Tag Archives: Congress

Congress ‘Endorses’ Warrantless Collection, Storage of U.S. Communications

Free Republic

With nearly no public notice or debate, Congress on Wednesday approved legislation that critics say blesses the warrantless collection, dissemination and five-year retention of everyday Americans’ phone and Internet communications.

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The controversial language was quietly incorporated into an intelligence authorization bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday and then the House on Wednesday.

The legislation, privacy advocates say, sanctions for the first time the executive branch’s warrantless collection of American communications under Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981 to authorize the interception of communications overseas.

Section 309 of the intelligence bill sets a five-year limit, with many exceptions, on the retention of U.S. persons’ communications collected under that order, which was issued well before widespread use of cellphones and the Internet.

Members of Rep. Justin Amash’s staff noticed the section Wednesday morning, and the Michigan Republican rushed to the House floor, rallied opposition with a letter to colleagues and secured a roll call vote.

But opponents failed to defeat the bill, which passed 325-100 and now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.

“This whole thing is so upsetting to me,” says John Napier Tye, a former State Department Internet policy official who went public as a whistleblower in July. Tye warns that U.S. spy agencies can evade congressional oversight and use the order to scoop up vast amounts of American communications routinely routed through foreign cables and servers.

“It is good that Congress is trying to regulate 12333 activities,” Tye says. “But the language in this bill just endorses a terrible system that allows the NSA to take virtually everything Americans do online and use it however it wants according to the rules it writes.” He says that includes sharing the intercepts with foreign governments and domestic law enforcement.

The provision says “any nonpublic telephone or electronic communication” sent by or among Americans that’s intercepted by intelligence agencies without a court order or subpoena can be stored for five years.

Intercepted communications can be stored longer if they are encrypted, include evidence of a crime or meet other exceptions.

“The NSA can take everything an American does online [and] write its own rules for how to share it with foreign governments and with the FBI, allowing a huge amount of American data to [be used to] prosecute Americans with no court oversight,” Tye says.

The New York Times reported in August that the Obama administration is rewriting internal policies to allow the FBI direct access to a database of raw communications collected under the executive order.

There’s no specification in the legislation of crimes that would qualify communications for distribution to law enforcement. “The executive branch writes its own rules,” Tye says, with the FBI using parallel construction to obscure the true origin of some criminal investigations.

Read the rest of this article here.

HHS Violates ACORN Funding Ban to Pay for Obamacare Navigators

JUDICIAL WATCH

Despite a 5-year-old congressional ban on federal funding for the notably corrupt Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Judicial Watch has obtained documents that show a chunk of taxpayer money went to an affiliate serving as an Obamacare “navigator.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) violated the ACORN funding ban by awarding a Louisiana nonprofit called Southern United Neighborhoods (SUN) a $1.3 million Obamacare navigator grant to recruit customers for the president’s disastrous healthcare law and help them “navigate” the complicated insurance exchanges. Headquartered in New Orleans, SUN is dedicated to combating poverty, discrimination and community deterioration that keep low-income people from taking advantage of their rights and opportunities, according to its website.

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SENATE REPUBLICANS VOTE TO WAIVE THE CONSTITUTION

Free Republic

There is no question that President Obama’s executive amnesty violates the Constitution. Even the president acknowledged back in September that he would be “ignoring the law” to carry out such an action.

Source : watchmen-news.com

Source : watchmen-news.com

Ted Cruz (R-TX)U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) raised a constitutional point of order against the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending that, if sustained, would have sent the bill back to the House to remove amnesty funding.

Unfortunately, a group of Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to reject Cruz’s point of order and to ignore the serious constitutional problems with the president’s executive amnesty.

These 20 Republicans voted to waive the Constitution.

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) Orrin Hatch (R-UT) John Barrasso (R-WY) Dean Heller (R-NV) Dan Coats (R-IN) Ron Johnson (R-WI) Thad Cochran (R-MS) Mark Kirk (R-IL) Susan Collins (R-ME) John McCain (R-AZ) Bob Corker (R-TN) Mitch McConnell (R-KY) John Cornyn (R-TX) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Mike Enzi (R-WY) Pat Toomey (R-PA) Jeff Flake (R-AZ) Roger Wicker (R-MS)

CR #353, 12/13/14

SENATE PASSES $1.1 TRILLION OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

After waiving the constitutional point of order, the Senate passed the omnibus bill, which fully funds Obamacare, does nothing to stop the president’s amnesty, and includes an earmark to help the DC establishment defeat conservative challengers.

These 24 Republicans voted for the bill.

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) Orrin Hatch (R-UT) John Barrasso (R-WY) John Hoeven (R-ND) Roy Blunt (R-MO) Johnny Isakson (R-GA) John Boozman (R-AR) Mike Johanns (R-NE) Richard Burr (R-NC) Mark Kirk (R-IL) Dan Coats (R-IN) Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Thad Cochran (R-MS) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Susan Collins (R-ME) Pat Roberts (R-KS) John Cornyn (R-TX) John Thune (R-SD) Mike Enzi (R-WY) Pat Toomey (R-PA) Deb Fischer (R-NE) Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Obama Teams Up With Mosques for Special Project

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Conservative Tribune

President Barack Obama recently announced that he was unilaterally changing the immigration laws.

