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Obama Administration Defends Warrantless Wiretapping 788

a whoabot writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Obama administration has stepped in to defend AT&T in the case over their participation in the warrantless wiretapping program started by Bush. The Obama administration argues that that continuation of the case will lead to the disclosure of important 'state secrets.' The Electronic Frontier Foundation has described the action as an 'embrace' of the Bush policy." Update: 04/07 15:18 GMT by T : Glenn Greenwald of Salon has up an analysis of this move, including excerpts from the actual brief filed. Excerpt: "This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ's, and the ample time that elapsed — almost three full months — makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials."
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Obama Administration Defends Warrantless Wiretapping

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  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:20AM (#27489847) Homepage

    The little R next to the president's name indicating party changed to a D and some Wikipedia pages were updated.

    When it comes to wiretapping, the same status quo was maintained when Bush senior yielded the presidency to Clinton. In fact, Clinton expanded wiretapping for US economic gains, claiming it would "level the playing field." See James Bamford's Body of Secrets [] .

    Nearly all our presidents over the last few decades have pretty much been in agreement that violation of privacy is cool. The exception is Carter, who actually tried hard to limit the intercepts. And old-time NSA employees, military and civilian, despise him for it, because a lot of them get off on unhindered access to communications.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:23AM (#27489911) Homepage Journal
    "This is my biggest disappointment so far in his presidency. It's a signal that, for all the talk about transparency, it's talk."

    Why does this surprise you?

    I mean, while on the campaign trail, he came back to the Senate, and reversed his earlier stated positions, and voted FOR the bill giving the telco's immunity.

    You could have easily seen this coming before voting him for president. He didn't hide his change of opinion on this one.

  • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:29AM (#27490011) Journal
    Never mind

    They also said disclosure of whether AT&T took part in the program would tell the nation's enemies "which channels of communication may or may not be secure."

    I thought we pretty much knew this information. [] I guess that's the case for most "classified" information, the public already has a pretty good idea about what it is.

  • by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:32AM (#27490065)

    "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." --The American President (20.1.2009 [])

    Clearly, the President is choosing something over our ideals []. It's about time that he explained what he's choosing.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:40AM (#27490229) Homepage

    So vote for a socialist candidate. If you're trying to get to New York from Philly, your best bet is to head north, not west.

    Your libertarian comment is quite political in the truest sense, as it is the far right which has tried to paint itself as libertarian without actually being so, and the far left which has encouraged the misunderstanding to keep its own faithful. I fail to see how being anti-war, anti-empire, anti-drug war, pro-privacy, and pro-freedom are characteristics of the far right.

  • Re:Does this (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymusing ( 1450747 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:42AM (#27490247)

    FTA: Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lawyer for the customers, said Monday the filing was disappointing in light of the Obama presidential campaign's "unceasing criticism of Bush-era secrecy and promise for more transparency."

    Well, Obama did criticise Bush's handling of terrorism, but he also said this []: "Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the [warrantless wiretapping and telecom immunity], but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -- and the liberty -- of the American people."

    Apparently one of those "necessary steps" is to continue defending the program.

  • by geoffrobinson ( 109879 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:50AM (#27490387) Homepage

    Obama voted for FISA while in the Senate. Were people just hoping he didn't really mean it?

    Look, the handwriting has been on the wall for a while. He's a politician from Chicago.

    People went all crazy about him without pausing and realizing he is still a politician.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:54AM (#27490429)

    No, I'm saying we have universal healthcare that's up to a damn good standard, but if I want to be treated like I'm in a five star hotel then I can pay the extra for it, and I *still* pay less in tax and less in private insurance than the average american.

  • Re:Excellent news! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:06PM (#27490653)

    He didn't inherit squat. He voted for immunity for AT&T for doing wireless wiretapping while in the Senate.

    That means he did indeed help make the mess.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:08PM (#27490691)

    Qualifier - less in health insurance tax.

    We have a horrible amount of tax here in the UK.

  • What to fear (Score:3, Informative)

    by MasterLock ( 581630 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:08PM (#27490695)
    Quite a timely post from on Bruce Schneier's blog: []

    Original article by John Goekler: []

    Of the top things to be scared of there is no mention of terrorism. But watch out for family members! "Over 16,000 Americans will be murdered this year, most often by a relative or friend."

  • by fluffykitty1234 ( 1005053 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:29PM (#27491121)

    FISA says you can start a wiretap without a warrant, but you have to get a warrant eventually.

    The thing is, what the NSA is doing now is tapping _all_ phone conversations and not getting any warrants until they get a hit, then they get a warrant for that one conversation.

    There was a writeup awhile back, a guy that worked for AT&T basically told what was going on. In the main San Francisco telco central office, the NSA owns a huge room, where all communications are routed. This gives them a central point to tap and monitor all conversations. I'm sure they are doing this in all of the major metro areas as well.

    From an intelligence point of view, this is really the only way to collect this data, but from a civil liberties point of view its a huge violation.

    The "government" just thinks we're too stupid to know what's going on, and admitting what they're doing would be a huge black eye I guess. Especially since Obama could have shut it down, but chose not to.

  • Re:Change? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:36PM (#27491235)
    Watched my Uncle, and my Grand parents die off because of Canadian health care. What they needed to live was either rationed, scheduled months out, screwed up via pure incompetence, not available or in my Dad's mom's case not available to her because of her age and an extra dose of morphine was the butchers answer for her. And yes I'm posting this Anonymously because leftists are some of the most vindictive people out there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:02PM (#27491703)

    Actually the NHS is pretty terrible as this book by a British journalist [] explains. This does not mean that the American system is better, although your chances of surviving a serious illness are better in America and you won't get MRSA. The NHS may well be better value for money, but it certainly isn't "up to a damn good standard". We get nurses and doctors coming to the UK from the third world and being shocked at how primitive everything is here. You are lucky to have private insurance.

  • Re:Change? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Loadmaster ( 720754 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:16PM (#27491919)

    He did run on the platform of less troops in Iraq and more in Afghanistan. Not sure how doing what you said you would do is sleazy.

  • by deets101 ( 1290744 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:45PM (#27492507)
    Yeah, where would he ever get an idea like that...?

    "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
    --President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

    "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
    --President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

    "Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
    --Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

    "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
    --Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

    "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." Letter to President Clinton, signed by:
    -- Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others, Oct. 9, 1998

    "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
    -Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

    "Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
    -- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

    "There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
    Letter to President Bush, Signed by:
    -- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), and others, Dec 5, 2001
  • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:05PM (#27492863) Homepage

    And technically, adding soldiers to Afghanistan is the exact opposite of "bringing our troops home"

    You are aware that throughout his campaign, he was fairly consistent about the idea that we should be escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, right?

    He didn't campaign on the idea that aren't wars we should be fighting, nor on the idea all troops should be home. He *did* focus against the Iraq war, which, as he'd been saying since 2002, he thought was a problematic conflict to begin with.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears