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Montreal Climate talks (2005)
War & Peace
Lee Siu hin
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
Rights & Wrongs
Eleanor J. Bader
NSA Spying on Americans Is â€¦
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NSA Spying on Americans Is Illegal
W hat if it emerged that the President of the United States was flagrantly violating the Constitution and a law passed by the Congress to protect Americans against abuses by a super-secret spy agency? What if, instead of apologizing, he said, in essence, “I have the power to do that because I say I can.” That frightening scenario is exactly what we are witnessing in the case of the warrantless National Security Agency (NSA) spying ordered by President Bush that was reported December 16, 2005 by the New York Times .
According to the Times , Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 allowing the NSA to monitor without a warrant the international (and sometimes domestic) telephone calls and e-mail messages of hundreds or thousands of citizens and legal residents inside the United States. The program eventually came to include some purely internal controls—but no requirement that warrants be obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as the 4th Amendment to the Constitution and the foreign intelligence surveillance laws require.
In other words, no independent review or judicial oversight. That kind of surveillance is illegal. Period.
The day after this shocking abuse of power became public, President Bush admitted that he had authorized it, but argued that he had the authority to do so. However, the law governing government eavesdropping on U.S. citizens is well-established and crystal clear. President Bush’s claim that he is not bound by that law is simply astounding.
Flouting A Long History
T he tensions between the need for intelligence agencies to protect the nation and the danger that they would become a domestic spy agency have been explicitly and repeatedly fought out in U.S. history. The National Security Act of 1947 contained a specific ban on intelligence operatives from operating domestically. In the 1970s the U.S. learned about the extensive domestic political spying carried out by the FBI, the military, the CIA, and the NSA, and Congress passed new laws to prevent a repeat of those abuses.
In a December 17 radio address Bush asserted that the spying was “fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities.” But his constitutional duty is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” (Article II, Section 3); the law clearly establishes well-defined procedures for eavesdropping on U.S. persons and the fact is, Bush ordered that those procedures not be followed.
Government eavesdropping on Americans is an extremely serious matter; the ability to intrude on the private realm is a tremendous power that can be used to monitor, embarrass, control, disgrace, or ruin an individual. Because it is so invasive, the technology of wiretapping has been subject to carefully crafted statutory controls almost since it was invented. Ignoring those controls and wiretapping without a court order is a crime that carries a significant prison sentence (in fact, criminal violations of the wiretap statute were among the articles of impeachment drafted against President Nixon shortly before his resignation).
U nfortunately, although the law in this matter is clear, many Americans, faced with President Bush’s assertions of “inherent” authority for these actions, will not know what to believe. There are only five points they need to understand:
- Point #1: Electronic surveillance by the government is strictly limited by the Constitution and federal law . The law on surveillance begins with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states clearly that Americans’ privacy may not be invaded without a warrant based on probable cause.
The U.S. Supreme Court ( U.S. v. Katz 389 US 347) has made it clear that this core privacy protection does cover government eavesdropping. As a result, all electronic surveillance by the government in the United States is illegal, unless it falls under one of a small number of precise exceptions specifically carved out in the laws. (United States Code Title 50, Chapter 36, Subchapter 1, Section 1809, Criminal sanction: (a) Prohibited activities: A person is guilty of an offense if he/she intentionally engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute . )
other words, the NSA can only spy where it is explicitly granted
permission to do so by statute. Citizens concerned about surveillance
do not have to answer the question, “What law restricts the
NSA’s spying?” Rather, the government is required to supply
an answer to the question “What law permits the NSA to spy?”
- Point #2: There are only three laws that permit the government to spy
Congress has explicitly stated that three laws are the exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance can be carried out (18 USC, Section 2511(2)(f)). They are: Title III and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which make up the statutes that govern criminal wiretaps in the United States; and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is the law that governs eavesdropping on agents of “foreign powers” within the United States, including suspected foreign terrorists.
- Point #3: The Bush-NSA spying was not authorized by any of these laws
Title III and ECPA govern domestic criminal wiretaps and are not relevant to the NSA’s spying. FISA is the law under which the NSA should have operated. It authorizes the government to conduct surveillance in certain situations without meeting all of the requirements of the Fourth Amendment that apply under criminal law, but requires that an independent Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court oversee that surveillance to make sure that Americans who have no ties to foreign terrorist organizations or other “foreign powers” are not spied upon.
