There’s a lot going on! Here’s a roundup of what’s happening in the US on various fronts ….
Restore the Fourth has a congressional call-in day on Friday, leveraging StopWatching.us’s 1-323-STOP-NSA number. Restore the Phones: Tell Congress this Isn’t Over has the details, including a link to a basic script. Restore the Fourth is also planning another round of protests on August 4, and a campaign focused on town hall meetings during Congress’ summer recess. There are lots of other exciting ideas bubbling up in the discussions and in local organizing meetings. Get involved!
- The EFF got a big win when federal judge today rejected the U.S. government’s latest attempt to dismiss Jewel vs. NSA, rejecting the government’s claim that the the state secrets privilege means the case can’t even be heard. Of course, this is just one small step in a very long road (the EFF filed Jewel five years ago, and this victory builds on the earlier Hepting case which was dismissed after Congress gave the telco’s retroactive immunity in 2008), but it’s a great ruling. Philip Bump in Atlantic Wire has more.
- EPIC filed a writ of mandamus directly with the Supreme Court. Lyle Dennison on SCOTUSblog has a good discussion of how unusual this is and disection of EPIC’s brief. James Risen in the New York Times and David Kravetz in Wired have more, including the context of other lawsuits by ACLU and Judicial Watch.
- A coalition of privacy organizations filed an amicus brief backing Google and Microsoft’s requests to reveal aggregate data about the federal government’s access to user information. Yahoo is also fighting for transparency, petitioning the FISA Court to declassify documents from the 2008 decision which show that Yahoo “objected strenuously” to providing the government with customer data.
- Secret Court’s Redefinition of ‘Relevant’ Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Siobhan Gorman in Wall Street Journal, and Eric Lichtblau’s In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A in the New York Times, both based on discussions with “current and former officials”, go into a lot of detail about the underlying legal approaches that have been used to justify the mass surveillance. Marcy Wheeler has some additional analysis on Emptywheel, as does Orin Kerr on the Volokh Conspiracy
Writing in the Asbury Park Press, Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) announced that he’ll be introducing legislation to repeal the Patriot Act and FISA; details coming soon, hopefully. Holt is running for Senate in New Jersey, and it will be interesting to see how big a part this issue will play in the Democratic Primary against Cory Booker.
On the ACLU Blog of Rights, Michelle Richardson has a roundup of the other congressional action. The LIBERT-E Act (H.R. 2399, sponsored by Representatives Amash (R-Mich) and Conyers (D-Mich) and 31 others), and the Ending Secret Law Act (S. 1130 and H.R. 2475, sponsored by Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.), Lee (R-Utah) and 10 others in the Senate and Reps Schiff (D-Calif.), Rokita (R-Idaho) and five others in the House) really highlight the growing transpartisan alliance on this. Progressive Democrats and Tea Party faves, together again for the first time!
Other bills in the Senate include Udall and Merkeley’s S. 1182, Bernie Sanders Restore Our Privacy Act (S. 1168), Rand Paul’s The Fourth Amendment Restoration Act (S. 1037), and Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy’s FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act (although see Tim Cushing’s is skeptical about the Leahy bill on TechDirt).
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board had its first-ever meeting on July 9, with a great list of witnesses, including Marc Rotenberg from EPIC, Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, and computer science great Steve Bellovin from Columbia University. Former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge James Robertson’s testimony got the headlines with the assertion that what the court has done since it started approving bulk collection amounts to “approval” not “adjudication” and his call for an adversaial proceeedings; I thought PCLOB member Jim Dempsey’s message to the civil liberties community was also very important. Steven Braun for AP, Alexei Alexis at Bloomberg BnA, Grant Gross in Computerworld IDG and Jennifer Martinez in The Hill all have details.
It’s hard to know what will happen with the PCLOB. Robertson suggested that it could fill the adversarial role before the FISA Court, and Leslie Harris of CDT paints it as potentially in the role of the Church Commission, On the other hand, The Guardian and Emptywheel bring up concerns about its composition, processes, and resources. So, we shall see. In any case I think Jim’s got a great point here. What does it mean to Get FISA Right?