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Attorney General Says Wiretap Lawsuit Must Be Thrown Out 493

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
Mr Pink Eyes writes with news about comments from US Attorney General Eric Holder, who said a San Francisco lawsuit over warrantless wiretapping should be thrown out, since going forward would compromise "ongoing intelligence activities." From the AP report: "In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently. A civil liberties group criticized the move Friday as a retreat from promises President Barack Obama made as a candidate. Holder's effort to stop the lawsuit marks the first time the administration has tried to invoke the state secrets privilege under a new policy it launched last month designed to make such a legal argument more difficult. ... Holder said US District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is handling the case, was given a classified description of why the case must be dismissed so that the court can 'conduct its own independent assessment of our claim.'"
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Attorney General Says Wiretap Lawsuit Must Be Thrown Out

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  • by Shikaku (1129753) on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:58AM (#29949632)

    says wiretab lawsuit

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:21AM (#29949846) Journal

      ...at tyrant's head (General Attorney Eric). Pull trigger. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation....."

      Warrantless searches are illegal, and if the courts won't protect the Constitution against domestic enemies, then We the People will do it instead.

      • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:36AM (#29950008)

        ...at tyrant's head (General Attorney Eric). Pull trigger. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation....."

        Warrantless searches are illegal, and if the courts won't protect the Constitution against domestic enemies, then We the People will do it instead.

        For once, I agree with you. Maybe this is twice now.. If Holder doesn't feel he should be constrained by the rule of law, then I don't see how he could argue he should be protected by it either. It's simple hermeneutics, you just can't interpret the law to protect you and not others (unless you're power crazed or insane).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Say what you like, but one person acting lethally on their own one-eyed interpretation of the law is still murder. And yes, despite your sig, it would make you a crackpot.

          Assuming you and the GP are correct and the Attorney General is indeed breaking the law, he is still entitled to a fair trial in which to tell his side of the story to a jury of his peers.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:58AM (#29949636) Journal
    From his own site (PDF) a fact sheet (page 6 under "Restoring Our Values") [barackobama.com]:

    Eliminate Warrantless Wiretaps. Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration’s initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law.

    Also, I thought he was assembling a cabinet critical of warrantless wiretapping [nytimes.com]?

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:28AM (#29949922) Journal

      I'm not surprised. Republicans and Democrats are just two halves of the same tyranny. They both desire power to control the people, and damn the constitution, and damn the requirements for searches.

      Next time you walk into a voting booth, and elect a congresscritter, choose one that is neither R or D. We need a Congress that has no clear majority, due to the presence of third parties. Just imagine how much healthier our Republic would be if, instead of 60% democrats and 40% republicans, the ratio was 40% democrats, 30% republicans, 20% libertarians, and 10% socialists. No party could dominate.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Next time you walk into a voting booth, and elect a congresscritter, choose one that is neither R or D.

        But how will we, as a nation, move forward without research or development?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by boombaard (1001577)
        So be against Majoritarianism/Winner Takes All voting. The problem would be that the district system would have to go, because officials couldn't/wouldn't be elected locally any more (unless you, say, quadruple the number of representatives). But that would probably also cut down on those ridiculous amounts of money needed for elections, and, furthermore, decrease the possibility that votes are bought through "campaign contributions," or legalized bribery, because individual representatives would be less di
    • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:46AM (#29950104) Homepage
      Obama - "Change we can forget about."
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 02, 2009 @12:40PM (#29951496) Journal
        This is change. You see, he's being evil in the same way as Bush, but for a different reason, which makes it okay. Bush was supported wiretaps because it served the interest of President Bush. Obama, on the other hand, supports them now because they serve the interests of President Obama. As you can see, this is an entirely different matter and so it's disingenuous to regard them as the same thing.
    • by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:52AM (#29950174)

      Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently

      Meet the new Boss. Same as the old Boss.

    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:13AM (#29950360) Homepage

      To be clear, I'm not trying to apologize for Obama, but you should pay very close attention to what that says:

      Eliminate Warrantless Wiretaps. Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration's initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law.

      Note, there is nothing in there about allowing existing lawsuits to go forward in order to punish those who violated the rights of Americans during the previous administration. In fact, Obama has stated, time after time, that he feels we should all just, you know, move on and get over it...

    • by Xest (935314) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:31AM (#29950566)

      Us Brits were already aware that Obama follows Bush era policies.

      One of the Britons detained in Guantanamo bay, Binyamin Mohamed, was finally released to the UK earlier this year. Since then he's been trying to prove that he was tortured by, or at the behest of British agents. The courts recieved documents from US intelligence that would back his claim, however their release was blocked by our foreign secretary.

      Now, our foreign secretary is an idiot, and part of it is ass covering for sure, but the reason he has cited for blocking their release is that the US has threatened to cut intelligence ties with the UK meaning we could be left vulnerable to attack (as could the US) if this data were released. Originally this threat came from the Bush administration, but it seems since then the Obama administration has been asked with the same threats. Journalists and politicians here have contacted the white house to confirm this and have found that the Obama administration does in fact support this policy.

      The fact is, the Obama administration has no interest in accountability for it's security services, it knows and has admitted they were complicit in torture, but it seems the extent to which they were is such a problem that they are willing to put the national security of an ally and their own national security at risk to cover this up and keep that evidence secure.

      It's not like we're not used to this attitude from the US, as when a US airforce pilot was guilty of strafing British troops in an A10 in a friendly fire incident in Iraq they refused to release the pilots name for questioning and the gun camera videos etc. (which were later leaked anyway) for our enquiry into how it happened. We expected this kind of attitude of coverups from the Bush adminsitration, but the Obama administration? It did come as a suprise I'll admit.

      The original story is here:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/04/guantanamo-torture [guardian.co.uk]

      An update is here, the court reversed it's decision and stated the documents can be released pending the outcome of an appeal by the British government. Hopefully they'll lose it and we'll be able to see if Obama really is willing to do as he says and damage security of both countries over it:

      http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-britain-gitmo17-2009oct17,0,2433061.story [latimes.com]

      Change? Not from what we can see over this side of the Atlantic, the only difference here in Europe is instead of a US president having his leg humped by Tony Blair, we've now got a US president having his leg humped by Sarkozy and Berlusconi instead.

  • Change. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by base3 (539820) on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:59AM (#29949640)
    Indeed. Looks like all the apologists who said his vote for the FISA amendments was just political expediency but that he'd work against wireless wiretapping once in office have a little egg on their faces.
    • Re:Change. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shotgun (30919) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:25AM (#29949898)

      Forget the egg. It looks like they have secret taps on their phones.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Are they even secret at this point? I figure between the NSA and DHS anyone who leads a life that's even vaguely interesting to those in authority is tapped and all of the digital breadcrumbs of their life are being sifted and sorted. They tapped all sorts of people from the 50's on without warrants, what would ever make someone think that they would stop now that computers make it cheap to sift?
  • by skgrey (1412883) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:02AM (#29949662)
    Let me get this straight - the case is against warrant-less wiretapping, and since the case would expose on-going warrant-less wiretapping investigations, it should be thrown out? That's about the worst circular argument I've ever heard.

    Why don't they just say it - they're going to do what they want, and it doesn't matter what anyone outside the "secret" circle thinks.
    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:09AM (#29949716)

      Let me get this straight - the case is against warrant-less wiretapping, and since the case would expose on-going warrant-less wiretapping investigations, it should be thrown out? That's about the worst circular argument I've ever heard. Why don't they just say it - they're going to do what they want, and it doesn't matter what anyone outside the "secret" circle thinks.

      Precisely, man. I want ongoing operations to be compromised. Ruined, even. Because they are illegal, immoral and wrong. If the government insists that it can break the law with impunity, how do they expect to govern? How do they expect to get juries to convict anyone, if nothing is really illegal as long as you want it bad enough.

      • by Shotgun (30919) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:24AM (#29949882)

        If the government insists that it can break the law with impunity, how do they expect to govern?

