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Echelon: 60 Minutes discussion
December 19, 2005 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Echelon This is what we know--or do not know--about NSA prgram called Echelon, from 60 Minute show (TV) in 2000. If we assume this what had been going on and there were some sort of restraints for internal spying, then what is going on now? This evening I had heard on radio that the White House claimed that only calls going in and out of the country might be monitored. But this early interview suggests that such calls were monitored previous to the "new" approach. Why were legal restraints put in place calling for judicial hearings? Because of spying abuse done under Nixon. Those restraints are now removed.
posted by Postroad (158 comments total)

 
If we assume this what had been going on and there were some sort of restraints for internal spying, then what is going on now?

The 'restraint' on internal spying is that it absolutely not allowed.

By the way, Mark Felt, who we now know is deep throat, was convicted of illegally wiretapping people. (He was convicted after he retired, but the tapping itself took place while he was at the FBI)

Interesting bit of Trivia, Nixon himself actually testified against Felt, the first time he had ever appeared in court after Watergate. He was a prosecution witness but gave an impassioned defense for Felt. Why? Because Nixon always beloved Felt was Deep Throat and knew it would work as 'reverse psychology' on the Jury
posted by delmoi at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2005


I don't remember if Felt spent any time in Jail. I think he did. If it's good enough for Felt, it's good enough for Bush.

This is clearly in the grey area of the law, and I think it seriously needs to be looked at by someone other Then Alberto Gonzales. Is it for sure a crime? I'm not sure, As Gonzales said it actually isn't as bad as abducting people, so maybe it's not a crime. But it definitely needs to be investigated by a neutral third party.
posted by delmoi at 2:58 PM on December 19, 2005


GYOFB.
posted by docgonzo at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2005


For a relatively balanced look at Echelon and other NSA eavesdropping programs, I would highly recommend Chatter. I say balanced because this subject tends to draw polarizing views -- "deny existence" on the part of the government, to "the NSA has bugs in every house" on the part of conspiracy freaks. (Of course, the author makes the good point that the "deny everything" stance creates a vacuum of information that is inevitably filled by creative conspiracy theorists).
posted by pardonyou? at 3:08 PM on December 19, 2005


Funny how people talk about laws restricting government behaviour as though they still mattered.
posted by clevershark at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2005


The 'restraint' on internal spying is that it absolutely not allowed.

Absolutely true, with stipulations..if anyone's really interested, the primary source of guidance regarding intelligence oversight is Executive Order 12333.
posted by tetsuo at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2005


GYOFB

get your own fuckwit blog?
posted by quonsar at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2005


GYOFB
posted by fire&wings at 3:34 PM on December 19, 2005


Previous Echelon discussions which may be of interest -- here, here, here, here and here.
posted by ericb at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2005


This is clearly in the grey area of the law, and I think it seriously needs to be looked at by someone other Then Alberto Gonzales. Is it for sure a crime? I'm not sure, As Gonzales said it actually isn't as bad as abducting people, so maybe it's not a crime. But it definitely needs to be investigated by a neutral third party.

It's not grey at all---It's clearly illegal without a warrant, and it's legal only with a warrant (or if you go to FISA Court and get a warrant within 72 hours of doing it).

Those who forget Watergate are doomed to repeat it. We know they're spying on dissenters and activists and that Bolton got info from the NSA on US Officials who disagreed with him. What more do you need to know, besides who it is that's being spied on, and how we can make it stop, and punish those who do it?
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on December 19, 2005


Also, this spying without warrants may be responsible for people being sent to guantanamo --or abroad to a secret prison --without trial. Is that really ok with people?
posted by amberglow at 3:42 PM on December 19, 2005


CNN just reported that Senator Jay Rockefeller will be releasing a copy of the letter he sent to Vice President Cheney after he was informed by the White House in July 2003 about their domestic spying program. Apparently, the letter demonstrates his and others' concerns with the administration's justification for the program. CNN also reported that his letter (and other documents) will show that the administration is now misrepresenting what was actually shared with congressional leaders and committee chairpersons two years ago.
posted by ericb at 3:46 PM on December 19, 2005


this spying without warrants may be responsible for people being sent to guantanamo --or abroad to a secret prison --without trial

A Case of Mistaken Identity -- German Sues CIA Claiming Torture and Rendition Revisited.
posted by ericb at 3:49 PM on December 19, 2005


Senator Rockefeller's letter to Cheney just released.
posted by ericb at 3:51 PM on December 19, 2005


Statement from Senator Jay Rockefeller:
"Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement regarding the President’s decision to publicly confirm the existence of a highly-sensitive National Security Agency (NSA) program for intercepting communications within the United States.

Additionally, Senator Rockefeller released his correspondence to the White House on July 17, 2003 -- the day he first learned of thhe program -- expressing serious concerns about the nature of the program as well as Congress’ inability to provide oversight given the limited nature of the briefings.
“For the last few days, I have witnessed the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General repeatedly misrepresent the facts.

“The record needs to be set clear that the Administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program. The limited members who were told of the program were prohibited by the Administration from sharing any information about it with our colleagues, including other members of the Intelligence Committees.

“At the time, I expressed my concerns to Vice President Cheney that the limited information provided to Congress was so overly restricted that it prevented members of Congress from conducting meaningful oversight of the legal and operational aspects of the program.

“These concerns were never addressed, and I was prohibited from sharing my views with my colleagues.

“Now that this issue has been brought out into the open, I strongly urge the Senate Intelligence Committee to immediately undertake a full investigation into the legal and operational aspects of the program, including the lack of sufficient congressional oversight.”
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on December 19, 2005


I am glad President Bush is doing this. Moreover, it's perfectly legal and REQUIRED in a time of war.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:57 PM on December 19, 2005


Chicago Tribune (conservative; pro-Bush newspaper) on the NSA affair:
Missteps in the War on Terror

"This may also be a violation of American law, which requires that a special court issue warrants for wiretaps on communications originating in the United States. Some officials familiar with the program said it is illegal. But a Justice Department memo took the radical position that the congressional resolution authorizing the president to act against Al Qaeda enabled him to use methods that were previously forbidden.

On Saturday, President Bush strongly defended the program, saying it has 'helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks' here and abroad. Had the administration really believed it had congressional consent for spying on Americans at home, it could have asked for legislation to affirm that. It didn't, for the obvious reason that Congress would not have agreed....Excesses of enforcement violate civil liberties."
posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on December 19, 2005


"Where does [President Bush] find in the Constitution the authority to tap the wires and the phones of American citizens without any court oversight?" demanded Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also disputed Bush's statement in the news conference that checks on his executive power -- such as his authority to order the secret surveillance -- came from his oath of office and congressional oversight.

"That's not a check on the executive branch, notifying some members of Congress -- if he did -- that he's taken the law into his own hands," Levin said. "That is not a check on the executive branch, nor is the fact that he gets opinions from six lawyers in the executive branch, all under his control, that he can do this."

Levin noted that FISA allows for retroactively seeking the court's permission for wiretaps in the event of an emergency. "And so he can't just simply use the necessity to move quickly as an excuse to bypass the law," he said.

"The president does not have a leg to stand on legally with regard to this program," said Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.). He added, "I think it's one of the weakest legal arguments I've heard that this [Afghanistan] war resolution somehow undid the basic laws of wiretapping in the United States."

If Bush feels the FISA law needs to be changed, "he should come to us and we should debate it," Feingold said. Meanwhile, Bush should respect the FISA court and "cease doing anything else he might be doing for which there is not legal authority that we don't know about," he said. "He is the president, not a king."

