1. You may think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says it’s worse than you’ve heard.
Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself — entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a “dragnet” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”
Read the rest of the article here: There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says
2. What are these so-called "controversial" changes to the post-9/11 act -- which expanded governmental search powers -- that Paul wants?
"Controversial" things like requiring the government seek a judge's approval before conducting a search of someone's credit cards, emails, library books, bank statements, and business records or conducting a "roving wiretap," and requiring the government to actually come up with probable cause before searching such records or executing such wiretaps.
Where did Paul get the notion for these "controversial" demands? The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Read the rest of the article here: Can Rand Paul single-handedly cause the Patriot Act to lapse?
4. Several days ago I noted that Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell had agreed to a four-year extension of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act -- a bill Democrats everywhere once claimed to revile -- without a single reform (despite the long and documented history of its abuse and despite Obama's previously claimed desire to reform it). Tonight, a cloture vote was taken in the Senate on the four-year extension and it passed by a vote of 74-8. The law that was once the symbolic shorthand for evil Bush/Cheney post-9/11 radicalism just received a vote in favor of its four-year, reform-free extension by a vote of 74-8: only resolutions to support Israel command more lopsided majorities.
Read the rest of the article here: The Patriot Act and bipartisanship
5. That’s just the beginning. Once Congress scores an indictment against a political opponent, the Justice Department can force Defense attorneys to undergo protracted security clearances, while the whistle blower cum defendant waits in prison— usually in solitary confinement or the SHU. After the security clearance, prosecutors have an ironclad right to bar attorneys from communicating communications from the prosecution to the defendant, on threat of disbarment, stiff fines or prison sentence.
Scared yet? Once you get to trial, the situation gets much worse. The Patriot Act declares that a prosecutor has no obligation to show evidence of criminal activity to a jury at all. And the Defense can be denied the right to argue a rebuttal to those secret charges, because it requires speculation that might mislead the jury—or might expose issues that the government considers, well, secret.
Read the rest of the article here: The Patriot Act: When Truth Becomes Treason
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