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Congress Expands FBI Powers 954

Posted by simoniker
from the expansion-of-patriotism dept.
Dave writes "Well, since the Patriot Act II never got off the ground, looks like Congress has done the Justice Department a favor, according to Wired News, and added in some of the most controversial provisions into a non-descript intelligence spending bill. Now the FBI can subpoena information about you from practically any business or organization - without approval or permission from a judge, and with a gag order on the targeted organization. These spending bills are generally considered confidential and usually are not subject to public debate, so despite the far-reaching implications of these new powers, it's not being publicized like the Patriot Act was. Time to get out my patriotic hat and pin before it's too late."
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Congress Expands FBI Powers

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  • who can stop this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hawkbug (94280) <psx@NOsPam.fimble.com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:47PM (#7550510) Homepage
    When is somebody going to stand up and say enough is enough? A better question is, who CAN stand up to this? I don't know enough about how laws like this get passed without consent from the citizens of this country, so I would simply like to know who I can write and bitch to so this doesn't happen.
    • by PitaBred (632671) <[gro.sndnyd.derbatip] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:49PM (#7550542) Homepage
      Try your senator for one: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/ senators_cfm.cfm And your house reps: http://www.house.gov/Welcome.html They're the ones who really need to know your feelings on this.
      • by elmegil (12001) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550568) Homepage Journal
        Been said before, but bears repeating: EVERY time I have written my senator to say "don't do this stupid thing" I get back a form letter saying "this stupid thing is the right thing and I'm glad I stood up for it". Enough of that and you either stop caring or go postal.
        • by proj_2501 (78149)
          threaten to donate to his competition's campaign.
          threaten to vote against him
          start donating to his campaign when he does something right
          • by AstroDrabb (534369) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:21PM (#7550964)
            That is not right. You shouldn't have to give these idiots MONEY to have them vote according to the people. Isn't that what a "represented democracy" is supposed to be? Personally, I think we need a forceful overhaul in this country and implement a true democracy where any American 18 or over can cast a vote. The votes are counted and a law is either passed or not passed based on those votes. We could have a big vote every 6 months. Where X number of laws/issues could be voted on. It would be the job of congress to lobby us to try to get thier laws passed. The problem with a "represented democracy" is that those who should be representing the people are often representing those with the largest donations.
            • by PitaBred (632671) <[gro.sndnyd.derbatip] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:33PM (#7551118) Homepage
              Or perhaps we should just disallow 'donations' to political offices. We don't allow it in the judicial arena, why should we allow it in the politic general? While we're at it, we should take the power away from congress to vote their own raises. The government should be accountable directly to the people. There are just too many issues to the general public to vote on every single one.
              • How do you enact these policies? You'd have to pass a law to do it, right? Congress is currently responsible for the passage of laws. How're you going to push that through Congress? They don't want to give up all that money.
              • by roystgnr (4015) <`roystgnr' `at' `ticam.utexas.edu'> on Monday November 24, 2003 @11:07PM (#7554324) Homepage
                Or perhaps we should just disallow 'donations' to political offices.

                How far do you want to go with this? And are you imagining the probable unintended consequences while you make that decision?

                You could disallow donations to political offices, but continue to allow people and groups to advertise for politicians they approve of, in which case the current practice of "people give money to candidate or party, which buys political advertising with it" will just get replaced with "people buy political advertising directly". Washington will still be ruled by money, but now it'll be exclusively money from large contributors who can afford commercial time, instead of individual contributors.

                You could also disallow whatever you define as "political advertising" entirely, in which case (aside from the obvious First Amendment problems) people's opinions will be influenced by "the news" instead, and the segment of money which rules Washington will be restricted further: to those corporations large enough to own news outlets and slant the reporting they provide.

