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Government May Help Bells Defend Against Wiretap Suits 315

Posted by Zonk
from the keeping-the-ducks-in-a-row dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "As lawsuits mount against phone companies from plaintiffs who allege their call records were handed over to the National Security Agency illegally, the companies' defense may get help from the U.S. government, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'The plaintiffs, who accuse Bell phone companies of privacy violations and are seeking billions of dollars in damages, would need to delve into the depths of the NSA's surveillance program to make their cases. But the government considers such information top secret, and legal experts expect the Bush administration to assert the "state secrets" privilege in the 20 or more lawsuits filed by privacy advocates in recent weeks. If judges accept the claim, as has been the case in nearly every instance in which it has been asserted since the early 1950s, the suits will dissolve.'"
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Government May Help Bells Defend Against Wiretap Suits

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  • Proposed Strategy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:07PM (#15456073) Journal
    The information itself may be classified but the fact of whether or not they collected it shouldn't be.

    Why don't they ask the director of the NSA, Michael V. Hayden, whether or not their information was collected? They don't need the classified records, just to have him swear under oath (after checking appropriate databases) whether or not AT&T gave it to the NSA.

    I would think a simple "yes" or "no" answer would be enough evidence and also keep the classified information concealed.
    • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:15PM (#15456150) Homepage Journal
      Personally, if he answered "no", I'm afraid that wouldn't be good enough for me.
      • He Could Lie (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eldavojohn (898314) *

        Personally, if he answered "no", I'm afraid that wouldn't be good enough for me.

        He could lie but you have to remember that there are people in the NSA with an axe to grind.

        He could get up there and contemplate lying. But what if he lied and the information was leaked from the NSA or released after his death that the collections did occur?

        Hayden is an important man. Important men (when intelligent enough) are constantly worried about how history sees them after they die. I would wager that h

        • Re:He Could Lie (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AuMatar (183847)
          No they aren't. Important men are concerned with maintaining their power/money/influence. While a few are megalomaniacs, most don't give a shit about history. As such, they'll lie in a second if they think they can get away with it and the lie will help them. Hell, Bush lied about WMDs and started a war over it, you don't think Hayden will lie over a few wiretaps?
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:16PM (#15456154) Homepage

      Why don't they ask the director of the NSA, Michael V. Hayden, whether or not their information was collected? They don't need the classified records, just to have him swear under oath (after checking appropriate databases) whether or not AT&T gave it to the NSA.

      The NSA wouldn't be willing to do this because part of ensuring the efficacy of its interception capabilities is making no public comment whatsoever. See Bamford's The Puzzle Palace [amazon.com] and Body of Secrets [amazon.com] for a layman's introduction to why keeping one's mouth totally shut is the only way to defend SIGINT gathering.

      • Intelligence is kind of like encryption. Excluding things like infiltration, if it only works because it's super-sekrit, it's probably not working anyway.
        • A lot of intelligence-gathering techniques rely on the fact that your enemy is unaware that he is leaking intel in some way.

          As long as he remains unaware, and continues to leak intel, you can stay a step ahead of his game (whatever it may be).

          The moment you describe your techniques, the enemy has an opportunity to become aware of his leaks, and plug them.

          Leveraging your enemy's ignorance is a key component in getting good intel on your enemy. It is very different from encryption, in the sense that good enc
      • Right, and that's why one necessary component of a court system is that it can compel people to do things whether or not they want to do them. So Hayden presumably wouldn't have a choice -- or rather his choice set would look like {answer the question, keep mum and be held in contempt}. Ask Judith Miller how much fun that latter choice is.
    • by NoTheory (580275)
      FYI, Michael V. Hayden is the former head of the NSA. Also, i sincerely doubt that they'd put the head of the CIA under oath. The republican senate has been extremely leery about putting anyone under oath who might face tough questions (I.e. justice department officials such as Alberto Gonzales).
    • But what if the fact that the information was handed over was itself a state secret? Then we get into a wonderful recursive cycle of classifing the classified classification into a new category of secret classfications. This is perfect for the government agentcies involved becuase they can continue to deny that they have denied any denials about programs that have been denied to exist.

