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White House Says Phone Wiretaps Will Resume For Now 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-hear-you-now dept.
austinhook brings us news that the U.S. government has resumed wiretapping with the help of telecommunications companies. The companies are said to have "understandable misgivings" over the unresolved issue of retroactive immunity for their participation in past wiretapping. Spy agencies have claimed that the expiration of the old legislation has caused them to miss important information. The bill that would grant the immunity passed in the Senate, but not in the House.
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White House Says Phone Wiretaps Will Resume For Now

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  • How do they know? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by duffetta (660874) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:07AM (#22534628)
    How do they know that they've missed important information, if they aren't wiretapping?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the "loser," and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

      I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the bl
    • by ExecutorElassus (1202245) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:15AM (#22534668)
      Sorry, that information is classified for reasons of national security. You have an inappropriately strong interest in questioning the Terrorist Monitoring Program's scope; just whose side are you on?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MyNameIsFred (543994)

      ...How do they know that they've missed important information, if they aren't wiretapping?...
      It's not that hard to presume that they know they are missing information. Assume they recorded a conversation that was important, and part of that conversation was let's talk every Thursday. Or they said we're putting everything in place, we'll contact you shortly with the time. Although those examples raise the question of why don't you just get a warrant...
      • Re:How do they know? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:01PM (#22535328)

        Assume they recorded a conversation that was important, and part of that conversation was let's talk every Thursday. Or they said we're putting everything in place, we'll contact you shortly with the time.

        Yah, that would be true if the current wiretaps were to expire when the legislation expired. But the law was written to specifically say they didn't. Any existing wiretaps expire when they were originally set to expire.
      • Re:How do they know? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:03PM (#22535342) Homepage
        It's not that hard to presume that they know they are missing information. Assume they recorded a conversation that was important, and part of that conversation was

        That is the White House line and its a lie. Existing authorizations continue to be in force for a year. That takes us past the next inauguration.

        The only case where the administration could not conduct a warantless tap is if there was an entirely new terrorist organization to emerge in the next twelve months. And they could still get a wiretap, they just have to get a warrant.

        The issue here is not providing immunity to the telcos, it is providing immunity to the Administration. They want to be able to shred all the evidence of their criminal activities before a Democrat takes over. And they are willing to hold the security of the country hostage till they get their way.

        Up till now it has been sufficient for the Bushies to cry National Security and the Democrats would run frightened to hide. Now they have accidentally called the Administration's bluff they have discovered the consequences of standing up to Bully Bush - absolutely nothing. Bush's approval ratings dropped by ten points to 19%. The wiretap issue was gone after a single media cycle.

        • Re:How do they know? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by evil agent (918566) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:48PM (#22536128)

          Up till now it has been sufficient for the Bushies to cry National Security and the Democrats would run frightened to hide. Now they have accidentally called the Administration's bluff they have discovered the consequences of standing up to Bully Bush - absolutely nothing.

          I think you're wrong, something quite significant has come out of this: Bush has proved himself wrong. The gov't has been, and still is, saying that without this warrantless wiretapping, we are no longer safe. By calling their bluff, they forced Bush to say that he would veto the bill if it didn't include telecom immunity. In effect, and in his on words, he has put the well-being of the telcos over the safety of the American public! If this wiretapping is so instrumental to our safety, why would he threaten a veto, or in this case, let the legislation expire?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nimey (114278)
            Not that it matters. The congressional GOP will continue to obstruct investigations and enable the Decider, and the Party leadership's wishes are more important than those of the People, especially People who are not rich and powerful contributors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by illumin8 (148082)

          The only case where the administration could not conduct a warantless tap is if there was an entirely new terrorist organization to emerge in the next twelve months. And they could still get a wiretap, they just have to get a warrant.

          That's still BS, because even if a new terrorist organization emerged, they could still use existing FISA to begin wiretaps immediately, and just get a retroactive FISA warrant within 72 hours. This whole fiasco is a recursive nest of lies, deceit, and illegality.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Although those examples raise the question of why don't you just get a warrant...

