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Posts Tagged ‘FISA’

Week to Watch USA PATRIOT Act

In intellectual freedom, libraries, library associations, privacy on January 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

There’s going to be a lot of movement around the PATRIOT Act in the next week or two. Maybe not the movement we’d like.

Here’s one update from the American Library Association’s recent Midwinter Meeting: “Bad News from Washington on Patriot Act.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is also planning a Lobby Day in Washington for February 3rd. See, Lobby Day to Stop the PATRIOT Act.

If you can’t make it to D.C., you can also sign BORDC’s letter opposing the PATRIOT Act reauthorization, or call your senators and reps using the ALA’s Legislative Action Center.

House Judiciary Session Scheduled

In activism, information policy, privacy, public policy on October 28, 2009 at 8:12 am

The House Judiciary Committee is expected for a classified hearing on Patriot Act issues and proposed surveillance reforms on Thursday October 29 at 2:30pm EST. There are several ways to stay up-to-date and participate in the public discussion. But, most importantly, contact your state reps right now and consider writing an editorial in your local papers.

1. Contact your representatives now using the new action forum posted by the ACLU. The action text, thankfully, draws attention to some of the oversights in the current reform legislation, calling on representatives to continue pushing for stronger public protections and repeal of expanded FBI powers. In particular we need to continue demanding changes to Section 505 as well as the slippery definition of “material support” which leaves social justice and human rights organizations vulnerable to targeting and criminal prosecution. Add your own two cents now.

2.Write an op-ed or letter to the editor. I haven’t done a Nexis search to confirm this, but Get FISA Right posted on Tuesday that media coverage of the surveillance reform bills H.R. 3845 and H.R. 3846 has been slim to nonexistent. Here they provide Letter to the Editor templates you can use to raise these issues in your local papers.

3. Participate in today’s live discussion at the Patriot Act Action Hub.

Read more:

From today’s Huffington Post: Sen. Wyden warns Congress to abandon hasty fear-based policymaking.

From Irregular Times: A round up of information on the reform legislation being considered, H.R. 3845 and 3846.

See also, my prior posts on the California Library Association’s Patriot Act resolution (make your own!) and the need for deeper coalition building on these issues (includes more recommended resources).

H. Resolutions Bring PATRIOT Reforms Back Into Focus

In intellectual freedom, privacy, public policy, Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 at 7:05 am

Tuesday, the House Representatives proposed new legislation to keep the focus on needed changes/repeals to the USA PATRIOT Act by the end of 2009. Track the Patriot Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3845) and the FISA Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3846) on GovTrack, also includes the full text of the bills and list of cosponsors.

These bills were introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA).

Additional analysis of the Senate Judiciary PATRIOT Act extension bill were covered in a prior post, and numerous background sources on the law (treatises, advocacy orgs, articles) are covered in my USAPA 2009 Resource Guide.

Calif. Library Association Asks Congress to Do What Judiciary Did Not

In intellectual freedom, libraries, library associations, privacy, public policy on October 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

October 13, 2009 • SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Library Association (CLA) has just announced a resolution calling on Congress to dramatically revise the up-for-renewal USA PATRIOT Act, passed hurriedly in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks.

Librarians have been front-line opponents of certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act since its passage. The Act has made it possible, under Section 215, for the FBI to request and obtain library records for large numbers of individuals without reason to believe they are involved in illegal activity. This jeopardizes the basic ethics of the library profession, expressed in the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association.

Expanding on the American Library Association’s PATRIOT Act resolution last July, the CLA resolution goes further to address imminent First and Fourth Amendment concerns with Section 505. This provision grants the FBI broad authority to sidestep constitutional safeguards though use of National Security Letters to obtain information.

CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee chair, Mary Minow, a leading expert on library law, said, “It’s past time for the blatantly unconstitutional aspects of this legislation to be removed from the books, and now is the opportunity for Congress to act.”