[Washington Post | December 19, 2005]
posted by ericb at 4:04 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus writes "Moreover, it's perfectly legal and REQUIRED in a time of war."

It's EXPLICITLY against Federal law, and an impeachable offense.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:06 PM on December 19, 2005


A link for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with the law.

Excerpt: Unanimously, the Court held that at least in cases of domestic subversive investigations, compliance with the warrant provisions of the Fourth Amendment was required. 152 Whether or not a search was reasonable, wrote Justice Powell for the Court, was a question which derived much of its answer from the warrant clause; except in a few narrowly circumscribed classes of situations, only those searches conducted pursuant to warrants were reasonable. The Government's duty to preserve the national security did not override the gurarantee that before government could invade the privacy of its citizens it must present to a neutral magistrate evidence sufficient to support issuance of a warrant authorizing that invasion of privacy.
posted by ryanissuper at 4:07 PM on December 19, 2005


The Government's duty to preserve the national security did not override the gurarantee that before government could invade the privacy of its citizens it must present to a neutral magistrate evidence sufficient to support issuance of a warrant authorizing that invasion of privacy.

Sounds clear to me.
posted by ericb at 4:08 PM on December 19, 2005


Mr. Roboto, constitutional genius:

At issue is whether the listening in on overseas phone conversations is, in a time of war, "unreasonable." A person is now subject to a warrantless search when boarding an airplane, entering the New York subway system, or even entering the building that houses the office of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Why should an international phone call be inviolate?

Beyond the Fourth Amendment, the law that is said to restrict the Bush administration's activities is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But, contrary to what you may read in some other newspapers, that law does not require that all such surveillance be authorized by a court. The law provides at least two special exceptions to the requirement of a court order. As FISA has been integrated into Title 50 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 36, Subchapter I, Section 1802, one such provision is helpfully headed, "Electronic surveillance authorization without court order."

This "without court order" was so clear that even President Carter, a Democrat not known for his vigilance in the war on terror, issued an executive order on May 23, 1979, stating, "Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order." He said, "without a court order."

Now, Section 1802 does impose some conditions, including that "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." But the law defines "United States person" somewhat narrowly, so that it would not include illegal aliens or, arguably, those who fraudulently obtained legal status.

And if Section 1802 isn't enough, regard section 1811 of the same subchapter of the United States Code, "Authorization during time of war." It states, "Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress." Again, mark the phrase, "without a court order."

It certainly is the president's view, and ours, that Congress's declarations following September 11 formalized the state of war that was brought to us by our enemies. It will no doubt be debated whether the 15-day period is renewable. It is clear, though, that under the definitions included in the Act, "Foreign intelligence information" may include information concerning a United States person that is necessary not only to "the national defense or the security of the United States," but even merely to "the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States."


posted by ParisParamus at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2005


it must present to a neutral magistrate

Informing congressional leaders is not the same as presenting to a neutral magistrate. The "check-and-balance" for FISA is the judiciary and not the legislature.
posted by ericb at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2005


But we NEED Echelon and so on to protect us from the Perverts! Who cares if none of us have any privacy or liberty if it stops one high school kid from paying for his drug habit by wanking into a webcam!
posted by davy at 4:15 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus:

Neither of those conditions is applicable: there has been no declaration of war, and the ambiguity as to "United States Persons" is not present.

That Sun editorial seems less an honest legal analysis than an attempt to flummox less-than-careful readers with a barrage of quotes from the U.S.C.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:20 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus: I'm still waiting to hear ANY rational argument for why the secret FISA Court system, which can be initiated up to 72 hours after a wiretap, isn't sufficient. Other than, you know, general totalitarian beliefs that the co-equal Executive Branch shouldn't actually be subject to any checks and balances the way the Founders intended.
posted by twsf at 4:20 PM on December 19, 2005


twsf, I don't know the answer. But I did want to call BS on the claim that what was done, and, hopefully, is STILL being done, is illegal.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:22 PM on December 19, 2005


"[The White House is] actually not arguing that the Afghanistan War Resolution gave them the authority to override whatever laws or constitutional prohibitions exist against these warrantless searches/wiretaps. What they're arguing is that the Resolution affirmed the president's inherent power as commander-in-chief to do these things.

They really do seem to be arguing that the president's powers as a wartime commander-in-chief are essentially without limits. He's simply not bound by the laws the Congress makes.

For more on this, see the September 25th, 2001 memo by John Yoo, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and this Newsweek article from a year ago, which discusses it." [source]
posted by ericb at 4:23 PM on December 19, 2005


Paris: By the information in your own link, Bush committed a crime. We are talking about US citizens here.
posted by ryanissuper at 4:24 PM on December 19, 2005


Actually, there was a joint resoultion by Congress in 2002 of war.
As to the nationality/ national status of the people involved, I don't know the answer either. Do you?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:29 PM on December 19, 2005


Show me the US citizens, please.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:29 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus writes "Actually, there was a joint resolution by Congress in 2002 of war. "

There was no Declaration of War. Period. Not even Gonzales is making that claim.

The Senate investigation will reveal the identity of those surveiled. If they are in the country legally, the President's actions were unambiguously illegal, and articles of impeachment should be drawn up.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:34 PM on December 19, 2005



Say ParisParamus , can you make that HREF a little longer, please?

(You posted an editorial to prove your point? So your what, fourteen? Fifteen?)
(Anyway, we’re not at war. This is a disorder. There is a difference. I don’t expect you to see, or understand that of course.)

Fine points of rhetoric aside, were going to be at “war” on terrrr forever. Much like the war on (some) drugs. If Bush had any balls he’d simply suspend the constitution (like Lincoln did). But of course that’s too hard nosed. You wouldn’t have mush headed apologists otherwise. So we get a little bit more taken away and bit by bit the cops start conducting “Freedom Sweeps” in your neighborhood and pilfering shiny things from your house. If you don’t like it, the Black Mariah shows up and carts you off.
It’d be nice - merely for amusement - to see the schizophrenic shift back to the blue apologists for this sort of thing under a Democratic regime. I’m going to get back in shape, oil my firearms, study up on short range emp and learn sign language.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:36 PM on December 19, 2005


For the record, the NY Sun is a well known rag created specifically to spread Republican propaganda to NYers who like their news "Fair and Balanced".

George Bush has not earned the trust of the American people - in fact he's lied and evaded the truth in almost every opportunity he's been challenged with facts that contradict him. I don't trust him to make these calls alone - hell I don't trust Mother Theresa to make these calls alone. What kind of American wants Constitutional decisions in the hands of one man with no oversight?
posted by any major dude at 4:36 PM on December 19, 2005


I saw on the news that since the secret court has been put in place that some 18,000 wiretaps have been approved and only 4 denied. What kind of criminal action do you have in mind to think that you need to do an end-around on this rubberstamp secret court?
posted by any major dude at 4:38 PM on December 19, 2005


The joint resolution of 2002 was to invade Iraq.
posted by stbalbach at 4:40 PM on December 19, 2005


Amberglow: We know they're spying on dissenters and activists and that Bolton got info from the NSA on US Officials who disagreed with him.

I didn't hear about this. Can you provide a link? How do we know this?

Amberglow: Also, this spying without warrants may be responsible for people being sent to guantanamo --or abroad to a secret prison --without trial. Is that really ok with people?

