cuke.com Engaged Buddhism/Current Events cuke interview with Frank Anderton
Frank Anderton writes:
The issue of illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens by our own government is one of the more pressing and important issues that we face today. It is important enough to me that I am spending part of a Saturday afternoon writing and sending this email to virtually everyone whose email address I have! I spent two and a half years of my military service overseas doing the kind of surveillance that is happening to us in our own country today. The difference between that and what the NSA (and other government agencies) are doing today is that when I was in that line of business the surveillance was being conducted outside of the U.S. and not, so far as I know, to Americans. But I have a pretty good idea of what is happening now and how it is being done.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act gives the FBI the power to require "the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. The function of 215 is to authorize "Access to records and other items under the foreign intelligence surveillance act." (A copy of Section 215 is attached; it may have been modified since this version but it has not weakened the powers of PAT). Title VII, Section 702 (and other relevant sections of the Foreign Service Intelligence Act) requires FBI agents to swear in an affidavit before a FISA court (which is not open to the public, as are the proceedings of our civil and criminal courts) that the surveillance being proposed is for the purpose of collecting intelligence-related information about terrorism by reading our mail, listening to phone conversations, reading faxes, etc. Once this simple affidavit is made, a FISA letter (essentially a warrant) is issued to the agent, authorizing the surveillance sought.
In my opinion, parts of FISA and the Patriot Act violate the First and Fourth amendments to the Constitution, regarding freedom of speech and freedom from illegal search and seizure. I believe each and every opportunity to repeal these sections of FISA and PAT should be seized and acted upon relentlessly until they are repealed. This is only a beginning, but it's a good one. We need to take back the freedoms that were so egregiously eroded after 9/11, and repealing sections 215 and 702 is essential in doing this.
I have only touched on a small part of the matter in this letter, in the hopes that it will serve as a beginning, however small, to righting the wrongs of PAT and FISA. If you don't understand the legal aspects of these issues, or want more information, it's available Online.
(ACLU information follows)