After voting down reform three reform amendments on Thursday, the Senate continued debate on the spy bill on Friday morning. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) offered an amendment meant to force the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency to reveal how frequently they have collected Americans’ communications as part of their efforts to amass intelligence on foreign targets. Even an estimate would suffice, Wyden has argued — but the spy agencies have rebuffed his efforts to get a general number, claiming it is not possible.
"This is the last oportunity for the next five years for the Congress to exercise a modest measure of real oversight over this intelligence surveillance law," said Wyden, referring to the 2017 expiration date in the new law. "It is not real oversight when the United States Congress cannot get a yes or no answer to the question of whether an estimate currently exists as to whether law abiding Americans have had their phone calls and emails swept up under the FISA law."
Wyden and other civil liberties advocates are worried that the spy agencies might be able to use intelligence gathering capabilities ostensibly targeted at foreigners — a legal practice under the law — to search their databases for Americans’ emails and phone calls without a warrant.
The FISA Amendments Act was first approved during former President George W. Bush’s time in office, though its passage has been relatively uncontroversial in comparison to the initial vote in 2008. It is worth noting that then-candidate Barack Obama vowed to block such programs, while on the campaign trail in 2008, before switching to a push for simply increasing oversight/accountability of such programs.
14:32 // 11 months ago
"The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing:" This morning, President Obama announced the formation of what’s essentially a gun control task force—a policy team tasked with crafting concrete proposals to reduce gun violence. The group will be headed by Vice President Biden, and its proposals will be due on the President’s desk “no later than January.” Obama emphatically rejected the notion that the team is a “commission;” he insisted that it will not “be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside." He also pledged to speak of the proposals, whatever they may be, in his State of the Union address next year.
20:32 // 11 months ago
This comes on the heels of Thursday’s announcement U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice had removed herself from the list of candidates to take over from Hillary Clinton. Rice said what was sure to be a contentious and lengthy approval process took attention away from more pressing problems facing the nation.
Soon to return to the lexicon: ”Swift boat.”
(Source: joshsternberg, via politicalthinker2099)
19:46 // 11 months ago