Congressman wants safeguards for privacy; targets NDAA

Source: Steve Watson

The House of Representatives has approved an amendment to the draconian National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will limit the Department of Defense from using data collected by unmanned spy drones against Americans.

The Amendment, introduced by Congressman Landry (R-LA), will prohibit information collected by DoD drones without a warrant from being used as evidence in court.

The amendment, was approved early Thursday afternoon along with 19 other en bloc amendments, reads:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, information acquired by an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the Department of Defense may not be admitted in a Federal court, State court, or court of a political subdivision of a State as evidence against a United States citizen unless such information was obtained by such unmanned aerial vehicle pursuant to a court order.”

Landry’s amendment is an important one given that a recently uncovered Air Force document contends that the Pentagon can use drones to monitor the activities of Americans.

The instruction, dated April 23, admits that the Air Force cannot legally conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans, but also states that should the drones “incidentally” capture data while conducting other missions, military intelligence has the right to study it to determine whether the subjects are legitimate targets of domestic surveillance.

“Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent,” the instruction states.

The Air Force can take advantage of “a period not to exceed 90 days” to use the data to assess “whether that information may be collected under the provisions of Procedure 2, DoD 5240.1-R and permanently retained under the provisions of Procedure 3, DoD 5240.1-R,” it continues.

Should the drones capture data on Americans, the Air Force says that it should determine whether they are, among other things, “persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics activities.”

The instruction also states that the Pentagon can disseminate the data to other intelligence and government agencies, should it see fit.

“Even though information may not be collectible, it may be retained for the length of time necessary to transfer it to another DoD entity or government agency to whose function it pertains,” the document reads.

Congressman Landry tweeted about the approval of his amendment late yesterday: Since the introduction of the NDAA in 2011, Congressman Landry has sought to nullify the legislation, calling it a “degradation of our rights.”

Landry has particularly railed against the provisions in the bill that have cleared the way for indefinite detention of American citizens.

“Sometimes our enemies are not obvious,” Landry commented in a December 2011 statement.

“In fact, the enemy that keeps me up at night is the slow erosion of our Constitutional rights. Over the last 30 years, Congress has wrongly handed over many of its Constitutional powers to the Executive – increasing the scope of government and decreasing our liberties.”

“The NDAA continues this trend by allowing the President to hold any individual associated with terrorist forces in ‘detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities.’ While these provisions mention certain protections for American citizens, the language defining these exemptions could be interpreted to provide no protection.” Landry wrote.

In February, Landry gave an impassioned testimony before the Senate regarding the NDAA: