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Whistleblower Claims NSA Spied On Everyone, Targeted Media 717

Posted by timothy
from the puzzle-palace dept.
JCWDenton writes "Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA's warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists."
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Whistleblower Claims NSA Spied On Everyone, Targeted Media

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  • Is anyone shocked? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:15PM (#26562685)
    Is anyone shocked by this revelation? I'd be more surprised if investigations and prosecutions actually occur. Somehow, I have a feeling the Obama administration will want to try to move past Bush's abuses of power as soon as possible in the name of "change," rather than focus on all the bullshit that went on during the past eight years.
  • Re:Lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:15PM (#26562687) Homepage

    Well, with a big enough claim, questions start getting asked. Big questions.

    Is it true? Prove it!

    Is it false? Prove it!

    Either way learning happens, and that's a good thing right?

  • Can I get a Duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:16PM (#26562693)

    The taps that were set up for the NSA were at the backbones, where they had access to all communications, incoming and outgoing. Since it is impossible, even for the NSA, to know with 100% certainty who was at the end of each communication, they would have had to collect everything, as well as store everything. At that point, it is irrelevant what they said they did with the mountains of data they collected.

    Finally, it is also impossible to create a classification system that just happens to ignore american citizens during its training/creation phase. Again, it means that it is guaranteed that the NSA would be able to classify the groups involved in the communication. And again, it is irrelevant that the NSA said "Trust us, we're ignoring all of that."

    The only real news is that the NSA didn't even internally pretend that they were only interested in communications with or between foreign agents. Everything else has been predicted the instant it became apparent that wiretaps were being done without oversight.

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:18PM (#26562753) Homepage

    If papers start reporting on our efforts to do surveillance of al Qaeda agents in this country communicating outside and their flow of money, I would start tapping all of the calls going in and out of the NY Times.

    FDR, Lincoln, and any serious President would do the same thing.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:19PM (#26562769) Homepage Journal
    The person bush & co appointed to department of justice screened fifty applicants and more for their political views. people who told even positive stuff towards gay rights, abortion, any liberal issues even on the internet were screened with the help of a 'special software'.

    dont believe me ? well, the woman confessed to all this and more in front of senate committee investigating the issue. 'i have made a mistake' she said. mistake, fifty times.

    it would be utterly stupid for any person with a brain cell to believe that an administration which is capable of doing that would not exploit wiretapping for their own political purposes.
  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SputnikPanic (927985) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:20PM (#26562787)

    Why would it be a good idea to go to a partisan journalist? If you're going to blow the whistle on something and you want to be taken seriously, then doesn't it make sense to take it to a journalist who is generally respected regardless of one's political leanings?

  • Re:Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:21PM (#26562797)

    "Some people just want to believe this stuff so much they'll grasp at any old straw that agrees with their narrow view of the government."

    That might apply to you as well. You don't think its possible that the government might spy on journalists? It's been proven to have happened with at least one administration (Nixon) in my lifetime.

  • by squoozer (730327) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:22PM (#26562817)

    It is a sad state of affairs but if you adopts the view that everything you say and do may be monitored by the government without redress then your view is probably not far from what is happening.

    The problem with this monitoring is that it's almost impossible to stop or control because by it's very nature it's kept very secret.

    I imagine in the future we will end up with a revolution and lots of people will die, that's typically what happens when the ruler is doing something the majority of the populace doesn't agree with. Before you shout that the majority of the population are sheeple and just "think of the children / terrorists" I think the real problem is that they aren't well informed and very time poor and if they knew what was going on and they would disagree strongly.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@nosPAM.mindless.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:22PM (#26562825) Journal

    You kids were born too late to remember McCarthy, and Hoover's FBI, apparently.

    That's why it is news. Sadly, every generation seems to need to learn first hand that the government that says "trust us and don't ask questions" can't be trusted and should be questioned.

  • Re:Lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:23PM (#26562853) Homepage

    Seems like a pretty good way to test the new openness mandate recently enacted by Obama. Submit a FOIA request to the NSA for any records, information, recordings, etc made of you and see if they reject it. This would be especially interesting if a journalist for a major network (Olbermann himself perhaps?) were to submit the request for his own information, since they supposedly targeted journalists.

    Of course, since the NSA tends to exist on the fringes of legality anyway, they'll probably just claim there's nothing there even if there is, but it could be an interesting exercise.

