Even If Patriot Act Expires, Government Will Keep Spying On All Americans

Government Will Use “Secret Interpretations” to Get Around Legal Prohibitions

Mass surveillance under the Patriot Act is so awful that even its author says that the NSA has gone far beyond what the Act intended (and that the intelligence chiefs who said Americans aren’t being spied on should be prosecuted for perjury).

Specifically, the government is using a “secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act which allows the government to commit mass surveillance on every American.

So it’s a good thing that the Patriot Act may expire, but don’t get too excited …

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange said today:

Our sources say that the NSA is not too concerned, that it has secret interpretations of other authorities that give it much the same power that it would have had under the secret interpretation of 215 and other areas of the USA PATRIOT Act.

ZDNet agrees … and notes that Congress doesn’t even know about many of the government’s spying programs. And see this.

Indeed, the government now uses secret evidence, secret witnesses, secret interpretations, and even secret laws. See this and this.

High-level NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake told us:

It’s not rule of law. This secret law, secret rule, executive authoritarianism has saddled up again.

EFF notes:

Under international human rights law, secret “law” doesn’t even qualify as “law” at all.


***

This includes not just the law itself, but the judicial and executive interpretations of written laws because both of those are necessary to ensure that people have clear notice of what will trigger surveillance.

This is a basic and old legal requirement: it can be found in all of the founding human rights documents. It allows people the fundamental fairness of understanding when they can expect privacy from the government and when they cannot. It avoids the Kafkaesque situations in which people … cannot figure out what they did that resulted in government scrutiny, much less clear their names. And it ensures that government officials have actual limits to their discretion and that when those limits are crossed, redress is possible.

***

To bring the U.S. in line with international law, it must stop the process of developing secret law and ensure that all Americans, and indeed all people who may be subject to its surveillance have clear notice of when surveillance might occur.

Remember, the Nazis claimed – just like the NSA – that the truth was too complicated and dangerous to disclose to the public. That was B.S. then … and it’s B.S. today.

Constitutional and civil rights attorney John Whitehead writes:

It doesn’t matter who occupies the White House: the secret government with its secret agencies, secret budgets and secret programs won’t change. It will simply continue to operate in secret until some whistleblower comes along to momentarily pull back the curtain and we dutifully—and fleetingly—play the part of the outraged public, demanding accountability and rattling our cages, all the while bringing about little real reform.

Thus, the lesson of the NSA and its vast network of domestic spy partners is simply this: once you allow the government to start breaking the law, no matter how seemingly justifiable the reason, you relinquish the contract between you and the government which establishes that the government works for and obeys you, the citizen—the employer—the master.

Once the government starts operating outside the law, answerable to no one but itself, there’s no way to rein it back in, short of … doing away with the entire structure, because the corruption and lawlessness have become that pervasive.

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  • guest

    Since the end of WW11 the federal government has been hiding embarrassing information that has no bearing on national security by classifying such information. The federal judiciary’s attempts to appear impartial in judging these scams has been laughable. Even our own elected representatives in our useless, gutless congress are threatened with prosecution if they reveal anything they know about the multi thousand page Transpacific Economy, Sovereignty and Jobs Destruction Act because to do so would ” threaten” national security. There isn’t a federal judge in the country that hasn’t been cowed into accepting the irrational on a regular basis, perhaps in the hope of being elevated to an even higher court for good behavior. Today’s “elite” aren’t educated they’re trained.

  • Allot folks are not in the know!

    JUNE 10, 2013 NSA has been spying over every windows user before 9/11. They built backdoor in ‘All’ windows software by 1999.

    http://www.techworm.net/2013/06/nsa-built-back-door-in-microsofts-all.html

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  • SteveDave123

    >Once the government starts operating outside the law, answerable to no one but itself, there’s no way to rein it back in, short of … doing away with the entire structure, because the corruption and lawlessness have become that pervasive.

    Thats the key phrase right there. We The People have lost control of this behemoth of malfeasance and will be unable to reign it in, thus requiring the 2nd American Revolution.

  • 5 dancing shlomos

    burn the totalitarian act.

  • izraulhidashi

    Has anyone even stopped to consider there may be another reason for this attack on the patriot act? Why most of the same people once all for it, who send our american children to their deaths over it, who have it used it at every twist and turn to their own advantage, and now suddenly they have changed their minds about it? Does anyone actually remember why they claimed we absolutely needed it? The excuses they used only to do the exact opposite?

