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White House Derails Attempts to End Illegal Wiretapping 647

Posted by Zonk
from the not-privacy's-best-friend dept.
P. Rivacy writes "If you recall, last month we discussed Congress's attempts to outlaw the already illegal NSA wiretaps authorized by the President. The White House is now using delaying tactics to derail the passage of that bill. Their tactic is to stall on providing documents related to the President's warrantless wiretapping program, despite requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee that is currently reviewing the proposed legislation. '"Another critical priority for congressional oversight is government wiretapping of Americans, conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and, illegally, under the President's warrantless wiretapping program," Senator Russ Feingold said. "When the program was finally placed within the FISA process, an opportunity arose for the Administration and the Congress to move forward, under the law. Unfortunately, the Administration has yet to demonstrate a real interest in doing so."'"
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White House Derails Attempts to End Illegal Wiretapping

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  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:47PM (#19427253)
    If you outlaw illegal wiretaps, only outlaws will use legal wiretaps.
  • by inviolet (797804) <<gro.rettamsaedi> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:47PM (#19427255) Journal

    The makers of rules are never motivated to personally abide them. Rules are for you to follow.

    Ergo, it is up to us to demand that rulemakers comply at least as well as the rest of us.

    • by Liberaltarian (1030752) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:55PM (#19427393)

      The makers of rules are never motivated to personally abide them. Rules are for you to follow.
      Or, summed up in two words: signing statements [wikipedia.org].
    • by AoT (107216)
      A great many people are motivated only by the threat of force to follow a great many rules, but those rules are often not good rules. I don't refrain from murdering because it is illegal and I might go to jail, I do so because it is wrong. The problem we find ourselves in is that those who are in charge want others to follow more and more rules while they follow fewer. Personally, I choose to ignore unjust laws, to the extent possible, and encourage others to do the same.

      If our leaders can't follow just law
      • by rainman_bc (735332) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @05:39PM (#19429943)
        The problem we find ourselves in is that those who are in charge want others to follow more and more rules while they follow fewer.

        Governments sit for entire sessions coming up with new laws, never really repealing old stupid ones most of the time.

        Imagine an entire whitehouse year full of repealing laws instead of creating new ones. Wouldn't look too great eh... (IMO fantastic, but MO doesn't count)
  • I predict... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by code_nerd (37853) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:47PM (#19427267)
    This administration is going to be remembered as the one that tried to undo the separation of powers between the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The tactic of ignoring laws and judgments that do not fit the executive agenda has worked for 6 years now, with no sign of letting up until the next election (at best).
    • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:58PM (#19427435)
      Well I have been of the opinion for years that history will judge the Bush administration unkindly, there have been too many lies and staggeringly arrogant incompetence for it to be otherwise. What I wonder now is if American political leaders realise the extent of the damage done to the international reputation of the US and show are prepared to show a bit of backbone by charging him and his administration with some of the offences they have committed.
      • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:18PM (#19428823) Homepage
        While I don't know enough of domestic US politics to be any kind of final judge, the following word seems interesting in this context (emphasis is mine).

        From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
            Tyrant (...)
                  1. An absolute ruler; a sovereign unrestrained by law or constitution; a usurper of sovereignty. [1913 Webster]
                  2. Specifically, a monarch, or other ruler or master, who uses power to oppress his subjects; a person who exercises unlawful authority, or lawful authority in an unlawful manner; one who by taxation, injustice, or cruel punishment, or the demand of unreasonable services, imposes burdens and hardships on those under his control, which law and humanity do not authorize, or which the purposes of government do not require; a cruel master; an oppressor. "This false tyrant, this Nero." --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]
        • Re:I predict... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by servognome (738846) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:47PM (#19429329)
          Oddly enough the same could be said for Lincoln and FDR, who history has looked upon kindly
          • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Rooktoven (263454) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:59PM (#19429473) Homepage
            But they were giants who, despite their flaws, preserved and protected their nation. George W. Bush is a piece of shit who has disgraced and weakened america.
            • But they were giants who, despite their flaws, preserved and protected their nation

              Only in the eyes of history, there were plenty of people who opposed FDR & Lincoln and saw them as tyrants at the time.

              What has Bush done that's different from the other two?
              Get involved in war, check.
              Suspend Habeas Corpus, check.
              Arrest tens of thousands as potential enemies of the state, check.
              Violate the Constitution numerous times, check.
              Rack up enormous debt, check.

              To play devils advocate, if by some miracle Iraq be

          • Re:I predict... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @05:15PM (#19429659) Homepage
            From what little I have seen of US domestic debates from this side of the pond, it appears to me that pretty much all US presidents the last 20 years (at least) have come under severe criticism for willfully ignoring the law. It may very well be that the characterisation holds for the office of the president in general - that is, it has become a tradition - rather than just apply to its current occupant. This would also be a problem.

            If similar criticism were to be fielded by serious political opponents here (in Norway) against a sitting government it would pretty much be a tremendous political scandal the likes of which has scarcely been seen in sixty years and heads would roll on one side or the other. But then, in Taiwan MPs throw shoes at eachother as a matter of course ... foreigners are just weird I suppose ... :-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AndersOSU (873247)
        I agree with the first part, and as much as I think that sending indictment to some very high places would feel oh-so-good, I tend to think that it would do some long term harm.

        This is quite parallel to Gerald Ford pardoning Nixon - probably lost him the next election, and considered a horrible move at the time - but it is now (generally) considered to be a good thing. It allowed the nation to heal, and it allowed the government to move on, rather than dwelling, and dwelling on a scandal.

        What we don't need
        • Re:I predict... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jahudabudy (714731) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:40PM (#19429219)
          While there is certainly some wisdom to the idea of moving on, I hesitate in this case to espouse it. Nixon, while he didn't face charges, lost his position and faced universal condemnation. Bush, on the other hand, does not seem likely to face any real consequences from his flagrant abuses of power. If we as a nation do not call him out on his abuses in some manner, I predict more and more abuses of this nature cropping up in future administrations. Plus, as the GP indicated, a little bit of wrist-slapping might go a long way towards improving our public image abroad.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AndersOSU (873247)
            I agree with the sentiment, I just feel that Washington doing what it does, will turn inward for a Bush bashing circle, and ignore more important matters. I don't think the resulting circus would improve our image abroad.
        • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Vancorps (746090) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @06:11PM (#19430423)

          I've never considered the pardoning of Nixon a good thing. He we are not even 40 years later with a President condoning far worse crimes such as torture and warrant less wiretapping. Hell, there have even been things considered war crimes committed in the name of the United States which goes against everything the country stands for. At what point do we say stop, you have behaved like a criminal, it is time for us to treat you like one and throw them the hell in jail.

          I think that would do far more to actually healing the country versus getting us to start thinking about other problems to tackle. International opinion has never been a concern of the United States and I don't think it should play a part in our decisions now.

          I think we need to do something about the wrongs being committed against American citizens as well as the wrongs Americans are committing against others. If we're fighting a war on terror and Americans are now less safe because we can be stripped of our citizenship and shipped to Guantanamo bay where we can be held for more than 5 years without even a hearing then this country has some serious problems that should never have been allowed in the first place. No where in the constitution does is say that the government can torture people, and no where does it say that the government can spy on our own people. If we're going to become a police state then the legislature needs to bring it forward and pass laws to allow this all to happen legally.

          In short, Nixon gave America some serious nerve damage, we just stopped more damage from happening and didn't go through any therapy to get back what we lost because we chose to just forget about it. We can't afford to forget about Bush and all the rights that we have lost without a constitutional amendment. That's not supposed to be possible.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have to agree. Worse still, it's not likely that unless this president is acted against or otherwise stopped, any incoming president will not likely be interested in reversing the precedent set by the current administration. So the time to get this stuff corrected is now, before the next election. If another president gets elected and uses those same presumed powers, there will be a lot less that could stop him... or her...
    • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:26PM (#19427867) Homepage

      The tactic of ignoring laws and judgments that do not fit the executive agenda has worked for 6 years now

      Come, come. 6 years? Ever heard the official term Contempt of Congress [wikipedia.org]? This administration is yet to have an official to be so condemned (in six years!), but the list [wikipedia.org] is long, and even the previous administration is on it.

      • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AoT (107216) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:38PM (#19428117) Homepage Journal
        Maybe you missed the part where the Republicans held both houses of Congress and the Presidency. A Republican Congress is not going to charge a Republican Administration with contempt of congress.

        I would be quite surprised if the Democrats don't start busting out the contempt charges real fucking soon, with the way justice officials seem to be making a habit of lying to congress.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:52PM (#19427339) Homepage
    His approval ratings are so low that the Democrats could safely bring impeachment charges without any real damage if they stick to what are the more sober charges:

    1) Violating the 4th amendment.
    2) Failing to protect the border, which is a legal obligation under Article 4, Section IV of the US Constitution.
    3) Lying to Congress about the intelligence that lead us into Iraq.
    4) Lying to Congress about the true cost of his medicare expansion.

    #2 would go over very well with a lot of the public because in most polls, about 70% of the population, cutting across ideology, firmly opposes Bush's amnesty plan.

    Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury, and should have been removed. He didn't just lie, he lied while under oath in a court of law, which is a **felony**. Bush did far worse. The case against him should be a lot easier.
    • by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@yah ... minus herbivore> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:02PM (#19427507) Homepage
      The real question here is why was he being asked under oath about something that isn't even illegal? He may have broken the law by lying about getting a blowjob, but the inference here shouldn't have been that Clinton lies, it should have been congress was inappropriately overreaching deep into a the personal life of our president.

      What bush has done to freedom, to fiscal security, and to the world is deserving of far worse than impeachment.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot
        To add to what Jhon said, it was not even Congress that decided to investigate the perjury, it was Janet Reno and the judges overseeing the independent prosecutor. Someone approached Starr with evidence that Clinton lied under oath, he went to Reno and the judges, and they told him to investigate it.

        Note that Clinton DID commit perjury, a crime. He was not prosecuted for it while in office because we do not charge the President with crimes. When he left office, he struck a bargain to avoid prosecution.
    • by griffjon (14945) <`GriffJon' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:13PM (#19427675) Homepage Journal
      Haven't we ratified the Geneva conventions as well, and ignored that? Not to mention perjury (they did learn something from Clinton - never get caught in being questioned under oath!). I'm sure trying to repeal habeas corpus could get wedged in as well. Impeach these anti-constitutional nutcases ASAP
      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:40PM (#19428141) Journal
        Haven't we ratified the Geneva conventions as well, and ignored that?

        The US ratified the first four (through 1949) but not the last two protocols (1977).

        They are a treaty. As such they are binding on the several states as long as the federal government considers them to be in force. But the fed (like any other government) abides by them or not as it finds convenient, and can declare them null and void at any time it finds convenient. (Meanwhile, treaties have no direct force within the country except through implementing legislation or executive orders. Such legislation is subject to the usual constitutional limits on congressional power. Congress' powers over the other two branches are severely limited. Executive orders are just the orders of a president to his underlings, automatically superseded by any later orders.)

        Further, most of the Geneva Convention protections explicitly are not extended to terrorists and other paramilitary forces that don't themselves obey certain of their provisions - such as identifying themselves, wearing uniforms, not deliberately blowing up non-combatants (who aren't in the way of an attack on a "legitimate" military target), etc. The idea is to encourage everybody else to play by "the rules of civilized warfare".

        Which is not to say that what the administration is doing is the right thing to do. Just that an appeal to the Geneva Conventions is not a particularly useful charge to make against a president and his administration. It's an attempt to seize moral high ground but has no force in law.

        If you want to mount a binding legal attack on a sitting president it needs to be based on constitutional grounds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      His approval ratings are so low that the Democrats could safely bring impeachment charges without any real damage if they stick to what are the more sober charges:

      There are none.

      1) Violating the 4th amendment.

      This is a legal dispute, and can be reasonably adjudicated only by the Court. For the Congress to enforce its Constitutional interpretation, which goes against past precedent and even existing opinion from the FISA Court of Review, would be a violation of separation of powers. The public would not look kindly on such a usurpation, especially when the program in question is not even in current operation.

      2) Failing to protect the border, which is a legal obligation under Article 4, Section IV of the US Constitution.

      The President is charged with enforcing the law as passed by Congress, and in this reg

      • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:30PM (#19427937)
        The grandparent is off in the weeds, but there's a perfectly good basis for impeaching Bush. He has plainly admitted to authorizing 45 wiretaps of domestic telephones without the approval of the FISA court. That is simply illegal. In fact it's a felony and it carries a 5-year jail sentence.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

          The grandparent is off in the weeds, but there's a perfectly good basis for impeaching Bush. He has plainly admitted to authorizing 45 wiretaps of domestic telephones without the approval of the FISA court. That is simply illegal. In fact it's a felony and it carries a 5-year jail sentence.

          That is a matter of opinion, and can only be properly adjudicated in court. The President's opinion -- one I largely disagree with, but am incapable of dismissing out of hand, due to precedent -- is that Congress did not have the authority to restrict him in that regard. You surely recognize that Congress cannot tell the President anything it wants to tell him, and the question is simply whether it has authority in this case. And we would be foolish to cede to Congress the authority to dictate Constitut

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jeffrey Baker (6191)
            You'd be right, if this were a wide-open field of Constitutional scholarship, but it is not. The Supreme Court has already ruled on the matter of domestic surveillance and national security. The court ruled unanimously that the Fourth Amendment protects the People from unwarranted surveillance, regardless of the President's feelings on the matter. Quoting the majority:

            History abundantly documents the tendency of Government - however benevolent and benign its motives - to view with suspicion those who mos

      • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:42PM (#19428171) Homepage Journal

        3) Lying to Congress about the intelligence that lead us into Iraq.

        There is simply no evidence supporting this claim.


        Some of the intelligence reports and letters handed to the President before speaking to Congress have been made public. They're in direct contradiction to his statements. An agency reported that the aluminum tubes which the President claimed in a State of the Union address were evidence of nuclear arms buildup were not of a grade capable of deploying nuclear weapons. The man who investigated and officially reported no requests for uranium were made to an African nation was very surprised to hear the opposite claim by the President and Vice President.

        There's plenty of direct evidence.

        Lying to the public about a tie between Iraq and 9/11 is also impeachable, by the way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N3WBI3 (595976)
      Major problem: As low as his approval ratings are the house Democrats are just as low. Basically it would be a cripple fight and nobody (or everybody depending on your disposition) wins a cripple fight. Bush could be impeached but he would not be removed and that, in the end, would help him just as it did Clinton.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch (249536)
      Any lie by an official to the public, whether under oath or not, falls under the strict definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" and is therefore impeachable. Technically all of the contradictory statements to the press (especially with many examples by Cheney) are also impeachable.
  • by andyring (100627) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:54PM (#19427365) Homepage
    Keep in mind, people, that regardless of what some senator says, until these wiretaps have been found illegal in a court of law and upheld on appeal, calling them "illegal" is terribly disingenous. They can be alleged to be illegal but until it is found to be illegal in a court of law, it is flat-out wrong (and overtly politically motivated) to call them illegal.


    And, if you actually take the time to look into the entire program, I think you'll find that these alleged wiretaps are NOT occuring on domestic phone calls between American citizens. They are happening between people residing in this country (not necessarily citizens) and another party typically in al Queda-linked countries.

    • BULLSHIT! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:00PM (#19427461)

      And, if you actually take the time to look into the entire program, I think you'll find that these alleged wiretaps are NOT occuring on domestic phone calls between American citizens. They are happening between people residing in this country (not necessarily citizens) and another party typically in al Queda-linked countries.

      And since NONE of the facts have been released, exactly HOW is it that YOU know who has and has not been tapped?

      IF that was the case, THEN it would be EXACTLY the kind of situation that FISA was supposed to handle.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:05PM (#19427551) Homepage
      I made another post talking about this at greater length, but the fact is that you're right that without a court ruling we can't say with certainty that this program was illegal. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that Bush has not claimed that he has complied with the law, and rather has argued that he does not need to comply with the law because the Constitution grants him the power to ignore the 4th Ammendment when he wants to, is all I need to know to form an educated layman's opinion that the NSA program was not in compliance with the law, i.e. illegal.

      The only real question is whether the court will agree with Bush's interpretation of the Constitution. The question of whether he complied with FISA has already been answered. And somehow I doubt the Judicial branch will agree that the Judicial power of granting warrants is irrelevent to the Executive branch.
    • Also bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

      by guspasho (941623)
      In addition to what the first to claim bullshit on your argument said, of course the wiretapping is illegal. The law (FISA) says they need a court order. They aren't getting them, they haven't been getting them for the entire existence of the program. Your argument is as absurd as murdering a man in broad daylight and claiming to the witnesses that you didn't murder him and didn't break the law because a court hasn't ruled that you did.
      • by andyring (100627)
        Your "absurd" claim is actually 100 percent true. By guarantee of the Constitution, anyone charged with a crime is by default INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty in a court of law. Until then, you could be termed an "alleged murderer" but not a "murderer" or a "convicted murderer."

      • I'm sorry, but it's just wrong to say that "of course the wiretapping is illegal". The legality of the issue is still being debated. In fact, according to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], there have even been several circuit court rulings upholding the legality of the surveillance.
    • by drmerope (771119)
      I'm sorry but that sort of attitude is not only wrong, it's dangerous--and for the record I've not been convinced the NSA program was ever illegal. I think you're infusing Marbury v. Madison [wikipedia.org] with a meaning that it doesn't have.

      All officers of the United States, all legislators, and all judges have a responsibility to judge for themselves the meaning and bounds of the constitution and the law. It is true that simply calling something a name doesn't make it so. But this rule applies to the courts and judg
    • by fuzznutz (789413) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:16PM (#19427707)
      Ahem... It was declared illegal last year by a district court judge.

      http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/26489prs200 60817.html [aclu.org]

      It is flat-out wrong to call them overtly politically motivated and not to call them illegal.

      Incidentally, I am a registered Republican and I am incensed that Bush and Gonzales call themselves Republicans.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tibike77 (611880)
      Wiretaps *ARE* illegal unless authorised under "probable cause".
      The FISA ('78) was the only one offering some leeway in how wiretapping could be conducted OUTSIDE of "regular" law enforcement prior to 9/11.

      And then, there's the "U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act" shortly afterwards.
      Quoting wikipedia on that:

      "The original Act had a sunset clause to ensure that Congress would need to take active steps to reauthorize it. Like many sweeping reform laws, the people of the United States needed time to test and implement
  • Sturdy table, capable of holding impeachment, desperately needed.

    Please send to Speaker Pelosi on behalf of the people of the United Stated.
  • by SadGeekHermit (1077125) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:55PM (#19427391)
    I mean, think about it, all Nixon did was send some spooks into the Watergate Hotel to snoop on the Democratic Convention. Suddenly he was Satan incarnate, and the whole country was on him like a cheap suit.

    Dubya and his cronies spy on EVERYBODY, brag about it, torture people to death, invade other countries for personal gain, "out" CIA agents, fire U.S. attorneys, get cozy with the commies in China, kidnap people (extraordinary rendition)...

    And nothing! Not a whimper! And the Red States think he's a Good Ole' Boy!

    Seriously, people -- WTF???

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc (621217)
      There is a difference between spying on your political opponents and spying on your countries' opponents.

      One is both illegal espionage on a POPULAR group and ALSO an attempt to disrupt the basic running of your own government.

      The other is an is an illegal espionage on a totally unpopular group for the legal purpose of supporting the basic running of our country.

      While popularity may not be a reasonable counterargument, the disruption vs. support is a good one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Except that Dubya is spying on all of US. ALL of us. Not just foreigners, and definitely not just arabs.

        The NSA is equipped to filter and process ALL telephone communications. Don't fool yourself; they're listening.

        Actually, they have been for a long time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON [wikipedia.org]

        So, you know... Your argument is like unto a cup of yummy kool ade!
    • "I mean, think about it, all Nixon did was send some spooks into the Watergate Hotel to snoop on the Democratic Convention. Suddenly he was Satan incarnate, and the whole country was on him like a cheap suit."

      No, the whole country wasn't on him like a cheap suit until well after wrong-doing had been established. Until that point, most either didn't care or thought Nixon was innocent of the accusations. It did sound more than a wee bit like a tin-foil-hat conspiracy. It didn't help that Nixon's political
  • Okay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VariableGHz (1099185) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [zhgelbairav]> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:56PM (#19427409) Homepage
    It's mind-boggling how difficult this seems to stop. It's already illegal for chrissakes, how do you put a ban on something that's already illegal?
  • by guspasho (941623) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:56PM (#19427417)
    Here's an idea. How about suing them and forcing them to stop? They've already demonstrated don't care about the law. They've broken FISA blatantly and repeatedly. And when they were caught they proved shameless enough to openly continue breaking the law. There is no reason to believe they will stop if we write more laws. Impeach them and sue them. Throw them out of office and in jail. It's the only way to restore the rule of law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ZDRuX (1010435)
      EFF is already suing AT&T [eff.org], so if anybody ever wanted to support them, now is the perfect time to send in a donation. If there's anybody who even has a chance at winning against the government (or their corprorate slaves) then I think EFF are the ones.
  • What about me? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vigmeister (1112659) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:57PM (#19427427)
    I am an Arab looking Indian dude who seldom ever calls home with my phone connection. I've installed Skype on my phone and call abroad with that because it's WAAAY cheaper... Now I wonder if they can/do tap into Skype... Fundamentally, this is akin to the DRM issue. Those that want to make calls and talk about anthrax will use modes of communication that aren't monitored and those who pay the penalty are Arab looking Indian dudes... *sigh*... Cheers!
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:58PM (#19427431) Homepage
    Too bad until somebody figures out that they've been spied upon and sues the government we can't get a court ruling either way. But I do look to the Judiciary for help here, because even in todays climate they have handed Bush several major wakeup calls regarding his conception of how the law works.

    The most telling thing to answer the question though of "were these wiretaps illegal without any new law needing to be passed making them so?" is the Bush team's defense of the program. They have never argued that they are operating in compliance with FISA, that the program was operating within the written law. They have only argued that Bush, being the President, has the inherent authority to conduct such searches as he deems fit in the interest of national security.

    Obviously Bush's administration has been pushing very hard to increase the power of the Executive, and this is part of that. But if there was an actual legal explanation for the program that made it clear that Bush was complying with the law, wouldn't it be better to avoid the scandal and ongoing conflict? He wouldn't have to abandon the stance that he can do whatever he wants. So when his best reply is "yes I ignored the law but I can do that because I'm president", that's pretty much all I need to hear.

    I highly doubt that should it come to it that SCOTUS would agree with the President's views.

    P.S. I'm sure someone will bring up the "other presidents did warantless taps!" talking point, but if you actually read what all these other presidents did from Carter on it was in compliance with the terms of FISA that allow warrantless tapping. Bush isn't even pretending that he is doing the same thing, which is why it's only conservative talk show hosts and not the White House PR who bring this up.
  • Sticktuitiveness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <`wgrother' `at' `optonline.net'> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:01PM (#19427477) Journal

    The White House is nothing, if not consistent. It will not give ground on issues it deems important. They are convinced that the only way to catch terrorists on American soil is to tap everyone's phones and read everyone's email. While it may be a laudable idea in theory, the practice is far from certain to net anything useful. This is the information age. The terrorists no doubt know what is being tapped or watched. They haven't exactly proven themselves to be stupid or they would never have been able to pull off 9-11. So while the White House is sure that they'll catch them red-handed, the terrorists are no doubt finding other avenues of communication that the government can't tap into.

    Al Qaeda took advantage of our false sense of security, and this is just more of that, only with bells, whistles, and the cry of "See?!? There hasn't been a terrorist attack here lately!". We're no more secure now than we were then, just more aware. What we do with that awareness will count for more than all the tapped phone calls the NSA listens to.

  • The White House is blocking attempts from Congress to change their current path? I'm completely surprised. I mean, what's next, the idea that next-gen consoles could go down in price at some future point?
  • G8 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by packetmon (977047) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:07PM (#19427571) Homepage
    "In doing so, the Administration violated the National Security Act, which allows restricted notification to the "Gang of Eight" only in certain limited cases involving covert action." At least they used the right terms in the article:

    gang1 (gng) pronunciation n.

