FISA And The Verizon Phone Scandal

Quite the shit storm is resulting from the reporting that the NSA is getting the phone records of every Verizon customer in the United States.

Wonder why I italicized that last bit?

Do you know that the court order they are touting came from a very special court that goes by the acronym FISA?

Do you know what FISA stands for? The court in question is named for this;

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978

See anything Domestic indicated in that title?

No?

Me neither.

I think a little history lesson is in order here to help frame why I think that not only is this whole program illegal as fuck in the first place, I think the legal fig leaf they are using to justify it is also way the fuck off base.
Take a moment and read the following that I got off Wikipedia, then I am going to dig a little deeper into the actual guidelines and parameters that the FISA court is constrained by and then I will let you make your own judgment call on this.
flag-on-the-play

First, the back ground of where FISA originated and why.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was introduced on May 18, 1977, by Senator Ted Kennedy and was signed into law by President Carter in 1978. The bill was cosponsored by the nine Senators: Birch Bayh, James O. Eastland, Jake Garn, Walter Huddleston, Daniel Inouye, Charles Mathias, John L. McClellan, Gaylord Nelson, and Strom Thurmond.

The FISA resulted from extensive investigations by Senate Committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. These investigations were led separately by Sam Ervin and Frank Church in 1978 as a response to President Richard Nixon’s usage of federal resources to spy on political and activist groups, which violates the Fourth Amendment.[4] The act was created to provide Judicial and congressional oversight of the government’s covert surveillance activities of foreign entities and individuals in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy needed to protect national security. It allowed surveillance, without court order, within the United States for up to one year unless the “surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party”. If a United States person is involved, judicial authorization was required within 72 hours after surveillance begins.

My emphasis.

That’s right, they could tap your phone for 3 days before they had to get a warrant.BUT, the original intent was focused on FOREIGN individuals or Foreign governments suspected of terrorist activities and United States citizens were very specifically provided special considerations.
The warrants were actually so rarely denied it was almost a gimmee when asked for and the rate of requests skyrocketed after a few years.

The FISA act was amended several times but it was always centered on foreign suspects.

Let me skip over a bunch of what I was going to point out here, if you want to be more well informed yourself, please take several minutes and go read the whole Wikipedia entry, there is a lot of information there that most folks do not know even exists.

Right now I am going to just go straight for the jugular and quote the Wikipedia entry directly and point out this is why I call Bullshit on their flimsy excuse that they have a court order forcing Verizon and I’m sure all the rest of the Telco’s to comply with their blanket wiretapping of United States citizens.

With a court order

Alternatively, the government may seek a court order permitting the surveillance using the FISA court.[20] Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a “foreign power” or an “agent of a foreign power”, and that the places at which surveillance is requested is used or will be used by that foreign power or its agent. In addition, the court must find that the proposed surveillance meet certain “minimization requirements” for information pertaining to U.S. persons.[21]

There it is in Black and White.

There is a word for this kind of government activity that people get real squeamish when they hear used in this country and that word is Despotism.

des·pot·ism (dsp-tzm)
n.
1. Rule by or as if by a despot; absolute power or authority.
2. The actions of a despot; tyranny.
3.
a. A government or political system in which the ruler exercises absolute power: “Kerensky has a place in history, of a brief interlude between despotisms” (William Safire).
b. A state so ruled.

The orders to carry out these acts had to be authorized at the highest levels of government as it directly affects national security.

I do not want to hear the words, I was unaware or I didn’t know come from the leader of this country about this because you and I both know damned good and well this had to have Presidential authority.

I’m sure this was discussed and vetted at Cabinet level and it sounds eerily familiar to the Bush Cabals hunting for a legal precedent of any kind possible to justify torture, except this time it was to spy on virtually every citizen of this country.

This administration has crossed a big line in the sand and stood up on their hind legs and dared anyone to question their authority.

I do believe they will get that wish.

This issue is sure as hell not going to go away and I can see multiple legal challenges on the horizon concerning this matter.

I have zero hope that it will be successfully challenged though as I feel that the Third Branch of our government, The Judiciary, has been completely compromised and has lost it’s adherence to it’s original reason to exist.

Impartial observance of facts and sound legal judgment using the original framework provided by the Constitution.

Sounds kind of Old Fashioned when it is put in that way but it was meant to stand the test of time.

Unfortunately it has failed miserably to do that.
judge_arse

The fact that the FISA court was used in a back door move to justify this egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment just underscores the lack of integrity and independent thought combined with an unwillingness to stand up to a runaway government that has been so much on display from other court districts throughout our country, including and especially our Supreme Court.

If you can’t extrapolate what is being reported far enough ahead to imagine what we are not hearing about then you need to go back to mowing the lawn,

with your teeth.
grazing-sheep

Cross posted at The Vulgar Curmudgeon.

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