FBI Admits That Obeying The Constitution Just Takes Too Much Time

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While much of the news coverage of FBI Director Robert Mueller’s Congressional hearing this week focused on his admission that the FBI has used drones domestically, there were some other points raised, including his “defense” of the broad surveillance techniques that appears to amount to the idea that it just takes too long to obey the Constitution and go through the proper procedures before getting information:

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Mueller addressed a proposal to require telephone companies to retain calling logs for five years — the period the N.S.A. is keeping them — for investigators to consult, rather than allowing the government to collect and store them all. He cautioned that it would take time to subpoena the companies for numbers of interest and get the answers back.

“The point being that it will take an awful long time,” Mr. Mueller said.

Well, shucks. Having some amount of oversight, someone in a position to make sure that the data requested is legit would just take too long? It seems like Mueller maybe has been watching too many episodes of 24. First off, it does not take an “awful” long time. Law enforcement has regularly been able to go through legal processes to get a wiretap or subpoena other information very, very rapidly, especially when they make it clear it’s an emergency situation. But the fact is, it’s unlikely that most of these searches are such a timely emergency that they need the data now, and can’t wait an hour or so until an employee at the telco can retrieve it for them.

Mueller later made some outrageous claims about how long it would take the telcos to respond to a request for information following the standard procedures in an emergency.

“In this particular area, where you’re trying to prevent terrorist attacks, what you want is that information as to whether or not that number in Yemen is in contact with somebody in the United States almost instantaneously so you can prevent that attack,” he said. “You cannot wait three months, six months, a year to get that information, be able to collate it and put it together. Those are the concerns I have about an alternative way of handling this.”

Mr. Mueller did not explain why it would take so long for telephone companies to respond to a subpoena for calling data linked to a particular number, especially in a national security investigation.

He didn’t explain it because it wouldn’t take that long — especially with the telcos who generally have a cozy relationship with law enforcement and a “how high?” response to the “jump!” command from the government.

Yes, I’m sure it’s more convenient for the government to not have to wait an hour or so to get this info. And it’s more convenient not to have to wait for a telco employee to make sure the request is legit and to retrieve the info, but we don’t get rid of our Constitutional protections because of convenience for the surveillance state. The whole point of the rights of the public against such intrusions is that we, as a country, have made a conscious choice that surveillance over the population is not supposed to be convenient. It’s supposed to involve careful checks and balances to avoid abuse. It’s a shame that so many in our own government don’t seem to recognize this basic point.

Mueller also admitted that the goal is to collect as much data as possible to “connect the dots.”

“What concerns me is you never know which dot is going to be key,” he said. “What you want is as many dots as you can. If you close down a program like this, you are removing dots from the playing field,” he said. “Now, you know, it may make that decision that it’s not worth it. But let there be no mistake about it. There will be fewer dots out there to connect” in trying to prevent the next terrorist attack.

Again, this is an anti-Constitutional argument. It’s an argument that says any violation of privacy and civil liberties is okay if something collected might possibly be useful later. But that’s not how we’re supposed to do things in the US. We’re only supposed to allow law enforcement to collect the dots if there’s evidence that the dots show some law being broken. Furthermore, we’ve already seen that having lots of dots actually makes it harder to connect the dots. Since Mueller is one of the folks who has claimed that today’s system might have prevented 9/11, he ought to know that the 9/11 Commission never said that an absence of dots was the problem leading to the attack, but rather the failure of existing agencies to actually do anything with the dots/evidence they had. Collecting more dots doesn’t make you any more likely to connect them. In fact, it’s much more likely to send you on a wild goose chase — including some that will potentially infringe upon the rights of innocent people.

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Sen. Bob Corker Border Security Amendment Is So Tough It’s ‘Almost Overkill’

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Yeah, I bet it is Mr. Corker….

From the Tennessean, you might also like: Sen. Bob Corker emerges as key player on immigration reform

His claims are highly unlikely given that that Schumer has reportedly accepted his amendment and never would have if they were true.

Excerpted from The Hill: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Thursday his planned amendment to the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill is so tough on border security that it’s “almost overkill.”

“For people who are concerned about border security, once they see what’s in this bill, it’s almost overkill,” Corker said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”

“I think if that’s the issue that people have, I think everyone working together has come up with a way to deal with that issue, so I do hope that we can send it over to the House with some momentum.”

