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White House Battles NSA Defunding Push With Nonsense
by Karl Bode 02:29PM Wednesday Jul 24 2013
As I noted yesterday, a group of Republican lawmakers are voting on an Amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would strip NSA funding for certain domestic surveillance activities, specifically the wholesale collection of user metadata (unveiled recently in a Verizon scandal). The Amendment "ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act" and "bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215."

The White House, in an effort to derail the Amendment, issued a rather obnoxious statement last night that has a larger than usual dose of imagination. The full statement, below, repeatedly insists that the government is just super interested in a full, transparent conversation about what the NSA is doing, but that this "blunt" Amendment just isn't the way to go about that:
quote:
In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens. The Administration has taken various proactive steps to advance this debate including the President’s meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, his public statements on the disclosed programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s release of its own public statements, ODNI General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech at Brookings, and ODNI’s decision to declassify and disclose publicly that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We look forward to continuing to discuss these critical issues with the American people and the Congress.

However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.
Except as Techdirt correctly notes, the government has shown absolutely no interest in an "informed, open, or deliberative process" when it comes to spying on Americans, much less a "debate" on the issues:
quote:
Let me repeat that again: This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. As opposed to the blunt process of collecting all data on everyone which was arrived at via an "informed, open and deliberative process -- known as totally secretly interpreting the plain language of a law in a secret ruling from a secret court to mean something almost entirely different than what the language itself said?
In short, the White House has added insult to injury by lying about wanting a transparent and above board debate on the issues, and is essentially saying "we'll see you in court."

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FFH
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Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

Cutting NSA funds to prevent massive data collection is not the solution. The NSA will still do it anyway by shifting money around. The real solution is to change section 215 of the Patriot Act that allowed the FISA Court to give blanket OKs to the NSA on telecom tracing instead of more specific authorities tied to specific individuals and groups under investigation.

Do it the right way if you want it to work. This amendment is not the right way. This amendment saying use section 215 the right way instead of actually changing section 215 itself is a half assed approach.
--
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If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

mmay149q
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

said by FFH:

Cutting NSA funds to prevent massive data collection is not the solution. The NSA will still do it anyway by shifting money around. The real solution is to change section 215 of the Patriot Act that allowed the FISA Court to give blanket OKs to the NSA on telecom tracing instead of more specific authorities tied to specific individuals and groups under investigation.

Do it the right way if you want it to work. This amendment is not the right way. This amendment saying use section 215 the right way instead of actually changing section 215 itself is a half assed approach.

Or, you could just do what the founders intended, which only means you have to repeal the Patriot Act and restore the 4th Amendment, as Benjamin Franklin said, Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. and since we've become a nation of just allowing the government to take away our rights, we really need a dose of being under a dictator to understand exactly what we're getting ourselves into, looks like it's time for a 2nd Civil War....... If we don't change our ways, this may actually happen in a short period of time... Especially since we're running illegally with the Federal Reserve and the IRS...

-Matt
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Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

remoterestor

@qwest.net

Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

Removing the Patriot Act and restoring our 4th seems to be the only solution-- I feel they will just increase the funding to black projects to continue the crimes they are committing.

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI

1 recommendation

Matt, what's the solution then? From my experience, everything is ok till you get called out for doing something that violates our privacy. Till the general public knew what was going on, you, myself and others went on our merry way thinking all is good with those who would rather kill us a 1000 times. But for some odd reason, this one guy mentions something that others have "tried" to warn us about and all he11 breaks loose. So, tell me, would you be one of the first to yell and demand someone's head if cells started to activate and doing their deeds for Allah, Jonesboro or a group of PMS'ing girl scouts? There has to be a balance. The issue as I see it, again, based on my experience with the govt is, it's not that they are collecting the data, what are they doing with it and how is it treated if it's deemed "clean"? I guess I would be more concerned about it's storage then it's content upon collection. 5 years down the road, who knows. What's legal today might not be years from now and then we will see that the NSA and other spook gangs have been up to. Just sayin....
CXM_Splicer
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

said by tc1uscg:

There has to be a balance.

Just curious why you think the 'old' balance wasn't good enough, what has changed that this new balance needs to shift away from privacy and closer to 'Big Brother'?

