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.

The Story vs. The Spin

Yesterday The Washington Post reported some interesting information about the allegations that President Obama used electronic surveillance on President Trump’s campaign and transition team. I seriously wonder if anything will come of this, but I believe we have a smoking gun.

The article reports:

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

I would like someone to explain to me how the Russian government could swing the election in Trump’s favor. The investigation into any Russian involvement in the Trump campaign is nothing more than a smoke screen for the illegal surveillance done by the Obama Administration.

The New York Post reported yesterday:

In what the paper (The Washington Post) described as a lengthy declaration, the government said Page “engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.”

The application was submitted in July and the ensuing 90-day warrant has been renewed at least once, the paper reported.

The government agencies are trying to determine whether Page or any other members of the Trump campaign had improper contacts Russian agents as the Kremlin sought to influence the presidential election.

Page told the paper that he was just a target in a political hit campaign.

“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page told The Washington Post Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.”

This makes Watergate look like amateur hour. People went to jail because of the Watergate break-in. People should go to jail for the surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. What was done was unconstitutional and a violation of the civil rights of the people under surveillance. The leaking of this information with the names unmasked was also a violation of the law. If no one is held accountable, then the precedent is set that unwarranted surveillance of American citizens and releasing the information is acceptable.

 

The Lynch Pin That Connects The Scandals

American Lens posted an article today that reminds us why we need to drain the swamp.

The article states:

Loretta Lynch is the only Attorney General in American history to invoke her Fifth Amendment privileges in her appearance before Congress in October 2016 about the $1.7 billion dollar Iran ransom payments.

It is her constitutional right to assert that privilege, as it is for all Americans. However, it dramatically increased the already toxic environment between the Obama Justice Department and Congress and left serious concerns in the air about her actions surrounding the $1.7 billion in cash payments to a hostile terrorist regime.

Invoking the Fifth Amendment does not immediately make her guilty of anything, but she is the first Attorney General to do so.

The article explains:

Under Federal Law, 50 U.S. Code § 1805 (a) (1), the Attorney General must approve the application for the warrant before it goes to a judicial panel in a FISA court.

A FISA order is used to collect information on a foreign entity when there is no other normal means available to gather the information – 50 U.S. Code § 1805 (6)(c).

According to the law there must be credible evidence that demonstrates, “each of the facilities at which surveillance directed is being used or about to be used by foreign power or agent thereof .” That could mean trouble for President Trump.

If the FISA standards were upheld, it could mean that there were at least two intelligence indicators that Trump’s equipment or personnel were about to act as foreign agents.
However, with the revelation that General Flynn was a confidant of the Turkish regime and had been in contact with the Russian foreign minister, these would likely be the indicators that could have been or were used as part of the FISA affidavit.

But, as we have previously reported, there is at least one cooperating witness in the tap of Trump tower during his presidential campaign.

Stated another way, someone in the Obama/Lynch Justice Department swore under penalty of perjury that they had evidence that Trump Tower was being used by a foreign power during the presidential campaign and/or that there was reasonable suspicion that Trump or one of his associates at the tower was about to be a secret foreign agent.

Obviously, we do not yet know all the details of the FISA request, but it appears that the Democratic Party’s opposition research team definitely got out of hand. This wiretap is different from Watergate in that government agencies were used against an opponent of the opposite party. In Watergate, it was a Republican campaign committee–the government was not involved in the actual burglary, and when the guilty parties attempted to bring in the government, the scandal was uncovered and people went to jail. This is a much more serious breach of the trust of the American people–we expect those in office to follow the laws of the land–not break for their own personal gain.

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.

Establishing Our Rights Through The Courts

The courts were not meant to be the all-powerful entity they have morphed into, but as long as the courts have assumed that role, we ought to be able to use them to protect our rights as citizens. A number of organizations have figured this out.

Yesterday the Daily Caller reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) have filed a lawsuit against the government calling for the end of the NSA domestic phone surveillance program. The lawsuit, ACLU v Clapper, argues that the surveillance program is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and exceeds the Patriot Act. The article states that both the ACLU and NYCLU were customers of Verizon Business Network Services, which had been required to hand over on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ domestic phone records by a routinely renewed order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The article reports:

A class action suit already in place against the U.S. government for the NSA’s routine collection is expected to be amended Wednesday to include the Internet companies alleged to have partnered with the NSA regarding a secret Internet surveillance program, reported U.S. News & World Report.

The accused Internet companies — AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo! and YouTube — have all denied any knowledge or  the program.

I don’t have a problem with monitoring calls from and to Americans from out of the country, but it does seem a bit much to put all Americans under telephone surveillance.

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