ection 215 of the Patriot Act is rather explicit:
the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Seems clear, right? But, of course, what seems clear in the statute and how the intelligence community and the rubber-stamping FISA Court will view things often seem to differ by a wide margin. The FISA court has now released yet another heavily redacted opinion, given by Judge John Bates, concerning just such a request. You may recall Judge John Bates from his recent letters in which he pretends to represent the entire judiciary, in fighting back against any attempt to limit the NSA and the FISA Court’s ability to spy on American people. Bates seems absolutely sure that doing so will let the terrorists win, which gives you a glimpse into his mindset.
Thus, while depressing, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that when a Section 215 request came to him concerning activity of a US person that was entirely protected by the First Amendment, Bates figured out a way to give the FBI the go ahead to spy on the person anyway. Because terrorism.
What good are rights, especially those that allow you to be critical of your government, if they can be stripped away from you on a whim?
Not a US citizen? Rights don’t apply.
Within 100mi of the US Border? Rights don’t apply.
3 degrees of separation from someone who is a suspected terrorist? Rights don’t apply.
State of Emergency? Rights don’t apply.
Leak something that makes the government look bad? Rights don’t apply.
Cop on a bad day? Rights don’t apply.
Fasion a poptart in the shape of a weapon? Rights don’t apply.
Yell something that offends someone across a campus? Rights don’t apply.
Why even bother having rights if they’re such a joke.