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FCC Declines To Probe Disclosure of Phone Records 97

An anonymous reader writes " reports that the FCC won't be investigating the phone record disclosures by communications companies under US government pressure. Despite a congressional request for that probe, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin quashed the inquiry based on comments from National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell. 'At issue are reports last year that some big telephone companies allowed the U.S. government access to millions of telephone records for an antiterrorism program. The reports have prompted scrutiny by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, the chairman of a key Energy and Commerce subcommittee, asked Martin to investigate. Markey, of Massachusetts, said McConnell's stance was "unsurprising given that this administration has continually thwarted efforts by Congress to shed more light on the surveillance program."'"
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FCC Declines To Probe Disclosure of Phone Records

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  • oops typo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @07:19AM (#20886823) Journal
    re:""unsurprising given that this administration has continually thwarted efforts by Congress to shed more light on the surveillance program.""

    Should read "unsurprising given that this administration is aware that the Democrats in Congress are a bunch of spineless pussies".

    There you go.
    • Republicans also (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Republicans too, they may be the same party, but when they controlled both houses and requested details of the various programs, they got the f*** off treatment too.

      They're all frightened of being called soft on terror if they don't do whatever the faction in the Whitehouse says (I'm not going to say Bush, because he's some sort of figure head for them, not a person in control, a mascot to rally around).

      • by iknownuttin ( 1099999 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:59AM (#20887211)
        They're all frightened of being called soft on terror...

        And why are they frightened about that? I'll tell you. Because average Joe and even some above average Joes are so much into fighting terrorism and feeling "strong" that they think anyone who "hides" behind the Constitution is a: wimp, terrorist, or some pinko pansy. There the same folks who see someone get acquitted and think "they beat the rap" - not that the individual was actually innocent. Civil Rights or the Bill of Rights to those people is some sort of hippy slogan. Which is interesting because, in my completely non-scientific observation, it seams that the older people are, the more they're inclined to have this opinion.

        Many of my fellow Americans disgust me.

        • I would be willing to settle for a party that's "soft on terrorism", if only we could get rid of the party that actively encourages it with Al Qaeda's star recruitment poster boy, George Bush. Don't you know they must have pics of him in an Uncle Sam outfit all over the Middle East saying, "I want YOU to to join Islam's most popular terrorist front!"
    • by jack455 ( 748443 )
      How is this 4 Insightful?

      agree or disagree with criticism directed toward Democrats in congress, this is obviously a troll post
    • I looked at "surprising" in the thesaurus. It says that "startling" is a synonym. This story just points out that they aren't. This news is certainly unsurprising, but it's still startling.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2007 @07:39AM (#20886907)
    If Congress can't exert any power in situations like this, what CAN it do?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Daimanta ( 1140543 )
      Applause at the State of the Union?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by enrevanche ( 953125 )
      Impeach the imbecile who appointed him.
    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:09AM (#20887251) Journal
      If Congress can't exert any power in situations like this, what CAN it do?

      They can, but they won't.

      You make a mistake in thinking congress actually objects to the wholesale stripping away of our privacy, to the war in Iraq, to all the crap they've scapegoated Bush with for the last six years. What a great game! Last week you hated Bill, this week you hate George, next week you hate Hillary, but we just keep going back to the same used car dealership so one of them can rape us week after week after week...

      Yes, few people in US history can come close to Bush for outright in-your-faceness about how frequently they wipe their asses with the constitution. But we need to avoid presuming that he has done anything new - He just lacks the saavy to hide his abuses.

      If congress so desired, they could end all this tomorrow. They could end the war, they could end the spying programs, they could end our use of torture and our continued illegal detainment of both foreigners and US citizens, they could end Bush's presidency. They have that power. But they won't use it, because they all want the same things that Bush does - Further consolidation of power and money into their own families and friends.

      The only part of domestic wiretapping they actually object to involves who gets to listen. They want in on the action, and resent Bush keeping them outside the loop.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SmackedFly ( 957005 )
        Or, you could ask yourself. If this is the amount of stuff they've been unable to hide, how much have they actually succesfully hidden from you? Bush may lack the savvy to hide his shady dealings, but much of his staff doesn't, don't presume you know half of it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
          Tip of the iceberg syndrome, and the thing is ... they're still managing to hide the tip! We know there's an iceberg, we know we're about to plow right into it, Titanic-style ... but we can't actually see it.
      • by ezduzit ( 975418 )
        "Further consolidation of power and money into their own families and friends." Oh, wow! Another repeater of conspiracy theories. The Kool Aid at MoveOn must be pretty good to keep ill informed people repeating stupid things. Get a life, hoss!
        • by xRobx ( 795021 )
          How is that a conspiracy theory? You obviously have no clue about politics.
        • by pla ( 258480 )
          Oh, wow! Another repeater of conspiracy theories.

          Who said anything about a conspiracy? Just a bunch of domesticated primates acting purely out of self-interest, for their own advancement. No conspiracies involved.

          The Kool Aid at MoveOn must be pretty good to keep ill informed people repeating stupid things.

          What a strange comment... I don't drink Kool Aid; I don't follow MoveOn; and as for well-informed, by dear little pot, you might find it somewhat more effective to post some form of factual ref
      • by ezduzit ( 975418 )

        "conspiracy theory
        the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public. "

        Here are some recent examples for you.

        1. The Jews control the world's money supply.
        2. The Bushies started the Iraq war to make themselves richer.
        3. Cheney started the Iraq war to give $billions in business to Haliburton.
        4. Hillary Clinton and Phyllis Diller are the same person because they have the sa
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Using the power of the purse to shutdown the war and domestic spying programs? Nope, their fingers are just as deep in those coffers.
      Enacting new legislation to hold the myriad bells accountable for their violations of privacy in Fed Court? Nope, Repubs have the Supreme Court on lockdown now too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mecenday ( 1080691 )
      If things keep going this way, next they'll tell us that Congress isn't even in charge of Gundam.
  • .. don't use a landline then or a "subscription" mobile :)
  • by JackMeyhoff ( 1070484 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @07:47AM (#20886931)
    .. Amdocs , an Israel company and has ALL records perfect for phone data mining. Great for the intelligence community. [] Still want to have a SUBSCRIPTION service where they can know everything about you? I strongly recommend VoIP abroad or subscriptionless mobiles if you value your privacy.
    • Except the Israeli intelligence services are the most transparent in the world with regards to activity reports to their own government and population. Given how they report their own activities, they've been far more open than the CIA and NSA.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      That's no big deal. It's only French companies that are considered to be a security risk and that's for petty reasons best left to the playground instead of politics.
  • The FCC has been heavily biased toward the policies of this administration, at least while under Michael Powell's leadership. Now that the FCC has given up their chance to fake an investigation, a more respectable organization can perform a thorough, honest investigation.
    • a more respectable organization can perform a thorough, honest investigation.

      True, so maybe we could hire a respectable foreign intelligence service. There are several good ones available (MI6, the Mossad, etc.) but I'd recommend the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki. Sure, why not use the SVR ... let's ask our Russian friends for help in this matter. I mean, Russia could use the money, and the SVR is a top-notch intelligence service, so I'm sure they'll get the job done very efficiently. We might find ourselves
      • Forgive me if I'm missing something obvious, but is this your way of calling me a communist supporter because I don't think the FCC would perform a good investigation?
        • Not at all. It's my way of agreeing with you that we're unlikely to see a proper investigation by any of the usual suspects.
    • Your post should be modded down for ignorance; lack of knowledge.

      The FCC is in WHICH branch of the Federal government? By definition it's usually going to follow the desires of its boss.
      • I am not going to argue your point; I'll merely observe you are strengthening my original point. The FCC is not the appropriate entity to perform such an investigation.
        • No. Your statement was opinion derived from ignorance. It is not rational to claim a diminished basis strengthens the derivative.

          Investigative responsibility depends on structure and laws. The FCC, like many other large entities, has its own internal investigations group. That's the appropriate place for an investigation to start from cost and familiarity aspects. That was true of the Bill Clinton ATF just as it is true of the George Bush FCC.
          • It is my opinion that over the past decade the telecom industry has become very consolidated under the encouragement of both Clinton and Bush's administrations and the permission of their pet, the FCC.

            This consolidation provided the government easy access to private records of the entire nation. The FCC indirectly facilitated the government's ability to violate your privacy; ignorance is allowing the FCC to investigate corruption that has tainted itself.
    • He was a lawyer from the Bush/Chenney '00 election campaign and his wife is one of Chenney's aides. He is by all accounts, in the pocket of the president.

  • Also unsurprisingly (Score:5, Informative)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:20AM (#20887053) Journal
    Congress is going to respond to this continued emasculation with a painstakingly measured combination of harsh words and sulking.
  • The simple fact is that talking on any phone, cellular in particular, is not private. If you think it is you are delluding yourself. As a comm tech in the 80's we routinely monitored voice traffic for amusement purposes. The things you hear are mind boggling! People talk on the phone about the most private and illegal things. Why oh why would anyone ever discuss something on an unsecure medium that they don't want anyone to know is beyond me. I remember years ago some congressional members cell call w
    • This complacency is the problem. We have the right to expect privacy to be the default. We have the right that it is respected except in the most grave of situations. Lots of things will still happen, people will be mugged. Should we just say, "you shouldn't have been out that late." You should have been fired and prosecuted for your "amusement." Your "amusement" is a lack of respect for others.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by amiga3D ( 567632 )
        >You should have been fired and prosecuted for your "amusement." Your "amusement" is a lack of respect for others.

        I don't disagree. It was wrong. Still and all.....privacy is an illusion. You can bitch all you want but the fact is that without some form of encryption there is no secure communications. From bored comm techs to overly enthusiastic FBI agents and NSA operatives, there is always someone listening. You can expect privacy but you aren't going to get it.

    • "People talk on the phone about the most private and illegal things"

      Yeah, I've heard that people will even be so crazy as admit to committing felonies, like listening in on others' phone conversations. Can you believe it??
    • by ygslash ( 893445 )
      Sounds like people who write private matters in their emails.
  • by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:10AM (#20887263)
    Last time I looked, the House and Senate had subpoena power. If they want to investigate what Bush administration has been up to with the telcos, they can simply haul the telcos, the administration officials, or both into a hearing and compel them to testify. A few contempt citations should clarify the issue of who did what and why rather quickly.

    Maybe getting a formal refusal to investigate from the FCC is somehow a necessary preliminary to getting to the bottom of this nonsense. I hope so.

    Come on folks let's move on this. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that there are people out there who will be only to happy to testify in detail about what has been done and why and are just waiting for someone to ask. .

    National Security? Betcha not. Anyone with a very long memory will recall that the Nixon administration's first ploy in trying to elude Watergate was to invoke National Security. After that was laughed off, they switched to executive privilege. Have we learned nothing? The best way to deal with miscreants in high places is to expose the facts about what they have been doing to the light of day.

    • by jefu ( 53450 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @10:53AM (#20887959) Homepage Journal

      Last time I looked, the House and Senate had subpoena power. ... A few contempt citations should clarify the issue...

      From the way things are going, Bush would refuse to allow them to testify based on "executive privilege and the separation of powers". This would spend some time travelling up to the Supreme court - long enough to allow the very-short-attention-span congresscritters to forget. If the Supreme court did rule against Bush he could still tell his minions to refuse to testify and pardon them immediately on issue of contempt citations. Bingo, a congress that can do nothing.

      • even if the end result is that congress is powerless, make bush do it. make him do it all. make him prove to the american people the lengths he will go to to cover up what he's done to the citizens.
        • even if the end result is that congress is powerless, make bush do it. make him do it all. make him prove to the american people the lengths he will go to to cover up what he's done to the citizens.

          He'd tell them he was doing it to protect them from the terrorists, and they'd thank him for it.
      • At which point Congress turns around and impeaches him, and THEN starts issuing citations again. If Cheney starts pulling the same, they impeach him, too.

        Not that they will do any of it.

        But that's neither here nor there.

  • ...After all, if the telcos didn't do anything wrong, they should have nothing to hide.
  • "Talk to our guy over at NSA, the one you gave the special clearance to. I think those Dems might be up to something. Let's see who they've been talking to."
  • power balance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damp heat ( 1168981 )
    How much trust do you have for the average person on the street? Would you trust them to bring your lost wallet back to you with all the cash in it you had? The problem with Government, with Police, with anyone in power, is that they are humans, with all the same flaws as you and me, and then some. Many are nosey, greedy, and most of all, attracted to power and all that it entails. I'm not saying this is universal. The question isn't "what am I trying to hide?" It's "why do you want to know?" Imbalance of k
  • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @01:03PM (#20888901) Homepage Journal
    SOMEONE needs to remind the government (including the FCC) that THEY work for US - and that WE want this investigated.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fotbr ( 855184 )
      Good luck with that. Congress requested the investigation. It still got blocked.

      Sure, we can vote out the politicians, but the bureaucracy will continue, regardless of which party happens to be in power.

      What we NEED to do is purge the bureaucracy every decade or so. And not just the top few administrative types -- everyone. Bring new people and new ideas in at all levels.

      Also, making it ridiculously easy to fire a government employee would help as well. I think they're moving the right direction with t
      • by GnuDiff ( 705847 )
        As a former FSN for a US Embassy, I can second that for DoS, too - at least as much as we were able to glimpse into the world of FSOs. ;)
  • Ron Paul said it himself when he mentioned that the US government should be investigated from the outside in.
  • The problem lies in the fact that information given without a warrant by a third party is perfectly legal. If I, as a federal agent, request information, the company or individual can give that information freely of their own volition. As long as I do not threaten, nothing "underhanded" has happened. And that info can be used in court or any other way I wish. It is only when a individual or entity declines to provide the requested information that a warrant is needed.

    Many big corps and individuals feel
    • by GnuDiff ( 705847 )
      Don't the US have some sort of laws about information privacy like here in EU?

      I believe there is an EU regulation that has been implemented in (well at least our it is) member states, that specifies how the information concerning individuals must be stored, to whom it may be given and under what circumstances - for all other matters it is considered confidential. There is a State Person Data Inspection, which actually does follow this. AFAIK, not very closely, but you definitely can go and complain and they

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!