3 Ways USA Freedom Act Fails to Stop FBI Spying on Americans

  June 2, 2015

3 Ways USA Freedom Act Fails to Stop FBI Spying on Americans

As the Senate looks to pass a bipartisan "reformed" Patriot Act, TRNN's Jessica Desvarieux examines how this bill will continue FBI's mass collection of private information of Americans who are under no suspicion of crime
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support the Real News Network because of their bravery, integrity, informative and educational - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Jessica Desvarieux is a multimedia journalist who serves as the Capitol Hill correspondent for the Real News Network. Most recently, Jessica worked as a producer for the ABC Sunday morning program, This Week with Christianne Amanpour. Before moving to Washington DC, Jessica served as the Haiti corespondent for TIME Magazine and TIME.com. Previously, she was as an on-air reporter for New York tri-state cable outlet Regional News Network, where she worked before the 2010 earthquake struck her native country of Haiti. From March 2008 - September 2009, she lived in Egypt, where her work appeared in various media outlets like the Associated Press, Voice of America, and the International Herald Tribune - Daily News Egypt. She graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism with a Master of Science degree in journalism. She is proficient in French, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and has a working knowledge of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Follow her @Jessica_Reports.


3 Ways USA Freedom Act Fails to Stop FBI Spying on AmericansJESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: If you've made a phone call, sent a text or an email, the Federal Bureau of Investigation could be monitoring your online activities without a warrant. Critics of the Patriot Act have pointed out this fact, and now Congress is doing something about it. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate is likely to pass a bill called the US Freedom Act, which advocates say will reform the Patriot Act of 2001, and some of its surveillance provisions.

The House of Representatives already passed their version of the USA Freedom Act last month, which includes a change that makes sure the government can no longer hold on to phone records but instead it will remain in the hands of phone providers that can be compelled to turn over those records to the government. President Obama said in his weekly address that he's ready to sign the bill into law.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Politics aside, put our national security first. Pass the USA Freedom Act now, and let's protect the security and civil liberties of every American.

DESVARIEUX: But critics say it doesn't go far enough to protect Americans' 4th Amendment rights, especially against unwarranted seizures, and the right that all warrants be supported by probable cause.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Our forefathers would be aghast. One of the things they despised was general warrants. This is a debate that should be had, and the reason I am objecting is because I've made a very simple request: to have amendments, to have them voted on, and to have a guarantee that they're voted on.

DESVARIEUX: But Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's two amendments were never brought up for a vote. Director of the nonpartisan organization Bill of Rights Defense Committee Sue Udry says without amendments the US Freedom Act comes short of protecting citizens from not just the NSA but the FBI in three major ways.

Number one, under the USA Freedom Act there will be no change to the FBI's national security letters, or NSL, policy.

SUE UDRY, BILL OF RIGHTS DEFENSE COMMITTEE: NSL letters are a way that the FBI can demand information from telephone companies and internet service providers and banks to get information about people without any court oversight whatsoever.

DESVARIEUX: Number two, the bill fails to challenge Section 215, where the FBI's expansive use of the term 'business records' originates.

UDRY: The Department of Justice general inspector has looked into the way the FBI uses these national security letters and found all sorts of problems with them, and in fact referred to them as kind of like an ATM machine for FBI agents. They were pretty much going through no process whatsoever, and just demanding information from phone companies about people that they were curious about, whether they were suspected of a crime or not.

DESVARIEUX: Number three, congressional oversight of the FBI is still weak.

UDRY: But the FBI has very loose guidelines about who they can investigate and what they can do to investigate them. So my particular concern with the FBI that's absolutely not addressed by USA Freedom is the FBI's use of informants. And we know that they're infiltrating peace groups and environmental groups and animal rights groups on the basis of national security. It was just revealed through a FOIA request that the FBI have been spying on people who are opposed to the [inaud.] pipeline, and they were doing that on the basis that, well, oil is important to the economy and to national security, so therefore these protesters are threats to national security. And the FBI was spying on them.

And there's absolutely nothing in USA Freedom that prevents the FBI from doing that. And we know they're doing it, and Congress doesn't seem to care. And that's where we come in, and we really need to be holding Congress's feet to the fire to reform the FBI.

DESVARIEUX: For The Real News Network, Jessica Desvarieux, Washington.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

Elites Outraged At Trump's Refusal to Accept Election Result
Two More Land Rights Activists Assassinated in Honduras
Final Presidential Debate Accentuates Candidates' Divide on Abortion Rights
Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to No-Fly Zone in Syria
A Bloodier Battle for Mosul Might Begin After the Ouster of ISIS
Covering the Epidemic of Violence in Baltimore - TRNN Grand Opening
Justice Department Sues Pocomoke For Violating Rights of Fired Black Police Chief
Officers Withdrawn from North Dakota Following Arrest of Madison Elected Official
Fair Elections Under Attack, Just Not in the Way Donald Trump Wants You to Believe
TiSA Agreement Leaks Show Corporations Pushing Privatization of Public Services
Exxon Fighting to Shut Down Investigations Into Company's Foreknowledge of Climate Change
Opposition Calls for a General Strike As Congolese President Wins Election Delay
The Path to Actual Police Reform Starts with Real Civilian Oversight
HFC Reduction Agreement Is Historic, But No Silver Bullet for Climate Change
What the NYT Left Out About Obama's 'Secret War' in Somalia
After Mosul, Whither ISIS?
US-Russia Tensions Escalating Over Fate of Assad
Seattle Teachers in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
'Rioting' Charges Dismissed against Journalist for Exposing State Repression Of Standing Rock Sioux
For Indigenous Lenca People in Honduras, Rebellion Is a Centuries-Old Story
Tax Breaks for Wealthy Developers Reinforce Segregation in Baltimore
Eddie Conway Interviews Brazilian Youth Militants
Journalist Amy Goodman to Turn Herself in to Defend Freedom of the Press
Who are the 'Superpolluters'?
Clinton Emails Admit Counterrevolutionary Role of Saudi Arabia in Middle East
We're Not in a New Cold War - It's Far Worse
Brazil's Social Movements Planning General Strike for November
Mock Tribunal Held Against Monsanto in the Hague
Haitian Activist Speaks Out Against Killing of Fellow Activist
US Escalates Involvement in Yemen

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting