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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 MikeRT (947531) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:02AM (#29538537) Homepage

    65% of past searches were authorized in drug cases

    That the War on Drugs has done more to rape civil liberties than any other government initiative in modern times.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:22AM (#29538731) Homepage Journal

      Indeed. But I think that's what the war on (some) drugs is really about -- a power grab that has turned the US into a police state. We have secret police ("plainclothesmen" and "undercover agents") only because of victimless crimes like drugs, gambling, and prostitution. We have the highest incarceration rate of any nation on earth, with a high percentage of them being non-violent drug prisoners.

      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.

      Don't get me started on drug gangs and their violence. When prohibition was repealed, the alcohol wars between rival gangs ended.

      We are a nation of fools, blindly following the leadership of the amoral.

      • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:35AM (#29538843)
        With the introduction of TV, they can scare us all into believing that drugs cause so much violence. With the hiding of history, they can make us forget that prohibition leads to violence.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        "For example, "marijuana leads to harder drugs". Well DUH, of course it does; the same people who sell pot sell the other drugs."

        I agree with what you are saying but I have to disagree with this statement. People lead themselves to harder drugs; true the same pot dealer sell other drugs as well but it is the choice of the buyer. The whole notion of Pot being a "gateway drug" is a remnant of the early 1900th propaganda. I'll believe pot being a gateway drug when someone provide definite proof that smoking

        • I think that pot is a gateway drug, but not for the reasons espoused by most other people who say it is. Pot is safe. It is not addictive and does not cause many health problems (relatively). But, THC is a schedule I drug while cocaine is a schedule II drug. Mushrooms are also schedule I (I think). I have seen quite a few people where pot has led to mushrooms which led to acid and then on to other things (some hard drugs). The reason this happens is because they are being told that drugs are bad, when
          • by Artifakt (700173)

            The last study I saw compared Pot to Alcohol and Cigarettes, and came to the conclusion that booze is the most 'gatewayish' drug, with Nicotine second. From what I remember, the study also compared the sample population by breaking it down into different age groups, some where all the drugs in question were illegal, some of ages where nicotine and alcohol were legal. Crunching those numbers was intended to help screen out some of the effects of differences in legal standing and get results that probably

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Well, you have the dumb kid or dumber young adult who tries pot, likes it, and finds that everything he's been told about marijuana is a lie. This leads him to believe that what he's heard about heroin and cocaine are lies, too.

          Of course marijuana itself doesn't lead to harder drugs. But the lies about it and the laws against it do.

      • 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 corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:19AM (#29539265) Journal

          In my experience, the only gateway effect of marijuana is when someone finally tries it and doesn't die of an overdose or go mad, they start to think "Hmmm, if the cops and politicians lied about the effects of pot, maybe they lied about all the other stuff, too? Might as well try some meth, what's the worst that could happen?"

          This is how my younger brother got hooked on speed and barbiturates, which led directly to his death of an overdose. He tried pot in high school, nothing bad happened, so he figured the other stuff couldn't be that bad, either. The idiocy fueled by the War on Drugs killed my brother.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            http://www.erowid.org/

            The truth is out there, don't let you or or your friends do any drug without research.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheCarp (96830) *

            It was probably more than that. Drug use tends to be a symptom of underlying issues more than a cause. He may have even been self-medicating for a condition that he didn't even realize that he had, and now nobody will really know. Though there have been published findings of connections betwene drug use and other mental disorders... what is cause and what is effect? There is also anecdotal evidence that some of the conditions most associated with certain drugs can actually be effectively medicated with them

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mayko (1630637)
        Interestingly enough... I have noticed that drug testing tends to push people towards harder drugs. Marijuana is a pain in the ass because it stays in your system for so long. Once people realize that drugs like cocaine don't have an overwhelming odor, can be used discretely and the metabolites are out of your system in 24-72 hours... they might switch drugs (if they don't mind the different high).
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745)

        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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Indeed. But I think that's what the war on (some) drugs is really about -- a power grab that has turned the US into a police state. We have secret police ("plainclothesmen" and "undercover agents") only because of victimless crimes like drugs, gambling, and prostitution. We have the highest incarceration rate of any nation on earth, with a high percentage of them being non-violent drug prisoners.