      See? It's all so simple for them.
    • by demachina (71715) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:41PM (#15456414)
      I'm pretty sure he can plead the fifth. To get and keep his security clearance he can never divulge classified information. This program is no doubt still classified despite the fact that it was leaked. If he were to just confirm its existence he would be breaking the laws relating to his security clearance and subject to prosecution. You can't make people break the law, or incriminate themselves on the witness stand assuming the Bush administration hasn't unilaterally overturned this basic civil liberty yet. To get Hayden or anyone else in the NSA to testify about this program it would have to be declassified which ain't gonna happen.

      If there was enough information leaked already to clearly establish that the records were turned over illegally then they might still have a case, but the government probably will try to have all the leaked evidence thrown out and to prevent anyone in the phone companies, who might not have a clearance to worry about, from testifying on national security grounds.

      You would hope that if the law was broken, and it almost certainly was, that the phone companies and the government would be held to account. There is a communication act the explicitly forbids releasing your phone records without a court order.

      It is an unfortunate fact that laws are much more vigorously enforced against ordinary citizens than they are against people in power. When the DOJ brings a Federal case against a citizen their success rate is extremely high like 80%. When citizen's bring a case against the government their success rate is extremely low. Welcome to Fascism.
      • I forgot to add you can setup a trial where classified information and testimony is involved but I think the judges, lawyers and everyone else involved have to have a security clearance, and I'm not sure you can have a jury trial in this case. This is done when the government needs to convict someone for espionage. I just bet it would be nearly impossible for private citizens to bring a case where classified information is involved and this case will probably follow in that mold
      • by NoTheory (580275)
        The Fifth Amendment protects SELF-incrimination. It does not protect you against testifying about other matters. If you have been called to testify and have been sworn in, and do not testify, you can be held in contempt of court or congress. At least, so far as i understand it. Since Michael Hayden != NSA or any telecommunications company, the 5th amendment has no relevance to this case.
    • by PapayaSF (721268) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:52PM (#15456530) Journal
      The information itself may be classified but the fact of whether or not they collected it shouldn't be.

      Really? Isn't that like saying circa 1943: "The information itself may be classified but the fact that there is a secret project at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge and Hanford involving uranium shouldn't be"? Or perhaps "The photos themselves should be classified, but the fact that many photo recon missions are being flown over the Normandy coast shouldn't be?"

      Sometimes keeping secret the fact that information is being collected is as important, or even more important, than the information itself.
      • Sometimes keeping secret the fact that information is being collected is as important, or even more important, than the information itself.

        In this case, the existence of the thing is itself illegal, so your example doesn't really hold water.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The information itself may be classified but the fact of whether or not they collected it shouldn't be.

      Unless they're not willing to share the fact that they've collected it, and deem even that to be a state secret.

      All they have to do is say "Your honour, if people knew the ways in which we spied on them, they'd switch to other ways to avoid us". If they were stubborn, or just the invasive idiots we believe them to be, they'd fight this just on principle and to deny you the knowledge of if they did it or

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The issue is that EFF took this as a press-release opportunity and not as a get-to-the-bottom-of-it opportunity. From EFF's first press release on their lawsuit, they believed the NSA would try to shut the case down with state secrets (and, when the NSA filed the paperwork to do so, it said "NSA is not required to demonstrate specific harm when invoking this statutory privelege, but only to show that the information relates to its activities" (http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/DeclKeithAlex a nder.pdf). K
    • Doesn't invoking state secrets at all imply that there is something to keep secret?
  • Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:09PM (#15456090) Homepage
    This is so much bullshit. One of the principles of democracy is that the people get a say in how the government is run; preventing people from knowing what the government is up to, and preventing them from suing the government when it does something wtrong, goes against this principle. We aren't quite to the maching on congeress phase, but we are getting there fast.
    • I think the idea of suing the government rather than dissolving and recreating it when it goes severely afoul is wrong enough already. The fact that we can't even sue is at least fourth degree bullshit.
    • Re:Bah! (Score:3, Insightful)

      to put it in the simplest possible terms:

      "this is not your father's america".

      what we have, now, is nothing close to what the founding fathers envisioned.
      • Re:Bah! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Intron (870560) on Friday June 02, 2006 @03:07PM (#15456708)
        Yes. I understand women are allowed to vote and slavery has been abolished.
  • the next step... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geoffspear (692508) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:09PM (#15456092) Homepage
    Why stop with the telecomms?

    Classify all information about lung cancer as a "state secret" and you can get rid of all the lawsuits against tobacco and asbestos companies. Do the same with medical records, and *poof* there go all of the malpractice claims.

