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House Panel Approves Electronic Surveillance Bill 513

Posted by Zonk
from the they're-listening-in dept.
narramissic writes "A U.S. House of Representatives Committee has approved the Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, a controversial bill that would broaden the U.S. government's ability to conduct electronic surveillance on U.S. residents by making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to get court-issued warrants. The full House is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the month." From the article: "Republicans praised the bill, saying it will help the U.S. government fight terrorism. The bill will provide the U.S. intelligence agencies 'greater agility and flexibility as they try to thwart our determined and dangerous terrorist enemies,' Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a statement. The full House is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the month. The committee's action comes after U.S. President George Bush called on Congress to approve a controversial electronic surveillance program conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). "
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House Panel Approves Electronic Surveillance Bill

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:51AM (#16160681) Journal
    Republicans praised the bill, saying it will help the U.S. government fight terrorism.
    Maybe it will. Maybe it will ensure that I never have to worry about a terrorist inside my country ever again. Maybe. Then again, maybe it won't. Maybe they'll just become better at using encryption. Who knows? I don't think you can really prove that it will help you at all. There is no "silver bullet" to stop terrorism. Stop claiming there is. Our best bet to end terrorism is making it a world wide effort and treating other countries with respect -- the same way our country would like to be treated.

    One thing I do know is that this will allow my government to build a case against me with no warrant, probable cause or charges filed and documented against me. There could be a dossier (digital or hard copy) somewhere in the government's system with my name on it even though I haven't done anything wrong. Worse, the same could be said about every single American.

    You can call me a crazed conspiracy theorist and you can call me a tin foil hat-ist but you can't deny it will be it will be a possibility for even you if you live in the United States.

    Under the guise of "modernization," this bill will only add to the decline of my country. We sure aren't as "modernized" as Orwell's 1984 so I guess we're 22 years behind and we better get on it -- and who better than the Republicans to lead us there?

    For the love of your country, write your representative in the house [house.gov] about how you feel on this issue. Please. Do it by hand with your signature and address on the letter. Physically mail it to them. Take the time to do this. Make sure you are heard about the things that matter to you. Make your concern known to those who represent you. If you spend a lot of time writing it, send it to your local newspaper also as a possible editorial. I doubt I'm alone on my concerns.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      the 5th of November.

      [How come I feel like "Post Anonymously" gives me no protection from the government in this post?]
      • by nickos (91443)
        it's fleece was white as snow.

        I know a lot of you Americans have only heard the lines "Remember, remember, the 5th of November" from V for Vendetta and think it's very clever to quote it, but it sounds really dumb to anyone from the UK - you're quoting a nursery rhyme.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RingDev (879105)
          I've quoted "Sign a song of sixpence" when discussing military tactics before. Just because someone put it in proes that rhyme hardly demotes its relevance.

          In this case, I'm of mixed response though. To know that your children are signing nursery rhymes to each other of the importance of fighting for freedom and constant vigilance against governmental control, is very heart warming.

          On the other hand, your dismissal of the point of the story as nothing more than a nursery rhyme is quite disheartening. It's l
    • "One thing I do know is that this will allow my government to build a case against me with no warrant..."

      Not sure I understand this, having not RTFAd, but doesn't the summary say the Bill will make it easier to get court-approved warrants? Not that warrants will not be needed?
      • by ArmyOfFun (652320) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#16160750)
        RTFA, it answers your question. Someone can monitor all of your communications (wiretaps of any type) for 90 days without a warrant.
        • Christ, if TFA says stuff like that, I'm not sure I WANT to read the rest of it...
        • by hcob$ (766699) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:07PM (#16161293)
          RTFA, it answers your question. Someone can monitor all of your communications (wiretaps of any type) for 90 days without a warrant.
          Go read the BILL [theorator.com]!

          When will people learn that EVERY news outlet, magazine, article, caster, whatever.... Is biased. Dig into the story, and make up your own mind. Spewing the half truths of some article as facts, without due dilligence, is just plain wrong. It's wrong for the news and it's wrong for you.
        • RTFA Yourself (Score:5, Informative)

          by db32 (862117) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:10PM (#16161319) Journal
          I love how this crap gets modded up so much. I think this is a horrible mess and it makes me sick that this crap was even proposed let alone getting support. HOWEVER! You need to RFTA yourself, or stop with your creative editing.

