But there was one very odd moment at the very beginning, before the exchange above. Christie noted that he was appointed to his former job as a US Attorney on September 10th of 2001:
MEGYN KELLY: Do you really believe you can assign blame to Senator Paul just for opposing he bulk collection of people’s phone records in the event of a terrorist attack?
CHRISTIE: Yes, I do. And I’ll tell you why: because I’m the only person on this stage who’s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who has gone before the federal — the Foreign Intelligence Service court, who has prosecuted and investigated and jailed terrorists in this country after September 11th.
I was appointed U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001, and the world changed enormously the next day, and that happened in my state.
This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks from the Trade Center that day, at her office, having gone through it that morning.
I found that interesting, because I didn’t know that. And perhaps the reason I didn’t know that is that it’s complete bullshit. As Marcy Wheeler points out on Emptywheel, Christie was actuallynominated months later, on December 7th, 2001
The President intends to nominate Christopher J. Christie to be United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. Christie has been a partner with Dughi, Hewitt and Palatucci of Cranford, New Jersey since 1987. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Seton Hall University School of Law.
Christie took office in January 2002.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Monday used last week’s appellate court ruling that NSA bulk collection of call records is illegal to bash his Republican counterpart for wanting to keep it going through 2020.
“My friend, the Majority Leader, keeps talking about extending the program for five and a half years,” Reid said from the floor of the Senate, referencing Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “How can you reauthorize something that’s illegal?” Reid asked. “You can’t. You shouldn’t.”
“Extending an illegal program for five and a half years? That is not sensible,” he said. “What should happen is that we should move forward and do something that is needed here — and that is, do it all over again.”
On Sunday at a speech in Boston, McConnell called the bulk phone call metadata collection program “an important tool to prevent the next terrorist attack,” and said that the U.S. “is better off with an extension of the Patriot Act than not.” Three provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1, including one that the NSA has claimed justifies the program.
Reid offered an alternative Monday, saying that McConnell should seek to advance the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the bulk collection of metadata from domestic phone companies. He pointed out that a version of the bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in April by a 25 – 2 vote, and predicted that the legislation would be advanced by a full House vote this week.
Reid also painted the bill as an escape hatch for McConnell — and said he would back a revolt that’s being openly planned, should the Senate Majority Leader attempt to move for a clean extension of the Patriot Act. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have already threatened filibusters.
“This is the only bipartisan, bicameral solution we have today that will end the illegal bulk collection and reform and reauthorize key provisions of FISA,” Reid said.
“Otherwise … I’m not the only one, Mr. President,” he added. “I’m told, walking over here, that the junior senator from Kentucky is not going to let an extension … take place. So why don’t we just go ahead and get it done now.”
The NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone call records may be illegal, a US federal appeals court has ruled.
The US Second Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata1program was not authorised by section 215 of the Patriot Act, voiding an earlier ruling by a lower court. The US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a legal challenge to the NSA dragnet surveillance program. Judge Vernon S Broderick ruled that section 215 of the Patriot Act was a statutory scheme that precludes judicial review.
The decision by three judges on appeal overturns that decision and re-opens the case against the NSA that it acted contrary to either the Fourth or First Amendments to the US Constitution. Lawyers are still to argue on these points properly. Attorneys for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) have however succeeded in re-instating the case and in deprecating the Patriot Act as a trump card in justifying surveillance, as the ruling by the judges explains.
The City of Philadelphia does not want you to know in which neighborhoods the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is focusing their use of powerful automatic license plate readers (ALPR), nor do they want disclosed the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of this technology, as they continue to fight a Declaration public records request filed in January with MuckRock News.
City officials argue in their response that every metro driver is under investigation, in an effort to exempt so-called criminal investigatory records from release under PA’s Right-to-Know Act:
Moreover, records “relating to or resulting in a criminal investigation” are exempt from disclosure under the Act, in particular “[i]nvestigative materials, notes, correspondence, videos and reports.” 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(16)(ii). Such individual license plate readings and accompanying information are investigative materials that relate to individual criminal investigations, and, as your request indicates, these investigations may result in vehicle stops, arrests, or other police actions. Therefore, the individual license plate reading data is exempt from disclosure under the Act.