Yes, I'm OK with it if the suspect is a terrorist. I thought the White House said over the weekend that only 2 or 3 dozen people have been listened in on, and all of them had solid al Qaeda connections. If we're not spying on these folks, we're not doing our jobs.

I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists.
posted by b_thinky at 4:41 PM on December 19, 2005


I'm still waiting to hear ANY rational argument for why the secret FISA Court system, which can be initiated up to 72 hours after a wiretap, isn't sufficient.

Me too.
posted by homunculus at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus writes " Actually, there was a joint resolution by Congress in 2002 of war. "

Yeah, you need to get your talking points straight. Gonzales is making his claims based not on the 2002 resolution to invade Iraq, but on the 2001 resolution justifying action in Afghanistan.

They're bullshit claims nonetheless.

b_thinky writes "I thought the White House said over the weekend that only 2 or 3 dozen people have been listened in on, and all of them had solid al Qaeda connections. "

That's what they said.


Yep.



b_thinky writes "I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists."

How about the civil liberties of those suspected of being terrorists, or accused of being terrorists, or accused of being affiliated with terrorists, or having names with phonetic translations similar to the phonetic translations of the names of terrorists, or from the same countries as some terrorists?

What if I wrote an anonymous note to the FBI saying that you're a terrorist? Is that enough reason to neglect your civil liberties?

I guess the only person in the world who has any say in the answer to any of these questions is George W. Bush, right?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2005


Paris: NYT says it was american citizens. They've been right so far.
posted by ryanissuper at 4:52 PM on December 19, 2005


"Yes, I'm OK with it if the suspect is a terrorist.... I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists." - posted by b_thinky

Aw, c’mon b_thinky you’re smarter than that. What makes them “terrorists” in the first place?
This isn’t a partisan issue, you simply can’t trust your government without checks and balances.
You cannot strip certain citizens of their rights simply because you label them first. From first principles - you cannot place someone outside the protection of the law simply on suspicion of something without placing yourself above the law.
No one is above the law.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:55 PM on December 19, 2005


"I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists."

Why don't you ask Maher Arar, for starters.
posted by docgonzo at 4:55 PM on December 19, 2005


...the structure of the Constitution demonstrates that any power traditionally understood as pertaining to the executive—which includes the conduct of warfare and the defense of the nation—only expressly assigned in the Constitution to Congress, is vested in the President. Article II, Section 1 makes this clear by stating that the “executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” That sweeping grant vests in the President and unenumerated “executive power” and contrasts with the specific enumeration of the powers—those “herein”—granted to Congress in Article I. -- from the Bybee memo
posted by ryoshu at 4:58 PM on December 19, 2005


"Since 9/11, the president has approved eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mails to and from the United States involving thousands of Americans whose names or numbers may have been found on laptops and cell phones seized from suspected terrorists.

The normal procedure is for the government to get a warrant from a special intelligence court. Even though that court rarely says no, records show that out of 4,713 other surveillance requests to the judge assigned, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, from 2002-2004, she denied only four and modified 96.

Critics ask, 'Why was the president so determined to avoid court supervision?'

'It prompts speculation that perhaps the government was using information that was illegally obtained,' says Steven Aftergood, a national security expert.

'He [President Bush] has essentially thumbed his nose at the Congress and said, "Regardless of what you say, I can do as I wish,"' says Jeffery Smith, a former general counsel at the CIA." [NBC Nightly News | December 19, 2005]
A legal procedure has been in place -- one which can be applied retroactively when the need to wiretap may arise in time-sensitive situations -- and the FISA judge has a record of overwhelmingly approving requests for eavesdropping. Why the exception for this administration to not follow the law?
posted by ericb at 5:01 PM on December 19, 2005


I gotta say, I get a real good feeling from this thread. Especially your comment ericb.
Did I ever tell ya that this here thread represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?

Wish I could stay.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:04 PM on December 19, 2005


...The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.-from the Constitution
posted by ryanissuper at 5:04 PM on December 19, 2005


I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists.

Oh, please tell me you're being sarcastic, or practicing your trolling skills, and not completely ignorant.
posted by dejah420 at 5:05 PM on December 19, 2005


A note inj passing: I wanted to copy the link to the Echelor piece I posted here and went to Drudge, where I found it. Guess what? It is no longer there!
posted by Postroad at 5:08 PM on December 19, 2005


What kind of criminal action do you have in mind to think that you need to do an end-around on this rubberstamp secret court?

Why the exception for this administration to not follow the law?

Can you say Democrat.
posted by JohnR at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2005


We know they're spying on dissenters and activists and that Bolton got info from the NSA on US Officials who disagreed with him.

I didn't hear about this. Can you provide a link? How do we know this?
"While the full range of Bush’s intercepts is not known, the administration’s use of National Security Agency intercepts was an issue earlier this year, when it was disclosed that John Bolton, Bush’s nominee to be United Nations ambassador, had requested names of Americans that had been excised from NSA transcripts for privacy reasons.

Senate Democrats demanded that documents be turned over on 10 cases in which Bolton used his position as under secretary of state for arms control to obtain the names. The White House refused to provide the information and Bush evaded the need for Senate confirmation of Bolton’s ambassadorship by making him a “recess appointment.”

[source]
posted by ericb at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2005


NYT AND REPORTER/AUTHOR JAMES RISEN PLANNING MORE REVELATIONS ABOUT GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE ON CITIZENS, NEWSROOM SOURCES TELL DRUDGE. EXCLUSIVE SET FOR TUESDAY PAPER... MORE...
posted by Postroad at 5:11 PM on December 19, 2005


I am glad Pepe le PeePee is doing this. Moreover, it's perfectly legal and REQUIRED in every political FPP in the blue.
posted by HyperBlue at 5:14 PM on December 19, 2005


"I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists."

So who makes this decision? Who decides who is or is not a "terrorist"? Who decides, without the input of a judge or any member of the judiciary branch? Why, a shift supervisor at the NSA, of course!

People like you and PP are why, as a country, we can't have nice things...
posted by SweetJesus at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2005


er, this
posted by HyperBlue at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2005


mr_roboto: How about the civil liberties of those suspected of being terrorists, or accused of being terrorists, or accused of being affiliated with terrorists, or having names with phonetic translations similar to the phonetic translations of the names of terrorists, or from the same countries as some terrorists?

What if I wrote an anonymous note to the FBI saying that you're a terrorist? Is that enough reason to neglect your civil liberties?


If we have reason to believe someone is a terrorist, we owe it to ourselves (citizens of the USA) to check them out. If you write an anonymous note to the FBI saying I'm a terrorist, and the FBI sees enough evidence that I could be a terrorist, then I guess I deserve to get checked out.

It's no different than checking into a criminal report. If someone is murdered, and you tell the police that I am the murderer, chances are they will interview me or search my property. Once they see I'm not the murderer, they'll continue their search elsewhere.

If we're just listening to phone calls between suspected terrorists, there's nothing wrong. However, if we're arresting people without evidence and/or using media leaks to ruin the name of someone who might very well be innocent, then the program is very wrong.
posted by b_thinky at 5:16 PM on December 19, 2005


I suspect that what is going on is that the NSA has set up an Echelon or TIA project that intercepts every call made between the US and foreign countries such as Pakistan or Iraq. They use computer speech recognition technology to screen for words like "bomb" or "anthrax". They are monitoring thousands of calls simultaneously and indiscriminately.

