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Lawmakers Threaten Legal Basis of NSA Surveillance 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-don't-be-grandstanding dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The author of the Patriot Act has warned that the legal justification for the NSA's wholesale domestic surveillance program will disappear next summer if the White House doesn't restrict the way the NSA uses its power. Section 215 of the Patriot Act will expire during the summer of 2015 and will not be renewed unless the White House changes the shocking scale of the surveillance programs for which the National Security Administration uses the authorization, according to James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), an original author of the Patriot Act and its two reauthorizations, stated Washington insider-news source The Hill. 'Unless Section 215 gets fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will get absolutely nothing, because I am confident there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize it,' Sensenbrenner warned Deputy Attorney General James Cole during the Feb. 4 hearing. Provisions of Section 215, which allows the NSA to collect metadata about phone calls made within the U.S., give the government a 'very useful tool' to track connections among Americans that might be relevant to counterterrorism investigations, Cole told the House Judiciary Committee. The scale of the surveillance and lengths to which the NSA has pushed its limits was a "shock" according to Sensenbrenner, who also wrote the USA Freedom Act, a bill to restrict the scope of both Section 215 and the NSA programs, which has attracted 130 co-sponsors. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has sponsored a similar bill in the Senate."
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Lawmakers Threaten Legal Basis of NSA Surveillance

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  • Fuck the beta (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:12PM (#46168337)

    "MOVIN’ ON UP" my ass

    • Re:Fuck the beta (Score:5, Insightful)

      by buswolley (591500) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:14PM (#46168351) Journal
      http://slashdot.org/recent [slashdot.org] Vote up the Fuck Beta stories
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        I did before I came here, every single one of the "beta sucks" stories, just posted a "beta sucks" /. journal, and sent them an email informing them that when classic is gone, so will I be.

        I suspect all that will be left after classic is gone is APK, ethanol-fueled, the goatse guy, the GNAA guy, and that guy who wants you to clean his PC, Oh, and don't forget Bert, and the other two trolls Bilbo met.

        • Re:Fuck the beta (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:13PM (#46169327)
          If you took their survey you'll see they know most long-time /. users are outraged. The first question was something like, "Did you know, you can find the classic slashdot layout at a link at the bottom of the page" Answer: No. Next question, "did you find it?". Answer: No (it's buried in a text box). Next question, "Do you have any suggestions for improving the usability of the beta" Answer: Go back to classic Slashdot by default. Etc., etc., They know the beta's shit and don't care because they are going to use the site to phish irregular users into their "Business Intelligence" BS. They don't care to keep us here, they just want the name for the geek-chique with the managers that may think they're hip because they've heard of /. but never actually visited. I hope Taco made a mint on this and the other "editors" as well because they sold out hard -- I knew something was seriously wrong when he jumped ship after so many previous acquisitions....
      • NSA?

        we want to throw eggs at the 'beta' from slashdot. we've heard enough about the NSA.

        we can't change the NSA and congress won't do a damned thing. we won't ever trust our government again (not that we ever really did) and whatever they say, they will be lies.

        if obama wants to get back in our favor, he should have a talk with the Dice guys and straighten them out.

        (yeah, I'm not holding my breath on that one, either).

    • Re:Fuck the beta (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chebucto (992517) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:25PM (#46168463) Homepage

      Beta must die

    • by dknj (441802)

      Just want to add, this is not the voice of the truely concerned slashdot users. But likely being done to detract attention from the more sensible posts about classic slashdot. If posts like these are going to dominate the comments then the true reason for the other slashdot site will be silenced.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        No, what he said echoes my sentiments. Going from a 19th century mansion to a Habitat for Humanity house is NOT "moving up." It's a shame Dice wants slashdot dead. I'll miss it.

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:12PM (#46168341) Homepage
    Yesterday, I had a child. My dear son. Today I found him dead. He left a suicide note: "The only reason for my death is Slashdot Beta."

    Also I had a daughter a few days ago. But then I also found her dead. This time she had been murdered. The autopsy came back: She had been mauled by Slashdot Beta.

    This must end!! Think of the children! Kill the Beta!
    • by richlv (778496) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:21PM (#46168429)

      well, slashdot... this is now up to the "funny" level - i mean, 90% of comments being about suckiness of beta :)

      get a geek to tell designers and coders how it should be. and give him/her the right to kill... ok, throw out of the building anybody suggesting stuff like the "beta".

      • well, slashdot... this is now up to the "funny" level - i mean, 90% of comments being about suckiness of beta :)

        Huh. I guess we may have actually achieved "nerd rage" here. :P

        -- Common Joe

        Slashdot Valentines Day Massacre: Boycott Slashdot because "Fuck Beta!": February 10 - 17

        And Support Okian Warrior's Alternate Slashdot [slashdot.org] Idea!

  • And this is why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:14PM (#46168357) Journal
    And this is why it can be smart to put time limits on bills, even if you think they are a good idea at the time. In that sense, the original authors of the Patriot Act were smart.
    • Agreed. Automatic expiration of laws help weed out old crap, and force lawmakers to *actively* support reauthorization of any bill and thus face any fallout over bills that might have seemed good at the time (no, I do *not* think the "patriot" act was a good thing at a time, but a lot of morons did) but have since proved to be a bad idea. Bonus: if lawmakers were required (after radically re-arranging the congressional rules) to re-up every single bill, we'd have a *LOT FEWER* bills in total. As long as
      • Re:And this is why (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:57PM (#46168745) Homepage

        That's only useful in a specific case, though, where one piece of legislation is the sole authorization for a government action. That's pretty rare (to the point where I doubt this is even such a case).

        For everything else, having an expiration date means that the actual state of the law would change even more than it does now, so everybody has to spend more money and work even harder just to make sure that they're still in compliance with the newly-revised rules that are subtly different that the previous rules, because the politicians wanted to look like they were actively improving things.

        Similarly, the increased volatility of the law means that legal precedent is also more volatile, so the cost of a court case gets worse as there's more room to argue about how a rule's expiration affects previous judgments. While a criminal case is waiting for the court to settle, the legality of the alleged crime could even change, especially if it's politically beneficial for the legislators to override the judicial branch.

        Mandatory expiration dates for legislation fall into the large category of "ideas that cause more problems than they solve".

        • Re:And this is why (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:40PM (#46169083)

          > Mandatory expiration dates for legislation fall into the large category of "ideas that cause more problems than they solve".

          By raw numbers, perhaps. But the problems that they solve are so large and pervasive that they're worth considering. The sheer bulk of existing legal codes, dating back to the Constitution itself, makes sensible analysis of existing law infeasible for even a reasonable legal researcher.

      • That said, the alleged impermanence of a bill can be used as a way of justifying something we would normally object to, and renewals of those bills are lower pressure because they aren't changing the law.
    • Re:And this is why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:48PM (#46168677)

      And this is why it can be smart to put time limits on bills, even if you think they are a good idea at the time. In that sense, the original authors of the Patriot Act were smart.

      This will be something like the third re-authorization [wikipedia.org]. (It expired piecemeal, making it easier to re-authorize it piecemeal).

      We not only need sunset into bills, we need to require an ever increasing majority to re-authorize these laws.
      (As well as (nearly) unanimous consent to lower those requirements.)

      You can bet that at the time grows near, there will be an "incident" that just "happens" to come along which will have the usual useful idiots demanding more protection, and tighter scrutiny. The drumbeat of fear will be revved up again. Someone will put forth minor meaningless tweaks and tell us the problem is solved. Opponents will be vilified and demonized in the press, mistresses will surface. You name it. Its not like we haven't seen this before.

      And we need to enact penalties for judges that fail to uphold their oath of office.

