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ACLU: Obama’s reversal on Patriot Act reform ‘a major travesty’

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Key components in the USA Patriot Act are set to expire at the end of the year, but President Barack Obama is seeking to extend them, reversing his stark opposition in the past to the same provisions.

“The president’s reversal on Patriot Act reform is a major travesty,” said Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel for the leading civil rights group ACLU, in an interview with Raw Story. “There have been many, many abuses of power in the last four years.”

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These three main aspects in question allow the government to acquire private information about civilians through warrantless wiretapping of phone calls and emails, as well as seizure of records from credit reporting companies, banks, internet service providers and libraries. Another component includes the loosening of conditions under which an individual can be accused of providing “material support” to terrorists.

In 2005, then-Senator Obama pledged to filibuster a Bush-sponsored bill that included several of these exact components, calling it “just plain wrong” in a Senate speech.

“Government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document — through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made,” he declared, adding: “We don’t have to settle for a Patriot Act that sacrifices our liberties or our safety — we can have one that secures both.”

ABC News reports that “Four years ago, then Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who taught constitutional law, voted down the same provisions along with all Senate Democrats who insisted on changes to the bill that better protected libraries, limited clandestine search warrants, roving wiretaps, and FBI gag orders.”

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“This was the most opportune time for the surveillance authorities to reverse course,” Richardson told Raw Story. “If these programs continue, more abuses of power are absolutely inevitable — there’s no way around it. The level of secrecy granted by Congress is very troubling.”

Obama has championed the continuation of all three provisions until at least 2013, a wish that has been granted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and two-thirds fulfilled by the House counterpart. (The House version slaps greater oversight and restrictions on acquiring personal records of non-US citizens.) While he has always been resolutely opposed to former President George W. Bush’s vision of the Act, he has defended certain parts of it, and voted in 2006 to re-authorize an altered version.

“Overall, the Obama administration has made marginal improvements but is largely a continuation of the Bush administration with respect to civil liberties,” Richardson told Raw Story, referring to the president’s rising acquiescence to his predecessor’s approach.

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The Patriot Act, initially pushed through Congress quickly after 9/11 by the Bush administration as an alleged necessity to combat future attacks, has long been fiercely criticized by the ACLU and other civil libertarians as a gross violation of privacy rights under the Constitution.

Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, a former civil rights litigator, recently wrote: “Democrats spent so many years screaming bloody murder over Bush’s use of indefinite detention, military commissions, state secrets, renditions, and extreme secrecy — policies Obama has largely and/or completely adopted as his own.”


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Robert De Niro said Alec Baldwin is so good at playing Donald Trump he wants to punch them both in the face

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Legendary actor and Donald Trump foe Robert De Niro waited patiently as roasters bashed him before they went after Alec Baldwin. De Niro was mocked mostly for his age. But it was De Niro who had the last laugh.

When it was his turn to bring the funny, De Niro asked simply, "what the f*ck am I doing here?"

"This is like that Moscow hotel room where a bunch of whores pissed all over Donald Trump," he recalled.

When it came time to bash Caitlyn Jenner, De Niro said that there was something off about her, but he couldn't "put his finger in it."

"Yes, you can!" she encouraged.

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SNL’s Chris Redd calls Caitlyn Jenner ‘Auntie Tom’ for supporting Trump over trans community

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Genius comedian Chris Redd went after Caitlyn Jenner for her Republican support of President Donald Trump.

While Jenner admitted in 2018 that she'd made a mistake, she was a big part of those few LGBTQ willing to support Trump in 2016.

"Hey Caitlyn, you godd*mn hypocrite," Redd began. "You're like, against gay marriage, you voted for Trump, you're like the Auntie Tom of the trans community. I mean, OK, you did open the door for trans people but then you ran in and slammed that sh*t shut behind your flat ass."

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US ‘lies’ slammed after Mike Pompeo blames Iran for drone attacks without proof

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Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi forcefully rejected Sunday unsubstantiated charges by by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) regarding the recent drone attacks that caused serious damage to two crucial Saudi Arabian oil installations.

“It has been around 5 years that the Saudi-led coalition has kept the flames of war alive in the region by repeatedly launching aggression against Yemen and committing different types of war crimes, and the Yemenis have also shown that they are standing up to war and aggression,” Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said in a statement.

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