The Senate Intelligence Committee passed an intelligence authorization bill, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The bill, co-sponsored by the chair of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), passed the committee by a vote of 14 – 1 would:
[..] authorize intelligence funding to counter terrorist threats, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, enhance counterintelligence, conduct covert actions and collect and analyze intelligence around the globe. [..]
The legislation includes a title on preventing unauthorized disclosures of classified information to improve the government’s ability to prevent and detect unauthorized disclosures that harm national security and investigate and punish those responsible. [..]
The approved bill includes a series of provisions to prevent leaks, including:
A requirement the executive branch notifies Congress when making certain authorized disclosures of intelligence information to the public;
A requirement for the Director of National Intelligence to improve the process for conducting administrative leaks investigations, including a requirement to proactively identify leaks and take administrative action when necessary;
A restriction on the number of intelligence community employees authorized to communicate with the media;
A provision to improve non-disclosure agreements and the penalties for non-compliance;
A prohibition on current and former intelligence officials entering into certain contracts with media organizations;
A report from the attorney general on possible improvements to the criminal process for investigating and prosecuting leaks; and
A provision to improve the intelligence community’s ability to detect insider threats.
The bill was a response to the recent high level leaks about cyber warfare against Iran, Obama’s “kill list” and a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen that Sen. Feinstein said came from the White House. A good portion of the bill is directed at curbing “leaks” that come from intelligence employees who talk to the media either with or without the permission of the White House. The details of these restrictions are vague and ill defined, as Kevin Gosztola at FDL points out:
The past Sunday constitutional lawyer and contributing editor at Salon.com Glenn Greenwald appeared with Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s “Up with Chis Hayes”to discuss the history of anonymous speech in politics and debate whether spending money is an exercise of free speech. The other guests on the panel are Maria Hinojosa, anchor of NPR’s Latino USA and president of Futuro Media Group; Rep. Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont and member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; and Heather McGhee, vice president of policy and research at the progressive think tank Demos.
Glenn also penned a scathing piece on Sen. Diane Feinstein’s (D-CA) attack on our First Amendment rights using, oh noes!, Terror! as an excuse. Glenn makes the point that Feinstein’s outrage over Julian Assange and Wikileaks is tantamount to an attack of freedom of the press.
The supreme Senate defender of state secrecy and the Surveillance State, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, yesterday issued a statement to Australia’s largest newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, demanding (once again) the prosecution of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. To see how hostile Feinstein is to basic press freedoms, permit me to change “Assange” each time it appears in her statement to “The New York Times“:
The head of the US Senate’s powerful intelligence oversight committee has renewed calls for [The New York Times] to be prosecuted for espionage. . . .
“I believe [The New York Times] has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States,” the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, said in a written statement provided to the Herald. “[It] has caused serious harm to US national security, and  should be prosecuted accordingly.”
As EFF’s Trevor Timm noted, there is no sense in which Feinstein’s denunciation applies to WikiLeaks but not to The New York Times (and, for that matter, senior Obama officials). Indeed, unlike WikiLeaks, which has never done so, The New York Times has repeatedly published Top Secret information. That’s why the prosecution that Feinstein demands for WikiLeaks would be the gravest threat to press freedom and basic transparency in decades. Feinstein’s decades-long record in the Senate strongly suggest that she would perceive these severe threats to press freedom as a benefit rather than drawback to her prosecution designs.
Under Sen. Feinstein’s premise we should have prosecuted Woodward and Bernstein and every other reporter who has exposed government wrong doing. I wonder is she would like to take on Dick Cheney for outing a CIA agent to get us into a war based on a lie, the consequences of which we will never know.
Twist as the president’s supporters might with the “look over here” tactic, the National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA) does not change any existing law that Barack Obama has interpreted to mean he has the power to throw your sorry butt in prison anywhere in the world for as long as he chooses. Or he can just declare you a terrorist without providing evidence and have you executed without due process. Ignoring the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that was recently renewed giving the president the authority to send in the military to fight that ubiquitous enemy “terror”, the Obama loyalists, keep pointing to section 1022 of the NDAA, the section that makes military detention presumptive for non-citizens but doesn’t foreclose military detention of US citizens, while completely ignoring section 1021, the section that affirms the President’s authority to indefinitely detain people generally. As Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel points out while the NDAA does not authorize indefinite detention for American citizens, it does not foreclose the possibility either:
The NDAA doesn’t do anything to exempt Americans from indefinite detention. And the reason it doesn’t-at least according to the unrebutted claims of Carl Levin that I reported on over a month ago-is because the Administration asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to take out language that would have specifically exempted Americans from indefinite detention.
