amendments

FBI admits ZERO major terror cases have been cracked with Patriot Act snooping

This has long been a talking point from those of us who strongly advocate that the Patriot Act and the NSA’s various domestic spying programs are an ineffective menace against the 4th Amendment rights of Americans, but it’s pretty amazing that the FBI is now admitting it. 

from Washington Times:

FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

The FBI did finally come up with procedures to try to minimize the information it was gathering on nontargets, but it took far too long, Mr. Horowitz said in the 77-page report, which comes just as Congress is trying to decide whether to extend, rewrite or entirely nix Section 215.

Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, revealed in leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden.

The new report adds ammunition to those opponents, with the inspector general concluding that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act’s records-snooping provisions.

“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the inspector general concluded — though he said agents did view the material they gathered as “valuable” in developing other leads or corroborating information.

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It’s time to abolish the Patriot Act completely and restore the privacy rights of Americans.  Mass domestic spying does not keep us safe, it only violates the rights of ordinary hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens.

Happy Constitution Day! The Constitution is 226 years old, and is the oldest written constitution still in use today. It is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, DC. You can see a high-res image and read a transcript of the Constitution here: http://go.usa.gov/D5VR

Top Five Facts about the Constitution!

Five: The Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures. It takes about 30 minutes to read.

Four: Two of the first 12 amendments submitted were rejected; the remaining ten became the Bill of Rights.

Three: The Chief Justice is mentioned in the Constitution, but the number of Justices is not specified.

Two: Only one amendment to the Constitution has been repealed: the 18th (Prohibition).

One: The Constitution does not give us our rights and liberties, but it does guarantee them.

For more Constitution myth busting, read today’s blog post: http://go.usa.gov/D5kJ

DECEMBER 15: THE BILL OF RIGHTS IS RATIFIED (1791)

On this day in 1791, Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights, allowing the United States Congress to add ten amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights guaranteed for the first time individual rights. Among them are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.

The above image is part of the site for the PBS program “Liberty!” in which newspaper chronicles let you experience first-hand the excitement and uncertainty of the American Revolution as it happened. 

Test your knowledge on the American Revolution, and see if you can navigate your way to independence with the Road to Revolution game. 

                       

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225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.

On September 9, 1789, the Senate passed a resolution that included all of the Senate revisions to the House proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution was made from this document, often referred to as the Senate Mark-up of the Bill of Rights. 

This document captures the process of the Senate’s debate over the the House passed amendments to the Constitution from August 25 until September 9. The printed text represents the work done in the House as it hammered out the proposed amendments from July to August. The handwritten annotations describe the work done in the Senate. The mark-up illustrates how the Senate sharpened the language of the amendments, eliminated some articles, and combined clauses to reduce the seventeen House amendments to twelve. 

On September 25, Congress passed 12 amendments that were sent to the states for approval. Ten of the amendments were ratified by the required three-fourths of the states and became part of the Constitution in 1791. These first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.

Senate Revisions to the House Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 9/1789, Records of the U.S. Senate (NAID 3535588)

Suspicion of committing a crime should lead to your attempted prosecution. If the evidence does not support conviction, it would be against everything we believe in and fight for in America to still allow the government to imprison you at their whim. Tonight, a blow was struck to fight back against those who would take our liberty.
—  Sen. Rand Paul • In a statement about how he managed to kill an amendment that was likely to pass by voice vote — an amendment that would have clarified the ability for the U.S. government to hold detainees indefinitely while the War on Terror continued — by merely asking for a recorded vote on the matter. This was an awkward situation many in the Senate were trying to avoid, and as a result, the amendment lost resoundingly — with a 41-59 tally. If Paul hadn’t have spoken up, the bill would’ve received a voice vote and passed under the radar. Not bad,  Rand Paul. That’s a moment to put in the ‘ol resume. source (viafollow)
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Armed robbers vs Brazilian police officer

September 25, 1789: The Bill of Rights is Passed

On this day in 1789, Congress approved twelve amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments were known as the Bill of Rights and were designed to protect the basic rights of all Americans.

The Bill of Rights guaranteed the freedom of speech, press, assembly and exercise of religion, the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms, and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people.

In December 1791, Virginia became the tenth of fourteen states to approve ten of the twelve amendments. This marked the two-thirds majority of state ratification to legalize the Bill of Rights.

To read all twelve amendments approved by Congress and presented to the states, explore this Chronicles of the Revolution page.

Photo: Library of Congress

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225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.

On June 8, 1789, Representative James Madison introduced a series of proposed amendments to the newly ratified U.S. Constitution. That summer the House of Representatives debated Madison’s proposal, and on August 24 the House passed 17 amendments to be added to the Constitution. Those 17 amendments were then sent to the Senate.

On September 2, the Senate began considering amendments to the Constitutions as proposed and passed in the House. The Senate compiled this document over six days. The Senate’s debate continued for another two days and resulted in additional changes to the amendments not shown on this document.

On September 25, Congress passed 12 amendments that were sent to the states for approval. Ten of the amendments were ratified by the required three-fourths of the states and became part of the Constitution in 1791. These first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.

Notes Recording Senate Consideration of House Proposed Articles of Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, 9/2/1789, SEN1A-C2, Records of the U.S. Senate