Since they have no idea who are the participants in the calls, they can't ask for warrants. They have no idea whether they are US citizens or not. The reason they have not asked for permission from the FISA court is because they know it would be rejected by a judge. They can't go to Congress to change the law because they don't want to admit that they are using this technology on US citizens. So they just invent plenary powers and go ahead and do it anyway.

They will get away with this because people seem to be willing to give up all their rights in exchange for imagined safety. The question to ask their supporters is whether they would also support these unlimited powers for a President Gore, Kerry or Hillary Clinton.
posted by JackFlash at 5:17 PM on December 19, 2005


JackFlash -- well said.
posted by ericb at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky writes "It's no different than checking into a criminal report. If someone is murdered, and you tell the police that I am the murderer, chances are they will interview me or search my property."

AFTER OBTAINING A WARRANT!!!

Sorry. That's the difference. The police need to go to a judge and get a warrant. It's required by the Fourth Amendment to the Consitutition of the United States of America.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2005


Wait, I'm being too hard. At least two employees of the NSA must come to some sort of conscience over the terroristness (terrorocity?) of the target before they can bypass a judge, a system of checks and balances, and 230 or so years of American judicial history and precedence.

So I guess it's not that bad...
posted by SweetJesus at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2005


I should also note that I have some friends who are under some kind of surveilance (exactly how thorough, we don't know). They share a last name with a major terrorist suspect (down to the spelling) an extended family member was stupid enough to let one of the original WTC bombers crash at his house in Seattle.

Now, it's annoying to realize that they are subject to questioning and monitoring, especially when you know them well enough to see clearly that they're definitely not terrorists, but given the kind of stupid oversights our government committed in letting the 9/11 hijackers stay in this country, wouldn't they be retarded to NOT check these people out?
posted by b_thinky at 5:22 PM on December 19, 2005


I cannot believe they're not spying on Risen
posted by matteo at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky: Amberglow: We know they're spying on dissenters and activists and that Bolton got info from the NSA on US Officials who disagreed with him.

I didn't hear about this. Can you provide a link? How do we know this?


Here you go.

I thought the White House said over the weekend that only 2 or 3 dozen people have been listened in on, and all of them had solid al Qaeda connections.

"While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it said the N.S.A. eavesdropped without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands over the past three years, several officials said."

I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists.

Because, friend, you might be next.
posted by EarBucket at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky writes "wouldn't they be retarded to NOT check these people out?"

No one is saying that terrorist suspects should not be investigated. We're simply arguing that they, like all Americans, must be afforded the due process of law and the protections of the Constitution and the United States Code.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2005


You don't need a warrant to question someone. And police tend to do some perusing when they're questioning. When cops pull me over, they're eyes always scan the interior of my car, even though I did not provide permission.

I realize there is a big difference in a traffic stop and a wire tap, but these are people who presumably already are for good reason suspected of being terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.
posted by b_thinky at 5:25 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky, er, Ed Meese: "If you're not guilty you wouldn't be a suspect."
posted by twsf at 5:28 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky writes "You don't need a warrant to question someone. "

But you do need a warrant to listen in on electronic communications. It's the law. And the President has broken it.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:30 PM on December 19, 2005


When cops pull me over, they're eyes always scan the interior of my car

But can they search your car without your permission or a warrant?
posted by ericb at 5:30 PM on December 19, 2005


You don't need a warrant to question someone.

And you, as an American citizen, don't have to utter a word in response to questions from government officials. Even in a court of law, under oath, you can "take the Fifth Amendment."
posted by ericb at 5:32 PM on December 19, 2005


When cops pull me over, they're eyes always scan the interior of my car

Let's revisit ryanissuper's post above:
"...The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
posted by ericb at 5:37 PM on December 19, 2005


I'm surprised at some of the stupidity in this thread (well, just two of the posters actually, and I'm not surprised, per se). It's called "checks and balances." Even if you think your government knows what's best for you, you don't let it go unchecked. Are you people (two) really advocating for the type of dictatorship you're defending? Do you even realize what you're saying? Or is it just a knee jerk response to agree with everything that the "opposition" derides?
posted by iamck at 5:40 PM on December 19, 2005


Even if wiretapping is legal, under extremely byzantine legal definitions... it doesn't mean it isn't a fucked up doctrine to spy first and sort it out later.

Even a brief, half assed look at the sort of folks the US government has wiretapped in the past - and the justifications at the time for doing so - should stand as a glaring, 50 foot warning for the kind of shit we're in now - MLK, for example.
posted by bhance at 5:43 PM on December 19, 2005


Now, it's annoying to realize that they are subject to questioning and monitoring, especially when you know them well enough to see clearly that they're definitely not terrorists, but given the kind of stupid oversights our government committed in letting the 9/11 hijackers stay in this country, wouldn't they be retarded to NOT check these people out?

The point is that you're not allowed under FISA statues to DO that without the approval of a judge...

They can check them out, wiretap the fuck out of them for three days, hold all the clandestine, double secret meetings they want so long as they put it in front of a judge and get his/her approval. Only 2 of 20,000 or so of these wiretaps have been rejected by secret judges, retroactively I might add, so could someone please explain to me why the fuck they think they're sitting Kings, and can do whatever the fuck they want in spite of what the law says?
posted by SweetJesus at 5:50 PM on December 19, 2005


but given the kind of stupid oversights our government committed in letting the 9/11 hijackers stay in this country

I seem to recall that various warnings about Middle Eastern men seeking only to learn how to "steer" a plane (and not take-off or land) from FBI field agents were ignored by higher-ups. Other surveillance caught suspicious activity. It was a failure to connect-the-dots and poor coordination/follow-through between/by government agencies that led to not unveiling the 9/11 plot.
posted by ericb at 5:57 PM on December 19, 2005


And where do we stand now?

U.S. Is Given Failing Grades By 9/11 Panel -- Bipartisan Group Faults Counterterrorism Progress
posted by ericb at 5:58 PM on December 19, 2005


Bush you're doing a heck of a job!
posted by ericb at 5:59 PM on December 19, 2005


We're simply arguing that they, like all Americans, must be afforded the due process of law

I've watched enough Law & Order to know that they are obviously not interested in allowing any persons caught in this manner access to the due process of law. If they were, they wouldn't be stupid enough to sabotage the ensuing criminal case.
posted by Soulfather at 6:01 PM on December 19, 2005



posted by anomie at 6:05 PM on December 19, 2005


My NSA monitor, Jack, has advised me not to post in this thread.
posted by effwerd at 6:25 PM on December 19, 2005


I think I now see the reason for secret tribunals: All the evidence is unconstitutional and unusable in a real court of law.
posted by ryanissuper at 6:32 PM on December 19, 2005


The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security.
posted by homunculus at 6:40 PM on December 19, 2005


"U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Monday in a radio interview that President Bush should be impeached if he broke the law in authorizing spying on Americans. The Democratic congressman from Georgia told WAOK-AM he would sign a bill of impeachment if one was drawn up and that the House of Representatives should consider such a move." [Associated Press | December 19, 2005]
posted by ericb at 6:59 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky: are you just trolling?

If you want to volunteer to get a listening/GPS tracking system installed on you for our safety go ahead.
posted by countzen at 7:04 PM on December 19, 2005


"Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has become the first in the Senate to raise consideration of impeachment of President George W. Bush for authorizing spying on Americans without warrants, Raw Story has learned.

