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New York Times sues DoD over Domestic Spying 511

Posted by Zonk
from the good-a-reason-as-any dept.
gbobeck writes "Yahoo News is reporting that the New York Times has filed suit against the U.S. Defense Department. The suit is seeking the release of all relevant documents and a list of people targeted by the NSA domestic spying program. As stated in the article: 'The Times had requested the documents in December under the Freedom of Information Act but sued upon being unsatisfied with the Pentagon's response that the request was being processed as quickly as possible, according to the six-page suit filed at federal court in New York.'"
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New York Times sues DoD over Domestic Spying

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  • Like, say, all of the people who work for the New York Times...

  • We'll get to know after the suit has been resolved in about 3-4 years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:43PM (#14818194)
    The NSA tried to send the data over a few months ago, but they gave up at the NYT registration screen.
  • We need to thank the NY Times for doing this. They might be unpopular here at slashdot for their 'evil' online registration, but they've stood up for the public's right to know what their government is doing many times before. Hello? Pentagon Papers?
    • We need to thank the NY Times for doing this. They might be unpopular here at slashdot for their 'evil' online registration, but they've stood up for the public's right to know what their government is doing many times before.

      In fact, I think they should also ask for a list of all of the people that are working for our intel community - especially overseas in places like North Korea and Iran. And since a lot of Chinese businesses read the NYT, they'd certainly have an audience for a list of the names of
      • How can we tell, unless everything that they're doing is completely transparent? Sure, doing so will completely undermine security, but people who value security aren't deserving of liberty, blah blah, right?

        If the government really cares about the security of their intelligence operations, then they should be careful to follow the law. Otherwise, they risk having details of the operations revealed in the course of efforts to bring to justice the criminals in the government who ignore the laws.

        Apparentl

      • How can we tell, unless everything that they're doing is completely transparent? Sure, doing so will completely undermine security, but people who value security aren't deserving of liberty, blah blah, right?

        But these agencies who "value security" apparently don't value the law. A fundamental right of every American is their privilege to receive due process, and be protected against unreasonable search and seizure. Federal agencies can't ignore laws or they risk having their entire investigations exposed an
    • Of course if you ask them to run some cartoons that are responsible for world-wide protest and violence they'll hem and haw and quake in their boots.
    • Yeah, the New York Times is doing the public a service. If by some fluke they manage to get the government to provide the information so they can publich the names and information in the paper, alerting the terrorists which members of their cells may have been compromised so they can change their plans and manage to take out a city with a dirty bomb or a biological weapon, I am sure the New York Times will cover that in all the gory detail and accuse the government of not doing enough to prevent such acts.
      • ROFL. If such information was, in fact, in that data, it would be classified and redacted in no time.

        My gawd... it really does amaze me how willing people are to roll over on their own civil rights just for an illusion of safety. Seriously, get some balls. Your founding fathers would be ashamed.
        • If such information was, in fact, in that data, it would be classified and redacted in no time.

          So if the info will be redacted and classified what good does it do for the NYTs to sue for it? They just want to exercise their lawyers? Or do they just want to publish a story showing that they can not get that data?

          There are somethings that do not need to be made public. This is more about the NYTs trying to make a story out of nothing than anything else.
    • NYT sat on this story for a year before publishing it. I'm not thanking them for anything.
    • by gfxguy (98788)
      Actually, the NYT, like most media outlets, has an agenda, and they selectively choose what information they try to get out to the people. They didn't show the muslim cartoons, they went on and on about Abu Ghraib, but refused to show or write about the evidence of Saddam Hussein's torturing (many thousands of pictures came out at about the same time as the Abu Ghraib pictures).

      I'm not saying this is a bad article, or that the information shouldn't be out there, but the NYT only stands up for it's own agen
  • by dr_dank (472072)
    so if they win the suit, the DoD can turn over page after page of redacted document that looks like a magic marker threw up all over it. If they don't want the information to get out, it won't.
  • by ExE122 (954104) *
    Based on past rulings [usdoj.gov], the Department of Justice seem to uphold the FOIA in such cases. This isn't the first time the pentagon has used stall tactics to hold back information. I'm glad we have checks and balances.

    But the Bush administration says the president as commander in chief of the armed forces has the authority to carry out the intercepts and that Congress also gave him the authority upon approving the use of force in response to the September 11 attacks

    ... at least we have some checks and bal

  • Asking the government for arbitration when your complaint is against the government? I can't imagine how this exciting story will turn out!
  • What a pointless lawsuit. The information is classified and thus the Freedom of Information Act won't apply. Sure maybe they'll get lucky and a left leaning judge will initially side with them but there is no way they'll ultimately win this thing. I guess there's no harm in trying if they can afford it, other than wasting the time of an already overloaded court system.
    • Re:Pointless (Score:4, Interesting)

      by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:10PM (#14818524) Homepage
      Even if the lawsuit is not successful, it still serves two purposes:

      - It highlights the fact that the government engaged in warrantless wiretaps, and helps make more of the public aware of the problem and keep them thinking about the problem
      - It helps NYT sell papers with articles about how the government engaged in warrantless wiretaps.