There is a strong argument for ending these programs on the basis of their high cost and lack of effectiveness alone. But they actually do damage to our society. TSA agents participating in the behavioral detection program have claimed the program promotes racial profiling, and at least one inspector general report confirmed it. Victims unfairly caught up in the broader suspicious activity reporting programs have sued over the violations of their privacy. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board concluded the telephone metadata program violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and raised serious constitutional concerns.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act passed by Senate Intelligence Committee last week is yet another example of this phenomenon. Experts agree that the bill would do little, if anything, to reduce the large data breaches we’ve seen in recent years, which have been caused by bad cyber security practices rather than a lack of information about threats. If passed by the full Congress, it would further weaken electronic privacy laws and ultimately put our data at greater risk. The bill would add another layer of government surveillance on a U.S. tech industry that is already facing financial losses estimated at $180 billion as a result of the exposure of NSA’s aggressive collection programs.
Last week there was a bizarre and ill-informed post by music industry lawyer Chris Castle — who has a weird infatuation with the idea that Google must be pure evil — in which he tried to argue that because YouTube wasn’t able to take down propaganda videos showing ISIS atrocities fast enough, that Google was providing “material support” for terrorism. As Castle notes:
Google’s distribution of jihadi videos on Google’s monopoly video search platform certainly looks like material support of terrorists which is itself a violation of the federal law Google claims to hold so dear. (See 18 U.S. Code §2339A and §2339B aka the U.S. Patriot Act.)
Of course, there are all sorts of problems with the Patriot Act, including its definitions of “material support of terrorism,” but to stretch the law to argue that providing an open platform and simply not removing videos fast enough (the videos in question all got removed pretty rapidly anyway, but not fast enough for Castle) is somehow “material support for terrorism” is flat out crazy. It stems from the same sort of confused logic that Castle has used in the past, arguing that Google and others must magically “just know” what is infringing and what is not — suggesting a true lack of understanding about the scale of offerings like YouTube and the resources needed to sort through all the content.
We were inclined to simply dismiss Castle’s nuttiness to the category of “WTF” where it belongs… until at a conference earlier this week, a DOJ official, John Carlin, who holds the role of assistant attorney general for national security, appeared to suggest that anyone helping ISIS’s social media campaign could be guilty of “material support” for terrorism:
John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, told a cybersecurity conference in Washington on Monday that officials could try to blunt ISIS’s violent PR operation by essentially trying propagandists as terrorists. He suggested the Justice Department could bring prosecutions under the law against providing material support to a terrorist organization. His remarks were believed to be the first time a U.S. official has ever said that people who assist ISIS with online media could face criminal prosecution.
Carlin was asked at the conference whether he would “consider criminal charges” against people who are “proliferating ISIS social media.”
His answer: “Yes. You need to look at the particular facts and evidence.” But Carlin noted that the United States could use the material support law to prosecute “technical expertise” to a designated terrorist organization. And spreading the word for ISIS online could count as such expertise.
The current practices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court are effective and don’t need to be changed, according to former FBI director Robert Mueller.
“Yes, it’s worthwhile. Metadata of telephone companies is terribly helpful,” Mueller said, speaking Tuesday morning at an American Bar Association breakfast held at the the University Club in Washington, D.C.
Mueller cited the example of the Boston Marathon bombing as evidence that bulk collection is important, saying that analysis of metadata was able to rule out potential associates of the Tsarnaev brothers. “They had additional IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices],” Mueller said, adding that bulk collection helped prevent a second attack.
Metadata collection, he said, “is tremendously helpful in identifying contacts.”
The FISA court’s bulk metadata collection program has come under intense scrutiny in light of disclosures made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Congress now has until the end of May to decide whether to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the bulk collection program.
Legislators are working on the language for a reauthorization bill, according to Mueller. “They’re tweaking it, trying to accommodate additional concerns, like privacy,” he said.
Mueller also defended current procedures, which have been criticized for not allowing those subject to surveillance to argue in front of the FISA court. “I’m not sure you need to change what’s been in effect,” he said.
Mueller also didn’t mince words when asked about a possible plea deal for Snowden.
“He’s indicted,” Mueller said of Snowden. “He should come back and face the music.”