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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Sanders Statement on NSA Surveillance

WASHINGTON, March 25 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today on reports that President Barack Obama intends to seek another 90-day extension of the bulk collection of Americans' phone records before asking Congress to make private phone companies store the records:

“As someone who voted against the Patriot Act and opposed its reauthorization, I have long been concerned about out-of-control intelligence agencies.

“At a time when the American people are outraged by government attacks on our constitutional rights, the president’s proposal is a step forward. We must, however, go further. Ending the bulk collection of phone records of virtually all Americans – 99.999 percent of whom have nothing to do with terrorism – is important. The president should end that program now, not 90 days from now. We also must also make sure that the government isn’t harvesting records on our emails and other Internet activity except in instances where there are specific reasons to suspect wrongdoing.

“Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies must be given the tools they need to protect us, but that can be done in a way that does not sacrifice our constitutional rights. If we allow the government to see all of what we read, what we watch and what we hear, then we cannot be called a free society.”

Contact: Michael Briggs (202) 224-5141


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Leahy Agrees - Do It Friday

Leahy, too (my emphasis):

“I welcome the President’s statement that he plans to end the bulk collection of American’s phone records.  That is a key element of what I and others have outlined in the USA FREEDOM Act, and that is what the American people have been demanding. 

“I look forward to having meaningful consultation with the administration on these matters and reviewing its proposal to evaluate whether it sufficiently protects Americans’ privacy.  In the meantime, the President could end bulk collection once and for all on Friday by not seeking reauthorization of this program.  Rather than postponing action any longer, I hope he chooses this path.”


Good for both...

Senators IMHO.

For anyone interested, here are a few links related to President Obama's "proposal" & proposed legislation re surveillance:

Snowden statement released by ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/edward-snowden-statement-adm...

Greenwald pointing out op for "Democratic partisan hackery" a la President's 2009 flip on release of photos of abused detainees in Iraq & Afghanistan: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/03/25/obamas-new-nsa-proposal-de...

Guardian piece with Trevor Timm's first take on House surveillance bill & Obama's "proposal": http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/25/house-nsa-bill-end-...

Of course, blogger Marcy Wheeler continues to stay on top of all-things-surveillance at http://www.emptywheel.net/.


Was hoping EW would do this...

and so Marcy has - provided thoughts on what we know of President Obama's "proposal" to "reform" NSA surveillance policies/practices:

She concludes:

"That sketch doesn’t really answer a lot of questions about the program, including:

* Will this program be used for “national security concerns” beyond counterterrorism? Never once did the conference call say it was limited to CT, and several comments suggested it could be used more broadly.
* What kind of protections will the data (the overwhelming number of which would be innocent people) get once it lands at NSA (see the minimization procedures noted above)? Will it resemble the corporate store of forever datamining that currently exists?
* Who will do the data integrity that currently requires access to the raw data, which has a dramatic influence on how much data would be responsive to a 2-hop query? The required “technical assistance” might include some of it (it definitely includes formatting the data such that NSA can legally accept it, which has caused a problem with cell data). But does Verizon or NSA or Booz go through the raw data and pull out the high volume numbers?
* For how long will these orders be granted? (It sounds like the White House will use this to entice congressional support.)
* Will the NSA have access to location data (I’m guessing the answer is no but would like assurances)?

All that said, this is an improvement over the status quo and over RuppRoge in several ways, not least that it applies only to phone data, and that they’re using the same vocabulary we’ve just spent 10 months agreeing on common definitions for.

Update: One observation. One thing both this reform and RuppRoge include is the ability to dictate what the government gets from providers. That’s a testament to how poorly suited the Section 215 program has always been, because it could only ask for existing business records, and most telecoms (the likely exception is AT&T) could and almost certainly did simply provide their SS7 telecom records, which would include everything, including cell location data that apparently became problematic, probably since 2010, when Congress learned NSA was actually going to start using that data. Those problems likely grew more intense after the Jones decision made it clear SCOTUS had problems with the government tracking location persistently without a warrant.

In other words, these “reforms” seem to arise as much from the fact that the outrage against this dragnet provides the government with an opportunity to build a system more appropriate to the task at hand rather than what they could jerry-rig together in secret."


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