Even if the USA FREEDOM Act actually limited federal agencies ability to violate our constitutional rights the bill still would likely not protect us from unconstitutional surveillance. This is because federal agencies are likely to disregard any statutory restrictions on their ability to spy on us….
At least that is the take away from the Department of Justice's Inspector General's Report on the FBI's use of Section 215 that was released today. The report should have been released 5 years ago but has been in "declassification review."
The report provides clear evidence that the federal government disregarding any limitations on their ability to snoop on Americans.
Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel explains:
It confirms a number of things I have been reporting for years: that the government uses the provision to collect records that have nothing to do with phone records in bulk, the majority of which are now Internet records, definitely including URLs and probably including subject lines.
But the takeaway report is something else I’ve been reporting on for some time.
The government completely blew off a requirement imposed with the 2006 PATRIOT Act Reauthorization that the FBI (which is the only agency that’s supposed to use Section 215) adopt minimization procedures specifically for Section 215. Even after FBI missed its September 2006 deadline by claiming it had Interim Procedures, FISC kept approving Section 215 orders, even including paragraphs that appear in every phone dragnet order claiming the government has met that statutory requirement. A year after DOJ’s Inspector General pointed out FBI was violating the statute, FISC started imposing its own minimization procedures and reporting requirements (though not — as a court operating with more transparency might have done — denying orders). Finally, in March 2013, DOJ adopted minimization procedures (though it did not start actually complying with them until more than four months after Edward Snowden’s leaks focused more attention on bulk 215 orders).
The only way to restrain the snoop state is to allow all the sunsetting provisions of the PATRIOT Act to expire and once again bind the government with the "chains of the Constitution."
Campaign for Liberty's ongoing Banner Bomb program is aimed at turning up the heat on the Senate to get them to reject any proposals to extend the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions--including the USA "FREEDOM" Act. Please support our efforts.
Tags: USA Freedom Act