        The war on drugs is more a result of a strain of puritanism in this country than a conscious power grab, I thi
    • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:48AM (#29539569) Homepage Journal

      That the War on Drugs has done more to rape civil liberties than any other government initiative in modern times.

      Sort of. Really, there's an underlying attitude, motivation, or system of values, that created the war on drugs, and that ("government knows what is best for people and should have the means to force it") is what really rapes civil liberties.

      Citizens do not believe that people should have as many rights as, say, the Bill of Rights tries to protect. The constitution simply does not describe the relationship between people and government, that most people want. If you think the constitution is based on bad ideas, then it really is just ink on a page, not the law.

      And this is just how things are going to be, until people see reasons for freedom.

      This is why I get so disappointed with most pro-legalization advocates. They talk about drugs, not government. You aren't going to convince anyone that freedom is a good idea, by concentrating on minor details like the properties of some particular drug. Marijuana is a 100% irrelevant topic in discussions about legalizing marijuana. The only topic that really matters, is what powers government should have -- and which government (feds vs state vs local) should have them.

      And if that question is irrelevant, or if people think the answer is "the government should have the power to decide anything it wants to," then there's no such thing as "civil liberties."

      • by amplt1337 (707922)

        Government doesn't oppress people; people oppress people.

        The underlying attitude/system of values that created the war on drugs is puritanical abstemiousness, a kind of horror at the thought that someone, somewhere, might be having fun instead of working hard and fearing God. Many in the last fifty years would substitute "communism" for Cod in that phrase, but the implication is the sameâ"in order to be socially valuable, you have to be productive, serious, focused. It's a set of attitudes which have

  • I'd like to see a show of hands - who here thinks this will actually come to pass?

    Anyone? Anyone?

    Yeah. That's what I thought...
    • Re:Show of Hands (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spartacus_prime (861925) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:09AM (#29538613) Homepage
      You would think that, with a Democratic majority, this sort of stuff would pass without much trouble. This administration is too nice to the Republican minority.
      • Re:Show of Hands (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:15AM (#29538669) Homepage
        They're all owned for by the same 'campaign contributors', so why on earth would they be different? Are you saying that Democrats aren't enough honest enough to stay bought?
      • Re:Show of Hands (Score:5, Insightful)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:16AM (#29538683) Homepage Journal

        You would think that, with a Democratic majority, this sort of stuff would pass without much trouble. This administration is too nice to the Republican minority.

        It's not a Republican vs. Democratic issue. I know it seems like it, but it's not. The Democrats are going to put on a nice show for all of us to show us that they at least "tried", but in the end, this won't pass. Big telecom has powerful lobbies, and the TPTB in the military and civilian intelligence agencies have all deemed telecom immunity to be too important to national security.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by NoYob (1630681)
          Thank you.

          That's right. It annoys the piss out of me when folks, regardless of the issues, get in your face about how their party will fix the issue and how the other party caused it.

          The next big issue will be tax increases in 2010 - it's gonna happen even if there's a 100% Republican control in the Congress. But, that's another issue.

      • by tcopeland (32225) <tom&thomasleecopeland,com> on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:29AM (#29538791) Homepage

        Obligatory Onion: BREAKING: Democrats Hoping To Take Control Of Congress From Republican Minority In 2010 [twitter.com]

        But what do you expect? After all, as Biden said, some of the guys he campaigned for are turkeys [joebidensaidthat.com].

      • Re:Show of Hands (Score:5, Informative)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:51AM (#29538975) Homepage Journal

        The thing is, the Democrats are as power hungry as the Republicans. And the PATRIOT act was passed by a nearly unanimous vote.

        A pox on both their houses, I say.

        • yes, during a time of panic when all most all of their constituents wanted it. They did what the majority of the people they represented wanted. They did have the foresight to put in limitation and an expiration.

        • Re:Show of Hands (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jafac (1449) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:53PM (#29541753) Homepage

          oh- the Democrats did that (voted for PATRIOT) out of sheer calculating political cowardice.

