The above video is Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) questioning various intelligence directors in an intelligence committee hearing in 2011. Now – he and Senator Udall (D-OR) have written a letter to the Justice Department questioning why there is a secret legal interpretation by the Federal government relative to the legalities of the Patriot Act. It is inconceivable that their is a law on the b00ks that Americans are not even able to discern what legal and illegal is because it is classified. President Obama’s record on civil rights hasn’t exactly been exemplary; if anything – this is an area where President Obama has continued the exact same policies as the Bush administration. And it has been an abject failure of leadership relevant to civil rights.
The NY Times reports:
The dispute centers on what the government thinks it is allowed to do under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, under which agents may obtain a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing them to get access to any “tangible things” — like business records — that are deemed “relevant” to a terrorism or espionage investigation.
There appears to be both an ordinary use for Section 215 orders — akin to using a grand jury subpoena to get specific information in a traditional criminal investigation — and a separate, classified intelligence collection activity that also relies upon them.
The interpretation of Section 215 that authorizes this secret surveillance operation is apparently not obvious from a plain text reading of the provision, and was developed through a series of classified rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
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