The initial bill reported by the committee included language expressly precluding “the detention of citizens or lawful resident aliens of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.” The Administration asked that this language be removed from the bill. [my emphasis]
So the effect is that (as Lawfare describes in detail) the bill remains unclear about whether Americans can be detained indefinitely and so we’re left arguing about what the law is until such time as a plaintiff gets beyond the Executive Branch’s state secrets invocations to actually decide the issue in court.
Nor did the amendment from Sen. Diane Feinstein clarify that point either, in fact, she may have codified it. So the only recourse is for some poor fool to have his civil liberties abrogated and try to fight in court without being allowed access to lawyers or courts. Those are some hurdles. Scott Horton, contributing editor at Harper’s magazine and New York attorney known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict, discussed this with Keith Olbermann:
President Obama has just stated a policy that he can have any American citizen killed without any charge, without any review, except his own. If he’s satisfied that you are a terrorist, he says that he can kill you anywhere in the world including in the United States.
Two of his aides just … reaffirmed they believe that American citizens can be killed on the order of the President anywhere including the United States.
You’ve now got a president who says that he can kill you on his own discretion. He can jail you indefinitely on his own discretion [..]
I don’t think the the Framers ever anticipated that [the American people would be so apathetic]. They assumed that people would hold their liberties close, and that they wouldn’t relax …
How quickly the president’s defenders forget Anwar al-Awlaki. Marcy points to the contortions of the law that Obama used to justify his assassination and then issued a “secret memorandum” which was conveniently “leaked” to New York Times reporter Charles Savage:
And, as Charlie Savage has reported, the legal justification the Administration invented for killing an American citizen in a premeditated drone strike consists of largely the same legal justification at issue in the NDAA detainee provisions.
The 2001 AUMF, which purportedly defined who our enemies are (though the NDAA more logically includes AQAP in its scope than the 2001 AUMF)
Hamdi, which held the President could hold an American citizen in military detention under the 2001 AUMF
Ex Parte Quirin, which held that an American citizen who had joined the enemy’s forces could be tried in a military commission
Scott v. Harris (and Tennesee v. Garner), which held that authorities could use deadly force in the course of attempting to detain American citizens if that person posed an imminent threat of injury or death to others
In other words, Obama relied on substantially the same legal argument supporters of the NDAA detainee provisions made to argue that indefinite detention of American citizens was legal, with the addition of Scott v. Harris to turn the use of deadly force into an unfortunate side-effect of attempted detention.
There is no question that the Obama administration, by signing the NDAA, believes that it has the broad power to indefinitely detain and assassinate American citizens and guarantees that the next president will too.
The late George Carlin said it several years ago, “this country is circling the drain“.
The (un)Patriot Act was passed, unamended, without debate, and signed by President Obama, who was still in Europe, with a robotic pen before it could expire. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who along with several other liberal senators, had proposed an amendment that put an end to the government secret interpretation of the law, cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Read (?-NV) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (?-CA) to withdraw the amendment. Reid promised to hold hearings on secret law, and, if his concerns were not met, propose his amendment at a later date.
I long ago gave up any hope of change from the current regime. It’s obvious that they have shed their skins and revealed themselves to be no better than the Bush/Cheny criminal regime that they are covering.
George Washington University law professor, Jeffrey Rosen, joins Cenk Uygur to discuss the (un)Patriot Act, its unconstitutionality, the duplicity of Harry Reid and how American’s really do not understand what is in this bill.
Say good-by to the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment, as well as, Article III courts.
CA Senator Dianne Feinstein has come out for wasting more money the state doesn’t have persecuting growth and use of a mild mood altering, pain relieving herb, one that is the easiest to grow of many garden plants.
CA Senator Dianne Feinstein used to be the mayor of San Francisco, but has decided to pair up with a Southern CA right winger, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, to co chair the opposition campaign to Proposition 19, Marijuana Legalization Initiative, this November.
CA Senator Dianne Feinstein seems to be working very hard to get Carly Fiorina, a right wing Republican, and business vulture, as the state’s other Senator, by dragging the entire discourse to the right, which can only hurt incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, irregardless of Boxer’s stance on the issue.
“oppose Proposition 19 – the public doesn’t need to be exposed to the dangers of pot.”
– Public Safety First, No on Prop 19
Dangers of what?
What planet are y’ all on out there in Limo- land ? I’m much more likely to get killed by a drunken driver mixing booze with Prozac, or a tweeker ! Get Real !
Update: Please see my update in comment #6 below. This thing looks as if it is much less a concern for the ordinary essayist/diarist than I thought!
THIS AFFECTS ALL BLOGGERS/CITIZEN JOURNALISTS
Thanks to kos himself, and to kossack WilliamKWolfrom, and AMERICAblogger John Aravosis, I am now aware of Senators Durbin and Feinstein’s efforts to deny citizens who do citizen journalism the benefits of the same shield law which protects professional journalists.