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Commentary :: Human Rights
Will NSA illegal Electronic Spying, be used to Seize Citizens’ Homes?
17 Dec 2007
Stop “Retroactive Immunity” for Phone Companies that helped NSA spy on Americans!

Determining what NSA electronic surveillance can be used by police or introduced into court by Government, may be the next battle Americans have to fight.
Senator Dodd plans to Filibuster a FISA bill that will give “Retroactive Immunity” to Telecoms that helped NSA spy on Americans’ phone calls, faxes and emails? If the government provides the Telecoms “Retroactive Immunity” at least forty lawsuits filed against those companies will be trashed. Not so obvious is what will happen to NSA’s millions of illegally collected emails, faxes and personal phone call information that belong to U.S. Citizens? Will that information be deleted or copied?

Depending on the legal method U.S. Government devises to let the phone companies off the hook for spying on Americans, could set NSA free—to share its “illegally collected wiretap information” with local, state and federal police to initiate ordinary domestic criminal investigations.

Determining what NSA electronic surveillance can be used by police or introduced into court by Government, may be the next battle Americans have to fight. Previously prosecutors were not allowed access to the Justice Department’s intelligence files for domestic criminal prosecutions. In 2003 a court ruling lowered that barrier, allowing prosecutors to review old surveillance. In 2003, 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.”

It is problematic Law enforcement agencies will want to use NSA’s old illegal wiretap evidence and other surveillance to go back decades to arrest Americans and/or civilly forfeit citizens’ homes, inheritances and business using a mere "preponderance of evidence" under Title 18 of the United States Code. The Patriot Act specifically mentions the provisions passed in Rep. Henry Hyde’s bill HR 1658 "The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000." HR 1658 contained a "retroactive asset forfeiture provision" that was made retroactive for assets already subject to government forfeiture, "property already tainted by crime" providing that “the property” was part of or later connected to a criminal investigation that was in progress" when HR.1658 passed. In 2000 after HR1658 passed the old statute of limitations that gave government five years to seize property involved in crime died. Police now have five-years to seize property from “whenever they claim” they learned an asset was made subject to civil asset forfeiture. There are now over 200 U.S. laws that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture.

Imagine NSA sharing its illegal-domestic surveillance information with countless police agencies dependent on forfeiting Citizens’ property to pay their department operating costs. Police too easily can take an innocent person’s phone call or hastily written email out of context to allege a crime was committed. Imagine Police using the Patriot Act’s low standard of proof "a preponderance of evidence” to judge NSA illegal domestic wiretap information, perhaps to go back before 2000 to civilly seize a Citizen's home, business or other property. No conviction is required for the U.S. Government to civilly forfeit a Citizen’s home or business. Under the Patriot Act, witnesses can be kept secret while being paid part of the assets they cause to be forfeited.

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Comments

Wimping Down Americans
18 Dec 2007
Americans have been "pussified". Hardly anyone speaks up anymore. It wouldn't suprise me if the government started taking property from people. The majority wouldn't say anything. Why? They're gutless wonders. No heart.
Just like the majority of Congress.
I'm planning on learning Spanish. 12 years away from retirement. I'm moving to South America. More freedom. Less spying on their population. I can't live in a police state. Can you?