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The National Security Agency has gone too far, and now it’s time for Congress to rein it in.
On October 29, 2013, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) teamed up to introduce the USA FREEDOM Act in the House and Senate. The bill represents a truly bipartisan, bicameral effort to reform the government’s surveillance authorities revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, led by two powerful and respected members of Congress.
The legislation seeks to rein in the NSA by doing the following:
- End the bulk collection of Americans’ records shared with third parties and put reasonable limits on Patriot Act powers targeted at people in the United States. The new restrictions would apply not only to phone records collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, but national security letters and pen registers that have also been abused.
- Amend the 2008 FISA Amendments Act to require the government obtain a court order before using information about Americans collected during foreign intelligence operations.
- Increase transparency by allowing communications providers to disclose the number of surveillance orders they receive, mandate the government publish how many people are subject to surveillance orders, and make public significant FISA court opinions since July 2003.
- Create a public advocate that could advise the secret surveillance court in certain cases.
The ACLU strongly supports the USA FREEDOM Act and urges everyone to contact their members of Congress and tell them to co-sponsor the true reform bill that begins to roll back the surveillance state….
Events in Ukraine are exciting the whole world. We need to understand the essence of what is happening. The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, as a party of the Left Opposition, which fought and is fighting against the course of the domestic and foreign policies pursued under the direction of the Orange destabilization and Yushchenko, and against the Alliance Party of Regions and the Communist Party led by Yanukovych, considers it necessary to give an assessment.
On February 22, militants and terrorists of the Euromaidan Parliament [i.e. the Kiev fascist mob] executed a neo-Nazi coup using armed force.
Violating all norms of the Constitution, international law, and trampling European values, Parliament exceeded its authority and committed criminal acts. Washington and Brussels — who told the world and all mankind that Euromaidan is a nonviolent action of the Ukrainian people, to make a European choice and protect democracy and European values — should now honestly admit that the Ukrainian people got nothing. They used a Nazi coup, carried out by the insurgents, terrorists and politicians of Euromaidan to serve the geopolitical interests of the West.
Indisputable evidence for that is:
1) The change of government happened in an unconstitutional way. This violated the European rule of law. In violation of the XIIIth section of the Constitution (which describes in detail the procedure for changing the Constitution), without the participation of the Constitutional Court, the state system of our country has been changed by the Supreme Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine;
2) Going beyond the powers of the Parliament of Ukraine, violating article 19 of the Constitution, Parliament appointed overseers over
- the Ministry of the Interior ,
- the Security Service of Ukraine, and
- the Prosecutor General’s Office.
These supervisors are installed with the aim of exerting the political violence of Euromaidan over the constitutional institutions of the state to promote the interests of the West in an unconstitutional way;
3) Ukrainian President Yanukovych (whom our party has opposed as we have made clear for the last four years) was deprived of his constitutional powers in gross violation of the Constitution. The Constitution does not provide for a right of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine to deprive the president of power in the way this has just been done. The Constitution provides a detailed impeachment procedure which is specified in writing. But again, not guided by the rule of law, but rather by alleged revolutionary expediency, while flouting the European principle of the presumption of innocence, Yanukovych was removed from office and a new president was appointed in violation of the Constitution;
4) The Parliament, eager to defend the militants and terrorists of Euromaidan, pardoned and made heroes of all its members, beginning the process of giving them the presidency. This means that there will be no accountability for those who use armed force to kill civilians or innocent law enforcement officers, who seize and smash office buildings and warehouses with armed force, who carry out lynchings, or exercise blackmail and kidnapping. This creates a basis for the formation of a neo-Nazi repressive state machinery.
Washington and Brussels should hear our warnings. We hold them responsible for all they have done to transfer power to the political forces responsible for establishing this totalitarian Nazi regime in Ukraine, with the inevitable gross violation of the rights and freedoms of millions of our fellow citizens.
The U.S. and EU should know that this power grab by political parties and movements including neo-Nazi forces (such as “Svoboda – Freedom” and “Right Sector”) , announced the implementation of a national revolution under the slogans “Ukraine for Ukrainians,” ” Glory to the nation – death to enemies, ” ” Muscovite tools and Communists to the gallows ! ” and others.
Starting on February 22, this new government must assume all responsibility throughout Ukraine for the violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens.
Insurgents and terrorists continue to capture Euromaidan administrative buildings and local authorities in the South and East of Ukraine. Using terrorist methods, voters have been deprived of their rights and of the authority of their elected representatives in local councils. Civilians defending their choices have been mercilessly shot by gunmen armed with Kalashinkovs, rifles, and other combat weapons, as for example on February 22 in Lugansk.
Militants not endowed with any legitimate police authority have arrogated emergency police powers to themselves, using axes and sticks to block central thoroughfares, halting cars to carry out inspections and verification of documents of passengers, and arresting people. They have blocked the entrance to the airport and thus grossly violated the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantees the inviolability of the person, freedom of movement, the presumption of innocence, and the right to security and life. All the people of Ukraine have been humiliated and denied their dignity and rights.
Already on February 23 representatives of the new government announced the formation of the Ukrainian nation: they proclaim that anyone who uses the Russian language will be subjected to deprivation of their native-born status of Ukrainian ethnicity and will be discriminated against in civil and political rights.
The new regime has already announced their intention to ban the broadcast channels of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, branding them as the TV channels of a hostile state . This is the way the new government defends the European values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
The regime is preparing lists of enemies who are subject to proscription. This mechanism will deprive of civil and political rights all those who do not share the neo-Nazi views of the new Ukrainian authorities.
Across the country, ghoulish lynchings continue. People are being beaten and stoned, while undesirable members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are subject to mass intimidation and local officials see their families and children targeted by death threats if they do not support the installation of this new political power. The new Ukrainian authorities are massively burning the offices of political parties they do not like, and have publicly announced the threat of criminal prosecution and prohibition of political parties and public organizations that do not share the ideology and goals of the new regime.
Euromaidan militants are seizing Orthodox shrines like the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, seeking to transfer them to dissenting churchmen like Filaret. The intention is to grab all the churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to conform them to the Vatican.
On behalf of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, we declare that we do not recognize the legitimacy of this coup, and do not recognize as legitimate the activities of the new Ukrainian authorities. We condemn the total violation of the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ukraine on national, ethnic and cultural, religious and political grounds.
We appeal to the European Parliament and the UN Security Council, calling for their immediate intervention into what is happening in Ukraine, to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, to prevent the unleashing by the new Ukrainian government of World War III on the Eurasian continent.—Natalia Vitrenko
Chairman of the Progressive Socialist Party