Because freedom can't protect itself
The non-debate over FISA is appalling. Even though much of it remains shrouded in secrecy, we do know a few things about the NSA’s warrantless spying program authorized by FISA.
We know that it began illegally, without any authorization by Congress and in clear violation of the FISA law crafted by Congress in the 1970s to stop our government from spying on Americans.
We know it is so vast and unchecked that, nearly ten years ago, Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to authorize it, even despite coercion from the Bush White House.
We know that an architect of the program, alarmed at how his work was co-opted to abuse the rights of Americans, blew a whistle about fraud and waste, only to face prosecution by the Obama Administration for espionage–until a federal court ultimately told the government to stop chasing a loyal servant of the American people.
We know that the NSA has violated even this incredibly permissive law, abusing its own powers and the rights of untold numbers of Americans. Our government has admitted to that much, without offering any way to know how widespread those violations have been — or remain.
We know that the executive branch currently interprets parts of other surveillance laws in secret, allowing government activities even beyond the intentions of their authors.
We know that congressional Democrats–including then Senator Obama–joined their Republican colleagues in 2008 to approve FISA, even while both parties paid lip service about defending constitutional values in Washington....
We know that, despite Washington’s wrangling over the budget crisis, the NSA has never justified its massive costs to the American people. In fact, Congress knows neither what the program costs, nor when the NSA’s program has actually helped national security, let alone whether those costs are justified!
We know that FISA has enabled the most pervasive state surveillance system ever known to humankind. The only settings in which powers like it have ever existed are dystopian science fiction novels.
Read more at http://www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/?p=9805
Read more at the Bill of Rights Defense Commitee's blog, the People's Blog for the Constitution.
Read more at "Uncle Sam is watching you"
The 2008 FISA amendments being extended for 5 years was premature, and demonstrates the most pervasive state surveillance in the world. Check out this piece on how today's vote impacts civil liberties: http://www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/?p=9805)
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