      • I have some serious doubts that the "drumbeat of fear" ever really existed in the first place. Opinion polls are worthless and depending on who shapes the questions can be spun by both sides of the argument. It would be great if the polling firms were required to provide the detailed methodologies being used to reach their conclusions. Using relatively small sample sizes and then extrapolating and applying the results against 350 million citizens requires some details to test the accuracy of the results.

        • by icebike (68054)

          The fear hasn't existed for a long time.
          The drums of fear are still being pounded hard and loud. Just read a few of the administration's fear talk about why we have to have continued data gathering.

          • I think a lot of people mistake fear with pissed off. The government can ramp up their oversight using either emotion.

    • by rk (6314)

      I have thought that some kind of third legislative branch, whose only power was to rescind laws older than 2 or 3 years, would be a useful check and balance on the current system, which seems only capable of expanding the size of the law. This branch too, would probably need some checks and balances.

  • Pardon me for not leading with a negative comment on Slashdot Beta (if I did comment it would be highly negative) but, let's stay on topic. It will make zero difference if the NSA has a "legal" basis or not. The govt will simply assert the president's "right" or power to "defend the country" and which court is going to say no to that?
    • which court is going to say no to that?

      Hopefully the Supreme. It is their job, after all, as dictated by the Constitution (for whatever that's worth, these days).

  • One can only hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:33PM (#46168547)

    Section 215 of the Patriot Act will expire during the summer of 2015 and will not be renewed

    Its time to put this experiment to bed. Like prohibition, which lasted 13 years, the Patriot act (now 13 years old), and damage it has caused needs to be rolled back. Not just Section 215, but other major portions of the act as well.

    We are not safer now. We are simply less free now. It has not prevented terrorist attacks, either here or abroad. Boarder security continues to be a utter joke, and secrecy provisions are the antithesis of our supposed freedoms.

    Its probably time to start yanking your congressman's chain. Its time to point out that the simple fact we are not asleep any more is basically all that is needed, and all that was ever needed. Its time to point out that 13 years of lies and secrecy is enough. Its time for them to stop carrying the governments message to their constituents, and start carrying their constituents message to the government.

    Do I expect this to be successful? No. Not as long as a single one of those congressmen were in office for the initial passing, or the prior re-authorizations. They are too heavily invested in the act, and the administration has too much control over them.

    Time to clean house. Stop fearing your district's loss of seniority by electing new people. Vote them all out. If we do it piece meal, career bureaucrats and career politicians will just co-opt the new members. Remove the leverage.

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:35PM (#46169031) Homepage

      Stop fearing your district's loss of seniority by electing new people. Vote them all out. If we do it piece meal, career bureaucrats and career politicians will just co-opt the new members. Remove the leverage.

      All that will do is make the next batch of puppets cheaper to own. Until corporations are muzzled, nothing will change.

      • "wow, I keep replacing this fuse and each time I replace it, it blows."

        but lets not try to understand why the circuit is faulty. lets just keep revoting in new 'fuses' and hope that this one does not blow....

        (the system is broken. voting new for old is not going to do anything other than play musical chairs.)

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Until corporations are muzzled, nothing will change.

        I'll copy-paste a section from another of my comments in another thread and article that addresses this point.

        http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

        The US doesn't have a Left/Right, (R)/(D) problem as much as it simply has grave, ongoing, massive and broad civil rights violations being committed by the government against the entire population under both major political parties.

        If the government can be reined-in and brought back under the people's control and end the massive corruption, then corporations and banks, etc would also be brought under control, once you have a government that will actually prosecute corporations/banks/financial institutions and their heads who violate the law, and without any favoritism.

        I believe that two of the things that *must* be included in any proposed solution for it to have any credibility whatsoever are term limits for all in Congress to end "career politicians" and strict rules with criminal penalties for going from a government post/office/position into a private sector job/position for any entity over which/whom you had power/influence, in order to stop the revolving-door corruption in D.C.