    It would certainly save trying to ram all those tort reform packages through pesky Congressional committees.

    • Re:the next step... (Score:3, Informative)

      by NoTheory (580275)
      I am kind of depressed that parent got modded funny. This is a valid point. The question at hand is really what is the purpose of classifying information, and what is a just use of the powers of classification. The Bush administration does clearly use it for their political benefit (Cheney's energy task force being the most egregious example). And i don't know whether a non-partisan case can be made for using classificational powers in this manner.
      • It's funny, the Dems think the ETF was bad but Hillary's health care meetings we OK while the GOPers think the exact opposite.

        If it is wrong - it is wrong when the side you support does it too.
        • by NoTheory (580275)
          But that's the point. The only justifications are partisan ones. Behavior like this should be unacceptable regardless of who you are. Just because the Dems did it, like the Republicans before them, and the dems before them, and the republicans before that, does not justify current behavior.
  • Nothing to hide (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toby The Economist (811138) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:14PM (#15456140)
    Lovely comment in that recent /. article about that wiretapping equipment show -

    The State broadly speaking may argue if we have nothing to hide, then why do we object to being watched?

    If this is so, why does the State hide so much from *us*?

    • Re:Nothing to hide (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrSquirrel (976630)
      Exactly -- if they think it's okay to spy on us then why can't we "spy" on the information they obtained from us? With a new non-civilian intelligence head, things don't look good for American civil liberties. I don't see any form of oversight keeping the government in check from abusing/misusing information. Power corrupts -- absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • Does it seem plausable that someday voice communications could be handled completely by the people without the need for a big centralized entity like a government or a phone company?

    I can see that VOIP is starting to show the potential of decentralized telephony. But could it go completely wireless? I know the technology would be tricky, but it's certainly plausable, yes?

    Take for example the LP. Back in the day only very large companies could press records. The machines to mass produce these were expensive
    • Be it telephony, cable or power lines, VOIP can't exist without the centralized utilities. Laying lines is a massive expense with little in the way of reward. Only companies that can be gaurunteed some profit on them can handle it. And that's just the end user (lines to the house) part of it. You have to have bandwidth, and it's the centralized companies that have that. Decentralization only works when you have free or standard access to already laid (as in, by those centralized companies) lines/bandwi
  • by creimer (824291) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:21PM (#15456212) Homepage
    Even Fox Trot [yahoo.com] is affected by this.
  • Really now... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:23PM (#15456230)
    Does anyone realize that the State Secrets legal tactic has been used by the Bush administrations than ALL PREVIOUS PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATIONS COMBINED?

    Ask yourself this:

    DO WE REALLY live in a time more dangerous than the Vietnam War?

    DO WE REALLY live in a time more subversive than the Free Speech Movement of the 60's?

    DO WE REALLY live in a time more frightening than the Cuban Missile Crisis?

    DO WE REALLY live in a time more threatening to our way of life than the 70's Oil Embargo?

    State Secrets was ONLY used in the past when classified data could be revealed in a case such that it would greatly hinder or be a serious detriment to National Security. Now I ask you this: What is that danger? Is it Osama Bin Laden? Is it a terrorist in the Middle East who hates us even more for a War that wasn't justified to begin with? Who is our enemy?! Damn, this is the most infuriating thing!

    WHY IS NO ONE IN THE MEDIA ASKING THESE QUESTIONS?
    • Re:Really now... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 10100111001 (931992) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:45PM (#15456447)
      WHY IS NO ONE IN THE MEDIA ASKING THESE QUESTIONS?

      No one in the mainstream media is asking these questions because if they did they would lose their jobs. More than 95% of all the media we see (radio, newspapers, tv & movies) comes from one of five media corporations. [corporations.org] These corporations are interested in maintaining and gaining power. They do not want the general population to start asking these questions, so they rarely allow any dissenting viewpoints to enter the mainstream media.

      If you want to hear these and other questions being asked, you need to go to independent media sources.
    • Re:Really now... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by demachina (71715) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @12:07AM (#15460141)
      "WHY IS NO ONE IN THE MEDIA ASKING THESE QUESTIONS?"