This although he has clearly stated for the record, on numerous occasions, that he has no Constitutional authority to do so.

Using executive action, Obama announced a new “priority system” for deportations, essentially focusing on only criminal illegal immigrants for deportations, while effectively granting a form of amnesty for millions of others.

Obama has even announced changes to the law which put in place certain steps required for the “legalization” of illegals, although he further admitted that “ordinary” illegals wouldn’t be deported even if they didn’t jump through the hoops that he set up.

Now Breitbart is reporting on the flood of illegal immigrants coming out of the woodwork to see if they qualify for Obama’s amnesty.

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CROmnibus: a $1 Trillion Betrayal; Updated

By: James Simpson
DC Independent Examiner

CRomnibusUpdate: The votes are in and the massive spending bill known as “CROmnibus” has passed the House of Representatives. The Senate has been given two days to consider. Cannot imagine a successful GOP challenge there so it will be come law of the land. Democrats call this massive bill one of the best deals they’ve gotten with the GOP in decades. Congressman James Moran (D-VA) said:

 

In 20 years with appropriations bills, I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities. Implementing the affordable care act, there’s a lot more money for child development…We got virtually everything Democrats tried to get.

This was a massive, premeditated betrayal of the American people and the Leadership’s own party. Before the vote on Cromnibus, there was a vote on a procedural rule whether or not to allow the bill to be considered at all. A vote against the rule would have killed the bill. One congressman claimed leadership lied to him, telling him that Cromnibus was dead and if he voted for the rule it would be to clear the way for a vote on a simple short term continuing resolution funding government until the GOP took charge. So he voted for the rule. It won 214 to 212. CROmnibus then went on to pass with significant support from Democrats and way too many Republicans. Finally, GOP leadership chose the December 11 expiration date for a continuing resolution passed in September to temporarily fund government. They did this knowing full well that if the GOP won the Senate in November, it would offer Democrats one last chance to pass something in the lame duck session. Speaker Boehner, McConnell and other GOP leaders deliberately disenfranchised their fellow Republicans.

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Boehner Kills FOIA Reform Already Passed Unanimously

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Free Republic

After passing the Senate by unanimous consent on Monday, it seemed as if the FOIA Improvement Act would become law—a nearly identical version passed the House earlier this year. Today, however, it was up to Speaker of the House John Boehner to allow a vote on the bill’s final passage before the House adjourned this week. Instead, it was “held at the desk,” meaning Boehner may have just killed FOIA reform.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law, signed in 1966, that gives U.S. citizens the right to access information from the federal government. Through FOIA, journalists and citizens alike have uncovered stories like the U.S. government turning down hundreds of millions of dollars in Katrina aid, the Pentagon ignoring a tip alleging 135 cases of fraud amounting to nearly $200 million, shortages in funding hampering cleanup at hazardous waste sites and 17,000 bridges failing to be inspected on schedule, to name a few.

“It is an uniquely American act, but it is a tool that needs to be continually sharpened,” says Nate Jones, the Freedom of Information Act Coordinator at the George Washington University’s National Security Archive. “The government is pretty good at giving information to people it wants to give, but the Freedom of Information Act is really a gem that allows the public to have a fighting chance to get the information from the government that they want.”

(Excerpt) Read more at newsweek.com

Congress Passes Defense Budget With Troop Benefit Cuts

vet-ben

Weasel Zippers

On the plus side the A10 has been saved for now.

Via Stars and Stripes

Congress approved a defense authorization bill Friday, setting priorities for the military and clearing the way for cuts to troop benefits next year.

The bill passed a final 89-11 vote in the Senate, and lays out plans for military personnel, equipment such as the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft, and the war in Iraq and Syria. It sets the servicemember pay raise at 1 percent, and tightens up housing allowances and Tricare pharmacy coverage as the Department of Defense grapples with mandatory caps on its spending in the coming years.

The cuts were requested by the Pentagon and White House and finally approved in the National Defense Authorization Act despite opposition in the House. Military brass had lobbied for deeper cuts but the bill takes some first steps toward what many in Congress believe will be years of reductions in personnel costs, unless lawmakers can strike a deal to lift the budget caps designed to deal with the national debt.[…]

The NDAA calls for a $495.5 billion base defense budget and $63.7 billion for overseas military operations related to the war. Here are the key changes to benefits:

Servicemembers have gotten 1.8 percent pay raises but the NDAA allows President Barack Obama to continue with a plan to reduce the increase to 1 percent.

The military’s basic housing allowance covers 100 percent of rental costs for troops and the bill brings that down to 99 percent. The Pentagon wants to slow inflation increases in the coming years until it pays only 95 percent of costs, with troops covering the remaining amount.

It will increase Tricare out-of-pocket costs for prescription medicines by $3 per year, which puts off any decision of more copay increases after 2015 but still tracks with a Pentagon plan to increase troop contributions by $30 over a decade.

Meanwhile, the bill offers some protections for the A-10, known as the Warthog, which is much loved by infantry troops but slated for retirement by the Air Force.

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