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US Supreme Court Says Wiretapping Immunity Will Stand 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-the-people-what-we-want dept.
wiredmikey writes "The U.S. Supreme Court said this week it will let stand an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by privacy advocates. The top U.S. court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the NSA monitor its customers' phone calls and Internet traffic. Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct 'warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance' without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general. The Obama administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies. The Supreme Court is set to hear a separate case later this month in which civil liberties' group are suing NSA officials for authorizing unconstitutional wiretapping."
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US Supreme Court Says Wiretapping Immunity Will Stand

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  • "Justce is blind." (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:30PM (#41612911)
    To the law.
    • SCOTUS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:56PM (#41613193) Homepage Journal

      "Breaking the Law is useful in enforcing the Law that is illegal under the foundation of Law."

      Wonderful little police state you got there.

      • Pick a card, any card [thinkexist.com]

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        "Breaking the Law is useful in enforcing the Law that is illegal under the foundation of Law."

        Wonderful little police state you got there.

        But..But..But..It's for the children.

      • Re:SCOTUS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by trout007 (975317) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @07:12PM (#41613901)

        The supreme court is like having the referees of a game be an employee of one team. Most trials that go to the supreme court are individuals vs the government. And which side do you think the court sides with?

        I think we need a rule change. Make it like a criminal trial. In order for the government to win they need to get all 9 votes. One no and the government loses.

      • by kilodelta (843627)
        I see it as blatantly unconstitutional. They simply had to get a warrant to do it before such foolish things as blanket warrant policy came about.

        It will hit the courts again in perhaps a slightly different form. But we will prevail on maintaining our privacy!
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:33PM (#41612945) Journal

    Seriously - I'd love to see both candidates try and wriggle out of owning that one in the upcoming debates, since both are (by now) equally culpable.

    Too bad there isn't a moderator with sufficient testicular fortitude to hold their feet to that particular fire...

    • by davydagger (2566757) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:35PM (#41612969)
      I've been saying this for years, the REAL issues aren't brought up in the debates.

      They are queitly mumbled under the breath of canidates, and dissenters are put on "lists", and harrassed.
      • ... and dissenters are put on "lists", and harrassed.

        Or worse [wikipedia.org].

        • ... and dissenters are put on "lists", and harrassed.

          Or worse [wikipedia.org].

          You do realize that was primarily a power struggle within one fascist political party, right?

          It would be somewhere between utter fantasy and sheer lunacy to assert the United States is on the precipice of anything like that.

    • by bjwest (14070) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:58PM (#41613219)

      Why would it come up in the debates when both parties feel they have the right to warrantless wiretapping. Kinda hard to debate something when there's no difference in viewpoint.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      HA!

      The only issues that are even mentioned in 'debates' are ones that don't matter to the politicians (and more importantly, the ones sponsoring a candidate). This is why you will never ever hear a thing about the thousands arrested by government across the country protesting the bankers and wall street and such, yet not a single banker has been prosecuted even where outright fraud has been admitted and proven. They won't talk about the mercenaries who took over when 'active military personnel' withdrew fro

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        This is why you will never ever hear a thing about the thousands arrested by government across the country protesting the bankers and wall street and such, yet not a single banker has been prosecuted even where outright fraud has been admitted and proven.

        I'm not sure why the candidates should be talking about people getting arrested in protests. I'm not aware of the federal government arresting one person for protesting. State and local government might have but the candidates aren't running for state or lo

      • by swalve (1980968)

        This is why you will never ever hear a thing about the thousands arrested by government across the country protesting the bankers and wall street and such

        They weren't arrested for protesting, they were arrested for violating the law. Usually stuff like blocking streets and camping in public spaces and whatnot.

        yet not a single banker has been prosecuted even where outright fraud has been admitted and proven

        Show me evidence of ONE banker who admitted breaking the law.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Romney has never been in a position that could influence the warrantless searches or the laws forbidding the lawsuits. He has never been a senator or congressman and lost his last attempt to run for president.

      He did run for senator against Ted Kennedy back in 94 or so, but lost that. He's basically been just a governor and politician who tried to get a job at a federal level.

