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Congress Did WHAT? 3 Scary New Congressional Decisions

Congress Did WHAT? 3 Scary New Congressional Decisions

While the mainstream news is feverishly tracking Congress as of late, all of its focus is surrounding the Fiscal Cliff. And though that outcome will certainly have major economic repercussions, this state of indecision isn’t the only story worthy of attention. In fact, what the legislators can agree on might be even more alarming than what they can’t agree on. Congress has quietly made three major decisions of dubious constitutionality that everyone should be aware of:

1. Indefinite Detention of Citizens Is Still on the Books

Last year, the NDAA included a provision that permitted the United States to hold its own citizens it suspected of terrorism indefinitely without a trial. Although the issue was kept fairly quiet, many of the citizens who were knowledgeable on the topic were outraged at the loss of a fundamental right.

While President Barack Obama initially claimed he was hesitant to sign the bill with that stipulation, confusingly, his administration would later go on to appeal two court decisions that found the indefinite detention clause unconstitutional.

Fortunately, Congress made an attempt to overturn its poor decision from the previous year. By a 2/3 majority, Senators agreed to amend 2013’s NDAA bill to remove indefinite detention; their stance was not to be soft on terrorism suspects, but to give them their day in court as the Constitution guarantees.

And then, for reasons that are not altogether clear, the new provision was stripped. Congress voted on a version of the bill that did not include the amendment. Senator Rand Paul, the often controversial Kentucky Republican, fingered Senator John McCain as the culprit, calling the decision an “abomination.” “This is so fundamentally wrong and goes against everything we stand for as a country that it can’t go unnoticed,” said Paul.

Despite these vocal objections from Paul and some fellow Senators, they still voted to pass the revised 2013 NDAA bill unanimously. As it stands, your right to a trial is not actually always a right anymore.

2. The Government Can Read Your Emails…

A month ago, we worried that Congress would permit the government to read citizens’ private emails without reason. When concerns were raised about email privacy went public, an amendment was added to the bill to forbid government agencies from snooping without a warrant.

Just like the NDAA situation, however, that amendment mysteriously disappeared from the bill Congress actually voted on. Now, no such protections are in place.

So, again, as it stands, the government permits itself to read your email without a warrant, as long as someone claims it is part of an “investigation” – which could include anything, really.

This practice seems to fly in the face of the Fourth Amendment. Granted, this country’s forefathers did not make a stipulation specifically about email, but it shouldn’t be hard to equate emails with modern day letters, which are protected from warrantless searches.

3. …And Listen to Your Phone Calls

The perpetual spying went even further when, on Friday, the Senate voted to continue warrantless phone tapping of citizens for the next half decade. If government agencies are conducting investigations on potential terrorist threats (which is left to their own discretion, of course), they have the right to listen to your phone conversations and read your text messages. Officials do not need a judge’s approval or even reasonable cause to utilize the wiretapping capabilities.

Known as FISA, this Fourth Amendment-defying power began during the Bush administration. Obama has said he very much supports this legislation, so there is no legitimate hope for a veto.

 

We are losing formerly constitutionally protected rights before our eyes, so why is it not receiving much attention? And why is it that even when Congressional members seem to see that it is fundamentally wrong – that these laws mysteriously get passed without the reasonable amendments?

 

 

Related Stories:

Internet Privacy? Not If the Government Has Its Way

National Defense Authorization Act Goes to President Obama

10 Important Issues the Debates Are Ignoring

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191 comments

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9:51AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

Scary.

6:31PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank You for this article!

3:28AM PST on Jan 5, 2013

Our politicians have forgotten who they work for...US!

2:07PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

We call America the "land of the free" but it is clear that we are no longer as free as we thought. America is not a leader in freedom and democracy. That is just propaganda and to dispute the fact would be political suicide. WAKE UP, PEOPLE! You have all been living in a lie.

10:11AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Our constitional rights have been eroding since the 60's & 70's when the Vietnam war protestors tried to wake up their fellow citizens. We have been living in a society of Fear since 9-11.

Until someone important or famous is martyred, this erosion will continue. We condone these constitutional "infringements" out of fear of Terrorism and fear of our own government. It is no longer a "slippery slope" - we have already slipped. As a private citizen, all I can do is vote and to call my congressional delegates and share my views, so far that's still legal.

8:42AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Not surprised.

9:57AM PST on Jan 2, 2013

May I suggest that Dion C. and Dorothy N either stop hogging all posting space or consider writing a book and publish it on the web for everyone interested to read. I'm not denying anyone their right to post their views anywhere, but making me and everyone else having to scroll down forever until we find other postings, isn't very fun or even justifiable.
Anything above mentioned posters write on Care2 will ever be read by me, and I suspect there are several others that pass on it aswell. There are so many others posting short and consistent views on Care2 I enjoy reading and I don't want to miss out on them just because some think their ramblings are worth all the space.

11:52AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Thanks!

8:16AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

I wasn't aware this was an America only blog David WHAT? Most foreigners know way more about our country than we Americans do.

7:50AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Lol, David F., hold onto your hat, but I'm not the only foreigner on here - the whole WORLD is swarming with us!

Assuming that this is what your 'what' indicated, somebody down-thread had been given the idea that Agenda 21 was something scary, so I posted the facts.

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