As we discussed in an earlier post, Dianne Feinstein's attempt to "improve" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 actually codifies outrages which Edward Snowden revealed. Marcy Wheeler
has looked over the Senate Intelligence Committee report
on this legislation, and found that it allows not just government employees but contractors to access data on, from and about United States citizens without a warrant.
Ed Snowden, you will recall, was a contractor at the time he began his adventure.
And the Senate Intelligence Committee’s response to that is to explicitly give contractors the authority to conduct suspicionless searches through vast quantity of data to access and read the content of US person data, with no reporting requirements.
More and more people are referring to Dianne Feinstein as "Big Brother's sister." If you need a good introductory article on the DiFi Fake FISA Fix, see this Guardian piece
from November 8:
The legislation would make clear in no uncertain terms that communication records like phone, email, and internet data can be collected without even an ounce of suspicion, pursuant to the so-called privacy rules already in place. Being silent on other types of data like location information or financial records, it passively condones their collection too, but without even the benefit of the paltry protections in place now. For the first time in history, Congress would explicitly and intentionally authorize dragnet domestic spying programs targeting every day Americans.
The Feinstein bill also makes the current situation even worse. It gives the government a 72-hour grace period to warrantlessly spy on foreigners who enter the US, without even the attorney general approval that is currently required in emergency situations. It explicitly states that none of its provisions should be read to prevent law enforcement from digging through massive NSA databases for evidence of criminal activity. By doing so, it authorizes that specific practice in a roundabout way. Finally, it sets up the prospect of all members of Congress accessing important court orders and other information, but then undercuts this requirement by endorsing current rules and practices that have been used to prevent members of the House from reading foundational documents that could inform the votes they must make on whether to continue these programs.
We must do everything we can to stop Feinstein's bill. Sadly, she is in office until 2018 -- and since she is (at 80) the oldest senator, she knows that she will not run again. So she is unbothered by any electoral threat.
An imperfect alternative bill
, more deserving of our support, comes to us by way of Jim Sensenbrenner -- yes, a Republican.
Sensenbrenner, who worked with president George W Bush to give more power to US intelligence agencies after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time "to put their metadata program out of business".
It galls me no end to applaud a guy like Sensenbrenner while condemning the Dem. But the situation is what it is.