          The NAZI era Germans called it the "zeitgeist" - the mind of the times, everyone was caught up in the frenzy, Germany was so fucked up (economically) after WWI, and the people wanted so badly to believe it was everyone's fault but their own. (dudes, you lost a war. . . that you started). Mass-denial, and failure to take responsibility for their actions (and consequences for WWI were huge, because it was a huge fucking clusterfuck of a war) - and desire to blame it on everyone else: the Jews, the Commies, the French - is what put Hitler into power.

          9/11 had the same exact effect on the US. (and I'm not buying into the terrorist notion that 9/11 was "the result of our mideast policies" - that's also childish blame-shifting. . . I'm just saying you don't blame and punish an entire culture for something that a few hundred whackjobs cooked up on their own). I think that the chickens of US imperialism and arrogance are coming home to roost, and the years following 9/11, Iraq, and all that crap, were part of it. Will the US suffer the devastation that Germany suffered after WWII? Look at photos of downtown Berlin after the Soviets got through with it. God, I hope not.

          Those who do not learn the lessons of History, are doomed to repeat it. And even those who DO learn the lessons of History, are doomed to sit by and watch others repeat it.

          So - to vote against USA PATRIOT would have been political suicide for the Dems. On the other hand, Obama's act of courage (voting against the Iraq war) is probably a big part of what got him elected. Some demographic of Americans still DO actually prefer political courage.

          That's not saying I would not have wanted my representatives to grow a fucking spine, and stand up for my rights. . . and what is objectively Right. That would have been nice, but I think it's expecting too much of people who, as a profession (career politicians), are generally deeply flawed individuals, in a system that generally rewards mediocrity, cowardice, and corruption.

          But this is what I mean when I say there is no FUNCTIONAL difference between Republicans and Democrats. Folks point out the obvious differences, and tell me, hey dude, that's not cool. Then I watch as a guy like Obama goes from "Yes we can!" to signing off on renewing the Patriot Act provisions, in the space of a couple of months. Dude; that's not cool.

          And no - there's no third-party in particular that I think would be any better. I think it's the system that's hopelessly broken, and incapable of steering us back onto the right track.

          I'm just stocking up on ammunition and canned food, and waiting for the inevitable, like everyone else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by corbettw (214229)

        Bwa-ha-ha-ha! You think there's a difference between Democrats and Republicans. That's too rich.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          There is a stark difference. Democrats win by promising to spend your money, and Republicans win by promising NOT to spend your money, but then spend it anyway once in office.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        This is all smoke and mirrors designed to make you think they are doing something about nothing.

        The problem is that the telecom immunity didn't give any immunity that wasn't already there. The Democrats know this, including Obama who not only voted for the immunity, but sent the justice department to court in February to defend it when the EFF attemped to get it shot down.

        Under the 1968 wiretap laws, if the government presented anyone a document stating the legal authority for the wire tap- that they were l

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        You would think that, with a Democratic majority, this sort of stuff would pass without much trouble.

        Why would I think that? The current president, who happens to be a member of the party you mentioned, had his Justice Department advocate against letting the wiretap case go to court. [eff.org] He also voted for telecom immunity when he was a senator last year. So even if something like this passes Congress, they don't just need a majority, they need a veto-overriding majority.

        Do you really think Democrats will "pas

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      I would say more I would like to see this chapter to end.
      You can't expect all companies to have a moral compass. That is why you needs laws and regulations. So when the US Governments goes and puts pressor to the Telecom companies, what would you do... Really and honest here...
      Are you willing to say no and have the government (which at the time was considered unstoppable) go after you. Or are you going to say yea lets go.

      A willing Pawn is still a pawn. If you are going to sue you should sue the people who

      • by amplt1337 (707922)

        You can't expect any company to have a moral compass. They're legally obliged not to.

        ftfy.
        So long as the good of the Shareholders has to be held above the good of the society, all companies have a profoundly malformed incentive towards socially destructive behavior.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:07AM (#29538587)

    The fine summary leaves out the minor fact that Obama is opposed to watering down the Patriot act.

    So much for hope and change.

    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:19AM (#29538693) Homepage

      I thought this was a troll, but it isn't.

      Obama Backs Extending Patriot Act Spy Provisions [wired.com]

      • and so it the author of the article. Read hisother stuff, he gets hit be misleading people to support an anti government stance.

