200,000 warrantless searches performed by the FBI

ben franklinOn August 7, BORDC co-sponsored an event in Salt Lake City, about how Utahns can help stop the NSA dragnet. This blog post includes the prepared remarks of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson.

During the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, US intelligence agencies engaged in widespread illegal misconduct, far outside the checks and balances of constitutional government. The FBI, after engaging in warrantless wiretapping, tried to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr. into committing suicide.  The CIA hired the Mafia to try to assassinate Fidel Castro.  The CIA supported the overthrow of Chile's democratically elected government.  In the COINTELPRO program, the FBI, in the name of national security, conducted illegal investigations of people and organizations engaged in lawful conduct, meted out secret punishments, and promoted violence, broke up marriages of civil rights workers, falsely labeled people as government informers to provoke reprisals against them, and effectively prevented citizens from speaking, teaching, writing, and publishing.  The FBI and CIA also engaged in a massive letter-opening campaign, all without warrants and with knowledge of its illegality.

 There are times when our government rises to the occasion and casts a light on wrongdoing that inspires us as as to the grand possibilities of our democracy in safeguarding our liberties and providing us the truth about what our government is doing, and what it has done.  The Church Committee, during 1975-76, investigated and disclosed to the American people horrendous abuses by the intelligence community, providing the sort of disclosure and wisdom that restores the health and integrity of our threatened republic.  It demonstrated that vigilance and an insistence upon the truth are, indeed, essential to our freedoms and democracy.  The Church Committee's work serves as an inspiring object lesson for what urgently needs to happen if we are to keep our republic.

Following the revelations of the Church Committee, in 1978 Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, which made it a felony to engage in electronic surveillance of communications involving US citizens without obtaining a warrant.  FISA set up a special court for consideration of warrant requests, preserving secrecy and even allowing, in emergency circumstances, surveillance for up to 72 hours in advance of obtaining a warrant.

That legislation was amended several times after 9/11, but Congress preserved the prohibition against domestic surveillance without a judicial warrant and left in place the requirement that the administration report to Congress about FISA's use semiannually.

Addressing the matter at a press conference, President Bush represented that his administration obtains warrants in every instance when wiretapping “because we value the Constitution.”

He was deceiving the American people and Congress.  In mid-December 2005, we learned, a year after the New York Times had first discovered the unconstitutional conduct, that President Bush, for years, had ordered the National Security Agency to engage in warrantless surveillance of US citizens’ emails, phone calls, and other communications in violation of the Constitution and FISA.

The President disregarded the warrant and reporting requirements of federal law, claiming he had unlimited presidential power to spy without any restraint by Congress.

What has Congress done in the face of this blatant disregard for laws passed by Congress?  Nothing whatsoever.  No, worse than that.  It has made the matter far worse.  In the FISA Amendments of 2008, it provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunication companies that joined with the government in the illegal spying on Americans and, incredibly, has dispensed with any warrant requirement in individual cases when the government merely asserts that a targeted party is in another country.

Because of the absence of any investigation like that conducted by the Church Committee, to this day we still do not know how many people were subjected to illegal surveillance, no one has been brought to account for the felonious spying on Americans, and we have no idea to what use the information illegally obtained has been put or even where it is stored today.  You don't know, and I don't know, and members of Congress do not know, if any of our communications have been illegally intercepted and retained by our government.

The Obama administration so far has brushed aside the rule of law, making certain there is no accountability for those who blatantly violated the Constitution and FISA.

And the courts?  What have the courts done to provide a check on this illegal conduct?

In the case of ACLU v. NSA, District Court Judge Anna Taylor found that the spying program was unconstitutional and that it violated federal law.  She found that, in engaging in the illegal program, "[T]he separation of powers doctrine has been violated."

Some of the plaintiffs in that case are lawyers who felt professionally obliged not to communicate with their clients overseas because of the spying program.

In a 2-1 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversing Judge Taylor, the majority admitted that the conduct complained of is undisputed – that “the NSA (1) eavesdrops, (2) without warrants, (3) on international telephone and email communications . . .” (493 F.3d 644, 653 (6th Cir. 2007)   However, the majority found that because the plaintiffs were foreclosed by the state secrets doctrine from discovering if their communications had been subjected to government surveillance, they did not have standing to challenge the obviously illegal warrantless spying program.

The Bush administration’s strategy of blocking the courts from checking Executive abuses of power is being continued by the Obama administration.

