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US Senate Asks for National Security Letter Explanation 151

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the monitoring-the-monitors-of-the-monitors dept.
A group of U.S. Senators are asking the FBI to explain a recent controversial National Security Letter sent to the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive was able to defeat the request with help from the EFF and the ACLU this past April. "The Internet Archive's case is only the third known legal challenge to NSLs, despite the fact that the the FBI issues tens of thousands a year -- more than 100,000 such letters were issued in 2004 and 2005 combined. But despite the lack of legal challenges from recipients at ISPs, telephone companies and credit bureaus, successive scathing reports from the Justice Department's Inspector General have found illegal letters and a willy-nilly culture within the bureau towards tracking their usage."
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US Senate Asks for National Security Letter Explanation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:29PM (#23442970)
    ...they should send the FBI a National Security Letter asking why,
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Alas, Congress doesn't seem to have that power.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:06AM (#23443148)
        Congress has any power they give themselves not explicitly denounced as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in review, and when they get a large enough consensus they can change even that. More explicitly, Congress controls the budget: All the other branches of government could piss and moan about it all they like, but a strong congress could turn everyone out into the streets until they backed down.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by macslas'hole (1173441)

          Congress has any power they give themselves not explicitly denounced as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in review
          Good Lord! Is that what they're teaching you kids in civics class these days? Cheer up emo kid, no branch of government has the ability to simply grant itself powers; all such self-granted powers would be, by definition, unconstitutional.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2008 @01:42AM (#23443598)

            Congress has any power they give themselves not explicitly denounced as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in review

            Good Lord! Is that what they're teaching you kids in civics class these days? Cheer up emo kid, no branch of government has the ability to simply grant itself powers; all such self-granted powers would be, by definition, unconstitutional.

            Yeah, but you're as far off base as emo kid!

            Good Lord! Is that what they taught you in civics class back then? Cheer up boomer dude, The Executive has the ability to simply grant itself powers; as long as the Department of Justice (which is part of the Executive Branch) chooses to Congressional requests for information (and when the requests are ignored, to also ignore Congressional subpoenae issued against other members of the Executive!), no charges are filed, no arrests are made, and the case (and its constitutional issues) never reaches the Judicial Branch, and in the absence of a judge's ruling, the Executive's actions can never, by defintion, be ruled unconstitutional.

            (I'm not the original AC, as you might guess. Google "inherent contempt", and "contempt of Congress". It may sound like I was going for +5, Funny, but it's actually been happening for real over the past 6-12 months. Long enough for everyone to forget what the original issue was, other than that it's useful for making the other side look bad in an election year.)

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              All excellent points ... however, Executive Orders have been happening a lot longer than 6-12 months... but the plan for the Executive Branch to play hard-to-get with Congress over information "protected" by an EO has been going on for *years*. Look at some of the earlier EOs, from 2001-2005, which Congress is still struggling with.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              You're still wrong.

              No part of government, not even the executive, can grant itself powers, not even the scheme you just described. What *can* (and, unfortunately, does) happen is that the executive uses powers it has not been granted. This is not a power grant, it's a power grab.

              Think of it as the difference between being given something by someone, and taking it against the owner's will.

              • A good deal of the Executives new powers (if they are that, and I think that's debatable) have been granted with Congress's approval. If Congress so desired, and the numbers were there, the Executive's abilities would be limited. The powers are firmly set in the Constitution. There's no doubt that there are fuzzy boundaries, but that's what SCOTUS is for.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward
                I've never seen so many AC's modded up in a single conversation thread. ... this must really have people scared sh!tless... when we can't use our semi-anonymous pseudonyms there's a real problem. Are we sure it's still the Land of the Free and Home of Brave ?

                (Posting AC just in case i'm the only one that missed the memo.)

                • by jamstar7 (694492)

                  Are we sure it's still the Land of the Free and Home of Brave ?

                  Sure we are, we're perfectly free to chant all the pro-government propaganda slogans they come up with. Just make sure you're in a Free Speech zone when you do, and make sure you smile for the FBI cameras. Don't bother looking for Media-controlled cameras, there won't be any, they'll be down at the 'main event' where all the action is, recording everything our Glorious Leaders have to say.

          • is, in fact, just part of a secret government conspiricy. The REAL constitution is in the archives of Torchwood, in Cardiff, and reads: "Nyah! What's up doc?"
          • REad the fucking Constitution. These Federal agencies, while their heads are named by the Executive (with the approval of the Senate) have their powers defined by legislation. Legislation specifically is the domain of Congress, but more importantly, money is the domain of Congress. Congress could, if it had the balls, simply pass a law stripping the FBI of its budget tomorrow, and there's not a fucking thing that the FBI could do about it. The best they could hope for is the President vetoing the bill.

            N
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by mOdQuArK! (87332)
              The scary (illegal) exception to the ability of Congress to cut off funding is the very high probability that the at least some of the "Black Ops" programs are being funded by illegal smuggling of stuff like drugs, arms, etc. Because those kinds of programs are externally funded, Congress would not be able to terminate them simply by withholding funding.