        Because it'd undermine their power grab (aka the warrantless wiretapping program(s)) by showing that warrants get the job done. Isn't it great how, every time someone tries to force the Bush Administration to follow the law, which is more than sufficient to get the job done, there is screams of "you're making us vulnerable to the terrorists"? Bush can't let the man behind the curtain show his face (that the law works, and p

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gilroy (155262)

        Although those examples raise the question of why don't you just get a warrant...

        Because it's never been about getting a warrant, or conducting the wiretapping, or any legitimate purpose. It's always about immunizing the telecoms so that the lawsuits can't proceed to discovery phase -- which is just a way of saying, it was about immunizing the administration from its misdeeds.
  • Resuming wiretaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ice Wewe (936718) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:16AM (#22534672)

    ...that the U.S. government has resumed wiretapping with the help of telecommunications companies.

    Which just goes to show you that they never had any intention to stop wiretapping, just to throw a big tantrum over it and then go back to spying on Americans the good old fashioned way, illegally.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:04PM (#22536250)
      Here's what our Attorney General say, in a letter McConnell and Mukasey wrote to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes:

      [You imply that the emergency authorization process under FISA is an adequate substitute for the legislative authorities that have elapsed. This assertion reflects a basic misunderstanding about FISA's emergency authorization provisions. Specifically, you assert that the National Security Agency (NSA) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "may begin surveillance immediately" in an emergency situation. FISA requires far more, and it would be illegal to proceed as you suggest].
      In other words, in the Administration's own words, what they are doing is illegal. Nixon broke into some file cabinets. Bush and the complicit telcos monitor everything. And the Democrats are so spineless they let it happen. Amazing. One telco refused to comply - Quest - and they were shut out of lucrative government contracts.

      Glen Greenwald has been on this beat for a long time now. Read more about Mukasy's recent admissionhere [salon.com].

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:24AM (#22534728) Journal
    Retroactive immunity is now a moot point. Previously they could argue that they weren't aware that they were operating illegally. Now they surely have no such defence. I'm sure some of the lawyers on Capitol Hill will start using words like 'wilfully' now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Bonker (243350)
      Hmm... We may actually have to impeach this asshat before the election.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by whoisjoe (465549)

        Hmm... We may actually have to impeach this asshat before the election.
        We *need* to impeach both of these asshats before the election (both Dubya and Darth Cheney). Given all of their crimes (from misleading the public to sell a war to willfully performing unlawful searches), not impeaching them sends the message to future administrations that this sort of behavior is OK.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kharchenko (303729)
        Not that I don't think he deserved it, but I have some qualms about having current VP fill the spot.
    • by htnprm (176191) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:06AM (#22534944) Homepage
      BS. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Telcos are well aware of the details under FISA. Honestly. The fact that your average American does nothing as a result of the evidence that this administration has been illegally wiretapping since 2002, if not before (Well before the Protect America Act was passed) says so much. People I speak to are waiting for Obama to change things. Well. Wait for this to change:

      If Obama is elected - "I haven't had enough time in four years to change anything, so elect me again".
      At the next congressional elections - "We haven't had enough time with a Democrat as President, so elect us again". ...What will you all do when nothing changes? I'm taking bets if anyone is interest.

      (Note, this post is not a message against Obama, or for any other candidate. Just pointing out details regarding a candidate who everyone thinks will change things, but who is simply another politician, and an individual person, up against the whole of the political machine).
  • I call B.S. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christurkel (520220) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:29AM (#22534760) Homepage Journal
    Spy agencies have claimed that the expiration of the old legislation has caused them to miss important information.

    Riiiiiiiiight. If you can't illegally wiretap, how could you possibly know what you missed? Besides, there is a perfectly good FISA court still around; you can even wiretap and get a warrant 72 hours later.

    Fear mongering sucks. We're a better nation than this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by marzipanic (1147531)
      Exactly! How would they know? Unless they have the extra secret alleged psychic warriors on the case, which would be easier than the whole wiretap thing.

      I believe the age of "Enemy of the State" is upon us, I believe they have been doing it for a very long time! But that is just me and from what I hear.

