IAA 2015

You can be forgiven for not noticing that IAA  2015 (H.R. 4681) was double-timed onto the House floor and passed last week. Congress did that deliberately, you bet.

The reason they did so is because this travesty (as yet unsigned by Obama, though it’s all but a given) contains a section (309) that statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens sans any legal process.

Of all the corrupt and bought-off Congress critters there, only Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) attempted to call attention to the draconian bill. In fact, without Amish’s demanding a roll call the Congess critters would have passed this piece of shit on a “voice vote”, wherein no record is kept as to who voted what. 1

“When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room) — I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.”

Amish even took the time to put out a “Dear Colleague” letter to every member of congress: 2

Dear Colleague:

The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309 — one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.

To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.

Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch’s power to retain Americans’ private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive’s retention of Americans’ communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans’ communications within five years of acquiring them — although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.

In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch’s capture and use of Americans’ private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents—especially when we are asked to expand our government’s surveillance powers.

I’ll say it again: this allows information gleaned via warrantless federal surveillance to be transferred to local law enforcement for criminal investigations without a court order, subpoena or warrant.

There is a We, the People petition working to force Obama to not sign this, but it’s woefully short of signatures. 3

This will now be the new “normal.” Privacy, even as a concept, is over in America.

Wake up, people.

IAA 2015

Show 3 footnotes

  1. I can save the locals some time: voting YES were – (MO) Clay Jr., Cleaver, Graves, Hartzler, Long, Luetkemeyer, Smith and Wagner; (KS) Jenkins, Pompeo and Yoder’s penis; only Huelskamp voted NAY. Readers from other states checking on their own Representatives can click here.
  2. Not that it did any good. Points for the effort, however.
  3. As though Obama would pay attention to the petition, right?

Identity Vault

Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver’s license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The app, which will be provided to drivers at no additional cost, will be available sometime in 2015, DOT Director Paul Trombino told Gov. Terry Branstad during a state agency budget hearing Monday.

“We are really moving forward on this,” Trombino said. “The way things are going, we may be the first in the nation.”

People will still be able to stick a traditional plastic driver’s license in their wallet or purse if they choose, Trombino said. But the new digital license, which he described as “an identity vault app,” will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers during traffic stops and by security officers screening travelers at Iowa’s airports, he said.

“It is basically your license on your phone,” he said.

So, what…you voluntarily hand your phone to the cop? And then he takes it back to his patrol car, right? Because that’s what cops do when they have your ID, they sit in their units and run wants/warrants on you, put your ID through NCIC, that sort of thing.

And as long as he’s waiting for that information to come back, what’s to keep him from looking through your everything? And, no, SCOTUS has not yet ruled on whether when you voluntarily hand your cell phone to a cop he has the right to search it, so don’t go there. 1

And even if SCOTUS nay-says that obvious breach of privacy, it certainly won’t stop some of the thin blue line from cracking your Crackberry. And don’t say “But, dude; I’ll have it locked down.” No you won’t – you’re an idiot at that. Most people are; children routinely crack their parents’ phone’s “security controls.”

The ubiquity of cell phones as identity vaults containing all of our PII data, not to mention access to our social media & porn emails sites, though handy, is probably not as desirable as one might wish.

Identity Vault

Show 1 footnote

  1. Plus? The friendly Canadians will politely laugh in your face while they search your cell phone. And we won’t even discuss what goes on down in Old Mexico.

Let them eat Twinkies

THE police killing unarmed civilians. Horrifying income inequality. Rotting infrastructure and an unsafe “safety net.” An inability to respond to climate, public health and environmental threats. A food system that causes disease. An occasionally dysfunctional and even cruel government. A sizable segment of the population excluded from work and subject to near-random incarceration.

You get it: This is the United States, which, with the incoming Congress, might actually get worse…

And so on.

However Bittman may have understated the case. You read where Congress gave themselves $1,000 a month to pay for their cars?

There are still millions of people in this country who, if they’re lucky, only make $15 an hour. Which –assuming they get 40 hours a week, and after all taxes and insurance premiums are paid — nets out at just over $1K a month.

Let them eat Twinkies, one supposes.

Wake up, people.

Let them eat Twinkies