March 2nd, 2012 10:05 EST
Domestic SPY BILL Puts 1st Amendment Rights at Stake
The House of Representatives spent considerable time getting HR 6304 passed that gave Telecoms immunity after they helped U.S. Government spy on Americans` private communications. Unfortunately The House failed to use strong language in THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 to protect the Constitutional rights of lawful Americans from Government surveillance. One example among many: the "Probable Cause` section for ordering surveillance in HR 6304 effectively states: a "person" in the United States who exercises their 1st Amendment Rights " MAY BE CONSIDERED" an agent of a foreign power. Why did the House insert the weak word "may" and not insert a stronger work, e.g., "SHALL NOT" which would have been more binding on Government and police not to violate the Constitutional rights of U.S. Citizens?
Stated in HR 6304 "(2) Probable Cause" section under (C)(Order):
"No United States person may be considered a foreign power, agent of a foreign power, or officer or employee of a foreign power solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
"May" in the "Probable Cause" paragraph above "leads readers to believe the provision will protect U.S. Citizens from government agents spying, violating their Constitutional rights and (Privacy).
The vague language of THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 should concern U.S. activists that network with groups overseas. For example the Stop the War Campaign transcends many countries.. U.S. activists that network internationally run the risk they "MAY BE CONSIDERED" by U.S. Government "agents of a foreign power if they support causes that other countries support, opposed U.S. Government.
Where U.S. Government appears headed with the Patriot Act, The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 and recently introduced "Enemy Expatriation Act" that would allow U.S. Government to Strip Americans of Citizenship without evidence or a conviction "is getting Congress to grant U.S. Government (The Executive Branch) the Power to arbitrarily arrest, charge, Indefinitely Detain Americans that participate in 1st Amendment activities (on the premise) that 1st Amendment Activities appeared intended or were used to support or provoke hostilities, combatants, belligerents; terrorism and or threaten National Security.
The FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 permits massive Government spying on electronic communications coming into and going out of the United States. U.S. Government may additionally use broad provisions of the Patriot Act to further its domestic spying.
Perhaps the only thing that stopped U.S. Government prior from using telecom assisted derived wiretap evidence against Americans and corporations was that Telecoms didn`t have immunity from being sued by U.S. Citizens and businesses charged with crimes, violations or subject to government civil asset forfeiture resulting from telecoms assisting Government spying. That appears to have changed when the Senate passed THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 that effectively gave Telecoms Immunity from lawsuits by persons in the U.S spied on under Bush II. It is problematic the next battle Americans may have to fight, is how to determine what telecom surveillance information can or cannot be used by /police against U.S. Citizens or introduced by government into court. Unfortunately HR 6304`s Telecom Immunity provisions may prohibit Americans from suing Telecoms to recover their costs of having to hire attorneys to defend against illegal wiretap evidence.
Overlooked by the press: In 2000 HR1658, The Civil Asset Reform Act of 2000 was passed by Congress: The Act eliminated the "statute of limitations" that gave U.S. Government `five years" to seize property from the date an "asset" was actually involved in crime or a violation. Now U.S. Government/police have five-years to seize property (from whenever) police (allege) they learned a property or asset was made subject to civil asset forfeiture.) To reiterate: neither Congress nor the courts "determined what Bush II NSA electronic surveillance, perhaps illegal can be used by police or introduced into court by government to prosecute Americans criminally or civilly. If the U.S. Justice Department subsequently is permitted (No-Warrant) surveillance of electronic communications, it is problematic federal, state, local law enforcement agencies and private government contractors will want access to Bush II NSA and other government illegally obtained electronic records, not limited to Americans` Internet activity; private emails, faxes and phone calls to secure evidence to arrest Americans, assess fines and or civilly forfeit their homes, businesses and other assets under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on "Asset Forfeiture" to help pay their salaries and budget operating costs?
In 2011: U.S. Government asked for the power (without a warrant) to introduce as evidence in criminal prosecutions and government civil trials, any phone call record, email or Internet activity. That would open the door for Police to take out of context any innocent "hastily written email, fax or phone call record to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person`s arrest, fines and or civil asset forfeiture of their property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture. Government civil asset forfeiture requires only a civil preponderance of evidence for police to forfeit property, little more than hearsay.
If the U.S. Justice Department has its way, any information the FBI derives from circumventing the Fourth Amendment (no warrant searches) of Web Server Records; a Citizen`s Internet Activity, personal emails; fax/phone calls may be used by the FBI for (fishing expeditions) to issue subpoenas in hopes of finding evidence or to prosecute Citizens for any alleged crime or violation.
Most property owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture claim an "innocent owner defense". The innocent owner defense can however become a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial by a person to the U.S. Government when questioned about committing a crime "even when they didn`t do it" can "involuntarily waive" a defendant`s right to assert in their defense - that the "Criminal Statute of Limitations" passed for prosecution. Any denial of guilt to the government, even 20 years after an alleged crime was committed "may allow prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including wiretap evidence and information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent property owners are reluctant to risk defending their property against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture. Many just give up their property to the government. See Re: waiving your right to assert the Criminal Statute of Limitations: James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579: involves Title 18, section: 1001.