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

    by Adreno ( 1320303 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:14AM (#24172207)
    ... that both Obama and McCain support this measure. Is this a reflection of middle America's concerns?
  • Hey Obama! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:14AM (#24172215)

    I am half tempted to tell those solicitors for presidential campaign donations that I gave their $150 donation to the ACLU instead.

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

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:30AM (#24172305)

    Is this a reflection of middle America's concerns?

    No. I don't know three people that know FISA from Adam's Housecat. And of the two I DO know, neither thinks it's nearly so important as how many times the Mayor of Mandeville is going to get a free pass on his drunken driving.

    Hate to break it to you, but most of America has been impacted by the anti-terror legislation not even the slightest. And thus has little reason to really care about it....

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

    by cryptodan ( 1098165 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:49AM (#24172427) Homepage

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

    Hindsight is a motherfucker, huh?

    Yes it is, and that didn't happen because Janet Reno and his Legal Team to not do it. Had he took a risk like he did lying under oath then maybe all this terrorist talk wouldn't exist, but who knows. Maybe it would have happened anyways or maybe it wouldn't have.

    Or Maybe if the Reagan administration wouldn't have helped Bin Laden and Crew fight the russians in the 80's then maybe this all wouldn't have happened. History sure does love biting us in the ass, but many people don't think that far back. Instead they only go back to January 20th 2001 when Bush took office and lay entire blame on him.

    I will never understand how people can hold President Clinton up on a pedestal and praise him as the most influential president ever and think of him as some sort of God send, when in fact is is neither. To me he is the worse president to have ever laid foot in the Oval Office for not doing his job better.


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

    by GospelHead821 ( 466923 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:55AM (#24172485)

    Not only do many Americans not care about it, I've discussed similar laws with other people and they can't even seem to grasp why I care. They can't understand objecting to a law on philosophical or ethical grounds.

    That is different from somebody who can say, "I understand why it upsets you, but I won't personally get upset until it affects me." Neither attitude is particularly responsible, in my opinion. The attitude that I see, however, actually has a chilling effect on citizens who do object based on principles alone and also on politicians who might otherwise vote conscientiously. There is a large fraction of people who, because they can't justify an objection on purely philosophical grounds, see opposition to such a law as being soft on terrorism and nothing more.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:17AM (#24172607)

    Nobody is disputing the wisdom of conducting surveillance on Joe Terrorist

    I am.

    communication is like air and water. we don't meter THOSE out. if you breath, you have a right to air and water.

    the same SHOULD be true of whispering in a friend's ear. even if one or both people are 'evil'. its NOT for us to decide who gets FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS.

    we need to fix the social error of thinking that privacy is something that can be bought, sold, bargained for, and limited.

    I know the reason people WANT to limit freedom of communication, but this will end up harming everyone much more than it will 'catch bad guys'.

    sometimes, some things are SO basic - they should not be controlled or given limits. the ability to exchange ideas, even if we disagree with those ideas, should ALWAYS be allowed. period. no conditions.

    stop trying to 'fix' the world by limiting things that should never have been limited to begin with.

    (and if that does not make sense to you, lets see how long the threshold shifts from 'really really bad guys' to 'slightly bad guys'. you think only terr-a-wrists(tm) will be denied ability to communicate freely? think again. slippery slope and all that. it WILL happen as it IS happening to us all, right now.)

    remove all wiretapping. ALL OF IT. no one should be monitored. and if 'stuff' happens, well, THAT is what you get from a truly free society. I still believe the benefits outweight the problems when you maximize freedom and treat all humans like humans.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:21AM (#24172637) Homepage Journal

    Just because something makes sense doesn't make it constitutional. Congress can't make an end run around the Constitution. Don't like the way the Constitution prevents such and such? Amend the Constitution.

    It really depends on what the intent of the bill of rights is. In the case of search and seizure, there's some that would argue that the they were not trying to instill a right to privacy as much as they were trying to guard against the federal government repeating a popular tactic of the king, which was to send out his agents to disrupt people's lives by rummaging through people's stuff and periodically arrest them. The idea is, sometimes, yes, the government does have to disrupt people's lives by rummage through their stuff.

    Now, the question is, does, a broad data mining and "hit" search constitute a disruption? You don't know if the government is searching you, right now, so does it disrupt you?

    I mean, we have our data searched by the private sector all the time and quite honestly many of us on this board are getting paid to develop tools to gather and manage this data, and worse, in the early days, many of us built these big data farms thinking that it would be cool. Woops.

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

    by dunnius ( 1298159 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:32AM (#24172731)
    This is why I fear that a revolution may be the only option left for our country. It really is unfortunate that the two major candidates have decided to take a daily crap on the Constitution.
  • Complicated (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:36AM (#24172753)

    Sometimes laws that have no chance of surviving the courts are supported as a form of pandering.