        By keeping the public distracted with arguments over what talk radio hosts are saying. No, really, who cares what Rush Limbaugh has to say, unless he is raising valid points against you? It's all about keeping the sheep preoccupied until they're in the gates and can't back out from the slaughterhouse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordKazan (558383)

        This is obviously me being an optimist.. but let's hope they're putting up that argument just so it can be officially destroyed.

        the realist in my recognizes now (as i did before i voted for him) that the president isn't perfect, and that sometimes information you learn after you say something changes your opinion - even if that change is for (what everyone else sees) the worse.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:46AM (#29950108) Journal

          The law is not a matter of opinion. The law is clear. Warrantless wiretaps are illegal, and anyone who endorses them is a criminal. First it was Bush who was the criminal, now AG Holder, and if Obama supports his AG then he too will be a criminal. The law is the law.

          • by Watson Ladd (955755) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:16AM (#29950400)
            Three umpires were asked about their jobs. One said "There are balls and there are strikes, and I call them as they are." The second said "There are balls and there are strikes, and I call them as I see them." The third said "There are balls and there are strikes, but they ain't nothing 'till I call them". There are plenty of court cases decided on opinion, like the ending of discrimination in DC schools. This is a case we should all be happy with, but it wasn't decided on any word of the Constitution, just an argument that the Constitution should bind the federal government more then the states.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              No warrant; no search.

              There's no need for opinion; it's quite clear. The wiretaps were illegal, and the court case needs to be allowed to continue to its conclusion so the U.S. officials responsible can spend a couple months in jail, just like any criminal. The AG's attempt to stop the court case means justice will be denied for the innocent victims.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The more things change, the more the same they are. You expected any different once he had taken the oath?

    • Why don't they just say it - they're going to do what they want, and it doesn't matter what anyone outside the "secret" circle thinks.

      Hey, is this a new calling plan from AT&T: Secret Circle of Friends?

      In cooperation with the NSA and the FISA court, AT&T offers the new Secret Circle of Friends calling plan. Place your friends' names on our surveillance list, and all of their calls are monitored for "quality assurance", while you receive credit for "rollover" testimony when you rat them out in a st

  • ...so i ask, where is the justice?

  • It's official... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:07AM (#29949702)

    ...we no longer have a democracy.

    I'm probably not even going to bother voting anymore. These days, I can only choose between Kodos and Kang. It doesn't matter which side you pick, both of them suck.

    Sometimes, I don't even know why we the people even bother voting these days. Three cheers for exercising our rights and all, but expecting things to get better when all we have to pick from are scumbags is like trying to lose weight in a restaurant that has nothing on the menu but deep-fried food.

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      So, are you saying you don't like Calabash?

      Vote Libertarian. Not for long, and don't give them total control. Just enough swaying power to have a voice that says we don't need *SO* much government.

      The only answer is to destroy the "one ring to control them all."

      • So, are you saying you don't like Calabash?

        Vote Libertarian. Not for long, and don't give them total control. Just enough swaying power to have a voice that says we don't need *SO* much government.

        The only answer is to destroy the "one ring to control them all."

        Libertarians only really support freedom to be a laissez-faire capitalist, and freedom from stuff like public school. if Ron Paul were president, I guarantee you that he'd keep the new surveillance powers, too. They don't want *SO* much government, as you say, but that part will stay.

        • by Psion (2244)
          I'm willing to give them a go ... nothing will change if we keep voting for Demopublicans.
        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:50AM (#29950154) Journal

          Then vote Constitution Party instead. They don't support warrantless searches of any kind.

          Also there's more offices than just the president. A third party will probably never win the top office, but I beat we could win enough seats in Congress so that neither the Rs or Ds would have a majority. The duopoly will have been broken.

          • Re:It's official... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:09AM (#29950328)

            Then vote Constitution Party instead. They don't support warrantless searches of any kind.

            Also there's more offices than just the president. A third party will probably never win the top office, but I beat we could win enough seats in Congress so that neither the Rs or Ds would have a majority. The duopoly will have been broken.

            I hear you on the need to break up the collusion betweens the R's and D's against the wishes and interests of the people.

            Since I never investigated the Constitution Party, I took a look at the their Website. Here's Doug Stewart's story of how he became a member from the front page of the aforementioned site:

            George W. Bush had just been re-elected to a second term, but his remark, "the Constitution is nothing but a G.. D... piece of paper", really turned me off, but I had not voted for a Democrat since I was compelled into the Kingdom of God on the evening of 8/19/85.

            Being a VA native and devotee of Southern history and heritage, though I went along for the ride after my conversion, I had always had a problem with "the Party of Lincoln". Bush's desire to expand the U.S. Empire abroad showed me what one of the big problems was. I began doing some research.

            Seeing the reprobate Democratic platform, especially where abortion and homosexuality were concerned, I knew I needed to select a third party. The Libertarian Party was eliminated because they'll believe anything. More research showed me that the Constitution Party was tailor-made for me. I've now been a member for nearly five years, and am more politically active here than I ever was with the Republican Party.

            From this "testimony" (published right there on the home page of the party), it sounds like the Constitution Party is the resurrection of the Confederacy.

            The one thing that had kept me a Republican for so long (too long) was the fact that they were the "Party of Lincoln," which is precisely what turned off Stewart. If it's tailor made for Mr. Stewart -- a christian fundamentalist, unreconstructed Confederate -- it's exactly wrong for me. I'm still looking, believe me.

        • Re:It's official... (Score:5, Informative)

          by ptbarnett (159784) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:20AM (#29950442)

          if Ron Paul were president, I guarantee you that he'd keep the new surveillance powers, too.

          If Ron Paul were President, he might change his mind.

          But as a Congressman, he opposes it. He didn't vote on the FISA bill, reportedly because he was unavailable to do so after a last-minute change to the calendar.

          http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2008/06/24/ron-paul-on-the-wiretap-bill/ [antiwar.com]

          Mr. Speaker, I regret that due to the unexpected last-minute appearance of this measure on the legislative calendar this week, a prior commitment has prevented me from voting on the FISA amendments. I have strongly opposed every previous FISA overhaul attempt and I certainly would have voted against this one as well.

          The main reason I oppose this latest version is that it still clearly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution by allowing the federal government to engage in the bulk collection of American citizens' communications without a search warrant. That US citizens can have their private communication intercepted by the government without a search warrant is anti-American, deeply disturbing, and completely unacceptable.

          In addition to gutting the fourth amendment, this measure will deprive Americans who have had their rights violated by telecommunication companies involved in the Administration's illegal wiretapping program the right to seek redress in the courts for the wrongs committed against them. Worse, this measure provides for retroactive immunity, whereby individuals or organizations that broke the law as it existed are granted immunity for prior illegal actions once the law has been changed. Ex post facto laws have long been considered anathema in free societies under rule of law. Our Founding Fathers recognized this, including in Article I section 9 of the Constitution that "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." How is this FISA bill not a variation of ex post facto? That alone should give pause to supporters of this measure.

          Mr. Speaker, we should understand that decimating the protections that our Constitution provides us against the government is far more dangerous to the future of this country than whatever external threats may exist. We can protect this country without violating the Constitution and I urge my colleagues to reconsider their support for this measure.

          I'm not particularly enthusiastic about Ron Paul, but claiming he would support warrantless wiretapping is a misrepresentation of his public statements on the subject.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rob the Bold (788862)

      ...we no longer have a democracy.

      I'm probably not even going to bother voting anymore. These days, I can only choose between Kodos and Kang. It doesn't matter which side you pick, both of them suck.

      Sometimes, I don't even know why we the people even bother voting these days. Three cheers for exercising our rights and all, but expecting things to get better when all we have to pick from are scumbags is like trying to lose weight in a restaurant that has nothing on the menu but deep-fried food.

      I got my new state's driver's license, and specifically checked "No" for the "Do you want to register to vote". More that I just don't want to put down roots here, but still a bit because of political pissed-offness. I also declined to be an organ donor, so to anyone who says "Don't vote, can't complain", I can reply: "No liver transplant for you, punk!"

      Republicans are just out-and-out evil corporate scum with their armies of undead idiot-fundamentalist zombies desperate to protect themselves from any be

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Actually, we don't have 'just scumbags' to pick from unless you only consider the candidates from the 2 biggest political parties.

      I voted this past Presidential election and I didn't go Democrat or Republican. Some will say that my vote meant nothing, but then, that's what you're already saying about ALL votes.

