1984: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at gmail.com
Wed Jun 14 22:01:02 PDT 2023

It would not be surprising if David Barrett's Expensify.Com is
one of the regime companies happily giving data to his
beloved Woke DemGov instead of fighting against that practice.

Federal Agencies Routinely Spy On Phone Calls, Texts, Emails Of
American Citizens, Experts Say



Despite the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which prohibits
warrantless government searches, U.S. agencies are proving to be ever
more intrusive in their routine surveillance of Americans’ speech and
The headquarters of the FBI is seen in Washington, D.C. (Mark
Wilson/Getty Images)

Often working in collaboration with private companies and banks,
agencies like the FBI have been misusing laws against foreign
terrorism to vacuum up and sift through the private data of millions
of Americans without a warrant or any evidence of a crime.

As Congress now debates reauthorizing relevant sections of the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that are set to expire this year,
the libertarian Cato Institute held a four-day conference last week,
which featured calls for major legal reforms by conservative and
liberal speakers alike.

“The violations that we’ve seen have not just been epic in scale, but
they’ve also been persistent, over and over again,” Jake Laperruque, a
deputy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told

“To put a human scale on this, what we’re talking about is not just
random typos or wrong clicks; we’re looking at things like pulling up
batches of thousands of political donors in one go, without any
suspicion of wrongdoing,” Laperruque said. “We’ve had reports of
journalists, political commentators, a domestic political party; these
compliance violations are the most worrisome type of politically
focused surveillance.”

In 2001, Congress passed the PATRIOT Act as a means to combat foreign
terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2008, Congress added an
amendment to FISA, Section 702, which authorized warrantless
surveillance of non-U.S. persons located outside the country. This
amendment, which critics say is the source of much of the abuse, is
scheduled to “sunset” on Dec. 31.
Evidence of Abuse

Congressional debates about whether to renew Section 702 are coming
amid numerous reports that the FBI and other federal intelligence
agencies have abused the surveillance authority granted to them by
this law. Critics say there is mounting evidence that federal agencies
have been using laws, which were intended to target foreign
terrorists, to conduct extensive, long-term domestic spying campaigns
on U.S. citizens.

“To prevent Section 702 from being used as an end run around [Fourth
Amendment] protections, Congress did two things: It required the
government to minimize the collection, sharing and retention of
Americans’ personal information … and it required the government to
certify to the FISA court on an annual basis that it is not using
Section 702 to try to access the communications of particular known
Americans,” Elizabeth Goitein, a senior director at New York
University’s Brennan Center for Justice, told conference attendees.

“What has become abundantly clear over the last 15 years is that these
protections are not working,” Goitein said. “All agencies that receive
Section 702 data have procedures in place, approved by the FISA court,
that allow them to run electronic searches … for the purpose of
finding and retrieving the phone calls, text messages and emails of

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice states that “since 2006,
the National Security Agency (NSA) has been secretly collecting the
phone records of millions of Americans from some of the largest
telecommunications providers in the United States, via a series of
regularly renewed requests by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

In addition, the report states that “over the past six years, the NSA
has obtained unprecedented access to the data processed by nine
leading U.S. internet companies. This was facilitated by a computer
network named PRISM. The companies involved include Google, Facebook,
Skype, and Apple.”
Rise of Data Brokers

Speaking to attendees of the Cato Institute conference, Nathan
Wessler, a director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
detailed “the rise of data brokers” that assemble enormous databases
of photo IDs that they then sell to law enforcement for profit.

“Many companies are selling face recognition algorithms to government
and private industry buyers,” Wessler said. “That might be state
driver’s license photos, arrest photos, federal passport photos.

“And then there’s another company, ClearView AI, which has been
scouring the internet for billions of photos,” he said. “The last I
heard, they had a database of 30 billion photos of people from social
media, from employer websites, from local newspapers, and anywhere
else on the internet where there’s a photo that might be attached to a
name, building giant databases of face prints extracted from those
photos, and selling that to police departments and other law
enforcement around the country.”

This, Wessler said, “presents a truly unprecedented ability for the
government to instantaneously identify anyone in any situation and
then take action without usually any kind of court oversight, and
often in tremendous secrecy.”

“We have legacy photo data sets of almost all of us,” said Clare
Garvie, counsel at the National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers. “As a practical matter, most of us are in numerous of these,
and they’ve been almost instantaneously turned into biometric data

According to Garvie, the collection of these biometric data sets by
law enforcement started around 2001, and has been expanding ever

“That really happened without any notice to the public, any sort of
negotiation or discussion about enrollment,” she said. “Its adoption
has predated by almost 20 years any sort of public discussion about
regulation, control, etc.”

This data collection comes at a time when the Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) is expanding the use of facial recognition
software at airports. It is also coming at a time when, in the wake of
numerous scandals, an increasing number of Americans are losing trust
in the FBI and the Department of Justice. According to polls in 2021
and 2022, about half of all Americans have an unfavorable opinion of
the FBI.

On May 12, Special Counsel John Durham released his report regarding
the FBI investigation of alleged Russian collusion, which ultimately
proved to be a hoax, in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Durham found that throughout an investigation that was “predicated on
unvetted hearsay information,” senior leaders at the FBI violated
their own rules and applied a double standard in how they treated
Trump compared with his Democrat opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“What Durham found is that apparently no one in the FBI or the
National Security Division at DOJ thought it would be a good idea to
go to NSA and CIA and ask them, ‘Hey, do you have anything that would
corroborate this?'” said Patrick Eddington, a senior fellow at the
Cato Institute. “And when you’re talking about an investigation that
targeted the campaign of a presidential candidate, if they were that
sloppy there, then how much more sloppy are they being with folks that
don’t have the kind of power and influence that Donald Trump does, or
that Hillary Clinton does?”
House Works to Extend Section 702

On March 22, the House Intelligence Committee established a bipartisan
working group to assess under what conditions Section 702 should be
extended. Simultaneously, pressure to kill the provision is coming
from people on both the left and the right who are concerned with a
pattern of civil rights violations by federal agencies.

