Trump Quietly Nominates Mass Surveillance Advocate To “Protect” Your Privacy Rights

By Carey Wedler

Though outrage over mass surveillance swept the United States after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, there is little discussion of these invasive practices just four years later.

This apathy comes despite former President Barack Obama’s move to expand to information sharing between agencies just days before Trump took office and after the Trump administration signaled its desire to continue widespread surveillance.

Amid this lack of attention toward the NSA, the president recently nominated a staunch advocate of mass surveillance to chair one of the few barriers standing between intrusive government spying and the American people’s privacy. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) was created in 2004 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and was intended “to help the executive branch balance national security priorities with individual rights,” the Intercept reported earlier this year.

“PCLOB is supposed to have five members, no more than three of whom come from the same political party; to employ a full-time chairperson; to have regular access to the 17 intelligence agencies; and to publish unclassified versions of its evaluations of U.S. espionage powers.”

However, as of March of this year, the board was down to just one part-time member, and this lack of personnel rendered it largely impotent.

“But with just one part-time board member left, after another member’s term ended last week, the agency has very few formal powers to police the so-called ‘deep state’ until President Trump nominates a new board,” the Intercept reported pursuant to emails they obtained regarding the remaining single member.

Though the board had been deteriorating before Trump became president, it may now be further undermined as a result of his recent appointment.

On August 25, the president announced his nomination of Adam I. Klein to chair the PCLOB. According to the White House release discussing this nomination:

Mr. Klein is the Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where his research centers on the intersection of national security policy and law. He previously served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Though the often loathed late Antonin Scalia was considered somewhat of a defender of the 4th Amendment, Klein fails to offer a strong buffer between intrusive policies and the American people.

Though Klein co-authored an advisory report for the incoming Trump administration advocating a balance between privacy and security, the paper criticized Edward Snowden and lamented the disintegration of trust in government his leaks helped to foster:

The post-Snowden backlash has impeded law enforcement and intelligence gathering, harmed the U.S. technology industry’s competitiveness in international markets, and created diplomatic friction with important allies. Most importantly, many Americans remain skeptical that their government respects their digital privacy.

Though the authors go on to highlight the importance of the leaks in bringing the issue of surveillance to the forefront — and continuously pay lip service to “privacy” — the authors’ emerging goal appears to focus on getting Americans to trust surveillance. Though they do advocate some reforms, they stress the importance of spying staples like the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts and affiliated Section 702 surveillance program, which will expire at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes it. Section 702 authorizes the broad collection of data, and though it allegedly applies to foreigners, it also sweeps up the data of Americans.

They also highlight reform efforts like the USA Freedom Act, which ultimately did little to scale back the foundational framework of mass surveillance and simply added an extra step to the government’s process of obtaining data. Digital rights group Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) ultimately pulled their support for the bill because it believed the reforms offered were insufficient. Another example of reforms they cite is Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive 28, which, according to EFF, offered “no significant change to the actual surveillance the U.S. has been conducting.” Where Klein and his associates claimed PPD-28 marked “a commitment still unequaled by any other country,” EFF argues “the U.S. is ten years behind Europe in requiring their government agencies to protect the privacy of noncitizens when government actions affect them.”

Further, in a defense of Section 702 Klein published in the Wall Street Journal this July, he contended that 9/11 occurred because the government did not have a powerful enough surveillance apparatus. He praised the FBI for foiling terror attacks (conveniently omitting the reality that the FBI has made a habit of entrapping unstable individuals, encouraging them to commit terror attacks, and then claiming credit for foiling said plots).

Klein also uses court decisions to justify his support of warrantless searches:

Courts have found that this practice comports with the Constitution. In November 2015, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not require the FBI to get a warrant before conducting routine database checks, which include some 702 data.

However, both the FISA court and Section 702 have been thoroughly lambasted by privacy experts and advocates. Though some advocates stop short of calling FISA rulings “rubber stamps” despite their near universal approval of warrant requests, some less disputed problems are the court’s total secrecy and the lack of any type of defensive presence during proceedings; they are conducted by a judge and the prosecution.

As for Section 702 of FISA, the ACLU shared its pitfalls in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee in February expressing the organization’s opposition to the policy absent meaningful reforms. The letter read:

In its current form, Section 702 fails to comply with the government’s obligations under the Constitution and international law — and its sweeping nature results in the collection of information from individuals who pose no threat to national security. Indeed, although the government has not provided comprehensive statistics on the use of Section 702, a Washington Post analysis of over 160,000 intercepted emails likely collected under Section 702 was striking: 90% of individuals swept up in the surveillance were not the intended target, and nearly half of the files examined contained information or details related to a U.S. citizen or resident.

