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Lieu to introduce bill to ban state from assisting feds with warrantless spying

Senator Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) will introduce a bill tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 to ban state agencies and officials from assisting the federal government in certain components of its spy activity on Californians. If enacted, the ban would also apply to corporations that provide services to the state.

Senator Ted Lieu
Courtesy of Senator Ted Lieu

“The National Security Agency’s massive level of spying and indiscriminate collecting of phone and electronic data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a direct threat to our liberty and freedom,” Lieu said in a press release issued today. Tomorrow is the first day of the 2014 legislative session.

The issue of massive spying came to light after Edward Snowden, a computer specialist with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), leaked classified information last year showing the extent to which the federal government spies on its citizens. The Obama Administration downplayed the leaks but eventually admitted the process needed to be “reviewed.”

In support of his bill, Lieu says, “Records show the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, Jr., initially lied to Congress and denied the existence of NSA’s blanket phone surveillance of all Americans. Multiple media reports regarding NSA activities have now caused Clapper to admit he lied and that the NSA has, in fact, been collecting phone information on all 317 million Americans for years. A federal judge recently declared the NSA’s blanket phone monitoring program to be unconstitutional, calling the dragnet ‘near Orwellian.’

“I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place. That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government.”

Lieu noted that the Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

Lieu says that all Americans cannot be reasonably considered to be suspicious by the simple act of making a phone call. “The NSA’s blanket seizure of the telephone records of all Americans is therefore an ‘unreasonable seizure’ by any definition of the term under the Fourth Amendment,” Lieu said.

His bill would require a search warrant aimed at a specific person before such information could be gathered. It would prohibit state agencies from cooperating with the federal government without the warrant in place.

“State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency from indiscriminate spying on its own citizens and gathering electronic or metadata that violates the Fourth Amendment,” Lieu said.

“Let’s be clear: when the government deliberately violates the Constitution on a mass basis, it poses a clear and present danger to our liberties. The last time the federal government massively violated the US Constitution, over 100,000 innocent Americans were rounded up and interned,” Lieu said, referring to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.