  • by qbzzt (11136) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#26562923)

    Well, with a big enough claim, questions start getting asked. Big questions.

    Is it true? Prove it!

    Is it false? Prove it!

    It might be possible to prove these allegations are true. How would you go about proving they are false?

  • by philspear (1142299) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#26562929)

    I understood what it meant, my point was that it was different from what the headline said (or at least implied.)

    To make a pointless car metaphor, it's like if you're trying to sell a junked car, and you put in the ad "will run like new!" when it doesn't have an engine, your rationale being it will run like new once you put a new engine in it.

    This is not the NSA spying on everyone, this is the NSA being ABLE to spy on everyone. They could have spied on me, yes, but as he pointed out in the article, they didn't spy on EVERYONE.

  • by jamie (78724) * Works for Slashdot <jamie@slashdot.org> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#26562945) Journal

    Political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow [thismodernworld.com] reminds us about

    that oddly specific moment where Andrea Mitchell, in the course of interviewing New York Times reporter James Risen about his reporting on the NSA and government wiretapping, asked if he knew anything about the administration spying on Christiane Amanpour â" a question the network promptly scrubbed from the transcription.

    I'd forgotten about that incident [americablog.com].

    The Bush administration has its own list of scandals, of course. But just as significant a scandal may be the way that our so-called media hid from its audience the true scope of government wrongdoing. Recall that the New York Times sat on the NSA wiretapping scandal for a year before it thought it was time to let us citizens know. If it turns out that the industry that was supposed to be keeping the public informed about things like violations of the Constitution by top elected officials was deliberately concealing that information, it may be time to reconsider whether we have a press in America that's worthy of the name, and what we can do about it.

    Anyway, Tom Tomorrow asks what other revelations about the Bush administration are likely to follow. Anyone have any ideas?

  • Re:Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msuarezalvarez (667058) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:30PM (#26562959)
    Of all the biases exhibited here at Slashdot---and there are many!---the bias favoring low-id users is probably the most idiotic.
  • GOOD (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:31PM (#26562981)

    "Tice told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists."

    The Pecking order for paradise at the bottom of the ocean-
    1) Lawyers
    2) Journalists
    3) Terrorists

        We have too many of all of the above and culling the herd is way overdue!

  • by VeNoM0619 (1058216) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:34PM (#26563043)
    Considering the fact it can be illegal to carry a lobster smaller than a certain size is illegal. Anything [dumblaws.com] is considered illegal. So why did you post this as anonymous coward? What are YOU afraid of?
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:35PM (#26563061) Homepage Journal

    No.

    Even if his specific accusations were correct (and I'm not granting that they were), he's still not a hero. He used those accusations to create an environment where freedom of speech and association were curtailed. His House committee attempted to change the meaning of "American" from "supporting the Constitution" to "opposing Communism, even at the expense of the Constitution". Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed in the end, although it took too long and cost too much in terms of lives damaged. Altogether a sad blight on the record.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RabidMoose (746680) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:35PM (#26563065) Homepage
    Considering that he's already signed an order to close Gitmo within the year (and immediately stop all ongoing trials there for at least 120 days), I'd say we're off to a good start.
  • by jamie (78724) * Works for Slashdot <jamie@slashdot.org> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:38PM (#26563129) Journal

    The only real issue is the questionable legal landscape that existed from 2001 to 2007 and briefly again in 2008 after the expiration of the Protect America Act.

    So you're saying the only real issue is that the President of the United States broke the law from 2001 to 2007.

  • by GameMaster (148118) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:39PM (#26563145)

    No, they didn't actually read every e-mail. They didn't even read a significant fraction of them. But, they did categorize every one by who sent them and who received them and then archived them for future use. That's the part that should scare everyone. Even if you happen to like/trust the current administration (or happened to like/trust the previous one), you and your descendents are going to live through many more presidencies. The legal red-tape that people like Bush & Cheney worked to eliminate wasn't, necessarily, meant to stop them it was meant to stop the true monster that will, inevitably, get into office someday. It's almost a guarantee that, some day, someone on the order of Hitler will sneak his/her way into office (Note: This isn't a Godwin as I'm not trying to suggest that Bush & Co. are like Hitler themselves.). When that happens, those limitations on government power are the only thing that has a chance of stopping them. The more we water them down, the more we guarantee his/her future success at destroying this country.

