dictatorial powers?  Not Barack Obama.  Not "patriots" like George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.  We will end up without security or liberty, and deservingly so, according to Ben Franklin.

    The USA Patriot Act allows the government to make you disappear--take you into custody without probably cause and hold you indefinitely and incommunicado.  The FBI told me this personally after 9/11/01 when they visitted me at home.  To hell with the Constitution.  Thank you Bush/Cheney, Pinochet, and George Orwell.

    The Thought Police wants to know what library books you're reading.  Bush's favorite, My Pet Goat, better be on the list or you're headed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a government-paid, all-inclusive vacation.

  •  convenient news (0+ / 0-)

    The FBI has raided the Aurora home of the 24-year-old man presumably at the center of a terror investigation that prompted earlier raids in New York.

    TheDenverChannel.com

    We don't inherit the world from the past. We borrow it from the future.

    by minorityusa on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 02:56:22 PM PDT

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