Government’s “Secret Interpretation” of Patriot Act: “EVERYTHING” Is Relevant … So Spy on EVERYONE

Government’s Interpretation of Spying Turns 200 Years of American Law On Its Head

Senators Wyden and Udall – both on the Senate Intelligence Committee, with full access to information on the spying program – have said that for at least 2 years that the government was using a “secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act which would shock Americans, because it provides a breathtakingly wide program of spying. And see this.

Wyden and Udall said that they couldn’t reveal to the public – or even other members of Congress who lack top security clearance – what the secret interpretation is … and that most Congress members were totally ignorant about it.

The author of the Patriot Act and chairman on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner – says that the government has gone far beyond what the Patriot Act intended, and that the Act “was originally drafted to prevent data mining” on the scale that’s occurred.

A top NSA whistleblower told us that the secret interpretation is that the government spies on everyone.

The Wall Street Journal has just disclosed the specifics of the “secret interpretation”:

In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that “relevant” could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed, according to people familiar with the ruling.

“Relevant” has long been a broad standard, but the way the court is interpreting it, to mean, in effect, “everything,” is new, says Mark Eckenwiler, a senior counsel at Perkins Coie LLP who, until December, was the Justice Department’s primary authority on federal criminal surveillance law.


Two senators on the Intelligence Committee, Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Mark Udall (D., Colo.), have argued repeatedly that there was a “secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act. The senators’ offices tell the Journal that this new interpretation of the word “relevant” is what they meant.

Interpreting “relevant” as meaning “everything” throws more than 200 years of American law on its head … plus a couple hundred additional years of British common law on which early American law was based.   The most basic principle of evidence law is that only information actually relevant to the case can be admitted.

Moreover, top national security experts say that pretending that “everything” is “relevant” means that intelligence agencies will be swamped with useless information … which will make them less able to prevent terrorist attacks.

And the courts are providing no checks and balances on the spying program.

Update: The Washington Post has a good write-up on this issue.

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  • Eric Hodgdon

    “Government’s Interpretation of Spying Turns 200 Years of American Law On Its Head”
    What law?
    What government?
    Death to the federal government of the USA!

  • Tonto

    The reason for all the spying is not because of the “Patriot Act”. The Patriot Act is just a license to let the criminals in the government get in on all the spy-action.

    The reason for all the spying is the same reason cameras have been hidden in tens of thousands of high school girl’s locker rooms all across the country. It’s because spying provides a commodity that is valuable and ultimately also very profitable.

    Human nature strikes again. Science has facilitated human degradation yet again too.

    It’s like stripping prisoners naked. Why is it done? Because it can be done.

  • Greg Burton

    Isn’t it amazing what a false-flag attack (9/11), a few FBI/DOJ agent provocateur concocted terror plots, police state laws, passed in the dead of night, without review, can do to a constitutional republic?

  • Washington76

    Explosive Proof Boston Marathon Bombing a Staged Terror Attack

    By the way, I want to know when everybody started trusting the media out there?

    View pictures from the scene and the additional pic’s in this link! With over 4 million views. You do not want to pass these exclusive photos the media has kept hidden!

    The perp is the second picture down holding the backpack!

    Created 3 months ago 4,176,473 views

  • gozounlimited

    Oliver Stone on NSA spying: Do we control the government, or does it control us?

    Oliver Stone gives devastating testimony on why you need to care about your privacy from government. This is a MUST SEE video for anyone who thinks it’s not a big deal for the NSA to spy on Americans.

    • Washington76

      This one says all that needs to be said! Published on Aug 23, 2012

      William Binney is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying; A top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.

  • disqus_nvjc3M233o

    But WHY spy on everyone. That takes a lot of resources and manpower. Why go to all that trouble? When you know the people you are targeting are NOT criminals/terrorists. Perhaps to identify where the financial resources lie in the population and target anyone with any assets to plunder them? When people are rendered destitute they can’t oppose you so that is a political victory, and getting the money is nice too.