      If you're serious about what you said, in the next election you will ignore the party affiliations and vote for the candidate most capable of getting this country back to being 'The Land of the Free'

    • We absolutely have a Democracy, and now it's Tyranny of the majority..whatever majority is in charge that is.

    • by vadim_t (324782) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:19AM (#29949834) Homepage

      So vote for the Pirate Party for instance, which opposes all this nonsense.

      It probably won't win, but it will at least show people's concerns, which may get results.

    • Sometimes, I don't even know why we the people even bother voting these days.

      There's a Republican in upstate New York who's probably going to lose because she's not "conservative" enough. She's pro-gun - good thing in my government conservative book because it's a Constitutional (Second Amendment) issue and the other things have no business being regulated by the Government. But the rabid anti-abortionists and bigoted anti-gay people don't mind having their civil rights and freedoms taken away (except the

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not the "invading for oil", that gets me as that is actually a reasonable posture. It's the "we are nice guys and are invading to help them" while we are invading for oil, other resources or staging points for attacking other countries, that gets me. If we want to be bastards we should be honest about it.

      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:18AM (#29950410) Homepage

        Now, the other side..the people who actually think Socialism can work even though it has never before and big Government can solve our problems, have their own rabid beliefs.

        Umm, just FYI, as a Canadian who is perfectly happy living in a nation that most Americans would consider virtually communist, I have to disagree rather strongly with this. And I'm sure your average European would agree with me.

        Socialism, hybridized with a liberal democracy and a free (but regulated) market *does* work, and works every single day all over the world. Just because Americans can't seem to figure it out, doesn't mean the idea is flawed. It just means the American system of government is so fundamentally fucked up it's hamstrung from the get-go.

        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday November 02, 2009 @01:46PM (#29952344) Homepage

          Umm, just FYI, as a Canadian who is perfectly happy living in a nation that most Americans would consider virtually communist, I have to disagree rather strongly with this. And I'm sure your average European would agree with me.

          Well that's the thing, most Americans can't and don't distinguish between communism and socialism, which is why when he said socialism has never worked before, I'm certain in his head he was thinking of the USSR and Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

          I think it was during the 50s McCarthyism when Socialism somehow got equated to Communism. So while Western Europe et. al. were implementing rational socialist policies while still resisting the Soviets, we had to reject all of these things as somehow being equal to what our enemy was doing... even though they aren't...

          The funny thing is that since both McCarthyism and the Cold War are long gone, you'd sound pretty silly accusing someone of being a communist. First because almost nobody really is, and second because it's considered a non-threat in this day and age, like accusing someone of being a British sympathizer it has no weight. Socialism still retains it's swear-word status, and since it's still alive and well in the world, it still retains its weight as a threat and thus insult -- at least if you don't distinguish between it and communism.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday November 02, 2009 @02:09PM (#29952614) Journal

          Umm, just FYI, as a Canadian who is perfectly happy living in a nation that most Americans would consider virtually communist, I have to disagree rather strongly with this. And I'm sure your average European would agree with me.

          Socialism, hybridized with a liberal democracy and a free (but regulated) market *does* work

          As a Russian who has "USSR" as place of birth in his passport, and now living in Canada, I have to note that Canada isn't anywhere near "virtually communist", and it isn't particularly socialist either. Socialism is when all production is directly controlled and owned by the state, and free enterprise in any form is forbidden. High taxes != socialism; and not that Canadian taxes are all that high, in fact.

          Canada (and most European states) is a welfare state. It's still capitalist through and through, and you have full freedom to go and earn as much money for yourself as you can and want to do; it's just that part of that money (and not a bigger part) goes towards a safety net for the rest of the citizens. Calling that "socialist" is highly misleading (and I know that you probably used that word because many Americans use it that way, so it's really directed more towards them).

      • by DaHat (247651) on Monday November 02, 2009 @11:20AM (#29950432) Homepage

        Actually the opposition to her comes more from her being pro-stimulus and pro-cardcheck and generally being more aligned with the Democrat party than it does from those who are "rabid anti-abortionists and bigoted anti-gay people don't mind having their civil rights and freedoms taken away (except the guns!) as long as the "fags" and those "baby killers" are controlled" as you put it... but no doubt her pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage stance didn't help her with the republicans.