    Even in the short term, this kind of illegal invasion of privacy can, easily, lead to lots of people being hurt. Just look at the improper/illegal attorney firing in the Department of Justice under the Bush administration. They went through and fired anyone they thought had connections with political/social views they didn't like. People lost their source of income and the government became much more politically polarized. The kind of info archived by a program like what this guy is suggesting could be used to make similar, illegal/improper, witch-hunt much more "efficient".

  • Re:Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Michael O-P (31524) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:42PM (#26563181) Journal
    Why do you feel that way? The nerds that have stuck around tend to have very valid opinions, even if I don't always agree with them. We have been on the net longer than most, and have a better perspective on this issues that keep popping up. Granted, some of the arguments get really circular, but there is wisdom in the old-timers.
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Prune (557140) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:44PM (#26563249)
    The article cites prof. Herman's research and the book "Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator". The book's scholarship is impeccable.
    Calling me a conservative idiot is not helping your case; anyone can throw around ad hominems and claim victory; that is not the sort of interlocution that should be on an intellectual site.
    I have only started to vote Conservative in the past two years as the Liberals here in Canada have become a disgrace. But this is simply choosing the lesser evil; I hold no allegiance to a particular political ideology, and disagree with conservatives on social issues, for example. Trying to pigeonhole me is a lame tactic.
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:45PM (#26563263) Journal

    This guy is a former colleague, and let's just say none of us that know him personally are surprised that he went all the way to the media to satisfy a grudge. The funniest part is that he never even had access on the level implied in this "story".

    Wow, in addition to being an atheist Muslim Canadian Joseph McCarthy loving stock analyst who uses SPICE in his circuit design work you're also a mid-to-high ranking spook at the NSA? And yet you still find time to post about it all on /.?

    Amazing. Simply amazing. If true.

    --MarkusQ

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:49PM (#26563325)
    Good start? You think the US Military just arrested those guys and had them brought all the way to Cuba for the fun of it??
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:51PM (#26563381) Homepage Journal

    Does it really matter if people were "commies"?

    Its just a political ideology, and just like the rest of them, it has good points and bad points. Discriminating, or ruining peoples lives in this case, against people because you don't personally like their opinion is wrong. This man based his whole life and reputation on this, therefore I would say it okay to "diss" him.

    Most of these people weren't "anti-American", they just had a different view of how the government should act, and possibly (justifiably) found the cold war a silly, destructive, thing.

    Hell, being anti-American isn't even a crime, much less being communist, or socialist. What the hell does "anti-American" even mean, really? I hated Bush, his policies, his wars, his abuse of the constitution; does that make me anti-American? I really dislike much of our culture; does this make me anti-American? I'm a social libertarian; does that? I'm not a fan of our economic philosophies and our view that they are superior to everyone else's (or worse, that their sinonymous with democracy or freedom); am I anti-American?

  • Re:Lame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AioKits (1235070) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#26563449)
    'Age' does not guarantee wisdom, would be my only complaint.
  • Re:Lame (Score:2, Insightful)

    by saintsfan (1171797) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:57PM (#26563509)
    well, he was right about the NSA wiretapping scandal wasn't he? actually, he wasnt just right, he helped break the damn story. another thing is, if you get a really bright analyst in a situation where things arent adding up, subterfuge if you will, it shouldnt be a surprise when they figure out whats really going on, or at least the jist of it.

    on the other hand, he worked for the nsa, so hes probably a liar. btw, i am a low-level analyst also, and management underestimates me all time. they usually find out soon or later.
  • Re:Lame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:01PM (#26563581)

    Why do you feel that way? The nerds that have stuck around tend to have very valid opinions,
    Evidence for that claim?

    even if I don't always agree with them. We have been on the net longer than most,
    You registered on a specific website earlier than some. What does being on the net even matter when discussing such issues? It is also no indication of anything other than the first time you registered with Slashdot.

    and have a better perspective on this issues that keep popping up.
    Again, it identifies nothing but the order in which you registered on Slashdot. It conveys no special insight.

    Granted, some of the arguments get really circular, but there is wisdom in the old-timers

    There is also Alzheimers in old-timers, which might actually help explain the circular arguments ;)

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:02PM (#26563597) Journal

    Would the parent have been modded troll if he made the same observation about going on Bill O'Reilly? To a lot of us, Olbermann is in the same league as him (he just chooses different topics to manufacture outrage over) and it's pretty hard to take him seriously.

