back to article US domestic, er, foreign spying bill progresses through Congress

A draft law protecting one of the US government's spying programs has passed through the initial markup stage in the Congress, providing one more opportunity to witness the "up is down" world in which American politics currently resides. The USA Liberty Act put forward by House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Could be a problem

    "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength"

    Sounds like a copyright violation - you don't want to mess with the copyright lobby

  2. Mephistro

    "Why are the people's representatives knowingly blocking efforts to stop their government from spying on their own citizens without going through normal legal processes?"

    Blackmail, obviously!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I will not repeat what he said. I will just say this is a significant issue, a significant issue."

    Maybe its just me but I can't read that without it sounding like the robin from the south park Christmas special, hail Satan.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excuse me, I need to go use the restroom. It’s a matter of national security.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Well, who cares?

    It's probably a devious plot by PutlerPutletPutin, Deng Xiao-Ping and Hubba Bubba to trash our cherished belief in democracy and Bambi. We know that the US TLAs are unanimous about two things: Trump has russian ties and Assange and Snowden are China-Soviet plants out to besmirch all the good things Obomba and Killary did to the world. And who would not trust TLAs?

    1. James 51

      Re: Well, who cares?

      DAM, can you make your mind up? We don't know the TLAs are unanimous about anything. I have never heard any assertion that Snowden is a Sino or Soviet plant. Just a U.S. citizen to ended up in the C.I.S. because he'd never get a fair trail in the U.S.A. BTW not only does Trump have Russian ties, I bet he has Russian socks too. Maybe even one of those furry hats.

  6. WatAWorld

    It may already be too late for legislatures to stand up to security agencies

    It may already be too late for legislatures to stand up to security agencies.

    Our security agencies may already have so much information about our politicians that our politicians cannot speak or vote according to their consciences or the public good.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: It may already be too late for legislatures to stand up to security agencies

      Our security agencies may already have so much information about our politicians that our politicians cannot speak or vote according to their consciences or the public good.

      "may already have"??? I'd say it's a forgone conclusion that they own all elected officials just by knowing all the politico's dirty little secrets. Hell... those same agencies probably know all of ours (the "we, the people") also.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It may already be too late for legislatures to stand up to security agencies

        What the fsck could the FBI have on Trump that he doesn't tweet about himself ?

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: It may already be too late for legislatures to stand up to security agencies

          What the fsck could the FBI have on Trump that he doesn't tweet about himself ?

          Details of his tax payments?

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Intelligence and Congress

    Mark Twain compared the intelligence of the a Congress critter to that of a flea with the conclusion the flea was more intelligent. Czar Reed of Maine once noted that when Congress critters speak they subtract from the sum total of human knowledge. The average 'Stupidity Quotient' for Congress critters has been increasing for decades so expect more idiocies as this bill.

  8. GrumpyKiwi

    Just remember these self same lying intelligence agencies are also the ones insisting on Russian interference in everything.

    Lying liars are going to lie - almost every day we discover just how far they are prepared to go to avoid any kind of oversight or control - and no-one pays any kind of price for doing so. I can't believe a damn thing they say anymore and I'm firmly of the opinion that you'd have to believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and homeopathy to trust them.

    1. James 51

      It is perfectly possible for them to be right about Russia's non-kinetic (and kinetic) warfare against 'the west' and still have lost the objectivity required to realise just how dangerous the power they are asking for is or the harm it will do if they get their mitts on all that data.

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Yes it is indeed possible. But do (please) ask yourself, do they benefit from exaggerating the threat as much as possible? The answer of course is yes. Same story with the threat from terrorism - the bigger the threat, the bigger the budget.

        These guys are like a partner who you've discovered cheating not just once but twice. And who is now telling you that "oh yes my job needs me to stay back late at work on random days". Liars are going to lie, cheaters are going to cheat. It's in their nature.

        You can believe them if you want and that Santa will bring you some presents on the 25th. Me, until confirmed otherwise I will treat their every statement as a self serving lie.

  9. alpacaherder


    There are days I miss Man From Mars. These farces in Congress are getting worse and worse. As John Ekdahl once said: "What a stupid time to be alive."

  10. DanceMan

    "it does the complete opposite of what it claims to"

    George Orwell

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: "it does the complete opposite of what it claims to"

      You always dispose of the difficult bit in the title. It does less harm there than on the statute books. :- Sir Humphrey Appleby.

  11. veti Silver badge

    Stop talking about "citizens"

    Look: any politician who pretends that it's in any way possible to allow powers to be used only against foreigners, not against citizens - is just grandstanding. What they're proposing is unconstitutional in its own right. So saith the 14th amendment.

    Either the snooping is legal, or it's not. "Legal, but only against non-citizens" is an idea that is inherently incompatible with American law.

    So please stop talking about how these things can be/have been done to citizens. It's a red herring. The question is whether they should be done to anyone.

  12. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Disappointing, and there is no way Trump is going to veto this bill

    The Orange One is going to jump all over the chance to surveil evil terrorists, Muslims, the media and domestic opponents. My only consolation is that Hillary Clinton probably would have done effectively the same thing.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Disappointing, and there is no way Trump is going to veto this bill

      My only consolation...

      So it really doesn't matter who you vote for?

      Even in the over-exagerrated and dangerously charged political rivalry that currently exists in the US.

      How is that in any way consoling?

      1. Swarthy
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Disappointing, and there is no way Trump is going to veto this bill

        How is that in any way consoling?