        So which is it? Is she really more of a Democrat who happens to anti-gun control... or more of a Republican who is pro-card check, pro-same sex marriage, pro-stimulus, and pro-abortion?

        One is far easier to believe than the other personally... but mostly because I've known more of the latter than the prior over the years.

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:28AM (#29949924) Homepage Journal

      hope. Granted it is only on the Republican side. Where grass roots Conservatives told their party elders to take a hike.

      Still, it is hard to claim much freedom of choice when there are only two parties who can always get on the ballot, two parties who have done much to prevent other parties from having a chance. Where they could not do it by law they did by influence over media outlets.

      In Obama's defense, promises made on the trail tend to fall by the wayside because reality sucks. The naivete of the Administration, let alone their voters, was astonishing. I think they both bought the hype. The problem of course is the world is harsh and all your "we love you love me" crap has no affect on the world stage.

      Throw in a good dose of the Washington establishment (sorry - but his Chief of Staff was a dead give away the only change was the party who sat in the house) and how did anyone here honestly expect things to change? Then again I seem to recall a large number here who buy into Michael Moore's crap so no matter education or intelligence level snake oil sells.

    • by mc6809e (214243)

      ...we no longer have a democracy.

      Oh, we still have democracy. It's freedom that's been lost.

    • No, you do have a democracy, you just don't like the choices because the majority isn't voting what you like in.

      Instead of being all idyllic over our cultural myth over how great and wonderful "democracy" is, maybe you should question this whole "democracy" thing. Maybe relying on other people for freedom isn't a very good path to freedom at all? Maybe you'll never be free.

      And you won't be, of course. Society doesn't want you to be really free because it's not in peoples' interests. I mean, hell, if you

  • Let Mr. Holder (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:10AM (#29949728)

    know how you feel:

    Leadership
    Eric Holder
    Attorney General
    Contact
    Office of the Attorney General
    (202) 514-2001

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@nOSPAm.ovi.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:14AM (#29949754) Homepage

    The quote "since going forward would compromise "ongoing intelligence activities." makes me think the Obama administration is still doing this.

    I don't care if it is easier. We need to respect our constitution, even if it makes our security agencies do a little more work.

    Power is so hard to give up. Once people have it, it corrupts them.

    Sad day in American history.

    • by Aladrin (926209) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:23AM (#29949874)

      It's possible, in theory, for all the current wiretaps to be completely legal, but be compromised by information that would have to be made public to have a court trial over past (possibly illegal) wiretaps.

      Not that I necessarily think the current ones are all legal, though.

      • by Schadrach (1042952) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:39AM (#29950022)

        Not even that, but it's entirely possible that making available who had an illegal wiretap might either expose persons who need to be known not to be in on "ongoing intelligence activities" or that acknowledgment that X had an illegal wiretap placed might be harmful if X is still under suspicion of something but is not aware of said suspicion.

        Personally, I think someone with proper clearance ought to go through the data and clear whichever taps are not part of an ongoing intelligence activity and those and only those should be used for purposes of the legal actions. If there are no such taps remaining, then set a date by which some percentage of said taps will no longer be part of an ongoing intelligence activity and go from there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Repeat after me:

        No warrant; no search.
        No warrant; no wiretaps.
        No warrant; no entrance into private homes.

        That may piss you pro-big-government tyrants off, but that's what the Supreme Law of the land says and it will continue to say that until you can convince people to amend the Constitution and strike-out that law. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLpSY8d3gRc [youtube.com] - "ACLU, Flex Your Rights, and ACORN volunteers go door-to-door in Southeast DC educating residents about their 4th Amendment right to refuse warra

    • >>>We need to respect our constitution, even if it makes our security agencies do a little more work.

      We all need to learn their techniques. The future war won't be fought with guns, but with computer spying and hacking. We need to become like "augur" in Earth: Final Conflict.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:34AM (#29949988)

      Power is so hard to give up.

      Of course they won't give it up: power itself is the end goal, not a means to an end as the career politician endlessly preaches. Once they achieve it, that job is done. The next concern is the next acquisition of power, not how to lose the previous one.