Senate negotiators reached a tentative agreement on Thursday on a “border surge plan” that would replace the border security plan in the Gang of Eight bill with tougher language.

Corker, who spearheaded the agreement with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) wouldn’t discuss the details of the agreement before its planned afternoon release, but said it should “meet the concerns” of those who worry the reform package does not focus enough on border security.

The agreement is a breakthrough in Senate negotiations on a comprehensive immigration reform deal that is in the critical final stages of debate. Senate proponents of the plan are hopeful the bill will get an overwhelming majority of support so that it has momentum as it heads to the House.

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Selling Obamacare in Tennessee: Enroll America brings campaign to Nashville

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Well even tho the Exchanges for Obamacare haven’t been set up by the Governor or the State, the federally funded exchanges will start this week in Nashville. According to State law ( Tennessee Healthcare Freedom Act), Tennesseans can’t be forced to buy Obamacare or pay the penalty tax for not purchasing it.

Also we have: Obamacare behind schedule as Oct. 1 rollout nears

With Oct. 1 less than four months away, the countdown for enrollment on the public health exchanges has officially started, including in Nashville, where a series of education events to drive enrollment on Tennessee’s federally run exchange is slated to kick-off this week.

The events, held in private homes across the city and surrounding suburbs, are sponsored by Enroll America, a national coalition that aims to increase participation in the Affordable Care Act.

The group, which has gotten press in recent weeks following reports that U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was fundraising on the group’s behalf, announced Tuesday that it is kicking off its “Get Covered America” enrollment campaign this week with events in 18 states, including Tennessee.

Davidson Country resident Jackie Shrago is hosting a launch event Thursday evening at her home on Woodmont Boulevard. Shrago got involved with Enroll America after the group sent out emails to people who might be interested in joining the campaign. Shrager is one of a handful of Middle Tennessee residents who will be hosting events.

“There are lots of people who have indicated that they are interested in helping with health care reform and want to get people involved,” said Shrago, who has been emailing and calling people to drive event attendance.

The night, which is meant to serve as an introduction to Enroll American and the task at hand, will kick off with a video from Enroll America about health care reform and the Get Covered campaign, followed by a discussion of what strategies to employ in Tennessee.

Between now and October, local volunteers like Shrago will concentrate on recruiting more volunteers, but come October, she said to expect tactics similar to campaign and voter registration drives, including tables set up at shopping centers and some door-to-door canvassing. The group is also reaching out to churches, community organizations and other civic groups to aid in the enrollment effort.

“The sooner we get people involved, the cheaper it becomes for all of us,” said Shrager. One group they may target are 18-35 year olds, a demographic that is crucial for keeping costs low in the exchanges. But the tactic here may be old-school – Shrago said they may reach out to mothers to tap their young adult children about enrolling in coverage.

Enroll America is one of the largest national groups tapping into the power of local grassroots to spur enrollment, but Nashville has its own home-grown groups as well.

Based in East Nashville, You’re Covered Nashville is a local grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of the law, targeting small business owners, the self-employed and part-time workers. The group hosts regular information sessions out in the community.

Last month, I spoke with Vanderbilt professor John Graves, who joined the economic analytics team at Enroll America, where he is helping to create a database that will help dictate enrollment messages and strategies based on various demographic data. In our conversation, he touched on the science that exchange failure or success relies on, getting the right mix of people enrolled:

“The challenge of the exchanges is getting a good mix of people. Some people will go and sign up right away, and in some sense, those are the people you don’t need to target because they will do it themselves. It’s really about getting the word out to people that there’s going to be coverage available outside of the workplace … people are constantly churning on and off of insurance coverage,” he said.

E.J. Boyer covers Nashville’s health care industry and legal affairs.

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Obama offends Catholics in the UK, says religious schools are divisive

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The Catholic media is up in arms over comments President Obama made during a speech while in Northern Ireland for the G8 summit. Obama made what is described as “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education,” in spite of the fact that it is considered “a critical component of the Church.”

Fr John Zuhlsdorf


In front of an audience of about 2,000 young people, including many Catholics, Obama claimed that Catholic education divides people and blocks peace, according to the Scottish Catholic Observer.

