Obama to Rein In Telephone Metadata Collection?

The New York Times reports that President Obama is preparing to submit legislation that would rein in the NSA’s metadata collection activities. This is a follow up to his statement in January that he wants those records stored elsewhere and to require FISA warrants before being accessed.
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Obama Continues Crusade Against Whistleblowers

Peter Van Buren reports on a court case involving the federal government’s rabid desire to punish Robert MacLean, a former TSA Air Marshall who blew the whistle on contradictory policies in that program (simultaneously cutting the air marshal program while sending out an alert about possible hijackings). The Obama DOJ is taking that case to the Supreme Court.
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House Republicans Discover Limits of Executive Power

Last week the House of Representatives passed the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act, of ENFORCE the Law Act (seriously, do they have someone whose job it is to come up with painfully ridiculous acronyms in Congress?). Jacob Sullum notes the hypocrisy:
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A Tale of Two Court Rulings

In the last couple weeks, two separate judges have ruled on the NSA’s cell phone data mining operation. One of them, a Bush appointee, said the program is clearly unconstitutional; the other, a Clinton nominee, said the program is clearly constitutional. Andrew Cohen notes that the two rulings are almost completely opposite one another in every way.
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DOJ Notifies Defendants of Warrantless Wiretap Evidence

This is a very interesting development that could lead somewhere important. The Department of Justice is now informing defendants if any evidence in their case was procured through a warrantless wiretap. Why is this important? Because it gives them standing to challenge illegal surveillance.
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The Manning Verdict and the Rule of Law

I was a bit shocked at the relatively lenient sentence that the military court handed down to Bradley Manning. He got 35 years, but could be eligible for parole in as little as ten years with good behavior and credit for time served. The government was asking for 60 years, so Manning is probably a bit relieved by it. But the prosecution and the verdict raise very troubling issues, as Glenn Greenwald put it in a tweet:
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Congress: Missing in Action Again

Julian Sanchez has a column at Politico that hammers Congress — and rightly so — for its almost complete lack of concern over the NSA’s clearly illegal data mining and surveillance programs. Far from providing meaningful oversight, the leadership of both parties in Congress offer only empty assurances.
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