    And regardless of what you think of him do try and remember this: Olbermann is not a reporter. He's a commentator. It seems to me like a lot of people have forgotten the difference between the two.

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:03PM (#26563601) Homepage

    I don't think such a journalist exists. Certainly not on any of the big news networks.

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:05PM (#26563631) Journal

    After all the bennies the outgoing failministration gave FoxNews

    Your concern smells trollish.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    (emphasis obviously mine)

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superbus1929 (1069292) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:11PM (#26563725) Homepage
    To-may-to, to-mah-to. It doesn't matter if it's to Olbermann or O'Reilly. They're BOTH useless. They're BOTH mindlessly partisan. And they BOTH should be marginalized.

    We need less O'Reilly and Hannity, but we also need less Olbermann, because Keith is nothing but a blue O'Reilly to begin with.
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:14PM (#26563773) Homepage Journal

    You kids were born too late to remember McCarthy, and Hoover's FBI, apparently.

    So how old are you, grandpa? I'm closing in on my sixth decade, but McCarthy happened when I was a toddler. Hoover's FBI was never reported until Hoover was already burning in hell.

    You might have mentioned "I am not a crook" Nixon, I voted for that asshole. he had an "enemies" list (much like many slashdotters), and that list included many journalists.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:16PM (#26563833) Homepage

    Quite the spin you've put on a quote that doesn't even indicate OUT of context what you're claiming.

    Obama is simply being careful and pragmatic. Not making snap judgments is good enough advice for anyone. Saying he approves of torture because he doesn't make a snap judgment before knowing all the facts is inaccurate, and dangerous.

    Wasn't one of the major complaints about the Bush administration that they made snap decisions based on ideologies without considering facts, or even after MORE information is available? i.e. Steven Colbert's:
    "The president believes the SAME thing on Wednesday that he believed on MONDAY.. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED ON TUESDAY!"

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:18PM (#26563865)

    I'd argue the problem he is trying to fix is the loss of our credibility (aside from the moral issues) from claiming to be for human rights (and against torture), but practicing torture...

    tl;dr The problem is we are doing torture. How is it 'fixing a symptom' to close the places where torture is allowed to happen?

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:18PM (#26563871)
    That depends on how you weight the issues surrounding what McCarthy did. We are talking about a man who undermined basic rights, including the right to free speech, all in the name of catching people suspected of "anti-American." One of the reasons why America is a haven for political refugees is that we do not, or are not supposed to, persecute people for what they say and who they associate with, especially in political matters such as communism. It does not matter whether or not McCarthy captured communists, because the US government is not supposed to be in the business of hunting people down over their political beliefs. It is irrelevant whether statistically or economically what he did led to a numerical benefit if the basic rights that we take for granted were snatched away in the process. I would sooner see America stop existing entirely than see the right to speak freely and the right to hold any political position taken get away from the citizens of the USA.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:21PM (#26563923)

    Even if they were TRYING to respect the 4th amendment and the traditional NSA distinction between foreign and domestic spying, it wouldn't matter with this type of collection. Such a large fishnet would inevitably yield *way* more "false positives" than actual criminal calls. I would not be surprised if this program didn't even catch a single true terrorist of foreign threat.

    This leads to the inevitable question of whether sussing out foreign threats was even the program's *intention* (rather than just its justification). If the guy in this article is telling the truth, it would seem that it was never about foreign threats to the U.S. at all, but rather about spying on domestic threats to the Bush Administration and plugging leaks (a la Richard Nixon's plumbers [wikipedia.org]).

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:21PM (#26563947)

    Many posts on this thread are interesting. The journalist is attacked. The analyst is attacked. The story is attacked.

    But the bottom line is: Nobody really knows anything. And that lack of knowledge is unacceptable. Congress is responsible for this. Congressional oversight of our spy agencies is their damn duty. And CONGRESS has let us down.

    If this analyst's statements are false, we should be hearing assurances of that fact by our representatives and senators. The silence of the congressmen is deafening. They are betraying our trust in them.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:29PM (#26564075) Journal

    The question is, when one of the released guys goes and blows up something big and important, will BHO take full and complete responsibility for it, or will he blame GWB and Gitmo for it.

    You see, there is a ready made excuse for anyone being released doing something horrible. The question is, are you WILLING to accept that when it happens, and what the hell are you going to say to the families of those that have died?

