Big Government, Communications, Corruption, Crime, Issues

Senate one vote away from warrantless searches by FBI of Internet browsing history

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The Senate is one vote away from voting away the Fourth Amendment. In a 58 to 38 vote, a Senate amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 failed which would have allowed the FBI to conduct warrantless surveillance searches on individual’s Internet browsing history for national security purposes.

The bill proposed by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack in Orlando, Fla. is a large step in expanding the surveillance power of FBI in order to obtain records such as email addresses, telephone numbers, account numbers, login history, payment sources including any card or bank account information, and local and long distance toll billing records.

The purpose of the bill writes that “the government may obtain a specific set of electronic communication transactional records under the section, and to make permanent the authority for individual terrorists to be treated as agents of foreign powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.”

The amendment would permit the use of National Security Letters to force companies turn over data regarding individual’s activity without a court order in the interest of national security against terror, and then impose a gag order on those companies.

Without judicial oversight, these are warrantless searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment — and companies won’t even be able to tell anyone about it, being forced into complete silence on the issue.

Both the Nays and the Yeas pulled significantly from both sides of the aisle. With Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as just a few of the Democrats joining Republicans in favor of the legislation.

Conversely, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) joined a majority of Democrats opposing the legislation.

However, the “no” vote is not worth celebrating just yet, as surprises in the Senate will be keeping the legislation relevant. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) originally voted “yes”, but switched his vote to a “no” in order to allow himself to bring the issue up for reconsideration in the near future, which could happen this week.

Senators who were clearly expected to vote against the legislation also surprised the Senate. U.S. News reports that the “yes” from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) came as a shock although the report left open the possibility of a change if brought up for reconsideration.

Key issues like this amendment surpass party lines and dive into a deeper constitutional question of security versus freedom, luckily this time enough senators refused to let fear govern. The Fourth Amendment states warrants can only issue upon a finding of probable cause by a judge, and that there can be no unreasonable searches. Getting somebody’s Internet browser history without a court order where there has been no finding of probable cause that a crime has been committed is an egregious violation of privacy rights.

Moreover, there is no suggestion that having the FBI troll through Internet viewing habits might have somehow prevented the shooting in Orlando.

While the House is already out of session for the holiday weekend, the Senate still has another week of action. Meaning, this vote could come up again soon as the American people prepare to celebrate Independence Day. Could there be any greater insult? While we celebrate what little freedom we have left, mass surveillance advocates waste little time in abridging our rights.

This is a guest post by Natalia Castro contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.
  • Roy Clingenpeel

    I am as concerned about security as any American should be. There are million of service member past and present that have given their lives for that security and our freedom. The constitution insured our freedom, the president is tasked with our security and safety. Americans are not ready and should never be ready to give up our freedom to a central government that is as corrupt today as and other world power. For congress to freely put us in the hands of that corruption is to totally remove the most valuable asset every American cherishes. Many of us veterans have given a lifetime and many their lives to insure that our families and this country remains free from any tyrannical government foreign and domestic wishing to enslave us by removing one of our freedoms we so earnestly have earned starting in 1776 with a Declaration of Independence and the subsequent Constitution and wars to preserve it words and the freedom it declared and mandated. Political appointees and 5heir leadership are able to twist laws into anything nonsensical documents subjects they wish to do or convey, lawful or unlawful as we a currently feeling the effects of. Congress do your jobs to ensure that the Executive and its lackeys does nothing to infringe upon our safety and freedom from oppression.

    • RLTMLT

      An all too appropriate post considering the coming national holiday that celebrates our founding principles. Thank you for your service to our country !

  • RLTMLT

    ‘Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either.’
    Benjamin Franklin
    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,”
    Samuel Johnson
    The above quotes are two of many that question the wisdom of tightening the noose to the point of becoming a virtual police state ! Did we learn anything from the actions taken by the leadership that took control of 1930s/1940s Germany ? No surprise that these requirements are being pursued by an old time Neocon War Horse like McCain who envisions a fully operational surveillance state as the only viable course ! Thank God for our Constitution and the wisdom of our founding fathers that continues to protect our basic freedoms despite the constant allure for Empire !

    • donald540

      This is WHY we have history taught to us a children so we KNOW what happens when we LOOSE our FREEDOMS for what we are TOLD to be more safe.
      History showed us what happens when Hitler told Germans he needed the power to keep them safe just before he tried to take over the world be making Germany his army to conquer an ever increasing area of the world to keep Germany safe.

      • Susan P

        Sadly, since Jimmy Carter signed the bill creating the federal Dept. of Education in 1976, our public education has gone steadily downhill. My adult grandchildren, who were all born in or after 1991 and all have above average IQ’s, did NOT learn anything from history in their public education. In fact, I am not sure they were ever offered a class in American history. When I was educated such classes were mandatory.

        Along with all the other problems in D.C., we need to abolish the federal Dept. of Education and put control of our schools back in the hands of the states and local school boards. Education is NOT given to the federal government in the Constitution.

        • donald540

          I was talking about myself because that is what I was TAUGHT when I was in school so many DECADES ago.

          • Susan P

            I already had you figured as someone who got a “real” education; not the “dumbed down”, mind numbing propaganda our grandchildren have drilled into their heads via rote memorization of the “party” line.

