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Eavesdropping Helpful Against Terrorist Plot [UPDATED] 486

Posted by Zonk
from the i-don't-think-it-bodes-well dept.
AcidPenguin9873 writes "The New York Times reports that the U.S. government's ability to eavesdrop on personal communications helped break up a terrorist plot in Germany. The intercepted phone calls and emails revealed a connection between the plotters and a breakaway cell of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad Union. What does this mean for the future of privacy in personal communications? From the article: '[Director of national intelligence Mike McConnell's] remarks also represent part of intensifying effort by Bush administration officials to make permanent a law that is scheduled to expire in about five months. Without the law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Mr. McConnell said the nation would lose "50 percent of our ability to track, understand and know about these terrorists, what they're doing to train, what they're doing to recruit and what they're doing to try to get into this country.'" Update: 09/13 12:59 GMT by J : See followup story.
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Eavesdropping Helpful Against Terrorist Plot [UPDATED]

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  • So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:00AM (#20553801) Homepage
    Chaining everybody up in their homes in straightjackets all day probably helps against terrorist plots too, but that doesn't make it right.
    • Re:So..? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Recovering Hater (833107) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:03AM (#20553885)
      Your attitude means the terrorists win.
      • Re:So..? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:17AM (#20554183) Journal
        If we are so scared of a terrorist attack that we must suspend citizen rights in order to feel safer (regardless of how much real security is actually bought at that expense) then the terrorists have ALREADY won.

        "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." --Benjamin Franklin (disputed, possibly Richard Jackson)
        • by ArcherB (796902) *
          If we are so scared of a terrorist attack that we must suspend citizen rights in order to feel safer (regardless of how much real security is actually bought at that expense) then the terrorists have ALREADY won.

          From TFA:

          ...American authorities cooperated closely with the German authorities, sharing intercepts of e-mail messages and telephone calls between Germany and both Pakistan and Turkey, which tipped off the German authorities to the plot last fall.

          How does intercepting emails between Germany and Pakistan suspend US citizen rights? Are we applying Constitutional protection to Germans and Pakistanis now?

          • I wasn't talking about the article so much as the sentiment expressed by this thread regarding suspending rights to "secure freedom".

            BTW, I like your sig! The sentiment is very similar to my own.
            • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ArcherB (796902) * on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:33AM (#20555695) Journal
              I wasn't talking about the article so much as the sentiment expressed by this thread regarding suspending rights to "secure freedom".

              I understand, but it seems that people are so interested in handcuffing our government that they confuse foreign intelligence with domestic spying and try to shut it all down.

              After the attacks that occurred six years ago today, everyone was asking, "how did this happen?", "why were we not able to stop it?", and "what are we going to do to prevent it from happening again?". I remember administration staffers being grilled by congressional committees pointing out things like a PDB titled, "Bin Laden determined to attack the US" and Michael Moore documentaries trying to place blame rather than trying to find resolutions. Can you blame the administration for taking action?

              Something that people fail to understand is that government has no interest nor the resources to monitor the actions of those that mean no harm. They equate evesdropping and datamining to kicking down doors and rummaging through drawers looking for something that might be considered illegal. They are convinced that a government that taps calls made to Afghanistan is the same as Orwell's Big Brother. Just read some of the comments posted here that are comparing intercepting German emails to Turkey to turning the US into a barbed wire laden police state. No one is suggesting that. If you are to say that you will give up no rights for protection, then why do you have locks on your doors?

              I fear that these people are not aware of what we are up against. There are attacks being planned that make Beslan [wikipedia.org] look like a school yard scuffle. I'm willing to give up some rights to prevent it. Of course, there are limits, but lets be reasonable. Just because I don't care if the government listens to my phone call to Dominoes doesn't mean I'll be OK with having to pass through a checkpoint to buy groceries. The idea is to allow the government do their job with as little inconvenience to me as possible. The idea that someone may be eavesdropping (although the chances are virtually nil) will not change what I say or limit me in the least. I understand that there is the possibility for abuse, but the second this is abused, the press is alerted [wikipedia.org] and there is hell to pay.

              BTW, I like your sig! The sentiment is very similar to my own.

              Yeah, I think I stole it from you. Hope you don't mind. I'm just tired of the brownshirt downmodding that I see here way too often. If you disagree, don't silence me, tell me why and state your case. That's what free speech is all about!
              • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by MrNaz (730548) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:56AM (#20556349) Homepage

                Something that people fail to understand is that government has no interest nor the resources to monitor the actions of those that mean no harm.

                I assure you it does, and it does. And a government that intends to relegate the vast majority of the population to the status of "labor pool" has an interest in what *everybody* has to say about it. The best way to stop revolutionary dissent is catching it while it's still dinner-table conversation. For instance, imagine if the British had known of a certain little Tea Party that was being planned while it was still just in the stages of two guy chatting about a nice idea. Had the British colonial powers had ubiquitous eavesdropping throughout the colonial lands, history would have turned out very, very differently. Of course, your sentiments indicate that you trust the government implicitly, and will likely consider this view to be crazy left wing hippie talk.

                I'm willing to give up some rights to prevent it.

                You can't be serious? You're either too young or too dumb to understand the concept of a slippery slope. You're also obviously unaware of the fact that more innocent people die in car crashes every year than died in terrorist attacks in all of the 20 century. Where are the billions in declaring war on people who don't wear seat belts? Would you support police cameras in your garage to check that you were wearing your seatbelt before you left your driveway? Perspective is a wonderful thing. Pity you don't have any.

              • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:05PM (#20556563) Journal
                Can you blame the administration for taking action?
                I can't blame them for taking action in general, but its the types of actions that they take that I take issue with. I don't want to handcuff the government per se, but rather I want there to be leash or fence beyond which it cannot operate except in times of dire need. The systems we had in place prior to the events of 6 years ago were adequate to forewarn us of the impending attack, if only the individual intelligence agencies had the means to share the data they had collected (as discovered during that same post-attack questioning you mentioned). To bridge this communications gap, the Department of Homeland Defense was created - if that department was doing only the job it was created for in that respect, I believe we'd be fine.

                Something that people fail to understand is that government has no interest nor the resources to monitor the actions of those that mean no harm.
                I realize this, my beef with the system comes from the fact that all of these systems have little to no non-executive oversight (FISA circumvention, etc), so the potential for abuse by a lone individual with an agenda is much higher.

                If you are to say that you will give up no rights for protection, then why do you have locks on your doors?
                Having the locks on the doors is my choice. I could remove them if I so chose. I can't just tell anyone who may or may not be monitoring my use of the telecommunications infrastructure to cut it out.

                I'm willing to give up some rights to prevent it. Of course, there are limits, but lets be reasonable.
                I'm of the opinion, given my above responses, that giving up our rights in unnecessary - I think the old maxim "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" holds true here. It is often bandied about that we fight to preserve our way of life - but are not these rights a fundamental part of that way of life? Further, when the time comes that we no longer need those protections, who is to say that the government will give those rights we traded back? Further still, if one listens to how certain pundits ("far right personalities" if you will) want to change the world into a fascist state, then removing any of our rights is a step in that direction regardless of the reasons for which they are relinquished, and should be opposed.

                I understand that there is the possibility for abuse, but the second this is abused, the press is alerted and there is hell to pay.
                The scary part is, with all the secrecy surrounding many of these abuses (and indeed, this administration's policies in general), we don't know what, if any, more secret abuses might have taken (or might be taking!) place. Also, in the case of a lone individual, you are only looking at a conspiracy of one, and that's a tough nut to crack. I believe this in itself is a good argument for a more transparent government.

                Yeah, I think I stole it from you. Hope you don't mind.
                Not at all!
              • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Jtheletter (686279) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:56PM (#20557767)

                If you are to say that you will give up no rights for protection, then why do you have locks on your doors?
                False analogy. Putting locks on my own doors doesn't require me giving up any of my rights.
                I am not against the government using FISA to intercept communications to fight CRIME ('terrorism' is vague, and overly subjective) but I am AGAINST the government doing so without warrants, going against their own prescribed checks and balances. The FISA court was set up to handle this type of thing. The FISA court was sidestepped by the current administration for years before it came to light. The government should do what it can to maintain national security, however it should do so LEGALLY.

                There are attacks being planned that make Beslan look like a school yard scuffle.
                Oh really? Proof? Maybe you ought to report that to someone if you have information of a national security nature. Or are you just using vague scare tactics to push policy?

                I'm willing to give up some rights to prevent it.
                I, and many others, are NOT willing.

                I understand that there is the possibility for abuse, but the second this is abused, the press is alerted and there is hell to pay.
                Really? Hell to pay? Voluntary resignations and the firing/court martials of low level NCOs is hardly hell being paid. Maybe if someone responsible for OKing various abuses were ever charged, or [gasp] impeached then your sentiment would be comforting. From what we have seen thus far, a wrist slap is the most anyone has gotten. Case in point: although the FISA court was the ONLY legal way to tap certain international calls it was sidestepped completely by this administration. In total defiance of the law. Name one conviction of someone involved in ordering or executing those wiretaps without going through FISA. Zero accountability. It matters not whether the President, his legal council, or anyone other than SCOTUS thought the law should be different. It was defined, it was breached as defined, not one bit of accountability.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Gregour (891193)
                The problem is that power corrupts. The people implementing these laws may have the best of intentions, but some day, someone will use these laws to silence an opponent, for political gain, etc. Any law has the potential to be abused, but many of the anti-terror laws written post-9/11 make it far too easy to infringe on an American citizens constitutional rights while make it far to difficult for that citizen to fight back.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by NMerriam (15122)

                Something that people fail to understand is that government has no interest nor the resources to monitor the actions of those that mean no harm.

                Something you fail to understand is that the "government" doesn't care, but the individual people, who are employed by the government, certainly do. Information is power, and people who want power tend to be in the position to have access to that information.

                It took years for J. Edgar Hoover's files to become publicly known because he used them primarily to blackm

          • Re:So..? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by DarkVader (121278) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:57AM (#20554959)
            Because the German authorities also cooperate to intercept communications by Americans - it's a mutual aid agreement. The British actually are used more often, and are the ones listening to US domestic and international calls - it's a way of getting around the Constitution. In exchange, we monitor British traffic for them.

            And if you read the Bill of Rights, it doesn't have any provisions limiting it to apply only to Americans. It is prohibitions on what the government may do, and they don't have national restrictions, they apply to the actions of the government.
      • Hmm...
        • Terrorists want to establish a repressive state in America, that would arrest people who speak out against the government by eavesdropping on communications.
        • America, trying to defeat terrorism, starts eavesdropping on communications, looking for people speaking out against America.

        Really, what is the point of defeating terrorism if we destroy ourselves in the process? If America is destroyed by terrorists, fine, we lost the fight, and the world is a darker place. But if we corrupt our own natio

    • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:09AM (#20553999) Journal
      I am for the gov't having the ability to wiretap. I am against the gov't doing this without a proper check to their power.
      • Did the Germans find the plot BEFORE we got involved?

        Did we find the plot BEFORE the Germans got involved?

        Was this plot uncovered through basic German police work?
        or
        Was this plot uncovered through our massive surveillance program of all communications that we can get into?

        I'm a little bit suspicious as to the TIMING of this announcement, too.
        • by arivanov (12034)
          Missed one more. Both entities to the conversation as per the announcement are OUTSIDE USA borders.

          Did NSA use its newly acquired wiretap "cooperation" powers to make a USA company franchise operating under German jurisdiction conduct a wiretap in American favour of GERMAN internal traffic without permission under German law?
    • Re:So..? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by quanticle (843097) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:11AM (#20554043) Homepage

      Amen to that. What people don't seem to get in this day and age is that there is no such thing as zero risk. No matter how thoroughly you screen, no matter how thoroughly you eavesdrop, eventually someone somehow will get through. Therefore we need to say, "What is an acceptable risk, taking into account the fact that the lower we set the threshold, the more civil liberties and conveniences we'll be giving up?"

