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Government Privacy United States Technology

Senate Renews Warrantless Eavesdropping Act 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
New submitter electron sponge writes "On Friday morning, the Senate renewed the FISA Amendments Act (PDF), which allows for warrantless electronic eavesdropping, for an additional five years. The act, which was originally passed by Congress in 2008, allows law enforcement agencies to access private communications as long as one participant in the communications could reasonably be believed to be outside the United States. This law has been the subject of a federal lawsuit, and was argued before the Supreme Court recently. 'The legislation does not require the government to identify the target or facility to be monitored. It can begin surveillance a week before making the request, and the surveillance can continue during the appeals process if, in a rare case, the secret FISA court rejects the surveillance application. The court’s rulings are not public.'" The EFF points out that the Senate was finally forced to debate the bill, but the proposed amendments that would have improved it were rejected.
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Senate Renews Warrantless Eavesdropping Act

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  • Terms of Usage (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sigvatr (1207234) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:56PM (#42412463)
    Every company needs a "we can do whatever we want" clause in their terms of usage, why not the United States?
  • Perpetual war (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:57PM (#42412481)

    These "wartime" acts will always be in place from now on, because the U.S. will never not be at war again.

    • Re:Perpetual war (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:12PM (#42412669) Homepage

      Of course: The US has basically been at war since 1941. It's also officially been in a state of emergency since September 2001, because presidents can do things in a state of emergency that they otherwise can't.

      Another good example of a government under continuous emergency: Egypt was officially in a state of emergency from 1967 through May of this year.

    • Re:Perpetual war (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geek (5680) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:13PM (#42412677) Homepage

      Indeed. Harry Reid and gang can pass crap like this but not a single budget in going on 5 years. Our Congress and executive branches are treasonous.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrsquid0 (1335303)

        > Indeed. Harry Reid and gang can pass crap like this but not a single budget in going on 5 years.

        That is because both parties support domestic spying, but the Republicans have been actively obstructing any economic legislation that the Democrats have introduced.

        • Re:Perpetual war (Score:4, Informative)

          by geek (5680) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:35PM (#42412883) Homepage

          > Indeed. Harry Reid and gang can pass crap like this but not a single budget in going on 5 years.

          That is because both parties support domestic spying, but the Republicans have been actively obstructing any economic legislation that the Democrats have introduced.

          Um no. Harry Reid has never even put a budget up for a vote. He's never even created one for discussion. How can the Republicans obstruct something that doesn't even exist? Quit pointing fingers and start laying the blame on the majority holders that are running the show. You're not doing yourself or this country any favors giving assholes like Reid a free fucking pass.

          • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

            I did not say budget, I said economic legislation. The reality is that the blame for the US's current economic mess lies squarely on the shoulders of the Republicans. They had a chance to work with the President and with the Senate, and they refused. No amount of swearing or calling people names is going to change that.

            • Re:Perpetual war (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2012 @03:01PM (#42413169)

              Clearly you don't understand economic messes.

              The current record amounts of deficit spending were all enacted under a Democrat-controlled Congress (both House and Senate), and it has been maintained by not passing a new budget, which is likely done so that people like yourself can still attempt to point the finger at Republicans.

              During the Bush era, Republicans were absolutely complicit in spending then-record amounts on deficits while fighting two wars, but they were completely dwarfed following the Congressional takeover by the Democratic super majority held through the first half of Obama's first term. And that doesn't even consider the fact that our deficit hardly took a hit when troops were pulled out of Iraq.

              The incredible lunacy of it all is that Democrats are going to blame Republicans for the fiscal cliff. Democrats are holding the lions share of the taxpaying population hostage for the so-called millionaire tax that looks to tax people making above $400,000. Either the rich get tax increases, or we all do. That's a wonderful plan to repair an economy that supposedly just saw the worst Christmas since 2008.

              As for the reality of our current mess? The housing crisis was caused by Democrats: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-perspective/122012-637924-faults-community-reinvestment-act-cra-mortgage-defaults.htm?p=full

              The sickening part of it all is that Bush attempted to fix the housing bubble before it actually trashed our economy: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/11/business/new-agency-proposed-to-oversee-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae.html

              But Democrats blocked it.

              ''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

              If you actually look at the problem, then you may really see the cause of it.