      If you look hard enough, you'll discover that governments only expand in power and revenue throughout their lifetimes, never reduce. There's a reason why no government in history has ever significantly, permanently, and willingly reduced their level of power or revenue: because power and revenue are the ends, not the means, and the people in the business of government work for themseleves, not you and me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by IorDMUX (870522)

        If you look hard enough, you'll discover that governments only expand in power and revenue throughout their lifetimes, never reduce.

        I can think of only two counterexamples to this, and both, Cincinnatus [wikipedia.org] and George Washington [wikipedia.org], are singular leaders relinquishing massive powers after the end of a massive conflict.

        This hearkens back to the adage that the best rulers are those who reluctantly accept the ruler's staff...

        ... so where do we find more of those?

    • by Hizonner (38491) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:53AM (#29950184)

      No, you're wrong.

      It's not "We need to respect our constitution, even if it makes our security agencies do a little more work.".

      It's "We need to respect our constitution, even if some of us die".

      By not addressing their arguments head on, you give the bad guys strength. This is a matter of principle; you don't need to hide from their safety claims.

      I don't actually believe that these methods save lives in the long run. I think that these people underestimate the real, physical risks of making enemies and losing the moral high ground. But I could be wrong. It's possible that there is some increase in safety.... small, compared to the risk of say driving a car, but real nonetheless. The point is that this stuff is wrong even if it does make people safer.

      Fuck the cowards. There are some things you don't do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)

      The quote "since going forward would compromise "ongoing intelligence activities." makes me think the Obama administration is still doing this.

      Not necessarily. For example, suppose the Bush administration was tracking the activities of terrorist group X, and doing so using warrantless wiretaps. Obama takes over, cancels the wiretapping program, but continues to investigate terrorist group X using other means. Well, now, if a trial about warrantless wiretapping goes forward, it's possible that sensitive i

  • Knee-jerk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crndg (1322641) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:14AM (#29949762)

    I know the previous administration had an effect on us, but it appears to me that the current administration is actually handling this the right way. It may not be transparent to *us*, but matters of national security aren't supposed to be.

    They provided the judge with the specifics, and let him decide. If the Bush White House had done that, rather than declare themselves above the law, we wouldn't be so jaded about executive privilege today.

    This isn't as bad as it seems, and it's actually a huge step in the right direction.

    • Re:Knee-jerk (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:29AM (#29949928)

      I know the previous administration had an effect on us, but it appears to me that the current administration is actually handling this the right way. It may not be transparent to *us*, but matters of national security aren't supposed to be..

      Gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there. I paid for it. National security, whatever that is, needs to be above-board. I have no sympathy with the fear-mongers who hyperbolically exaggerate risk just to justify their actions. Put it in perspective for once, and quit arguing that there are big-bad-scaries out there who can only be fought by lawless thugs who will just do the right thing, trust us.

    • Re:Knee-jerk (Score:4, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:38AM (#29950016) Journal

      >>>It may not be transparent to *us*, but matters of national security aren't supposed to be.

      You're right that spying needs to be secret, but you're wrong when you say these warrantless searches should be allowed to continue. It's illegal. The government is a criminal and guilty of breaking the law, just as surely as microsoft was found to be an illegal monopoly. We punished microsoft, and now we must punish the United States leadership.

      No man; no organization is above the law, or the will of the people, the ultimate source of all authority.

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        We punished microsoft

        I must have missed that part. Oh, wait, you live in the EU don't you?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      They provided the judge with the specifics, and let him decide. If the Bush White House had done that, rather than declare themselves above the law, we wouldn't be so jaded about executive privilege today.

      Except the Obama White House is also declaring themselves above the law - by insisting the suit be thrown out based on secret evidence rather than in open court.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by numbski (515011)

      Thank you! Disclosure is happening - just in a way that proceeds with caution. If they said outright that it had to be dismissed and didn't say why *at all*, I'd be bothered. The judge is being told why. He can still say that the case will proceed.

  • by Shotgun (30919) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:14AM (#29949768)

    Vote Barr next time.

  • by EzInKy (115248) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:17AM (#29949808)

    ...same as the old boss. But this is not just a bit of education for Obama supporters, it is a valuable lesson for Bush II supporters as well. The extraordinary powers to further your agenda that you grant to your glorious leaders today are certain to be abused to further the agendas of their successors tomorrow.