    • All this is akin to saying: the ends justify the means. According to current US Government policy, this is true. It is their belief that the bending (if not breaking) of the US Constitution (which in-itself is a form of US Government policy, just one from 230 years ago) is reasonable enough in protecting it's citizens. If you do not agree with this policy, do not vote for those who enact it.
      • The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were shredded a long time ago. For example, when was the last time the 10th Amendment was used as a constraint on Federal power? How is "Campaign Finance Reform" not an end-around of the 1st Amendment? How is the D.C. gun ban (in which guns can not be kept loaded and assembled in the home) not a violation of the 2nd Amendment (you know, that whole "keep and bear arms" thing)? "Liberals" are waking up to it now because, for once, they aren't the ones doing the shre
        • The Constitution still exists; it is on display in Washington, D.C. The legislation that is passed each year for the last 230 years by nature of the political system creating it is an expression of the people who voted the lawmakers into office. If you do not agree with the current policies of the US, it is your obligation to vote in favor of the people who will enact the policies you approve of. Regardless, the laws and policies of the US are a reflection of the majority of people who comprise it.
          • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Xonstantine (947614) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:45AM (#20554705)

            Regardless, the laws and policies of the US are a reflection of the majority of people who comprise it.
            You exactly missed my point. The purpose of things like a Constitution in a constitutional republic is to protect the rights of the minority, since the majority very seldom has problems getting it's will reflected in policies and laws and enforcing them on the minority. The Constitution defines the powers and sets limitations on the Federal government, and in some cases, the state governments. Over time, the Federal government has decided that it's powers are unlimited and has ignored the limitations as defined in what is essentially a legal contract with the citizens of this country. They are in breach of contract, but since they own the courts and they own the guns, who's gonna stop them?
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        All this is akin to saying: the ends justify the means. According to current US Government policy, this is true. It is their belief that the bending (if not breaking) of the US Constitution (which in-itself is a form of US Government policy, just one from 230 years ago) is reasonable enough in protecting it's citizens. If you do not agree with this policy, do not vote for those who enact it.

        Is Germany, Pakistan and Turkey now part of the United States? No? Then why should our government give Constitutiona
    • Sush! Don't give ideas to Bush.
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      Chaining everybody up in their homes in straightjackets all day probably helps against terrorist plots too, but that doesn't make it right.

      Chaining everyone up will actually change the way we live our lives. Listening in on conversations in a foreign country doesn't change my life at all.

      • Re:So..? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DarkVader (121278) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:05AM (#20555115)
        Yes, it does.

        The semi-secret (they've been leaked, but aren't officially talked about) agreements between the US and other countries are two-way.

        The British are heavily involved, and the way it works is that the British are given wiretap access to US calls, which is legal under British law - though it breaks US law, the violation is occurring in Britain, beyond the reach of US law. They then report back to the US government what they heard. We do the same for their domestic calls, and give them the results.

        It's a nasty little mess.
    • by workindev (607574)
      Does this mean that you unwilling to give up any liberty in exchange for safety?
      • Re:So..? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Reason58 (775044) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:40AM (#20554623)

        Does this mean that you unwilling to give up any liberty in exchange for safety?
        I'm willing to give up a small amount of freedom for a large gain in safety. I am not willing to give up a large amount of freedom for something as effective as the "War on drugs". Especially when I know those new governmental powers will just be turned on me and my children in very short order (if they aren't already).
      • Re:So..? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DarkVader (121278) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:15AM (#20555279)
        That is absolutely true for me.

        If the increase in safety cannot be gained without a decrease in essential liberty, then my choice would be to accept the increased risk, not trade away my freedom.

        And especially in the case of "terrorism" there is NO valid reason to destroy any liberty in the name of safety, as the risk of injury or death from terrorism is so slight as to be virtually nonexistent. It's barely a blip if you look at the actual risk numbers. The only effect on my life terrorism has had is the massive overreaction creating problems for me - which is far worse than the terrorism itself could ever hope to be.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by workindev (607574)

          If the increase in safety cannot be gained without a decrease in essential liberty, then my choice would be to accept the increased risk, not trade away my freedom.

          Ok, you will need to define what you consider "essential" liberty. (You will note that my original question was about any liberty, not essential liberty). Is driving on whatever side of the road at whatever speed you choose an "essential" liberty? Or are you willing to trade that freedom away for more safety against traffic accidents? Is a l

  • Eavesdropping helps stop terror plots? WOW! What a surprise!