              From a twisted amoral viewpoint, it's logical to fund those programs in that manner: not only can they conceal from ANYONE (including Congress) where and ho
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by sumdumass (711423)
              As long as the department is there and part of the Executive (like the constitution says), the president can direct them to do anything that is legal even if the congress pulled their funding in protest. Congress can only stop the executive from using his powers over the organization is it exists by stopping it from existing. In order to completely de-fund the FBI, congress would have to disband it.

              This isn't a situation as simple as saying we will cut your funding so don't do this. As long as funds are the
          • by AK Marc (707885)
            I civics, they teach that there is a separation of powers and checks and balances. On the news they teach that every branch does whatever they want, even if they think it unconstitutional, and unless one of the other branches complains, it won't stop. Oh, and the people chosen for one of the branches are all chosen by another and filtered for those that will give more and more power to the branch that chose them. If a branch grants itself more powers, contradicting the Constitution, who is there to stop
            • by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @12:01AM (#23450346) Journal
              If your still confused, you could just read the constitution [cornell.edu] which sets the government up and provides their roles and responsibilities.

              Sure people attempt to stack appointive position in an attempt to retain power or further a goal. That's called politics. FDR was the first president to start us down the "unconstitutional is the norm path". A lot of his new deal policies were unconstitutional and ruled that way by courts and he basically said "so what, they aren't going away, so something about it". This is when the interstate commerce clause had become expanded and now almost anything in government can be justified by the interstate commerce clause. A lot of what is considered unconstitutional is done through some interpreted reading of the constitution.
              • by AK Marc (707885)
                If your still confused, you could just read the constitution [cornell.edu] which sets the government up and provides their roles and responsibilities.

                You are the one confused if you think that any branch follows that document as written.

                A lot of what is considered unconstitutional is done through some interpreted reading of the constitution.

                If you have to "interpret" in order to get something to say what you want it to, then it isn't there. Speaking of which, who gives the Supreme Court the "power" t
                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  You are the one confused if you think that any branch follows that document as written.

                  There is no confusion. The problem is that people think it means and says different things in practice. The governments are following it quite a bit. They are also abusing it to some extent. But as to what you originally states, it is being followed.

                  If you have to "interpret" in order to get something to say what you want it to, then it isn't there. Speaking of which, who gives the Supreme Court the "power" to interpre

                  • by AK Marc (707885)
                    BTW, the constitution makes the supreme court the final arbitrator of the constitution. It is the constitution that does what you think the supreme court did on it's own. Like I said, read it.

                    I did. Nowhere is the Supreme Court given the power to interpret the Constitution. That job was supposed to land on all three branches, but was taken by the Supreme Court. If you disagree, please tell me where they are tasked with interpreting the document.
                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      by sumdumass (711423)
                      Article 3 section two puts it pretty clear,

                      The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states

                      All cases can't really be argued with.

                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      Sure, they hear all cases. But they have also decided that they do not find facts. If there is a question of fact, they rule on law and bounce it to another court to mess with the pesky facts. There's nothing in the Constitution laying out that, for or against. Additionally, there is nothing in the Constitution that states they get to define words. Have you seen recent laws? They have definitions piled in them. There are even laws wich appear to be nothing other than definitions (with the definitions
                    • by sumdumass (711423)
                      Are you sure that you have read the constitution? Well, you might have but not in it's entirety or perhaps you failed to understand it or pay attentions to the details.

                      Sure, they hear all cases. But they have also decided that they do not find facts. If there is a question of fact, they rule on law and bounce it to another court to mess with the pesky facts. There's nothing in the Constitution laying out that, for or against.

                      First off, I don't think you understand what "facts" are in this situation. The

                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      The constitution gives the supreme court appellate jurisdiction over all cases that it doesn't have original jurisdiction. That means that they don't find facts of the case, that they can't find a fact pertaining to the law or the application of the law.

                      And yes, the constitution says "In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."


                      Ok, so then real slowly so
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by sumdumass (711423)

                      Ok, so then real slowly so I get it. They have appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact. Doesn't that mean that in appeals, they can find facts? For what can't they find facts? For what can they? I'm not a lawyer, but I thought that it indicated that the "both as to law and fact" says they can, but choose not to. Appeals courts *do* find for facts. I know that because I've read decisions where they were sent back down to the appeals courts to find the facts. Also my understanding is that the appeals

  • by mrbluze (1034940) on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:32PM (#23442980) Journal

    Why does the FBI think that list of possible records should be secret? Does that list contain items that are actually content -- for instance, URLs visited by a person?
    Having watched numerous films depicting FBI managers it will contain such things as "I wanna know who she slept with in kindergarten and what colour her t-shirt was on November 12 1948."
  • who is first? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by electrosoccertux (874415) on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:36PM (#23442998)
    This is the sort of thing where somebody has to be first.

    If everybody could agree to all publish their letters at once and all be first, then the FBI would be powerless [more or less]. It would blow the whole thing wide open. Everyone could analyze for themselves the validity of these claims, including lots of lawyers who would eat this up. We'd see that 99.9% of these are just a template *.doc file printed with regards to [insert company name here] and mailed off.

    I'm all for having watchmen, but not when we don't get to watch THEM. Which is exactly what this
    • by oahazmatt (868057) on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:43PM (#23443034) Journal

      I'm all for having watchmen, but not when we don't get to watch THEM. Which is exactly what this
      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Words to live by. I talk to so many people on a daily basis who have completely become numb to the fact that the people should always dictate the actions of the government, not the other way around. I'd like to know when such a supreme case of apathy and fear exactly overwhelmed our culture.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'd like to know when such a supreme case of apathy and fear exactly overwhelmed our culture.
        Yeah, but unfortunately, every other person who lives their lives by a simple quote also wants to know the same thing.

        e.g. Why won't you think of the children?! I'd like to know when such a supreme case of apathy and callousness overwhelmed our culture.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:12AM (#23443182)

        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Words to live by. I talk to so many people on a daily basis who have completely become numb to the fact that the people should always dictate the actions of the government, not the other way around. I'd like to know when such a supreme case of apathy and fear exactly overwhelmed our culture.
        A long time ago and was deliberately accelerated in response to the anti-war movement during Vietnam. The public school system has been in many ways deliberately designed to promote the acceptance of authority, a move not only desirable to the government but to the corporations. Politicians promote the government being the cradle to grave guide for its citizens as it makes for nice fat pork barrels and accompanying "donations". A false sense of safety and reliance on the government is pushed for the very same reasons $$$$. This is the reason why that an immigrant is vastly more likely to go into business for themselves then someone born in America, because the immigrant often wishes to enjoy the freedoms of America they have heard so much about and do not trust the authority that Americans have been trained to accept and seek out. The extreme power shift around the time of the "Civil War" from states to the Federal Government enhanced these problems.

        The FBI itself was supposed to be a temporary agency within the government, but under J. Edgar Hoover leaped to astounding levels of power that were not cut back until his passing. It still exists and does anyone really thing that the FBI won't seek greater power and that such things as the misuse of NSLs won't enable such?

        "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
        Thomas Jefferson

      • by aztektum (170569)
        It was there on some small level back towards the Civil War era. It hit critical mass, IMO, after the Depression and FDR's New Deal.
        • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@@@infamous...net> on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:46AM (#23443368) Homepage

          It hit critical mass, IMO, after the Depression and FDR's New Deal.

          Nah, critical mass of fear was already there during the first Red Scare, when they passed the Sedition Act of 1918, locked up Eugene Debs, deported hundreds without due process, and destroyed the American left.

          It probably goes back to the Great Upheaval of 1877 [wikipedia.org]. You know those big old National Guard armories they have in a lot of cities? They weren't built in case of invasion. They were built in case the workers got uppity again.

          • by istartedi (132515)

            If you read the entire article, it provides a decent summary of the ebb and flow of labor union power in the US. I favor the balance that was struck here in the US, as opposed to total Communism or total Fascism. I think most people in the US do too.

      • I'd like to know when such a supreme case of apathy and fear exactly overwhelmed our culture.

        I'd say for apathy it was around the time that popular actors were being picked to represent private interests as their candidate to be the president to the United States of America, I mean... come on. An actor.
        These days I see people complain when actors give their opinion on world matters.

        No, I take it back, it had to be before that. You need preexisting apathy to get that far.
        Nixon? Maybe he killed the peoples' collective trust in the system. Or was it the pardon?
        Yeah, I'll go with that:

        Apathy overwhelm

        • by Darby (84953) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @09:32AM (#23445184)

          Apathy overwhelmed your culture when Ford pardoned Nixon, fear was on 9/11 (that one was obvious).


          It really was much further back as some of the other posters have said.

          "Ford's Folly" as I like to call it, did cause the death of the idea of Presidential accountability. Just look how bad that's gone since then. Had Nixon been punished no matter how mildly and we'd (not that I'd been born yet...) actually stood up for our right to be citizens and not subjects, do you really think Reagan ( or, well, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush Sr., and assorted other criminals we keep hearing from) would have dared to sell crack to buy weapons for terrorists in direct violation of Congressional orders? Created death squad training camps? Doctored intelligence to make the Soviets look like a much bigger threat than they were to justify massive welfare for government contractors and promote a culture of fear?

          Then to pull this whole Iraq scam after getting away with all of that?
          Not a chance.

          So, Nixon needed a slap on the wrist. With what Ford did, he needed to be impeached.
          As the crimes have gone up the stakes have too, so at this point to regain any possibility of accountability on the part of our government Bush, and most of the members of his administrations need to be tried, convicted, and executed for treason. If we don't, the next group of scumbags will *know* that they can get away with anything just like these scumbags did.

          It's much worse than that even. Half the Supreme Court and most of Congress need at least long prison sentences for their complicity and that's never going to happen.

          If I ever have an opportunity, I will piss on Ford's grave.

          • by WindowlessView (703773) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @01:14PM (#23446488)

            to regain any possibility of accountability on the part of our government Bush, and most of the members of his administrations need to be tried, convicted, and executed for treason

            With all the "debates" this past year, there are two conspicuous questions I would have emjoyed being raised:

            (1) Candidate X, what in the first month of taking office will you do to roll back the executive branch's power grab of the last 8 years and restore civil liberties?

            (2) As President, what will be your response if top officials of the Bush administration are arrested and imprisoned for war crimes when visiting a foreign country, say a European ally?