    An actual claim of “In order to protect US” was made… and so that’s why they needed to “spy on US”? And also… because the “outside” threat was and until a few months ago, supposedly still was, such an enormous grave threat to us here on the “inside”. So much so, that our children, our relatives, our friends, our fellow citizens, had no other choice but to go and fight this grave dangerous threat “to us”, just to “protect us”. How kind and unselfish of these people to think of “us” and “only us” to do all of these things “for us”.

    Protections for “us” means a lot to them. Like the protection of Glass-Steagall we had “for us” until it they no longer had the need for it. Why? Because it was suddenly an issue “for us” and “our” economy without it, would thrive and benefit “us”. And the minute it was repealed, they attacked “us” and damaged “our” economy, and continue today to steal from “us”. 14 million of “our” homes, have already been illegally stolen from “us” all because they care about “us”. “our” people died to protect “us” from grave dangerous outside terrorists, only to have grave dangerous inside terrorists “fuck us” right? It seems the only people helped was Banks. The same Banks who were caught and found guilty for funding outside terrorists, which makes them “terrorists” under ….wait for it. … THE PATRIOT ACT”.. and who are still are being allowed to continue stealing “our” homes, have not only escaped punishment, but after “our” children died to protect “us” have benefited and are being rewarded with “our” homes, for free.

    But now there’s only one real problem left for the Banks that puts them in danger… Anyone care to take a guess? Yeah! That’s right. Now they just suddenly care about our privacy rights after years of violating them, while these inside terrorists violate us in our own country.. our privacy is their concern.. Anyone care to bet that the privacy issues will be what doesn’t change with act? Who wants to play lets see what the actual changes are and who will only benefit …again?! Or maybe i’m just crazy and its all just another coincidence.. and this really is “JUST FOR US”

  • izraulhidashi

    Has anyone even stopped to consider there may be another reason for this attack on the patriot act? Why most of the same people once all for it, who send our American children to their deaths over it, and who have it used it at every twist and turn to their own advantage, now suddenly have changed their minds about it? Does anyone actually remember why we absolutely needed it? The excuses used only to do the exact opposite?

    An actual claim of “In order to protect US” was made… and so that is why they needed to “spy on US” right? And also… because an “outside” threat was, and until a few months ago, supposedly was still, an enormous grave threat to “us” here on the “inside”. So much so in fact, that our children, our relatives, our friends, our fellow citizens, had no choice but to go and fight this grave dangerous threat to “us” just so they could “protect us”. How kind and unselfish of these people to think of “us” and only “us”. To do all of these things “for us”.

    Protecting “us” means a lot to them. Like the protection of Glass-Steagall was “for us” until they no longer had a need for it. Why? Because suddenly it was an issue for “us” and “our” economy. And without it we could thrive and benefit. And not even one second after it was repealed, they attacked “us” and “our” economy was damaged, and its’ still being used today to steal from “us”. 14 million of “our” homes, have been illegally stolen from “us” already. All because they cared about “us” and “our” economy, and “our” protection. People had to die just to protect “us” from grave dangerous outside terrorists, only to have grave dangerous inside terrorists “fuck us” right? It seems the only people helped have been the real terrorists. The Banks. The same Banks who after being caught and found guilty for funding “outside terrorists”, which in fact makes them actual “terrorists” by legal definition, under ….

    … wait for it. … … “THE PATRIOT ACT”..

    but yet terrorists are still being allowed to continue stealing “our” homes. Why is that? And not only are they escaping without punishment, but benefiting too. Rewarded with “our” American homes. All after “our” Americans died, to protect “us”. And they get it all for free. No news mention of it. Paying fines with other peoples money acquired through criminal activity is not a fine, it’s a sharing of the profits disguised as a fine.

    But wait. Because there is one real problem left for Banks. And it’s the only one that actually puts them in real danger. Anyone care to take a guess what that is? Yeah!

    Of course suddenly they care about “our” privacy and rights. After years of violating them. Years of allowing inside terrorists to violate “us”, here, in “our” own country. Our privacy and rights are the real concern. Care to bet that privacy will be what doesn’t change with act? Who wants to play lets see what the actual changes are and who it will only and actually benefit… again?!

    Or maybe I’m just crazy and this too is all just more coincidence.. and really it is all “JUST FOR US”.

    and maybe no changes will be made to the domestic terrorism laws either,..right?