    Even if we are all "Nicey Nicey" some people will STILL hate us. And they will STILL try to blow shit up because of that hatred. Liberals can never understand this, which is why they are perpetual victims.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:29PM (#26564081)

    You do realize that there are military prisons in the United States, right?

    Bring them to the States and then there's absolutely no defense for not giving them a trial. They shouldn't be released out-of-hand; every one of them should be investigated and, if there's evidence, tried. Only if there's no evidence or the verdict is "not guilty" should they be released.

  • by oGMo (379) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:30PM (#26564095)

    Low ID users have been around longer, probably have more "alignment" with the community mentality, and just more experience commenting. Thus it's likely they get modded up. I doubt many people look at IDs before moderating.

    And I've got a low ID, so that makes it true.

    ;-)

  • Re:*NOT* Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by purpleraison (1042004) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:32PM (#26564137) Homepage Journal

    Disgruntled ex-employee makes accusations with zero evidence. News at 11 I guess.

    This guy was just an analyst, not some super high ranking official. The type of data he was privy too was low level and generic.

    You have no clue what an analyst is, do you?

    High ranking officials often make it a point to *NOT* know, or be informed of, things that may jeopardize themselves politically and legally. Analysts on the other hand, are the people who ACTUALLY DO the Top Secret work the public never hears about.... unless an analyst blows the whistle on illegal, immoral, unconstitutional acts ordered by (in this case) Bush and Cheney.

    Read a book or something....sheesh.

  • by divisionbyzero (300681) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:36PM (#26564195)

    to get on television. He may be telling the truth but I don't think I'd ever believe him. His stories sound like delusions of grandeur to compensate for being fired. I guess that fills my arm-chair psycho-analysis quota for the day.

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:44PM (#26564361)
    O'Reilly is definitely on the right, but he isn't the raving lunatic that is Olberman. Olberman's positions are the extreme of the extreme. I only hope his opinion represents a smaller number of people than his fervor indicates.
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:45PM (#26564369) Homepage Journal

    At the same time, I believe there should be social consequences for undermining the US in the way I see communist sympathizers doing...

    This brings up a difficult question; what is the US (or any other country) and how can one actually undermine it short of selling secrets to hostile governments or terrorism? The way I see it, nations are only subjective constructs at worst, and (very) imperfect reflections of their population at best. When I state "I am proud to be American" what do I actually mean? To me I mean I'm proud of the philosophy behind our founders actions(if not how we apply it in practice), the geography, and to a less extent my fellow citizens. The government as a temporal body doesn't play into it, nor does its ideologies or expectations, nor does our economic model.

    I can be pro-American and anti-American government. I can also be pro-American and anti-Free Market.

    In fact, as my sig implies, I think it is often the more patriotic act to defy your government, than to obey it without thinking.

    McCarthy (and Hoover) was as much against communism, as he was against other social issues he decided fit the communist bill. If you look at Hoover's files, he was against black activists (acting in the spirit of our founders, IMO), and union organizers, as he was against actual communist activists. He was the bad type of conservative, in other words. He like how our culture was, and wanted to resist change, as much as he actually wanted to protect us from actual communists.

    but that does not mean they are all on the same level...

    This obviously is true. But how do we actually judge the merits? I personally find the classic "libertarian" on Slashdot to be far more harmful to America than the socialist element. The libertarian element, on the other hand, will say the opposite. How can we differentiate? I'd venture to say that we can judge based on the "principles" of the nation; does the ideology fit the foundations of the nation, and not the current popular whim? This even runs into trouble, since I'm sure a libertarian and a socialist will even disagree with the principles (or founders intentions) of the nation.

    My personal metric is a balance between what benefits EVERYONE in a society (not just the power elite), and maximizing the freedom of everyone in society. By freedom I don't mean the libertarian economic sense, but the ability to actually be who you want to be with the maximum amount of autonomy, and the minimum amount of tyranny. This includes the ability to have and form your own opinion of things, even if it is against the majority or popular opinion of the times.

    We can all agree (probably) that the Soviet style of communism is against the foundations of America (and most other democracies), and is generally against the tenets of freedom. Socialism on the other hand isn't, even if it is of the same origins as Communism. Fascism (by the original definition) is also against these principles, while libertarianism is benign.

    A hegemony of either socialists or libertarians, though, would be against these principles, obviously.