Two sections of the PATRIOT Act are currently up for reauthorization, with sunsets at the end of December 2009, and librarians across the country see this as an opportunity to correct those provisions that attack basic civil liberties. CLA’s resolution calls for Congress to allow Section 215 to sunset, to amend Section 505 to “include a clear exemption for library records,” and in general to intensify Congressional oversight of the use of the Act.
* CLA Resolution on 2009 Reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act (PDF, 481k)

For more information, please contact:

Mary Minow, Chair,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee
408-366-0123

Amy Sonnie, Member,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee,
415-823-0497

or cla_ifc  [a t]  earthlink [dot]  net

News & Resources on Gov’t Wiretapping

In information policy, privacy, public policy on July 13, 2009 at 7:15 am

A year to the day since Pres. Bush signed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 expanding government wiretapping powers, five major government agencies have now released a report on the controversial issue. I’ve aggregated a few pieces of background information along with the report itself, civil liberties commentary and reports on related intelligence legislation. Links below.

In the News This Week

The Report
Offices of Inspectors General, July 10, 2009

Analysis of the Report by the ACLU

Analysis from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who will argue a case in district court this week on the issue of NSA wiretapping of U.S. residents through communication provider AT&T (Jewel v. NSA).

Background

Privacy: An Abbreviated Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping
Library of Congress, 2008

Warrantless Wiretaps: A Guide to the Debate
National Public Radio, 2006

Related Reports

Annual Wiretap Reports from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
Each year the U.S Courts must submit a full report to Congress on all wiretaps for the prior year (pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 2519). These reports include analysis and outcomes resulting from surveillance efforts.

A Review of the FBI’s Use of National Security Letters: Assessment of Corrective Actions and Examination of NSL Usage in 2006
Dept. of Justice, Office of Inspector General, March 2008

A Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006, Special Report, March 2008
Dept. of Justice, Office of Inspector General, March 2008

(These last two reports are updated annually. To stay up to date see the U.S. Department of Justice publications).

Legislation to Watch: H.R. 1476 and 1800

In intellectual freedom, privacy, public policy on April 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

Last month, two important pieces of legislation were proposed in the House.

The Safe and Secure America Act, H.R. 1467, was introduced on March 12, 2009 by Sen. Lamar Smith (R-TX). The bill proposes a 10-year extension on “roving” wiretap powers and government access to library patron records. These provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are scheduled to sunset this December. Rather than revise the constitutionally questionable sections, this bill would extend them (and the much contested FISA Amendments) until December 31, 2019. Stay up to date: Track H.R. 1467 here.

The National Security Letters Reform Act of 2009, H.R. 1800, was introduced March 30, 2009, by Rep. Jerrold Nadler. The bill raises the standard needed for the FBI to obtain National Security Letters, and stipulates that NSLs must not be used to spy on U.S. residents based solely on First Amendment activities. See ACLU “Legislation Introduced To Curtail Patriot Act Abuse” (3/30/09), and stay up to date: Track H.R. 1800 here.

FISA Court: Privacy Rights Less Important Than Gov Info Gathering

In governance, information policy, intellectual freedom, privacy on January 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

Intelligence Court Releases Ruling in Favor of Warrantless Wiretapping
Washington Post, By Del Quentin Wilber and R. Jeffrey Smith

Excerpt: …The ruling, which was issued in August but not made public until now, responded to an unnamed telecommunications firm’s complaint that the Bush administration in 2007 improperly demanded information on its clients, violating constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The company complied with the demand while the case was pending.

In its opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled that national security interests outweighed the privacy rights of those targeted, affirming what amounts to a constitutional exception for matters involving government interests “of the highest order of magnitude.”

Read more.

View (heavily redacted) FISA Court ruling here. [PDF] download

Eric Holder Supports Warrantless Wiretaps, Defends PATRIOT Act

In governance, information policy, intellectual freedom, privacy, Uncategorized on January 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

In yesterday’s hearing, attorney general nominee Eric Holder made it clear he intends to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act and reiterated his support for FISA’s Protect American Act, which permits warrantless wiretapping.

Under Eric Holder, ‘War on Terror’ Would Still Define the DOJ

Alternet, By Liliana Segura, January 16, 2009

Excerpt: …Holder’s responses to the question of warrantless wiretapping gave even less to be optimistic about. “There are certain things that a president has the constitutional right that the legislative branch cannot impinge upon,” Mr. Holder said, stressing that wiretapping had proven to be a critical intelligence tool. Like Obama, he said he supported the immunity provisions for telecoms as provided for by the Protect America Act of 2007….

Coincidentally, Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing came on the same day that a federal intelligence court released an unprecedented ruling — made last August — that validated the Protect America Act. As Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times: “the decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.”

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