      It is not just the US either, it is UK too http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/29/interception_communications_commissioner/ [theregister.co.uk] although they keep getting "wrong numbers" ahem! Bet it is those 0898 numbers
      • Given the reports of the value of the intelligence before the Iraq war, and the continuing reports of bad intelligence about other areas, it may not be unreasonable to assume that most of the intelligence gathering by the CIA is indeed being run by psychic agents. The satellite they just shot down - it contained a very highly instrumented dowsing rod.

        Sounds almost like a comedy film plot - go into the CIA and see women with crystal balls (probably wearing trench coats), levitating tables, windowless ro

    • Re:I call B.S. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by johnsonav (1098915) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:06AM (#22534942) Journal
      The real question for me is, why not get FISA warrants? By all accounts, they are a rubber stamp that will grant most any warrant. The FISA court was set up for exactly the type of activities that they say they are doing. So by circumventing that process, I can only conclude that the real program is much more broad, and illegal, than they are letting on.
      • Re:I call B.S. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:22AM (#22535056)

        The real question for me is, why not get FISA warrants? By all accounts, they are a rubber stamp that will grant most any warrant. The FISA court was set up for exactly the type of activities that they say they are doing. So by circumventing that process, I can only conclude that the real program is much more broad, and illegal, than they are letting on.
        Even more than a rubber stamp, since the spook agencies are allowed to begin surveillance, *then* apply for the warrant (up to 72 hours later).

        But the issue, I think, is the paperwork. For instance, each application must be personally approved by the Attorney General (can you imagine poor Mr. Gonzales having to review and sign hundreds or thousands of such applications at a time?).

        The surveillance carried out in support of the "war on terror" is orders of magnitude greater than was contemplated when the FISA court was created. So Bush & Co. simply decided to ignore the problem and proceed without bothering to get warrants from the FISA court.
        • Wow, do I look stupid. I had completely forgotten that Gonzales was no longer AG until I spotted a comment about it later in the topic (I guess my mind insists on associating the surveillance program with him, for some reason).

          Not that it actually changes anything, mind you. Same agenda, different face.

        • Re:I call B.S. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:43PM (#22536098)
          There is not war on terrorism. War is the wrong word. There are military actions against disparate groups around the world, and there certainly was a war against Iraq which we won but had nothing to do with terrorism, before or during, now there is a threat of Terroism from the mistakes made in that war such that an Al Qauda group has formed in Iraq that was not there before. There is an occupation in Iraq but it is not a war. Iraq has a civil war going on and has groups resistant to the occupation but it is not a War.

          So I hate to see the Republican Fear Marketing slogan War on Terror used. It is really like the 1984 war with the Northeast (if I remember right). That continuous war that keeps the population under martial law and rallied around the flag. For what, for accumlation of power.

          So the War against Terror is just like the War against Poverty or the War against Aids. Its not a war, its a slogan, lets not forget that. It should not invoke war powers for the Executive branch. Actually it did not, the war powers were granted to go to war against Iraq because they were claimed (falsely and brazenly and seemingly with full knowledge of that falsness) have weapons of mass destruction. Valerie Elise Plame Wilson was outed as a CIA agent because that lie was being exposed by her husband.

          Lets not forget the War on Terror is just a marketing slogan and get on with the business of cleaning up the mess in Iraq and the mess in Afganistan.

          Terrists exist, there are terrorist who are targeting the US and other countries as well, but giving up our Constitutional rights and protections isn't the way to go. The Executive has lead us into improsonment with no charges, lack of due process, torture, rendition, wiretapping, ... and we dont know the entire extent. This blossoming of illegal unconstitional behavior is unprecedented and I feel unwarranted and the scope and type of those behaviors does not make me trust the ones doing those behaviors.

          Marketing slogans should be reserved for those selling soap.
    • Re:I call B.S. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Verteiron (224042) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:36AM (#22535174) Homepage
      Fear mongering sucks. We're a better nation than this.

      Apparently we are not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


      We're a better nation than this.

      I think it has been proven time and time again, that, in fact, we are not.

      We like to think we are, we congratulate ourselves for being it, and maybe once upon a time we were. But our morals and ethics have faced the biggest test they have had in a long time, if not ever, and we failed. Pretty spectacularly.

      I think the fact that we were debating if "waterboarding" constituted torture, on C-SPAN, clearly indicates that ethics, morals, and justice are just so much rhetori
  • I just don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by websitebroke (996163) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:30AM (#22534764)
    What does the White House, et al. want with this? In the previous system, all you had to do was get a warrant to spy on somebody. There was a special court set up just to issue these warrants, and it was completely confidential. If they really, really had to spy on somebody right this very instant, they could, and just had to make sure that they touched base with the court in the next few hours. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

    What does Bush want, other than to spy on everyone with no supervision whatsoever?

    Oh, yeah, he wants us to not sue Verizon, AT&T, whoever. Well, sorry guys, you had a responsibility, as citizens of the USA, to tell the government no. I mean, WTF, corporations run this country anyway...
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:29AM (#22535112)

      What does Bush want, other than to spy on everyone with no supervision whatsoever?
      Exactly this. The FISA court is practically a rubber stamp for legitimate surveillance, and yet Bush's spying needs are so super-sensitive that not even it can be allowed to catch wind of them. Unless you believe that the court has been infiltrated somehow by "the terrorists", there's only one logical reason for this: both the court and the public would be outraged if the real reason for the surveillance became known. Are they collecting commercial intelligence for their closest corporate patrons? Do they intend to tamper with the upcoming elections? Are they going to mess with political and ideological opponents? I'd worry about all three.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        Unless you believe that the court has been infiltrated somehow by "the terrorists", there's only one logical reason for this: both the court and the public would be outraged if the real reason for the surveillance became known.

        Or it's like the **AA & the DMCA: FISA was a good idea at the time, but now the government has realized how much extra work it is to comply with the law & they're desperate to get around it.

        However, the fact that the telecoms are having "understandable misgivings" after the collapse of the immunity bill tells us all we need to know about how their corporate lawyers view the situation. If we're lucky, the truth will get declassified in 25 years, but I doubt it.

    • by Lijemo (740145) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:33AM (#22535150)

      Because the previous rubber-stamp system left a paper-trail (albeit one they could claim was "classified for reasons of national security") as to who they were spying on and why, and thus had some amount of accountability, no matter how tiny.

      The new system does not.

      If there's anything this administration hates, it's accountability.

    • by bberens (965711) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:57AM (#22535302)
      My speculation is this:

      You get a warrant when you want to spy on SOMEONE. You don't get a warrant when you want to capture all inbound and outbound (from the country) telephone traffic and put it through your NSA analyzer supercomputer thingymajig looking for suspicious activity. You see, for something like this to work, you need a very large sample of data to compare to. You will never be given a warrant for little Felipe who wants to call mommy back in Italy to talk about spaghetti recipes. But you need that data as a base line.
      • ...too!

        All this administration needed to do was demonstrate that was warranted and it could have had Congress modify the law on a vote. Maybe it's ok if we do that. Maybe it's possible to do in an accountable way?

        Just doing it, with no accountability, is the core problem.

        That's a law violation and a crime against the people. That debt needs to be paid.

        Hope Dodd is up for another stand or two, because they are not gonna yield on this one.

      • "You don't get a warrant when you want to capture all inbound and outbound (from the country) telephone traffic and put it through your NSA analyzer supercomputer thingymajig looking for suspicious activity."
  • Now he says that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:31AM (#22534768)
    "Bush has said he would hold out for a permanent overhaul of the 1978 surveillance law."

    Wow, what a brilliant idea! Too bad Bush didn't suggest that BEFORE authorizing an illegal program and goading the telecom companies into going along with it. Had he done so he wouldn't need to get retroactive immunity for them.

    I think everybody understands that in the height of an emergency tough decisions have to be made, but the next priority should have been to move for revision to the FISA legislation [wikipedia.org], not keep the thing secret for several years and then try to bail out the organizations involved once people found out the law was being broken. Don't like constraints of the FISA law? Conform to it, revise the legislation, or break the law and face the legal consequences. There is no other option for a person holding office who has sworn an oath to uphold the law. Well, there isn't supposed to be.
  • Bush Blows It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:34AM (#22534798) Homepage Journal
    Yesterday, Bush barfed at us [yahoo.com] in his radio address:

    WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday that Democratic leaders in the House are blocking key intelligence legislation so trial lawyers can sue phone companies that helped the government eavesdrop on suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Terrorists are plotting new attacks against America "at this very moment," Bush said in renewing his call for the House to pass legislation needed to renew the intelligence law that expired last weekend.


    Bush has his new Attorney General lying to back him up [dailykos.com], but they can't even keep their stories straight [washingtonpost.com]:

    The Bush administration said yesterday that the government "lost intelligence information" because House Democrats allowed a surveillance law to expire last week, causing some telecommunications companies to refuse to cooperate with terrorism-related wiretapping orders.

    But hours later, administration officials told lawmakers that the final holdout among the companies had relented and agreed to fully participate in the surveillance program, according to an official familiar with the issue.


    It's obvious that it's Bush's fault [salon.com] the PAA expired without extension:

    But even if telecoms were refusing to cooperate, the reason for their refusal was not because they don't have retroactive immunity, but rather, it's because there is alleged uncertainty over the legality of current surveillance requests, and uncertainty over the ongoing validity of the prospective immunity provided by the PAA, because the PAA expired. If the PAA had been extended, they would be completely protected with prospective immunity for future surveillance cooperation. And, of course, the PAA would not have expired had Congressional Democrats had their way -- they wanted to extend it until they could agree to a new bill. Thus, any alleged refusal on the part of telecoms to cooperate is exclusively the fault of Bush and House Republicans for forcing expiration of the PAA. That's just true as a matter of basic logic.


    The bottom line is that Bush's own Attorney General just admitted that he and Bush and the rest are repeatedly breaking the law:

    But leave all of that aside for a moment. Since Mike Mukasey himself just said in this letter that spying outside of FISA is "illegal," and since it's indisputable that the Bush administration did just that for years, doesn't that compel him as Attorney General to commence a criminal investigation into this "illegal" conduct?


    What does it take to get impeached in this country? Will someome please blow Bush already, so we can finally get it over with?
    • Re:Bush Blows It (Score:5, Informative)

      by rpillala (583965) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:40AM (#22534834)

      Yesterday, Bush barfed at us [yahoo.com] in his radio address:

      WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday that Democratic leaders in the House are blocking key intelligence legislation so trial lawyers can sue phone companies that helped the government eavesdrop on suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.
      This is a fabrication, as the only case pending right now (am I wrong?) is the one by the EFF, hardly a bunch of trial lawyers looking to get rich. Gleen Greenwald interviewed Cindy Cohn [salon.com], the lead counsel in EFF's case against AT&T in October of last year.
    • Re:Bush Blows It (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Carewolf (581105) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:55AM (#22534890) Homepage
      No one is going to impeach the president as long as the vice president is more corrupt and criminal than the president is.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Why not? Cheney's crimes depend on him having the time and privacy to work them. If he had to be the spokesmodel, and his team were cut in half, the operation would b crippled.

        Besides, what makes you say that Cheney's not the president right now? And who says he can't be impeached, on his own charges, or as siamese accomplice to Bush? In case you don't recall, Nixon's VP Agnew was forced to resign first under threat of impeachment (for tax fraud over bribery). Which showed that their gang was vulnerable, wh
        • by Carewolf (581105)
          True. To be honest I believe the main reason no one is more aggresive in their attacks on the current president right now is because he has such a short time left, and any attacks is likely to backfire at least a tiny bit on the aggresor. The democrats probably consider their chances better if they are not smeared in the blood of the former president.

          That said, it could be harder to remove Cheney than Bush, because his crimes are more traditional stuffing the pockets of his friends, than outright lying to c
          • Re:Bush Blows It (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:36PM (#22535580) Homepage Journal
            The Democrats are playing it "safe" because Bush/Cheney's crimes make it cheaper and easier for Democrats to run against them this year. So they're bottling us up in here with them, our only way out seemingly to hand Democrats a trifecta power monopoly. Democrats mainly care about increasing their nominal Senate majority closer 60:40, with Republicans defending 23 seats to Democrats 11. In January the Congress will also probably have some thing like a 15-20 point Democratic House majority, possibly that 60+ seat filibuster-proof Senate, and a Democratic president with the first actual majority of voters since Reagan.

            With which Democrats can abuse all those "Bush/Cheney" tyrannical powers without the Iraq War that gets you caught. But with the Iraq War that gets you paid.

            Quite a racket. Which is why Americans should force them to impeach, or at least make it as costly as possible not to. Because Republicans will be in no position of any kind to offer the kind of "opposition party" these Democrats couldn't muster even the past 8 years with very solid minorities and blatant catastrophes.

            The missing party, as usual. is the American people. And decent country would be out in the streets with pitchforks and torches by now, especially with economic collapse staring everyone in the face. Instead, we've got Slashdot and the Daily Kos. And President VP Cheney.
      • oblig (Score:4, Funny)

        by PieceofLavalamp (1244192) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:37PM (#22535590)
        yeah i've gotta admit i'd rather be constitutionally violated than shot in the face.
    • What does it take to get impeached in this country?

      Invasion of the US by the coalition of the willing. When you don't deal with your own, and other countries have to step in, it's a lot worse for you than if you'd done it yourself. Just a thought
    • by houghi (78078)
      Iregardless of whether or not he will be impeached, he will loose some of that tention he has.
    • by pclminion (145572)

      What does it take to get impeached in this country? Will someome please blow Bush already, so we can finally get it over with?

      Yes, that way we can get Dick Cheney put directly in charge as soon as possible. I wholeheartedly support this measure.

  • Corporate intrest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan541 (1032000) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#22534828) Homepage
    I cant help but wonder how long it will be until the RIAA are allowed to wiretap just in case people are talking about their latest downloads.

    ~Dan
    • Re:Corporate intrest (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rhendershot (46429) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:25AM (#22535090) Journal
      I was going to moderate you off-topic but, well, then.... my 2 cents.

      First, don't minimize the scope of the government of the largest and strongest nation coercing private enterprise to bend to its will and to do illegal acts. That goes WAY beyond the issues of private commerce between individuals and recordings-producers.

      With that said; what the fux do you think DRM *is* except a way to "wiretap" the private individual (aka. customer). Without judicial review. Unilaterally.

      Personally I think it's a violation of RICO and monopolistic to enforce law through technology when the issues of fair-use are not resolved by a court. That's another rant though.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:43AM (#22534846)
    If the Whitehouse can bully Congress into passing retroactive immunity to the telecoms for warrantless wiretapping, then they also by extension are exhonerated. So, they get to get a free pass for breaking the law without directly asking Congress to give it to them.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:54AM (#22534882) Journal
    They could do this legally through the FISA courts, but rather than go bother with even a Ruber Stamp court like FISA and at least pretend they're not spying on American citizens in direct violation of the fourth amendment for which the FISA courts were implemented to supposedly protect, they would rather run rough shod over everyone's privacy and interests for their own ends based out of their own incompetence and ignorance.

    The sad part? There is no promise that any democratic administration would stop this.

    Why? Because it's fascism, or, as one of the guys who invented fascism (Mussolini) caled it: Corporatism.

    The American Empire is dying and it's a sad thing to watch it act, as WS Burroughs said in 1984, as the single greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams. [youtube.com]

    RS

  • by Zollui (1230734) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:05AM (#22534938)
    The NSA has been eavesdropping on electronic comms of US citizens including telephone conversations for several decades. It was illegal to do this in the USA so they did it from their base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, England (MH is the world's largest listening post).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheLink (130905)
      That'll be rather hard, since you'd have to send all the conversations across the Atlantic.

      Much easier if you shipped the Brits to the USA to listen and then ask them if they heard anything interesting ;). Then you have some of your people to the UK to listen to the UK people and do the same thing. Similarly for the rest of the Echelon members.

      BUT the main thing is, it looks like they've even stopped bothering to go through the proper motions. And that should worry the people in the USA (and people elsewher
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:15AM (#22534996) Homepage

    We were not completely surprised by the 9-11 hijackers, the problem was we didn't act on what we did know. Even then we knew. We knew without the Patriot Act, we knew without wholesale spying on the American public, we knew without the Protect America Act. We knew and did nothing. So now the solution is to spy on Americans. Makes almost as much sense as being attacked by terrorists operating out of Afghanistan and responding by attacking Iraq.

    Only a Republican would think it makes sense to fight terrorism by monitoring my 83 year old mom's phone calls.

    And, just in case this dust up has interfered with the intelligence community's ability to monitor the activity of Americans, the bake sale has been postponed until next week because the lady running it broke her hip and mom change her hair appointment to 11 am this week because Marge's family is flying in from Montana. And dad still can't figure out why his pineapple plants keep dying in the front yard. Now you're up to date.

    • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:33AM (#22535136)
      re: nsacarnivore-20080915-1103535-2535EJA34032:
      subject lives in climate where pineapples can grow, similar to asian areas with high islamic radical populations. relatives in Montana which is known abode of militia groups. subject altering appearance at 11am.

      action: subject to be reclassified as probable threat to national security.
  • Revolution 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishthegeek (943099) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:16AM (#22535014) Journal
    Will be fought one vote at a time. If the telecom providers didn't do anything wrong when they assisted the wiretaps then they do not need legal protection from congress. By moving to protect the telecom providers Congress is implicitly admitting that they acted in ways that are probably illegal.
  • How else could he continue to get unfettered access to the phone systems?
  • Resume? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:30AM (#22535118) Homepage Journal
    Did they ever really stop?
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:30AM (#22535122) Journal
    ...its citizens is not about identifying potential terrorists but rather to determine what the general public mindset is so to know what to promote in order to manipulate it.

    Why such spying has resumed, or hasn't stopped, is because its an election year.

    And that should be obvious.

    Is this against the constitution of the united states? Absolutely, as it is an intent to invade privacy in order to deceive.

    This is nothing new as even the "Declaration of Independence" identifies government abuse of its citizens, even being specific.

    To All: When was the last time you read it?

  • Now what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EaglemanBSA (950534) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#22535190)
    ...and just when I thought the administration couldn't be any more open about breaking the law and violating my civil liberties. Honestly, does this piss everybody else off as much as it does me? I'm all for America, and I think we have a good number of good things going on over here, but this is getting ridiculous - we have these controls in place (the representatives of the people) to limit the power of the executive branch, and it's as if the administration doesn't even hear them.

    I don't know what's worse, not having any input at all, or knowing that it won't be used in any decisions in the end anyway.
  • by Max_W (812974)
    To understand what is going on in the USA and in the world one has to realize what a traumatizing event was the destruction of Mew York City and the US military headquarters in September of 2001.

    The war in the Afghanistan ended not by the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The true end of the war was on 9/11. It was the logical final of supporting and financing the religious fanatics around the world.

    At the same time it was a wrongful attack on the civilian targets which forever changed t

  • We know the answer already, but why isn't the government highlighting just how unpatriotic these Telecom companies are that they are unwilling to help in the 'war on terra'. I mean if its so important, just nationalize the fuckers.
  • The Bush administration has to be covering up something very embarrassing. Something worse than what we know about already. Otherwise it wouldn't be spending its remaining political capital on this issue.

    If the Bush administration really had a national security case for this, they could make it in a classified briefing for the House and Senate intelligence committees with the people at the CIA, NSA and telcos directly involved testifying under oath. They haven't done that.

    The Bush administration like

    • by Boronx (228853)
      The Bush administration has to be covering up something very embarrassing. Something worse than what we know about already. Otherwise it wouldn't be spending its remaining political capital on this issue.

      There's no mystery: the Bush administration began spying illegally on Americans soon after it came to power [nytimes.com], that is months *before* Sept. 11. Not only did the system fail to prevent the attack even though much information was already known about the hijackers, but it was initiated during a period when ter
  • Criminal charges (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:56AM (#22535300) Homepage Journal
    Since the current congress is too spineless, too complicit, and too full of Republicans, I think we'll have to pin our hopes on the next President telling his AG to investigate and pursue criminal charges against those responsible in the Bush Administration and in Congress.