      We probably are not too concerned with the second, but the motivation provided to the paper by the second causes the paper to act in a manner that gives us the benefits of the first. Go Free Press.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:45PM (#14818232)

    Here's the Associated Press article [firstamendmentcenter.org] on the same subject...contains a bit more info on the actual request than the Reuters copy, including:
    From TFA:
    The lawsuit said the Department of Defense acknowledged receipt of the request on Dec. 30, 2005, but the response, required in 20 business days, never came.


    Coming from an administration that took 411 days to set up a Public Inquiry into 9/11, the most significant terrorist attack in the history of the American nation, this amont of foot-dragging is a mere warm-up. Expect this to go nowhere fast.
    • Since the datamining tool that they are using is automated (e.g. supposedly correlated foreign phone calls with domestic callers) then just how many people are going to be listed?

      Can the DoD use the same excuse that google is giving it? that there is no easy way to deliver 10 million names (even you are probably 26 nodes down in the search tree) as it would be technologically unfeasable and reveal too much information about how and when and why they do thier searches.

      Getting all that information out into t

      • Can the DoD use the same excuse that google is giving it?

        Seeing how well that excuse [slashdot.org] is working out, I highly doubt it.

        Getting all that information out into the public might not be as trivial as doing a database dump.

        If there is indeed so much information that merely disseminating it is an unworkable proposition, that alone is enough of an indictment on the wholesale breach of privacy the current administration is indulging in.
    • I know this is a common preception on slashdot but at least get all the facts.

      The "Administration" does not or has ever had absolute control over every agency or every government employee. Except in cases of security, they are afforded the same rights as every other citizen, free speech. Also keep in mind, this is the government. Goverment employees are known for their general apethetic tone towards their job. Its far more likely, no one read it and it was thrown away or used it as toilet paper (since its a
  • by SB5 (165464) <freebirdpat.hotmail@com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:46PM (#14818240)
    Somewhere out there, Journalists are looking into their pants, and finding they have testicles. -paraphased from Penny-Arcade.
  • by Paladin144 (676391) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:46PM (#14818243) Homepage
    The Bush administration has announced plans to kill the Freedom of Information Act, saying that it "gives the terr'rists aid and comfort."

    When asked if he would support the administration's efforts, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "I...uh... what? They're going to kill what? Oh, well. I guess. I must obey my masters."

    The ACLU released a statement condemning the move, but they were clubbed and beaten by government thugs before they could take any questions from reporters.

    • Pity your comment was not modded as insightful.

      If republicans win another term, you can expect the US to be turned over to corporates.

      First Alaskan reserve land would be turned over wholesale to oil companies.

      Iran would be attacked, and in retaliation US would suffer the second worst 9/11. This would make the US declare martial law all around in US thus suspending the FOIA indefinitely. You would be detained if you sare to look up the secret service in eye.

      DMCA would include a law prohibiting you from i

  • Its just going to be the side that runs out of money first...I think I know which side is going to win
  • by fak3r (917687) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:51PM (#14818299) Homepage
    While I applaud this move, I doubt much will happen seeing as how this administration is one of the worst in terms of openness. Look at the energy deal Cheney brokered back before 9/11 (since that's always the reason for keeping things hush/hush), after a protracted suit but some enviromental agencies nothing came of it; denied by the courts even though there was precidence of more openness.

    I know the attacks I'll face but look; 9/11, Katrina, the deficit, the protracted war in Iraq; do you really feel safer with what this government is doing? Does it seem like they're always prepared to serve OUR best interests? Call me an idealist, but come on, with all the crap that's gone down the American people DESERVE to know what's going on; the blind leading the blind routine is old, let's get an educated populus for our next election!

    (of course the republican's scare tactics will be put on full force: 9/11, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, attacked on our shores, this post 9/11 world, defending the homeland, evildoers determined to do us harm, etc)
    • We have been going down this road for a long time. The Bread and Circuses are coming to a stop soon. This [weedenco.com] is a very interesting read (sorry PDF).

      With Iran [aljazeera.com] opening their oil exchange [energybulletin.net] in late March, the US will most likely be forced into some sort of military action.

      If oil trading in non-dollar assets catch on, our debt will no longer be sustainable. The powers that be know this. If you read the first link you'll see just how bad the situation is. The goal right now is to stretch the game out as long as possi
  • From TFA:

    David McCraw, a lawyer for the Times, acknowledged that the list of documents sought was lengthy but that the Pentagon failed to assert there were "unusual circumstances," a provision of the law that would grant the Pentagon extra time to respond.