            It's not that I would expect anything more than bluster from the Republicans and squirming from the Democrats but maybe they would at least understand that some people are concerned about more than flag pins.


          • Apathy overwhelmed your culture when Ford pardoned Nixon, fear was on 9/11 (that one was obvious).


            It really was much further back as some of the other posters have said.

            Well, there were political riots in the late 60s, so I figured apathy hadn't set in yet...

            But *something* happened to the USA in the 50s, you can tell by looking at propaganda movies from the late forties, where they would make sense, and then the ones from the 50s, where the bullshit started piling up.
            Is that the "further back" you were referring to?

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @09:40AM (#23445234)
        I'd like to know when such a supreme case of apathy and fear exactly overwhelmed our culture.

        I'd like to answer that, too.

        but in a half hour, if you don't mind. my favorite HD tv show is on right now.

      • Actually in China (and many other places) people are pretty comfy with the government dictating the actions of the people.

        And we have been telling them that this is wrong for ages.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erlehmann (1045500)

      Of course, intimidating doesn't work when all work together - that's the stuff revolutions are made out of.

      But honestly, do you think that in a country that unlawfully spies on it's own citizens, tortures prisoners and holds hundreds of people for years while denying them a proper trial, anyone would risk that ? In the end, for those involved it's a simple risk calculation: I'd bet that almost no one is willing to risk jailtime for freedom of speech.

    • by ceroklis (1083863) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:55AM (#23443412)
      This is the sort of thing where somebody has to be first.
      Hans was first.
    • If everybody could agree to all publish their letters at once and all be first, then the FBI would be powerless [more or less]. It would blow the whole thing wide open. Everyone could analyze for themselves the validity of these claims
      How could you know how many of those are genuine?
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        By watching all of the people who got arrested and are not looking at 3-5 years, have to pay a fortune in legal fees, ask permission to move between state lines, can't own a firearm anymore and so on.

        They don't issue much more then a couple of thousand of those a month. There was around 50,000 issued in all of 2007. Many of which go to the same companies. Lets say an average investigation involved at least 2 but not more then 4 suspects and a NSA letter needs to be issues for each suspect. That would drop t
  • remember! (Score:5, Funny)

    by crazybit (918023) on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:56PM (#23443096)
    they do this to protect your freedom...
    • Re:remember! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pha7boy (1242512) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:08AM (#23443160)
      the sad thing is that most of them actually believe that they do protect your freedom and your way of live by doing this. Good people in a bad culture leads to really, really bad decisions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moxley (895517)
        I don't believe for a second thagt most of the people involved in the abuse of these NSLs believe that they are truly protecting our freedom.
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          Why not? I mean the courts and congress who gave them this power don't seem to think it is an abuse of liberty, so why would anyone dealing with the NSLs think they were doing anything besides going after the bad guy and protecting our way of life?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by moxley (895517)
            I think that if one is only looking at this on the surface, 'sumdumass,' then it may look as though this is post 9/11 politics as usual and that it's all either incompetence or "Aw shucks, it's sure a shame that we have to unconstitutionally violate the very liberties we're supposed to have sworn an oath to protect, but we'll do whatever we need to do in the name of safety."

            Well, I think many of those who have researched our current situation and are familiar with the players and history would say that ther
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              I think that if one is only looking at this on the surface, 'sumdumass,' then it may look as though this is post 9/11 politics as usual and that it's all either incompetence or "Aw shucks, it's sure a shame that we have to unconstitutionally violate the very liberties we're supposed to have sworn an oath to protect, but we'll do whatever we need to do in the name of safety."

              I think you should actually look below the surface if your going to make comments about on the surface. The NSA letters have been aro

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Spliffster (755587)
      war is peace
      freedom is slavery
      ignorance is strength
  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:01AM (#23443118) Journal
    I don't know about the rest of /., but I think it is about time that the NSL usage was challenged. I'm glad that they finally found one that was worth challenging. These things are evil incarnate... or rather enable evil incarnate.

    There simply is NOT enough terrorist activity or threat to warrant this kind of constitutional stomping authority. I really don't care if that sounds unpatriotic. I just do NOT believe that there was ever valid justification for such actions as allowed by the NSLs. They give carte blanche access to your information in ways that you are supposed to be protected from. Simply put, it is a non-supervised method to violate every or any citizens constitutional rights to privacy.

    I'm tired of seeing arguments about how it's for security, or it fights terrorists. For FSM's sake, if it violates MY rights, then it's fucking wrong. period. no argument. for. ever.

    I don't care if you tell me it will only be used in 'certain' cases.. I do NOT want you to have the ability to do so because I do not fucking trust you. ever. period. get over it.

    The 2nd amendment is there to provide recourse to such actions by the government and I don't care if those in power think I'm saying treasonous things, I have a constitutionally guaranteed right to say them, think them, and 'believe it or not' act on them. I do NOT want this, or any, government to be snooping in my life, or anyone's life just because they can for expedience sake. Follow the law, do the right thing and you will have my respect. Don't and I will keep my gun very handy. THAT, my friends, is the intent of the framers of the constitution. Don't tread on me was used early on as a rally cry... I'm using it now. Don't tread on me or my privacy. It's time that ALL citizens of the USA said the same.
    • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:16AM (#23443212) Journal

      The 2nd amendment is there to provide recourse to such actions by the government and I don't care if those in power think I'm saying treasonous things, I have a constitutionally guaranteed right to say them, think them, and 'believe it or not' act on them.
      It's a tricky situation. The second amendment is supposed to help "correct" democracy if it no longer becomes representative, and also help uphold the constitution. Unfortunately, this is no easy task. Are you a speaker for the people, attempting to rally them to bring down an oppressive government? Or are you a lone nut, acting as if your perspective is really that of the people? What if the constitution is being violated, but preventing that would be against the will of the people, and undermine democracy? Is the will of the founding fathers enough to trump the will of the people?

      Is violating the constitution enough to warrant a death sentence to all in power, or are there grey areas that warrant only throwing the government out of office next elections? If you do indeed decide to go on a shooting spree, who should die? Should everyone employed by the government be offed? How about everyone in executive positions, right down to transport ministers? Or everyone in the white house?

      The second amendment may have been relevant years ago, when the US was small and times were unstable, but now you have a lot more to lose. You have a huge economy, a wealthy lifestyle, sturdy future prospects, large population and infrastructure just to name a few. Violent coups must be thought through because they are devastatingly expensive. A civil war could ruin the US, so you had better to be bloody sure that you are doing the right thing. That's not even counting if you're a pacifist...
      • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:40AM (#23443332) Journal
        This is what I said:

        I'm using it now. Don't tread on me or my privacy. It's time that ALL citizens of the USA said the same.
        It neither called others to violent action, or intimated violent action on my part. My reference to the second ammendment (no, it is not out of date) is simply to frame the statement. The intent of the framers was not to create a fixed/rigid document to define government for all time, but to allow, nay, encourage citizens to change that government and document to suit all people in the pursuit of freedom and happiness etc.

        I'm absolutely sure that when the rest of the world mocks our 'land of the free' label, it is time to do something. Not tomorrow, not next month, but now. Yes, voting is a quick and comparatively painless way to implement change. The problem (as I see it) is that this does not highlight to the citizenry that the people they vote in may be in the same cabal of (on face value) patriots that would violate their rights.

        Sadly, in the land of the free, there are few who know their rights, and why they have them. I'm tempted to say that 'no child left behind' has ensured this, but won't. Despite the sig, I do not promote violent overthrow of the government, but I reserve the right to. There is no difference between one tyrant 3000 miles away and 30 tyrants 100 miles away... save for the fact that shooting the 30 is easier.

        My entire tirade (and it is one) is for one simple reason; I'm tired of having MY rights trampled in the name of something that simply does NOT exist. If you think me wrong, shut down all the anti-terrorism measures... ALL of them, prove to me empirically that there is a danger that warrants such invasion of my life and privacy. Go ahead, do it!

        I'm tired of people 'protecting me' from dangers that do not exist and trampling MY rights in the process. If you want to guard my house while I'm on vacation, fucking do it from the other side of the street. My security system is working fine, and I'm not paying you to waste your time and MY tax dollars to sit inside my house.

        This goes for terrorism, child-pornography, internet bullies, file sharers, and any manner of thought crime criminals.

        See my sig, I do not advocate violence, rather I suggest that the Internet changes everything. Information wants to be free, and information frees the rest of us. If the government is so honorable at protecting my rights, why do they have to do it in secret?

        Don't give me that bs about national security ... I have a TSEC, and I understand it, how it works, what it is for. There is no reason that NSL letters, DMCA, USPATRIOT act et al need to exist. We have plenty of laws to take care of these problems already. New laws are only implemented to empower people or limit the scope of power of others. period. study it a bit.

        I am BLOODY SURE that what I'm saying is right. I'm not a pacifist, but I am also not advocating a violent revolution. I like the Ron Paul revolution myself. The trouble is that if you do not smack people around a bit, they won't have the attention span to listen. Now is the time to listen to what is being said. Now is the time to take heart. Now is the time to put on the tin foil hats and load your home security devices. Now is the time to be skeptical. Now is the time to question EVERYTHING that the government is doing, or is asking for laws so they can do. Now is the time to listen carefully. Now is the time to start making up your mind about whether you would use a gun. Now is the time to decide how much your constitutionally guaranteed rights are worth to you. Now is the time to figure out what you would do when they come to take you from your home....

        Yes, sounds a bit paranoid but then when you compare the Bush administration to the German government prior to WWII, it's a scary piece of entertainment... try it for yourself.

        If you give an inch, they will take a mile so the saying goes. In this case that is not true... they will not stop with the mile.

        There is much that can be done before violence is needed, but it must be done now. Attention must be drawn to the wrongs that are happening in this country now, not next month, not in September, but NOW.
        • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by moderatorrater (1095745) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @03:03AM (#23443904)

          The intent of the framers was not to create a fixed/rigid document to define government for all time, but to allow, nay, encourage citizens to change that government and document to suit all people in the pursuit of freedom and happiness etc.
          No, no, the intent of the framers was to tenderize meat more efficiently, and they knew that to produce meat tenderizer in the bulk that they wanted would require that government stay out of the way. Everything else was incidental to the framers' opinions.

          In reality, it was a large group of men who all had differing opinions of what government should be and who all are now dead, and therefore unable to tell us what they intended. That's why they left a document to base the government on, so that we wouldn't worry about their intent, but the one document they left us with legal force. Intention should only be considered far enough to determine the meaning of archaic words because anything else cannot be independently verified.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jamstar7 (694492)
            They also left us other documents that go a long way to explaining where their heads were at. Federalist Papers [wikipedia.org] anyone? More nifty stuff [foundingfathers.info] is available at the click of a mouse.
            • Correction: some of them left contradictory documents that go a long way towards explaining where some of their heads were at. 55 delegates attended, more than 5 different plans propesed, and a lot of dissent (leading, in part, to the creation of the bill of rights). Compromises were put in place, and the final arrangement was not the idea of any one or even three people, it was a balance of the needs of many people.

              With 55 people contributing on behalf of 13 political bodies, claiming to know what the
        • I see you're a Ron Paul Libertarian but know many of us on the hard left have your back if it gets any worse. Many of us on the left are entirely disillusioned with sign waving peace marches which are ignored by the Cheney presidency with a reaction of "so?" If we don't all hang together, surely we will hang separately a wise founding father once said.

          Like you I don't believe it's the proper time for violence but if say John McCain were to say put Blackwater troops on the streets to engage in gun grabbing
      • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by scooter.higher (874622) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:40AM (#23443334) Homepage Journal

        The second amendment is supposed to help "correct" democracy if it no longer becomes representative, and also help uphold the constitution.
        And that is one of the problems we are facing. Our elected politicians are no longer concerned with representing their constituents. They are doing the bidding of special interest groups.

        Elections have become nothing more than pageants. Where did this term "unelectable" come from? The media decides to not cover a candidate because they are considered "unelectable?"

        There is a problem. People just don't care enough to do the research to find a solution.
        • Re:It's about time (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @08:18AM (#23444866) Journal

          Our elected politicians are no longer concerned with representing their constituents.
          That's half of the problem. The other half of the problem is that your elected politicians are concerned with representing their constituents, to the extent that they will do things that benefit their state, or a few key districts in their state, while harming America as a whole. Tragedy of the commons on a massive scale.
      • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Interesting)

        by wellingj (1030460) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:56AM (#23443414)
        A couple of things.
        1. The purpose of the constitution was to protect the rights of the individual from the tyranny of the majority.
        2. Violating the constitution is against the law. There should be a trial. But if some legislators were to come and deprive me of any of my rights, you damn right there will be violence. The government depriving anything from me is tantamount to forcing me to choose between doing what is right and violence done against me by the state.
        3. They started this, I wouldn't be pissed off if they had just left me alone to live freely. But they had to take the money that I work for, as if they owned 25% of my worth as a human being. Now they want to take my rights to do something about it.
    • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:19AM (#23443234)
      There simply is NOT enough terrorist activity or threat to warrant this kind of constitutional stomping authority.

      Agree and futhermore...

      <soapbox>
      It doesn't really matter how much, the ends don't justify the means - despite what the Bush administration would have us believe. The Constitution is there to protect us from our Government and from those citizens who want to limit the rights of other citizens. As far as the "War on Terror", if the US has to behave badly and/or contrary to our core principles to "win", then we lose and they win.
      </soapbox>

      • Re:It's about time (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @09:34AM (#23445198)
        the constitution does not work anymore. its broken.

        or rather, americans have become USED to the fact that it regularly gets ignored.

        we have lost control over our own country and government. I believe the constituion TRIED to keep a balance of power (checks and balances) since the makers of the const. had first-hand experience with, shall we say, a government out of control?

        note: its not just the US; all countries (read the news, you'll see) are losing their privacy rights and freedom. the US is spearheading it but look at the UK and australia. they are actually BEATING the US in terms of wiping out checks/balances and personal freedom/privacy.

        this is way beyond 'the US constitution'. this is a human phenomenon and its catchy as hell. the 'put fear into your own people' shit is happening all over the world and its not showing any signs of slowing down.

        yes, the terrorists have already won. sad, isn't it?

        don't look for our laws to protect us. this NSL stuff was always against the law - but that never stopped the US from the chilling effects it seeks to install in its population.
        • by sumdumass (711423)

          don't look for our laws to protect us. this NSL stuff was always against the law - but that never stopped the US from the chilling effects it seeks to install in its population.
          Umm.. No it hasn't been. Congress made it a law allowing it to happen. At first, they limited the information that could be gathers with them. That has been expanded. Make not mistake, it is or has been legal according to the law.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            its 'legal' in the sense that our maf^H^H^Hcongressman have created an unjust law.

            I'm no lawyer, but it seems that to be accused of a crime but NOT to be allowed to even talk about it (not even to your wife, for example) is TOTALLY beyond the design of any constitutional concept.

            would our founding fathers (or even 100 years later, the 'middle fathers') have approved such a thing? that's the litmus test for.

            while there's no way to know how a dead person would answer, they PROBABLY would have rejected the ve
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              I'm no lawyer, but it seems that to be accused of a crime but NOT to be allowed to even talk about it (not even to your wife, for example) is TOTALLY beyond the design of any constitutional concept.

              I think your a little confused. The NSA letters aren't imprisoning anyone, they aren't accusing the person who receives them of anything, They are simply saying we have a right to this information now give it to us.

              You as a citizen have no duty to follow the constitution in matters like this. The constitution i

    • Damn it! I used all my mod points yesterday.

      People don't just need to hear these things, but do something about them. I feel the biggest problem is that people are not doing anything but complaining on internet forums thinking that they are doing something.

      There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order.

      Ed Howdershelt

      If the internet is our soap box, then it is time to move on to the ballot box. And voting for either of the three people that are being pushed on us by the media will not change anything.

      Convince friends/family/strangers to do a little research on how

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order.

        Ed Howdershelt

        If the internet is our soap box, then it is time to move on to the ballot box. And voting for either of the three people that are being pushed on us by the media will not change anything.

        Convince friends/family/strangers to do a little research on how many candidates are out there, and what their positions are, and write in someone's name if they have to, as long as they don't vo

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          That's what it means to open the third box. There's only 100,000 people who'd have to be rounded up, right? Dare them to file charges on everyone! Dare them to find 1,200,000 people for jury trials, all of whom will convict. That's working great for RIAA these days, isn't it?

          Your math is faulty because your not considering real world variable. Like how multiple letters are sent for different people under the same investigation. For instance, of they were to investigate our threads here, they would have to

        • by kalirion (728907)
          I think that's why other ACs up there were positing "What if everyone who had an NSL went public with it, (whether anonymously, or by simply upping a .torrent to WikiLeaks and following up with a blog entry under their own name)?"

          That's what it means to open the third box. There's only 100,000 people who'd have to be rounded up, right? Dare them to file charges on everyone! Dare them to find 1,200,000 people for jury trials, all of whom will convict.


          Or, you know, they could just pick and choose the ones the
      • If the internet is our soap box, then it is time to move on to the ballot box. And voting for either of the three people that are being pushed on us by the media will not change anything.

        I think you are on the wrong side of the ballot box. Using a soap box does not just mean watching people spout their opinions, using a ballot box does not just mean voting. If there are no candidates from the major parties that you want to elect, put your own one forward. In the 2006 election, voter turnout was 43%. If you can convince half of the non-voters that it's time to start voting again, and that your candidate is the reason to do so, then you'd win. And, as you said, the Internet is a good so

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by macslas'hole (1173441)

      There simply is NOT enough terrorist activity or threat to warrant this kind of constitutional stomping authority. I really don't care if that sounds unpatriotic.
      unpatriotic? Since when is supporting the constitution unpatriotic! it's the definition of patriotic.
      war is peace
      slavery is freedom
      etc.

      Scary shit, I tell you.
    • I don't know about the rest of /., but I think it is about time that the NSL usage was challenged. I'm glad
      I'd say that time was 6 years ago, back when it was open-season on any law that would extend police and military power. I'm upset it got this far.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jez9999 (618189)
      Follow the law, do the right thing and you will have my respect. Don't and I will keep my gun very handy.

      Good luck against 100 armed police, and a plethora of news networks reporting how an evil madman was shot dead by the valiant defenders of law and order.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:05AM (#23443140) Journal
    Seriously. Of course this is bad, but it's realistically just a matter of bureaucracy gone bad, with some potential for abuse. It's not like we're talking about some government wide x-files conspiracy to enslave the entire nation. It is just a precaution we need to take, to keep ambitious scoundrels from getting too many ideas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      HE'S A WITCH!
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @02:16AM (#23443758)

      Of course this is bad, but it's realistically just a matter of bureaucracy gone bad, with some potential for abuse.

      Stalinism was also just a bureaucracy gone bad.

      • Oh yeah? You don't think there was anyone (for example, Stalin) with intentions of manipulating the government to enslave their citizenry, by force and murder if necessary?

        The point is, no one here is trying to turn the US into communist Russia. If someone did try, could they use this bureaucracy to their advantage? Yes, of course, which is why we need to make some changes. But there is no mass secret conspiracy. There is no need for a revolution, as others here today have suggested (at worst, we'
    • Of course this is bad, but it's realistically just a matter of bureaucracy gone bad, with some potential for abuse
      That's exactly right. Mind you, so was the whole McCarthy-lead anti-communist crusade.
      • Sort of, the McCarthy-lead ant-communist crusade was already beyond the 'potential for abuse' stage. Hopefully we don't have something at a similar scale here, and we are definitely not at the point where we need a revolution (as some have suggested on this story).