    Nothing new in this case EXCEPT:

    The Supreme court is corrupt and the republic has already fallen (making it just entertainment for the politically active.)

    The population should be against it, so a move like this by Obama when he has a history of abstaining on this stuff is extremely interesting as to what really must be going on. We are not allowed to hear what he does; could be the CIA is feeding them more lies and Obama isn't wise enough (since he wasn't privy on the Iraq vote I never bought his line about always opposing the war.) OR certain powerful forces demand the passing of the bill and Obama serves or must kiss their ass.

    No, I'm not a Hillary supporter. Hillary voted against it but I'm confident if she were in his shoes she would have voted for it FOR THE SAME CURIOUS REASONS.

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

    by imipak ( 254310 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @11:56AM (#24172883) Journal

    The only option at this point is to begin militant action against our failed government institution. Unfortunately we would have no backing because the TV still spews its garbage and the people are sated.

    And that, ladies gentlemen and geek masses, is just one reason why the " overthrow the government if they turn into a tyranny!" argument in support of the 2nd Amendment is baloney. Try it and see whether the general public see you as a terrorist or a patriot. Have you planned what you'd like for your last meal? (Oh yeah, and even if you DID somehow manage to raise a large, angry mob of enraged disenchanted ex-mainstreamers, how well d'you think you'd do against a modern military? Hmmmm, I suppose if the numbers were that great there'd be a split in the military as well as the general public. Sounds like a good recipe for some dystopian near-term future fiction [] to me!) (Note -- I'm not saying there are no other arguments in favour of the 2nd amendment, just that that one, which was the original intent of the framers, doesn't wash any more.)

  • Re:Complicated (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:23PM (#24173071) Journal

    You are correct, Obama has changed tunes and the reason is unclear. The CIA was told what information to feed the rest of government; they tried to give the right information.

    Obama is for all intents and purposes looking exactly like a bait and switch candidate. Not like we've not seen any of those before. The only thing that can change this is things like this lawsuit, massive communications among the people/bloggers/news outlets etc. as to what it does mean.

    I'm still waiting to hear what that Obama change is going to be. So far it's looking like only a change of skin color, politics and lawlessness remains the same. Paul and Barr would both bring change. The fact that they are against much of what supports the current corruption and lack of support for them by both main parties is significant.

    The one certain way to find out what that 'SAME CURIOUS REASON' is would be to elect someone that seems unaffected by it to see what rats jump ship while it's burning.

    OT: BTW does anyone know of any snippet of code to mail spam legislators with emails regarding how they should vote? There is probably a website that does, many let you write them on specific issues, but does anyone know of one that allows a person to contact all of them with a single letter?

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:30PM (#24173161)

    I'm posting anonymously because I moderated in this discussion, don't want to undo them, and can not help but reply to your post.

    Your claim that air fare is cheaper in the US than the past is true, but it's still down right embarrassing compared to air fare in Europe. I have a Scottish friend who once told me about an occasion where she was able to fly to London for *ONE* GBP. Of course she got various frequent flier discounts and such but for me to fly from Windsor, Ontario to Toronto (a 3 1/2 hour drive) would cost me $150 ONE WAY the last time I looked into it.

    North American air lines are going bankrupt while our European friends are flying more than ever because it's cheaper than taking the train or bus. Something is *seriously* wrong and prices should NOT be going up. They should be going down.

    Of course the economy has a lot to do with it but the GP mentioned that point. He's claiming that making the public fearful, and tightening border security and basically just making it a pain in the ass for people to do business in your country is not a great way to stimulate the country's economy.

  • by Drake42 ( 4074 ) * on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:12PM (#24173493) Homepage

    Obama was smart to vote for this, even though he opposed it!

    1) It would have passed anyway without his vote
    2) McCain abstained, so Obama can hammer him as being 'weak' on terrorism and bring more Republicans away from the McCain camp.

    It's just like any other tactical game. If you give away something that doesn't matter (a vote on a lost cause) to gain something valuable (a weapon against your opponent) then you're playing a smart game.

  • by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:24PM (#24173573)

    I wish I had examples. Have challenges to the DC gun ban been thrown out for standing in the past?

    I'm reading the complaint right now. The plaintiffs are making the case that they reasonably expectation that this kind of surveillance power will interfere with their operations. One example is Amnesty International, who routinely communicate with persons in other countries concerning highly sensitive information. These aren't necessarily countries friendly to the United States either. Since the new powers require no accountability to anyone, Amnesty International cannot guarantee confidentiality to anyone speaking to them, which means that no one will.

    So the challenge is based on an expectation that the law will interfere in the future. Normally, that's just something that organizations have to adjust to. In this case, the plaintiffs are saying this interference is unacceptable because the law is unconstitutional.

    I hope I have it right. Not that it matters what I think the complaint means.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @01:35PM (#24173661)

    We need to replace plurality voting with IRV or Approval voting in local elections. Once the new voting systems become accepted at the local level, we can roll them out nationally.

    Getting rid of plurality voting will gradually end two-party control of our republic.

  • Attack plan R (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johnny cashed ( 590023 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:05PM (#24173901) Homepage
    Israel=General Ripper US=Buck Turgidson
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @06:03PM (#24175563) Homepage Journal

    Also keep in mind that since taxation is always coupled with government expenditure, the combination can only have the effect of diverting resources from where consumers wanted them used to some other use chosen by political official. So, 40% of people's income is forcibly taken from them and put to some other use than they would have otherwise chosen.

    Not necessarily. Keep in mind that political officials are elected by those same people, precisely to do things like divert resources to various projects. And often, when people want the government to do something, it's because private industry can't (or won't) do it: the government isn't constrained by having to turn a profit. It may not be the most efficient way to get things done, but sometimes it's the only way.

    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.

    Would the people who ended up subsidizing it have preferred to spend their money on something else instead? Possibly. But that's what happens in a democracy: sometimes you're outnumbered.

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

    by terjeber ( 856226 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:29PM (#24176707)

    And it's the duty of our soldiers to neutralize threats

    Absolutely, in war, that is what both parties do. 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. You never do that simply because for every captive we have at GITMO, one beheading of an American soldier becomes "justified" (please note the quotes, I don't thin they are). That is why warring nations don't do shit like this. Even Germany treated their captives (soldiers) with a reasonable amount of respect. We have now sunk far lower than the Germans of WWII.

    but we are well within our rights to whisk him away to the strange island in no-mans-land for the duration of the conflict.

    Governed by certain rules, yes. Rules that we have now broken each and every one of. That is why our Repugnican leadership refuses to grant them the rights soldiers have. So that we can break these rules. As a true Republican, the communist nut-jobs currently at the helm in this country make me sick. GITMO is the stuff of old communist regimes. This is the stuff the Soviet Union and of the North-Vietnamese government were engaged in. George W. Bush and his Repugnicans has made us sink lower than the communist regimes that treated their own and foreign citizens like this. We are supposed to be better, but after GWB, we are worse since we are, as they were not, ostensibly a democracy fighting for individual freedom.

    as proscribed by the Geneva Conventions

    Which is why the Repugnicans are fighting so hard to make sure that the GITMO prisoners are not covered by the Geneva Convention.

    wearing uniforms, being under the command of officers and carrying your weapons openly -- how many of the Taliban fighters really meet any those requirements?

    I'd say the vast majority of them probably. What is a uniform? In Afghanistan it was a turban, shoes and some sort of garment. They were, by any standard, soldiers and we treat them worse than war criminals.

    The Geneva Conventions were never intended to be applied to those that refuse to follow the laws and customs of war.

    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. When you do, the other guy loses his moral authority and becomes a criminal. By breaking the Geneva Convention we became the criminals and our soldiers are now justifiably, in our enemies views, humiliated, tortured and killed.

    You and I both know that our soldiers would still be tortured and beheaded if we stuck to the Geneva Convention. Our breaking it didn't make that shit happen. It just justified it to anyone living outside of the US. That is the problem with breaking the rules. Once you break them they no longer apply to you.

    The Taliban was only recognized by two or three other nations as I recall

    Ah, but you are forgetting one important piece here. If I am one of the people inside Afghanistan who recognizes the Taliban as my leaders, then the moral obligation lies with me, irrespective of what other countries say. That makes me a just soldier for my country and thereby easily, if we are going to be rational about it, covered by the Geneva Convention.

    Again, the problem is one of strict adherence, not only to the letter but also to the spirit of the law. Unless you do so you have lost the moral high ground and anything goes. Since we decided to cede the moral high-ground from day one, we lost the entire war in the eyes of the entire world.

    War is PR

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

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @10:03PM (#24176921) Homepage Journal

    >Sure, there are some non-citizens at Gitmo, but I happen to believe that most, if not all, were actively plotting against this country, or knowingly helping others who were.

    Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost for a satirical newspaper article []
    Prisoners held after being cleared by military tribunals []

    >Do either of you have first-hand experience with someone who spoke out against the government and then "heard the fed knocking"?

    The time to pull the fire alarm is before the building is engulfed. When it's possible to be charged for filming Katrina refugees [] or convicted for holding a "No War for Oil" sign [] it is time to acknowledge a problem.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson