Losing Our Constitutional Rights One At A Time

Lately the First Amendment has been under attack at our colleges and universities. Speakers who do not hold views considered ‘acceptable’ are either disinvited or violently protested. However, there is another constitutional right that is also under attack–the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Yesterday a website called Circa posted an article about CIA Director John Brennan’s expected testimony before Congress today.

The article reminds us:

As former CIA Director John Brennan faces Congress anew on Tuesday, there is growing evidence the Agency he oversaw has become one of the largest consumers of unmasked intelligence about Americans even though its charter prohibits it from spying on U.S. citizens.

The CIA routinely searches data collected overseas on Americans by the National Security Agency, and frequently requests the names of intercepted U.S. persons to be unmasked, once-secret government documents reviewed by Circa show.

…Brennan himself was required last September to submit an affidavit to a court declaring he would keep his agency from abusing such expanded access to Americans’ private information.

Despite the declaration, there also is evidence that the CIA has broken its rules from time to time, a potential slight to Americans’ privacy protections, the documents show.

Last year, before leaving office, former President Obama relaxed the privacy rules protecting the privacy of Americans accidentally caught up in wiretaps of phone calls. Unfortunately, that policy change has been responsible for some of the leaks coming out of the Trump Administration. The unmasking of the names associated with those leaks was a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens.

The article explains:

But Circa reported earlier this spring that former President Barack Obama, Brennan’s boss, substantially loosened those privacy rules in 2011 allowing agencies like the CIA and FBI to more easily access unredacted intelligence on Americans. That led to a massive increase in both searches inside the NSAdatabase and the actual unmasking of Americans’ names in intelligence reports, and increased fears that such requests could be abused for political espionage.

Making a request can be as easy as saying a name is needed to understand a report.

In 2016, the NSA unmasked Americans‘ names in intelligence reports more than 1,900 times and was asked to do more than 35,000 searches of intercepted data for information on U.S. persons or their actual  intercepted conversations, according to data released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

The searches for Americans’ names in the NSA database last year amounted to a three-fold increase over 2013. Officials note that their procedures for making such requests have undergone repeated court approvals.

I don’t believe that the fact that the unmasking of Americans’ names increased dramatically during an election year is a coincidence. This is exactly what the people who opposed the Patriot Act feared. Although we need to be able to protect ourselves from attacks by terrorists, we also need to protect the rights of Americans. We have to remember what the Founding Fathers knew–not everyone elected to pubic office is an honest upstanding citizen who will abide by his or her oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. That is the reason we need to make sure our Constitutional protections remain in place.

 

Lied To Again

Honesty in Washington, D.C. seems to be non-existent. A lot of the things we were told during the Obama Administration have turned out to be simply not true.

Recently a news site called Circa reported that the statistics released by the Obama Administration showing the number of American citizens unmasked after being captured in accidental National Security Agency intercepts were inaccurate.

The article reports:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, now under new management with President Donald Trump, confirms that the 654 unmaskings reported last year for fiscal 2015 was underreported by a factor of more than three times. The correct number was actually 2,232.

…National intelligence officials say the 654 figure reported last year actually represented the number of times a government official had a request approved to unmask an American name and not the total number of U.S. persons’ identities that actually were unredacted after the fact in intelligence reports, as had been represented in last year’s report.

…But starting in 2011, former President Obama made it easier to access that information, essentially creating keys for intelligence professionals and even his own political aides to unlock the NSA’s lock box to consume surveillance on Americans.

Circa reported last week that since those changes, the number of requests to search NSA records for Americans’ information more than tripled under the former administration from about 10,000 in 2013 to more than 25,000 in 2016.

These numbers confirm the fears some Congressmen had about the Patriot Act. What we saw in the Obama Administration was the use of government agencies to spy on political opponents. Every person involved in this effort needs to be fired and sent to jail. This is totally unconstitutional.

This Is Not Incidental Data Collection

As I have listened to the Congressional hearings, I have heard the term ‘incidental data collection‘ mentioned as the reason there were transcripts of conversations between former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador. Well, that excuse is no longer valid. The Gateway Pundit posted an article today that included information from a whistleblower who Congressional investigators chose to ignore. I strongly suggest that you follow the link above to read the entire article. It is chilling to realize how seriously the rights of American citizens were breached and that people in high places chose to try to bury the information on the surveillance.

The article cites a letter from the whistleblower to Representative David Nunes from the General Council at Freedom Watch.

The article includes the following excerpt from the letter:

If these charges are true, and it sounds as if the whistleblower has the information to back them up, some of our highest government officials belong in jail. It truly is time to drain the swamp.

The Mainstream Media Is Still Reporting Fake News

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about the current discussion about wire taps at Trump Tower.

There are two major points in the article:

  1. There is one item of actual hard news: the House Intelligence Committee will investigate.

      2. Every time the AP mentions FISAgate, it includes this ritual defense of the Obama administration:

Trump has offered no evidence or details to support his claim, and Obama’s spokesman has denied it.

The AP’s statement is false. It is a classic instance of fake news. Barack Obama’s spokesman has not denied that “the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower last year.” He only denied that Barack Obama personally ordered such surveillance. But that isn’t the question. Presumably, the order to conduct surveillance came from Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice. But no one thinks that Lynch would have ordered the opposing presidential candidate’s telephones tapped, or his computers hacked, without her boss’s approval.

Zero Hedge posted an article yesterday that also sheds some light on the issue.

Zero Hedge reports:

The best example of this came from Ben Rhodes, a former senior adviser to President Obama in his role as deputy National Security Advisor, who slammed Trump’s accusation, insisting that “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” He also said “only a liar” could make the case, as Trump suggested, that Obama wire tapped Trump Tower ahead of the election.

It would appear, however, that Rhodes is wrong, especially as pertains to matters of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, and its associated FISA court, under which the alleged wiretap of Donald Trump would have been granted, as it pertained specifically to Trump’s alleged illicit interactions with Russian entities.

…But what is perhaps most important, is that we may know soon enough. As the NYT reported on Saturday afternoon, a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what the official described as a document issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing surveillance of Mr. Trump and his associates.

If and when such a document is made public – assuming it exists of course – it would be Trump, once again, that gets the last laugh.

Stay tuned. This is going to be an interesting story. However, it is becoming obvious that we cannot trust the mainstream media to report it honestly.