    So:

    • NY Times requests a huge pile of documents on a fishing expedition.
    • Pentagon / NSA dont respond quickly enough.
    • NY Times sues.
    • profit?

    At least NYT isn't just making it up this time [wikipedia.org].

    The real interesting bits would be if this FOIA request turned up something

  • by porkface (562081) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:57PM (#14818375) Journal
    Let's face it, the NSA has changed the way it spies, and is hesitant to explain that for two reasons.

    First, they're probably spying on all of us. That is to say, they are probably just recording as much as humanly possible and then going back to review calls and other communications which their datamining and watch lists suggest have the highest probability of yielding results. They can't explain this to anyone, save for a few pliable Congressional reps, because the law says they're not supposed to do that first part without a warrant. I believe they started the program under the belief that if a tree falls in the woods, but nobody goes back to review the tape, then they weren't spying on the tree. The problem with this is that now we're getting even further away from this concept of Democracy our leaders spout off about when referring to the rest of the world. I know we've always been a representative democracy, but if we can't have transparency to the voters, it's really just a dictatorship by whomever presents the cleanest TV image.

    Second, they don't want to explain how they're spying because any system is easy to circumvent when you know how that system works. Unfortunately, if you really believe in our system and our morals and our way of life, then you have to stand behind it and expect that it will hold up to a little transparency. Anyone who simply discards our rules as they see fit is, quite simply, un-American.
    • the NSA has changed the way it spies

      they're probably spying on all of us

      Those two statements contradict each other.
    • They can't explain this to anyone, save for a few pliable Congressional reps,
      A few weeks ago, the White House agreed to brief the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees on the NSA programs.

      It wasn't a very big news story, but I'm pretty sure they got briefed. I can't find a 'good' news article about it though.
    • First, they're probably spying on all of us.

      That may be true, but not in the way you mean. The NSA is apparently scouring records to see who communicates with suspected terrorists. They aren't listening in to random conversations. There's no point to it. It would be a waste of manpower, utterly fruitless, and do nothing but make everybody mad, and rightly so.

      Knowing this, people in the media keep using the words "wiretapping" and "spying", to conjure images of men in unmarked vans. It's nothing bu

  • "The Times had requested the documents in December under the Freedom of Information Act but sued upon being unsatisfied with the Pentagon's response that the request was being processed as quickly as possible..."

    By "processing" I bet they meant shredding documents.
  • ..they're the ones with the news website that is mostly unusable without a privacy-shaving registration or BugMeNot [bugmenot.com].
  • Glad to see someone step and demand more openness from this administration. Circumventing established protocols with regard to obtaining warrants and violating Americans constitutional rights is a travesty. With this administration track record on disinformation to the American public and general incompetence. We need more information so we can judge accurately the actions of this administration. This is suppose to be a democracy. It is a shame that Congress has decided to waive its right to oversight on de
  • I sort-of get why the rest of these were covered on Slashdot. Not this one though.

    Someone sues for info about an NSA operation. How is this news? Anyone can file suit for anything at any time.

    How is this news for nerds? The NSA isn't spying on nerds, it's spying on terrorists and the people they contact.

    How is this "Your Rights Online"? Is there a new right to be free from surveillance in wartime when you associate with the enemy? there never was before.

    • The NSA isn't spying on nerds, it's spying on terrorists and the people they contact.

      No, they aren't. They are spying in everyone and then trying to figure out who are the terrorists from that information. Don't believe the watered down version the White House is pushing, it's not the whole story when you look deeper.

      Is there a new right to be free from surveillance in wartime when you associate with the enemy?

      Read the fourth amendment. It's actually pretty clear in what it says. You'll also note that t
      • Read the fourth amendment. It's actually pretty clear in what it says.

        Yes, it is clear. It protects against "unreasonable" searches and seizures.

        How is it unreasonable to have had your phone call listened to if you're calling some islamofacist nutjob?
        • Unreasonable means you need a warrant.
          It doesn't mean the gov't can decide that they don't like someone and hence spy on them.
          If the gov't think you are an republican-fascist nutjob does that mean they can spy on you?
          This of course would be when the Dems. control the Whitehouse.
          If a local police thinks a person is a criminal nutjob can they spy on them without due-process?
          Now we can change all those TV shows and just have police spy on anyone they think is bad.
          Tap their phones and photograph private places
      • You'll also note that there's no "except in times of war" clause.

        It is also worthwile to note that we are not officially in a time of war. Congress authorized the use of force and is happily signing the checks, but they stopped short of actually declaring war.

  • by jav1231 (539129)
    Anything that drains cash from that tabloid works for me.
    All that and they'll still lose!
  • Let's review ...

    We are at war.

    We are at war with a stateless foe that moves from place to place easily.