FISA was significantly loosened by the PATRIOT Act (which, for example, allowed it to be used for some criminal investigations). Parts of it stand in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. However, even the post-PATRIOT Act version of FISA does not authorize the president to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents in the U.S. without an order from the FISA Court. Yet it is that very court order requirement—imposed to protect innocent Americans—that the president ignores.
One member of the FISA Court, Judge James Roberston, has apparently resigned from the court in protest of President Bush’s secret authorization of this program. The New York Times reported that the court’s chief judge complained about the program when she was (belatedly) notified of it and refused to allow information gathered under the program to be used as the basis for FISA wiretap orders.
- Point #4: Congress’s post-9/11 use-of-force resolution does not legitimize the Bush/NSA spying
Congress after 9/11 approved the Authorization to Use Military Force against those responsible for the attacks in order to authorize the president to conduct foreign military operations such as the invasion of Afghanistan.
But that resolution contains no language changing, overriding, or repealing any laws passed by Congress. Congress does not repeal legislation through hints and innuendos, and the Authorization to Use Military Force does not authorize the president to violate the law against surveillance without a warrant any more than it authorizes him to carry out an armed robbery or seize control of Citibank in order to pay for operations against terrorists.
When President Truman tried to seize control of steel mills that were gripped by strikes in 1952, the Supreme Court decisively rejected his authority to make such a seizure, even in the face of arguments that the strike would interfere with the supply of weapons and ammunition to U.S. troops in Korea.
The Supreme Court also rejected similar assertions of inherent executive power by Richard Nixon. FISA contains explicit language describing the president’s powers “during time of war” and provides that “the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this title to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen days following a declaration of war by the Congress.” So even if we accept the argument that the use-of-force resolution places us on a war footing, warrantless surveillance would have been legal for only 15 days after the resolution was passed on September 18, 2001 .
- Point #5: The need for quick action does not justify an end-run around the courts
FISA allows wiretapping without a court order in an emergency; the court must be notified within 72 hours. The government is aware of this emergency power and has used it repeatedly. In addition, the Foreign Intelligence court is physically located in the Justice Department building and the FISA law requires that at least two FISA judges reside in the Washington, DC area, for precisely the reason that rapid action is sometimes needed.
Given the extensive (indeed, excessive) surveillance powers that the government already possesses, the Administration’s blatantly illegal use of warrantless surveillance raises an important question: why? One possibility, raised by the New York Times in a December 24, 2005 story (“Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report”), is that the NSA is relying on assistance from several unnamed telecommunications companies to “trace and analyze large volumes of communications” and is “much larger than the White House has acknowledged.”
This, as security expert Bruce Schneier has noted, suggests the Bush administration has developed “a whole new surveillance paradigm”—exploiting the NSA’s well known capabilities to spy on individuals not one at a time, as FISA permits, but to run communications en masse through computers in the search for “suspicious" individuals or patterns. This “new paradigm” may well be connected to the NSA program sometimes known as Echelon, which carries out that kind of mass collection of communications (www.nsawatch.org). This “wholesale” surveillance, as Schneier calls it, would constitute an illegal invasion of privacy on a scale that has never before been seen (Schneier, “NSA and Bush’s Illegal Eavesdropping,” Salon.com).
According to the Times , several telecommunications companies provided the NSA with direct access to streams of communications over their networks. The NSA appears to have direct access to a large volume of Americans’ communications—with not only the assent, but also the cooperation of the companies handling those communications.
It is not clear from the report what companies are involved or how or what the NSA can access. But this revelation raises questions about the legal authority of the NSA to request and receive this data and also whether these companies may have violated federal laws protecting these communications or their own privacy polices (which may, for example, provide that they will only turn over their customers’ data with their consent or in response to a proper order).
Regardless of the scale of the spying, we are facing a historic moment: the president of the United States has claimed sweeping wartime powers to brush aside the clear limits on his power set by our Constitution and laws—a chilling assertion of presidential power that has not been seen since Richard Nixon.
For more, see www.aclu.org
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.