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Old 05-25-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
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Default Senate moves Patriot Act toward extension

AP - Squeezed against a deadline, the Senate late Wednesday moved past a standoff over a four-year extension of the anti-terror Patriot Act before part of it expire.

Senate moves Patriot Act toward extension
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Old 06-11-2013, 01:00 AM   #2
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EFF wants Patriot Act revised...

Patriot Act erodes privacy rights, advocates charge
June 10, 2013 > The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling on Congress to establish a 21st-century version of the Church Committee to curtail the government's collection of ordinary Americans' credit card, telephone and Internet records.
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"The parallels between the 1970s and today are unmistakable," said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney of the San Francisco-based, nonprofit foundation. "Then as now, we see a massive surveillance program of electronic communication. "Back then, you had telegrams and telephones. Today, you have cellphones and computers," he said. "The result has been the same -- the growth of a secret surveillance state that must be cut back."

Sen. Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat, chaired the select bipartisan committee that was developed as Washington recovered from the Watergate scandals that rocked President Nixon's administration. The committee's 1975 investigations uncovered a long list of federal spying and dirty tricks during the Cold War against the Soviet Union that raked in domestic civil rights groups, draft protesters, political parties and tens of thousands of ordinary Americans.

Armed with the findings, Congress passed laws during the next three years to rein in the power of federal law enforcement, military, tax collection and espionage agencies. Critics say those protections eroded after 9/11 and twin wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Case in point is the key law born from the Church Committee's findings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or FISA. Designed to regulate how and when a federal agency could eavesdrop on American citizens communicating with foreign powers during the Cold War, FISA's court convened in secret but required agencies to obtain warrants from its judges before snooping.

The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and later amendments transformed FISA into a toothless tiger when it comes to protecting privacy, critics claim. They say its court rubber-stamps requests that other federal magistrates would toss out. No citizen can appear to challenge the court's decrees, and mandatory gag orders prevent discussions of rulings when they're issued. FISA judges approved all 1,856 warrants the Department of Justice requested in 2012, with the government withdrawing only one application. The judges modified 40 more, according to its annual report.

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US spy programs raise ire both home and abroad
Jun 10,`13 WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration faced fresh anger Monday at home and abroad over U.S. spy programs that track phone and Internet messages around the world in the hope of thwarting terrorist threats. But a senior intelligence official said there are no plans to end the secretive surveillance systems.
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The programs causing the global uproar were revealed by Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden, whose identity was revealed at his own request, has fled to Hong Kong in hopes of escaping criminal charges. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee and supports the surveillance, accused Snowden of committing an "act of treason" and said he should be prosecuted.

Coolly but firmly, officials in Germany and the European Union issued complaints over two National Security Agency programs that target suspicious foreign messages - potentially including phone numbers, email, images, video and other online communications transmitted through U.S. providers. The chief British diplomat felt it necessary to try to assure Parliament that the spy programs do not encroach on U.K. privacy laws.

And in Washington, members of Congress said they would take a new look at potential ways to keep the U.S. safe from terror attacks without giving up privacy protections that critics charge are at risk with the government's current authority to broadly sweep up personal communications. "There's very little trust in the government, and that's for good reason," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. "We're our own worst enemy."

Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was considering how Congress could limit the amount of data spy agencies seize from telephone and Internet companies - including restricting the information to be released only on an as-needed basis. "It's a little unsettling to have this massive data in the government's possession," King said.

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