In a release issued this evening, Boxer said she's asked 'four presidential scholars' for their opinion on impeachment after former White Housel counsel John Dean -- made famous by his role in revealing the Watergate tapes -- asserted that President Bush had 'admitted' to an 'impeachable offense.'"
posted by ericb at 7:04 PM on December 19, 2005


I don't think this thread would be complete without some links to terrorism.
posted by effwerd at 7:06 PM on December 19, 2005


Zzzzzzzzz. Strawman!
posted by ParisParamus at 7:06 PM on December 19, 2005


Yeah. Bush has to lie about breaking the law, first.

That's how we do it in merka.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:08 PM on December 19, 2005


Do you just type "strawman" when you can't think of anything to say?

I can do that to!

Zzzzzzzz. Red Herring!
posted by anomie at 7:11 PM on December 19, 2005


/too
posted by anomie at 7:12 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus writes "Strawman!"

Huh?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:15 PM on December 19, 2005


Actually, it's not a strawman; it's a truism. If he did something illegal, he is a criminal. But since, I suspect most people reading this think President Bush lied about WMDs, most people reading this should be recused from commenting on this thread.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:16 PM on December 19, 2005


As Mark Steyn wrote today: Bush lied. People dyed. Their thumbs.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:20 PM on December 19, 2005


I'm out of this thread. E-mail if you want me.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:21 PM on December 19, 2005


E-mail if you want me.

Naw, that's ok...
posted by papakwanz at 7:22 PM on December 19, 2005


Nice false dilemma, PP.
posted by anomie at 7:22 PM on December 19, 2005


Actually, I consider myself quite the moderate for Metafilter, and I think that saying Bush "lied" about WMDs is, at best, a radical oversimplification. I consider accusations of war crimes to be shrill and unrealistic, and find leftist demands that he needs to be "driven from office" to be offensive to democracy. He won the election.

This has pushed me over the edge, though. It's beyond the pale, and clearly illegal.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:23 PM on December 19, 2005


I don't necessarily think he "lied" either, I think he surrounded himself in a dilusional culture of hawks who managed to convince themselves that a really flimsy case for war was a "slam dunk." Either way, I don't trust them farther than I can throw them.
posted by anomie at 7:26 PM on December 19, 2005


He's not even lying about not obeying the FISA statues - that's the beautiful part. He came out today and said flat out that he just didn't need to use FISA1. He basically said, in so many words, that he's above the law. No, there is no doubt that the FISA law was broken, and not even the administration has the balls to to hunt with that retarded dog.

George Bush, not giving a fuck about what's contained within, say, the fourth amendment to the constitution, never mind clearer law, has come right out and had a public moment of clarity - he can do whatever the hell he wants.

The most amazing thing to me, is that so many people agree with him.

1 Q It was, why did you skip the basic safeguards of asking courts for permission for the intercepts?
A: ... We use FISA still -- you're referring to the FISA court in your question -- of course, we use FISAs. But FISA is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect...

Now, having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so? I am -- I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely. As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.

posted by SweetJesus at 7:27 PM on December 19, 2005


Bush’s Snoopgate
The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security.
posted by caddis at 7:37 PM on December 19, 2005


I don't know why anyone would be concerned for the civil liberties of terrorists.
posted by b_thinky at 7:41 PM EST on December 19 [!]


Somebody fails to understand civil rights. Oh well, off to the Gulag with you, you ignorant citizen.
posted by caddis at 7:40 PM on December 19, 2005


b_thinky displays the kind of circular logic that has found such a happy home in the Bush Administration.

We don't need to worry about the civil liberties of terrorists.
How do we find out if someone is a terrorist or not?
Well, we violate their civil liberties and spy on them illegally.
But, assuming we find enough evidence to prove they are terrorists, then it didn't matter that we violated their civil liberties, because it turns out they never had any.
Why? Because they are terrorists!

Basically very much like Bush's rationale for the whole snooping thing in the first place. I'm president, so by definition what I do must be legal. If I break the law, well that must be OK. Why? Because I'm the president!
posted by papakwanz at 7:58 PM on December 19, 2005


It can happen here. (via A&L Daily, or Boston Globe)
posted by kozad at 8:10 PM on December 19, 2005


ParisParamus: Actually, it's not a strawman; it's a truism. If he did something illegal, he is a criminal. But since, I suspect most people reading this think President Bush lied about WMDs, most people reading this should be recused from commenting on this thread. -- December 19, 2005.

ParisParamus: If WMDs are not found in Iraq, and in large quantity (or at least objective evidence that they were destroyed), then, in terms of American politics, the war was a sham, and the President should be indicted -- April 29, 2005.

President Concedes Iraq WMD Reports False -- December 20, 2005.
posted by ericb at 8:18 PM on December 19, 2005


It is a scary book kozad. Inspired by recent events, and the pathetic, airhead book selection at John Wayne International Airport, I read this about a year ago. As a story it is poorly written. However, its message is just as, if not more, relevant today as it ever was. It doesn't take too big of a crisis to tip a seemingly stable democracy over to totalitarianism. Americans are pretty smug about this and like to think of totalitarian states as being limited to unsophisticated third world countries. Germany was hardly that when it tipped. Franco passed away in our (at least mine) lifetime. As a democracy the country can vote in any kind of government it desires, and if you get the voters scared enough they will vote for any thugs who promise to keep them safe. Right now Bush is taking heat for this, but if we had another incident like 9/11 tomorrow he would look like a fucking hero for spying on our own citizens.
posted by caddis at 8:23 PM on December 19, 2005


April 29, 2005?

No, it was way before that!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:26 PM on December 19, 2005


April 29, 2005? -- No, it was way before that!

My typo stands corrected (thanks) -- "April 29, 2003."

BTW -- I thought you had bowed out of this thread. I'm out of this thread. E-mail if you want me.

If you are sticking around, can you please explain what you meant by your comment "Zzzzzzzzz. Strawman!"?
posted by ericb at 8:42 PM on December 19, 2005


OK, let's get this straight: if the government is using wire taps to spy on political enemies of the administration, to search for people critical of the government, etc, it's totally wrong. I support wire taps in instances where the individual suspects are hand picked after thorough evaluation by intelligence officials provides them with clear reason to believe them to be dangers to our society. While under surveillance, suspects should not be arrested without good reason, nor should there be media leaks to ruin/disrupt the lives of potentially innocent people.

When a sniper was prowling the roads of DC, the police set up roadblocks and searched every car. Shortly after 9/11, my car was searched as I passed over Hoover Dam. I am subjected to frisking each time I board a flight (though the searches are supposedly random) and my bag is hand inspected, with agents allowed to touch personal items such as underwear. These are cases of extreme emergencies, where the safety of the public is a higher priority than the privacy of the individual.

If there are people with known or suspected ties to terror groups, people who funnel money or support to them, people who house those with ties to terrorism, people who qualified federal intelligence agents deem to be likely terrorists, why would you not want to investigate them?

I remind you: we are at war and the bad guys do want to hurt us.
posted by b_thinky at 8:51 PM on December 19, 2005


Aw, man! Paris left before I could call him a fascist fuckwit.
I guess I'll have to email him.
posted by Balisong at 8:53 PM on December 19, 2005


Oh, Hey Paris! I thought you left!

BTW, You are a facist fuckwit.
posted by Balisong at 8:53 PM on December 19, 2005


"If you are sticking around, can you please explain what you meant by your comment "Zzzzzzzzz. Strawman!"?
posted by ericb at 11:42 PM EST on December 19 [!]"

I'm too tired to add more here. But to explain, "Zzzzzzz" = boring. "Strawman" was the wrong metaphor(?). The correct expression for the lameness of the comment was truism, or circular reasoning, or something other than strawman.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:55 PM on December 19, 2005


I'm too tired to add more here.

Okay, sweet dreams my friend. When you are rested maybe you can continue the discussion.
posted by ericb at 8:57 PM on December 19, 2005


Paris, the problem remains: If it's so damn easy to get a warrant from this secret court, why does the president need to step outside the law? 4 requests out of 10000 is an awfully low chance of rejection.
posted by kuatto at 9:09 PM on December 19, 2005


OK, let's get this straight: if the government is using wire taps to spy on political enemies of the administration, to search for people critical of the government, etc, it's totally wrong.

Since these ongoing operations are apparently so classified and vital to national secuirty as to render even the oversight of a secret court specifically set up to review these cases moot , how are we to even know? No oversight=no accountability. Basically, the adminstration is saying "trust us, we know what's best," and "fuck the 4th Amendment." If you want to swallow that load, be my guest.

While under surveillance, suspects should not be arrested without good reason, nor should there be media leaks to ruin/disrupt the lives of potentially innocent people.

Yes, because the government has such an excellent track record with that sort of thing...
posted by Chrischris at 9:16 PM on December 19, 2005


kuatto, perhaps for fear of publicizing, directly or indirectly, intelligence? I don't know. I'm not even saying it's obviously appropriate. I'm just responding in kind to the THE PRESIDENT IS DEFINITELY ACTING ILLEGALLY tone of the thread.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:17 PM on December 19, 2005


I'm not even saying it's obviously appropriate.

I am glad President Bush is doing this. Moreover, it's perfectly legal and REQUIRED in a time of war.

Make up your mind... Are you going to stand next to him at the firing squad, or not?
posted by Balisong at 9:26 PM on December 19, 2005


There won't be a firing squad. The whole notion that this is illegal in a time of war is far-fetched. When will you learn. This is just the latest pseudo-scandal of the Left (read: NYTimes, etc). You're wasting your time. Bush will be thrown out of office in January, 2009. Stop trying to invent scandals.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:31 PM on December 19, 2005


Was Watergate an invented scandal?

Some say yes.. some say no. It was still illegal, and impeachable, and didn't it happen durring a time of war?
posted by Balisong at 9:36 PM on December 19, 2005


Yes, because the government has such an excellent track record with that sort of thing...

That's why I said they shouldn't be arrested w/o good reason, nor should media leaks be used to ruin their good names. So far, it seems like it hasn't been a problem.

Since these ongoing operations are apparently so classified and vital to national secuirty as to render even the oversight of a secret court specifically set up to review these cases moot , how are we to even know? No oversight=no accountability. Basically, the adminstration is saying "trust us, we know what's best," and "fuck the 4th Amendment." If you want to swallow that load, be my guest.

You didn't listen to a word I said, did you. Please continue to run around in circles and bash your head against the wall like the rest of the idiots...
posted by b_thinky at 9:37 PM on December 19, 2005


Silence, turd.

One great thing that is going to come out of this enormous fiasco is that we'll get to see which of the neocon rats with go down with the ship. BTW, if anyone has a link to an mpeg of tonight's Daily Show, please kick down.
posted by squirrel at 9:43 PM on December 19, 2005


What I love is the "more than 30 times" schtick. It could easily be "1000 times more than 30 times" and still be true.

But then, anything to make sure that the Republicans have the mother of all enemies' list come election time. You can almost hear the old "I am not a crook" in Bush's voice.
posted by clevershark at 9:44 PM on December 19, 2005


But b_thinky, there are no more slippery slopes anymore.
I thought that was clear. If we allow secret wiretaps of "the bad guys", it will be done at every possible time it can be used against everyone.
The PATRIOT act was supposed to only be used to catch terrorists. But it's been used against library goers, brothel patrons, pornographers, peace activists, etc.

If we allow torture in the extreme case of the Nuclear Bomb going off in 24 hours, so we can get the actionable (?) intelegence faster (?).
But it will be used in every case they see fit, right down to the investigation of who stole your grandma's cookie jar money.

If you let the president baloon his own personal power, or even the power of the executive branch as a whole, after weighing the checks-and-balances standard as issued by our country's founders, and dumping it overboard as a hinderence to progress, you've got a problem.
posted by Balisong at 9:49 PM on December 19, 2005


Oh, and b_thinky [it's not a pun, it's an irony], I wasn't commanding your silence, but that of the one whose name must not be spoken, and who voluntarily flushed himself out of this thread, only to come burbling back up from the sewer. A turd with flippers, it seems.

Also, b, before you get your underwear permanently stretched out of shape, please understand that we get your message: those who think the president should abide by the law and defend the constitution are enemies of freedom who what the terrorists to win. Got it? We know your idiotic opinion now; give it a rest.
posted by squirrel at 9:53 PM on December 19, 2005


Analog vs. Digital Snooping: Is This Bush's Distinction?
"Let me ask why every smart blogger out there and every pundit on TV is talking about wiretapping when the obvious problem is that the U.S. government is now monitoring the entire U.S. Internet a la Echelon or Raptor.

Why do Gonzales and Condi Rice keep mentioning the 'technical' aspects of the program as a dodge around FISA?

Why this seemingly inconsequential parsing by Bush of the difference between 'monitoring and detection?' Bush says they use FISA if they're montioring, but this is about 'detection.'

Why, in his letter, does Rockefeller state that he's 'not a technician.?'

Why the mention of TIA in Rockefeller's letter?

And why the mention of 'large batches of numbers all at once?'

Why?:

These are not phone numbers we're talking about...These are IP addresses, email addresses.

A system is in place that basically filters on certain triggers (text, phoneme, etc.) within Internet 'conversations.' This is 'detection' or at least it's tortured definition that was placed in this idiot Bush's mind. 'Monitoring' would be recording an entire conversation, like in a phone conversation.

That system then collects information on those conversations including...ta da...source and destination IP addresses. Those IP addresses can then be stored for further investigation on other 'conversations.'

E.g., I start an email thread with a friend in France. I mention Al Qaeda. My conversation is 'detected' and my info is stored. The system then segments my address into another system and starts a deeper 'detection' on any further 'conversations' for further triggers. Hence, the system could still be said to be in the detecting mode, not monitoring. If I don't mention any other 'evil' words, if I simply send medical records or lusty love letters or diatribes against liberals, I'll eventually be dropped.

Ramifications:

Anybody doing anything on the Internet whose traffic gets routed overseas, no matter why, no matter how, is being sniffed. Let's just call it sniffed. Spare me the parsing of 'detection' versus 'monitoring.'

This is happening right now, as we speak."
posted by ericb at 10:02 PM on December 19, 2005


"this enormous fiasco"

how many of those have there been in the last two years? What, one every month or so? Yes, very enormous. IN YOUR DREAMS.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:07 PM on December 19, 2005


And the crazy thing is, each one would have been enough to unseat any other president before this one.
posted by Balisong at 10:09 PM on December 19, 2005


F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
"Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show."
posted by ericb at 10:09 PM on December 19, 2005


DO.NOT.QUESTION.BUSH'S.AUTHORI.TAY!
posted by homunculus at 10:12 PM on December 19, 2005


Was the Plame(sp?) polemic an enormous fiasco? How about the President living in a bubble. Enormous fiasco? How about Ms. Sheehan? How about the supposed incompetence of Katrina relief? The exagerrated claims of prisoner abuse? Supposed lack of contributions to Tsunami victims? The price of gas? I'm sure I'm leaving out a number of things.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:14 PM on December 19, 2005


If we allow secret wiretaps of "the bad guys", it will be done at every possible time it can be used against everyone.

If we allow torture in the extreme case of the Nuclear Bomb going off in 24 hours, so we can get the actionable (?) intelegence faster (?).
But it will be used in every case they see fit, right down to the investigation of who stole your grandma's cookie jar money.


If we allow it once, it's allowed in all circumstances? By that same logic, since we sentence Tookie Williams to death, we sentence petty thieves to death. I understand what you're trying to say, but the facts state otherwise.

To most of the left, it's not about wire taps, or intelligence or being right or wrong. It's about hating George W. Bush. They think he's trying to become another Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il. They think he stole the election, and in his spare time (when he's not torturing people) shits on the Constitution, just for fun. So what does he personally gain by eavesdropping on suspected terrorists?

Nixon eavesdropped on his political enemies who were a threat to his power. Bush is allowing qualified intelligence agents to eavesdrop on international phone calls made by suspected terrorists. There is a huge difference. This is not a move aimed at personal or political gain. It's for the safety and security of our nation.
posted by b_thinky at 10:14 PM on December 19, 2005


Let me put it this way.

You are giving police forces a very powerful tool.
Why would they not use it in every possible circumstance?
If whatever crime affected you personally, wouldn't you DEMAND that they use EVERY POSSIBLE tool they had to catch the perpetrators?

And they will.

RICO was only supposed to be for gangsters...
posted by Balisong at 10:18 PM on December 19, 2005


Bush is allowing qualified intelligence agents to eavesdrop on international phone calls made by suspected terrorists.

Mm-kay. So if any of those tens of thousands of taps prove to have been directred at anything other than provable links to communication among terror groups, would you concede that those taps would be illegal?

[Technically, without a warrant domestic tapping is illegal in any case... I'm just trying to find some common ground.]
posted by squirrel at 10:24 PM on December 19, 2005


I didn't hear about this. Can you provide a link? How do we know this?
... More generally, Newsweek reports that from January 2004 to May 2005, the NSA supplied intercepts and names of 10,000 U.S. citizens to policy-makers at many departments, other U.S. intelligence services, and law enforcement agencies."
We still don't know who he was looking at and what information was contained in those intercepts. ...


...Bolton told Congress last month that he asked the NSA for the names of Americans in raw intel reports. NSA rules prohibit the agency from spying on Americans; ...

... During Bolton’s testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee several weeks ago, Sen. Chris Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who is one of Bolton's fiercest congressional critics, caused a minor sensation when he asked Bolton whether he had ever asked the NSA to supply the names of American officials mentioned in intelligence intercepts. Bolton told the committee he did so on a couple of occasions. ...

Just let me know if you need more proof.

posted by amberglow at 10:25 PM on December 19, 2005


Bush is allowing qualified intelligence agents to eavesdrop on international phone calls made by suspected terrorists. There is a huge difference. This is not a move aimed at personal or political gain. It's for the safety and security of our nation.

I applaud any and all efforts to keep us safe, but there is a legal procedure in place (since 1978) that was inacted to insure that any and all actions of our government were/would be vetted by way of "checks-and-balances" to oversee any abrogation of such.
posted by ericb at 10:27 PM on December 19, 2005


Bush is allowing qualified intelligence agents to eavesdrop on international phone calls made by suspected terrorists.

In violation of the law.

I agree that this surveillance is almost certainly beneficial to national security. The problem, which is bizzare, is that they refuse to conduct this surveillance within the FISA framework that was built for this. Dems (the more rational ones, at least) aren't in a huff because this surveillance is occurring. They're in a huff because its occurring illegally. The president is putting his own authority above the rule of law.

Apparently, FISA courts have totally secret proceedings, can act within hours, and warrents can be sought retroactively anyway. Its hard to think of a reason why using them would be too risky. Its genuinely confusing, and it probably explainable by stuff we don't know.
posted by gsteff at 10:36 PM on December 19, 2005


...For more than a year, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking access to information in F.B.I. files on about 150 protest and social groups that it says may have been improperly monitored.
The F.B.I. had previously turned over a small number of documents on antiwar groups, showing the agency's interest in investigating possible anarchist or violent links in connection with antiwar protests and demonstrations in advance of the 2004 political conventions. And earlier this month, the A.C.L.U.'s Colorado chapter released similar documents involving, among other things, people protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002.
The latest batch of documents, parts of which the A.C.L.U. plans to release publicly on Tuesday, totals more than 2,300 pages and centers on references in internal files to a handful of groups, including PETA, the environmental group Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group, which promotes antipoverty efforts and social causes. ...


Do i need to repost the proof about the Pentagon's spying of dissents and antiwar protests? Do you not think that if the FBI and the Pentagon have already been shown to be spying on Americans that the NSA hasn't been also? I can post more proof if you need, but the real question is why you still believe them.
posted by amberglow at 10:37 PM on December 19, 2005


Amberglow: that's proof of what? You implied that "we know" Bolton is already spying on political dissenters and that the evidence he uncovers may be used to send people to Guantanomo. From the links you provide, we only know he got a list of names.
posted by b_thinky at 10:43 PM on December 19, 2005


gsteff - Its hard to think of a reason why using them would be too risky.

Because it's damn embarassing to get a warrant for someone who carpooled four other people to a peace rally in 2003, only to have it continuing to this day, with branches to all their friends, travel habits, spending habits, finding out what magazines they subscribe to, medical and library records searched...

Does it make 'us safer'? Probably not, but just maybe. It just wouldn't fly in a free country.
posted by Balisong at 10:43 PM on December 19, 2005


Remember, it's only illegal if you get caught!

Also, it's perfectly legal to spy on potential evil doers. Evil doers are easy to identify: they're the ones being spied on.
posted by C.Batt at 10:45 PM on December 19, 2005


Brevity is the soul of wit.
C.Batt wins!
posted by squirrel at 10:48 PM on December 19, 2005


I would recommend that every one check out crooks and liars on this whole thing. Pay attention to the non-existent Republican talking points, it really shows how in trouble they are here.
posted by kuatto at 11:20 PM on December 19, 2005


Well, now that ParisParamus has completely shat all over this thread yet again and still the admins don't give a fuck...

...what are everyone's thoughts on Echelon?
posted by wakko at 11:53 PM on December 19, 2005


ericb: the NSA Line Eater.
posted by mrbill at 1:24 AM on December 20, 2005


Bush speech in 04: ...when the President says something, he better mean it. See, in order to make the world more peaceful, it's essential that those of us in positions of high responsibility speak clearly and mean what we say. ...
Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

But a roving wiretap means -- it was primarily used for drug lords. A guy, a pretty intelligence drug lord would have a phone, and in old days they could just get a tap on that phone. So guess what he'd do? He'd get him another phone, particularly with the advent of the cell phones. And so he'd start changing cell phones, which made it hard for our DEA types to listen, to run down these guys polluting our streets. And that changed, the law changed on -- roving wiretaps were available for chasing down drug lords. They weren't available for chasing down terrorists, see? And that didn't make any sense in the post-9/11 era. If we couldn't use a tool that we're using against mobsters on terrorists, something needed to happen.

The Patriot Act changed that. So with court order, law enforcement officials can now use what's called roving wiretaps, which will prevent a terrorist from switching cell phones in order to get a message out to one of his buddies. ...

posted by amberglow at 6:01 AM on December 20, 2005


If it is indeed operating like Echelon then the FISA procedure may not work. They would be reading every communication regardless of who was sending or receiving it and looking for suspicious words. It is a fishing expedition, yet perhaps one which might lead to some good intelligence. FISA would not allow this because only the communication of designated individuals may be tracked. Perhaps an amendment to the law could be tailored (although I am not sure how) but then they would have had to reveal the data mining to the legislators. I think this is why they went solo on this one. Josh Marshall has been discussing this a bit at TPM.
posted by caddis at 6:17 AM on December 20, 2005


Wash. Post 2002: ... The secretive federal court that approves spying on terror suspects in the United States has refused to give the Justice Department broad new powers, saying the government had misused the law and misled the court dozens of times, according to an extraordinary legal ruling released yesterday.
A May 17 opinion by the court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials supplied erroneous information to the court in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by then-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.
Authorities also improperly shared intelligence information with agents and prosecutors handling criminal cases in New York on at least four occasions, the judges said. ...Referring to "the troubling number of inaccurate FBI affidavits in so many FISA applications," the court said in its opinion: "In virtually every instance, the government's misstatements and omissions in FISA applications and violations of the Court's orders involved information sharing and unauthorized disseminations to criminal investigators and prosecutors." ...

posted by amberglow at 6:33 AM on December 20, 2005


For the record, the NY Sun is a well known rag created specifically to spread Republican propaganda to NYers who like their news "Fair and Balanced"

Which media outlets are not left of center, and yet not "rags"?

"George Bush has not earned the trust of the American people"

I think he did it twice already. How many elections have you won.?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:42 AM on December 20, 2005


Well, now that ParisParamus has completely shat all over this thread yet again and still the admins don't give a fuck...

...what are everyone's thoughts on Echelon?
posted by wakko at 11:53 PM PST on December 19


Paris, please read this and then STFU. Troll.
posted by anomie at 7:06 AM on December 20, 2005


If it is indeed operating like Echelon then the FISA procedure may not work. They would be reading every communication regardless of who was sending or receiving it and looking for suspicious words.

Which is illegal under our laws. Deal with it.

It is a fishing expedition, yet perhaps one which might lead to some good intelligence.

Which, again, would have been obtained illegally.

FISA would not allow this because only the communication of designated individuals may be tracked. Perhaps an amendment to the law could be tailored (although I am not sure how) but then they would have had to reveal the data mining to the legislators. I think this is why they went solo on this one. Josh Marshall has been discussing this a bit at TPM.

Exactly, they went solo because they knew it was illegal. That's the most important part of this story - the fact that they avoided going to the FISA court proves they knew they wouldn't get anywhere. Instead of saying so, they made up this bullshit "presidential authority."

To Paris, I have one question: Can you prove we're at war? Can you point to a declaration of war, which would of course be necessary for our country to, you know, actually be at war? You often use "during a time of war" in your commentary as justification. Where is the war, Paris?

You can't give us the documentation because it isn't there.
posted by odinsdream at 8:08 AM on December 20, 2005


For someone who was "too tired" and leaving the thread, Paris sure did continue to blather on like a fucking retard.
posted by papakwanz at 8:14 AM on December 20, 2005


The debate over whether this sort of spying, eavesdropping, wiretapping, and court-circumventing is legal, moral, or justifiable seems to miss a more fundamental point: Does it work? That is, what evidence is there that such spying is an effective way to prevent acts of violence?

Even if it works now, I can't see how it could work for long. The increasing ubiquity of cheap computers means that anyone who's interested has access to an ultra-cheap, lightning-fast, international mail service, shrouded by military-grade crypto and steganography. If the US were to establish an effective anti-terror infrastructure based on signals intelligence, it's not much of a stretch to predict that those signals could morph to something beyond comprehension or even vanish from view entirely.

And if the "bad guys" haven't embraced the available hard-core secret communications tools yet, the obvious question is: why not? Maybe they simply don't have to. Maybe stumbling onto the right phone call is just extremely unlikely - like looking for a needle on Planet Needlestack. Maybe the really critical bad-guy conversations aren't trusted to phone calls or e-mails in the first place. In other words, maybe all this spying and wiretapping isn't doing one damn bit of good at all. Maybe it never could have.

I see parallels with the debate over torture. In both cases, the Administration seems to be defending a policy of questionable legal and moral standing with nothing more than an appeal to our authoritarian-protector instincts. Little thought seems to have been given to the question of whether the means in question are actually likely to lead to the desired ends.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:37 AM on December 20, 2005


Papakwanz: here's a clue: in your next life, refrain from calling someone a "fucking retard." It's probably in the Top Five of things that reveal oneself to be a complete mean, insensitive, horrible person.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:40 AM on December 20, 2005


Awww. Poor paris! I bet you're too distraught now to even begin to think about replying to the actual, rational questions people have been asking you.

Where's the war, paris?
posted by odinsdream at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2005


Western Infidels, I agree. I think what is sad is that the truely sophisticated enemy will employ sophisticated encryption and stealth technology. Vegan advocates and college kids looking for a copy of the Little Red Book will not.
posted by caddis at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2005


Speaking of encrypted email...there's a lot of choices out there.

If a google search can pull a list of encrypted servers in less than a second, I kinda doubt the "bad guys" are stupid enough not to use the various free solutions out there. (Plus the various paid choices.)

I will grant that there are times when surveillance may be necessary. But, we have a long, active history of laws that define how that activity may be performed.

The actions of the President and those who followed his orders appear to be in direct violation of those laws.

And considering the secret prisons and Gitmo and everything else...I don't really like the idea of any administration having the power to secretly spy on any citizen they want, abduct that citizen, and hold that citizen for eternity without ever filing charges. A scenario that is completely feasible right now, given this administration's unwillingness to abide by American laws in pursuit of their own agenda.

It's scary, and every patriot should stand up and denounce this degradation of our Constitution and our laws.

As for the defenders, I would ask, would you be ok with this activity if it were a Democrat in office? Because if we allow this administration to have this power...then we implicitly agree that *ALL* administrations should have that power.
posted by dejah420 at 12:47 PM on December 20, 2005


Nice point, deja.

...refrain from calling someone a "fucking retard." It's probably in the Top Five of things that reveal oneself to be a complete mean, insensitive, horrible person.

Other entries in the top five: trolling, and being a turd.
posted by squirrel at 10:19 AM on December 21, 2005


“That's why I said they shouldn't be arrested w/o good reason, nor should media leaks be used to ruin their good names. So far, it seems like it hasn't been a problem.” - posted by b_thinky

Lots been posted about this. I don’t think b_thinky is reading those threads that mention there are laws in place to deal with this and the POTUS circumvented those.
Insofar as that last bit - Richard Jewell comes to mind (but there are others, and suveillance can be quite a burden on an innocent person)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2005


Even without arrest.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2005


Looks like the Patriot Act will continue in force for at least 6 months, so we're all as safe as we can be--good thing.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:55 PM on December 21, 2005


dejah420, I wonder how many of those "encrypted email services" themselves archive and maybe search/read the messages, either in plaintext or subverted encyption, forwarding "suspicious" ones to "the proper authorities", assuming they're not NSA fronts themselves?

I doubt Orwell invented the "Goldstein" phenomenon.
posted by davy at 7:45 AM on December 25, 2005


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