Ted Cruz says the new and improved USA FREEDOM Act would end the NSA’s unconstitutional spying program

The new version of the USA FREEDOM Act rolled out on Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has picked up the support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who announced the addition of his name a cosponsor.

The latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act, a compromise Leahy worked out with the White House, would end the National Service Agency’s bulk metadata collection program as well as add a civil liberties panel to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide some much-needed oversight.

Cruz hailed the measure a bipartisan approach to ending NSA spying.

“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Cruz in a press release on Tuesday. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms.”

“Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights,” said Cruz. “I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”

Tolerance: FreedomWorks’ Deneen Borelli and C.L. Bryant verbally attacked for showing up at the NAACP convention

FreedomWorks' Deneen Borelli and C.L. Bryant verbally attack for showing up at the NAACP convention

FreedomWorks was able to land a booth this year at the NAACP’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada where they hoped to share free market ideas. But Deneen Borelli and Rev. C.L. Bryant received some blowback for — gasp! — daring to show up.

A women who identified herself as “Adrian Jones” approached the booth and began berating Borelli and Bryant for their association with FreedomWorks and the Tea Party movement. While the two black conservatives tried to explain what they believed, Ms. Jones barely let them get a word in edgewise.

“They don’t stand for any of the values of what the NAACP stands for. They don’t need to be in here,” Jones said after she went off on Bryant and Borelli. When asked why she was bothered by their presence at the NAACP convention, Jones replied, “The billionaire Koch brothers is funding the FreedomWorks. That’s what has me upset.”

Watch the video below via Progressive Today:

Today in Liberty: Darrell Issa may hold White House official in contempt, Senate Republicans block anti-Hobby Lobby bill

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

— Issa may take action against defiant White House official: David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, may find himself in contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify yesterday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on violations on the Hatch Act. “I can’t rule it in or out, yet,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), according to Politico. “I can’t answer what we will do in this case, but I can tell you that there is a similar case that occurred under President [George W.] Bush and the similarities are significant.” Democrats on the committee, of course, defended the White House, which has ostensibly claimed executive privilege in order to prevent Simas from testifying. Because, you know, the suspicious political activities of the White House are basically state secrets. Or something.

Today in Liberty: NSA spying damages the United States’ reputation as a beacon of freedom, crony Ex-Im pals pressure Boehner

“So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear. That there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.” — Milton Friedman

— Land of the Free?: The disclosures about the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs have damaged the world’s view of the United States as a country that protects individual liberties. “In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens. In six nations, the decline was 20 percentage points or more,” Pew Research notes. “Still, the U.S. has a relatively strong reputation for respecting personal freedoms compared with the other major nations tested on the survey. A median of 58% believe the American government respects individual liberties, while 56% say this about France, 36% about China, and only 28% say it about the Russian government.” Notice that Brazil and Germany, two countries on which the U.S. reportedly spied, are at the top of the list.

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul endorses Raul Labrador’s leadership bid, Lindsey Graham is so amazingly wrong about everything

“The government holds a monopoly on violence.” — Dave Brat

— How the House leadership races will go down: Politico has a primer on the two House Republican leadership races that will take place on Thursday, June 19. “Republicans will gather in the Longworth House Office Building for two as-long-as-it-takes votes,” Lauren French notes. “Before voting begins, each of the candidates will have an opportunity to make a final pitch to the 233-member caucus.” A candidate needs 117 votes to win. Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) are the two candidates for House Majority Leader. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) are up for Majority Whip. The elections will be conducted by secret ballot.

Today in Liberty: MSNBC mocks Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” comments, veterans disapprove of Bergdahl-Taliban deal

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

— MSNBC’s Morning Joe mocks Clinton’s Romney moment: In an interview with Good Morning America on Monday Hillary Clinton said that her family left the White House “not only dead broke, but in debt” and defended the millions she and former President Bill Clinton have made in speaking fees. “[W]e had to pay off all our debts,” she said, “which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.” Oh, the hardship of poverty: “How can we afford our $1.7 million and $2.85 million homes in New York and Washington!?” MSNBC’s Morning Joe had some fun with Clinton’s tone deaf, Romney-like comments this morning. Here’s a taste.

FreedomWorks refuses to settle for anything less than an end to unconstitutional NSA spying

Once considered by privacy advocates to be the best measure in Congress to end the NSA’s unconstitutional bulk data collection program, the USA Freedom Act has been watered down in behind-the-scenes negotiations to the point that FreedomWorks, an influential conservative group known mostly for its free market activism, can no longer support it.

“[W]e can no longer in good conscience support the bill in its current form. The USA Freedom Act has been amended in ways that have severely watered down the bill. These changes to the bill —adopted in last minute negotiations — would likely still allow the bulk collection of metadata on Americans to continue,” said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe in a statement. ”In other words, the new bill is mild reform that would barely do anything.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the author and primary sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, submitted a manager’s amendment in the House Rules Committee that alters language placing tighter limitations on surveillance.

Privacy groups have been universally critical of changes, warning that the new language could be interpreted broadly enough to allow the National Security Agency to continue spying on law-abiding Americans. Tech companies, including Google and Facebook, have also withdrawn support for the measure.

Julie Borowski: The Six Rules for Liberty

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The latest Real Talk with Julie Borowski from FreedomWorks outlines the “six rules for liberty” as laid out in Matt Kibbe’s latest book, Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto. She says that with the growing influence of libertarianism, it’s important to clear up some misconceptions about the movement.

There are six basic tenants of libertarianism, according to Borowski:

  1. Don’t hurt people: Pretty simple, right? Don’t hurt people, and don’t allow the government to do so either.
  2. Don’t take people’s stuff: The basic principle that “stealing is bad” applies to the government, too. Having the government steal from your neighbor to benefit you is just as bad as stealing from your neighbor yourself.
  3. Take responsibility: Help people yourself, don’t just wait for some government program to swoop in and “save the day.”
  4. Work for it: Step up and work hard instead of, again, relying on the government to do everything for you.
  5. Mind your own business: It’s not your business, and it’s definitely not the government’s business, how the people around you live their personal lives. If they’re not hurting anyone, let them be.
  6. Fight the power: As Julie says, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.”

Do you see a theme here? Borowski gets down to the point: get the government out of the business of running our daily lives, and liberty will prosper.

Arrogant Obama to court: Dismiss Rand Paul’s lawsuit against my unconstitutional surveillance

The Obama administration has just filed a motion to ensure that Sen. Rand Paul and FreedomWorks’ NSA lawsuit is dismissed.

Justice Department lawyers urged a federal judge to dismiss the class-action lawsuit filed against the National Security Agency by claiming that the lawmaker is not able to name the plaintiffs, in spite of the fact that it has been already widely reported that the NSA’s surveillance programs have targeted all Americans.

The lawsuit urges the court to keep the federal government from obtaining and controlling Americans’ telephone metadata.

According to FreedomWorks’ President Matt Kibbe, “Obama’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit is an insulting display of political arrogance coming out of the executive branch.” The same court that ruled that the government should destroy data obtained through Verizon on the Klayman case back in December would be in charge of dismissing the lawsuit.

Kibbe claimed that the move is a motion to censor civilians. “It wasn’t enough that the Obama administration authorized the single largest warrantless gathering of citizens’ private information in the history of the United States,” he said. “They don’t even believe citizens deserve an opportunity to plead their case after their rights have been violated.”

Coalition Urges White House to Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Central to the NSA spying debate is the discussion revolving around the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

Currently, the statute doesn’t give Americans the right to protection of any private communications or documents stored in the cloud. The ECPA passed as an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act and it does not protect emails, photos or even text messages from government’s access through the requirement of a search warrant approved by a judge.

The amendment passed in 1986 when current technology was just taking its first steps.

Multiple organizations have come together to persuade the White House to reform the outdated legislation designed to prevent government outreach. The coalition — which includes the R Street Institute, American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and FreedomWorks — wrote a letter to highlight the Obama administration’s lack of dedication to this matter.

According to the group, the Securities and Exchange Commission is behind the administration’s unresponsiveness.

Many efforts have been put forward to ensure that the administration addresses this issue such as the Email Privacy Act, a bill that is co-sponsored by 205 members of the House and that was introduced by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

The bill is currently under congressional review. If the proposed legislation passes, electronic communication information stored in the cloud by third-party service providers should be protected from government access without a warrant.

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