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ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging FISA 542

Posted by Soulskill
from the battle-of-the-four-letter-acronyms dept.
Wired's Threat Level blog reports that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Recently passed by both the House and Senate, FISA was signed into law on Thursday by President Bush. The ACLU has fought aspects of FISA in the past. The new complaint (PDF) alleges the following: "The law challenged here supplies none of the safeguards that the Constitution demands. It permits the government to monitor the communications of U.S. Citizens and residents without identifying the people to be surveilled; without specifying the facilities, places, premises, or property to be monitored; without observing meaningful limitations on the retention, analysis, and dissemination of acquired information; without obtaining individualized warrants based on criminal or foreign intelligence probable cause; and, indeed, without even making prior administrative determinations that the targets of surveillance are foreign agents or connected in any way, however tenuously, to terrorism."
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ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging FISA

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  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adreno (1320303) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:14AM (#24172207)
    ... that both Obama and McCain support this measure. Is this a reflection of middle America's concerns?
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:27AM (#24172285)
      Is this a reflection of middle America's concerns?

      Sadly, it's a reflection that middle America isn't concerned.
      • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:49AM (#24172433) Homepage

        Sadly, it's a reflection that middle America isn't concerned.

        As a registered Republican who's disgusted with the New Aged GOP, I was fully planning on voting for Obama in November until this vote. I chatted with a pro-DFLer who is a huge Obama supporter and told him my change and why. You know what he said? He told me that because Obama is now the candidate he has to make sure he has support from both sides. Ugh. I'm not sure how you can support both sides when you vote for this intrusion and retroactive law. I just can't understand how they can uphold the Constitution (as required by them being elected to office by the people) when they vote for a law that goes against it.

        I cannot vote for any candidate that voted in favor of this and now I'm not sure what to do. I'm no longer voting for the lesser of two evils as they both are. I have lost what tiny little bit of faith that still remained following the failure of Congress/Senate and our fear-creating leader.

        The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution. Unfortunately we would have no backing because the TV still spews its garbage and the people are sated.

        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ayeffkay (1139265) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:04AM (#24172527)

          The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution. Unfortunately we would have no backing because the TV still spews its garbage and the people are sated.

          I think I hear the feds at my door for having read that.

          • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by garcia (6573) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:40PM (#24173235) Homepage

            I think I hear the feds at my door for having read that.

            Isn't it sad that you felt compelled to write that?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Does everything in this thread get modded Insightful?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mweather (1089505)
            Gentlemen we must all hang together or we shall most assuredly all hang separately
        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by strabes (1075839) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:07AM (#24172555)

          just can't understand how they can uphold the Constitution (as required by them being elected to office by the people) when they vote for a law that goes against it.

          Because it's easier to get elected when you promise to give handouts, take action, tax the rich, etc, instead of trying to get elected on the position that you're going to eliminate the special interest benefits, shrink government, and lower taxes. People always want the Government to serve their special interests, but no one else's. This is one of the reasons why our Government has grown so large. Another reason is that we have forgotten the tyranny and oppression that in inevitable when the government controls close to 40% of the nation's income and when our rights are slowly being eliminated and put into the hands of a few powerful people at the top. "It's for your own good" they tell us. "We need to take away your rights to protect you from the terrorists." I must ask why is it not possible to both protect us from the terrorists (a proper role of government) and grant us our rights? The reason is that big government precedents have already been set which allow the government to get away with these kinds of shenanigans.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dunnius (1298159)
            This is why I fear that a revolution may be the only option left for our country. It really is unfortunate that the two major candidates have decided to take a daily crap on the Constitution.
          • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Muad'Dave (255648) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:58AM (#24172907) Homepage

            ...and grant us our rights?

            ...and PROTECT AND DEFEND our rights?

            There, fixed that for you.

          • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Mr2001 (90979) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @05:03PM (#24175179) Homepage Journal

            Another reason is that we have forgotten the tyranny and oppression that in inevitable when the government controls close to 40% of the nation's income,

            Ah, that must be why Denmark is such an oppressive, tyrannical hellhole.