      Romney can probably weasel out of culpability if he wanted to. However, I doubt either candidate wants to because they most likely see

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:20PM (#41613441)
      You would? I think it's pretty obvious how it would go. If the moderator asked about it, Obama or Romney would make the same argument the administration made already. And the voters would continue to ignore the loss of civil rights. If pressed further, feet held to the fire as it were, they would repeat the argument the administration already made and the voters would continue to ignore the loss of civil rights. The media and voters would wonder what the stick up the moderator's butt was. The line "If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you don't need to hide" would be brought up in some form or another, and the two would pat themselves on the back for wisely not caring about wiretapping when there are terrorists out there.

      The voters swallowed the fear mongering from politicians, pundits, and people selling books and articles on how the world is out to get you. They cowered in fear and offered their rights up to a police state as payment for perceived security. Both parties are guilty, but they're giving the customers what they want. There's not a politician alive of any party who could get through to the voters and get them to stop sacrificing their rights in exchange for security. Ben Franklin would be completely ignored by the media today, aside from being the occasional punchline.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cold fjord (826450)

        Ben Franklin would be completely ignored by the media today, aside from being the occasional punchline.

        Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson authorized opening other people's private mail [wikipedia.org], without a warrant,l to gather intelligence to help win the Revolutionary War. I very much doubt he would object to government surveillance of people in direct contact with Al Qaida.

        And the voters would continue to ignore the loss of civil rights.

        Which civil rights would those be? The US Constitution doesn't grant any civil right to private communications with foreign terrorist organizations at war with the United States.

        They cowered in fear and offered their rights up to a police state as payment for perceived security.

        The United States isn't a police state, not even close. You are indu

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      Seriously - I'd love to see both candidates try and wriggle out of owning that one in the upcoming debates, since both are (by now) equally culpable.

      Right. Even if someone brought it up, they don't have to wiggle out because they are both in agreement. While there are some differences (and not minor ones) between those two, the list of agreements is even longer

      If we are lucky we might hear debate on the disagreements. Why debate stuff they agree on? Without a 3rd (or a 4th) party candidate that can actually call them on that?

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      It won't. The only election issues in the US are "abortion, gays in the military, and gay marriage". As of the past 30 years. Anything else is quickly shouted down and buried under a flurry of the aforementioned, with the odd stem cell thrown in.
    • by jonwil (467024)

      The number one question I would like to ask politicians, political candidates and people more generally (including and especially both Obama and Romney) is this:
      Do you believe that it is acceptable for the government of the United States of America and its agencies to violate the Constitutional rights and civil liberties of ordinary American Citizens in the name of the War on Terror?

      • are these:

        1. Governor, you understand that an action may be legal but not ethical. Why, then, given the difficult financial condition of Americans and America, did you take a tax deduction for your wife's horse? With nearly a quarter of a billion dollars net worth, why are you forcing me and my fellow Americans to pay for your wife's horse?

        2. In your first debate with President Obama, you said in response to President Obama: "...the place you put your money makes a pretty clear indication of where your hea

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:36PM (#41612981)

    So essentially, they have openly stated that because the practice is useful to the government ut should not be subjected to judiciary review, despite clear concerns from privacy advocates, and seemingly legitimate legal challenges to the validity of the practice?

    Since when did the judiciary stop doing its job and become rubber stampers?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:42PM (#41613033)

      Not really. Denying a petition doesn't mean the SCOTUS agrees with the lower decision just that the Court won't hear the case for whatever reason. It doesn't have to say why. Here, likely, the Court thought the issue would be settled in the other case it did take and that the two cases weren't close enough to combine. Basically, decide the NSA case. If NSA can't authorize then AT&T can't comply. It's a waterfall decision so there is no reason to hear both.

      • by bmo (77928)

        >Denying a petition doesn't mean the SCOTUS agrees with the lower decision just that the Court won't hear the case for whatever reason

        Tacit approval is still approval.

        --
        BMO

      • by shentino (1139071)

        It's a blatant copout that admits "There's so many fuckups we don't have time to fix them all" and gives the appeals courts a blank check to run amok.

    • by Shaman (1148)

      About 11 years ago, when 9/11 made all the dreams of the totalitarian twatwaffles come true. In the opinions of many, the two circumstances are linked.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        This isnt even really the scary bits that have gone on since 9/11

        In a world where the U.S. government gets access to all of the E.U. members banking data, what sort of in-country data could possibly be off limits?

        Lets face it, not only have they recorded every phone call since sometime shortly after 9/11, they also have direct access to every database of every major corporation. That includes your banking data, your credit data, your email, and what articles you posted upon on slashdot.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:45PM (#41613087)

      The Spanish Inquisition was also useful in preventing the spread of heretical doctrines. Doesn't mean it was a good idea.

    • by magarity (164372) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:02PM (#41613259)

      So essentially, they have openly stated that because the practice is useful to the government ut should not be subjected to judiciary review, despite clear concerns from privacy advocates, and seemingly legitimate legal challenges to the validity of the practice?

      At issue isn't the wiretaps themselves are kosher but whether you can punish the telecom for doing what the people at whatever government agency ordered them to do. This is pitting the telecoms and the people against each other while the real culprit, the government agents, just snicker. The entire private sector needs to take up the protest together.

    • So essentially, they have openly stated that because the practice is useful to the government ut should not be subjected to judiciary review, despite clear concerns from privacy advocates, and seemingly legitimate legal challenges to the validity of the practice?

      Well, sort of. Or more like, don't arrest AT&T officials because they did what the President told them to do. Kind of the wrong spot to put them in. Sort of like Mom tells you to do something, and Dad tells you he'll ground you if you do.

    • by Arker (91948)

      Since when did the judiciary stop doing its job and become rubber stampers?

      Most severely since the shenanigans that permitted the communist takeover of the US back in the first part of the last century. Not that they were all that effective before that, mind you.

  • by SirAstral (1349985) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:54PM (#41613165)

    If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
              Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
              The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.
    â" James Madison (father of the US Constitution)

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:07PM (#41613319)
    As much as I like the guy, this would be the thing that would get me to vote against him. If the opposing candidate promised justice in this case, that would be a really REALLY good sign.
    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      Maybe there is an opposing candidate that would do better, but if you expect improvements in civil liberties from either of the two major parties, I think you'll be disappointed.

    • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:23PM (#41613481)

      Romney is even more authoritarian.

      Unfortunately, in a two party system, you are bound to pick the lesser of two evils, and a vote for a third party is a vote for the incumbent.

      In b4 shitstorm of people who don't know how the system is deliberately broken.

      --
      BMO

      • by Bigby (659157) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @07:01PM (#41613771)

        First, a vote for 3rd party is not a vote for the incumbent.
        Second, even along that line of thought, it is only a half vote for the one opposite who you would have voted for.
        Third, it is not a wasted vote when voting against the ruining of the country.

        A vote for Obama or Mitt is VERY VERY BAD for this country. Like 50 years from now people will be looking in their history books studying why people were so stupid.

      • I'm voting 3rd party. You're telling me that's a vote for Romney and Romney supporters tell me that it's a vote for Obama. So, by everyone's count I've got three votes now. That sounds pretty awesome to me.
      • by alexo (9335)

        Unfortunately, in a two party system, you are bound to pick the lesser of two evils, and a vote for a third party is a vote for the incumbent.
        In b4 shitstorm of people who don't know how the system is deliberately broken.

        The only way to fix a deliberately broken system is from the outside.
        Since a violent revolution is not feasible in the American political climate, your only choice is a massive vote for "third parties" in all levels of government.

        Just remember that if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem.

    • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@LISPgmail.com minus language> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:32PM (#41613539)

      If the opposing candidate promised justice in this case, that would be a really REALLY good sign.

      How would that be a good sign?
      Obama swore (pre-election) that he would veto any bill that gave retroactive immunity to telcoms. The fact that he lied was a big disappointment.

      With Romney, I KNOW he won't hold to that promise even if he makes it.

      • by meglon (1001833) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:54PM (#41613701)

        Obama swore (pre-election) that he would veto any bill that gave retroactive immunity to telcoms. The fact that he lied was a big disappointment.

        He never had the chance to..... signed into law by bush.

        https://www.eff.org/press/archives/2008/07/09 [eff.org]

        Two things should be pointed out: Obama voted for this bill, and all of the "nay" votes were democrats.

        http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00168 [senate.gov]

        • by Mitreya (579078)

          Two things should be pointed out: Obama voted for this bill, and all of the "nay" votes were democrats.

          Thank you for the correction, I got the dates mixed up

          But that makes it even worse. Voting "nay" would let Obama make a statement for free (i.e. without actually delaying or stopping the bill as veto would have). And he couldn't even be bothered to do that and PRETEND to stand by his promise.

          • by meglon (1001833)
            Not to beat a dead horse, but while he initially campaigned against the FISA bill, he did change his mind later in his campaign.

            http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/07/obama_fisa.php [talkingpointsmemo.com]

            The distinction being, he was never in a position to promise a veto on the FISA bill. He should have stood against it, as ALL members of congress should have, but i think you're suggesting he made a promise which is at odds with what was actually happening at the time. He could have promised to repeal it,
        • by jittles (1613415)
          He never got the chance to VETO it no, but he DID have the chance to vote for it, and he did. Twice. Both times after he said he would not vote for such a bill. So what is worse, refusing to veto a bill or voting for a bill you said you would not support? At least if 2/3s of the legislative branch had voted for the bill a president could say "Hey no point in even touching that one." But to say you would not vote for something, and then do so anyway when you are 1 in 100? If you can't handle that kind of
      • by jcr (53032)

        The fact that he lied was a big disappointment.

        Only to the suckers who bought his act.

        -jcr

      • by poity (465672)

        I'm reminded of slashdot conversations over the topic of China vs USA. Consider for a moment that Romney represents China and Obama represents the US -- as many would choose the latter over the former because the former is "even worse". At the same time, also consider that we've seen popular arguments [slashdot.org] which basically say that China is "at least honest" about their authoritarianism, and that the caring facade put up by the US, in spite of its actions to the contrary, represents a more insidious [slashdot.org] threat to it

        • by alexo (9335)

          I'd really like to hear what those who upvoted those two linked posts would say about this.

          The /. moderation system makes this difficult.

      • Meet the new boss ... same as the old boss [banoosh.com]
        (lather, rinse, repeat ...)

        THIS is why we need to endorse a third party, and break the Republican/Democrat chain that has gone on since 1868 [wikipedia.org]... just after Abraham Lincoln.

        Screw them BOTH, and vote Independent.

      • How can a law be retro-active? A quick search found "In the United States, the federal government is prohibited from passing ex post facto laws by clause 3 of Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution. "
      • by alexo (9335)

        Obama swore (pre-election) that he would veto any bill that gave retroactive immunity to telcoms. The fact that he lied was a big disappointment.

        In a system that has no negative consequences for a politician lying, did you really expect presidential candidates to keep their promises?

  • by NinjaTekNeeks (817385) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:39PM (#41613567)
    What the hell is wrong with the Judiciary? Why not require a warrant like any other search, because it's digital? If it REALLY is a matter of national security a judge would sign a warrant in a second. This whole thing is just horse shit so the NSA can spend billions of tax dollars spying on its OWN citizens because they have been grasping at straws in the war against terror, which frankly has accomplished jack shit in my opinion.

    Imagine if we took 100% of the NSA dollars and spent it on teachers and education, science programs, social programs like healthcare, college tuition forgiveness and urban development..... ahh to dream, guess I won't be using ATT anytime soon.
    • by skine (1524819)

      Changing your telecom company is a lot like changing your choice of president.

      There isn't much of a difference.

  • One more case to show that relying on a branch of the federal government to limit the powers of the federal government is an exercise of futility.

    -jcr

  • ...who allowed Obaaaaama care to pass a national tax. But the supporters don't call it a tax.

    I guess this isn't wiretapping just really strategic listening.

  • They scare me more then anyone else on this planet.

    Even as I speak out like this, I'm afraid my emails, internet, phone will be monitored because I am speaking out.

    I do NOT feel safe.

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