      After 9/11 the Bush Administration was extremely successful in their "You are either with us or you are against us" strategy which painted anyone who questioned the Bush administration's actions, including journalists, as unpatriotic, or practically terrorists themselves. This is a classic propaganda and nationalism card and they played it very well. This campaign along with the general mood after 9/11 completely terrified journalists out of questioning anything the Bush administration did. Its just now starting to wear off because a few journalists are realizing they were played for complete suckers by the Bush administration.

      Rupert Murdoch built Fox News to completely destroy the liberal media and independence in the news room and it worked. He single handedly turned news networks in to sensationalist propaganda tools for the executive branch, witness Fox's Tony Snow is now the press secretary. The fact Fox sky rocketed to #1 news network after 9/11 made all the other networks try to emulate them, not refute them. CNN is now an embarrassing Fox News parody, they aren't even good at it, so they are tanking. I can't stand watching CNN anymore. One liberal media outlet down. The Daily Show is the only liberal news outlet left and its a comedy show, parody. The best thing that could happen to American media right now would be for Time-Warner to sell CNN back to Ted Turner so he could rebuild a news network to challenge the Fox propaganda machine.

      TV journalists are hired and rise through the network ranks based on how photogenic they are and on how much of a sycophant they are to both corprate executives, and politicians, not based on their ability as investigative journalists. The networks White House Correspondents and the Pentagon correspondents are just regurgitating the stuff the White House and the Pentagon want them to say on the TV that night. They are thinly veiled propaganda tools of the government. They don't do ANY independent investigation.

      Most media outlets are now owned by large corporations thanks to consolidation, and most large corporations have no interest in investigative journalists who attack the government or stoke controversy that might cost them revenue or political good will.

      One of the more disturbing invocations of state-secret privilege [wikipedia.org] by George W. Bush was on November 1, 2001, when he signed Executive Order 13233 [wikisource.org]. This order allows George W. to unilaterally prevent any access to his presidential papers for 12 years after he leaves office, unless he and only he authorizes it. Even if the sitting president authorizes it, he can still veto the release.

      If its upheld, this should prevent future Congresses or courts from even seeing incriminating executive branch documents to investigate or charge him with illegal or unconstitutional acts, until 2020. Future Presidents can see them but can't release or act on them unless George W. authorizes it. You have to figure that a few weeks after 9/11, George W. was about to sign some orders to do some things that future governments might consider criminal or unconstitutional and his lawyers created this executive order so he could unilaterally obstruct any future investigations, even when he is no longer President. What might those acts be? Massive domestic spying on Americans without court approval, a prison on Gitmo outside the jurisdiction of any court, arresting American citizens without due process, authorization of torture by the military and CIA, secret prisons, launching an illegal war in Iraq based on a web of lies, dramatic expansion of the Rendition program to snatch people anywhere in the world, in violation of other nation's sovereignty to send people to secret prisons to be tortured?

      Rendition is particularly apt in a discussion of state-secret privilege. It was used to kill a case brought by
  • that said that they had nothing to do with the NSA? Or are they now acknowledging that CNN was honest.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12952860/ [msn.com]

    "President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye."

  • Land of the free? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cicero382 (913621) <clancyj@@@tiscali...co...uk> on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:34PM (#15456358)
    I don't mean to knock America, but really!

    I left the UK in 2001 (just before 9/11) to escape crippling taxes and what I saw as an increasingly oppressive government. I considered two possibilities; the USA and Italy. My wife persuaded (OK, ORDERED) me that Italy was the best bet. On the face of it, at the time, it was the lesser choice. But now...

    Forget the taxes, I'm still better off - I'd be even better off in the States, but it's the other thing that concerns me.

    Since I've been here I've watched (from a safe distance) a dramatic reduction of the rights someone living in a democracy should expect, both in the UK and the US. Why are you allowing it to happen?

    What *really* gets me is - why is it happening? I've asked this question on /. before. It's obviously nothing to do with terrorists and so forth.

    It's getting to the point where I'm seriously considering making a tin foil helmet.

    PS. Yes, I know similar laws are being considered here, but we have one major advantage. We just say "AAh, F*ck off!" (And that includes the police).
  • notifying Night Watch of the names and addresses of all plaintiffs attempting to sue a Bell company for complicity in NSA's wiretapping scheme.
    • Gotta love a good B5 reference.
      • Thankfully, we don't need to worry about the Psi Corps, but President Clark, err, I mean Bush, well . . . that's another matter.
        • I'd take Clark over Bush any day. At least he was being controlled by the Shadows. With Bush, I think he really thinks he's doing the right thing.
          • I'd take Clark over Bush any day. At least he was being controlled by the Shadows. With Bush, I think he really thinks he's doing the right thing.

