Saturday, February 9, 2008
Senator JAY ROCKEFELLER, "Democrat" show his WAR LOBBY, POLICE-STATE SURVEILLANCE priorities...
Senator JAY ROCKEFELLER, heir to the gigantic Rockefeller fortune, gives substance to the stereotype that the hyper-wealthy may at times get into politics to assist the great unwashed masses of working folks, but once they amass a sizable power-base, THEY REVERT TO their ELITISM and "state-security" (hyper-corporate-nationalism, i.e. CONCENTRATION OF wealth AND POWER) uber-alles priorities...
Sen. Rockefeller Lets Slip the Spying Truth: Drift Nets To Be Legalized
By Ryan Singel February
Feb. 05, 2008
In a Senate floor speech, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) inadvertently made plain that the proposed changes to the nation's spying laws radically expand how the government wiretaps inside the United States. Rockefeller was decrying an amendment that would require the government to discard non-emergency evidence if a court later finds that the spying methods violate the law.
Rockefeller makes clear that the impending changes to the law aren't about making it easier for the National Security Agency to listen in on a particular terrorism suspect's phone calls. Instead, the changes are about letting the nation's spooks secretly and unilaterally install filters inside America's phone and internet infrastructure.
Rockefeller, the chief Democratic architect of the changes, explains:
Unlike traditional [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] application orders which involve collection on one individual target, the new FISA provisions create a system of collection. The courts role in this system of collection is not to consider probable cause on individual targets but to ensure that procedures used to collect intelligence are adequate. The courts' determination of the adequacy of procedures therefore impacts all electronic communications gathered under the new mechanisms, even if it involves thousands of targets.
In short, the changes legalize Room 641A, the secret spying room inside AT&T's San Francisco internet switching center that was outed by former AT&T employee Mark Klein. That room sits at the center of a lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged illegal participation in the government's secret, warrantless spying program.
Under the new rules, secret spying court judges will no longer be evaluating whether the government has probable cause to eavesdrop on a spy or a terrorist who is inside the United States or to wiretap a particular foreigner via wiretaps inside the United States.
Instead the judges will simply evaluate descriptions of how NSA filters in the infrastructure are designed to not catch purely domestic traffic. They can also approve or disapprove of how the spooks 'disguise' or reveal the identities of Americans who are one of the parties in any communication that involves a foreigners.
Rockefeller outlined the differences between the old legal architecture and the new one to argue against a amendment from Sen. Russ Feingold. That amendment would require the government to throw out non-emergency communications that were caught by filters if judges later found the filter to be illegal (and which the spooks didn't fix in 30 days).
Feingold argues that without such a penalty the NSA won't care at all what the courts say since there's no penalty for intercepting purely domestic phone calls in the current bill.
This marks a radical legal shift in how the nation's spooks interact with the nation's communication infrastructure. And by infrastructure, I mean telephone switches for your landline, the server farms that serve up your Google search results, and the computers that handle and store emails for your Yahoo account.
The nation's current batch of politicians -- save for a handful like Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) -- see no problem in handing this unchecked power to the nation's spooks. They collectively have bought into the lies, FUD and politically-expedient exaggerations deployed by the administration in order to legalize the President's rogue warrantless spying on Americans.
Hell, even one of Dem's blog fathers -- Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of DailyKos -- called opening the nation's infrastructure to the NSA a "single uncontroversial technical correction."
For years, NSA watchers and former employees swore that NSA employees lived by the mantra 'Don't target Americans.'
But as former White House General Counsel Alberto Gonzales publicly admitted in December 2005, that rule secretly went out the window after 9/11 when the President ordered the NSA to point its surveillance equipment at Americans.
The NSA complied and so did the nation's phone companies, with the noted exception of Qwest, which later seems to have been punished for its belief in the nation's laws.
Now that same NSA is going to be granted by Congress virtually unchecked ability to order the nation's internet providers, phone companies and email providers to let the spooks build permanent filters inside their communication flows.
That NSA reports to a president who stands by his lawyers' arguments that nothing - not even the Constitution - limits his authority during the permanent war he unilaterally declared against 'terrorism.'
And for the record, Sen. Jay Rockefeller denies that intriguingly-timed AT&T and Verizon contributions to his re-election campaign bought his support for amnesty for spying telcos.
Hat Tip to emptywheel for noting Rockefeller's remarks.