    That definitely wouldn't be Clinton (too much of an insider) and it wouldn't be McCain (he's shown he's a good boy after all), and Paul hasn't got a snowball's chance. I can only hope that Obama wouldn't pull a Ford and pardon Bush "so the country can move on".
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      I think we'll have to pin our hopes on the next President telling his AG to investigate and pursue criminal charges against those responsible in the Bush Administration and in Congress.


      It'll never happen, no matter who the president winds up being. Any administration doesn't want to look back on the previous one, and realistically they only have so much political capital to spend. This administration has screwed things up so badly that it'd actually be a waste of political capital for a new President to p
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:46PM (#22535676) Journal
        I'm not convinced. The current administration has so completely discredited the office of the president, both domestically and internationally, that it will take a lot to restore it. Pursuing criminal charges would send a message that the President is not a dictator, and that the new incumbent expected to be held to account for their actions.
  • catch22 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scifiber_phil (630217) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:04PM (#22535816)
    Anyone against these wiretaps is suspect, and probably should be placed on the wiretap list? The language of the fourth amendment is clear and straight forward. The executive branch, the phone companies, and congress need to reread it a few times until they understand it. When they start arresting people for expressing concerns over the loss of our constitutional guaranteed rights, it will be too late. Forums like Slashdot etcetera will disappear. People will be afraid to post. Wiretaps without a warrant and fear of arrest will see to that.
  • by not_hylas( ) (703994) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:51PM (#22538048) Homepage Journal
    LAST TIME - pay attention.

    It's wholesale data-mining.

    Spying in the Death Star: The AT&T Whistle-Blower Tells His Story
    Mark Klein = Patriot
    Former AT&T technician

    http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/05/kleininterview [wired.com]

    In room 641A at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco, California is a SPLITTER that duplicates ALL traffic and diverts it by the way of a proprietary black box to an unnamed acronymed agency.
    Mark Klein called it a "Big Brother Machine".
    It can't be more clear than that.

    For all the folks that still don't get IT, good God!, go back to sleep, and or, quit posting drivel.
  • by DrBuzzo (913503) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @06:24PM (#22538982) Homepage
    What the hell is this? Why is it so complicated? The law already has provisions for this and always has. This is so ridiculous and blatent it's insulting. They are saying "We know the activities we are doing are illegal and we're afraid that those who collaborate might get prosecuted or sued for doing these illegal things. Since we can't make it legal without changing the constitution, we'll just say that they can't be prosecuted for these illegal activities" Look, it's not like you need to break the law. The old system was pretty comprehensive: 1. If you want to tap a phone conversation or other communication you go to a duly appointed federal judge and demonstrate probable cause and/or the necessity of the tap for the purposes of national security. The judge issues you a warrant of limited time which you will have to go back for an extension to if you run out of time. 2. If you want the warrant and the hearing kept off the public record you must demonstrate that this is necessary to the investigation or to maintaining national security. You can thus be granted this until the end of the investigation, however failing to prove this it will be made public and if you require it be kept confidential after the term of the investigation you will need to get YET ANOTHER order of a time span. Any parts which are not directly applicable to security are released. 3. If you disagree you have time to appeal to another court. If you don't get the appeal granted it goes public or the parts of the proceedings which do not directly impact national security are made part of the public record. The burden of proof remains on the government for proving that portions need to be withheld. 4. If there is an urgent matter of national security and there is probable cause, then the investigator may initiate a wire tap immediately, but will need to have the tap reviewed on at the next avaliable opportunity by a duly appointed federal judge. If the judge agrees that the tap was made under proper conditions or the information gathered is an urgent matter of national security a retro-active warrant is issued. If the government investigator fails to demonstrate this, then the warrant is not issued and any recordings can be ordered destroyed. The fact that the tap was made and the investigator who made it becomes matters of public record. If it is found that the tap was made improperly and without any justification, then the investigator who authorized it can be prosecuted. 5. These rules apply to all domestic taps of civilian telephone and internet communications. The only exception made to this is communications in areas of military conflict, communications by foreign entities which are categorized as hostile or enemies of the US and to communications made with known operatives or agents by such governments and bodies. That's it. Is it that complicated?

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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