            Oh wait... it isn't. They have much higher taxes than we do in the US, but because they hold their government accountable, they actually get something in return, rather than having that money pissed away.

          • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @06:06PM (#24175579)

            I must ask why is it not possible to both protect us from the terrorists (a proper role of government) and grant us our rights?

            The proper roll of the US government is to Protect the People and their Rights. Government DOES NOT grant rights, rights are unalienable, government only protects them.

            Falcon

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by joocemann (1273720)

            The problem is that people want 100% security. The government cannot provide this, no matter how hard they try. We may end up with INGSOC, we may end up with cameras on every street corner, but we will not be protected from the ability of one or several people to inflict ridiculous damage upon innocent people.

            You could kill 10 of your neighbors before someone would stop you. If you planned it right, you could kill 100. How can someone promise to stop you from doing that when they don't even know who you

        • Option (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bobbuck (675253)
          "The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution."

          Isn't voting for Libertarian Bob Barr an option?

          • Re:Option (Score:4, Insightful)

            by sleigher (961421) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:45AM (#24172803)
            He may be an option like Nader was on option to get Bush in office. I like what Bob Barr has become but I hate where he came from. He has changed many of his policies recently for the better but that almost frightens me more. What might he become with power......
          • Re:Option (Score:5, Informative)

            by tux_deamon (663650) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:46PM (#24173285)

            "The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution."

            Isn't voting for Libertarian Bob Barr an option?

            Well, if civil liberties are your priority, then I don't know if Bob Barr is your guy. Consider:

            His support for the Patriot Act, his attacks on reproductive rights of women, his support for a constitutional ban on the rights of gay couples to marry, his support for banning adoption of children by gay parents, his restriction of freedom of speech and expression with respect to the US flag, his redefinition of habeas corpus to exclude death row appealates, his opposition to medical marijuana programs...

            Bob Barr seems much more like an ideological conservative than a true libertarian to me.

            Bob Barr on the Issues [ontheissues.org]

        • Complicated (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bussdriver (620565) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:36AM (#24172753)

          Sometimes laws that have no chance of surviving the courts are supported as a form of pandering.

          Nothing new in this case EXCEPT:

          The Supreme court is corrupt and the republic has already fallen (making it just entertainment for the politically active.)

          The population should be against it, so a move like this by Obama when he has a history of abstaining on this stuff is extremely interesting as to what really must be going on. We are not allowed to hear what he does; could be the CIA is feeding them more lies and Obama isn't wise enough (since he wasn't privy on the Iraq vote I never bought his line about always opposing the war.) OR certain powerful forces demand the passing of the bill and Obama serves or must kiss their ass.

          No, I'm not a Hillary supporter. Hillary voted against it but I'm confident if she were in his shoes she would have voted for it FOR THE SAME CURIOUS REASONS.

          • Re:Complicated (Score:4, Interesting)

            by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:23PM (#24173071) Journal

            You are correct, Obama has changed tunes and the reason is unclear. The CIA was told what information to feed the rest of government; they tried to give the right information.

            Obama is for all intents and purposes looking exactly like a bait and switch candidate. Not like we've not seen any of those before. The only thing that can change this is things like this lawsuit, massive communications among the people/bloggers/news outlets etc. as to what it does mean.

            I'm still waiting to hear what that Obama change is going to be. So far it's looking like only a change of skin color, politics and lawlessness remains the same. Paul and Barr would both bring change. The fact that they are against much of what supports the current corruption and lack of support for them by both main parties is significant.

            The one certain way to find out what that 'SAME CURIOUS REASON' is would be to elect someone that seems unaffected by it to see what rats jump ship while it's burning.

            OT: BTW does anyone know of any snippet of code to mail spam legislators with emails regarding how they should vote? There is probably a website that does, many let you write them on specific issues, but does anyone know of one that allows a person to contact all of them with a single letter?

        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dpilot (134227) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:38AM (#24172773) Homepage Journal

          You've just cited the reason why Obama is very likely to lose in November - he isn't perfect. The people who began as excited about participating in politics and voting, no longer are.

          Therefore instead of getting someone who minced words on FISA, and ended up voting unhappily for it, we're going to get someone who is enthusiastic for it.

          Besides - there is one way Bush can deliver the November election to McCain - attack Iran. I have this funny feeling that if the nation is going to war, there's no way they will vote for Obama over McCain. If we're at the brink of war, people would likely vote for Obama over McCain, in order to reasonably pull us back. But if we're there, look for McCain to win. Look for an October attack on Iran. (Or - this President would NEVER use any of the government institutions for a purely political reason, would he?) (Note: that's sarcasm.)

          • Attack plan R (Score:4, Interesting)

            by johnny cashed (590023) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:05PM (#24173901) Homepage
            Israel=General Ripper US=Buck Turgidson
        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Narpak (961733) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:40AM (#24172779)
          There is still a way to change this through the democratic system. But it requires people to actively vote for independent candidates; and to actively research the people running for office. Instead of thinking that you can only vote for democrats or republican. There are other parties out there, they are small, but if people are able to disengage themselves from the dogma of the two party system; perhaps things can change.
          • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

            by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:37PM (#24173671) Journal

            There is still a way to change this through the democratic system. But it requires people to actively vote for independent candidates; and to actively research the people running for office.

            Obama was a civil rights lawyer and a Constitutional Law professor.
            He was against this Telecom law.

            Based on credentials, if anyone should have voted against such a blatantly unconstitutional law, it should have been Obama. After that vote, he can DIAF for all I care.

            Change does not require actively voting for independent candidates, or researching the people running for office. It requires the people running for (and in) office to do what they said they'll do.

            • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by You are not listenin (1296345) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:56PM (#24174277)
              You're missing the point. They'll never stick to their words unless we make them, and we can only do that by voting for the other candidates in response to their lies. Unfortunately somoeone thinking of voting for obama can't bring themselves to vote for mccain and vise versa, so what we need is in fact voting for third parties.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by iminplaya (723125)

            The party member is the pervert who drives up and says, "Hey kid, if you touch me right *here*, I'll give you a piece of candy."

            The populace is the kid who says, "If I give you a blow job, can I have the whole box?"

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

          by imipak (254310) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:56AM (#24172883) Journal

          The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution. Unfortunately we would have no backing because the TV still spews its garbage and the people are sated.

          And that, ladies gentlemen and geek masses, is just one reason why the "...to overthrow the government if they turn into a tyranny!" argument in support of the 2nd Amendment is baloney. Try it and see whether the general public see you as a terrorist or a patriot. Have you planned what you'd like for your last meal? (Oh yeah, and even if you DID somehow manage to raise a large, angry mob of enraged disenchanted ex-mainstreamers, how well d'you think you'd do against a modern military? Hmmmm, I suppose if the numbers were that great there'd be a split in the military as well as the general public. Sounds like a good recipe for some dystopian near-term future fiction [wikipedia.org] to me!) (Note -- I'm not saying there are no other arguments in favour of the 2nd amendment, just that that one, which was the original intent of the framers, doesn't wash any more.)

          • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DustoneGT (969310) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:50PM (#24173317)
            Look at insurgents in Iraq...they are making a mess of our 'modern military'.

            Our revolutionary war was similar in nature. The redcoats would go to battle, stand in formation, and get ready for a formal battle. The poor American militants, lacking popular support at times, would shoot at them from the trees, houses, fences, or anything they could hide behind. Guerilla warfare tactics won the revolutionary war.

