House Committees Take First Step to Reform NSA

By: Thursday May 15, 2014 5:16 pm

Last week, the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees approved a bill that would begin the process of restoring constitutional limits to dragnet government surveillance. While a praiseworthy step in the right direction, the progress to date remains both entirely too slow, and deferential to the intelligence agencies.


Dueling Judicial Rulings on NSA Spying, and Why They Don’t Matter

By: Monday December 30, 2013 7:01 pm

Two federal judges reached opposite conclusions in separate cases challenging NSA spying. One was thoughtful; the other reflected much of what is wrong with our courts. Ultimately, however, neither will matter. The NSA’s dragnet continues unabated, and only Congress is poised to stop it.

Restore the Fourth at “NSA Oversight” Rep Mike Thompson’s office

By: Thursday August 22, 2013 8:20 am

Congressman who provides “oversight” of NSA claims to know nothing, operates entirely in secret

Just getting my bearings after an astonishing meeting at Congressman MIke Thompson’s office in Santa Rosa. Thompson is the only rep here in northern California (aside from obedient party leader Pelosi) who voted against the Amash/Conyers amendment, which says what the Constitution says: that no one should be subjected to surveillance without a proper warrant. I was there with three other Restore the Fourth activists: two locals (Casey Chartier and me) and two who had driven up from San Francisco, Zaki Manian and Gareth Scott. I barely knew them – brilliant collaborators!

Cracks Widen in the Armor of the Surveillance State

By: Saturday August 3, 2013 11:30 am

Members of Congress sensitive to constitutional limits on executive power have introduced no fewer than a dozen bills to curtail NSA spying. Most of them would do nothing to address the most recent disclosures from journalist Glenn Greenwald. Until the full scope of NSA spying is revealed to the public, congressional remedies for constitutional violations will remain insufficient.

The Push to End Warrantless Intrusions on Digital Communications

By: Wednesday March 20, 2013 3:00 pm

In a column recently published by POLITICO, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist and American Civil Liberties Union’s Laura Murphy write, “In the age of the Internet, your privacy is not Fourth Amendment safe. Government agents cannot tap your phone without a warrant issued by a judge based on some indication you are involved in wrongdoing, but the government claims the authority to read your emails without a warrant. The government can’t open your postal mail or seize papers from your home without a warrant, but it says it can read any private and sensitive documents you’ve stored in the Internet ‘cloud.’”

Clapper v Amnesty: Courts and Congress v Our Constitution

By: Wednesday February 27, 2013 7:05 pm

The fault line visible in yesterday’s 5-4 decision was not between a conservative majority and a liberal minority, but rather between a deferentialist insurgent majority and an independent moderate minority. Put another way, the majority’s decision would be predictable in a country like China, or the former Soviet Union, where courts are expected to defer to an imperial executive branch.

There was a time when America was different.

Blogiversary VII: The FISA-ing

By: Sunday December 30, 2012 4:00 pm

And the Seven & Seven is not just a good drink for my seventh blogiversary, the Seven & Seven’s specificity makes it a very appropriate cocktail for this last weekend of the year for a more, shall we say, “all inclusive” reason.

Friday morning, while some were distracted by Washington’s self-inflicted fiscal clusterfuck, and most were distracted by things that had nothing at all to do with Washington, the US Senate passed a five-year extension to the FISA Amendments Act (FAA)–the oversight-deficient warrantless surveillance program started by the George W. Bush administration. The vote was 73 to 23.

AP’s Coverage of Warrantless Surveillance Law Reauthorization Toes the Government Line

By: Saturday December 29, 2012 1:15 pm

As rare as it is for the Senate to have anything resembling a debate on a civil liberties issue such as privacy and government surveillance, there was a minimal amount of coverage in the establishment press of the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). The law, which allows warrantless surveillance, was reauthorized for five more years on December 28.

Minimal coverage of a topic often means that a wire service’s report becomes one of the more widely circulated accounts of what transpired.

Google: Government Surveillance Spikes Worldwide—Especially in United States

By: Tuesday November 13, 2012 2:05 pm

The increasingly omniscient and omnipresent corporation that is Google has released its latest transparency report on requests from government authorities around the world to take down content and hand the data of users over to agencies.

Will Obama’s Second Term Finally Fulfill His 2008 Promises? (Part I)

By: Saturday November 10, 2012 6:00 pm

President Obama’s reelection has sparked an onslaught of analysis attempting to define the agenda for his second term. Will it reflect the vision of restoring liberty and security on which the president ran in 2008, or the disappointing passivity towards the national security state that characterized his first term?

More to the point, will President Obama’s legacy include emerging American authoritarianism, or instead the recovery of constitutional freedoms lost over the past decade?

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