    You know what also helps stop terror plots? Turning a country into a giant maximum security prison. Maybe we could have a study that tests that out.

    Yes, violating privacy can help law enforcement. No ****. People oppose any given measure because they don't consider that tradeoff justifiable, NOT because they are unsure if it's useful. (Though in fairness, I guess a lot of people feel compelled to go all the way and think they have to consider
    • You know what also helps stop terror plots? Turning a country into a giant maximum security prison. Maybe we could have a study that tests that out.
      Maybe we already do. Those walls they're building to keep illegal immigrants out will work just as well to keep us in...
    • by evanbd (210358)

      On the other hand, a lot of what has been happening lately probably *is* unhelpful. For example, banning anything pointy (nail clippers?) from airplanes -- what prevents another 9/11 is a change in attitude among passengers, not a complete lack of sharp things.

      That said, there are plenty of things I oppose because I find the tradeoff abhorrent -- like the eavesdropping and other privacy invasions, and the imprisonment without due process, and...

    • There's no need for a study, it has been done plenty of times. The problem is that we need to remember why we're trying to prevent terror plots in the first place. We want to prevent them to guarantee the public's freedoms. Turning the country into a giant police state does not help meet this goal.
  • by TechnoBunny (991156) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:03AM (#20553879)
    Obviously even more anti-privacy laws will make the US even safer, and do more to reduce the number of terrorist attacks to even less than the...erm...none over the last 6 years.....
  • by kurisuto (165784) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:03AM (#20553881) Homepage
    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    --Benjamin Franklin
    • by samkass (174571)
      "Give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry

      Seriously-- the whole point of our revolution was to trade the "security" of tyranny for freedom.
    • Which also means... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by workindev (607574)
      Those who would give up non-essential liberty to purchase permanent safety will have both essential liberty and safety.

      --Workindev
  • I'm sure it is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoctorPepper (92269) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:06AM (#20553949)
    Just like eavesdropping on conversations helped the KGB find and arrest dissidents in the (former) Soviet Union.

    Which we appear to be heading towards faster and faster with each passing day!
    • Except that the KGB would have dreamed to have just 1% of the technical resources currently used on western citizens.
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > Just like eavesdropping on conversations helped the KGB find and arrest dissidents in the (former) Soviet Union.
      >
      > Which we appear to be heading towards faster and faster with each passing day!

      USSR's NKVD/GRU/KGB/FSB: Proof-of-concept, R&D labs, etc.
      DDR's STASI: Alpha release. A society of informers, all recordkeeping on paper. Economy collapses due to 25% of the population being informants instead of doing anything productive.
      China's Great Firewall: Beta programme. Deploy Western tec

  • ...is to emulate the creature that will never be attacked by a terrorist. The baby veal calf. We should spend our entire lives in a secured little box with one air vent locked in a basement. It is the only way to be sure.
  • creepingfascism, bigbrother, stasi, kgb, etc.

    RS

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:09AM (#20554009) Homepage Journal
    When did what happens in Germany effect us in the States?

    Oh yeah, Germany is one of the 135 countries that we currently occupy. Here is the list:

    Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Antigua, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan
    Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile
    China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote D'lvoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic
    Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador
    Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana
    Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia
    Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait
    Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia
    Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique
    Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway
    Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania
    Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore
    Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden
    Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia
    Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom
    Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    source [lewrockwell.com]
    • the above is not flamebait. It's a statment of fact. Nothing like some right wing mod not getting the picture...

      RS

      • by dada21 (163177)
        the above is not flamebait. It's a statment of fact. Nothing like some right wing mod not getting the picture...

        What is more odd is that more than half of the countries we occupied were occupied under a Democrat-leaning Executive and Congress.

        Many of those countries listed are permanent occupations, with actual military bases installed. Some of the countries are odd to see there (Spain? Australia? Austria? Poland?)

        There is no surprise when I travel Europe or Asia and actually feel the hatred by the common
        • There is no surprise when I travel Europe or Asia and actually feel the hatred by the common citizens towards the U.S. It takes a lot of time, but I've explained to many people that the U.S. government has no connection to U.S. citizens: they've moved beyond common ideals such as "by the People", and it is both parties' faults.

