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ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging FISA 542

Wired's Threat Level blog reports that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Recently passed by both the House and Senate, FISA was signed into law on Thursday by President Bush. The ACLU has fought aspects of FISA in the past. The new complaint (PDF) alleges the following: "The law challenged here supplies none of the safeguards that the Constitution demands. It permits the government to monitor the communications of U.S. Citizens and residents without identifying the people to be surveilled; without specifying the facilities, places, premises, or property to be monitored; without observing meaningful limitations on the retention, analysis, and dissemination of acquired information; without obtaining individualized warrants based on criminal or foreign intelligence probable cause; and, indeed, without even making prior administrative determinations that the targets of surveillance are foreign agents or connected in any way, however tenuously, to terrorism."
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ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging FISA

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  • Re:hooray sortof (Score:5, Informative)

    by magarity ( 164372 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:28AM (#24172295)

    but the aclu will fail as always
    Fail as always? What are you smoking? They frequently win. Don't forget their former solicitor general is on the supreme court.

  • Re:hooray sortof (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:41AM (#24172363)

    Clinton did try to kill bin Laden, and the right cried about him "wagging the dog".

    Hindsight is a motherfucker, huh?

  • Re:Standing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:05AM (#24172541)

    ACLU already listed the plantiffs in their case. [] Let's not forget, the only reason for FISA was because the ACLU has already won, warrantless wiretapping is illegal.

  • Re:Hey Obama! (Score:2, Informative)

    by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:07AM (#24172553) Homepage Journal
    I would rather vote for someone who wore their ideology on their sleeve than someone who hides it. Everyone has idealogical tendencies even judges and to deny it is to ignore the history of the court itself. Time for change.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann,slashdot&gmail,com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:20AM (#24172631) Homepage Journal

    The problem is when the terrorists are already in the Congress and the White House.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Narpak ( 961733 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:40AM (#24172779)
    There is still a way to change this through the democratic system. But it requires people to actively vote for independent candidates; and to actively research the people running for office. Instead of thinking that you can only vote for democrats or republican. There are other parties out there, they are small, but if people are able to disengage themselves from the dogma of the two party system; perhaps things can change.
  • by fangorious ( 1024903 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:50AM (#24172841)
    Since the bill allows instant tapping of calls to/from joe terrorist's known overseas number and some number in the us, it really isn't so unreasonable.

    The original FISA already allowed for that without being modified. The government already had up to three days after initiation of the tap to obtain a specific warrant. So why was this even needed?

  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:53AM (#24172853)

    But now the attack has moved to a bill passed into law by congress that in and of itself violates the right to be secure against unreasonable searches of every American. You should, at least in theory, be able to establish standing by simply showing that you are one of the broad class of people who might now be subject to unwarranted surveillance at some point, since by that very fact the bill has violated your right to be secure against such an eventuality.

    IANAL, of course -- but when has that stopped anyone on /.?

    However, I recall that it's still necessary to have an "actual case or controversy" where the plaintiff has a redressable wrong. "Maybe" and "could" don't count. Of course, the ACLU could cite the Court's ruling in the Massachusetts greenhouse-gas case to establish standing on behalf of people not yet born, but I think that only applies where a government body is acting as plaintiff on their behalf.

  • Re:In time of war (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:58AM (#24172903)

    We are *NOT* officially at war. Congress has authorized the use of force, but stopped far short of declaring war.

    For the folks at the pointy end of things, the difference is purely semantic. For the folks in Washington, the difference is wider than the US of A.

    Congress does not like declaring war, exactly because of the powers that such a declaration grants to the President.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:58AM (#24172907) Homepage

    ...and grant us our rights?

    ...and PROTECT AND DEFEND our rights?

    There, fixed that for you.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by masdog ( 794316 ) <> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:12PM (#24172993)
    He didn't abstain. To do that, he had to actually be in the Senate chamber that day. He was hundreds of miles away trying to make the case for a future job when he couldn't even make an effort to do his current job.
  • Re:In time of war (Score:3, Informative)

    by fangorious ( 1024903 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:19PM (#24173043)
    You heard wrong. Congress did not declare war according to Alberto Gonzales in testimony [] to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February of 2006

    GONZALES: There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force. I only want to clarify that, because there are implications. Obviously, when you talk about a war declaration, you're possibly talking about affecting treaties, diplomatic relations. And so there is a distinction in law and in practice. And we're not talking about a war declaration. This is an authorization only to use military force.

  • Re:In time of war (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:23PM (#24173069)

    Formal war has not been declared by congress as stipulated in Article I of the constitution. So we are not 'officially at war'.

  • Re:Option (Score:5, Informative)

    by tux_deamon ( 663650 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:46PM (#24173285)

    "The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution."

    Isn't voting for Libertarian Bob Barr an option?

    Well, if civil liberties are your priority, then I don't know if Bob Barr is your guy. Consider:

    His support for the Patriot Act, his attacks on reproductive rights of women, his support for a constitutional ban on the rights of gay couples to marry, his support for banning adoption of children by gay parents, his restriction of freedom of speech and expression with respect to the US flag, his redefinition of habeas corpus to exclude death row appealates, his opposition to medical marijuana programs...

    Bob Barr seems much more like an ideological conservative than a true libertarian to me.

    Bob Barr on the Issues []

  • by Grym ( 725290 ) * on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:30PM (#24173611)

    This bill has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with saying whether or not the USA can spy on people in other countries who may be talking to people in ours.

    Nope. The previous FISA laws gave them that exact same power but they just had to go through a secret court up to three days after the surveillance began. There can't be an argument that such an arrangement interfered with the process because it, literally granted 99% of the cases that ever came to it (IIRC, only two requests were ever rejected.) This whole Terror Surveillance Program (which we should never forget began BEFORE 9/11) was an unconstitutional, illegitimate executive powergrab, pure an simple. This new law effectively sanctioned the TSP and broadened the FISA powers even further. And the reason it passed now is because the hypocritical democratic leadership believes they're going to win the presidency in the Fall.

    And what about our citizens' rights? Since when do you stop being an American citizen, with constitutionally-protected rights, just because you make an international phone call? Has it ever occurred to you that if people like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were around today that such justifications could be used to wiretap their phones? We're in dire straits if the bar on human and civil rights is now being set by China.


  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:37PM (#24173671) Journal

    There is still a way to change this through the democratic system. But it requires people to actively vote for independent candidates; and to actively research the people running for office.

    Obama was a civil rights lawyer and a Constitutional Law professor.
    He was against this Telecom law.

    Based on credentials, if anyone should have voted against such a blatantly unconstitutional law, it should have been Obama. After that vote, he can DIAF for all I care.

    Change does not require actively voting for independent candidates, or researching the people running for office. It requires the people running for (and in) office to do what they said they'll do.

  • This is not FISA (Score:5, Informative)

    by reydeyo ( 1126459 ) <`reydeyo' `at' `'> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:50PM (#24173789)

    FISA was passed back in 1978 after the Nixon abuses. This bill, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, sought to legitimize the President's warrantless wiretapping program that was illegal under FISA - because that's what FISA was designed to prevent! President Nixon did the exact same thing this administration is getting away with. I guess Congress actually had the balls to rein in abuses of power back in the seventies, even with the Cold War, the Soviet Union, and the possibility of nuclear annihilation hanging over them.

    It appears that Congress today has turned into a gaggle of cowards.

  • Re:Complicated (Score:4, Informative)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:04PM (#24173893) Homepage Journal

    Here's Obama's change:

    1) I will filibuster!

    Changes to...

    2) I vote AYE.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mondak ( 775074 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:19PM (#24174463)
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson
  • Re:dumbass (Score:5, Informative)

    by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:36PM (#24174611) Journal

    If you knew anything about how the govt works then you would know that the military can NOT be used against the population on our soil. The National Guard is the only branch authorized.

    If you'd been paying attention over the last couple of years, you'd know that Posse Comitatus will be changed at the drop of a hat []. Yes, the change was repealed - but it will be passed again as soon as there's a compelling "national emergency."

  • by qralston ( 131596 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:10PM (#24174835)

    You dare to mention the ACLU and the Constitution in the same sentence?

    The ACLU doesn't give two shits about the Constitution, and they never have. Thanks to the ACLU's reaction to the D.C. v. Heller decision [], many more people are finally realizing that the ACLU's true purpose is to champion causes of the Left, and nothing more.

    Yes, Heller was a 5-4 decision. But the important point is that all 9 Justices (in the opinion and the dissents) agreed that the Second Amendment protects an individual, not a collective right. In other words, the ACLU's position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right was unanimously refuted by the Supreme Court.

    The ACLU could've excused themselves from the whole Heller debate by pointing out that many organizations exist to defend Second Amendment rights. In other words, they could've simply said that they were going to leave the task of defending Second Amendment rights to already-capable hands. But no; the ACLU just couldn't resist weighing in on Heller by taking a dump on the Constitution--the very document they claim to so stridently defend.

    The ACLU is beyond contempt. It serves only to intercept donations that, if not for ACLU's hypocritical existence, might have actually gone to organizations that do defend civil liberties, instead of to a muckraking mouthpiece of the Left. They do not deserve respect (let alone support) in any form.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:23PM (#24174943)

    USSR - United States of Sheep and Retards

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etrias ( 1121031 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:33PM (#24175009)
    I hate to burst any patriotic shaped bubbles on this, but without the help of the French Navy eliminating the power of the British fleet and providing blockades and needed sea power (not to mention significant troop support), our guerrilla war may have ended a bit differently.
  • subsidies (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <<falconsoaring_2000> <at> <>> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @06:13PM (#24175633)

    For a US example, look at electrical and phone service in rural areas. It wasn't profitable for companies to offer service in those areas at a price consumers were willing to pay, but We The People decided electricity and telecommunications were important enough that people in those areas should have them anyway, so out came the subsidies.

    Ah but phone service wasn't subsidized with general taxpayer money. Those who had phone service paid a tax which was then used to fund service in rural areas. This tax was the Federal telephone excise tax [].


  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:10PM (#24176963) Homepage Journal

    >They're exactly the same

    Not according to their voting records. The ACLU legislative scorecard [] shows Obama voting for civil liberties 80% of the time, McCain 17%.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:40PM (#24177405) Journal

    What they never do in war, in civilized countries that is, civilized such as for example in Nazi Germany, is to treat soldiers of war the way the US is treating captives of it's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

    I think that you could have made your argument just fine without bringing up Nazi Germany []. It's not usefully helpful towards a productive debate or conversation to do so.

    Even Germany treated their captives (soldiers) with a reasonable amount of respect

    Really? So you would have wanted to be a Soviet POW captured by the Germans on the Eastern Front?

    We have now sunk far lower than the Germans of WWII.

    I'm disgusted by our actions in the last seven years but by making a statement like this you cost yourself a lot of creditability. It's either pure hyperbole (in which case you should know better) or pure ignorance of history. Go read about German activities behind the lines in the Soviet Union, Poland or the Balkans and tell me if you really think sending Taliban and/or Al Quada fighters to Gitmo comes remotely close to the anti-partisan methods adopted by the Wehrmacht and SS. They would march into villages and execute every single man, woman and child in response to partisan activities. Do you really think the United States has done anything remotely close to that?

    Please note that I'm not trying to defend our activities by bringing this up. Just trying to point out the absurdity of your statement that we've "sunk far lower than the Germans of WWII".

    That is why our Repugnican leadership refuses to grant them the rights soldiers have

    I'd agree but I don't think using the word "Repubnican" makes for a productive debate or respectful conversation.

    And this is where you just ran into serious trouble. You see, when we broke the Geneva Convention, and we have done that, it no longer applies to our soldiers in the field. This means that the torture and beheading of our soldiers is justified by our actions. That is why you, as a civilized country always abide by the rules

    Have you ever actually read the Geneva Conventions? How about the actions behind the lines during the Battle of the Bulge? We captured several English speaking German soldiers who had infiltrated behind the lines wearing American uniforms. They were summarily executed for this -- and it was all perfectly legal because the Germans lost the protections of the conventions by fighting in a false uniform.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by OwnedByTwoCats ( 124103 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:20AM (#24180135)

    Nonononono! As long as the government "believes" that somebody is a bad person, that makes it OK to violate one of the foundational rights of western civilization and hold him without a trial indefinitely. Citizenship is irrelevent.

    See Padilla, Jose.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @10:39AM (#24181143)

    US constitution, Article I, Section 9, guarantees habeas corpus except in certain extreme circumstances which do not apply.

    The sixth amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial. It makes it clear that this applies to everybody, not just citizens.

    Overall, the constitution is quite clear in the few areas where it talks about citizens as opposed to all people, and this is not one of them.


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