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI

Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

Don't get me wrong Splicer. I never said the old balance wasn't good enough. My point is, it's not the fact that they are collecting the data, it's what they are looking for and what are they doing with the data they collect that isn't somehow connected to activities that have nothing to do with out "national security". Lets say the scrubber picks up the word BOMB or something about doing harm to the POTUS then a "file" (folder) is started on the IP address sending said data. Some GS3 comes in the next day and 'reviews' said folder. See's it's nothing and deletes it. Or.. they file it away and the SAME IP (just using IP as an example) has the word BOMB in it a few more times. Then, the little folder turns red. Now, your under the microscope and that data is held even longer. That's what I'm concerned about. As a phone tech, we could and have listened to phone calls in the course of doing our jobs of tracking down line noise, etc.. We were not allowed to monitor the calls for more then a 30 seconds before having to move on to another DS0 on said T1. We never recorded anything so it was in one ear, out the other. That's not what is going on with this system of the NSA's and that is what makes this a complicated issue. Just what do they do with the data AFTER it's captured and deemed not-noteworthy?
CXM_Splicer
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

Well I certainly agree with you on that point and your post is a good example of it. Even though you mention Bomb several times, there is nothing in your post that should warrant suspicion from a 'terrorism' point of view. Should your Internet activity be scrutinized any more than anyone else's? I agree that would be an injustice. Since we didn't even know it was going on (much less how the data is specifically flagged, un-flagged, discarded, etc.) there is no way to ensure proper oversight of something you don't know about. There is just no way this should be happening in secret.

I do think, however, that the fact that they collect it at all does represent an unwarranted shift in the 'balance' you mention and would preclude the question of what they are doing with it. The suspicion should be present before the collection of data is allowed, not be the result of the collected data. Sure there is a philosophical question of 'If they don't do anything with the data then does it really matter that they collect it?' but since we know they are doing something with it, we are already beyond that question.

mmay149q
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The solution is in the Constitution, if you think there's a terrorist cell, then get a warrant and proceed that way, why is everyone so willing to throw the rule of law out? As far as finding out and defusing the terrorist cells, this is where local militias can work together with local and state authorities, there's no need for the federal government to get involved, they say now a days that if you see something happening (Mugging, a store being robbed, etc) to report it to the police, but the only way for the police to actually be useful in these scenarios is if they are on every street corner watching your every move.

I for one don't want a police state, so instead local and federal regulations need to be revoked on gun carrying laws, and we need to get back to the 1800's when carrying a gun on your hip was normal, more countries feared us back then because of that, do you really think more terrorist are going to try things if they know almost every American is armed and ready to put their life on the line? Or criminals will try things more often knowing that just about everyone has a weapon on them?

Sure you're going to get the few that might gang up and still try stuff, but if people realize and go through training in school how to handle these types of situations then it becomes the masses vs a small group, who is going to go out and risk their lives as a group of 10 when there's possibly 30 + surrounding them armed?

-Matt
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Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

2 recommendations

You're right, but there's a reason they're doing it this way. A rewrite of that part of the Patriot Act or, better yet, a repeal of the whole damn thing, would be a separate piece of legislation that must pass and survive an almost certain veto. That's the best way, but, as you can see, it's harder to pull off. OTOH, this amendment would become part of the budget, and, if the House passes their version of the budget with this amendment intact, then it will, at the very least, end up in a conference committee with whatever comes out of the Senate. And, while the president could still veto the final bill if he didn't like it, that's a much riskier maneuver, since it'd throw the entire budget into limbo.

Of course, a smart move would be to pass the NSA defunding and then also get to work on a Patriot Act rewrite/repeal bill. If the amendment looked like it'd end up in the final budget that would land on the president's desk, then the Patriot Act rewrite/repeal could be tied to it in negotiations. It'd go something like, "If you'll agree not to veto this rewrite/repeal of the Patriot Act, then we'll drop the defunding from the budget and redo it to be compatible with the Patriot Act rewrite/repeal. But if you won't play ball with us, then we'll send you the budget as-is. You can veto it, but we won't approve any other version of it until you do play ball with us."

The wrinkle in all this is that this isn't a move by the leadership in Congress, which is fine with all this spying. These are individual members of Congress doing this.

FFH
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

said by ISurfTooMuch:

The wrinkle in all this is that this isn't a move by the leadership in Congress, which is fine with all this spying. These are individual members of Congress doing this.

I think you hit the nail on the head. House leadership will never let this amendment get in the budget bill. And if a vote on the amendment is held in the House, it won't pass. Not enough members support it. Only a minority support the amendment.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

You may be right, but the House leadership is kind of in a state of disarray. The back-benchers aren't on very good terms with the Speaker, so there's no telling what could happen.

It's a long shot, I agree, but reform has to start somewhere.

The other issue is that parts of the Patriot Act expire in 2015, unless Congress renews them. The difference there is that, unlike this situation, where reform requires forcing a bill through Congress and past a presidential veto, the 2015 situation will require a bill to pass Congress to keep those provisions alive. At that point, you don't have to pass anything; just keep something from passing, which is usually easier. What you want to do is get things primed for that fight. If Snowden or anyone else with info is smart, what they'll do is throw out a few more details between now and then, then put out some big revelation right as the reauthorization bill starts to move.
Kearnstd
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Eliminate FISA completely, Secret courts have no place in the US.

If someone needs a warrant to sniff info they can go to a legitimate court and a legit judge, Not this secret "does not exist" bullshit.

Optimally would be complete elimination of the patriot act since it does nothing but give government blanket ticket to violate rights.
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FFH
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Amash amendment is being debated now on CSPAN live. Vote on amendment will be held in next 10 minutes.
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FFH
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4 edits

Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

said by FFH:

Amash amendment is being debated now on CSPAN live. Vote on amendment will be held in next 10 minutes.

Before the Amash amendment, the Pompeo amendment on NSA was overwhelmingly passed(409-12). It tells NSA to not TARGET US citizens, but makes no changes to existing laws or takes any money from NSA budget. Sort of a "be good NSA drones" warning. The key word in the amendment is "TARGET" and how the NSA may interpret that word.
»repcloakroom.house.gov/

Pompeo (R-KS) – Amendment No. 99 - Ensures none of the funds may be used by the NSA to target a US person or acquire and store the content of a US person’s communications, including phone calls and e-mails. (15 minutes)

Voice vote on Amash Amendment has been held(»reason.com/blog/2013/07/24/amash···ing-deba) and the Amash amendment was defeated by voice vote. The NSA keeps their telco spying money. Requests for a recorded vote have been made and will be held in about 20 mins from now.
House proceedings log is here:
»clerk.house.gov/floorsummary/flo···20130724

I will post the recorded vote as soon as the House Clerk posts it online.

FFH
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

said by FFH:

Voice vote on Amash Amendment has been held(»reason.com/blog/2013/07/24/amash···ing-deba) and the Amash amendment was defeated by voice vote. The NSA keeps their telco spying money. Requests for a recorded vote have been made and will be held in about 20 mins from now.
House proceedings log is here:
»clerk.house.gov/floorsummary/flo···20130724

I will post the recorded vote as soon as the House Clerk posts it online.

The vote was AGAINST the Amash amendment to take away NSA money and wipe out section 215 of Patriot Act. The roll call vote #412 was 217-205 AGAINST the amendment. Both Repubs & Dems split on the voting.
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If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

FFH
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Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

Roll call vote 412:
Check out the below link to see how YOUR congresscritter voted:
»clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll412.xml


Amash Amendment on NSA funding

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CXM_Splicer
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said by FFH:

Before the Amash amendment, the Pompeo amendment on NSA was overwhelmingly passed(409-12). It tells NSA to not TARGET US citizens, but makes no changes to existing laws or takes any money from NSA budget. Sort of a "be good NSA drones" warning. The key word in the amendment is "TARGET" and how the NSA may interpret that word.

Completely useless... the NSA already claims they don't 'target' US citizens.
The Antihero

join:2002-04-09
Enola, PA

Re: Cutting NSA funds not solution. Chging FISA oversight is.

said by CXM_Splicer:

Completely useless... the NSA already claims they don't 'target' US citizens.

Kind of like how Sony swore that their rootkit was harmless. And even that was after denying that it even existed at first.

meeeeeeeeee

join:2003-07-13
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Thugs are Thugs...