    I suppose a healthy government (a democracy) depends on OPPOSITION. Being against opposition, is generally a fool hardy move, and is generally less than a step away from pure tyranny. Enforcing your view of right is generally a bad thing, and is an irresponsible act for the government to take.

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:48PM (#26564425)

        I won't agree that it's nice that they record all my calls, emails, and movements. Their job isn't to be nice. Theirs, for the most part, is to gather intelligence. By monitoring journalists, that would put an extra 50,000 eyes and ears out there

    Nice theory. The only thing you forgot to mention, is that it's ILLEGAL for them to monitor communications starting and terminating in the US. I really don't care if it makes their job easier, or gets them more intelligence...it's ILLEGAL. They've been doing this all along, while saying they weren't. Bush, Cheney, Gonzales and Rumsfeld deliberately ignored the law and instructed NSA to do the same. The communications companies (with one exception) happily assisted in the process.

    You know, we have a Bill of Rights and a Constitution in this country, and we are all supposed to live by the rule of law. No one is above the law. *That's* why this is an issue.

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:04PM (#26564761)

    Actually he's got a point, although it's badly phrased and you made it seem worse by quoting out of context.

    Wanting Bush and his administration hung for treason

    because they're Republicans - that would be a partisan and biased position.

    Wanting Bush and his administration hung for treason

    because they violated the constitution, lied to the American people to start an unecessary war that would enrich their friends, and performed numerous other high crimes against the American people

    is a completely neutral and unbiased position.

    There has been plenty of evidence that the latter accusations are true, even if none of it has been presented in a court of law, and to recognize that and the inevitable consequences is neutral and unbiased. What we don't know is which specific individuals in the Bush administration are responsible, although it's pretty clear that, at the very least, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, and Bush were involved since a) they headed or influenced the departments involved (Justice and Defence) and b) provided guidance in specific meetings (at least regarding torture and wiretapping) and c) were ultimately responsible for the actions that happened as a result.

    OK, hung for treason might be a little harsh for Gonzales since his actions at Justice were criminal but perhaps not treasonous, i.e. limited to conspiracy after the fact. Nevertheless, treasonous actions were committed by members of the Bush administration and to want to see justice done in those cases is not a biased position.

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

    by LrdDimwit (1133419) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:06PM (#26564781)
    Wanting Bush hung for treason is totally biased. Treason is explicitly defined by the Constitution which you hypocritically claim you want to hang him for violating: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

    Bush has not levied War against the United States, nor has he made common cause with our enemies. Therefore he is not guilty of treason. He is most likely guilty of a host of other crimes, and of myriad unconstitutional acts, the sum total of which clearly would have warranted impeachment (too late now) and his probable removal by the Senate (if the trial was judicial and not political, which woujld have never happened). On top of that, criminal prosecution would also be warranted.

    Deploring the fact that none of this will ever happen is one thing; but Treason is the only crime expressly delineated in the Constitution, and it is that way for a very good reason: the English practice in times past of using treason as a conveniently ill-defined way to legally murder people who were too good at opposing you. Bush has done nothing to meet the definition which was specifically adopted to prevent politically sanctioned assassination -- therefore he is not (strictly speaking) a traitor.
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueskies (525815) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:07PM (#26564793) Journal

    What, like more than the +4,000 troops we've lost in the two wars we started and the +38,000 crippled/paraplegics?

    How could it possibly result in more lives lost than those missteps? Please, fill me in on how closing Gitmo is going to do that and cost us more than $600 billion dollars.

    Are we going to lose more lives than building strong alliances with other countries that help us gather intel against terrorists?

    Seriously, though. If our strategy is to destroy Al Qaeda and other terror networks, then we should have kept our eye on the ball. Secure Afghanistan. Stabilize Pakistan and drive Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of the tribal regions like Waziristan.

    Don't give me this at-all-costs bullshit about closing Gitmo. Of course it might cause some deaths--in the same way that giving people a fair trial might lead to some deaths because criminals will sometimes go free to commit more crimes.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:07PM (#26564797) Journal

    And that is both illegal and immoral. It is perfectly legal to advocate for communism in this country. Outing communists makes McCarthy a traitor, not a hero. Maybe someone should use the same tactics against you, to dissuade you from holding your un-American views.