        However, he still could cover up the fact that Obama thinks that FISA is a good thing. I would say that in situation where and immediate need is at hand, getting warrants in a reasonable time after the fact is a good thing.

        Not all of the PATRIOT act is bad.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          Not all of the PATRIOT act is bad.

          If I were to read about something good about it I might be able to agree with you, but nothing I have read is in any way good. What about the "Cowardly Government antiAmerican Act" is good? What is it about the misnamed PATRIOT act that isn't bad?

          I journaled today about The Cartoon Terrorist [slashdot.org]. It isn't in the national news, but the local paper (and all the local TV news) covered it. There was a plot to bomb the Federal Building here in Springfield (home of Ward 2 Alderman Ga

      • by locallyunscene (1000523) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:52AM (#29539609)
        The article you link doesn't say what you're saying. In fact it says the administration has the same stance as the summary. They're planning on renewing all three provisions, but including more protections for civil liberties.

        I'd much rather they simply let all three expire, but your implied assertions that the Obama administration is opposed to adding civil liberty protections to the bill and is at odds with congress are both unsupported.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MobyDisk (75490)

          In what way does the administration have the same stance as the summary?

          The summary says:

          Democratic lawmakers to roll back some provisions of the Patriot Act... revoking that immunity legislation... limiting the government's power to issue "national security letters," and limiting "black bag" searches...

          The original AC says:

          Obama is opposed to watering down the Patriot act.

          The article I linked to says:

          The Obama administration has told Congress it supports renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at year's end.

          supports renewing != limiting, rolling back. The only thing that indicates any similarity in thinking is this part:

          might consider "modifications" to the act

          might consider modifications != limiting, rolling back

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            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 c

  • Related: (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:08AM (#29538593) Homepage Journal

    Senate Democrats propose surveillance law changes [slashdot.org]Wednesday September 23, @08:29AM

    The AP is reporting [yahoo.com] (via yahoo) that Senate Democrats are actually trying to restore some of Americans' rights and freedoms that were lost when government panicked after 9-11.

    In making standards tougher for the government in secret requests to a special foreign surveillance court, the bill would require that the records sought be relevant to an investigation. At a minimum, the records must be linked to a suspected agent of a foreign power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      That's impossible. As every Slashdotter knows, there is not even the slightest difference between the two main political parties in the US and voting for either one is a futile and pointless gesture serving only to perpetuate the existing corporate/military/lobbiest complex.

      The idea that the Democracts are somehow going to roll back the Republican crackdown on freedoms. Or that President Obama is behaving any differently that McCain would in his place? Absurd I tell you. Absurd.

      No, no. It's clear that absol

      • by Zantac69 (1331461)

        As every Slashdotter knows, there is not even the slightest difference between the two main political parties in the US and voting for either one is a futile and pointless gesture serving only to perpetuate the existing corporate/military/lobbiest complex.

        OMF - you are giving far too much credit to the some /.ers as evidenced by plethora of posts of "Obama is selling us out...", "It's all Bush's fault...", ad nauseum.

        The issue is that most people really dont want absolute freedom - which is anarchy. These whingers demonize any restrictions that are placed on freedom (when they feel that their rights are being slighted) even though it is these restrictions that helps keep freedom free (how is that for an oxymoron).

      • by necro81 (917438)
        Ah, thank you! I have now received my recommended daily allowance of sarcasm.

        And yet I feel so sad and empty inside...
      • by amplt1337 (707922)

        Hold on there cowboy. It's entirely possible that there are major differences between the political parties, and Obama is still selling us out.

        The thing is, America has one party that's further right than the Spanish Inquisition, and another that in any other country would be a center-right, Christian-Democrat kind of party. Neither of these parties is particularly committed to either civil liberties or promoting the public welfare. Obviously if McCain were Prez, the world would be a much worse place (I

    • In making standards tougher for the government in secret requests to a special foreign surveillance court, the bill would require that the records sought be relevant to an investigation. At a minimum, the records must be linked to a suspected agent of a foreign power.