              • by s.petry (762400)

                Clearly you fail to see the truth, and simply repeat rhetoric spewed by people in power currently. This is not an issue of Democrat or Republican, and your belief that is it shows you are a fool. Both parties support the same corrupt back end.

                Anyone that thinks otherwise is refusing to see, or look at the truth. I get it, it's hard on the mind when you start to learn that the beliefs you have are absolutely unfounded and false. It's called cognitive dissonance, and it's been known for thousands of years

                • Alex Jones? I hear he's running false flag operations. That would explain why so much if his stuff is batshit crazy. It's clearly to throw sceptics like you off the scent, and to make the sheeple think that you're crazy for believing that the Kenyan is ratcheting up the FEMA/UN death camps, staffed by Jewish bankers and Marilyn fucking Monroe.

                  Yeah, that's a strawman but it's no less insane than Jones and his colloidal silver slurping disciples of paranoia. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of profiteering

                  • by s.petry (762400)

                    Simplify the messages from Alex a bit. This is a basic teaching in Logic and Rhetoric which you lack or intentionally ignore. Take away the messages about "evil devil worshipers" and see what the facts given show. It's corruption at such a level that you can't begin to comprehend (Nor can I, and I have been digging for 2 decades. Every day am shocked the things I learn). Then again, perhaps you do know, and are just a shill? Your post history does not indicate that you are, but one never knows.

                    Whether

              • by Qzukk (229616)

                The sickening part of it all is that Bush attempted to fix the housing bubble before it actually trashed our economy: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/11/business/new-agency-proposed-to-oversee-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae.html [nytimes.com]

                But Democrats blocked it.

                So what you're saying is that if only Democrats hadn't stopped Bush from creating this new agency, the housing bubble would have magically disappeared? Has there ever been a bubble that just went away without popping? Would this agency have had any oversight at

          • You're right, they should come up with a budget and Reed shouldn't get a free ride. However, it's also true that whatever they came up with would never get past the Republican controlled House and would only be used as political fodder.

          • Re:Perpetual war (Score:5, Informative)

            by Holi (250190) on Friday December 28, 2012 @04:37PM (#42414037)

            It is not the Senates job to introduce a budget. in fact it would be unconstitutional for the budget to be introduced by the Senate. It is the responsibility of the House to introduce budget, it can;t come from the Senate, it can't come from the President. So can we please drop this bullshit about how it's Harry Reid's fault for not coming up with a budget. The blame falls clearly on the House and thus on Boehner's lap.

        • Of course, because the Democrats are just slightly better Republicans in your world, am I right?

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          That is because both parties support domestic spying, but the Republicans have been actively obstructing any economic legislation that the Democrats have introduced.

          Are you really this thick?

          It is the Democrats, that had the power to ram through health care reform without any Republican support at all (only 1 vote from a Republican, and it wasnt needed), that are telling you that the Republics are the reason that the senate hasn't once brought a budget up for a vote the entire time Harry Reid has been majority leader.

          This isnt rational thought telling you that. Its the Democrats telling you that. But since you believe everything the Democrats say, even when its so

          • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

            Again, no amount of name calling is going to change reality. The Senate has sent many economic bills to the House over the past four years, and almost every one has been blocked by the Republicans. There has been, and appears to still be, a deliberate policy to obstruct any legislation that originates from the Democratic side of Congress.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Rockoon (1252108)

              Again, no amount of name calling is going to change reality.

              What name calling? You are clearly thick if the plain facts are trumped by the convoluted shit you have to conjure in order to ignore those plain facts.

              The Senate has sent many economic bills to the House over the past four years

              The Democrats controlled the senate for 2 of those years, with enough power to pass health care reform without any Republican support at all. What happened there, eh? Could it possibly be that Harry Reid is so corrupt that even the House Democrats cant support the over-the-top corporate handouts in his "economic" (*) bills?

              (*) translation: special-intere

      • I'll ready the guillotine. Can we do previously elected officials as well?

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Why are you leaving the judiciary out of this? We have cases that come up before the court trying to stop this stuff, and the Solicitor General just says "state secrets privilege!" and the court says "Too bad citizens, we can't allow this case to continue, even if you might be right on the merits".

      • I'd argue half the problem is that the voters don't see any problem with it. Enough of them actually think terrorists are out to get them, and this will keep them safe to keep it going. You can't simply blame the politicians: if you threw every incumbent out, they'd simply be replaced by other charlatans willing to sell the public what they stupidly want, which is someone to take their rights and keep them safe from imaginary super-terrorists.