    We are at war with a foe that uses modern communications technologies to do their damage.

    The NSA is tracking calls from this foe. This foe calls American phone numbers, and in some cases, American citizens.

    With that in mind...will some of you learned people please tell me why it was good for FDR to monitor communications between Nazi and Imperial Japanese intelligence, and their assets here? All without a
    • Please provide links for FDR's domestic spying program. I'm not sure anyone has heard of this before now.
    • I'm not an American, but even I know that:

      1) The United States is not at war (Congress has that perogative), irrespective of what Mr. Bush says; and

      2) Spying on your fellow Americans is quite different than spying on a foreign power.
    • We are at war. We are at war with a stateless foe that moves from place to place easily.

      Bullshit. We aren't at war. You can't wage war on drugs or fear or anything else other than a foreign nation.

      The NSA is tracking calls from this foe. This foe calls American phone numbers, and in some cases, American citizens.

      What makes you think that? The NSA is spying on americans. maybe they are citizens that are in contact with foreign agents. Maybe they are citizens who donated to Kerry's election fund. We

      • Bullshit. We aren't at war

        Even the Democrats say we are. You can rant all you want about that, and it's not going to change.

        Maybe they are citizens who donated to Kerry's election fund

        The entire American intelligence community would revolt if that was the case, unless you think every single NSA agent is part of a vast Republican conspiracy.

        this is the government intentionally breaking the law and spying on its own citizens during peacetime.

        Peacetime ended on 9/11. You can say it wasn't an act of war all yo

  • by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:20PM (#14818642)
    When the talking heads on the corporate TV channels discuss this, usually they show clips of Republicans saying we need this to protect the US, and then the talking heads say the Democrats will look weak opposing it, although the Democrats don't control either house of Congress anyway. One thing they don't discuss is how domestic spying has been abused in the past. Nixon's lieutenants sent people to break into and bug the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate hotel. The FBI not only illegally monitored and broke into offices of people engaged in political activity, like Martin Luther King, Jr., they actually got involved, sending him threats to him and a lot of other people. There are many memos about actions done in an effort to disrupt political movements. One of their aims was stated in an FBI memo, to 'prevent the rise of a "messiah" who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a "messiah;" he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position.'

    US intelligence has stepped out of its role of supposedly defending the US, to taking an active, partisan role in US politics. In fact, the beginnings of the FBI were in the first red scare right after the Russian Revolution, the FBI was created with this political police role.

    Another thing I hear on TV is how the Church committee tied the arms of the intelligence community in the 1970s. It tied it because "former" CIA agents like E. Howard Hunt were caught in the Watergate trying to wiretap the Democrats phone lines, they tied it because the intelligence community was not only illegally domestically spying in a partisan political manner, it was actively involved in trying to disrupt political groups. Even after these supposed controls were put on, it seemed like this did little good in the 1980s when these big brother institutions came out once again against anyone opposed to US intervention in Central America. The FBI were spying on nuns who were unhappy that teh Archbishop of El Salvador was killed, as well as four nuns who were raped, tortured and killed in El Salvador as well, with most evidence pointing towards military involvement, a military Reagan was supporting. When the lawsuits, FOIAs etc. flew about, it was even found that FBI agents and informants were discussing trying to seduce the US nuns against sending military supplies down there. This is after the "shackles" of the Church committee, which have been lifted and then some by the PATRIOT act.

    Which doesn't even get into the question of why the US needs "defending". Everything the US does worldwide is called "defense". Farmers in western Nepal are fighting their landlords and the Nepal dictator who just abolished Congress - the US is sending rifles to the dictator so he can put down this rebellion (along with other countries like France). About half of all military spending worldwide is by the US. If the US can't leave alone farmers in western Nepal who are rebelling against their landlords and the dictator due to their maltreatment, can it be surprised some people somewhere in the world are unhappy with this? Osama Bin Laden stated long before 9/11 his unhappiness with US troops in Saudi Arabia (another dictatorship), in his eyes he saw himself as a defender of his home country, and the US as the attacker, and it seems pretty clear to me who drew first blood. The US will always be under threat as long as it seeks an empire. Just take the UK as an example - after decades, the IRA finally gave up military attacks in England because they were willing to accept a political solution offered - and as soon as that happened subways in London began exploding again due to British troops in Iraq. I think the forces of Halliburton, ExxonMobil and so forth are moving of their own accord, and only a great deal of effort can truly secure the US, by preventing this worldwide intervention.


  • OK, on my spamgourmet.com account, I signed up one time by mistake with a disposable email address to read an NYT article.

    This was April 1, 2005 @ 9:50 AM, less than one year ago.

    I have had to date, 364 spams sent to me at that address, above and beyond mortgage scams and porn sites that I have given disposable addresses to.

    So, I'm glad NYT is caring about privacy today.

    I will not read the NYT article.

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