  • by Jay Maynard (54798)

    For all of the howling the Obamessiah's followers made during the campaign about how evil Bush's policies were, he's sure continuing a lot of them that he originally pledged to do away with. Of course, nobody would DARE admit that maybe, just maybe, Bush was right...

    • by davmoo (63521) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:40AM (#29950036)

      No, Bush wasn't right. He used the US Constitution as toilet paper, and Cheney was worse.

      But anyone who thought Obama was going to revoke anything Bush had done was only kidding themselves. Its always easier to just keep a bad power that your predecessor gained for the office...Obama figures the Bush administration already absorbed the damage and the heat, so why should he get rid of a nifty new super power?

      Once we started down this slippery slope, there's no way to go back up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        Once we started down this slippery slope, there's no way to go back up.

        Tell that to our founders and the souls lost in the revolutionary and civil wars.

        Its a hard slope to climb, and it is very costly, but its not impossible. They need us (the people) more than we need them. There is no them without us, and there will always be an us, with or without them.

        The real problem is, regardless of the bitching, and moaning, and whining, its really not bad enough to warrent such actions at this point. The general

    • by Maxmin (921568) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:59AM (#29950248)

      The Bush administration based their court arguments on an extended interpretation of executive privilege [nytimes.com], whereas the Obama administration is making an argument based in precedent and case law - state secrets [wired.com].

      That you've presented your argument as "See, Bush is right because Obama seems to be doing the same" shows you probably know nothing about the arguments in this case, or the executive privilege abuses Bush's administration made in the name of our country.

      You do your country a serious disservice with the same old mindless "my team right, your team wrong" dittohead rhetoric. Means another ignorant voter, with no idea what their government is up to, regardless which party is in office -- and no clue how to fight it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is no political ideology or form of government that is not, on the face of it, well served by surveillance. Consequently, everyone will do it if they can. Anyone who sees surveillance as evil but a group of politicians as good should note this, because you will be sorely disappointed when your good people do evil. This applies in Europe as much as in the US.

    I'd love to see examples of a significant withdrawal of surveillance anywhere in history that did not result from a revolution.

  • I used to think Bush was a dick for doing all this warrantless wiretapping, but now that I see Obama doing it, I'm starting to see a different perspective. They're both dicks, but I see now that despite losing popularity over it, it's worth it to them. I'd much rather have all my supporters lose 5% of their trust me in me for wiretapping, if I can avoid a major terrorist attack that would lose me 15%. It's not that clear cut, but no one can argue that terrorist attacks are good, and certainly Obama doesn
  • by malx (7723) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:55AM (#29950204)

    Holder said US District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is handling the case, was given a classified description of why the case must be dismissed so that the court can 'conduct its own independent assessment of our claim.'"

    Would any (real) lawyers on Slashdot care to comment on how the Federal Rules of Procedure regard ex parte communications between the respondent and the judge, held secret from the plaintiff?

  • by Simetrical (1047518) <Simetrical+sd@gmail.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @01:18PM (#29952016) Homepage

    Okay, I know this post probably won't get modded up too high, given Slashdot libertarian groupthink, but: the Constitution doesn't say warrantless wiretapping is illegal. Let's take a look at the text of the Fourth Amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    This only says that searches must be "reasonable". It does not say "no search whatsoever can occur without a warrant". It mentions warrants, but doesn't say when exactly they're required. So, it's as legitimate an opinion as any to say that the government should have to get warrants for all domestic wiretapping, sure. But the Constitution doesn't say that.

    Court precedent (based partly on the Constitution) might say that warrantless wiretapping is illegal, of course. Or it might not. There's no decision on the matter that hasn't been overruled, so it's an open question. I imagine, however, that most of the people calling warrantless wiretapping illegal and, e.g., advocating (+4 Insightful) assassination of the attorney general, are not lawyers and aren't really qualified to have an opinion on what the legal precedent implies.

    So, might I request that we all make it clear what our personal opinions are, but don't claim support of the Constitution if it doesn't actually say anything clear on the issue?

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