Free Markets, Free People

How convenient is FISA for Big Brother?

I’d say quite convenient:

Congress authorized the collection program amid a great debate about the degree to which the government was expanding its surveillance authority without sufficient protection for Americans’ privacy.

Authorized by Section 702 of the amended Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the program did away with the traditional individual warrant for each foreign suspect whose communications would be collected in the United States. In its place, the FISA court, which oversees domestic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes and whose proceedings are secret, would certify the government’s procedures to target people overseas and ensure citizens’ privacy.

Of course those procedures are, to put it bluntly, open to interpretation, but we’re supposed to rely on the good intentions of those who do this to ensure via constant monitoring and checking, that they’re not intruding on the privacy of an individual citizen.

But who would know if they were?  And, more importantly, what accountability would there be for it?

Now there are those who will point out, and rightfully so, that the 4th Amendment only applies to American citizens.  And I don’t disagree.  But who is watching the watchers?  Or in this case, listeners.  Who is exercising reasonable and competent oversight?  Oh … the agency itself?  Well, who else is authorized, given the secrecy?  Congress?  Wow, as easy as that bunch is snowed by just about everything, that’ got to give you a warm fuzzy, huh?  They think passing a law takes care of any problems, right?

“What’s most striking about the targeting procedures is the discretion they confer on the NSA,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security program.

If you have any experience with government, you know then that when the word “discretion” is used in relation to describing how they can do their job, it means it is up to interpretation.  Their interpretation.  You know, the old “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”

I’m sorry, but given what I’ve seen around the world and studied about other governments in my lifetime, I’m not happy with any part of government exercising “discretion” in that sense, especially when they could easily use their discretion to violate my rights.  And in the case of the NSA and many other government agencies, I believe that’s more than a possibility, I put it in the probability category (human nature 101).

In figuring out whether a target is “reasonably believed” to be located overseas, for example, the agency looks at the “totality of the circumstances” relating to a person’s location. In the absence of that specific information, “a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States or whose location is not known will be presumed to be a non-United States person,” according to rules on the targeting of suspects.

“Yeah, you know, I’m not sure about that location so we’ll assume it’s a “non-United States” person.”   How hard would that be?

Not very.

But hey, don’t you feel secure?


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

22 Responses to How convenient is FISA for Big Brother?

  • Thanks McQ! We get a break from Obama bashing since the FISA Court was set up under the previous administration. I still bet your regular commentators (who must have all been officers) will still find some way to bash Obama! I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it. Just that it’s getting as tiresome as “Bush lied”. Sometimes I think on Sundays you guys stip down to loincloths, smear yourselves with pait, and goose step down the yellow brick road to abase yourselve before an idol that resembles Ronald Reagan!

    • Laying out the facts of a failed presidency isn’t bashing.  Can’t help it if you’re an oversensitive Obamanoid.

    • I once got some mail with my name preceded by “Dr.” but it didn’t get me a better table when I went out.
      Being called an “officer” won’t get me saluted, I’m sure.

    • FISA was pushed by Ted Kennedy and signed by Jimmy Carter.

    • Pait?
      No, man, WODE.
      “to men of harlech (chorus)”
      “wode’s the stuff to show men!
      Wode to scare your foe-men!
      Boil it to,
      a brilliant blue
      And rub it on your legs and your abodo-men!”

    • funny though.
      Yet even so if that was my only alternative, what you describe still sounds better than staggering around like a mindless Hopey Obie zombie.
      Pay no attention to that corruption behind the curtain eh?

  • While congressional lawmakers are questioning why former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman paid dozens of visits to the White House  during his tenure, Shulman’s top political aide seems to have spent even more time working side-by-side with members of the Obama administration.
    White House visitor logs show Shulman’s chief of staff, Jonathan M. Davis, appears to have visited the White House and adjacent Eisenhower office building as many as 310 times between the fall of 2009 and February 2013.
    Davis’ background is in technology and had no expertise on tax issues , according to some IRS sources who said Davis served mostly as a political aide who served with Shulman  to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, where Shulman was vice chairman, and then followed him to the IRS.

    Nothing to see here…move along…  Bashing your loin-clothed yellow prick road…
    By-da-by…BOOOOOOooooooosh used criminal wire-taps during his Presidency, too.  It isn’t the tool.  It is how it is abused or used.

  • Clueless – Top 9486 ways Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney won’t answer a question:

  • Lets get our hands on this and use it to crush the left. We win and teach them a serious lesson on many levels     /sarcasm?

  • Personally, I think the IRS scandal is still the dangerous one and should be the focus followed by the AP/Fox reporter scandal.
    You don’t need to read everyone’s emails to audit your political enemies.
    And if people are being blackmailed by NSA stuff, somebody would end up going to the media. I mean maybe they can threaten to out Lindsey Graham and he will buckle under, but someone else will eventually decide they don’t want to be blackmailed, but the IRS has righteous power and can even shut down fully legal companies and people. “Oh my bad, after 5 years of investigations, you did no wrong – sorry that you lost your business.”
    Its still good to air everything out and we should probably weaken the entire surveillance state, but right now its blowing smoke to allow the IRS issue to not be on the front page.

  • So if the FISA court found something to be unconstitutional then you would know what it is.  Not.

    In a rare public filing in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Justice Department today urged continued secrecy for a 2011 FISC opinion that found the National Security Agency’s surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act to be unconstitutional. Significantly, the surveillance at issue was carried out under the same controversial legal authority that underlies the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program.


    • Secret laws administered for our safety and well being in secret by secret organizations answering to secret authorities…
      I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with that.    Didn’t you see the part where I wrote for “our safety and well being”?

      • To sum it up:

        (1) what YOU don’t know can’t hurt YOU,
        (2) what THEY don’t know can hurt YOU,
        (3) THEY need to know what YOU know,
        (4) but YOU need not know that THEY need to know,
        (5) And YOU certainly do not need to know what THEY know,
        (6) moreover, if YOU know THEY need to know, then the big WE can get hurt, so THEY can hide that, out of concern for YOU.
        (7) And mostly, we should all care more about the big WE than anything else. Especially, the big WE is more important than YOU, or YOU, or…

        Or so THEY say…


        • The sheepses shouldn’t worry, the idea that the shepherds will eat them ALL at one time is just silly.

          • Ya know, IF I was the equivalent of a sheep…so intellectually inferior to another form of life that they could eat me…I don’t know I’d have much of a kick.  I mean, whatchagonado…
            BUT  I am NOT.  I am demonstrably MORE fit to survive, and I will be damned and go to hell before I let anyone consume my time, talent, or product without my at least acceding to the transfer.