Klein showed no such concerns. Though he said in his op-ed that Congress was “right to examine the privacy implications of Section 702; powerful tools require powerful constraints,” he refused to disavow the demonstrably invasive policy. He wrote:

But members concerned about 702 should focus on bolstering the program’s oversight and transparency—by strengthening judicial review and requiring more transparency about how prosecutors use 702 information—rather than creating barriers to information-sharing within the intelligence community.

Make no mistake; though Klein advocates a balance between national security and privacy — and is likely genuine in his rhetoric — he routinely comes down on the side of government surveillance. Considering Trump’s previous actions and rhetoric, Klein’s appointment is nothing short of predictable. After all, while campaigning for the presidency, Trump made it clear he sided with the unconstitutional widespread practices.

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10 Comments on "Trump Quietly Nominates Mass Surveillance Advocate To “Protect” Your Privacy Rights"

  1. From the article: “After all, while campaigning for the presidency, Trump made it clear he sided with the unconstitutional widespread practices.”

    Trump did express interest in expanding the surveillance state and had pandered to the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) for a large number of years, yet the so called “conservatives” and “freedom fighters” actually thought he was the one and only president who will take on the establishment. This is such a dire shame. It just proves the naivity and idiocy of the American people. What hope is there if the so called “freedom fighters,” who routinely use the word “sheeple,” are just sheep following a different shepard? Even most intriguing is that targeted individuals (Google it) even supported this guy as if they have learned nothing of Obama’s bullshit campaign about him wanting to bring “hope” and “change” as well as move “forward.”

    Stop voting in elections people, it will do you no good.

    • “so called “freedom fighters,” who routinely use the word “sheeple,” are just sheep following a different shepard”

      Brilliantly said.

      Let’s face it – that so called “constitutional republic” has not been in operation for a VERY LONG TIME. Let’s all stop pretending it exists. Its an illusion. We are living in the worse Hollywood “D” rated movie ever produced.

    • Should be obvious by now but unfortunately the insanity will continue

    • You’re right about voting in elections, but what else would you have had people do? There was no other choice than Trump. If he, too, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (and I don’t see that as a given), then at least he seems to care about people…and he’s entertaining. The other choice would have been worse. Trump does seem to like the military; I say that they’re purposely misinforming him about issues.

      • “…, but what else would you have had people do”

        First read the US Constitution so that you (generic “you”) know exactly what those who serve wtihin our government may do, must do, are forbidden to do. Then do the same for your own state’s Constitution. Why? Because they are a compact, with the US Constitution being a contract between the states, and THE supreme contract for all who serve within our governments – state and federal; and each state’s Constitution being a CONTRACT between the people and those who will serve in that states government. Those documents are our government, not the people who serve in the different positions – elected, hired, contracted, etc.

        Each Constitution assigns the duties and authority (power) to the three branches and to NAMED Offices within a branch. Not one person who serves within our governments – state and federal, have any power of their own. They use the power of the branch or named office while they serve. They are ALLOWED to use that authority when they do the duties as assigned by the Constitution (US and state), take and KEEP the Oath.

        Since most Americans do NOT even know what those who serve within our governments have as duties for the position being occupied they can be told that any power is theirs and it cannot be easily refuted. Yet it is easily read and studied by anyone willing to put the time into doing so. The US Constitution is a VERY short document and does not take much time, though maybe more enlightment can occur if one reads the debates leading up to its creation, etc.

        State Constitutions tend to be much larger, with additions being added each election – though this I believe happens because the people of the stae are so ignorant of what it means that they assume it has little bearing on them when in reality those who serve use them to give themselves MORE power over the people.

        The people are REQUIRED to train as the Military trains so that they can perform THEIR lawful duties. The people are the Militia of the several states, and those that serve within our governments are REQUIRED to use them for certain purposes, to

        — Enforce the US Constitution (supreme Law of this nation) and each state’s Constitution (highest Law of the state),
        — Enforce and keep the “Laws of the Union” (which are constitutional laws ONLY),
        — Protect the country against all enemies both domestic and foreign, and
        — “to suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”.

        Richard Henry Lee, 1788: “Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.” (Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights)

        George Washington: “It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government…, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency.” (“Sentiments on a Peace Establishment”, letter to Alexander Hamilton; “The Writings of George Washington”)

        WE also have duties to see that our elections are followed as constitutionally laid out. Instead unlawful changes were made by the two “parties” so that they now chose who and which candidates we have to vote for.

        We also have the duty to be enformed jurors, to know what and who the Grand Jury is a tool of, and who uses LAWFULLY Grand Jury Investigations, etc.

        Grand Jury – “The grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. It is a constitutional fixture in its own right. In fact the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people”.

        “Thus, citizens have the unbridled right to empanel their own grand juries and present “True Bills” of indictment to a court, which is then required to commence a criminal proceeding. Our Founding Fathers presciently thereby created a “buffer” the people may rely upon for justice, when public officials, including judges, criminally violate the law.” (Misbehavior, “Good Behaviour” requirement)

        “The grand jury is an institution separate from the courts, over whose functioning the courts do not preside, we think it clear that, as a general matter at least, no such “supervisory” judicial authority exists. The “common law” of the Fifth Amendment demands a traditional functioning grand jury.”

        “Although the grand jury normally operates, of course, in the courthouse and under judicial auspices, its institutional relationship with the judicial branch has traditionally been, so to speak, at arm’s length. Judges’ direct involvement in the functioning of the grand jury has generally been confined to the constitutive one of calling the grand jurors together and administering their oaths of office. The grand jury’s functional independence from the judicial branch is evident both in the scope of its power to investigate criminal wrongdoing, and in the manner in which that power is exercised.”

        “The grand jury ‘can investigate merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even because it wants assurance that it is not.’ It need not identify the offender it suspects, or even “the precise nature of the offense” it is investigating. The grand jury requires no authorization from its constituting court to initiate an investigation, nor does the prosecutor require leave of court to seek a grand jury indictment. And in its day-to-day functioning, the grand jury generally operates without the interference of a presiding judge. It swears in its own witnesses and deliberates in total secrecy.”

        “Recognizing this tradition of independence, we have said the 5th Amendment’s constitutional guarantee presupposes an investigative body ‘acting independently of either prosecuting attorney or judge”

        “Given the grand jury’s operational separateness from its constituting court, it should come as no surprise that we have been reluctant to invoke the judicial supervisory power as a basis for prescribing modes of grand jury procedure. Over the years, we have received many requests to exercise supervision over the grand jury’s evidence-taking process, but we have refused them all. “it would run counter to the whole history of the grand jury institution” to permit an indictment to be challenged “on the ground that there was incompetent or inadequate evidence before the grand jury.” (Nor would it be lawful of them to do so.) Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority said In the Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, 112 S.Ct. 1735, 504 U.S. 36, 118 L.Ed.2d 352 (1992)

        Did you really think it could be our government if we did nothing but let otheres who might wish power to run it without our direct involvement? The insanity is the ignorance shown by many about our constitutional republic, our role within our government such as stopping unconstitutional activities by those who serve within them; to stop a police state; to remove those who do not do their duties as required or keep their Oaths so that the people can replace them with those who will, etc.

        Our government is healthy, but the people who serve within it are like fleas, killing their hosts in their greed for (blood) money, prestige, etc. Worse still are the people who do not serve, they willingly embrace ignorance.

        • “……and each state’s Constitution being a CONTRACT between the people and those who will serve in that states government.”

          We have a problem. A legitimate contract needs the mark/signature of the willing participants. That “CONTRACT between the people and those who will serve in that states government.” doesn’t exist.

  2. The appointment of Adam I. Klein as Chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board by President Donald Trump should surprise no one. Adam Klein is a long-time servant of the international corporate elite and will use his new position to promote more intrusive surveillance.

    We must surrender any illusions we may have had about Donald Trump. Donald Trump, like Barack Obama before him, is a front man for the international corporate elite. Trump neither initiates nor decides anything; he does what he is told.

    The manufactured controversies surrounding Trump are just a distraction while events of greater importance play out unnoticed and the agenda of the international corporate elite continues uninterrupted.

  3. Trump was probably wowed by the person’s credentials without actually understanding who the person really was. Then Trump will get some heat. Then the guy will get fired. Isn’t that the pattern?

  4. Trump has appointed individuals to office who are the antithesis of what the majority of the country expects. By appointing these antithetical individuals to important government positions. He displays his spitefulness and callousness to those who oppose him. This is not an individual that should be the head of the executive branch of government. I fear the country is in very dire straits with him at the helm.

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