    A group of criminals or hoodlums who band together for mutual protection and profit.
    A group of adolescents who band together, especially a group of delinquents.
    A pack of wolves or wild dogs.

    One with a logical mind has to clearly wonder what this administration is really up to at this point. They've subverted laws across all boundaries (national and international) yet nothing is done. The second a prior idiot played with a cigar, they tried impeaching him. I don't know about you but a cigar is nothing in comparison to privacy invasion, AT&T wiretaps, warrantless searches and phone taps... Did this man never read the federalist papers let alone any paper outside of Hustler magazine.
  • It seems in the fervor of anti-terrorism, the Republicans and Bush are misusing their power in the name of justice. They are unable to see that it is they who are the actual terrorists. Only terrorists and tyrants will spy on the innocent, searching for a crime. It seems that Bush is determined to override what was set down 200 years ago, and revert us back to a dictatorship. I for one, do not welcome this change. I say that congress should go ahead and impeach Bush, and then the Senate should remove him in
  • Solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by quokkapox (847798)

    As the Cypherpunk Tim May used to say, these people need killing . While I don't advocate such extreme measures myself, all these people do need to be replaced on November 10, 2008. If the ballot box is not effective (if the election is stolen again) there's always the ammo box.

    For now, let's put the soap box to good use.

  • by Wubby (56755) <tduvally@du[ ]ly.com ['val' in gap]> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:18PM (#19427745) Homepage Journal
    Check out http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/16/115444 /263 [dailykos.com]
    This is the testimony of James Comey, who was the acting AG while John Ashcroft was in the ICU after surgury. Al Gonzoles and Andrew Card sought to push a sick, bed ridden old man to agree to their illegal program (according to the AG, they guy who's job it was to determine that). It took the FBI (guys with guns) to ensure that the acting AG would NOT get pushed out of the way. Essentially, FBI direct Meuller ordered his men to protect the AG from the White House's representitives.

    This is sh!t that's supposed to happen only in 3rd world dictatorships, not the US of A!

    The White House went ahead with the illegal program anyway. And yes, according to the TOP guy hired to enforce the LAW of the USA, it was illegal!
  • Does anyone read these summaries before posting them?

    If the wiretaps are already illegal, then there's no need for further legislation. As for the White House tactics, well, that's life in the big city.

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I get it. It's a story about Chimpy Bushitler Mc Halliburton. In that case, pitchforks, tumbrils, and guillotines. Immediately.
  • The problem with impeachment is a lot of things. First and foremost we would have Mr. Dick Cheney as our president which is just as bad if not worse than curious george. It would take too long to impeach his dumbass. Impeachment is far too late at this point. Although, I would like to see the entire government just be wiped clean. All the members of the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branch just be wiped clean and start from a whole new batch of people. Stop voting in these clowns. I would love to
  • All the recent, hyped 'terrorist captures' have involved standard, traditional law-enforcement work and informants and so forth. Why haven't we had any high-profile captures due to the illegal wiretaps? I don't believe that this administration would refrain from leaking such things to improve their profile. So I have to conclude that they haven't actually produced any significant results at all...
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:38PM (#19428099) Homepage

    While blasting the current administration as the enemy of privacy, it is useful to remember the attempts of the previous one — whom most illiberals want back — to saddle us with those two nice little thingies called Carnivore [wikipedia.org] (currently known as "DCS1000"), and Clipper [wikipedia.org]...

    No government is a friend of privacy of its citizens. They think, their job is more important, and they are sure, they will not abuse the possibilities. And there is little reason to doubt their sincerety — they are just wrong, and we must defend ourselves, but we should not single anyone out — they all want our privacy, for it often makes their job easier.

    This is not unlike a geek wanting to, for example, break out of their employer's firewall. The geek knows, they will not abuse the freedom nor expose the employer's network to viruses, etc., but the employer is justly concerned...

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:28PM (#19433343) Homepage Journal
    This guy is wiretapping the entire country, already found guilty in Federal court of dozens if not thousands of felony violations of the FISA. Nixon had tapped only a few, and he was staring straight at impeachment.

    What the hell does it take to impeach a criminal tyrant as awful as Bush, anyway?

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