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National Security Trumps the Constitution

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Minimizing the 4th Amendment and Privacy through the Primacy of National Security

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Commentary on Section 702 and the FISA Reauthorization Act

by Thomas Drake, @thomas_drake1

This week the US Senate voted to suppress and severely curtail debate or the inclusion of any amendments to Section 702 and the FISA Reauthorization Act bill (S. 139) through a cloture vote of 60-38, paving the way for a vote in favor of passing the full bill that was already passed by the House of Representatives.

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My fellow NSA whistleblower, Diane Roark (the former House Intelligence Committee professional staffer who had oversight of NSA for 5 years), wrote an article on 17 Jan 2018 about this cloture vote and what it means, weighing in on the kabuki props and information operation cover lies blanketing Section 702 and the FISA Reauthorization Act bill now cleared for a final vote by the Senate.

click here

In addition, independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler (@emptywheel) has diligently followed the FISA trail in great detail for many years. She has scooped many main stream media reporters (often never giving her credit for her work) and is arguably the best single press source for how FISA has radically changed (and is secretly reinterpreted by the government), since the stunning revelations about the mass surveillance programs began to emerge in public starting in late 2005 and 2006. You can read her investigative articles and analysis at her website.


In the following article, she strips the veneer off the bait and switch of the FISA Reauthorization Act bill passed by the House of Representatives just before the Senate cloture vote was made.

click here

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In terms of history, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act (FISA-AA) further enabled the legalization of pernicious and pervasive mass surveillance practices that licensed the secret backdoor warrantless searches and data mining of US person calls, emails, texts and other Internet and digital communications under the cover and color of spying on foreign targets.

As background, I blew the whistle right after 9/11 while a senior executive at the NSA on the original mass domestic warrantless electronic surveillance program known as STELLARWIND (authorized by President Bush), and its secret subversion of FISA and privacy rights protected by the Constitution and paid a very high price for doing so. This FISA Reauthorization Act bill just further codifies and expands the mass surveillance regime under the guise of protecting people by stripping their privacy protections.

National security does not trump our inalienable rights as a people, especially when the government want to 'collect it all to know it all' and bypass the rule of law for secret executive rules to keep us safe from ourselves using legislative acts to make it all legal.

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From 2001 through 2008, Mr. Drake was a senior executive at the National Security Agency (NSA) and served in various technical management and leadership capacities. While there he became a material witness and whistleblower for two 9/11 congressional investigations and a Department of Defense Inspector General audit of a failed multi-billion dollar flagship program called TRAILBLAZER as well as an operationally ready, highly innovative, revolutionary and breakthrough multi-million dollar intelligence data collection, processing and analysis system called THINTHREAD -- that was specifically designed to handle the massive data volumes and information flows of the Digital Age, with built-in 4th Amendment and privacy protection safeguards for U.S. Persons, but rejected by NSA.  His recently concluded legal ordeal involving a targeted, multi-year, many millions of dollars federal government investigation and prosecution of him, ended when the Department of Justice dropped all of the felony charges in the indictment against him (including the Espionage Act) in a plea agreement to a minor misdemeanor. His case lies at the nexus of overreaching national security, the 1st and 4th Amendments, wrongdoing and illegalties cloaked in secrecy, overclassification, a unitary executive branch state secrets privilege hiding 'off the books' domestic warrantless wiretapping, electronic surveillance, eavesdropping and data mining, freedom of thought and association, as well as the alarming erosion of our civil liberties and the enshrined rights in the Constitution. Mr. Drake was the recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize and currently works as an Expert at an Apple Retail Store in the greater D.C. area.

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