Emptywheel Blogging Up a Storm

By: Harry Waisbren

Marcy Wheeler has come out with a variety of posts today on the Patriot Act over at her Emptywheel blog hosted on Firedoglake.

First off, her liveblog of the hearing exemplifies her trailblazing in the medium. I doubt there is a better or more comprehensive report available. She followed that with a post confirming her initial hypothesis that our government is tracking hydrogen peroxide and acetone purchases mostly by “searching some subset of the country for their beauty, home improvement, and cleaning supplies.”

Next, she blogs about this Feingold video–which I posted about earlier here–highlighting the 17 second mark where Sen. Leahy presumably sighs, “Oh boy” in response. She followed this with another post about the contrast between Sen. Franken questioning David Kris about the 4th amendment to….voting to implement exactly what he was critiquing Kris for supporting:

Of course, two weeks later, Franken voted with eight other Democrats to continue to allow the government to collect information–things like shopping histories–about people without first identifying whose information they want to collect

Lastly (at least so far today), she posts about Bush’s Illegal Surveillance Program and Section 215:

In other words, it appears they may have started using Section 215s for something they had been using the illegal program for. And it appears that the March 2006 PATRIOT reauthorization, which was partly an add-on to the 2005 reauthorization in 2005 designed to overcome the filibuster that had started in response to the revelation of the program in December 2005, found ways to put some of the things they were doing into other parts of PATRIOT. Combo orders, for example, became regular parts of trap and trace devices.

All of which is a very vague way to say we probably ought to be thinking of four programs–Bush’s illegal domestic surveillance program and the PAA/FAA program that replaced it, NSLs, Section 215 orders, and trap and trace devices–as one whole. As the authorities of one program got shut down by exposure or court rulings or internal dissent, it would migrate to another program. That might explain, for example, why Senators who opposed fishing expeditions in 2005 would come to embrace broadened use of Section 215 orders in 2009.

She ends by citing an upcoming post that delves more deeply into this. In particular, I’m looking forward to hearing more about the concept of looking at these programs “as one whole.” Such an approach would de-wonkify our campaigns—making it easier to discuss civil liberties in universally understood, moral terms.


One Response to Emptywheel Blogging Up a Storm

  1. […] live-blogging of the hearing and Julian Sanchez’s frustrated live-tweeting. Sanchez, like Emptywheel, has been consistently churning out excellent material on the PATRIOT […]

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