A frightening reminder of just how far Congress has gone to permit the Executive Branch to invade freedoms most of us previously took for granted is the National Security Letter provision of the US PATRIOT Act.  That provision permits the FBI to compile vast dossiers about anyone, without any showing of any cause whatsoever, by obtaining all sorts of information we all assume is private.  If you have visited a web site, the FBI can obtain that information and the company providing it cannot tell you about it.  The FBI can also, without your knowledge, obtain a list of e-mail addresses with which you have corresponded, as well as business records and a list of books you have checked out from a library.  Between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued nearly 200,000 National Security Letters – all without a warrant and without any showing of probable cause.

As the Executive Branch has expanded its powers enormously, as Congress has not even whimpered in protest or, worse, actively participated, and as the courts have so often failed to provide a check on abuses of Executive power, our freedoms are severely diminished and our constitutional system of checks and balances is emasculated.

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Orwell was right. For us now: Freedom is Slavery; War is Peace; Ignorance is Strength.

At least we cannot maintain our claim to ignorance in the face of revelations, no matter how much we try. We have become "Good Americans."

Constitutionally speaking where is the fault? Answering that should provide where to look for a solution.

I maintain it is with Congress. True the President could change a lot, but human nature being what it is seems to like accumulating power more than reducing it.

Congress has the oversight authority. It has the power. It has gotten lost in the arguments and to an erroneous degree tried to assume the mantle of the Executive Branch. Congress in its slide into a contest both internally and externally for political power has abandoned its Constitutional duties.

When one looks at the circumstances that created the Church Hearings and the beneficial results it is obvious that the present circumstances point to an even greater need of a repeat. But politically that might jeopardize future election results, which seems to modernly be the prime consideration, and thus the nation is deprived of the "Freedom resuscitation" needed.

Unless the people vocally resist the Federal Governments modern and shamefully resorting to governance by fear. Unless the people in the next election forego personal political power considerations in favor of a "Freedom / Constitutional Renaissance" as with most things that are put off, it will be even harder when attempted later.

I say, "If you put up with it you deserve it."

As Thomas Paine said much more eloquently over 200 years ago, "THESE are the times that try men's souls."

It isn't just about searches now!

The IRS is not the only government agency targeting political dissidents/groups, as judicial Watch has revealed only one agency involved in the conspiracy to TARGET POLITICAL DISSISENTS AND GROUPS WITH CRIMINAL OPERATIONS.

I have been an activist since 9-11 and under government surveillance for political reasons since then.

Under Obamas' administration I have been targeted for burglaries, vandalism, and pet/torture and poisoning.

I have repeatedly FOIAed the FBI for my files (I started in 2005). They have repeatedly denied my FOIAs and appeals, as have other agencies.

Since 2011 I have been targeted for surveillance monitored burglaries and the local Sheriffs' Office has been protecting the agency and personnel involved in the burglaries.... They even went so far as to have me arrested and committed, and when the mental health facility released me they tried to put out another warrant for my arrest, which my public defender had quashed.

They have tried to keep me locked up and shut up to silence the truth about the agencies and personnel involved in targeting politically incorrect and vocal individuals.

These are hate crimes against politically targeted citizens.

Please help me find an attorney or law firm that will help stop these criminal activities which government agents are involved in.

My pet cat Jack was tortured in his blanket and I photographed the body fluid stains and bite and claw marks in his new velux blanket. These are the worst kind of criminals who hide behind badges in Federal Homeland Security Agencies and local law enforcement.

I need an attorney who can sue the FBI and Local Law Enforcement agencies (for providing protection for these criminal activities by government agents / personnel and involved in targeted harassment of victims).

There has already been at least one out of court settlement, in the Seattle area, according to one of my activist contacts, and a couple others have approached me and told me they have either been targeted or others they know of have.

I have mailed 11 tort claims, for 11 million dollars in damages, against the FBI yesterday (8/26/2014) for their invovlement in conspiracy, abuse of process, obstruction of justice, for refusing to release my FIOA information to coverup their involvement in targeted activist crimes.

They use an FOIA exemption to hide and coverup their criminal activities against targeted activists. I have attached a zip file of some of the most recents FBI FOIAs and foia denials.

Investigation of my case will prove that targeting activists and individuals traces back to the White House, as I hear one of the people involved in a phone conversation reveal this. The person I was listening to also said that "it would be in the courts for years"..... This is how information is kept from being revealed about these operations also, and gag orders are put on people in the agencies as well to prevent them from talking.

TRY TO FIND ANY CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION THAT WANTS TO STOP THEIR CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES WHICH THEY HIDE BEHIND FOIA CAUSES IN CONSPIRACY TO COVERUP THEIR CRIMES AND PREVENT THE RELEASE OF FIOA INFORMATION THAT WOULD PROVE WHO THE PERSONNEL AND AGENCIES INVOLVED ARE.

My cat, Jack, suffered terribly from their abuse/torture. I want nothing but justice, for Jacks' suffering, and to see these people in court and end their criminal activities with their incarceration.