“One of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.”
The Free Thought Project, By Jay Syrmopoulos, December 11
Washington, DC – In a sneak attack on the civil liberties of all Americans, the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015 was rushed to the House floor with a dangerous Senate amendment added to section 309 with virtually no debate.
The legislation was scheduled for only a “voice vote,” which means that it is simply declared “passed” with voice votes and no record.
This is considered the simplest and quickest voting method, not what one would expect from such an important piece of legislation. For most pieces of major legislation, a roll call vote would be the standard operating procedure.
Thankfully, Representative Justin Amash, when catching wind of what was transpiring, went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote so that everyone would have to have their vote recorded.
The fact that this important piece of legislation was handled in this way indicates that this was done intentionally to sneak it past the public eye. It becomes even more suspicious when you realize that it was done concurrently with the CIA torture report being released and the Gruber hearing.
EFF: EFF Statement on the 2015 Intelligence Authorization Bill
Congress.gov: H.R.4681 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 – this site indicates that this bill has become law…
Sec. 309) Requires each element of the intelligence community to adopt Attorney General-approved procedures for any intelligence collection activity not otherwise authorized by court order or subpoena that is reasonably anticipated to result in the acquisition of nonpublic telephone or electronic communications to or from a U.S. person, including communications in electronic storage, without the consent of a person who is a party to the communication.
Requires the procedures to permit acquisition, retention, and dissemination of such communications but prohibit retention in excess of five years unless:
- the communication constitutes, or is necessary to understand or assess, foreign intelligence or counterintelligence;
- the communication constitutes evidence of a crime and is retained by a law enforcement agency;
- the communication is enciphered or reasonably believed to have a secret meaning;
- all parties to the communication are reasonably believed to be non-U.S. persons;
- retention is necessary to protect against an imminent threat to human life (in which case the information must be reported to Congress within 30 days of the date such retention is extended) or for technical assurance or compliance purposes, including a court order or discovery obligation (in which case the information must be reported to Congress annually); or
- the head of an element of the intelligence community approves retention for a period in excess of five years if necessary to protect U.S. national security.
Requires the head of an element approving retention in excess of five years for national security purposes to certify to Congress: (1) the reasons extended retention is necessary to protect U.S. national security, (2) the duration of the retention, (3) the particular information to be retained, and (4) the measures being taken to protect the privacy interests of U.S. persons or persons located inside the United States.
Telesur: US Lawmakers Pass Spending Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown
Another controversial aspect of the bill was that it failed to include a Senate Defense Appropriations panel measure that would have required the National Security Agency to report to Congress on its bulk phone metadata program.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Reps also approved a separate policy bill called the “Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015,” for U.S. spy agencies on Wednesday, which permits “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of Americans’ communications without a court order or subpoena.
Carefully buried in the law is “a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process,” (Rep.) Justin Amash told lawmakers.
“It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American,” Amash explains.
Network World: Congress gave feds the gift of constitutional spying on Americans’ communications