            A relatively small insurgency with small arms can keep a tyrannical regime at bay today just as well as it could in 1776. Things just haven't gotten bad enough yet to make it happen here yet. I sincerely hope we don't see things get that bad, but I'm not betting against it happening at some point in the near future.
            • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

              by Etrias (1121031) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:33PM (#24175009)
              I hate to burst any patriotic shaped bubbles on this, but without the help of the French Navy eliminating the power of the British fleet and providing blockades and needed sea power (not to mention significant troop support), our guerrilla war may have ended a bit differently.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          As a registered Republican who's disgusted with the New Aged GOP, I was fully planning on voting for Obama in November until this vote.

          Knock off the bullshit. If you are a "registered Republican" after 8 years of George Bush, there's no way you were "fully planning on voting for Obama in November until this vote".

          Any of you who read the political blogs have seen this kind of comment, and they are baloney, one and all. You know the kind: "I'm a life-long Democrat and I marched with Martin Luther King but

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

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:30AM (#24172305)

      Is this a reflection of middle America's concerns?

      No. I don't know three people that know FISA from Adam's Housecat. And of the two I DO know, neither thinks it's nearly so important as how many times the Mayor of Mandeville is going to get a free pass on his drunken driving.

      Hate to break it to you, but most of America has been impacted by the anti-terror legislation not even the slightest. And thus has little reason to really care about it....

      • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:55AM (#24172483) Journal

        They've been impacted by it, they just don't realize it yet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GospelHead821 (466923)

        Not only do many Americans not care about it, I've discussed similar laws with other people and they can't even seem to grasp why I care. They can't understand objecting to a law on philosophical or ethical grounds.

        That is different from somebody who can say, "I understand why it upsets you, but I won't personally get upset until it affects me." Neither attitude is particularly responsible, in my opinion. The attitude that I see, however, actually has a chilling effect on citizens who do object based on

      • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:22AM (#24172647)

        I am not an American citizen. I have never even visited America, not a single part of it. Yet I am seriously affected by the US anti-terror legislations, primarily through air travel. All these travel restrictions largely originate in USA (and their colony, the UK). Either directly, or indirectly (I consider the USA as one of the main causes of terrorism - which I loosely define as "violent attacks on civilian targets not taking place in a war zone").

        Also the enormous amount of information demanded by the USA on air travelers going there is an issue. Doing business with the USA is an issue as this enormous privacy intrusion for merely wanting to visit the territory is stopping me from going there. It sometimes makes me wonder whether mere phone calls and e-mails between me and US customers are safe from this. Though that does not hit me directly or visibly - yet.

        And of course, last but not least, the USA is pushing many other countries to implement intrusive laws similar to their own. And even in that way the USA legislation is reaching me.

        If only through air travel, middle class America has been impacted. Look at the state of the airliners: that they are still going bankrupt one after another can not be just because the fuel cost is up. It is also because there are so much less passengers: a direct effect of the anti-terror legislations, so much security hassle, and I can't stop thinking "oh, so much security, then really everyone is trying to get us! Must be dangerous in the skies!". Airlines going bankrupt means more unemployment, etc. It is not that the US economy is doing so well, and making people live in fear is not known to give a great stimulus to your economy.

        So middle class America is hit by these measures, they just probably do not realise how much, and their politicians will never dare to explain.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BitZtream (692029)

          (I consider the USA as one of the main causes of terrorism - which I loosely define as "violent attacks on civilian targets not taking place in a war zone").

          The main cause of terrorism is from terrorists. I blame that all on your country, whatever it happens to be, because I feel like making a retarded statement too. While I'm at it, I'm defining your home as a war zone.

          Also the enormous amount of information demanded by the USA on air travelers going there is an issue. Doing business with the USA is an

    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:45AM (#24172401)
      FISA represents a shift of power from the people to the government. So politicians are more for it than the general population.
  • At least (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:14AM (#24172211)

    there are people who still believe in the Constitution out there. They have my support.