        It would be funny if it didn't affect the rest of us. Anywa
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Apparently one government is snooping the private communications of all countries, promoting revolutions in several and disabling energy plants of at least one. Motives more than enough to declare to be in a (cyber)war.
      • Indeed, but the common people of the internet are the ones who will suffer for the actions of the idiots who wish to engage in such a war, which is why all of the more intelligent internet types have been dancing on egg shells to prevent this. Of course, there are some people out there, driven by nationalism or money, who do not care if a few thousand innocents die if they get what they want. Coming up with a solution to this problem without becoming like them is, of course, very trying.

  • by mbstone (457308) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:58PM (#42412487)

    They have time to debate and pass secret warrantless wiretapping, but not to keep the price of milk from going up to $7.

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Regulating the price of milk is not their job. Making rules about how federal laws are enforced IS their job. Disagreeing with the rules is one thing. Whining about milk is just whining.
  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:07PM (#42412593)
    should not be referred to as a democracy (or a democratic republic, for that matter).
    • Most people don't understand that, under current judicial precedent, warrantless wiretapping of international communications is constitutional, needing only the approval of the Executive Branch. The secret FISA court is a legislative attempt to regulate this executive power. Without FISA you would have a secret bureaucracy making the decisions instead of a secret court.
      • Transparent, real public court is the only just, acceptable alternative in a truly democratic society. Just because the Executive Branch abuses this judicially-sanctioned power (like it does with so many other powers these days) with or without the oversight of a sham "secret court" does not make it just or acceptable.
        • Unfortunately, even the most democratic society has enemies that seek to damage or destroy it. Intercepting their communications is one of the most effective ways to counter such people, and such interception would be futile if it had to be publicly announced beforehand.
          • Ah, you mean the "terrorists," like the ones Feinstein claims have been caught on US soil? Before that it was the Communists. I'd gladly take on the risk that one of those evil folks might actually, you know, exist, and then actually might be able to do something bad, than allow closed-door, rigged kangaroo courts and further destruction of civil liberties in this country. If you want to wiretap a US Citizen, then get a warrant. Period. Otherwise, go pound sand. I'd rather be truly free and allow for
            • by jjo (62046)

              If you want to wiretap a US Citizen, then get a warrant. Period.

              How do you get such a warrant except behind closed doors? Are you proposing that all wiretap warrant applications should be public? Are you proposing that every target of a wiretap application should be informed of it and allowed to oppose it in court? This would make the wiretap a joke. Maybe that's what you propose: abolish wiretapping, with or without warrant. If so, then law enforcement will be severely hampered and people will indee

  • Wasn't it Senate majority leader Reid whining about the "Fiscal Cliff" yesterday? Is this what he's been working on instead?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      The Senate has done everything that it can to resolve the upcoming sequestration. The problem is that some Republicans in the House of Representatives are deliberately trying to prevent a deal from happening. The Speaker of the House cannot even marshall enough votes from his own party to pass a piece of legislation that he introduced.

  • by petsounds (593538) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:10PM (#42412631)

    Here's the vote of each Senator [govtrack.us] on this bill. Only 23 voted Nay, only 3 of those Nays were Republicans, and 4 Senators didn't even show up to vote. And President Obama is quite ready to sign it into law.

    This country is broken.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Here's the vote of each Senator [govtrack.us] on this bill. Only 23 voted Nay, only 3 of those Nays were Republicans, and 4 Senators didn't even show up to vote. And President Obama is quite ready to sign it into law.

      This country is broken.

      Washington State voted no because they know the gov is going to use them warrant less eavesdropping against it. Colorado apparently had 1 senator too stoned to vote no.

      Well, I guess all the senators that voted yes are cool with them being wiretapped. After all, it's for their safety.

      guess it's time for encryption to go mainstream, of course, it will be illegal to use any encryption soon...

    • by PPH (736903)

      Actually, I'd like to see the photos that the FBI/CIA/NSA sent to each Senator with the understanding that they'd better vote the right way. Or else.

      Uh, ..... actually no, I wouldn't.

    • by afidel (530433)

      Thank you! I'm glad to see that my Senator (and former Representative) Sherrod Brown voted nay, in fact that only thing that he's done in his entire time in office that's seriously surprised and upset me was cosponsoring PIPA which he did not because he was beholden to the industry but rather because he believed in the goals of the legislation (I strongly disagree with him on that of course, but at least he wasn't just voting for his corporate masters like so many in Washington).

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      The "bipartisan consensus" viewpoint in Washington DC has these basic views:
      1. The NSA, CIA, FBI, and DoD are completely trustworthy organizations that can be given complete control over the lives of US citizens.
      2. Large corporations, especially big business, are the cornerstone of the American economy. To keep the economy going, do exactly what the CEOs of these corporations say to do.
      3. Political protesters are either a totally pointless annoyance, or a Threat to America.
      4. Taxes are penalties.
      5. People i

    • Here's the vote of each Senator [govtrack.us] on this bill. Only 23 voted Nay, only 3 of those Nays were Republicans, and 4 Senators didn't even show up to vote. And President Obama is quite ready to sign it into law.

      This country is broken.

      Broken relative to what? Those bills tend to be pretty popular, I doubt 23/100 Americans would vote against it if it were put to a referendum. Heck, a small plurality support warrantless wiretapping even in the US [gallup.com], which makes me severely doubt that you could find much opposition to wiretapping international calls where one end is not a US citizen.

      Now, I don't like it (I'm definitely in the 23/100) but willful blindess to uncomfortable facts does not seem to me like a valid (or effective) political strategy

      • by petsounds (593538)

        Broken relative to what? Those bills tend to be pretty popular, I doubt 23/100 Americans would vote against it if it were put to a referendum.

        The U.S. Senate exists -- in addition to giving small states equal power to larger states -- to provide more measured and wise deliberation of issues facing the country, in contrast to the House more aligned with the will of the people. That the Senate would again approve legislation so counter to the ideals of liberty which the United States was founded upon, speaks

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:48PM (#42413019)

    It's funny how our government can easily pass laws like this that the public is almost universally apposed to with very little effort what-so-ever. But when it comes to balancing the budget, something we're almost universally in favor of, they can't do a damned thing.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:55PM (#42413089) Homepage Journal

    Seriously -- things were so much better when we had the Red Scare to keep our Government busy.
    Ever since the Berlin Wall fell, it's been a constant War On The People.

    Can the US and Russia please just go back to hating each other?
    I've had it with my government truing to come up with new and improved ways to infringe my rights.

  • by redelm (54142) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:59PM (#42413141) Homepage

    Rail all you like but the US you think you knew _never_ existed. The US has always exerted strong jurisdiction and controls of both imports (Morrill Tariff caused the US Civil War) _and_ exports. Most people know about imports but few know about US Export controls which date back to 1790 with a prohibition against exporting straight pine logs useable as ship masts and spars by the enemy of the day, Great Britain. The current lists are rather long and complex -- search on CCL and EAR.

    It should come as no surprise to information-workers that some of these controls cover intangibles like information (xDxxx and xExxx series codes), especially when these can be viewed as "products" and not "free-speech". To avoid running afoul of the US Const 1st Amend (and potential invalidation by courts), the export regs have exemptions for certain types of public materials like conferences.

    So these intercepts, however distasteful ("Gentlemen do not read each others letters") have an established basis in law a power-grabbing government is happy to seize. Their oath "protect and defend the Consititution" seems to mean "push up as hard as we dare against it, joyfully crossing the line when we can find a good enough justification".

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      (Morrill Tariff caused the US Civil War)

      No it didn't. Slavery and the fear that Abraham Lincoln would put an end to it caused the US Civil War. Don't believe me, believe the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union [yale.edu] which was passed by the South Carolina convention days after they voted to secede:

      A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

      • by redelm (54142)
        Why is the Convention date 26 Apr 1852, but the doc "adopted" 1860? I suspect political shenanigans (of which that States are fully capable). Slavery was safe (for a while) in the South after Dred-Scott.
        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          Because you're misreading the first line: That's not the convention date, that's a reference to a similar convention 8 years earlier.

  • Does not approve.
  • And that no good Mitt Romney! Oh, wait a second...
  • So far, this news is only being covered by tech blogs, huffington and the guardian.
    • by gagol (583737)
      Real medias are too busy downsizing its news staff et send whatever remains to cover some Hollywood sandals.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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