  • Re:Naomi Wolf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:14PM (#26564915)
    Yeah and the media and "everyman" called her a lefty nut. Just shows how people's ideologies can obfuscate their critical thinking. I mean if Bush had the power to do it, with no checks and balances, why not? (from his POV). I'm just glad that it seems that this wiretapping wasn't done to effect the outcome of the elections. This stuff is scary, really fucking scary.
  • Re:Naomi Wolf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:21PM (#26565003) Homepage Journal

    I thought about it some more (haven't checked the video yet).

    If I recall correctly, she did say that her daughter was away at a summer camp and called, saying she'd sent several pieces of mail on different days. Wolf didn't receive any of this mail for weeks, and when she did receive it, all of it was visibly opened by a letter opener or other device (i.e. it wasn't mangled by the scanner). A neighbor or friend's daughter was there, too, and that person received her daughter's mail immediately.

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. (939033) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:22PM (#26565023) Homepage
    You just described me.

    I am politically conservative, but have made no secret of the fact, here on /. and elsewhere, that the Bush administration blatantly abused their power. I would love to have seen Bush impeached and on trial for violating his oath to uphold the Constitution. Because of the direction the Republican party took during the last eight years, I now fall more in line with the Libertarian political ideology than the Republicans'.
  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyphercell (843398) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:30PM (#26565159) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes, I swear to god, Fox News is just going for civil war. Those people seriously need to STFU. Partisan bias, partisan criticisms, and partisan opinions are all fine and to be expected in democracy, but Fox News is purely vitriolic partisan propaganda. The video I linked to would be tasteless and offensive if provided during a comedy show, but acceptable. When masked as the news they are placing their juvenile name-calling and slander in the same class as news coverage regarding things like nuclear proliferation and war in the middle east. For all their pandering to the soldiers in Iraq, my heart goes out to all the African American soldiers we have in the field that saw this.
  • Re:Well, duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tripdizzle (1386273) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:48PM (#26565453)
    Because there is no way a market or economy can straighten itself out if it is being systematically skewed by government interference. With gov't stimulus comes inflation, and then it just takes more time for wages to catch up to the price of goods, causing a period of time where pretty much all people are relatively poorer than they were before.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:58PM (#26565623)

    Well, you could show that this person was never in a position to find out about which people were investigated (i.e. was cleared to know about the existence of the program but didn't have access to the data or the people that saw the data). If he did have access to the data though, then...

    If he was just a disgruntled employee, he could have made public accusations as soon as he was fired to cause problems for his superiors. That he did so after a change of the political guard gives some credence to the claims.

    We have reason to suspect that the Justice department was politicized under Gonzales, and that his successor, while not as bad, still fought a rear-guard covering action. Senior Justice officials avoided investigating accusations of wrong doing in the department, may have fired US Attorneys for failure to perform partisan attacks on democratic candidates and leftist orgs, and blocked Congress from performing appropriate oversight in the last two years. Bringing out those accusations prior to now would probably just have told the criminals which documents and evidence to destroy. At least with a change of leadership, there's some hope that these accusations will be investigated fully instead of swept under the carpet and buried on page B22.

    And well, if this turns out to be true, the guy may be able to get his job back, back pay, and perhaps even a promotion. If he got fired because he wasn't happy to go along with the illegality that was happening, and was told to keep quiet or he'd be harassed and thrown in jail/prosecuted for "jeopardizing national security" if he went public, then the Justice department needs people like him who at least were willing to risk their job to try to uphold the law and the constitution.

    I'm hoping that at least a few people in Justice and Defense who, after seeing the writing on the wall for what was happening with whistle-blowers, decided to hunker down and gather evidence of wrongdoing for when the political winds changed. It's probably too much to hope for evidence dating back to 2003/2004, but there might be some escrowed juicy stuff starting after Katrina when polls showed the American people began being disenchanted with the Bush administration.

  • Re:Lame (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:11PM (#26565817)
    Well, the government did do illegal wiretapping by violating FISA rules in establishing the program without valid authorization in the first place. So they've been shown to have already broken the law on this issue, and then had it retroactively changed to whitewash what was publicly known about their crime. There really was no valid reason for the government to have broken the law in the first place since FISA was already quite lax. That makes quite a bit more credible this accusation that the lawbreaking was actually more severe than what has been proved so far. In for a penny, in for a pound.
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:22PM (#26565955)

    There is no need to inject partisan politics into this issue. Each individual congressperson (democrat or republican) bears responsiblilty for the lack of oversight in this matter.

