The quiet process of reauthorizing the Star Chamber, the FISA court, has begun
FISA, Star Chamber, FISA Court, FISA Re-authorization
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Yesterday, October 4th, 2017, the GOP-Controlled US House began to circulate a draft of FISA Section 702 Reauthorization. As part of the proposed legislation (You can read it here- FISA), the bill will give the state “permission” to gather intelligence information from US Persons, which includes both “citizens” and legal permanent residents, as well as store that intelligence information for 90 days.
Of course, how exactly anyone knows that the government is actually getting rid of this data is a mystery. Even if the government can document how it purged data in one place, the very nature of digital storage means that it will not be terribly difficult for the government to create secret copies beyond the purview of whatever inspector general is assigned to assure the ‘laws’ are being followed by the state bureaucracy.
Now, even that token restraint is given a giant walk-around. The bill allows for the director of the NSA to go ahead and ignore that 90 day restriction on data storage if the director deems that waiving the restriction is “necessary to protect the national security.”
Of course, that’s a very precise sentence and there’s not a lot of wiggle room in that phrasing, at all. If you are a connoisseur of sarcasm, you probably noted a healthy dose of it in that last sentence.
Lest you think these Republicans, who love to laud themselves as Constitutionalists strictly adhering to muh Bill of Rights, aren’t prepared to give you some more freedoms, the bill does create some extra paperwork for the NSA when they decide to execute this waiver to store data past the 90 days. So we got that going for us.
Other exciting provisions in this bill include assuring that any effort to determine how many innocent Americans were swept up in a FISA warrant, with their fourth amendment rights being violated, would easily be rebuffed with the claim that coming up with such numbers is simply “not achievable.” Ah, the magic words of evading that Constitution.
Lest you be concerned that the Federal government could face some accountability if it were shown that it were lying in a FISA court proceeding, the bill offers assurance to Federal agents that they need not be concerned with such trivial matters. The bill protects them from any further scrutiny or consequence.
What you end up with is a re authorization of what essentially amounts to Star Chambers where “citizens” are subject to scrutiny on their activity based on the nebulous and general claim that their activities could potentially be a ‘security risk’ to the state.
What you end up with is a reauthorization of what essentially amounts to Star Chambers where “citizens” can be assured that private data, nebulously collected, could very well be preserved for years, just sitting behind the incompetent firewalls of government, vulnerable to hack attacks, vulnerable to insider hack attacks for political reasons.
What you end up with is a reauthorization of what essentially amounts to Star Chambers where “citizens” can be assured that they could easily become the target of a FISA warrant through intentional lies told by agents to FISA judges, and the agents who lie will do so with no fear whatsoever of being held accountable for doing so.
All in all, it sounds like a typical day on Capitol Hill, which is not a good day for anyone else.