  • hooray sortof (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mambosauce (1236224)
    i'm glad to see someone still loves the constitution, but the aclu will fail as always
    • Re:hooray sortof (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:19AM (#24172243)
      As a non-American, watching from the sidelines, I have to say that it's nice to see someone at least try to stop the erosion of freedoms in your country. It may get to the point where you really wish you'd done something earlier.
      • by pxlmusic (1147117) <pxlent@gmail.com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:21AM (#24172255) Homepage
        you're right, i should have started saving my lobbyist bribe money at a much earlier age.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dodecalogue (1281666)
          I think this is a good point, actually, in that it shows that many people around the globe like to come across as more informed about america than the americans, but when you're able to see the same sort of parroting that you see in the ignorant unwashed american masses or whatever ("americans are dumb, they elected george w bush twice and he is ruining the world" "lol yeah") you realize that hickitude and groupthink and reductive summaries of large groups of people is a worldwide bug/feature.
    • Re:hooray sortof (Score:5, Informative)

      by magarity (164372) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:28AM (#24172295)

      but the aclu will fail as always
       
      Fail as always? What are you smoking? They frequently win. Don't forget their former solicitor general is on the supreme court.

    • You dare to mention the ACLU and the Constitution in the same sentence?

      The ACLU doesn't give two shits about the Constitution, and they never have. Thanks to the ACLU's reaction to the D.C. v. Heller decision [aclu.org], many more people are finally realizing that the ACLU's true purpose is to champion causes of the Left, and nothing more.

      Yes, Heller was a 5-4 decision. But the important point is that all 9 Justices (in the opinion and the dissents) agreed that the Second Amendment protects an individual, not a

  • Hey Obama! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:14AM (#24172215)

    I am half tempted to tell those solicitors for presidential campaign donations that I gave their $150 donation to the ACLU instead.

  • by matthaak (707485) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:20AM (#24172247) Homepage Journal
    ...such complaints by the surveilled would be connected tenuously to terrorism.
  • Standing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:41AM (#24172369)
    We've been here before. The ACLU doesn't have standing to bring the case unless they have a plaintiff who can show that s/he's been the subject of an unConstitutional investigation, and the law allows the Government to claim a "State secret" basis for refusing to confirm that any particular individual fits the bill.

    Therefore, regardless of whether the law itself is Constitutional, it can't be reviewed by the courts.

    • Re:Standing (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:05AM (#24172541)

      ACLU already listed the plantiffs in their case. [aclu.org] Let's not forget, the only reason for FISA was because the ACLU has already won, warrantless wiretapping is illegal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Therefore, regardless of whether the law itself is Constitutional, it can't be reviewed by the courts.

      a self-locking exclusionary law. no way to prove any damages because - ITS ALL IN SECRET!

      niiiiice.

      we seem to have the best congress that money can buy.

      does anyone know which vendors sell constitution toilet paper? I'd like to buy some rolls and mail them to my congressman. I doubt they'll get the message but it would be more productive than just typing your feelings into a letter they'll just 'bin' anyw

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rpillala (583965)

      That's if the ACLU includes the wiretaps and surveillance that have been conducted in the past. A constitutional challenge to a law can be about what the law allows that the constitution prohibits. From reading the summary (I know I'll go read the complaint in a minute) it seems that the complaint is purely that the law gives powers to the executive that the constitution disallows. I didn't see any mention of the retroactive immunity in the summary.

  • by Etherwalk (681268) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:41AM (#24172371)

    If this winds up going to the Supreme Court over the Right to Privacy, it could give them an excuse to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  • Inconsistency (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vijayiyer (728590) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:53AM (#24172475)
    People have been trading freedom for security for decades now - whether it's in the form of expanded FISA powers, or in the form of restrictive gun control, Social Security, etc. People set up the slippery slope whenever they decided that the Constitution should be ignored for their benefit, and now we all pay the price.
  • I'm curious... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gravesb (967413) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:03AM (#24172525) Homepage
    I'm curious how many people here have read the legislation instead of reacting to sound bites on TV. I mean, it does increase protection over what has been afforded since 2007, and while not the ideal of increasing protection back to pre-2001 levels, it at least restores some freedom.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Freedoms are NOT to be restored, granted or removed. Many of the Freedoms they are discussing are our inalienable rights. THEY DO NOT control them. They do not grant them, and as such they cannot take them away. The Constitution is not an enumeration of our rights, but the government's limitations and recognition of the rights or the people.
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:08AM (#24172557)

    We all know the word. We all have an idea of what it means. But is there a legal definition of "terrorism" already? Something that clearly defines what a terrorist is, and under which someone can be charged for being terrorist?