        "Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason." - Mark Twain

        Strat

    • by Spamalope (91802)

      Its time to put this experiment to bed. Like prohibition, which lasted 13 years, the Patriot act (now 13 years old), and damage it has caused needs to be rolled back. Not just Section 215, but other major portions of the act as well.

      Like Cointelpro, they'll just rename and reshuffle the programs while still doing exactly what they want. You can't reveal they're back at it without committing a felony after all...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:37PM (#46168579)

    Day 1: It wouldn't stop, the redirecting. At first I thought it was malware. Had my first drink in a long time.

    Day 2: Barely had the strength to carry on as the BETA REDIRECTIONS continue.. trying not to talk to hallucinations at the bar and in the bathroom which laugh at me about these redirections.

    Day 3: Discovered the BETA redirections were random, and while at first they looked somewhat usable, when I looked at me and my monitor screen in the mirror, a horrible woman with flesh hanging off of her body looked back, trying to lead me into a dance as the word BETA appeared across her rancid breasts.

    Day 4: These BETA corridors go on FOREVER! On the plus side, I've taken up disassembling vehicles to corner this BETA beast and sacrifice myself rather than lead others to discovering it. I ate some red snow.

    Day 5: Finding it harder to concentrate. I've ate some more of the red snow. The taste is starting to grow on me.

    Day 6: This typewriter is the only entertainment I have, apart from throwing things at the walls, trying to get some response from the BETA which is now taking over my mind.

    Day 7: Hahahahahha! Would you believe it? I'M STILL BEING REDIRECTED TO SLASHDOT BETA PAGES! AHAHhahahaah! Type, type, ding, ding! Wooo!

    Day 8: The hallucinations are actually real! Would you believe it? They have offered to help me if I agree to work for them. I'm thinking about patenting this delicious red snow, the taste is unreal!

    Day 9: Having black out sessions where I cannot remember large passings of time. Found some makeup, thought I'd paint a joker smile on my face to amuse the people only I can see!

    Day 10: Productive today, part of what I wrote for my new screenplay:

    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slashdot BETA!
    I cannot opt out of Slas

    (drops of blood on paper)

  • I think this is great. We just need to get Congress to not reauthorize the Patriot Act and then all this crap can finally get rolled back. Hopefully the TSA can be next.
  • by cdrudge (68377) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:52PM (#46168707) Homepage

    Is this REALLY about the NSA surveillance? Or is it about leverage for Congress critters, particularly Republicans, on the Executive branch?

    "You want your PATRIOT Act renewed? You need to cut back on your surveillance. And my surveillance, we mean repeal Obamacare (or whatever the bill(s) du jour are)."

    Besides, whether or not the NSA surveillance is authorized, do you think the NSA gives a fuck. They are going to do it anyways. They'll just have to be sneakier.

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:01PM (#46168777)

    Actor Maximilian Schell died last week. He played the defence lawyer in Judgement at Nuremberg. It's a film about the trial of judges who were around before Hitler came to power and stayed on rather than resign. It's a great, great, film. Here's a bit of Spenser Tracey's verdict at the end:

    'There are those in our own country, too...who today speak of the protection of country...of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation...at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy...to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. The answer to that is: Survival as what? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult.'

    The trouble is, there is no practical existential threat from Al Qaeda. There is no unified command structure amongst the Muslim nations - many of which have the same ethno-linguistic-political-economic divisions that have the western nations bickering all of the time. They have no army. No navy. No air force. They are not a fundamental threat to the west and the overreach of this sector of government needs to be brought back into perspective.

    • by riverat1 (1048260) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:43PM (#46169109)

      The trouble is, there is no practical existential threat from Al Qaeda.

      This can't be reiterated enough. The response to 9/11 was completely out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the perpetrators. GWB said they hate us for our freedom so what do we do? We turn around and reduce our freedom. What kind of sense does that make?

      • by gIobaljustin (3526197) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:06PM (#46169263) Homepage

        This can't be reiterated enough.

        It can be. We mustn't make this issue about the efficacy of the programs, but about freedom. Mentioning that the programs are ineffective is fine, but we must make it clear that they would be unacceptable even if they worked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It makes sense if you realize Al Qaeda was never the real enemy. It was just a very convenient excuse for the government to grab more power. And it worked. The majority of people are sheep and took it hook line and sinker. It's all straight from Orwell's 1984. Give them a great war to distract them from their current troubles and the failure of the government to do anything about it so the politicians can keep stuffing their pockets and their friends pockets.

    • by LDAPMAN (930041)

      There was no "existential threat when the Nazis invaded Poland or when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. In the long term jihadist islam may be more of a threat than either of those.

      • by LDAPMAN (930041)

        And no I'm not defending the NSA. I think they have gone way to far. However, I do believe that radical islam is a threat that must be exterminated just as surely as Naziism and the radical Shinto warrior sect that controlled Japan.

        • radical islam is a threat that must be exterminated

          Wrong choice of words.

          Radical anything needs to be controlled and sidelined. Not exterminated. In many nations immigrants don't melt into the culture anymore, they're insular. The populus needs education. The "right to free speech" isn't to criticize your fellow man but to critiized and call out abuses w/in the governement. To say that the minority can't abuse everyone else; no beating your SO. Do want you want in the privacy of your home. but you can't dictate or pass laws what I do in public.

          The

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        I'm pretty sure we instigated the Japanese bombing of Pearl. For fuck sakes in the first quarter of 1941 Roosevelt moved the Pacific fleet to Pearl, began a military buildup in the Philippines, and then followed that up in July by cutting off Japans oil supply.

        ..then in December of that year, we were surprised that Japan attacked? No. We expected it, because we instigated it. We just didn't expect it to be Pearl. We expected it to be the Philippines.

        ..and to quote wikipedia, "A Gallup poll just before t
  • Protest Beta (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoRdTAW (99712) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:03PM (#46168797)

    Dice, I am protesting the beta site. I will not follow any links from a beta redirect and I will not participate in any meaningful discussion.

    Your new Slashdot design is hideous. The comment layout is an abomination which is /.'s strong point, its why we come here. This isn't twitter or Facebook, we come here to get away from that. Please abandon your attempts to cash in on this site, you will loose more members then you will ever hope to attract with your new and unimproved design.

    Fellow /.'ers, join me in this protest. Do not post a comment related to a beta redirect article or click any links. Instead, post a comment in protest of the beta design.

  • So, what is Congress going to do? Oh, I know. They'll allow this law to "time out" - a law that doesn't allow this, anyway - and then it'll be even more illegal! Yes, it'll be so illegal that......... what? Eric Holder will finally get off his ass and investigate?

    Here's what makes this stop. Rather than saying "you no longer have statutory authority to do _______" (which they don't have now, anyway, but stick with me) we need to write a simple law that says "the government may not do ______, and if the

  • Is anyone going to address the NSA surveillance issue behind the law? It's pretty well established that they're sucking up every possible piece of information because their world view is based in maximum paranoia (if the other guys are capable of doing this, they're probably doing this). Yet their info-vacuum yields little to no results. If we judged their potential for abuse like they judge the world's threats, there would be no NSA. So what kind of intelligent intelligence agency do we rebuild the NSA

  • Obama will "act on his own" using his phone and pen.

    No one has stopped our nascent "emperor" from ruling by Diktat yet...

  • With third party doctrine relied upon almost exclusively to produce with little or no showing what everyone in modern society assumes and thinks to be their property as constitutional basis to legitimize what otherwise would be constitutionally illegitimate what really could one expect legal effect of the patriot act going away to be?

    The linchpin seems to be the third party doctrine you pull that patriot act, stored communications act and all manner of accumulated doublespeak becomes unconstitutional overni

  • ... but I had the impression that nowadays the only legal justification anything needs is that the Fuehrer (sorry, President) wants it to happen.

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