Biden looks awfully good compared to Obama here.
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by Michael Froomkin
Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law
University of Miami School of Law
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These guys are all chumps!
The PATRIOT ACT was compiled and passed in a month because large parts of it were already just laying around, as originally written by none other than Joe Biden himself!
Wikipedia says of the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995:
“According to the summary by President Clinton, the bill was intended to establish federal criminal jurisdiction over acts of international terrorism. Civil liberty advocacy groups opposed the bill on the grounds that it would violate fundamental civil liberties, including the right to confront one’s accuser.  Another source of opposition was the Government’s ability to use evidence from secret sources in deportation proceedings for suspected terrorists.  During the debate over the Patriot Act of 2001 then Senator Joe Biden compared this bill to its 2001 counterpart stating “I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill.”“
What more people need to keep in mind when they think about all this is that the NSA has its own definition of what intercepting data means. It DOES NOT mean what you or I might think of it as.
The NSA collects ALL data, meta or otherwise. It does not consider it intercepted until it has reason to plow through the details of it. The most likely scenario is that the NSA analysis the metadata looking for patterns that interest it (or because other intell warrants doing so). When it finds something in metadata that warrants deeper study, it will open the entirety of the collected data to root around in it. Under applicable law, it has a bit over a week to do so before it actually needs to get a warrant from a FISA judge.
That’s likely how it all works and what is said by the NSA must be parsed by that understanding to make any sense. The collection of data by NSA is not interception of data by NSA – even if you or I would view it as the same.
My gut tells me this is not a good thing and is likely unconstitutional – but any party with the power to say so has long since stated that it doesn’t care, and “look at all the good it does” so good luck ever changing it.
An interesting lawyer issue for me is: Courts practically function with the idea that a party seeking to prove something needs to produce evidence. In a criminal Court, that would be the State and historically, the State has been limited by laws put into place ensuring such things as freedom and privacy. Maybe that has allowed some bad people to walk free because the State couldn’t meet its burden, but that’s the sacrifice we make for the purposes of preventing too much State prying. Good or bad, that’s how it works and an entire industry, so to speak, revolves around that idea.
Now the State, in cases where it is willing to do so, could produce evidence that would otherwise not have been available to it, after-the-fact, to prove its case. Example: Someone commits bad act. State (via NSA data) is able to produce evidence not previously available for the previous decade that ensures conviction. It’s justified now “against terrorists” but what about serial killers? Child pornographers? Anti-government crimes? Does it change the playing field in Court (remember, Court rules have been developed with the old system in mind, not an omniscient government)?
Whatever one thinks of the NSA vis-a-vis terrorists, I think the bigger picture is scarier. Once Government has such power and is able to use it openly (the first step was revealing it), it’s a short step to adapting it to other “worthy” causes “that we all agree upon.”