        There is a certain zen-like peace in the complete resignation to fate. Yes, it's going to suck, but there is actually fuck-all you can do. Kind of like falling off of a very high waterfall, you can try to swim back up the falls, or you can relax and enjoy the scenery; either way you'll end up smeared across the rocks on the bottom.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the Stasi nation

    Of the US of A

  14. unwarranted triumphalism

    Hysteria is not helping

    Particularly the comments about Orwell and the Stasi. Cut it out.

  15. James 51

    Anyone else notice the number of posts that seem to be attacking everyone and everything like a particularly amped up berserker? It's hard to tell what they're trying to say other than don't believe anything anyone says, every one is bad any there is nothing that can be done about it. Would Putain trolls bother with el Reg commentards given the general level of cynicism here?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    flying much abroad these days?


    Well, you know," give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, and I'll ask to see what's on his i-phone / laptop to have him hanged"...

  17. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    The Land of the Free

    The USA should be leading the world in democracy for the electorate, instead it is leading the world in "dictatorship by elected Government". All chant now, "Democracy is dead, long live democracy!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Land of the Free

      "Democracy is dead, long live democracy!"

      There could be things done, such as automatically registering people to vote, moving election days to weekends, etc, that could vastly increase citizen participation in voting.

      However, that is directly against the interests of the elite Republican establishment, as these would be the wrong "kind" of voters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Land of the Free

        I don't agree with forced voting, not in the U.S and not here where I'm aboding, so to speak. Very very few things should be forced. We are already forced to pay up for a huge taxation burden here, this would be another slap in the face. The left wing already wins most elections without it. Moreover, it wouldn't be a true vote, it would be someone who doesn't want to vote being forced to vote. The true vote is those who want to vote voting. That's all that's necessary.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Land of the Free

          @ Stephen Battleware

          I'm replying to my own post as it got a down vote and I'm not sure why. So I want to explain myself:

          Some folks see voter disqualification and/or forced voting as a way to bolster their particular side's numbers.

          Both which are in my opinion is wrong. The right is known to play with gerrymandering and voter disqualification, which is wrong, the left wants forced turnout which is also wrong. Both sides want these things in order to establish permanent victory regardless if their policies grow stale, or they're in so long they're rotten.

          People should be thinking in terms above all that, of what is fair and democratic and free in voting.

          I'm not against forced voting to support the Republicans, I don't even live in the U.S. I'm just against forcing people to do things unless absolutely necessary. Not voting is a form of vote, and that is enough in my opinion. Forcing people to do things is anti-freedom, and moreover skews things because you are forcing it.

          And a change in gov't from time to time is a good thing, left or right. These governments get stale and too corrupted regardless of their stripe.

          Let's say the left finds that a forced vote means permanent left wing victories. That would not be good. In Canada, the left wins most elections already, but from time to time the right gets in. But the left wing governments - given some time - get stale, entitled, and eventually corrupted, giving contracts only to their favourites and all kinds of other nasties etc. etc. It's good that they get thrown out from time to time.

          Don't get so clouded by left or right politics that you act against freedoms, fairness and what's good for a healthy democracy, that's all I'm saying.

        2. DJSpuddyLizard

          Re: The Land of the Free

          Stephen - nobody's forcing you to vote.

          You seem to somehow be wildly confusing automatic voter registration with compulsory voting.

          The left wing already wins most elections without it

          Huh? Perhaps state elections in predominantly "blue" states, but in "red" states, and on a national level, this is obviously not the case. If you said "the left wing already wins most elections in urban areas," you'd be closer to the truth.

          The true vote is those who want to vote voting.

          Agreed. That's why it should be easier for those who want to vote to be able to, with such accommodations as holding national elections on weekends, not on Tuesdays ( which was to make it easier for farmers to vote hundreds of years ago) or making election day a federal holiday.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

            Re: The Land of the Free

            Requiring someone to vote might even run into constitutional challenges in the U.S. It has been hypothesized that the freedoms of speech and assembly would not be consistent with forcing someone under threat of a fine to choose from a list of candidates that made it on the ballot.

            And pols would be loath to put "none of the above" on the ballot

  18. Harry Stottle

    A Pivotal moment in the evolution of the Police State of America

    as they seek to enshrine, in law, what can only be described as Accountability Theatre

    I strongly recommend, for anyone who didn't see it when it first emerged in April 2015, the excellent John Oliver take on Surveillance, which includes his visit to Moscow to meet Ed Snowden. It is the best non-technical description of the significance of all the main issues that I've ever seen

  19. DeKrow

    North Amerikorea

    At what point does the US become a rogue state? Has it passed that point?

    The history of the US is littered with decisions and directions based on paranoia. The importance they continue to place on their independence corrupts their view of opposing ideologues, so much so that they twist these opposing ideologies (and religions) into existential threats to their very way of life.

    The power of human denial is so strong that, as per another Reg article, encryption of a communications device is a more important issue to deal with than gun ownership, because "It was through these guns that we earned our independence from The British Empire". Anyone who thinks differently in any manner is each partiotic US citizens equivalent to a soldier of The British Empire of 200 years ago.

    Trump is the perfect embodiment of this, he is the leader they deserve, and the leader the world deserves having let them earn it through years of subservience.

    (Not all US citizens are tarred by this brush, obviously, but Trump won the election, so, you know, majority)

    1. James 51

      Re: North Amerikorea

      Actually Trump lost the popular vote, it was the electoral college that got him in.

    2. ardj

      Re: North Amerikorea

      @DeKrow: I have downrated your post on the grounds of unintelligibility

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