          I'm sure many of the subjects of the EU sympathize, since they are in the same boat...a decidedly undemocratic bureaucracy deciding what's best for all of Europe.

      • Statement: "A statement of fact can be irrelevant in determining a mod to a post; It is often based on relevance to the topic as well as apparent tone."

        Thoughtful Speculation: "I suspect his post seemed only marginally applicable to the current discussion and mods saw a high-falutin' tone, resulting in a flamebait mod."

        Sardonic Proposition: "Misplaced Tone is a serious problem on the internet. From now on, I suggest all meatbags be required to place stage direction before any change in tone, until ther
    • Your points would carry a lot more weight without the hyperbole. Having a military base in some country, with their permission, isn't "occupying" them.

      The term 'occupation' indicates control over territory. We don't 'occupy' Cuba. We have a naval base there, but we don't control the rest of the country. (Unless you think that Castro is just a U.S. puppet. Or something.) To be honest, the world would probably be a significantly safer place if the U.S. did have significant control over several of the countries on that list, but we don't.

      You undermine your own point through exaggeration and inflated rhetoric.

      • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:53AM (#20554871) Homepage Journal
        Your points would carry a lot more weight without the hyperbole. Having a military base in some country, with their permission, isn't "occupying" them.

        It doesn't? So if China had a military base, say in Houston, TX, you would not feel occupied? You'd feel safer?

        YOU may not think it is an occupation, but I've visited more than a few dozen countries with U.S. military bases (including Poland, where I have a home not far from the U.S. base in Poznan) and the residents don't understand the point of U.S. troops on their soil, not even for defensive purposes. Almost all of those countries have their own military bodies, and many of the residents near those bases are uncertain about Imperialist nations presenting a military presence in their country. This is from direct conversations I've had in peaceful nations.

        The term 'occupation' indicates control over territory.

        I can basically agree with this, but I don't think that's what the other countries necessarily feel. Just because U.S. troops might have been invited by past regimes, does not meant that they are there because the citizens of a nation wanted them there. Occupation may be by force, or it might be welcomed because a leader who uses force welcomed the new regime for whatever purpose. In either way, those directly facing the military base as a neighbor are not usually happy with the troops that are there.

        We don't 'occupy' Cuba. We have a naval base there, but we don't control the rest of the country. (Unless you think that Castro is just a U.S. puppet. Or something.) To be honest, the world would probably be a significantly safer place if the U.S. did have significant control over several of the countries on that list, but we don't.

        Occupation does not generally mean direct control by the troops or the military. In many cases, the control comes from the leaders of the occupying country over the leaders of the occupied country, even if it is not open contact with communique available to the citizens of either countries.

        The U.S. doesn't have control over any nation it tried to maintain control over. Not Iraq, not Afghanistan, so why would you feel that the world would be a better place if the U.S. had tried to control anyone else?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:11AM (#20554047) Journal
    Hello! Abdul? yi number-se cellphone qal nai karth, yo shaitan-ki-walla maal ki por. paavi yimail 2048 bit bath kaaq me da![*]

    [*] That is Pashtun for, "Don't call me in my cell phone, the Satanists are on to it. just send emails using 2048 bit encryption."

  • The smart ones use cyphers, encryption, cell organization and mouth to ear communication. One only has to watch a movie or read a book to learn that. Snooping phone calls and email will not help.
    • by imsabbel (611519)
      Oh, dont be silly.

      As the NSA reads ALL emails in the world (may be be true, but more realistic than to assume they dont), they can easily create contact networks of encrypted mail transfer.
      Get enough data, and they can build up a lot of circumstancial evicende.
      (of course this only works as long as only a very small fraction use encryption, making the mere existance of encryption a trackable property)
      • How would a SMART terrorist get around that?

        Then, how would that SMART terrorist implement it? And disseminate the information?

        Spies have been doing it for years. Radios, encrypted transmissions, letter drops, etc.

        Wouldn't the FIRST less of terrorist school be: "Americans listen to everything. Do NOT use your cell phone or email."
    • by quanticle (843097)

      I'm not in favor of this law, but this is a pretty stupid reason to oppose eavesdropping. Its like saying the police will only catch the dumb criminals, and let the smart ones get away, and therefore we shouldn't have police.

    • by Stonent1 (594886)
      The really smart ones speak 2048bit encrypted Arabic/Farsi/Urdu/Pashto. You'd be suprised how hard it is to speak when you have an entire 8bit ascii character set to deal with, but it keeps the governments of the world off your back.
  • It seems that the Bush administration released this information to bolster their case that the newly gutted FISA (Federal Intelligence Service Act, the legislation that banned domestic spying and requires a warrant from a special FISA court to conduct evesdropping on US citizens). They claim that the intelligence gathering that lead to the arrest of the terrorism suspects in Germany happend only because of their new powers. I've seen nothing about whether they could have done the same evesdropping under the
  • If you add up all of the spying and wars that we are performing to
    "Fight Terrorism".

    Now look at the number of "terrorist events" that have happened "successfully".

    If the number of terrorist events is not declining, then one cannot conclude that the billions we throw at this (and lives lost and rights that we throw away), are "helpful".

  • by guanxi (216397) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:20AM (#20554233)
    The NY Times reported that the Director of National Intelligence, Gen. Mike McConnell, *claimed* that the law helped. It's a claim by an official with a vested interest.

    That doesn't make it false (or true), but it's much different than a statement of fact.
    • Very nice job identifying the subtle misuse of grammar.

      The story is easily identified as propaganda anyway. Headline needs to be edited according to the parent post.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:21AM (#20554243) Homepage
    Very few people are against court sanctioned and oversought eavesdropping. What people are upset about is eavesdropping without warrants, on US citizens. As far as I can tell from the very brief article, this isn't a case where warrantless wiretapping, or data mining occoured.
  • Islamic Jihad Union? We're the Jihad Union of Islam! Islamic Jihad Union? Cawk.

    Wankers.
  • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:22AM (#20554261)
    Checks and balances in government power to prevent abuses? This idea that the government should be allowed unfettered access to private communications just goes completely against what the Constitutional Framers had in mind. It would be best that these creeps be made to go through the paces of getting a warrant and *then* conducting a perfectly legal wiretap. The unfortunate part is that these clowns couldn't come up with believable grounds to get the warrant in the first place.
  • Future? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ace905 (163071) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:25AM (#20554327) Homepage
    Future of privacy? Your privacy is already completely gone. You gave it up to find the terrorists, remember?

    Sure, there's no such thing as a 'terrorist' - but at least you're getting cheap oil out of Afghanistan. I mean Iraq. I mean more expensive.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:26AM (#20554345) Homepage
    Eavesdropping on potential terrorists -- assuming "potential" means "suspected" not just "hypothetically possible" -- is all well and good. That's exactly the kind of thing government law enforcement should be doing. That's how law enforcement succeeds in catching real criminals.

    If they're claiming this was part of a Carnivore/Echelon style dragnet, then hurray for catching the one tuna in a net bursting with dolphins.

    The article mentions listening in on the members of a specific terrorist group, so I'm taking that to mean they already had suspects, and surveilling these suspects allowed them to discover the plot. I.e. the targeted search that is good.

    However you can tell in articles like this that they want you to believe that this justifies extended surveillance powers, in particular the we-should-be-able-to-spy-on-anyone-any-time kind.

    The article also mentions FISA and how Bush is trying to extend the law that will expire. It is very important to remember that the whole problem with Bush's program was that he couldn't even be bothered to go to the FISA court to get back-dated warrants. The best explanation for why that I've heard so far being that the program was spying on so many people that it was infeasible to actually get a warrant for each one. If they can't take the time to get a warrant for each one, then they certainly couldn't have taken the time to establish probably cause that any of these people were terrorists, and ergo they wouldn't have been granted by FISA anyway.

    So look at this how it is -- a success for law enforcement, of the traditional pre-USAPATRIOT and pre-NSA-wiretapping kind. Don't see it how they want you too -- as justification for removing what few of our privacy protections remain, and justification for allowing the Executive branch and law enforcement to operate outside the 4th Ammendment.
  • So many of us don't have to waste time wading through this non-story. Domestic spying is bad. Except this is some kind of bizarre propaganda because domestic (U.S.) spying is patting itself on the back for the whole episode in Germany.

    It's okay to complain, but don't do anything like say, write a letter to your representatives demanding more information about the programs. (No doubt there are many) In fact, write it by hand and sign it. Now, how many ./'ers would even consider this much less do it?

    It's
  • A lot of the terrorist cells in European countries were recent immigrants from the mid-eas t or children of such. The latest German arrests were bland-hair-blue-eyes that could have come a Hitler youth camp. Theres always been a strong anti-establishment youth culture in Deutchland, now expressing itself through the Al-Caida brand.
  • My objection is not that the government eavesdrops. It is that they do it without court orders. I guarantee that if the government went to a judge and asked for a warrant to eavesdrop on particular suspects that it would be granted. The secretive dragnet approach is the problem. What is the problem with requesting warrants anyway? Do they really think the judge is going to spill the beans and the suspect will be alerted. I doubt it.
  • I don't believe a single damned thing these guys say anymore.
  • by UncleGizmo (462001) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:45AM (#20554703) Homepage
    No rational person would disagree that these eavesdropping methods don't work. But the proponents of this legislation have been focusing the conversation on a "no eavesdropping = potential danger" argument.

    However, the discussion by opponents has not been against eavesdropping, but that with current law, there is no OVERSIGHT by any governmental agency of the eavesdropping. Prior laws always allowed eavesdropping ... but they also required a court order (to allow for oversight and transparency, a key element to a free democracy). The only cogent argument against this oversight -- that sometimes there isn't enough time to get a court order -- was shown to be patently incorrect, as the prior laws allowed for immediate eavesdropping (as long as a court order was eventually filed).

    I'm too lazy to provide links, but it has been documented both that a) during the time of the court-order requirement, almost no court order requests were denied (something like 2 in 17,000); and b) during the non-court order law there were some thousands of eavesdropping events that were shown to have no connection to terrorism.

    The reason, plain and simple, for articles like this is that the US administration is fearmongering to push the strategy that they do not want oversight into what they are doing. This is a bad thing. Democracy dies behind closed doors. Don't be fooled. Keep the focus where it should be!
  • Based on reports of what type of explosive they were trying to make. The police saved their lives.

    Peroxide based explosives are very very tricky things that can even blow up by being exposed to light. In most countries you are not even alowed to transport them.

    Like the binary explosives before them, yes it can be done in theroy but not in practice. Does anyone else see a pattern here...

  • by plsuh (129598) <plsuh&goodeast,com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:08AM (#20555149) Homepage
    TFA does not ask the right question, and McConnell does not answer it:

    "Was the surveillance covered by the relatively uncontroversial provisions for surveillance conducted overseas, was it covered by the relatively uncontroversial provisions where the surveillance is reviewed by the appropriate court, or was it done under the provisions for warrantless wiretaps and data mining that are very controversial?"

    Are McConnell and the Bush administration trying to run a public relations gambit by association again? Are they trying to use the fact that electronic surveillance of some sort, possibly based on relatively uncontroversial provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, led to the arrests to get the controversial provisions of the FISA extended as well? I recognize that this may be classified information that should not be publicly disseminated. However, our elected representatives should be asking these questions and have a right to get truthful, complete, and non-evasive answers from the executve branch. If they do receive evasive answers, then the assumption should be that these programs are not necessary and should not be renewed.

    --Paul
  • by mbone (558574) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:42AM (#20555963)
    These people are liars, and I wouldn't trust them to take out the trash. Only a fool would trust anything they say about national security.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:42AM (#20555971) Homepage Journal
    Soviet East Germany had practically no terrorist activities. It did have about a third of its people spying on everyone else. Universal wiretaps, keeping political order by terrorizing them.

    Spying on our own people without even a warrant is terrorism. It's political control by fear and threat of force.

    Under Bush, the terrorists have won everything, because Bush is a terrorist. Even in Germany, people aren't safe from Bush's terrorism. Bush is indeed the greatest terrorist of them all. By any measure, including by body count (the way terrorists terrorize) and by how much liberty he's destroyed.

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