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Commentary :: Human Rights
Where Did Government Put Your NSA-Wiretapped Phone, Fax and Private Email Communications?
25 Mar 2009
In 2008 Telecoms were granted government immunity after they helped U.S. Government spy on millions of Americans’ electronic communications. Since, Government has not disclosed what happened to NSA’s millions of collected emails, faxes and phone call information that belong to U.S. Citizens? Could those wiretaps perhaps illegal, become a problem for some Americans? Neither Congress nor the courts—determined what NSA electronic surveillance could be used by police or introduced into court by the government to prosecute citizens.
wiretap.png
In 2004, former Attorney General John Ashcroft asked government prosecutors to review thousands of old intelligence files including wiretaps to retrieve information prosecutors could use in “ordinary” criminal prosecutions. That was shortly after a court case lowered a barrier that blocked prosecutors from using illegal-wire tap evidence in Justice Dept. “Intelligence Files” to prosecute ordinary crimes. It would appear this information, may also be used by government to prosecute civil asset forfeitures.
See: http://www.securityfocus.com/news/5452

Considering this court case, it might be possible for NSA to share its “recent” electronic-domestic-spying with countless U.S. police agencies; including government contracted--companies and private individuals that have security clearances to facilitate seizing Americans’ property—-to keep part of the bounty. Police too easily can take an innocent person’s hastily written email, fax or phone call out of context to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause an arrest or asset forfeiture.

There are over 200 U.S. laws and violations mentioned in the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 and the Patriot Act that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture.” Under federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property.

In the U.S. private security companies and their operatives work so closely with law enforcement to forfeit property—providing intelligence information, they appear to merge with police.

Rep. Henry Hyde’s bill HR 1658 passed, the “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” and effectively eliminated the “statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture. The statute now runs five years from when police allege they “learned” that an asset became subject to forfeiture. With such a weak statute of limitations and the low standard of civil proof needed for government to forfeit property “A preponderance of Evidence”, it is problematic law enforcement and private government contractors will want access to telecom-NSA and other government wiretaps perhaps illegal, to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes, inheritances and businesses under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on “Asset Forfeiture” to help pay their salaries and operating costs?

Under the USA Patriot Act, witnesses can be kept hidden while being paid part of the assets they cause to be forfeited. The Patriot Act specifically mentions using Title 18USC asset forfeiture laws: those laws include a provision in Rep. Henry Hyde’s 2000 bill HR 1658—for “retroactive civil asset forfeiture” of “assets already subject to government forfeiture”, meaning "property already tainted by crime" provided “the property” was already part of or “later connected” to a criminal investigation in progress" when HR.1658 passed. That can apply to more than two hundred federal laws and violations.

To help protect Americans from continuing police forfeiture abuse, Congress should pass legislation that raises the standard of evidence Government uses for Civil Asset Forfeiture from a mere “Preponderance of Evidence”, to “Clear and Convincing Evidence.

End of Item

Read Recent Shocking U.S. Police Forfeitures Story at:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008851454_forfeit13.h

Article By Howard Witt, Chicago Tribune describes Tenaha, Texas—How African Americans and other motorists entering the town, were stripped by police of their belongings: cash, jewelry and other valuables without charging them with a crime. Asset forfeiture victims had to sign over their property to the town or face felony charges. This is an enormous story of police forfeiture abuse.

This work is in the public domain.
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When are "Ordinary Criminals" Terrorists?
28 Mar 2009
The Patriot Act's mention of incidental criminal networks-opened the door for police under the Act’s anti-terrorism provisions to broadly use wiretaps—to spy on U.S. Citizens.

The Patriot Act equates illegal activity with supporting terrorism. The Patriot Act defines supporting "terrorist activity” as any criminal activity that "participates" in "World Markets" that terrorist may use or depend on for their support. For example someone distributing illegal-drugs could be charged with supporting a “Criminal Market” that terrorists use—based on the premise—both criminals and terrorists use the same world networks and organizations to "Market" illegal-drugs; and have interests in criminal activity." That criminal/terrorism nexus by the Patriot Act is logically flawed when you consider that a common car thief could be charged with supporting terrorism by selling a stolen car on a "black-market" a terrorist among many others used.

Police using the Patriot Act’s low probable cause requirement can too easily wiretap and spy on anyone they believe might be involved in ordinary crime. Only Congress can restrict the Patriot Act and Government from Wiretapping U.S. Citizens without having actual probable cause.
Re: Where Did Government Put Your NSA-Wiretapped Phone, Fax and Private Email Communications?
08 Apr 2009
See IMC San Franciso:
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/04/07/18586797.php
Obama Embraces Bush Position on Warrantless Wiretapping

"Tue Apr 7 2009 DOJ Claims Illegal Surveillance Protected by "Sovereign Immunity", Keeps Straight Face"

The federal government has finally responded to Jewel v. NSA, a lawsuit against dragnet warrantless wiretapping filed last September by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

In a motion filed on Friday, April 3rd, the Obama Dept. of Justice (DOJ) demanded that the entire lawsuit be dismissed based on both the Bush administration's claim that a "state secrets" privilege bars any lawsuits against the executive branch for illegal spying, as well as a novel "sovereign immunity" claim that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance, unless there was "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications.

According to EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston, "this is the first time [the DOJ] claimed sovereign immunity against Wiretap Act and Stored Communications Act [SCA] claims. In other words, the administration is arguing that the U.S. can never be sued for spying that violates federal surveillance statutes, whether FISA, the Wiretap Act or the SCA."

Since at least 2001, AT&T and other major telecommunications carriers have apparently been engaged in a massive operation allowing the NSA to eavesdrop and record all voice and data communication. On Sept. 18th, 2008, San Francisco-based EFF filed a lawsuit in federal court against the NSA on behalf of five California AT&T customers to stop the ongoing surveillance of their telephone and internet communications. The plaintiffs are also suing the President, Vice President and other officials who ordered or participated in the warrantless wiretapping.