Archive for the ‘Right to Privacy’ Category

DoJ Wants FISA “Modernized”

14 April 2007

The Justice Department wants FISA to be “modernized,” according to the ACLU. From Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

Congress shouldn’t reward a president who continuously disregards the rule of law. FISA has already been amended numerous times. It doesn’t need to be ‘modernized,’ it needs to be followed.

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EFF Wants NSL Documents

11 April 2007

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is filing a FOIL request for documents relating to the abuse of national security letters, according to their website. In order to further the national discussion of the issue, the EFF says, this information must be available. Though the Justice Department agrees the information should be available, the 20-day deadline set by Congress has not been met.

Among other things, the EFF is asking for any communications regarding different interpretations, and the contracts the FBI made with phone companies.

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Washington Bill Against REAL ID

6 April 2007

Washington has become the fourth state to prohibit compliance with the REAL ID Act as it stands now, according to the ACLU. The bill was passed in the house 95 to 2, and would prevent compliance unless it is fully funded by the federal government and stronger protections for privacy are put in place.

In regards to the funding though, I don’t see how it makes much of a difference which branch of the government funds it. Someone would have to, and it’s obviously going to be the taxpayers either way.

In regards to the privacy, every step is, well, a step, but less than a tenth of the states have made this move.

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FBI Director Better Off Than He Thought

31 March 2007

So the FBI’s been having problems, sure, but there have been a fortunate turn of events for it recently, kind of. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Director Mueller told Congress Tuesday that he wanted administrative subpoenas because “We do not have an enforcement mechanism for national security letters.”

It turns out that they do, and in fact have had such a mechanism since the Patriot Act was reauthorized a year ago. Mueller was apparently just unaware of it.

James Dempsey, policy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that “The FBI director doesn’t know the law that he’s enforcing.’

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Census Data Not to be Shared

30 March 2007

The ACLU, Japanese American Citizens League, and Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee have all asked Congress to ensure that census data will not be shared with surveillance agancies, according to the ACLU. This follows a report in USA Today that said census data had been shared during WWII when Japanese were kept in internment camps.

“Wartime hysteria led our government to violate the privacy and trust of Americans,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. She also noted that, while the census was important, it could not be effective if people were afraid of who might find out what their responses were.

It was also discovered in 2004 that the Census Bureau had shared some zip code information about Arab Americans.

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Bill Would Curb NSL Powers

29 March 2007

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA) has introduced legislation to curb the FBI’s National Security Letter powers, according to the ACLU. The bill would require a FISA court or US Magistrate judge to approve an NSL, and require the attorney general to submit semiannual reports on NSL use to Congress.

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FBI Not Accurate on Warrant Applications

28 March 2007

FBI agents have been providing inaccurate information on warrant applications, according to the Washington Post. An internal review early last year of over 2,000 surveillance warrants found dozens of inaccuracies, from incorrect description of family relationships to citing of inactive informants. The errors were enough to prompt chief justice of the FISA court (Colleen Kollar-Kotelly) to write the Justice Department in December 2005 and request that agents swear in court that the data was accurate.

FISA approves almost all applications (modifying 61 of the 2,074 warrants for 2005 and rejecting none).

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GOP Senator for Firing Gonzales

15 March 2007

Hours after Bush expressed his support of Alberto Gonzales, Senator John Sununu (R-NH) became the first Republican Congressman to say that Gonzales should be fired, according to Earthlink News. He said that “We need to have a strong, credible attorney general that has the confidence of Congress and the American people,” and that “Alberto Gonzales can’t fill that role.”

Judd Gregg though, also a New Hampshire Republican, said “I don’t believe the attorney general should resign over this… I don’t believe his ability to pursue the terrorist threat has been compromised to the extent that he should resign.”

Since opposing terrorism is not Gonzales’ sole responsibility, however, this is almost entirely irrelevant in the face of other issues.

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Schumer Suggests Gonzales’ Resignation

12 March 2007

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign, according to the Los Angeles Times, following the news of FBI abuse of the Patriot Act powers. Schumer says that Gonzales is “no longer just the president’s lawyer, but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution,” and that Gonzales has politicized the Justice Department.

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Trusting Government

11 March 2007

It was recently revealed that the FBI, unsurprisingly, abused the power that it got through the PATRIOT Act, according to
MSNBC. Nonetheless, people continued to support laws like this, trusting our government not to abuse its power. A poster on PoliticalCrossfire, Register666666, noted in response to this that “trusting government is like trusting fire.” While government is useful to us, it’s not something we can trust, it’s something we need to keep careful watch of and ensure that we are always in control of it, not the other way around.

If untrusted and controlled, government acts as a vital and highly useful part of society, but there is always the potential for it to grow beyond that role. With the threat of terrorism, the government and others like to say that it is necessary to trust the government, even ludicrous not to. From this, we have the PATRIOT Act, the REAL ID Act, and abuses like that of the FBI.

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