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Protect America Act: Bend Over and Show it to Big Brother

[Advance Warning: Non-Partisan Political Rant to follow: Since it concerns blogging I am posting it here]

If I told you that there was a country that just held nearly six months of hearings on illegal political firings in the Department of Justice, that just heard damning testimony about illegal wiretap programs, and that as part of those hearings, it came to light that there had been many, many illegal wiretaps — so illegal, in fact, that the Acting Attorney General had to make a midnight run to the hospital to stop an end run around his refusal to sign off on their legality, and that the result of that was LEGALIZATION of said illegal activity with full compliance by the opposing party, would you believe me?

Only in America. Black is white. Doublethink rules. Oh, maybe it’s 23 years later than Orwell expected, but make no mistake, black is white, spying is protection; protection is privacy; malware is good; spyware is better. AT&T owns you. So does Verizon. If you don’t think they do, you just need a little more instruction in the art of doublethink. Not only do they own you, you pay for that privilege.

Democrats in our Esteemed Congress handed over more power to the Unclothed Emperor in the form of the “Protect America Act of 2007” on Saturday, power in the form of warrantless wiretaps, now sanctioned and blessed under prevailing law. Here are two key provisions:

First, the law requires telecommunications companies to make their facilities available for government wiretaps, and it grants them immunity from lawsuits for complying. Under the old program, such companies participated only voluntarily – and some were sued for allegedly violating their customers’ privacy.

Second, Bush has said his original surveillance program was restricted to calls and e-mails involving a suspected terrorist, but the new law has no such limit. Instead, it allows executive-branch agencies to conduct oversight-free surveillance of all international calls and e-mails, including those with Americans on the line, with the sole requirement that the intelligence-gathering is “directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.” There is no requirement that either caller be a suspected terrorist, spy, or criminal.

As to the last bit of bold text, I’d also add that there’s no requirement for PROBABLE CAUSE.

In other words, the Federal Government now has the right to illegally spy on you at will and with the complicity of the telephone companies, who really just wanted to cover their ass before they turned over whatever the government asked for anyway.

This is the same motley crew who, it was recently revealed, abused the power of the “national security letter”, violated innocent people’s privacy routinely (claiming it was merely a “mistake). Lest you doubt me, check the whitehouse.gov propaganda news release on this, where they conveniently forget to put some facts out there on the table for all of us to see, including the one that says they can spy on foreign nationals even when they’re communicating with Americans. Further, the one who will be crafting specific policies is none other than Mr. End-Run-Lie-to-the-Congress Alberto Gonzales. Yes, Gonzo will be the stripper author of our lost 4th amendment rights.

Now, having had more than my share of encounters with hastily-crafted, last-minute sell-out compromise bills of the tax kind, here are some fast facts about what we don’t know:

  • Like all hastily-published bills, this one is basically a one-liner framed as a negative. It says the following:

    “Sec. 105A. Nothing in the definition of electronic surveillance under section 101(f) shall be construed to encompass surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.”

    When put into context, that means ANY electronic surveillance may be conducted by the DOJ and FBI without a search warrant or any judicial oversight.

  • In order to spy on any citizen, they need only ‘reasonably believe’ the person is believed to be located outside the United States. (or that a person inside the United States is communicating with a person outside the United States).
  • The transition rules provide that any order in effect prior to the passage of the Act (e.g., all of that illegal spying that Gonzales so desperately tried to hide in the hearings last week) shall remain in effect until they expire, without review of any judicial entity.

    In other words, all that past illegal activity just became legal.

Part of the discussions surrounding this involve government-installed spyware and keyloggers.

And DAMN the Democrats for having no balls! Not only do they allow the Republicans to run roughshod over current laws, they assist in amending those laws to legalize their goddamn illegal activity. We have a bunch of gutless wimps in the Congress who posture and harumph over obvious, documented violations of the law, yet they don’t move to impeach, they don’t rush a censure, they just flop their hands around and say “Excuse me, Mr. Bush, but how can we bend over and let you screw the American People today?”

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