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House Approves Warrantless Wiretapping Extension 342

Posted by Zonk
from the a-big-thank-you-to-congress dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The House of Representatives voted 227-183 to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow warrantless wiretapping of telephone and electronic communications. The vote extends the FISA amendment for six months. 'The administration said the measure is needed to speed the National Security Agency's ability to intercept phone calls, e-mails and other communications involving foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the United States." Civil liberties groups and many Democrats said it goes too far, possibly enabling the government to wiretap U.S. residents communicating with overseas parties without adequate oversight from courts or Congres.'"
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House Approves Warrantless Wiretapping Extension

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  • poster...post right (Score:2, Informative)

    by Danathar (267989)
    You put in your story

    "The House of Representatives voted 227-183 to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow warrantless wiretapping of telephone and electronic communications."

    But the first Sentence of the story you linked to reads

    "The House handed President Bush a victory Saturday, voting to expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States."

    That last part about "warrants on foreign suspects whose
    • mod parent down (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @06:42AM (#20120081)
      This -does- give full permission to wiretap anybody without a warrent. Anyone can be wiretapped without oversight as long as the claim is made that they are suspected of communicating with said foreign suspects.
      • by alisson (1040324)
        It's not terribly hard to get a wire-tap warrant in the first place. Since the idea is to gather evidence, you really only need potential evidence.
      • Cost-benefit (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mi (197448)

        Anyone can be wiretapped without oversight as long as the claim is made that they are suspected of communicating with said foreign suspects.

        That's true. So, what's the cost of it? Possible violation of privacy... And the benefit? The government will be able to learn of foreign threats faster. You see, snooping on the two people abroad was and remains legal (Echelon, anyone?). It is just when one of the suspects is in the US, that the government runs into problems.

        Is the benefit worth the cost? Not sure

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ml10422 (448562)
          We American kids are taught to venerate our "Great Presidents" like FDR and Lincoln. Some of us, however, have grown up, read more history, and come to realize that we weren't being sold one view of the past. FDR was one of the most shameless power grabbers in the history of our country.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Elemenope (905108)

          World War II was a war with readily identifiable enemies, discrete military and political goals, and concrete benchmarks for meeting those goals. There were also 'victory conditions' easily defined, that marked, once achieved, the conclusion of the war. The "War on Terror" is none of those things, and has no discernible victory conditions.

          Comparing an extraordinary or constitutionally-questionable surveillance power or privilege from WWII to one today is beyond absurd. Unlike in a regular war, which typic

      • No, it only applies to "reasonably believed to be outside the US". In essence, these are border searches needing no warrent. The language is probably to cover roaming and the email equivalents.

        Like it or not, the US (and most nations) have always exerted strong jurisdiction over what crosses their borders. Information isn't exempt.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Karl0Erik (1138443)
      From TFA:

      "This bill would grant the attorney general the ability to wiretap anybody, any place, any time without court review, without any checks and balances," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., during the debate preceding the vote.
      From your post:

      Instead of omitting the parts that you don't like, be honest and include them.
      • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:00AM (#20120469)
        That's not *entirely* true, though. The bill requires that the AG submit to the FISA court a set of procedures for determining whether a wiretap concerns people located outside the US, and those procedures have to be "in place" when the AG orders surveillance. In addition, if you happen to receive a directive from the AG ordering you to perform some action that fulfills such a surveillance order, you can file a petition with the FISA court to challenge the legality of the directive.

        The opportunity for judicial review is minimal, but Lofgren overstates the matter by saying that there are no checks and balances at all.

        • by Zeinfeld (263942)
          The opportunity for judicial review is minimal, but Lofgren overstates the matter by saying that there are no checks and balances at all.

          Currently President SFB is threatening to veto the act in any case because it does not meet his crietria for lack of accountability.

          It seems unlikely that he will follow through. But in any case the ammendment times out in six months. By which time we will in all likelihood be deep into the Gonzalez constitutional crisis. It would be nice if Congress would deal with Go

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SnapShot (171582)
          My sources inside the Department of Justice have revealed a rough draft of these procedures written by Al Gonzonles:

          FISA court proceedures, draft 1
          1. If, the suspect ever said anything bad about me, President Bush or "tricky" Dick Cheney,
          2. Or, the suspect has ever filed a petition to challenge the legality of the warrentless surveillance,
          3. Or, I, President Bush, "tricky" Dick Cheney, or the editorial board at Fox News really want the warrentless serveillance to be approved,
          4. Then, approval for warrentless surveillance on the suspect is to be approved.

          It's a surprisingly low bar.

    • by TheGavster (774657) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @07:37AM (#20120343) Homepage
      If warrants are no longer necessary to wiretap, where exactly is the check to see if the people being wiretapped are foreign nationals? The whole point of a warrant is to make sure that a requested invasive measure is being applied properly.
      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        Also, when using skype, how can one check if it is from a foreign country or not. Easy way out is to assume anyone using skype is likely to be a foreign national, with dangerous ideas anyway. In the tags it said 'communication' but I read 'communism' as this scheme seems to be destined to scare the US people from talking to foreigners and hearing their ideas from the free world.

        But, I have a better solution. Just let all foreign nationals get the message that is made here and stop communicating to and via

      • So, by that logic, all foreign signals intelligence should require a warrant?

        If your goal is to cripple US foreign intelligence capability and put us at a marked and distinct disadvantage in countless respects to the intelligence services of the rest of the modern world, then we should put that suggestion on the top of our list.
        • So, by that logic, all foreign signals intelligence should require a warrant?

          Nope. As long as the tap is placed in Afghanistan or such, then it is fine.

          If you're placing a tap in the US, then you need a warrant.

          If your goal is to cripple US foreign intelligence capability and put us at a marked and distinct disadvantage in countless respects to the intelligence services of the rest of the modern world, then we should put that suggestion on the top of our list.

          So what you're saying is that anyone with any cl

          • If you're placing a tap in the US, then you need a warrant.

            Even if the communication isn't intercepted in the United States, if foreign communication travels through the United States, under the current law it requires a warrant. In situations such as this, the fact that a portion of a communication (where the two parties are outside the United States) travels through equipment in the United States is incidental.

            So it would seem that the methods you appear to be advocating have failed.

            (I'll just ignore the
            • (I'll just ignore the huge "war on drugs not 'won', therefore all signals intelligence must be a failure" logical fallacy, here...wow...)

              Explain where the "fallacy" is.

              If you have to lie, then you've lost already. I never said that "all signals intelligence must be a failure". Despite you putting quotation marks around it.

              I said that we could not even stop the drug trade. After YEARS of being able to tap communications outside the US.

              And the drug trade move a LOT more material and people than terrorism does

              • The fallacy is that you apparently, by your statements, are asserting foreign SIGINT doesn't work, because if we have that capability, we should have been able to "win" the war on drugs.

                You have said that twice now. It is fallacious to draw that conclusion. That's the fallacy. No lies; sorry to disappoint.

                And claiming that you don't know your history is an easy claim to make if you think foreign signals intelligence hasn't worked.

                Lastly, we're not even talking about drugs, and you chose to bring it up. News
                • The fallacy is that you apparently, by your statements, are asserting foreign SIGINT doesn't work, because if we have that capability, we should have been able to "win" the war on drugs.

                  It isn't that it does not work. It is that it is not sufficient for even the "War on Drugs".

                  You have said that twice now. It is fallacious to draw that conclusion. That's the fallacy. No lies; sorry to disappoint.

                  Yeah, keep repeating yourself. The FACT is that we have been tapping their lines and they are still able to move

        • I didn't say anything about "all foreign signals intelligence". The issue here is monitoring communications by individuals inside the United States. There should be some sort of process before you go recording phone calls from a particular address. If that address is the Chinese embassy, it shouldn't be that hard to make the case. If it's some random suburb in the midwest, I'd like to think that there's some process to ensure that the person is actually foreign, and doesn't just have dark skin and a beard.
          • You said:

            If warrants are no longer necessary to wiretap, where exactly is the check to see if the people being wiretapped are foreign nationals? The whole point of a warrant is to make sure that a requested invasive measure is being applied properly.

            Now you say:

            I didn't say anything about "all foreign signals intelligence". The issue here is monitoring communications by individuals inside the United States.

            No, it's not, at all.

            It's about monitoring communications by individuals outside the United States, wh
      • If warrants are no longer necessary to wiretap, where exactly is the check to see if the people being wiretapped are foreign nationals? The whole point of a warrant is to make sure that a requested invasive measure is being applied properly.

        The deal is not that we are tapping foreign nationals exactly. The case this bill is meant to solve is more complex - tapping communications from other countries that route through our own. Because we have such a large communication infrastructe it is not infrequent th
    • by kestasjk (933987)

      You put in your story

      "The House of Representatives voted 227-183 to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow warrantless wiretapping of telephone and electronic communications."

      But the first Sentence of the story you linked to reads

      "The House handed President Bush a victory Saturday, voting to expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States."

      That last part about "warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States" is SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT!!!

      You made it read as if the pres got full permission to wiretap anybody without a warrant which is completely wrong. Instead of omitting the parts that you don't like, be honest and include them.

      What I don't understand is what organized criminal, in this age of easy cryptography, would actually talk about their criminal activities over the phone? Even using Skype you can communicate with someone without real fear of eavesdroppers, and using GPG Osama himself could speak easy.

      Are criminals really still communicating over the phone?

    • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:53AM (#20120823) Homepage Journal

      You're so naive.

      I don't know how many times I've said this, and people still don't get it. When deciding whether a law is good or bad, you should always assume that the worst scum of the earth are going to be exploiting it for their own evil agendas, and then decide if you can live with its consequences.

      Let's see what the Republican who defended the law says about it:

      Republicans disputed [Democrat Zoe Lofgren's] description. "It does nothing to tear up the Constitution," said Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif. If an American's communications are swept up in surveillance of a foreigner, he said, "we go through a process called minimization" and get rid of the records unless there is reason to suspect the American is a threat.

      So everything--including eavesdropping on domestic calls--is fair game if there is a reason to suspect that the American is a threat. Who gets to decide if the American is a threat? Why, the President and Attorney General, of course! And who do they have to tell? No one! And they have to be a threat of committing some sort of terrorist act, right? Of course not, they can be deemed a threat for any ol' reason they damned well please! "Wow, that person may get me voted out of office. I deem them a threat to national security." Don't think it could happen? You're not thinking hard enough, and you're still not assuming that the worst scum of the earth are in charge.

      If you can't see the potential for abuse of this law, then you're beyond naive, you're an idiot. And if you think that George Bush would never abuse it in this way because he's such a nice man who is looking out for our safety, then imagine it in the hands of Hillary Clinton, because you're also giving it to whoever takes office after Bush, and whoever takes office after that, and whoever takes office after that. Do you trust whoever will be president in 20 years, even though you have no freakin' clue who that will be?

      At the risk of going all Godwin in this thread, imagine that 20 years from now, a new Adolph Hitler manages to win the election. Do you trust him not to abuse the law too? Don't ever ask if you think the people in charge now will abuse the law, ask if Adolph Hitler would. Government is supposed to be designed in such a way that if a branch of government does become corrupted by a Hitler-like person, we'd be okay in the end because the other two branches would compensate for it with their checks and balances. Laws like this are specifically designed, though, to take those checks and balances away from other branches and concentrate the power in one branch (in this case, the executive branch). No matter how much you think it will only be used with good intentions, it will be abused at some point.

      By passing this bill, Congress has failed us miserably yet again, and the biggest reason why is because of naive little Bush cheerleaders who are too stupid to know how government works.

      • by Lysol (11150)
        You said it! The founding fathers have been rolling in their grave for the last decade or so, no doubt about it. These guys in power are simply the worst in history, the f*cking worst! So blatantly corrupt, so ideological, so twisted insofar as calling the bill of rights 'quaint'.

        Ben Franklin said:
        Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

        Sad but true. If people really think that this is gonna just be used for the big, bad, terrorist
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by faloi (738831)
        By passing this bill, Congress has failed us miserably yet again, and the biggest reason why is because of naive little Bush cheerleaders who are too stupid to know how government works.

        You mean like the naive Bush cheerleaders in the Democrat controlled house? I don't disagree with anything you're saying, but I think ignoring the fact that both parties are at least ok enough with it to get it passed worries me somewhat. The Democrats, if they had a backbone, could've stopped it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) *
        Monitoring of foreign communications has never required a warrant, nor should it. This simply reflects the current technological state of affairs with respect to foreign signals intelligence.

        If you believe that foreign signals intelligence should be burdened with warrant requirements because it incidentally travels through the United States, then we're in disagreement.

        This is an update to a law so that intelligence agencies can reasonably execute their longstanding foreign intelligence roles within the law.
    • Most of Earth's telecom passes through the US. Your distinction is meaningless. Also, dropping the FISA restrictions means Bush/Cheney/Gonzales can spy on Americans who are "incidentally" part of the communications.

      Communications with anyone. There is practically no need for any evidence that anyone being spied on has commited any crime, is a terrorist, or is of any value in getting any evidence of crime or terrorism. Our human rights to protection from unreasonable searches, to presumption of innocence, to
      • So Cheney/Bush can spy on us. On you. Feel safer? Feel American? Or do you feel more like an East German under their Stasi police state?

        Ask them if they'll be happy when President Hillary Clinton has these same executive powers.

        Without judicial oversight.

        With years of experience knowing what NOT to put on paper or telephone recordings.

        With a Congress full of Democrats to support her.

        It's not whether your team gets super-secret legal authority to do whatever. It's whether the other team gets super-secret leg

  • Sheepocrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @06:47AM (#20120085)
    The Democrats are totally useless. They get control of both Houses of Congress in part because the American public is tired of Bush and his blatant power grabs. Then they go and authorize the very programs that have been found illegal. They are gutless chicken shits and I am ashamed to have voted for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stinerman (812158)
      Well you better throw them out next election by voting for the Republicans (and then Democrats the next election, etc.). You wouldn't be dumb enough to vote for a minor party or independent candidate who can't win, would you? You'll vote for the Democrats and you'll like it. If they don't do your bidding you'll vote Republican and like it. Anything else is treason.

      Voting for a minor party means that you've siphoned votes from one of the major party candidates. How dare you steal their votes by voting f
    • Re:Sheepocrats (Score:5, Informative)

      by unamiccia (641291) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:47PM (#20126437) Homepage

      Chances are your congressional Democrats voted against the measure, unlike a single Republican senator and only two Republican representatives.

      Democrats currently have 49 votes in the Senate (Senator Johnson from South Dakota is still out sick). That's 11 votes shy of passing legislation -- you need 60 votes to defeat Republican filibusters -- and 18 votes shy of overcoming a Bush veto of any nonevil legislation.

      The 41 House Democrats [house.gov] who voted for this measure disgust me -- but 181 Democrats voted no. (Republicans? They rushed to destroy the Fourth Amendment by a vote of 186 to 2.)

      In the Senate, the goddamned Republicans were unanimously in favor of this bill. Sixteen goddamned Democrats joined them [yahoo.com], and if any one of them represents you I hope you consider it your duty to let them know early, often, and loudly how ashamed you are of them.

      But the other 27 Democrats, joined by all zero of their nonevil Republican colleagues, voted against this horrible law.

      Am I sick with anger about this? Sicker than you -- but I'm also angry about this "Democrats are totally useless" crap. Don't like how thin and impotent the congressional Democrats are? Don't like how imperfect their leadership is in the face of nearly total Republican evil? Fine, neither do I -- but I think it's a bit less counterproductive to dwell on monolithic Republican evil than the Democrats' failure to achieve omnipotence in the last election, won't you?

      I posted five angry letters to congresspeople (and two big thank yous to my good Democratic senator and my good Democratic congressperson) before I came posting to Slashdot. What did you do?

  • FISA allows them to do the wiretapping, and then get permission up to 72 hours later. How frivolous are their reasons that they can't even be arsed to get a retroactive warrant?
    • by NessunoImp (1138559) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @07:31AM (#20120321)
      There seems to be a lot of ignorance and hyperbole on slashdot regarding FISA.

      First, the basics of "FISA". FISA is a statue meant to govern how and when government agencies may gather FOREIGN intelligence. FISA warrants are warrants issued by FISA-established courts authorizing the government to wiretap or survey individuals or phone numbers. A FISA warrant cannot be issued on domestic communications, since American residents and citizens are (yes, still) covered by the United States Constitution's protection against unreasonable search and seizure. So, to boil it down,

      Second, warrantless wiretaps are and will always be legal (and constitutional) when both ends of the communication are outside the United States, not American citizens, and no part of the communication is routed electronically through the territorial US. Why? Because such people and communications are utterly outside the jurisdiction of the US Constitution. Think of it this way, should the US have to get a warrant (FISA or otherwise) to intercept a satellite phone conversation between Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri in Pakistan? What jurisdiction does a US court have to rule on that matter? Answer: None.

      Third, the legislation in question was needed and rushed in before Congress goes on vacation because of a new ruling by a FISA judge, which had the effect of overruling the NSA's previously established powers under FISA. In other words, a judge decided in a new ruling to overturn the way things had been previously been done. This had the effect of placing our intelligence community in <a panic because it effectively crippled our ability to intercept foreign communications. See this Newsweek article for more info. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20075751/site/newsweek /

      Fourth, the legal issue at hand. The brand new FISA judge ruling concerned the issue of when you know one end of the conversation is foreign, but you don't know where the other one is. In other words, should an unknown second party be assumed to be American or in the US for purposes of foreign intelligence? The new ruling said yes, but previous rulings had said no. For more info on this, see the LA Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la- na-spying2aug02,0,5813563.story?coll=la-home-cente r

      The concern of the intelligence community was that given the current advanced state of technology and the ability to mask identities, the ruling effectively destroyed the ability of the US to wiretap ANY communication where one side was anonymous.

      Maybe that's what some people here on Slashdot want, which is fine to argue. But I hope the discussion is at least conducted soberly and with some attachment to the actual difficult legal and national defense questions at hand.
      • Why? Because such people and communications are utterly outside the jurisdiction of the US Constitution. Think of it this way, should the US have to get a warrant (FISA or otherwise) to intercept a satellite phone conversation between Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri in Pakistan? What jurisdiction does a US court have to rule on that matter? Answer: None.

        remember, the constitution was supposed to be self-evident! why is wiretapping US citizens NOT OK while tapping foreigners OK?!?!?! what a great example of pr
      • by Mr2001 (90979)

        Third, the legislation in question was needed and rushed in before Congress goes on vacation because of a new ruling by a FISA judge, which had the effect of overruling the NSA's previously established powers under FISA. In other words, a judge decided in a new ruling to overturn the way things had been previously been done.

        My understanding is that they had only "previously been done" that way by the current administration since FISA was passed. That is, the judge didn't change precedent, he just ruled that Bush's surveillance program was illegal.

        The brand new FISA judge ruling concerned the issue of when you know one end of the conversation is foreign, but you don't know where the other one is. In other words, should an unknown second party be assumed to be American or in the US for purposes of foreign intelligence? The new ruling said yes, but previous rulings had said no.

        What, exactly, is so bad about assuming they're American? All it means is you need to get a warrant, right? Which is something you could do easily and retroactively under the existing law.

        The concern of the intelligence community was that given the current advanced state of technology and the ability to mask identities, the ruling effectively destroyed the ability of the US to wiretap ANY communication where one side was anonymous.

        Maybe that's what some people here on Slashdot want, which is fine to argue.

        You have failed to show how the existing law would prevent the US from tapping foreign communi

        • You have failed to show how the existing law would prevent the US from tapping foreign communications. Before you go supposing that anyone here wants that outcome, start by showing that it's actually a likely one.

          Easy.

          The current law prevents the US from tapping foreign communications without a warrant:

          1.) If one side of the communication is foreign and one or more additional parties masks their identities or the location can't be determined, and

          2.) Most crucially, if the communication is routed through com
    • It's because listening to foreign communications (communications between two parties outside of the US) doesn't require a warrant, never has, nor should it.

      The problem this addresses is that sometimes, foreign communications (including communications exclusively between individuals outside of the United States) now travels through switching or network equipment within the United States, which would require a warrant under the current antiquated rules.

      See this Newsweek article [msn.com] for a basic overview of the iss
  • by Dasher42 (514179) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @06:59AM (#20120147)
    I can hear the Al Quaeda operatives now: "Oh shit, habibi! Talk quieter!"

    Yeah, right. We had their communications shut down. Whenever a legislative lemming wants to pass more laws, you should ask whether the existing laws were inadequate, or the people that were supposed to be enforcing them. We had FBI alerts on the 9/11 hijackers and a briefing on President Bush's desk. We've had FISA for years and its restrictions are so lax - allowing even for warrants after the fact - that any protest of it can't be for good reason. Instead the incompetent and corrupt are getting more power to abuse, while making sure their buddies make money off the taxpayer.

    I don't want to hear "Proud to be an American" from one more person who buys into this. Sit down and shut it up. I'm fed up with people who think it's patriotic to abandon the most basic, essential reasons this country exists. Not only should we listen to old Ben Franklin about giving up freedom for security, we should realize that freedom *is* our security. Bush and his crew have killed the last of our existing safeguards. They have paved the way for full-on oligarchic tyrrany here. We not only need to stop voting in people who do this, or supposed opposition parties that enable it, we need to re-establish the law of this land.

    I was excited at last November's election, but I've repented of it now. I'm neither Libertarian nor Constitutionalist, but I wouldn't hesitate to work with them to fix this. We need Greens in on this because nothing's safe when the whims of the rich trump the law. Most Americans are convinced that something's really wrong with this country, we're just not agreed on what exactly, but this is should be clear to everyone - we need the rule of law back.

    Bin Laden was never a good excuse for destroying our country from within in the first place!
  • Repeat afer me: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @06:59AM (#20120153) Homepage Journal
    "I will encrypt all my communications"

    Email is easy, but are there any of the current crop of 'giveaway' cell phones that support it?
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 05, 2007 @07:11AM (#20120197) Homepage
    "Civil liberties groups and many Democrats said it goes too far"

    Isn't this one of those things that a lot of people here thought the Democrats would fix once they took congress? Or is it simply OK now that the Democrats support warrant-less wiretaps?

    Either way, we're getting a valuable lesson in two-party politics.
    • The issue here is doing what's right vs doing what's popular. The Democrats always went where the vote is, and the vote just wasn't in "helping terrorists win."

      Face it, the American public at large does not care about FISA issues, Free Speech, or Habeas Corpus.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @07:42AM (#20120367)
        Yeah, that's always been the problem with democracy. Damn government does what the people want rather than doing the *right* thing.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @07:57AM (#20120449) Journal

          This is the exact problem the republic is meant to solve. The average person doesn't have the time to learn what they need to know to do their job, and to learn what they need to do to make informed decisions on government policy. The solution is to select a few people to represent you and delegate your decision making to them. These representatives should not be making the choices you would make, they should be making the choices you would make if you sat down and studied the facts of the matter in detail.

          At some point, however, we stopped electing representatives, and started electing leaders. From then on, it started to go down hill.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tom's a-cold (253195)

      Either way, we're getting a valuable lesson in two-party politics.

      Tweedledum and Tweedledee. There is only one party, the corporate party. The so-called parties just represent different corporate factions within that party. There's going to have to be a lot more pushing back from the public before the Democrats will do anything. Even then it will be reluctant and half-assed. They're just playing good cop to the Republicans' bad cop. If you want to understand the Democrats, go back and learn about Kennedy's

  • ... for the treasonous erosion of our rights. Warrantless wiretapping they say? Sorry, but that goes against the grain of what this country stands for, the right to privacy and the freedom to conduct one's affairs without the worry of someone listening in.

    This constant harping on the bugaboo of terrorism as the reason for doing idiotic shit like this is just a cover for being able to conduct the war on drugs and the war on filesharing and the war on our basic rights as free people.

    Fuck them all. Next electi
  • by bryanp (160522) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @07:18AM (#20120245)
    The actual title of the story is "Bathrooms in Capitol Building run out of toilet paper; Senators forced to use Fourth Amendment instead."
  • Civil liberties groups and many Democrats said it goes too far, possibly enabling the government to wiretap U.S. residents communicating with overseas parties without adequate oversight from courts or Congres.(sic)

    Considering that Democrats are now the majority in Congress, this bill would not have passed without their strong support. Being able to wiretap foreign communications between terrorists without having to rush out and obtain a warrant before the communication is dropped is critical in combating

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:08AM (#20120517) Journal

      Considering that Democrats are now the majority in Congress, this bill would not have passed without their strong support

      There are 435 seats in the house of representatives. Of these, 410 voted. To gain a majority from those voting, they required 206 votes. The Republican party controls 202 seats, meaning that if they had voted en bloc, they only needed 4 Democrats to vote with them in order to win. I haven't seen the exact break down of voting for this act, but it's entirely possible that 202 Republicans and 25 Democrats voted for this bill, and 183 Democrats voted against it.

      The Democrats only control congress if they all agree. It doesn't take many dissenters to lose that control. We've seen this a few times here in the UK where the party on government has had a very small majority; they've failed to get acts passed because one or two members of their own party decided to abstain, letting the other two parties get the majority vote.

  • Freedom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by viking2000 (954894) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:08AM (#20120515)
    New definition: Freedom, the governments right to freely with no obstacles to do as they wish. This typically includes, but is not limited to trampling all over your individual rights.

    See also "minilove" and "minitruth"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:10AM (#20120543)
    What is does is change the previous definition where Gonzales would have to swear on oath that it is NOT domestic spying, to Gonzales swearing on oath that he REASONABLY BELIEVES it is not domestic spying based on the evidence given to him.
    He had this power before, but he had to swear on oath the truth about the spying, now he can swear a lie on oath and simply claim he was misinformed or the evidence given to him was incomplete.

    The new wording is this:
    "`Sec. 105B. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General, may for periods of up to one year authorize the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States if the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General determine, based on the information provided to them, that--"

    The old wording was this:
    "(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that--
    (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at--
    (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
    (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
    (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; "
  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @08:17AM (#20120575)
    ... the governement watches you.

    Hollywood must be so happy. They now can re-use their old scripts and just replace KGB by Homeland Security,
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:10AM (#20120963) Homepage Journal
    The CIA/NSA is using the spying they've already done (illegally, massively for at least 5 years) to blackmail Congress into granting the Unitary Executive [wikipedia.org] ("dictator") any powers he wants, under cover of a "struggle with Congress" that signs over war authorizations, spying authorizations, anything the dictator wants.

    Blackmailing not just Democrats. Blackmailing Republicans, too, to enforce their lockstep rubber stamps. But Republicans also get the offer of getting cut in on some power (as long as it doesn't cross Cheney/Bush). Democrats just get cut in on cosmetic power sharing, so they can be the decoy party in our soviet politburo.
  • by xmedar (55856) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:49AM (#20121295)
    Cryptophone [cryptophone.de] and use PGP and TOR online and be secure.
  • by dkarma (985926) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:51AM (#20121317)
    anytime this corrupt Attorney General or this corrupt administration says so.
    Anyone who believes this is limited to "foreign" intercepts is naive and ignorant to say the least.
    We will never know who is being spied on because it is "secret".
    Just assume it is you because it probably is then go read the fourth amendment to the constitution.
    Prepare to be angry if you're not already.
  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:05AM (#20121435)

    I have only three words...

    Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt!

    They have no right to listen, and no reason to be suspiscious. I happen to live in a two-party state [callcorder.com] where recording of phone calls has to be known to all parties on the call. Since they're not notifying me or the other party on the calls I make, their use of the data they may glean, is inadmissible and against the law.

    Just encrypt everything, locking down your conversations, speak in code, use encrypted SMS messages and so on.

    Don't let them in, because they have no right or reason to be there. Period.

    They want to make it hard for us to enjoy our freedoms, then I'm more than happy to make them earn their right to violate them by making it ridiculously hard to decrypt/brute/crack any encryption that I may use.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:17AM (#20121541)
    I'll leave it to other people's words to explain why trying to make distinctions, just violating what your country upholds as someone's rights when it comes to one group - be they 'just foreign nationals' or whatever - is about as purely un-American as you can get:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.
  • by Scudsucker (17617) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:22AM (#20121595) Homepage Journal
    We've come to expect this crap from the Republicans in the House and the Senate. But the Dem base is livid that the politicians they worked hard to elect, like Klobuchar, McCaskill, and Webb, just voted not just for fascism, but for incompetent fascism. The people in charge of this operation will be guys like Gonzalez, who despite shredding the Constitution on surveillance and torture and endless detentions are too fucking stupid to know when an Arab company is about to take over the largest ports in the U.S. And before some muslim, mexican hating wingnut suddenly starts crying racism, the problem wasn't an Arab company coming into the U.S., it's that the Administration didn't know it was happening. But back to the Democrats.

    They are fools because they just rolled over to placate the 28% who will never vote for them anyway, while pissing off the millions that actually do vote for them. They are fools because they enable the Big Lie from the administration that we need to cut back on liberties and oversight because they endanger us.

    They are cowards because 6 years after 911, they still roll over for the most unpopular president since Nixon when Bush accuses them of being weak. And they still haven't gotten it through their thick fucking skulls that by giving into the right wing rather than standing up to them, Democrats are epitomizing weakness, not strength.

    And lastly, they are traitors for egregiously violating their oath of office, in which they promise to defend the Constitution. [senate.gov] Not the country, though the right wing talking point that this is "to protect us" is bullshit. The Constitution. And this is why I hold Webb especially responsible: how many government jobs has the man had? How many oaths of office has he taken? He just broke those oaths and sold us out.
  • Curse you, you 227 spineless bastards. Don't let these clowns get re-elected.
  • by smchris (464899) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:39AM (#20122419)
    Half of why she was elected was probably her years as a county prosecutor -- the "law and order" angle -- where she had strong media exposure for hard work and competence. But the other half of her image was as a nerdy bicycling granola-mom. I think we assumed she would be liberal.

    But perhaps she isn't rising to the office where faithfully upholding the law means upholding the constitution and the _rule_of_law_.
  • by dircha (893383) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @01:32PM (#20123573)
    What more evidence do we need? Democrats were swept into power on the promise to get us out of Iraq, to restore our liberties that they and their Republican colleagues sold out wholesale after 9/11, and to bring this corrupt administration to justice.

    The enemy of your enemy is not your friend.

    We are still in Iraq and there is no end in sight. Rather than having the backbone to bringing the measure to withdraw back to the floor again and again to push it through, and continue to push their campaign promises in the media, they have effectively given up on the issue, whining to their supporters and the media that it is too hard.

    And now these Democrats are actively working with this administration, the same administration they told us is the most corrupt and secretive in history, to sell out yet more of our freedoms, to give yet more power to this president and the executive branch.

    They are, our representatives, nearly every one of them, pathetic, spineless, schmucks. They have betrayed us all once again.

    And it should come as no surprise, because these are the same Democrats and Republicans who sold us out by writing the president a blank check in Iraq. The same Democrats and Republicans who sold out our liberties by signing onto the biggest forfeiture of our liberties since the establishment of this nation. The same Democrats and Republicans who proudly signed the bill granting retroactive immunity to prosecution for every military and government agent who has tortured, kidnapped, and committed atrocities in our name.

    We must act now to take back our liberties, our dignity, and our good name in the world; it is the most important cause of this age. If 2008 leaves us with Giuliani, Hillary, McCain, Obama, Romney, or any of their ilk in office, we will see more of the same and worse, and it will be too late. It will be too late to restore the freedoms that have been stolen from us. 2012 will come and go, and the robbery of the patriot act and the legacy of this administration's unprecedented executive power grab will be solidified in our nation's history and in the public conscience.

    If you do not act now, what has been taken from us will never be restored, and your children's children will look back upon this generation, if there is freedom enough to look at all, as the generation that finally lost it all, lost that for which the blood of countless patriots was shed, and November 4th 2008 as the day the Republic finally died.

    It is only the office of President of the United States of America that can save us from this fate. And in this battle, Freedom has one final front. Your help is urgently needed this very week. Is your freedom worth even an hour of your time? Now is your opportunity to prove it. You must sign up today. Mission information will be emailed to you directly. http://www.ronpaul2008.com/events/iowa-straw-poll/ [ronpaul2008.com]

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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