“Many Americans have rightfully lost faith in the FBI and the FISA
process,” Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) stated at the time. Citing abuses
in the Durham report, he said, “this incident, along with other
outlined abuses, must be a wake-up call.”

While Section 702 was designed to combat foreign terrorism, the FBI
has been accused of using it for purely domestic reasons, including to
track down Americans who participated in the U.S. Capitol breach on
Jan. 6, 2021. And this effort is alleged to be part of a pattern of
FBI surveillance of American citizens, including most recently charges
that the FBI has targeted parents who protest school curricula and
Catholics who oppose abortion rights.

In a March 24, 2022, letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Rep. Jim
Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) cited a report by the
Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) that “from December 2020
through November 2021, the FBI conducted 3.3 million U.S. person
inquiries against its Section 702 holdings. This was a substantial
increase from the number of U.S. person queries the FBI conducted from
December 2019 to November 2020, which was approximately 1.3 million.”

“These are long, ongoing programs that do not involve war in the
traditional sense of the word,” said Bob Goodlatte, a former U.S.
Representative and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “They
are done in such a way that Americans’ rights under the Fourth
Amendment are violated constantly, all day, every day.”

“The FBI routinely conducts these queries at the ‘assessment’ stage of
its investigations, which is before the Bureau has a reasonable
factual basis to suspect criminal activity, let alone probable cause
and a warrant,” Goitein said. “The FBI conducted around 200,000
backdoor searches in 2022 alone, so that’s more than 500 warrantless
search of Americans’ communications every day.

“The NSA and CIA also conduct thousands of backdoor searches every
year,” she continued. “When you look at these numbers, it becomes
clear that what was supposed to be a solely foreign focused authority
has in fact become a very powerful domestic spying tool.”

The ODNI report also cited an FBI bulk inquiry of 19,000 donors to a
congressional campaign. In addition to the FBI’s alleged collaborating
with tech and telecom companies to collect data on Americans, there
have been allegations of collaboration with banks, as well.

Following an FBI “whistleblower” report that “Bank of America (BoA)
provided the FBI—voluntarily and without any legal process—with a list
of individuals who had made transactions in the Washington, D.C.,
metropolitan area with a BoA credit or debit card between January 5
and January 7, 2021,” Jordan and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) wrote on
June 12 to JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Truist Financial Corp., Wells
Fargo, and U.S. Bank, demanding information regarding whether they had
acted in similar fashion.
‘In the Government’s Crosshairs’

“If you go back and you actually look at the historical record, an
awful lot of groups, either ethnically, religiously, politically, have
wound up in the government’s crosshairs, and it’s a completely
consistent pattern,” Eddington said. “That’s what, to me, speaks to
the larger problem that we’re dealing with here.”

“What was fascinating and terrifying was to go through records from
the World War I era and to see just exactly how victimized German
Americans were, and I’m talking about lynchings, I’m talking about
murders,” Eddington said. “The focus on Arab and Muslim Americans
easily goes back to the Palestinian rights era.”

“Some of the worst surveillance abuses in recent history have all been
done under this idea of defensive surveillance” against foreign
enemies, Laperruque said, citing cases like Martin Luther King being
monitored because the civil rights and anti-war movements allegedly
represented security threats during the Vietnam War. “It’s proven to
be some of the most vulnerable types of surveillance to abuse.”

Brett Holmgren, assistant secretary of state, said on May 30 that,
while he found the abuses of Section 702 “disturbing,” the program
should continue. Holmgren, who oversees the State Department’s Bureau
of Intelligence and Research (INR), said the national security and
diplomatic uses of 702 were essential and downplayed the abuses.

“Today, INR and the State Department that we serve, is at risk of
losing access to one of the most important streams of intelligence on
which we rely … Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act,” Holmgren said.

Goodlatte said that Section 702 can be reformed in a bipartisan way to
prevent many of the current violations from recurring.

“This is a tremendous opportunity because of the heightened awareness
on both sides of the aisle in Congress of these abuses,” Goodlatte
said. “Congress can act in a very bipartisan way, and I think is
disposed to act in a very bipartisan way.”

“Section 702, on one level, is an incredibly technical and complicated
bill, and I think the government uses that to its advantage,” Goitein
said. “But if we get lost in a conversation about technical details,
we’re missing the big picture.

“What Section 702 is being used for right now is not complicated at
all; it’s being used for warrantless access to Americans’
communications,” she continued. “That is the principle we need to hold
on to, that surveillance in this country, surveillance of Americans,
should be pursuant to a warrant, and there should be robust mechanisms
in place to ensure accountability and oversight.

“I think as long as we keep our eye on those big principles and don’t
get lost in the legal weeds, we’re going to end up with a pretty good
outcome,” she said.

“We cannot have a regime where the people doing the watching are also
watching themselves for abuse and misconduct,” Laperruque said. “I do
think that 702 can be reformed, but we need to remove it from this
realm of self-policing … and actually have items like a warrant rule,
where if the FBI or NSA or CIA wants to conduct a query to pull up
Americans’ communications, it has to get a court order first.”

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