        It is worth noting that even with the McCarthy issue, as soon as people realized what he was doing, they got rid of him.
  • Warrant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boronx (228853) <evonreis@nosPaM.mohr-engineering.com> on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:14AM (#23443184) Homepage Journal
    Gee, if only the FBI were required to get a warrant before making a search, we'd already have an explanation on record to look up. Too bad our founders didn't put anything into the constitution about that.
  • What, me read? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:30AM (#23443290)
    http://uniset.ca/terr/news/lat_fbibreakin.html [uniset.ca]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weatherman_(organization) [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition_Act_of_1918 [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_and_Sedition_Acts [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.amazon.com/Bowling-Alone-Collapse-American-Community/dp/0743203046/sr=8-1/qid=1172469926/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-3962904-3664448?ie=UTF8&s=books [amazon.com]
    http://code.google.com/p/torchat/ [google.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Shah's_Men [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_and_Contras_cocaine_trafficking_in_the_US [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKULTRA [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_Fire_Decree [wikipedia.org]
    http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/iron.html [mit.edu]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_Rule_Book [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeal_of_prohibition [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writeprint [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Eck_phreaking [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sousveillance [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec [cgsecurity.org]
    http://www.eff.org/testyourisp/pcapdiff/ [eff.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon [wikipedia.org]
    http://ai.bpa.arizona.edu/COPLINK/ [arizona.edu]
    http://ai.bpa.arizona.edu/research/coplink/authorship.htm [arizona.edu]
    http://www.coplink.com/ [coplink.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.zurich.ibm.com/security/idemix/ [ibm.com]
    http://packetstormsecurity.nl/filedesc/Practical_Onion_Hacking.pdf.html [packetstormsecurity.nl]
    http://www.williamson-labs.com/laser-mic.htm [williamson-labs.com]
    http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~dfrankow/files/privacy-sigir2006.pdf [umn.edu]
    http://freehaven.net/anonbib/topic.html#Anonymous_20communication [freehaven.net]
    http://www.wiley.com/legacy/compbooks/mcnamara/links.html [wiley.com]
  • "US Senate Asks for National Security Letter Expansion"
  • Penalties (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Repton (60818) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @01:02AM (#23443438) Homepage

    If an organisation is breaking the law (which is what "illegal" means, right?), why do police never get involved?

    As an outsider looking in, it seems like the cycle is this:

    1. Government organisation does something illegal.
    2. If someone notices:
      1. Senate / ombudsman / inspector says "Bad! Naughty government organisation!"
      2. [optional] Organisation says "Sorry!"
    3. GOTO 1.

    Is it any wonder that nothing changes if there are never any consequences for illegal doings?

    • Re:Penalties (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @01:29AM (#23443560) Homepage Journal

      If an organisation is breaking the law (which is what "illegal" means, right?), why do police never get involved?

      Do you remember the fuss about the politically-motivated firing of several US attorneys?
      Some got fired for investigating people belonging to THE party. (The one in power)

      Do you now understand what all the fuss was about?
      Why you can't allow the power to be above the law?
  • by cats-paw (34890) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @01:20AM (#23443522) Homepage
    One of the overlooked problems with the NSL is that they provide a bureaucratic shortcut. You know, warrants are just so much work. Naturally it becomes the path of least resistance and so everything becomes related to terrorism just so they don't have to do all that work to get a regular warrant. You have to show probable cause, you need to identify the particulars of what you are looking for, etc... The best part is that you can do a really sloppy job and nobody will be the wiser, because they're all ecretsay.

    There should be a little work involved, shouldn't there ? Wouldn't it be just great if those letters would actually apply to matters of national security ? The FBI has proven for us that they don't, just by the simple fact that they've generated so many of them.

    FUD has ruled for many years now. Contact your congresscritter, register to vote, after all it is supposed to be your government.
  • Related interview (Score:5, Informative)

    by proxima (165692) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @02:13AM (#23443744)
    On the Media [onthemedia.org] had an interview (transcript and mp3 download available) last week with Internet Archive co-founder Brewster Kahle. [onthemedia.org] about his personal experience with the national security letter. Interesting stuff, but perhaps not much new if you've been keeping up with this.

  • by Cracked Pottery (947450) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @02:37AM (#23443836)
    The law is written to keep this method of inquiry as secret as possible. While there are occasional instances where this would be warranted, e.g. the hot pursuit of dangerous criminal, the volume of these requests is so large that these cases are most likely comparatively rare. The most common effect of this provision is therefore the concealment of abuse.

    Until there are cases where criminal convictions are challenged on Constitutional grounds, we will not learn just how much abuse, for example how often are instances of these letters used to uncover political information about lawful activities. Tools such as this are so dangerous to freedom that severe sanctions should exist for frivolous use.

  • by hyperz69 (1226464) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @08:19AM (#23444872)
    So I asked for a copy of the Constitution under the Freedom of Information act. I received a Letter starting with "We The People" followed by a long continuos black line....
  • How are these delivered?

    I mean, could I just make sure a friend of mine opens any mail I get from the FBI?
    He wouldn't be constrained by what he saw, and by that point I wouldn't have been notified not to include him on anything.

    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      You're forgetting the part about no third parties are allowed to know of their existence in your case. You just sent yourself and your buddy to prison
      • No, I didn't forget.

        If I haven't yet been notified this is one of those notices, then I'm not covered by it, right?
        I just can' tell anyone about it after I see it.

        How do I know that the next think I get from the FBI is an NSL?
  • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Saturday May 17, 2008 @10:24AM (#23445502) Homepage Journal
    Thank God, something is being done. As soon as Undersecretary Sternwheeler drafts a Sternly Worded Protest we'll get Magnan and that young fellow of his to deliver it to the FBI!

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