                It's not as if your Senators are whoring for campaign contributions to pay for their new mansion or yacht; those campaign contributions pay for the propaganda that gets fed to voters before election day and keeps the best funded candidates in office. Any attempt to limit that propaganda will just end up as a limit on free speech. If you want to reduce the influence of money on politics, the only way to do so is with an informed electorate who will be less susceptible to expensive advertising when deciding who to vote for. What's worse, producing an informed electorate will have to happen from the ground up. You won't find any easy "campaign finance reform" answers: try and anticipate the unintended consequences of "matching funds" type ideas (hint: most involve increased barriers to entry for independent and third party candidates), for example, and you'll see why.
            • by NetAngler (209960) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:46PM (#7551359) Homepage
              This sounds pretty dangerous. Democracy is a scary thing and our founders knew that -- the tyranny of the majority and all.
              What happens when the majority of Americans vote for something like - lets take all the money of the people who actually work and give it to the freeloaders...Oops sorry that is already happening.
              What happens when the majority votes that it doesn't like asian, or blacks or Muslims. After Sept. 11th I bet a true democracy would have passed some laws that treated Muslims pretty poorly.
              Is that the kind of country you would like to live in, one that does the will of the majority, rather than the right thing?
              • by HiThere (15173) * <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:25PM (#7552488)
                Majority? Certainly not the majority of the people. I wouldn't trust that either, but I can't think of a single issue that it's ever been allowed to speak on. The closest I can think of is the majority of Californians, but that is always a "choose yes or no on this piece of legislation which has been made as obscure as feasible" kind of question. Still, I can usually decide which I prefer, if in no other way then by looking at who supports it and who's against it. But the majority of the senators isn't that much more trustworthy, and no where near as limited. Their interests aren't the same as mine, and my ability to influence them is...minimal to say the least. By the time I've heard about a bill, their position has already been purchased.

                Vote against them? Sure. But the way the elections are structured there are only two viable candidates, and the opposition will come up with someone who is even worse. Condorcet voting would solve this, but is there any belief that we'll ever see that, even at the local election level?

                I find myself perpetually amazed that some people are able to actually be in favor of even one of the candidates that we are presented with. Most, however, are just choosing the lesser of two evils, and knowing as they do so that they are still choosing evil. This appears to happen all the way from the local level up to the federal level, but the degree of evil increases as you get one person "representing" a larger and larger populace. I suppose that it's better than the local baron fighting the folk in the next barony over, but it sure isn't good.
            • by Quixadhal (45024) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:12PM (#7551721) Homepage Journal
              The big problem is that the constitution doesn't recognize money as a form of power.

              If you look at all the various checks and balances in the constitution (and the Bill of Rights), it does a wonderful job of restricting Powers and ensuring that each branch of the government has some way to control the others... except that Money can be used to override all of them.

              Sure, you have to have a majority vote by representatives to do thing X, but since those with the most money are leaning on the reps, guess which way the votes go?

              Yeah, the judicial system doesn't accept bribes... but the dockets are done via percieved urgency, and again money makes a thing seem more important, or can make lots of other things jump ahead of a thing.

              The executive branch might be ok, but in each place that government money is controlled, private funding and personal wealth of the members can be used, and thus again ensure that money wins.

              Until some way to control the amount of money spent on a given bit of legislation (or to bury it) is found... that will be how things work. The only hope of the common man is that ENOUGH of us all stop spending LONG enough to have a noticeable impact on the wallets of these people. Not an easy thing to do in this day and age.
            • by ggwood (70369) on Monday November 24, 2003 @09:51PM (#7553643) Homepage Journal
              All money can do is buy ads, not votes, but ads are time to make a case, so money is important. That said:

              Americans are restricted in what we can give to candidates for office. However, we can donate either a very large or unlimited ammount to special interest groups, which can donate large ammounts or just run ads for a certain candidate. Attempts to restirct this have actually lost in court, up to the supreme court (highest court in the USA) because such restrictions violate free speach.

              Instead, we have "quid pro quo" laws which make it illegal for elected officials to actually do anything which favors the people they have accepted donations for. The standard of proof seems to be, basically, a direct link between the donation and the action. Obviously, proving this is absurdly difficult.

              Example: anti-abortion group seeks to donate money to candidate. They just ask around until they find someone in a tight race who is anti-abortion. They give that person money. Person wins and votes against abortion rights. Obviously, there is no case here. The person already decided what they felt and then took the money. Sure, they might have been more vocal, spent more time or effort or pulled in more favors for abortion than they would have otherwise.

              Other example: energy company wants tax break. Donates to a candidate who has no background in energy policy at all. Perhaps has never voted on an energy bill. Candidate wins and pushes for tax break for energy company. How can one prove that that is not what the candidate origionally believed? Most likely, the candidate is anti-tax to begin with. Aren't they all?

              Discussion of this issue in America has become exteremely jaded. On NPR (national public radio, in America) on the fairly conservative finance program (Marketplace) I have heard repeated references to business "getting what they are paying for" from congress, and repeated references to "bought and paid for" politicians. I don't listen (radio/tv) to much coverage of congress, but I have heard Democrats accuse Republicans of quid pro quo, to which the republican simply replied your side does it, too.

              Further, ads from special interest groups (SIGs) in favor of a candidate are not supposed to have any input from that candidate. This is apparently violated constantly.

              These politicans should be beyond reproach, yet most are obviously taking bribes. How can we change that, and stay within the constitution?

              1. Force politicians to recuse themselves from any decision in which they have an interest, including having an ad run for them by an interest group.

              1a. All ads for a candidate should be subject to veto by that candidate.

              Want a pro-abortion SIG to endorse you? Fine. You can't vote on any abortion issues for the next term of office.

              2. Ads run against a particular candidate must pay to provide equal time to the candidate, available directly after the ad, to rebut the ad without pentalty of recusion on the topic, e.g. without regard to (1) above.

              2a. If any significant connections can be made between the candidate and the ad run against the candidate, the candidate forfits the reply time. Instead it would be used to indicate the connection.

              This is needed to prevent candidates from putting up "straw man" arguments against themselves and then attacking such ads in the free time allowed. Now, you might think that's crazy but actually this happens already in City of Los Angeles politics.

              3. Disallow corporations from any form of political donations or speach. Corporations do not have the right to vote, only real people do, thus there is precedence for disallowing them political speach.

              Sure, you can make an organization to promote any political cause you want, say the environment. You can take donations from anyone you want. You can run ads for any candidate you want, discussion them and the environment. Then they have to recuse themselves from any votes on that topic, b
      • by Groovus (537954) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:41PM (#7551275)
        The problem is, this bill has already been passed. We never saw it comming. Certainly writing now will let your congresspeople know your concerns, but it's too late for this one. That's the real stench of this, it got snuck in and the public didn't even know it was being voted on.

        I know we have a wonderful history of attaching riders and pork barrel legislation in congress, but isn't it about time we took steps to abolish such things? I have a hard time seeing any benefit to such practices anymore. Bills should address a single problem, should be clearly named/described, and should always be made available for public analysis - The U.S. government has much more capacity to ruin the lives of U.S. citizens than any band of "terrorists" ever will, there is no justification for refusal of public disclosure of laws or proposed laws affecting U.S. citizens, period. There is no valid reason for a spending bill to have this kind of legislation attached, period.

        In relation to this bill, I fail to see how having this additionaly capacity will help prevent "terrorism" moreso than what the FBI already has. Lack of information was not the problem in 9/11 - lack of correctly addressing the known information was. In any proposed expansion of powers such as this one should have to affirmatively answer the question "would the powers in question, if granted, have prevented an event like 9/11". The answer in this case is no, thus indicating ulterior motives for this legislation, and subsequently the undesireability of the proposed legislation.

        Then again appealing to common sense seems to have become a waste of time in regard to the U.S. government.
    • by setzman (541053) <stzman ... sandremoveit,org> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550551) Journal
      I think the only thing that can stop this shit is a popular revolution. Look at Georgia. The government was corrupt, the people rose up and toppled it. From what I've heard it was nonviolent as well. It will take similiar action here for this to be stopped.

      Unfortunatly, if you rise up against the US Government, you are a terrorist, and such a movement would likely be crushed by the military, which is mostly right-wing. A guerilla war against the government and popular uprising would be required.

      • by Dovregubbens Hall (583591) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:04PM (#7550737)
        Why don't you just learn something from Georgia then? What they did was bus a whole lot of people into the capital, move slowly and without arms towards the parliament, then the presidential residence.

        The key here is that unarmed civilians marching in large numbers are a whole lot more difficult to shoot at than a bunch of loonies with guns.

        But then, it means that americans need to get off their fat asses, which is not going to happen any time soon.

      • by Phroggy (441) *

        ...Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to

      • by NastyGnat (515785)
        I happen to be one of those "right wing" military folks and as far as I'm concerned you can have your revolution.

        My job ISN'T to stop citizens from revolting, it's to protect the constituition. I'd hope many of my follow soldiers would recall stuff like Kent State and do what is right rather than what they're told. As far as I'm concerend our government is going WAY to far with the crap it's coming up with. That's why first of all, I'm going to VOTE. It's not going to be for a democrat, but I wish ther
    • by greechneb (574646) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:54PM (#7550614) Journal
      Plain and simple, the voters. How many people truthfully voted in the last election? Probably less than 30% of the registered voters. Yeah, I know it's tough to take that 15 minutes out of your hectic day, but if you don't like who is in there now, it can be changed. Unfortunately at this point, not enough people really give a damn.
    • by garcia (6573) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:57PM (#7550650) Homepage
      Just mentioned this to several of my "older" co-workers...

      One told me I was insane for caring. "This went on in the 1950s and nothing bad happened why should you care now?"

      Another said, "Well, I have lived a bit, traveled, moced about, have and have had friends on both sides of the law, have worked inside and outside of law enforcement, have been the victim of FBI intimidation when fighting racial hate crimes, have a Criminal Justice degree and completed half of law school, and with all that still find myself a free and able individual with nothing to fear from the law. So, no, I don't think you are being realistic."

      When we have people that honestly believe this is for their benefit it will only get worse. It is truly a sad day when people choose to ignore history and believe that flag waving, rights waiving, non-sense that is fed to us daily by a near facist government.

      Just my worthless .02,
    • by surprise_audit (575743) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:59PM (#7550677)
      A better question is, who CAN stand up to this?

      They can only acquire information that exists... As more people and organisations become aware that this is happening, more information will become "disconnected" - for example, ISPs will only record that Mr.Sixpack paid $X for Internet service, but there will be no record of the websites he visited, or the people he exchanges email with. Corporate policies will require that logs of all kinds only be kept as aggregate numbers, if at all.

      Alternatively, people will realize that you can fight fire with fire, and every possible item of data will be recorded, on paper, so that if the Powers-That-Be subpoena information, they'd get a response that would make SCO's million lines of printout look trivial.

    • by Uma Thurman (623807) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:06PM (#7550760) Homepage Journal
      What do you mean passing laws "without consent" from the citizens?

      Over half of the citizens of the US don't vote, so they HAVE COMPLETELY CONSENTED to being fucked in the ass by their politicians.

      So who are we going to blame for this? Let's start with the people who don't vote.
    • by IvyMike (178408) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:12PM (#7550850)
      Not to single you out, but writing to your represenatives is just a first step. Who can stop this kind of crap from ever happening? Only you can, by participating in your democracy. You can and will make a difference; the only problem is, it isn't easy.
      • Did you vote? Did you do your best to become informed about the issues and candidates?
      • Do you know who your representatives are? Do you know what they stand for? Do you know their voting record?
      • Do you give money to organizations that support your beliefs?
      • Do you give money to politicians that support your beliefs?
      • Do you volunteer to support those groups or politicians?
      People will tell you that you can't make a difference, that democracy is for the rich, that the elections are fixed and the candidates are identical, so voting is moot anyway. Those people are trying to control you; to make you so numb and so confounded that you do nothing. Listen to those people, and you are guaranteed to not make a difference.

      "By the people, for the people" means that WE are in charge of running the country, and we as a people have been asleep at the wheel for too long. Democracy works best when the citizens do their best to participate. Conversely, it works poorly when people feel disenfranchised, get an "I hate politics and refuse to pay attention to it" attitude, and watch TV instead.

  • So.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ebob9 (726509) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:48PM (#7550524)
    How's the weather in Canada?
  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evil Adrian (253301) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:48PM (#7550530) Homepage
    Invading the privacy of innocent people to get at the guilty... I love it. You know, if the law of averages worked out in its favor, like if 99% of the people they spied on were involved in something, I wouldn't have a problem, but I'd imagine that less than 0.001% of the population is up to no good, and who knows how many they spy on.

    I'll probably disappear now that I posted this, because I'm sort of enemy fucking combatant for disagreeing with the abuse of power...
  • by EndlessNameless (673105) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:49PM (#7550533)
    Yeah. Great. My open response to Congress can be found at www.wtf.com
  • by WinDoze (52234) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550546)
    I feel safer from terrorists already!<br><br>Uh-oh. I hope the FBI doesn't see I made this post with the word "terrorists" in it and IJ*&^Tu <NO CARRIER>
  • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ActionPlant (721843) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550555) Homepage
    Not available to public debate? Seriously, it's scary. When something that impacts us this greatly, and gives an arm of the government this much authority is put through and passed without us being able to say anything about it, that's WRONG. The people who are in office are there because we put them there to represent our views. When we are going to finally get that concept in our heads and boot these idiots from office?

    Damon,
  • by ScooterBill (599835) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550557)
    I guess the administration couldn't get their way by "taking it to the people" so they just said "fuck the people" and did it anyway.

    I am saddened and ashamed of our government. While I don't expect to like everything the government does, I do expect to have a government that operates in the open. Otherwise we're no better than the corrupt regimes that we criticise.

    M
    • Well, having not read any more of the article than you, I can say that the ONLY member of the Administration who has a vote in the Congress only gets to vote in Senate ties.

      Now, having glanced through the article, there is not even a show of the vote. Are you going to tell me that every member of the Congress who voted for this is in a conspiracy with the Executive Branch?

  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550575) Homepage Journal
    and try to enjoy it.
  • by angst_ridden_hipster (23104) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550581) Homepage Journal
    Time to get out my patriotic hat and pin before it's too late.

    Too late? I'm afraid I have to tell you that it's a few years too late. Ashcroft has already subpoenaed your purchase records, and already knows that you don't have that there patriotic hat and pin, now, when it really counts.

    Sorry, bub, but you're screwed.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:52PM (#7550589) Homepage Journal

    All of this conservative rhetoric about the government as a bunch of jack booted thugs, and now, they go and do exactly what they claim to oppose.

    After three years of total Republican rule, we have the largest and most intrusive government ever. So much for limited government and free enterprise out of the so-called party of limited government and free enterprise.
    • by pr0t0plasm (183810) <pr0t0plasm@luckymu d . org> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:57PM (#7550653) Homepage
      If you assume that there was ever any substance to the 'smaller government' rhetoric, then this administration has been a great betrayal of Republican ideals.

      If, however, you view the singular goal of the Republican party as the expropriation of taxpayer wealth for the enrichment of the entrenched industrial elite, and all of the cultural conservatism and libertarian rhetoric as tactics to achieve this goal, then this has been the most successful Republican administration ever.

  • by pr0t0plasm (183810) <pr0t0plasm@luckymu d . org> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:52PM (#7550594) Homepage
    i) Write a physical letter to all of your representitives in congress to berate/laud them (as appropriate) for their votes on this bill.
    ii) Join the ACLU.
    iii) Convince your employer to destroy all non-essential records of employee or customer transactions.
    iv) vote, and convince all of your friends to vote, in the next federal election cycle.
    v) If all else fails, vote with your feet. Canada is close by.
    • v) If all else fails, vote with your feet. Canada is close by.

      As a Canuck speaking: "EX-cellent..."

    • No.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msimm (580077)
      The right-wing has been doing things right for years, while we write short essays, donate a few dollars or email our representatives they have organized fundraisers, church events and gone door to door. I think its a matter of seriousness. They take what they do very serious. The go out into meat-space and change things.

      Personally, I'm tired of being so certian that I'm right that I sit smugly back an do the bare minimum (if anything at all). Those radical hippies have turned me off on politics, but maybe
  • We (meaning people who are afraid of what the gov't is doing and are at least a little politically minded, not just /. readers) need to figure out how to get more people to care about their civil liberties and realize that the current government is taking them away. Until enough people are upset about this, it will not stop untill it is too late. Unfortunately, I don't believe Joe Sixpack will care about this until it starts affecting his fast food and TV viewing habits, and even then I think he'll be pretty accepting of it. I saw a bumper sticker recently, though obviously meant to be sarcastic, seemed to sum up the feelings that most people have on this topic: "That's OK, I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway."

    How can we help put the implications of things like this in face of more people and move them to action? It seems like an impossible task...
    • by djeaux (620938) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:02PM (#7550721) Homepage Journal
      Soren Kierkegaard wrote:
      "Which is harder, to be executed or to suffer the prolonged agony that consists in being trampled to death by geese?"

      Spot on comment about Joe Sixpack. What will get his attention is when all those NRA-endorse politicians start sneaking in gun control under the guise of "protecting us all from terrorism."

      Just a big fat MHO, but I think those silly yellow-orange-red alerts are just as terrorizing to the American public as some dude hiding in a cave in southeast Afghanistan.

  • Timely (Score:5, Informative)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:56PM (#7550647) Homepage Journal

    Given this recent revelation [smh.com.au], I'm sure everyone is ready to trust the FBI with greater power and lesser accountability:)

    It's really a shame though. I know a lot of the people working there are quite professional and care about doing a good job and protecting the Constitution of the United States, the ideals that make America a good place.

    But after the legacy of Hoover misusing the agency many decades ago, evidently missing the boat on predicting the 9/11 catastrophe, the last thing they need is this kind of power handed to them by higher ups. Those superiors are political appointees with a vision for enforcement that shares more with authoritarian states than with the principles America was founded upon.

    If I was a mid-level bureaucrat in the FBI, I'd make efforts to establish accountability policies, citizen review boards, etc. even if the current administration doesn't think they're necessary.

    If they don't this, then they can be assured of getting tarred and feather during Congressional hearings 5-10 years from now, much like what happened to the CIA in the late 1970's.

  • Bomb (Score:4, Funny)

    by Stile 65 (722451) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:57PM (#7550654) Homepage Journal
    Terrorist gun Waco Ruby Ridge Patriot Act Federal Reserve FBI CIA Osama bin Laden Saddam Hussein Echelon Carnivore

    Now, imagine that each time this entry crosses the Internet, government keyword parsers are triggered and the entire TCP session gets flagged for later review.

    Reload often for maximum government annoyance! :P
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:57PM (#7550655) Homepage Journal
    Man, every time I see a story like this (and about the RIAA, DMCA, the Patriot Act, the misdoings of the Dept. of Homeland Security), I go one notch up in believing John Titor [johntitor.com].

    The link to that site has been posted quite a few times in /.'s discussions. He claimed that he was a Time Traveller from 2036. Among the "predictions" he made back in 2000, was the Black hole research at CERN, the Chinese Man mission, the Iraq war, the Columbia disaster, and most importantly the VAST increase in powers that the US Government gave itself to suppress citizens.

    The last one supposedly leads to a US Civil war in 2004. I might have laughed at his posts in 2000, but with these more and more frightening developments, I can't help but wonder.

    An interesting read nevertheless.

    • by certron (57841) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:44PM (#7551335)
      Should I be replying to this? I've read most of the site before, and decided, for my mental well-being, to just accept it as a parable, a bizarre, well-crafted Libertarian dream-come-true. I have to say, my mental well-being is slowly declining...

      Want more disturbing news? Bush just signed a $401.3 billion defense bill. (Defense? Attack? whatever...) Included in the bill: "Lifts a decade-old ban on research into low-yield nuclear weapons and authorizes $15 million for continued research into a powerful nuclear weapon capable of destroying deep underground bunkers."

      from http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/11/24/bush.ap/ index.html
  • by vudufixit (581911) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:58PM (#7550667)
    I've noticed Presidents usually keep a lot of their predecessors' policies intact. Don't count on any Democratic successor to Bush to make a serious attempt to repeal any of this Patriot Act crap. IIRC, wasn't the "clipper chip" an idea initiated under the Clinton regime? Democrats may be "liberal" but they're just as quick to trade our privacy and freedoms for so-called security if they think it'll score points with voters.
  • American Dream? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silicongodcom (241132) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:02PM (#7550714)
    How long until we need to rotate the American Flag icon 180 degrees?

    (That may sound like a troll if you haven't read the.. what's it called? oh ya.. Constitution)
  • When the 1st Amendment no longer protects your voice.

    And when the 4th Amendment no longer protects your privacy or your suff.

    Thank God we have the 2nd Amendment to tell our elected representatives that enough is enough.

    It's time to put "... from my cold, dead hands" back where it belongs.
    • by Dovregubbens Hall (583591) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:18PM (#7550932)
      Yeah, sure. You'll have your brains blown out before you even get close to Washington DC.

      The issue isn't the arms, the issue is to get enough people to stand up. The world just saw a peaceful revolution in Georgia the other day.

      Try that instead. Get a million people walking unarmed to the White House and take it over. If they start shooting at unarmed civilians, then you know you live under a tyranny, and other tactics may be in place. But before you've tried that. talking about a violent revolt is just wrong.

  • by attonitus (533238) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:09PM (#7550800)
    If one assumes that the aim of legislation like this is not just to create a technocratic totalitarian state, and that it has some value to investigating authorities, then there are limits that should be put on it.

    For example, time-limited disclosure. If the FBI think that I'm channeling funds to a terrorist organisation and want to get hold of my paypal records to check on that then fair enough. And if they don't want me to know that they've tried to do it, then fair enough too. Until they establish that I'm not a terrorist. At which point, I want to know what's been happening. So have time-limited secrecy. By default, any use of these powers could be disclosed 3 months (say) after it occurred, unless the investigators have appealled to a higher authority to keep it secret.

    Frivolous abuse of power is then discouraged (because every investigation that fails to find anything interesting is published) and systematic abuse of power is at least partly discouraged (because if you want to cover up what's happening, you're going to have to get a judge to agree to it after 3 months).

  • Very nice. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pmz (462998) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:09PM (#7550802) Homepage

    1) FBI can subpoena information about you from practically any business or organization

    2) without approval or permission from a judge

    3) a gag order on the targeted organization

    4) spending bills are generally considered confidential and usually are not subject to public debate

    5) not being publicized

    Goddammit, why is it that so much of the science fiction I read is coming true? Just recently, I decided to read Starship Troopers, where the whole damn book is about how the 20th century democracies failed leading to a system that voluntary military service had to be completed before a person became a citizen.

    I won't even mention 1984 (oops) or Farenheight 451 (oops again!).

    This shit has been predicted for over 50 years, now! The visionaries spoke and were ignored.

  • by Chuck Bucket (142633) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:09PM (#7550808) Homepage Journal
    Instead of 'Your Rights Online' it should be 'Your FORMER Rights Online'.

    CB

  • Unconstitutional. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:10PM (#7550818) Journal
    The congress has just passed a law which violates the fourth amendment. Somebody needs to sue to have it overturned, and quick.

    -jcr
  • Free and democratic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quacking duck (607555) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:10PM (#7550823)
    Not intending this to be a troll, but something about Bush's speeches always grated on me. I finally figured out why: his prolific use of words like "freedom" and "democracy". Not so much that he said them but the sheer frequency of its usage.

    What bugged me was that he feels he needs to keep saying it. Ever notice that China is officially the "People's Republic of China" despite very little representation for or by the people? Then there's the "Democratic Republic of Congo", which isn't democratic. And let's not forget the "Democratic People's Republic of [North] Korea"--a 2-for-1 deal there.

    My 2 cents: the more someone feels the need to use rhetoric to hammer a point, the less that point happens to be true.
  • by TyrranzzX (617713) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:10PM (#7550826) Journal
    As long as Americans have it in their heads that their constitutional rights are still protected, they'll go on their lives peacefully until something like, oh I don't know, the ozone is gone or winter no longer happens anymore. As scary as it is to start saying shit like this, Mark My Words, we're in for a civil war within the next 30 or 40 years at this rate. They're fooled around with and screwed up every constitutional right and amendment we have. Pretty soon they'll be exercising the lack of our rights, and if they get that far, they'll start doing stuff like chipping people and screwing them over if they don't like them. Tommarrow people will be trying to make a living and they can't, and unlike in max headroom, those people in the fringes won't go about their daily lives happily. All it takes at that point is a few more people to say fsck it, I hate this and to pick up a gun or knife, and you've got civil war.

