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Commentary :: Elections & Legislation

Passed HR 6304 Domestic SPY AMENDMENTS—choke 1st Amendment Rights

U.S. House SPY AMENDMENTS—State, Persons Exercising 1st Amendment Rights “may be Considered” Agents of a Foreign Power.
On June 20th the House sent to the U.S. Senate, H.R. 6304, THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008.

H.R. 6304 EH may be found at:

It not surprising how much time the House of Representatives spent on HR 6304 to give Telecoms immunity after they helped government spy on Americans’ private communications. The greater injustice may be that the House has failed to use strong enough language in HR 6304 to protect the Constitutional rights of lawful Americans. One example among many: the “Probable Cause” section in HR 6304 affectively states, a “person” in the United States who exercises their 1st Amendment Rights—“MAY BE CONSIDERED” an agent of a foreign power. See below: its not comprehensible why the House inserted the weak word “may” and failed to insert, e.g., “SHALL NOT” which would have been more binding on Government and police not to violate the Constitutional rights of U.S. Citizens.

Following see HR 6304 “(2) Probable Cause” section under (C)(Order):

“No United States person may be considered a foreign power, agent of a foreign power, or officer or employee of a foreign power solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

“May” in the “Probable Cause” paragraph above leads readers to believe this provision will actually protect U.S. Citizens from government agents violating their Constitutional rights.

The vague language of THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 should concern U.S. activists who network, especially with groups overseas. For example, the Stop the War Campaign transcends many countries. Some of those countries oppose U.S. policies. After the Senate passes HR 6304, U.S. activists that network internationally might run the risk they “MAY BE CONSIDERED” by U.S. government—agents of a foreign power if they support causes with other countries that are opposed by the U.S. Government. Historically it has not been beyond the scope of the U.S. Government to make such charges against Citizens who question government authority.

The FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 will permit massive and broad Government spying on electronic communications coming into and going out of the United States. The U.S. Government may also use broad provisions of the Patriot Act to further its domestic spying.

Perhaps the only thing that has stopped U.S. Government from broadly using telecom assisted wiretap evidence against Americans and corporations was that Telecoms haven’t had immunity from being sued by charged criminal and civil asset forfeiture defendants they spy on. That may change after the Senate passes THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008 that affectively gives Telecoms Immunity from being sued by persons they spy on. It is more than foreseeable the next battle Americans will have to fight, is how to determine what telecom surveillance can or cannot be used by police against Americans or introduced into court by the Government. Unfortunately HR 6304’s Telecom Immunity provision prohibits most Americans from being able to sue Telecoms to recover their costs of having to hire attorneys to defend against illegal wiretap evidence.

In 2000 after HR1658 was passed by Congress, the “old statute of limitations” died that gave government “five years” to seize property from the date a “property” was involved in crime or a violation that would subject it to asset forfeiture. Police now have five-years to seize property from “whenever police claim” they learned a “property” was made subject to civil asset forfeiture. It should be expected U.S. and cooperating government agencies will start playing those old illegal wiretaps after the Senate passes the House FISA Amendments. It should be expected that about every minute someone will soon hear a law enforcement person say, “Look what I just discovered on that tape!”

Most property owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” The innocent owner defense can however become a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. A person’s fresh denial to the government when questioned about committing a crime “even when they didn’t do it” can “involuntarily waive” the right to assert in their defense—that the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” has passed for prosecution. Any denial of guild to the government, even 20 years after an alleged crime was committed—may allow prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including wiretap evidence and information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent property owners are reluctant to risk defending their property against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture. Many just give up their property to the government. See Re: waiving your right to assert the Criminal Statute of Limitations: James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579: involves Title 18, section: 1001.

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Re: Passed HR 6304 Domestic SPY AMENDMENTS—choke 1st Amendment Rights

U.S. Congress Should Protect Innocent U.S. Citizens From Abusive Government Civil Asset Forfeiture Practices by Upgrading the Low “Standard of Evidence” for Government to Civilly Forfeit Property to “Clear and Convincing Evidence.”


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