      That's actually somewhat smart as it would eliminate most of that "65% of requests for Drug Enforcement" business without subverting the core of the bill. I don't think that the core is needed anyway, but it at least narrows the scope substant

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:11AM (#29538625)
    As expected when they proposed it--the Patriot Act was not used as advertised.
    Just 3% of the "National Security" Letters were used for terrorism-related cases.
    65% of them were instead used for drug cases. So many of the actions taken by the Bush Administration to allegedly protect us from "Terrorists" were instead used for the meat and potatoes Law and Order issues the Republicans favor. Despicable!
    • 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.
      • Excellent question. The NYT story I heard did not break it down further than those two items.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:08AM (#29539163)

        Bypass Wired and NYT's filtering and read the source for yourself: the Administrative Office of the United States Court report on applications for delayed-notice search warrants.
        http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/SneakAndPeakReport.pdf

        You want Table 2, on page 6.

        Top categories in order of frequency of report: drugs, fraud, weapons, tax evasion, racketeering, "unspecified," fugitive, theft... terrorism is so far down the list that it doesn't get a percentage to show its proportionality. In terms of raw frequency, there were 843 drug-related reports, and 5 terrorism-related reports.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          That's only the delayed notice applications for warrants issued by a judge or administration order. It's always been legal to do this. The patriot act did nothing but extend the time of the delayed notice, provide a provision to renew the delay and include some extra information like the NSA letters.

          This was not the entirety of the NSALs, it is the entirety of all delayed notices issued.

          Federal law requires targets of warrants to be notified in a timely manor. The delayed notification law was passed in 1986

    • by SirLanse (625210) <swwg69@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:26AM (#29538761)
      I voted for the president that would protect me better. (Gore/Kerry were/are jokes) I got an Atty Gen that took short cuts. Absolutely Terrible. Hovever - What Exaclty is a phone company supposed to tell the FBI or CIA when they show up with a request from the AG/President? "No, you must get some local judge to ok that"? When that company wants to open a new office/expand/file tax returns will that "lack of cooperation" be held against them?
      • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:28AM (#29538789)

        Hovever - What Exaclty is a phone company supposed to tell the FBI or CIA when they show up with a request from the AG/President? "No, you must get some local judge to ok that"? When that company wants to open a new office/expand/file tax returns will that "lack of cooperation" be held against them?

        When you fear retribution from your own government for following constitutional laws, your government failed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by oyenstikker (536040)

          When you have a democracy and your government failed, you failed.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by ZekoMal (1404259)
            1. Vote in politician who promises to better education.

            2. Politician warps education to dumb down next generation.

            3. Think of the children collapses us all.

            4. Average voter stupidly votes in more corruption by the truck full, adamantly believing they have no choice but Corrupt A or Corrupt B.

            5. Politicians profit, people suffer.

            Therefore, it's our fault, and now we're too lazy and stupid to fix it. So uh, who wants to grab the first torch? I'll follow with the pitchfork. This country needs a good revol

      • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:51AM (#29538979)
        Qwest did exactly that! They refused without a specific court order.
        • 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)

            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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by sumdumass (711423)

            Not at all true.

            The contracts Qwest was locked out of were the contracts to move/route phone lines to central locations to make it easier to tap. In short, that's exactly what they refused to do so why should they keep contracts for work they refused to do. BTW, the moving of the phone lines were covered by the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act so it wasn't some moral protection the CEO was taking.

            In fact, the CEO's dealing were completely separate from this and the jury did not buy his

      • by necro81 (917438)

        Hovever - What Exaclty is a phone company supposed to tell the FBI or CIA when they show up with a request from the AG/President?

        Considering that complying with such a request without judicial approval is against the law? Yes, indeed, what should they have done?

        There were laws in place, the FISA court, an entire fucking apparatus for dealing with such requests in a way that balanced national security and civil rights. The telco lawyers and regulatory affairs offices knew of the apparatus, had interac

      • by amplt1337 (707922)

        I voted for the president that would protect me better.

        No you didn't. You voted for the president that scared you more.

        If you wanted to be safe, you would have voted for the other side, which would have promoted friendlier relations with our nation's enemies, thereby reducing the level of support in those countries for people who want to hurt us, and strangling terrorism at its roots. Instead we got the folks who think that you can kill off the dandelions by blowing away the seeds...