    Burying the issue in accusatory partisan politics is only helpful to those who seek to kill oversight.

  • Re:Reactionary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dare nMc (468959) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:37PM (#26566169)

    Wanting Bush hung for treason is totally biased.

    agreed.

    Bush has not levied War against the United States, nor has he made common cause with our enemies.

    are you sure about that ( Plame affair [wikipedia.org])? I mean if Bush intentionally interfered with our CIA, our diplomants, and messed with the rightful secession of power from a dully elected president ( Al gore [wikipedia.org]) as he has been previously accused, then treason has indeed been alleged.

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

    by causality (777677) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:38PM (#26566201)

    It has always been an utter failure ...

    See, that's where you're wrong. It was a huge success in this case. They got hordes of intelligence on the domestic activities of U.S. citizens, without any need for public documentation or warrants, and nobody has gone to jail for it. In fact, the telecoms were granted blanket immunity from prosecution after the fact. Sure, they couldn't keep it up forever, but that was never the goal to begin with.

    No, I wasn't commenting on the intelligence-gathering or domestic spying itself. I was commenting on what that ultimately leads to. This kind of surveillance (only the technology with which it is done has changed) and lack of respect for the citizens has always been a core component of totalitarian dictatorships throughout history. I consider the widespread misery and suffering that all such dictatorships embody to be the "utter failure" and it's not like we don't have enough historical examples to know what the early stages look like.

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

    by Renegade Iconoclast (1415775) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:40PM (#26566233)

    Nonsense.

    It is not mindlessly partisan to insist on the rule of law in war, and adherence to the constitution always. That is Olbermann's main gig.

    Furthermore, Olbermann criticizes Democrats frequently. That also can't possibly be construed as "mindlessly partisan".

    The constitution is not a baby to be divided in the middle, and "both sides" given half of it. Calling someone partisan to dismiss everything they say is a lazy, intellectual cop-out.

    I could write a treatise documenting Bill O'Reilly's lies, but I would not call him a mindless partisan, either. I call him a loud mouthed bully.

  • by Gman14msu (993012) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:09PM (#26566629)

    And regardless of what you think of him do try and remember this: Olbermann is not a reporter. He's a commentator. It seems to me like a lot of people have forgotten the difference between the two.

    I know what the difference is.

    One is Jon Stewart and the other is Stephen Colbert.

  • by Shark (78448) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @09:41PM (#26569675)

    Ron Paul?

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

    by WNight (23683) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @10:53PM (#26570185) Homepage

    No, he's a dictator. I'm not aware of anyone voting to detain Maher Arar [wikipedia.org].

    Bush's big game was shipping people overseas where he could pretend the rules of the USA didn't apply. There he wholeheartedly supported torture.

    He's easily guilty of kidnapping, torture, and a few cases of murder. That's if you don't get into the issue of guilt over ordering an invasion on false premises, etc.

  • Re:Well, duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Falconhell (1289630) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:33AM (#26571205) Journal

    You sir are the worst kind of fool.

    In a free society, the number 1 freedom is freedom of belief. Number 2 freedom of speech.

    You quote right wing nut jobs as "references", and defend an evil alcoholic who ruined many lives.

    Just another troll, nothing to see here, lets move along.

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

    by tgrigsby (164308) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:45AM (#26571651) Homepage Journal

    Bush has not levied War against the United States, nor has he made common cause with our enemies.

    Unless you believe, as I and others do, that we have enemies within as well as without, and those enemies were better served by George Bush and Dick Cheney than any other administration in history. As PNAC signatories and NeoCon ideologues, they gutted this country in the pursuit of self-enrichment cloaked in the propaganda of securing the survival of liberty in this country by securing liberty in other countries. The destruction of our Constitutional freedoms, the looting of our treasury, the wasting of our military resources on unnecessary, fraudulently sold wars was a far more effective attack on this country than running planes into high rise buildings.

    According to Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]
    Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aided or involved by such an endeavour.

    By that definition, which expounds on the Constitutional definition and legal precedence, I charge that Bush and Cheney should be tried for treason based on the fact of their injury to the United States of America. Now you can argue my conclusion of treason, but you can't deny that they harmed our country, against all advice and evidence, to the point that the injury could be construed as intentional. And as such it shouldn't surprise anyone that people of this nation desired their impeachment, trial, conviction, and punishment for their crimes.

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein

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