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Old May 3rd, 2013, 06:07 PM   #1
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1,856 to Zero: Secret Spy Court Authorizes 100% of US Government Requests

In court where civilians have no representative, government's "national security" claims win again and again
- Lauren McCauley, staff writer


http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/03-2

Quote:
A secret federal court last year did not deny a single request to search or electronically spy on people within the United States "for foreign intelligence purposes," according to a Justice Department report this week.

(Photo: byungkyupark/ Flickr) The report (pdf), which was released Tuesday to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), states that during 2012, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (the “FISC”) approved every single one of the 1,856 applications made by the government for authority to conduct electronic surveillance and/or physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.

This past year saw 5 percent more applications than 2011, though no requests were denied in either. Besides the numbers provided, no other information regarding the court and the court's decisions are made public.

As Wired's David Kravets explains:

The secret court, which came to life in the wake of the Watergate scandal under the President Richard M. Nixon administration, now gets the bulk of its authority under the FISA Amendments Act, which Congress reauthorized for another five years days before it would have expired last year.

The act allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States.

Previous to its 2012 reauthorization, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said during a debate on amending the FISA Act, "The public has absolutely no idea what the court is actually saying. What it means is the country is in fact developing a secret body of law so Americans have no way of finding out how their laws and Constitution are being interpreted."
Anyone else think this is pretty durn scary?

Last edited by Mrs. CJ Parker; May 3rd, 2013 at 06:16 PM. Reason: Added url
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 06:09 PM   #2
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I saw there were "0 Replies" so I posted this.
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 06:17 PM   #3
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[QUOTE]Putting the FISC in context, Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake writes, "America has a court that reviews surveillance requests in secret and makes rulings in secret that are kept secret."

He goes on to cite a 2008 Harvard Law Review, which critiqued the unique arrangement of the secret court system, to explain why the court's 100 percent acceptance rate may be unsurprising:

One of the most striking elements of the FISA system is the total absence of adversariality.

[t]he judge is forced not only to act as an arm of the prosecution in weighing the prosecution’s arguments about whether disclosure would or would not compromise national security, but also to act as a defense lawyer in determining whether the information is useful to the defendant.” Similarly, in reviewing a FISA application, the FISC must attempt the difficult, if not impossible, task of simultaneously occupying the roles of advocate and neutral arbiter — all without the authority or ability to investigate facts or the time to conduct legal research. The judge lacks, a skeptical advocate to vet the government’s legal arguments, which is of crucial significance when the government is always able to claim the weight of national security expertise for its position. It is questionable whether courts can play this role effectively, and, more importantly, whether they should. [emphasis added]

"Though depicted as some kind of check on Executive Branch behavior," Glenn Greenwald writes, the entire process "is virtually designed to do the opposite: ensure the Government's surveillance desires are unimpeded."

He adds that the lack of oversight is significant because of recent calls to create a 'drone court' under the same model, providing a similar process through which the president can target for execution people who have been charged with no crime.[/QUOTE]

This is scary. No comments?
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 06:33 PM   #4
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At least they are requesting permission. Unlike the IRS' reading email without warrants.
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 07:07 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Mrs. CJ Parker;485728]
Quote:
Putting the FISC in context, Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake writes, "America has a court that reviews surveillance requests in secret and makes rulings in secret that are kept secret."

He goes on to cite a 2008 Harvard Law Review, which critiqued the unique arrangement of the secret court system, to explain why the court's 100 percent acceptance rate may be unsurprising:

One of the most striking elements of the FISA system is the total absence of adversariality.

[t]he judge is forced not only to act as an arm of the prosecution in weighing the prosecution’s arguments about whether disclosure would or would not compromise national security, but also to act as a defense lawyer in determining whether the information is useful to the defendant.” Similarly, in reviewing a FISA application, the FISC must attempt the difficult, if not impossible, task of simultaneously occupying the roles of advocate and neutral arbiter — all without the authority or ability to investigate facts or the time to conduct legal research. The judge lacks, a skeptical advocate to vet the government’s legal arguments, which is of crucial significance when the government is always able to claim the weight of national security expertise for its position. It is questionable whether courts can play this role effectively, and, more importantly, whether they should. [emphasis added]

"Though depicted as some kind of check on Executive Branch behavior," Glenn Greenwald writes, the entire process "is virtually designed to do the opposite: ensure the Government's surveillance desires are unimpeded."

He adds that the lack of oversight is significant because of recent calls to create a 'drone court' under the same model, providing a similar process through which the president can target for execution people who have been charged with no crime.[/QUOTE]

This is scary. No comments?
All the pieces are in place for a president to become an emperor in the blink of an eye.

Of course, it'll never happen.
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 07:50 PM   #6
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Thanks Rand Paul.. for forcing Holder to say he will not use Drones to kill us only just spy on us.
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Old May 4th, 2013, 04:12 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=imaginethat;485763]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. CJ Parker View Post

All the pieces are in place for a president to become an emperor in the blink of an eye.

Of course, it'll never happen.
Well, not without a fight. I can see a 1960'/70's revolution coming on...people in the streets...protesting all over the place..and even some sit downs and strikes by workers. It has to be done. We need to replace this government with a democracy once again.
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