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        I would have thought that by 2004 it would have been clear that the Bush administration didn't give 2 pairs of dingos kidneys about protecting you. Actually, one could conceivably have figured that out in 2000 when you realized what Bush, Gore, and McCain were all doing in the late 60's.

        The image of Democrats not having the balls to protect you is simply unfounded.

      • by Hatta (162192) * on Friday September 25, 2009 @12:39PM (#29540903) Journal

        What exactly did Bush protect you from? Bush is responsible for more American deaths than Bin Laden is. You would not have been able to say the same about Gore or Kerry.

  • 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.

    • > 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.

      Make that 'illegal enemy combatant'. TFTFY.

  • 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 Chris Burke (6130) on Friday September 25, 2009 @11:42AM (#29540225) Homepage

      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.

      No, it sets a good precedent -- don't think you can break the law, and then have Congress retroactively cover your ass, because it won't stick. You want predictability? How about "obey the law as written, not as you hope it might be in the future"?

      Undoing the damage done by retroactive immunity is a good thing.

      On the other hand, is it ever late too late to seek justice?

      No, but... *shrug* The question is, among all the injustices done during the previous administration which will go unpunished, is it so important to punish this one? I'm not really sure. Frankly I tend towards the line of thinking that says "lets move on". It was a crazy time. We, as a nation, were crazy. A lot of people did bad things and ultimately I think most of them at some level believed they were doing good. Not just "I was following orders", but "I was following orders in order to Save America".

      I dunno. I'm very much against retroactive immunity, but at the same time I'm not so sure how diligently we should pursue prosecution for every violation of the law in the last 8 years. I am much more concerned with making sure it doesn't happen again in the future, and I'm not a big believer in punishment as a deterrent for future crimes. No criminal thinks they are going to get caught, and for a lot of the crimes in question the perps probably really believed they were not committing crimes. I'm not sure seeking justice in these cases is, you know, productive.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        If we go down this route, the precedent will be set that immunity from prosecution means nothing, that it can be revoked at any time. What are some of the possible consequences of this?

        * Anyone who is approached by a government agent to give testimony in exchange for immunity will have to wonder if that immunity will be taken away, leaving them open to prosecution all over again.
        * If a governor or other executive grants clemency, there's nothing stopping further prosecution for the same offense. After all,

  • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:26AM (#29539357)
    FTFA... limiting the government's power to issue "national security letters,"...

    Translation: The President of the United States does, in fact, NOT have the power to issue a royal decree which suspends the Constitution of the United States of American whenever he fucking feels like it. Nor do his minions have such authority. The laws regarding due process, privacy, unreasonable search and seizure, and so on, shall stand, and we are very, very sorry that we allowed the terrorists to win by scaring us into passing this absurdly named "Patriot Act".
    • by jcr (53032)

      The President of the United States does, in fact, NOT have the power to issue a royal decree which suspends the Constitution of the United States of American whenever he fucking feels like it

      He doesn't have the legal power to do that, but he does have the de facto power to do so, and he has that power because the people have been tolerating usurpations of this kind for a very long time.

      -jcr

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:55AM (#29539653)

    Just to be clear, there are TWO things going on here. Please don't get confused.

    1. There are three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire at the end of the year. Note that Pres. Obama and the Ministry of Justice want to renew these provisions.

    http://www.mainjustice.com/2009/09/15/justice-department-supports-renewal-of-patriot-act-provisions [mainjustice.com]

    2. This article is referring to Russ Feingold "S. 1686" bill (aka the "Justice Act,") which is basically a watered down version of the original Patriot Act.

    I have to give Feigngold credit for his voting record on civil liberties. My concern however is that his bill will be amended to renew the expiring provisions, preserve retroactive telecom immunity, and do very little to restore civil liberties. Recall that the Democrats pretended to put up a fight about telecom immunity when the new FISA legislation was being debated (voting it down once) before eventually approving it (in spirit of bi-partisanship).

    IMHO, the best approach (assuming you care about civil liberties) is to prevent ANY new legislation from passing, thereby allowing the expiring provisions to die.

  • Any actual prosecution in the courts will be complicated by the ex-post-facto aspect of all these laws changing back and forth.

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