            My take on that part of the B5 arc was that Clarke and his government weren't so much controlled by the Shadows as they were willingly working with them because they thought they were doing the right thing.

            E.g. Clarke and "the ascension of the common man." The diplomat who justified the non-aggression pact with the Centauri because "we will know peace in our time.
  • The big question is can using the "state secrets" privilege be used to permit illegal behaviour now that a secret court exists under FISA?
  • The State Secrets Privilege [wikipedia.org] was abused from the start. The landmark case that established it via the Supreme Court, United States v. Reynolds [wikipedia.org], was used to cover up the military's negligence. The B-29 crash did not involve national security, but rather a poorly maintained aircraft. Fraud all around. The State Secrets Privilege should never have been made in the first place and should be removed from legal precedent.

    -molo
  • by steveg (55825) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:56PM (#15456573)
    There are wiretaps involved with the NSA's FISA violations, but there has been no accusation of domestic wiretapping in the suits against the Bells.

    The Bell suits all have to do with turning over call records, not wiretapping. Wiretapping is *live* monitoring of the contents of telephone calls, and the legal bar to performing a wiretap is considerably higher than "trap and trace" or "pen register" monitoring. The massive turnover of call records is equivalent to trap and trace and pen register, and according to the PATRIOT Act, all the authorities have to do to get an order authorizing these latter types of surveillance to to atest that such monitoring is "necessary to an ongoing investigation."

    So when the NSA claims that those requests for records was legal, they're probably right. The question to be asked, of course, is *should* it be legal, and that's a whole different question. Congress had the chance to fix that, but they passed the renewed PATRIOT Act, so I guess that means that *they* thought it was OK.

    And there may be actual domestic wiretapping going on, but we don't know that since if there is, that story hasn't yet broken.
  • Vote! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by posterlogo (943853) on Friday June 02, 2006 @02:57PM (#15456595)
    I know that people are a bit disillusioned right now with the going-ons in government, and feel waiting until Nov 2006 or 2008 to vote is not enough to deal with the immediate threats and violations of the constitution. A unoffical poll of Slashdot posters would demonstrate a near-unanimous discomfort with the wiretapping, but some of the same people would not be willing to vote out the perpetrators. I ask that everyone here put their money where there mouth is. In this particular matter, there is one party that is thrilled to be spying on Americans and questioning our patriotism, the party of "with us or against us": the Republicans. Though it seems almost certain that the violation of the bill of rights offends most republicans (just look at gun-control attempts), in this case the mob mentality has overruled just about any one Republican's personal moral choices. The solution is to not vote Republican: if you are truly uncomfortable with the way the country is headed, it is necessary to realize that the neo-con movement has usurped the moral authority the Republicans once had.
    • by tweek (18111)
      Don't think for a minute that Dems wouldn't do the same thing if they were in power and the Repubs would be bitching about it. Make no mistake that the parties involved are exactly the same but they are just the minority.
      • Don't think for a minute that Dems wouldn't do the same thing if they were in power and the Repubs would be bitching about it.

        You're missing the important distinction. The democrats would raise taxes to fund the illegal wiretapping, whereas the the republicans don't raise taxes and fund it by sinking our country deeper into debt.

  • What Will It Take? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ewhac (5844) on Friday June 02, 2006 @03:02PM (#15456646) Homepage Journal
    Government and corporations, working hand in hand!

    There's a word [wikipedia.org] for that, you know...

    Let's review:

    • The United States Government is spying on you;
    • The United States Government lied to you to get you to agree to go to war;
    • The United States Government is sending your children half way across the world to be killed;
    • The United States House and Senate are refusing to their jobs of representing you and advocating for your rights and interests;
    • The United States Government has undermined your reputation among nations by abandoning global cooperation and diplomacy and acting unilaterally;
    • The United States Government has endangered your safety by antagonizing and attacking foreign people, thereby turning them into extremist people;
    • The Federal Government and the governments of several states are eliminating your right to self-determination via voting by systematically ignoring all evidence placed before them of voting irregularities and compromised electronic voting machines;
    • Etc., etc., etc....

    In case you haven't been paying attention for the last seven years, it may interest you to know: You are being systematically fucked. The press has been bought off; they will do nothing to help you. There is only one person left who can do something about it...

    But, you see s/he's too busy, and can't be bothered, at least not yet. See, there was the American Idol finale a couple weeks ago where whatshisface (or was it whatsherface?) won, thanks to your attentive help and eager phone calls. Oh! And, and missing the final episodes of Survivor, Will and Grace, The Amazing Race, and House were simply unthinkable! And then there was "March Madness" back in... uh, March, I guess...

    "Public corruption? Senate scandals? Incompetent emergency management officials? Mendacious Attorney Generals? Fuck that! I need to know if Natalee Holloway is still dead... [dailykos.com]"

    See? Very very busy. So if something important is going on, it will need to be really important before we get his/her attention and they start to act and save the United States. It will need to be shocking so that we grab his/her attention. And it will need to be big so that they understand the importance of acting now. In fact, it will need to be so big that it will swamp out all the other "important" stuff for months.

    And so, the question we all need to ask is:

    What Will It Take?

    Schwab

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday June 02, 2006 @03:04PM (#15456670) Homepage
    ...I stated that it's time to take a stand. And from what I've seen so far, the US Congress is also pretty pissed off about the way the executive has been skirting the checks and balances that this republic depends on. Bush does whatever he wants, claims it's legal and when anyone attempts to validate the claim in court, he claims executive priviledge or state secrets. He hasn't replaced ALL of the supreme court judges yet but I wouldn't be surprised if another judge was replaced pretty soon with the turnover in presidential appointees lately. And once he has enough of his cronies on the bench, THEN he might let a couple of issues actually reach the courts for decision.

    I keep hearing that line from Star Wars, Episode 1 --- "...I will MAKE it legal!"
  • by hrrY (954980)
    You get what you pay for. In other countries they have a certain *way* of dealing with this stuff; third world countries in particular... but here...we vote to pay the salaries of people that lie to us and create a detriment in rights and privelleges that we have enjoyed and expanded on for decades. And then we come to places like here in an attempt to find perspective that we have always had. Almost everybody knows what has to be done, but we won't do it because it's easier to brew contempt, than to nullif
  • They just want to have a dry run at such lawsuits before their own [boston.com] gets going full speed.
  • The best defense against this sort of action which I can think of would be to amend the suit to add charges of criminal conspiracy between the Executive branch of the Federal government and the telecos. Allege that a pattern of controlled, organized, criminal behavior has been occuring, thus invoking the criminal enterprise definitions from RICO. At that point, so long as you can sustain the criminal conspiracy charges, you can argue that successful invocation of the "state secrets" privilege would be a fur
  • by flibuste (523578) on Friday June 02, 2006 @03:50PM (#15457159)

    Dissolve any lawsuit against invasion of privacy through "State secret"

    Get rid more and more of freedom of speech everyday.

    Arbitrarily deport and detain people to lawless countries to interrogate them freely.

    Use torture on presumably innocent people.

    Best recipe for growing a fascist country. Good job Bush and good luck fellow americans!
  • When I see "plaintiffs...seeking billions" I see Lawyers seeking billions who will get me a three dollar credit on my long distance bill and cost me twenty dollars in taxes.

    Regardless of where you come down on the issue, the way the lawyers are going about this makes me want to puke.
  • by necro2607 (771790) on Friday June 02, 2006 @04:19PM (#15457455)
    "As it stands right now we have no way to defend against these lawsuits"

    No shit. That's the whole point. You fucked up. You're now liable for some serious legal action. GJ HF TTYL ^_^

    Is it just me, or is it getting fucking old hearing about huge corporations avoiding responsibility for anything at all costs?
  • by bigtrike (904535) on Friday June 02, 2006 @05:45PM (#15458212)
    The thought that this type of thing is even necessary is based on the flawed assumption that terrorists are trying to be covert in the first place.

    Several of the 9/11 terrorists were wanted as suspects and living under their real names for at least 9 months in Los Angeles. One even purchased a car in his own name and was listed in the Los Angeles white pages.

    Even if a massive reduction in privacy would help save a couple lives, I'd personally rather not live a life without liberty. We're mocking the sacrifice made by hundreds of thousands of patriots who have died to protect our liberties by giving them up without much of a fight.

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