    We have clear definitions of "rape", what has to be done to make an indecent assault become "rape". We are quite clear what is "indecent assault". Murder, in all it's gradations from criminal negligence causing death to first degree premeditated murder, it is clear. We know what someone has to do to become murderer. Or rapist. Or thief.

    But what does someone really have to do to become a terrorist? Be scary? Then everyone celebrating Halloween may be a terrorist. Being foreigner, and having ideas that oppose the American culture? Can't be enough to be a criminal.

    It is really high time to define: what is a terrorist. Then, and only then, we can make this kind of laws actually work, without all kinds of unintended(?) side effects. Then also the risk of being thrown in jail just for being "a terrorist" without clear accusations can go. And of course, only when we define "terrorist" we can accuse people of actually being one, and judge them accordingly.

    • We all know the word. We all have an idea of what it means

      This bill has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with saying whether or not the USA can spy on people in other countries who may be talking to people in ours. Right now, this is in the cause of "fighting terrorism", but it could just as easily be used against drug trafficking, counter intelligence, quite literally, all the stuff the CIA/FBI does.

      Has anyone ever thought how much the government might be interested in monitoring the

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grym (725290) *

        This bill has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with saying whether or not the USA can spy on people in other countries who may be talking to people in ours.

        Nope. The previous FISA laws gave them that exact same power but they just had to go through a secret court up to three days after the surveillance began. There can't be an argument that such an arrangement interfered with the process because it, literally granted 99% of the cases that ever came to it (IIRC, only two requests were

  • Partisan Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steveaustin1971 (1094329) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:47PM (#24173295)
    My biggest concern would be that these wiretaps would be used to promote one parties agenda. We have already seen how the administration has been "cleaning house" by going after democratic judges and attorneys, I wouldn't put it past them to use this to go after people who's views don't jibe with theirs. They used the National Security letters a few thousand times against people with no terrorist ties, and are not exactly transparent in much that they do, nevermind that they are taking away the right of people to have their day in court over the warrantless wiretapping that has already gone on, and new allegations of corruption pop up regularly.
  • by Drake42 (4074) * on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:12PM (#24173493) Homepage

    Obama was smart to vote for this, even though he opposed it!

    1) It would have passed anyway without his vote
    2) McCain abstained, so Obama can hammer him as being 'weak' on terrorism and bring more Republicans away from the McCain camp.

    It's just like any other tactical game. If you give away something that doesn't matter (a vote on a lost cause) to gain something valuable (a weapon against your opponent) then you're playing a smart game.

    • by Mr2001 (90979) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @05:50PM (#24175481) Homepage Journal

      Obama was smart to vote for this, even though he opposed it!

      Not necessarily. Obama's fundraising involves getting a lot of small donations from people who are excited about him as a candidate, because they think he represents a new kind of politics and/or they're sick of the Bush administration's abuses (like warrantless wiretapping).

      If he tarnishes his brand by doing stuff like this, he pisses those people off, and the money dries up.

  • This is not FISA (Score:5, Informative)

    by reydeyo (1126459) <reydeyo.gmail@com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:50PM (#24173789)

    FISA was passed back in 1978 after the Nixon abuses. This bill, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, sought to legitimize the President's warrantless wiretapping program that was illegal under FISA - because that's what FISA was designed to prevent! President Nixon did the exact same thing this administration is getting away with. I guess Congress actually had the balls to rein in abuses of power back in the seventies, even with the Cold War, the Soviet Union, and the possibility of nuclear annihilation hanging over them.

    It appears that Congress today has turned into a gaggle of cowards.

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