          • Robert

            Susan P
            If you made the schools local again then we would end up with the same thing we had in the 50s, being taught the things the local controllers wanted you to learn and their politics. a few chosen ones would get all the attention because they were going to college, and the rest to work in a factory. I was not one of the chosen one’s but I went on o get Masters degree in Electrical Engineering and served 26 years in the intelligence for the USA then 6 years before I retired me and some friends started a company for 29 more years,which grew to 700 employees before it was sold in 1995.
            I can tell you first hand that the history i learned in School a d College has done me nothing in making decisions in life or Politics.
            I know a lot of history because it facinates me and I read all i can about history from 1066 up until now, to do with Europe and the US.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

      • Robert

        donald540
        You have some good points but Hitler got control over the people by putting then to work after a terrible depression. He started industry and got food on the table and got the country running again and the people thought Hitler would never betray them. He never asked the people for the power, once he was popular he just got everything he wanted done because in most Germans eyes he was a god.
        Once the Government gets this country down to that state then the same thing could happen here in the same way.
        HAVE A GOOD DAY

        • donald540

          Maybe Hitler did not actually ask directly for his power but he got it all the same and tried to take over the world, just one country at a time.

          • Robert

            donal540
            I am sure the safeguards in this country make that is near impossible, I did say near because I have never believed that something was impossible, maybe improbable.
            Hitler and Roosevelt did exactly the same thing if you read history. Put the people to work and made them feel content.
            Hitler just went to far because there were no laws in place like we had here to stop Hitler until he took over the country
            Roosevelt would have stayed in power another 12 years if he had not had laws passed to prevent it and he died of course.
            HAVE A NICE DAY.

          • donald540

            Our LIAR-in-CHIEF has BYPASSED our constitution and MADE his OWN laws by calling them regulations by executive actions.

          • Robert

            donald540
            Just tell me how the President can BY-Pass Congress when they are the one’s who get the President to write the Executive Orders and Executive Memorandums. How can you by-pass some one that originated the order.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

          • donald540

            Because the congress did NOTHING to STOP him from doing it and did NOTHING to even slow him down to just SMALL orders that do not affect the entire country
            Have you NOT read the papers and heard the news reports about ALL of the LAWS he has passed by executive orders that should have gone through congress?
            He justified using executive orders by the EXCUSE the HE SAYS the congress will not pass laws that he SAYS he wants passed because they are dead locked and do NOTHING.

          • Robert

            donald540
            I am not a Liberal or Conservative, I am a factualist, I deal on facts not emotions like the few loud mouth politician try to stir up like Trump does He knows his Ideas are not supported by the Majority of his own Party let alone the majority of Americans.He tries to drum up hate to get the people agitated to support him. When the Majority of his own party are deserting him, the Republican Party knows you can not do anything with a Baseball Bat, it is Negotiations in Congress that gets thing done, and always has been.
            I have tried to explain it to you as plain as I know how, but I will explain it one more time.
            Obama does nothing unless the MAJORITY of CONGRESS tells him he can. ts forget about Obama. When Bush was President, and the Republicans in Congress wanted something done, they went to the President who was Bush as the time, and told him they wanted him to issue an Executive Order, then Bush would send Cheeney to talk to th Congress to see if there was majority support for the Executive Order, if there was not Majority support then they tweaked he Executive Order so that it had Majority support in Congress and then it was issued, If you open the link you will see that as of 31 Dec 2015 Bush had issued more Executive Orders than Obama.
            Every President since Roosevelt has used EOs to get things done that were hung up in Congress.
            The EO about illegal aliens is fully supported by the majority of Congress and the Majority of Citizens of the US. Here is a link read it. http://www.gallup.com/poll/184577/favor-path-citizenship-illegal-immigrants.aspx
            There are a few Politicians who kick up a lot of noise but are not supported by the Majority and this country was founded on majority rule.
            HAVE A NICE DAY

          • donald540

            LOOK I KNOW that is how it SHOULD be working but it is NOT how our LIAR-in-CHIEF is doing things
            Why can YOU NOT SEE what he is doing things HIS WAY even if it is NOT the way it should be working or how it should work.
            Our DO NOTHING congress are NOT doing their job to limit what our LIAR-in-CHIEF to the limits that the constitution says he can do.

          • Robert

            donald540
            You can hate Obama and call him all the names You want but he can not do anything unless Congress authorizes it.
            I am sure when the Republicans were in power, there were a lot of what you call Liberals that thought the same way you do.
            If OBAMA was doing something illegal he would be brought up on charges, I guarantee that the Republican in Congress would like for him to do something illegal. You do not see the Majority of Republicans yelling about what Obama is doing, because they agree with him. The illegals path to citizenship, is supported by 65% of Republicans, the Obama Care is supported by 45% of Republicans .
            Like I said in my last post, this country is about majority rule and a few who do not agree are the ones stirring the pot. Congress is working like it is supposed to with the President and his EOss and EM .On other issues both sides are like two small children arguing over something neither is going to give an inch so nothing gets, done and no one wins or looses.
            OBAMA is the figurehead for the usa NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS, AND HE IS ONLY DOING WHAT CONGRESS TELLS HIM TO DO, HE HS NO POWER TO DO ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT WHAT HE IS TOLD TO DO.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

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