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Senate To Reconsider Wiretap Immunity 222

Posted by kdawson
from the true-patriots dept.
bughunter passes on a report from Wired Threat Level about the effort by Democratic lawmakers to roll back some provisions of the Patriot Act. Three of its provisions expire at the end of this year, and the reform attempt is expected to be attached to legislation to renew them. "Lawmakers are considering key changes to the Patriot Act and other spy laws — proposals that could give new life to lawsuits accusing the nation's telecommunications companies of turning over Americans' electronic communications to the government without warrants. On Oct. 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee likely will consider revoking that immunity legislation as it works to revise the Patriot Act and other spy laws with radical changes that provide for more government transparency and more privacy protections." Among the other likely goals of reform efforts, according to Wired, are limiting the government's power to issue National Security Letters, and limiting "black bag" searches to cases of spying or terrorism — 65% of past searches were authorized in drug cases.
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Senate To Reconsider Wiretap Immunity

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  • by Agilulf (173852) <jfriendNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:14AM (#29538661)

    What were the other 34% of unconstitutional searches for? My understanding is that only 3 out of over 700 warrantless searches and wiretaps were for cases that involved terrorism. This is why there were FISA courts in the the first place to prevent these kinds of abuses. Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave, that is until someone decides to declare you an enemy of the state.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:16AM (#29538677) Journal
    Out of curiosity, what were the other 32% of the NSLs used for?

    Espionage investigations? Non-drug-related money-laundering? Smuggling?

    Copyright violations?

    OK, I'm kidding about the last one. Kind of.
  • by TheCarp (96830) * <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:47AM (#29538931) Homepage

    > The worst part is, these laws cause the very problems they allegedly were written to combat. For example, "marijuana
    > leads to harder drugs". Well DUH, of course it does; the same people who sell pot sell the other drugs. "Got any weed,
    > man?" "No, dude, it's dry. I have lots of coke, though, good shit, too." Then there's "think of the children!" Odd how
    > it's easier for a teenager to buy pot than beer or cigarettes, and easier for a teenager to get than for an adult.

    Actually, thats kind of BS anyway. Most "dealers" specialize in the one or two things that they do themselves. Somewhere around 80% of "drug dealers" are just users selling to support their own habit. Many of them are a lot closer to the person who gets a few friends together to go in on getting a large quantity of something at the local wholesale club than any sort of organized business.

    The simple fact is that, if you take away all the pot smokers, thats more people than ALL the other illegal drugs combined. So if there is a "gateway effect" it seems to me like its just an artifact of there being so many potheads and so much variability and that users of other drugs tend to just want to "get fucked up" and tend to be indiscriminate about what they use.

    That is, people who will shoot heroin and snort coke tend to be less picky about what drugs they use than people who smoke pot. Hell, some pot smokers dont even drink much alcohol, and you need go no further than junkie author William S Borroughs' book Nake Lunch to find a description of how pot smokers look down on and disdain junkies. An attitude that I can personally say I have witnessed.

    The gateway drug theory has been fairly debunked. However, it has been shown that graduates of the DARE program are more likely to use drugs as teenagers than kids who didn't go through the program.

    -Steve

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99@gmP ... m minus language> on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:51AM (#29538979)
    Qwest did exactly that! They refused without a specific court order.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:00AM (#29539081)

    Honestly, I was still a kid when the Bush administration was frolicking around doing this, and I wondered why adults would let anyone do something so corrupt and insanely evil to them.

    Because too many people's brains shut down when they hear the word "terrorist." Tell people that you're going to round up folks and ship them off to a prison where they'll sit for years without any trial and people will oppose it. Tell people that those folks are suspected terrorists and their brains shut down and they nod in agreement. With their brains shut down, they don't think about abuse of power at all.

    Add in party loyalty and abuse of power allegations get answered with "But he's a respected member of Party X! Everyone in Party X is looking out for my interests. Not like those traitors in Party Y!" They don't stop to think that, even if the "Party X" member isn't abusing his power, he could easily be voted out of office and replaced by someone from Party Y. Then, of course, those same people will proclaim: "It's obvious that Party Y Politician is using powers that are unconstitutional! We've got to reign in this out of control government NOW! Toss the traitor out of office!!!" The fact that "their" party used the same powers doesn't matter. What matters is that the powers are only good when wielded by a member of "their" party (and then, sometimes only by an appropriately extreme right or left wing member of the party).

    Personally, I view all powers that the government requests with two questions:

    1. How can this be abused and are there mechanisms in place to prevent abuse?

    2. How would this be used by a politician who I disagree with on the issues?

    If I don't like the answers to either question, I can't support the granting of the powers, even if it would - in the short term - advance an issue I believe in.

  • Double Jeopardy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:13AM (#29539207) Journal
    I was pissed as all get out that the telcos got immunity for cooperating with an illegal government action. They should have had their asses nailed to the wall, as a reminder that businesses should not accept the government at its word about national security.

    At this point, however, I wonder if revoking the immunity is a good way to go. It's not quite the same as double jeopardy, since the companies were not acquitted by a jury, but it's close. In order for companies to function, they need some predictability. Congress' granting retroactive immunity to the telcos set a bad precedent. But having done so, revoking it also sets a bad precedent.

    On the other hand, is it ever late too late to seek justice?
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:34AM (#29539427)

    Qwest did exactly that! They refused without a specific court order.

    And in return Qwest was shut out of hundreds of millions of previously locked-in government contracts leading the CEO to go to prison on insider trading charges for making statements based on the expected revenues from those previously locked-in contracts.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:41AM (#29539503) Homepage Journal

    Just to note:

    Domestic crime was all but gone during prohibition, and other crime dropped dramatically. The only real crime was Mob on Mob crime, which will happen anyways.

    The newspapers put ANY crime they could on the front page and wrote editorials deriding prohibition. They lost a lot of money booze was no longer legal.

    "When prohibition was repealed, the alcohol wars between rival gangs ended."
    Yes, but domestic violence shot back up as well as many other crimes.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 25, 2009 @04:18PM (#29543521)

    No they weren't, and the CEO's dealing were a separate event.
    But you do ahead an use you confirmation bias to blindly see and follow non existent patterns.

    Yeah, sure.
    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_5719566,00.html [rockymountainnews.com]

  • by locallyunscene (1000523) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:05PM (#29544069)

    If you continue to read the article you linked past the first sentence and onto the second and third sentence it says:

    In a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department said the administration might consider âoemodificationsâ to the act in order to protect civil liberties.

    âoeThe administration is willing to consider such ideas, provided that they do not undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities,â Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general, wrote to Leahy, (.pdf) whose committee is expected to consider renewing the three expiring Patriot Act provisions next week. The government disclosed the letter Tuesday.

    The article is saying the same thing as the summary with different spin. Where TFS is focusing on the fact that congress is modifying the act to focus on terrorist activities instead of drug enforcement, YFA is focusing on the fact that the administration wants to renew the act with modifications.

    If the administration doesn't accept the modifications the congress made then I would say your comment is justified.

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