“If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” Obama said.

Catholic World News noted:

Ironically, President Obama made his comments just as Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a crowd in Scotland that religious education upholds the dignity of the human person. Archbishop Müller said that Catholic schools should promote “all that is good in the philosophies of societies and human culture.”

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf quoted the Observer’s article on Fr. Z’s blog and added:

Another example of what this man wants: total isolation of any religious values in the private sphere alone. Pres. Obama is working either to intimidate or legislate or even TAX religious freedom out of the public square.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a foreign visit to a Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn’t have madrasas.  Can you?

Did he when visiting, say, Israel, say “You Jews shouldn’t have synagogue schools and you muslims shouldn’t have mosque schools.”  I can’t remember.  Did he?

Each of the articles drew numerous public comments, most suggesting that Obama be more concerned about the public schools in the United States than their parochial schools, which are working just fine.

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Tennessee: College assignment flunks First Amendment by forcing students to promote professor’s views

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COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday on behalf of several Columbia State Community College students whose professor forced them to wear rainbow ribbons publicly supporting homosexual behavior in order to complete a class assignment.
“Colleges should be the marketplace of ideas, not environments where professors manipulate students into advancing particular political agendas,” said Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “The Constitution does not allow any government official to force another person to adopt or advocate a particular moral or political view. But this professor did just that with this assignment and thus clearly violated freedoms protected by the First Amendment.”
This spring, Linda Brunton, the lead faculty member in CSCC’s Psychology Department, required her students to wear Rainbow Coalition ribbons in support of homosexual behavior for at least one day. Students then had to observe public reaction and write a paper about how they were allegedly “discriminated against” while wearing the ribbons.
When several students objected to being forced to support conduct that violates their faith convictions, Brunton brushed aside their concerns, described their views as “ignorant and uneducated,” and explained that she hoped this assignment would cause them to change their beliefs. Regardless of their convictions, students had to express the views she mandated in order to receive class credit.
The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “for at least seven decades, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the government may not compel a citizen to say what he does not want to say.” The letter points out that the Supreme Court has specifically ruled that “the First Amendment protects the right of individuals…to refuse to foster…an idea they find morally objectionable.”
“College officials must respect their students’ constitutional freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Compelling students to utter government-approved ideas is not education, but an abuse of power. We hope Columbia State acknowledges this and ensures that its professors stop forcing any students to endorse views with which they disagree in order to receive a passing grade.”

Challenging Political Islam in Middle Tennessee

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Middle Tennessee is the epicenter of the American resistance to Islamization. Anti-sharia volunteers are thick on the ground in Nashville and its environs, and they are very Tennessee Freedom Coalitionvocal in effective in their work. The political class and the local media generally toe the multicultural/dhimmi line, but the grassroots has mobilized to resist the further encroachment of Islam in the area. Evangelical churches are particularly dedicated to informing people about the realities of political Islam.

A couple of weeks ago the Department of Justice and its Muslim Brotherhood front groups ran into unexpected resistance in Manchester at a public meeting discussing the need for suppressing speech that criticizes Islam. Tomorrow evening they are trying for a repeat performance, this time in Nashville. Dr. Bill Warner will be there, and readers who live in the Nashville area are encouraged to attend the event as backup for Dr. Warner.

The Tennessee Freedom Coalition just sent out this email about tomorrow night’s “interfaith” discussion.

On Thursday evening at Glendale Baptist Church, the Nashville-based interfaith group Family of Abraham is hosting a discussion entitled “Human Rights, Civil Liberties, and Religious Freedom.” The event begins at 7pm, is located at 1202 Glendale Lane, and is free of charge.

Blanche Cook, a Federal Prosecutor with the US Attorney General’s office will be speaking, followed by a panel discussion that includes local Muslim activist Remziya Suleyman of the American Center for Outreach and Hedy Weinberg of the ACLU of Tennessee.

This group has held interfaith events throughout the city of Nashville, each with considerable positive coverage by the Tennessean. Bill Warner of PoliticalIslam.com has long been speaking out about the dangers of radical Islam. He plans to attend the meeting on Thursday evening and silently hand out a flier to those in attendance. The content of the flier is included below. First, a message from Andy Miller, Chairman of the TFC:

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at an event in Dallas that Frank Gaffney Jr. set up with about 45-50 prominent business leaders about educating and working with State Legislators on issues regarding the Political Nature of Islam. At that event was a Pastor named Rafael Cruz… Yes, Senator Ted Cruz’ Father. After the event he and I talked for close to an hour and a half and he told me that one of if not the most irresponsible and dangerous groups leading folks astray regarding Islam’s Agenda were America’s Clergy. He specifically brought up the “Family of Abraham” Interfaith Events and made it clear to me that when a Pastor or Preacher knows so little about another religion’s tenets or its clearly stated agenda and professes that “We pray to the same God” or that “Allah and God” are one in the same that they are not only leading their flock dangerously astray but are actually delivering them into the hands of Evil.

I see Pastor Cruz as completely right and correct. I stand with him and will speak the same. Anyone that can so blindly and recklessly mislead so many is in some respects more dangerous than the Evil Ideology that they pretend to understand.

Strong Words? You bet. Read the Koran! Understand how it Works! But also the Sira and Hadiths… Read the “Reliance of the Traveller”! Know how abrogation works within the Koran. Understand what it is to be a Kafir and know that you are one.

But stop pretending that a Supremacist Ideology that sees us all as dirty, filthy subhumans that they can effectively do whatever they choose, including rob, rape and murder, has any interest in “Being a part of your Family”. Because he is compelled by “Allah” to either convert you or end your life. Sound like your God? Not mine, either.

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Closed Door Capital Hill Meeting: NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls

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We’re being told there has never been a court ruling against what the NSA  is doing. That is an outright lie. We haven’t heard about it because the ruling is “secret.”……Americans are being told that there’s no need to worry about the broad surveillance programs authorized by the controversial FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Yet a report from Wired this weekend paints a more disturbing picture: National Security Agency surveillance enabled by the FAA was found “unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment” by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “on at least one occasion.” The court also found that the government’s implementation of its authority under the statute had “circumvented the spirit of the law.” Despite these troubling rulings from a court notorious for its deference to intelligence agencies, Congress is so unconcerned that lawmakers don’t even want to know how many citizens have been caught up in the NSA’s vast and growing databases.

Cato.org / July 2012

This is very disturbing…The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said. “The perspective is that we’re trying to hide something, because we’ve done something wrong. We’re not.” Said NSA head Keith Alexander in the meetings with Congress last week, yet now we know in 2008 the “secret” FISA court ruled some of that they were doing unconstitutional. So excuse me Mr. Alexander, some of what your doing is wrong and the FISA court said so and I’m sure you know it. So don’t lie to us because it was a secret ruling and you don’t think we’ll find out about it.

National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.

Watch this video, as Senator Biden from 2006 directly refutes each point President Obama made about the NSA surveillance program at his news conference last week.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this article was published, saying: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.” Owens said he couldn’t comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview. (CNET had contacted Nadler for comment on Friday.)

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

Nadler’s initial statement appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”

There are serious “constitutional problems” with this approach, said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has litigated warrantless wiretapping cases. “It epitomizes the problem of secret laws.”

The NSA declined to comment to CNET. (This is unrelated to the disclosure that the NSA is currently collecting records of the metadata of all domestic Verizon calls, but not the actual contents of the conversations.)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the head of the House Intelligence committee, told CNN on Sunday that the NSA “is not listening to Americans’ phone calls” or monitoring their e-mails, and any statements to the contrary are “misinformation.” It would be “illegal” for the NSA to do that, Rogers said.

The Washington Post disclosed Saturday that the existence of a top-secret NSA program called NUCLEON, which “intercepts telephone calls and routes the spoken words” to a database. Top intelligence officials in the Obama administration, the Post said, “have resolutely refused to offer an estimate of the number of Americans whose calls or e-mails have thus made their way into content databases such as ­NUCLEON.”

Earlier reports have indicated that the NSA has the ability to record nearly all domestic and international phone calls — in case an analyst needed to access the recordings in the future. A Wired magazine article last year disclosed that the NSA has established “listening posts” that allow the agency to collect and sift through billions of phone calls through a massive new data center in Utah, “whether they originate within the country or overseas.” That includes not just metadata, but also the contents of the communications.

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