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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dem Senator Merkley Waves Verizon Phone At NSA Chief, Demands To Know Why Data Was Seized

By Susan Duclos

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) waves his Verizon phone, while questioning National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, and demanded to know what "gave you the grounds for acquiring my cell phone data?"

Video at The Hill, who describes the exchange as dramatic.

Alexander sidestepped the question, saying the Department of Justice was responsible for outlining the legal authorities under which the agency could request such data. He pledged, though, that he would make an effort to provide that explanation to the committee.

"I will work hard to do that, and if I can't do that, I will come back to you and tell you why," he said.

The concern over civil liberties and constitutional rights is coming at Obama from all sides, with Democrats openly breaking with the administration, as shown in the previous Wake up America piece, where  Democratic Senator Ron Wyden is quoted directly in a Reuters article saying "One of the most important responsibilities a senator has is oversight of the intelligence community. This job cannot be done responsibly if senators aren't getting straight answers to direct questions."

The revelations have led many lawmakers, who say they were not aware of the scope of the agency’s actions, to demand more information on the surveillance programs.

Merkley has been one of the most vocal critics of the top-secret NSA efforts, and on Tuesday proposed legislation that would declassify the legal opinions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court justifying those programs.

"How, in a democracy, can you have a debate if you can't talk about what the plain language [of the law] means?" Merkley asked.

While the Obama administration has dramatically increased it's spying and data collecting on Americans compared to the Bush Era spying, an IBD editorial points out that since  2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents.

.... No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.
Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.

We do know the panel was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel's formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.

Before mosques were excluded from the otherwise wide domestic spy net the administration has cast, the FBI launched dozens of successful sting operations against homegrown jihadists — inside mosques — and disrupted dozens of plots against the homeland.

If only they were allowed to continue, perhaps the many victims of the Boston Marathon bombings would not have lost their lives and limbs. The FBI never canvassed Boston mosques until four days after the April 15 attacks, and it did not check out the radical Boston mosque where the Muslim bombers worshipped.

Ironically, via The Tea Party News Network, there is a clip of now-Vice President Joe Biden, from 2006, saying that a spying president, shouldn't be trusted.


Full Wake up America NSA scandal coverage found here.