    The number of protesters will continue to grow year after year after year, until what happened in the soviet union in georga happens here. People will get tired of the bullshit and getting no straight answer and with the goverment giving itself ample time to play with the system.

    Seriously, think california's ballot system will be fixed by 2k5? I sure don't. How long can a geek keep a stupid person fixated?

    "We want electronic voting."

    Nerd: Sure, I'll make it.

    1 year passes

    "Um...you didn't do it right. We want it to check for security and work properly when tallying."

    Nerd: The tech is still developing. Give it another year.

    1 year passes

    "Still isn't working properly."

    Nerd: I'll get on it right away

    Yet another year later

    "We want you to print out the ballot to proove it tallies correctly, some landslide elections look suspicious"

    Nerd: Ok, but it'll take awhile for everyone to change their systems, give it 2 years.

    2 years pass for the implementation of printers.

    "but now the ballot is printing out with the correct vote but it isn't being tallied, I want it to be tallied too."

    Nerd: I didn't know you wanted it to be tallied, ok.

    "Um..now it's stored on an insecure medium and broadcasted on an insecure medium, and the votes are still coming in wrong. Fix it."

    Nerd: Ok, but I'll need another few years to fix it as well.

    2 more years pass.

    "Um, now the master server isn't working right, can you fix that?"

    Nerd: Sure. Gimme a few months...

    And by this time, everyone loves a certain party and the other party is somehow out of power. But nobody cares, all the elections are fixed and nobody said "that's enough, fix it and fix it now or we're going back to regular ballot until something that works comes along".
    • Personally, I'm friggin prospering, so I'm in no revolutionary mood, but I'm tired of all the talkers like you.

      You want to revolt, then grow a spine and do it. Stop yapping and act already.

      Each television season gets increasingly boring, so we could do with a good high farce or slapstick comedy, even if its on the news.

      Oh, and I already own lots and lots of guns, so watch your back for the counter-revolutionary terror, Sparky. ;-)

  • by modder (722270) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:19PM (#7550941)

    Seems a bit all encompassing to me. I think I sold lemonade at a "financial institution" on my street corner when I was six.

    We've since gotten rid of all of our records of transactions. I hope the FBI doesn't come looking for any of them.

  • by saha (615847) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:40PM (#7551258)
    I would like to encourage you to watch this great lecture streamed through the internet. Prof. David D. Cole of Georgetown University Law Center explores the parallels between the first Red Scare, the era of McCarthyism and todays equivalent... terrorism. If you have a good internet connection with Real player and an hour of your time, I would recommend catching this enlightening lecture. To learn how denying the civil liberties of others may later trample on your very on liberties and rights in the future. Parts of the original Patroit Act are in this lecture as well.

    "Freedom and Terror: September 11th and the 21st Century Challenge Freedom"
    by Professor David D. Cole, Georgetown University Law Center
    Real Player stream [umich.edu]

    The lecture is available by webstream on demand:
    http://www.umich.edu/~sacua/webstream.htm

    For more information on the Academic Freedom Lecture
    Series please see:
    http://www.umich.edu/~sacua/AFL/afllecture.html
    ----

    "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't trade unionists.
    THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
    THEN THEY CAME for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

    Martin Niemoeller, Lutheran Pastor.
  • by extrarice (212683) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:43PM (#7551305) Homepage Journal
    Quote from the Wired article:
    [quote]Justice Department officials tried earlier this year to write a bill to expand the Patriot Act. A draft -- dubbed Patriot II -- was leaked and caused such an uproar that Justice officials backed down. The new provision inserts one of the most controversial aspects of Patriot II into the spending bill.[/quote]

    Why is this process allowed? Why can an article that is completely unrelated to the bill be tacked on, and passed as a whole? "A spoon-ful of sugar helps the medicine go down", I suppose.

    Methinks tactics like this should be outlawed, as it can create a conflict of interest: "I don't really like section Z of this bill, but if I don't pass the rest of this bill my constituents will be livid and throw me out of office..."

COBOL is for morons. -- E.W. Dijkstra

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