Congress this week quietly passed a bill that may give unprecedented legal authority to the government's warrantless surveillance powers, despite a last-minute effort by Rep. Justin Amash to kill the bill.In the Digital Age, there is no way to insulate oneself completely from such intrusion on the part of the Surveillance State. To some extent, technology owns each one of us. Just try to get through one day without using the technology upon which we depend — whether or not we want or seek that dependence.
The provision in question is "one of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative," Amash wrote on his Facebook page. The tea-party libertarian, who teamed up with Rep. John Conyers in an almost-successful bid to defund the National Security Agency in the wake of the Snowden revelations, warned that the provision "grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American."
The measure already passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Tuesday, and it is now on its way to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it.
The objections from Amash and others arose from language in the bill's Section 309, which includes a phrase to allow for "the acquisition, retention, and dissemination" of U.S. phone and Internet data. That passage will give unprecedented statutory authority to allow for the surveillance of private communications that currently exists only under a decades-old presidential decree, known as Executive Order 12333....
Monday, December 15, 2014
The Surveillance State