They were in Nazi Germany, they were in the U.S.S.R and they are now in Washington, D.C. Until Congress grows a collective pair among them and starts a formal investigation and brings criminal charges against these thugs, nothing is going to happen.
--
"when the people have suffered many abuses under the control of a totalitarian leader, they not only have the right but the duty to overthrow that government." - The U.S. Declaration of Independence

FFH
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Re: Thugs are Thugs...

said by meeeeeeeeee:

They were in Nazi Germany, they were in the U.S.S.R and they are now in Washington, D.C. Until Congress grows a collective pair among them and starts a formal investigation and brings criminal charges against these thugs, nothing is going to happen.

Invoking the Nazi reference to the US gov't at every opportunity contributes nothing to the dialog. Godwin's law needs to be invoked here.

meeeeeeeeee

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Re: Thugs are Thugs...

If the shoe fits....
CXM_Splicer
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said by FFH:

Invoking the Nazi reference to the US gov't at every opportunity contributes nothing to the dialog. Godwin's law needs to be invoked here.

And what exactly does such an 'invocation' do?

WHT

join:2010-03-26
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Incorrect Link

Karl...

"Except as Techdirt correctly notes, the government has [...]".

The Techdirt link points right back to this post.

Karl Bode
News Guy
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Re: Incorrect Link

Fixed, thanks.

gaforces
United We Stand, Divided We Fall

join:2002-04-07
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A battle

Since they lied to congress faces, under oath, its no wonder they will be defunded.
It's a tangled web with the military and they will have big problems shutting down cause national security is still needed.

When something really bad happens again they will shut up about defunding.
--
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atuarre
Here come the drums
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Re: A battle

You are a fool if you think Congress did not know. They will pass this and they will just fund it secretly somewhere else. The spying will continue but they pulled one over on the naive public. Mission accomplished.

gaforces
United We Stand, Divided We Fall

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Re: A battle

said by atuarre:

You are a fool if you think Congress did not know. They will pass this and they will just fund it secretly somewhere else. The spying will continue but they pulled one over on the naive public. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for insult for something you made up that I might think.
--
Let them eat FIBER!

Dr Demento
I Vant Blud

join:2002-01-02
Denville, NJ

The 'House' is Saving Their Own Collective Arses

They are fighting with the ghostly legacy of J Edgar Hoover. In other words, this is nothing more then a bunch of Capitol Hill infighting against such tools being used to blackmail more political officials (a la Patraeus). I doubt any such amendment to the Patriot Act if passed would benefit us common folk.
rstuckey

join:2001-08-26
Austin, TX

USA PATRIOT

It's all caps.
romulusnr

join:2007-08-01
Federal Way, WA

It's almost as if...

...Obama is trying to get them to dismantle the program for him, by using reverse psychology, knowing that a poorly justified and counter-intuitive defense of the NSA's practices will only serve to fire up the Repugs to line up firmer behind the amendment. Nothing is a better way to get things done in the current obstructionist Republican-controlled Congress than for the President to be vehemently against it.

David
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Re: It's almost as if...

said by romulusnr:

...Obama is trying to get them to dismantle the program for him, by using reverse psychology, knowing that a poorly justified and counter-intuitive defense of the NSA's practices will only serve to fire up the Repugs to line up firmer behind the amendment. Nothing is a better way to get things done in the current obstructionist Republican-controlled Congress than for the President to be vehemently against it.

I wonder sometimes if some presidents had to resort to that.
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truasian16

join:2003-11-10
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Aum

They should just make the phones in house on American soil with American Citizens who can work indoors. Righty tighty lefty losey.

Add A Gps and you got a dog collar outside of prison now. NSA or PRES whos watching. who

Mack daddy trucks zzz?

Probitas

@teksavvy.com

still think it's a bit farcical

It's like telling the whole world to assume the position. No oversight, no innocence until guilt is proven, just hoover it all up and deal with it later. It's like a person fishing for tuna grabbing every other fish in the net too. Dolphins aren't exactly a threat unless you're a fisherman, but then everything that eats what you catch is a threat, and the only good threat is a dead threat.

People are not fish though.
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Amash's Co-Sponsors

Karl wrote: "a group of Republican lawmakers are voting on an Amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would strip NSA funding for certain domestic surveillance activities"

Actually that's not really accurate, Karl. The amendment was co-sponsored by John Conyers, D-MI. And, according to Buzzfeed at »www.buzzfeed.com/jacobfischler/h···urveilla , the 40 co-sponsors were a mix of liberal and libertarian representatives. So this was not a Republican effort; this was a bipartisan effort.