          You left out "The Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, opposed by several privacy groups, would also allow federal law enforcement officials to spy on U.S. residents for up to 90 days without a court order in the period after a terrorist attack."

          So yes...bad freaking law...bad freaking stuff...but kneejerk creative editing only serves to further make the privacy folks that realize this is BAD juju for freedom look like paranoid lunatics. We all know that folks like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan are taken so seriously these days due to their overzealous overreactionary nonsense.
      • from TFA

        The Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, opposed by several privacy groups, would also allow federal law enforcement officials to spy on U.S. residents for up to 90 days without a court order

        someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they already have some power similar to this? where they could obtain a court order retroactively? does this just extend their time limit on it?
        • Yes. The FISA court allowed warrents to be secretly handed out retroactively.
        • Yes, 72 hours. (Score:3, Informative)

          by Grendel Drago (41496)
          FISA allowed for 72-hour wiretaps before a warrant was required.
        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:11AM (#16160848)
          someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they already have some power similar to this? where they could obtain a court order retroactively? does this just extend their time limit on it?

          Sort of. Previously, spying could start and they would need to get a warrant before the deadline.

          With this one, there doesn't seem to be a requirement for a warrant at all (as long as you don't exceed 90 days).

          The problem Bush and Co had was that they weren't even bothering with the retroactive warrants. So now it looks like the law is being re-written to coincide with Bush and Co's practices.

          Warrantless spying on US citizens.
          • by megaditto (982598) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:31PM (#16161476)
            The important difference here that the law is being re-written retroactively to cover violations already committed.

            Currently, W Bush and Cheney are essentially convicted felons [cnn.com], which is enough grounds to fasttrack their impeachment come November (if the Democrats take Congress, which is not impossible).

            Once Bush and Cheney are impeached, Pelosi (as a Speaker), becomes an acting President (and gets the PATRIOT and other 'powers').

            And that is why the Republicans desperately need to make what Bush did legal.
        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:46PM (#16161587)

          someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they already have some power similar to this? where they could obtain a court order retroactively?

          Somewhat. But this is a vast expansion.

          does this just extend their time limit on it?

          No. It does, as a minor provision, extend the time limit (there have been characterizations that it extends the current 72-hour limit for foreign intelligence surveillance while seeking a warrant to 90 days—this is false. It extends that limit only to 120 hours (from 3 days to 5 days.) The 90-day limit is something completely different, see below.)

          But it does a lot more, including (and this is not an exhaustive list):

          It expands the definition of an "agent of a foreign power" to include not only actual agents of foreign powers, but also any person "reasonably expected to transmit or receive foreign intelligence information".

          It also narrows the scope of the limitations on government power in FISA: currently, it is unlawful to conduct surveillance except under its rules against any US person who is within the United States. EMSA would make it only illegal if those conducting the surveillance reasonably believe the subject is within the United States. So if they don't believe you are in the United States when they target you, or if that belief is unreasonable, their action is not prohibited by the law any more.

          EMSA would also further narrow the scope of the limitations on government surveillance power in FISA by defining "surveillance" that it restricts to only include the acquisition of the content of communications; under current law that is included, but so is the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device for "monitoring to acquire information" of any kind. As a concrete example of the effect, a camera planted inside a residence or other private area to see what went on and who was present at various times would probably not capture the "content of communication", and would be entirely unregulated under the changes proposed in EMSA, but is restricted under the current law.

          It also entirely eliminates (not merely extends the timeline) the rule that, without a court order having been obtained, communications deliberately or incidentally captured of a US person cannot be retained, disseminated, etc., beyond a 72-hour period.

          It expands the scope of surveillance that requires no warrant (retroactive or otherwise) to include not only surveillance of communications exclusively between foreign powers (including their agents), but to communication of a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, and strikes the limitation that such warrantless surveillance may only be used when "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party", (and, remember from above, it expands the definition of "agent of a foreign power" to include people who are expected to send or receive foreign intelligence information, whether or not they are in fact agents of foreign powers; as one example of the impact of the effect of these two provisions together, since reporters covering foreign affairs beats can be "reasonably expected" to sometimes receive or send "foreign intelligence information", that means that, under EMSA, any communication of any such reporter with any other person for any purpose can be monitored without any restriction of any kind.)

          It expands the ability of the government to order private parties to assist it in performing surveillance: this is curerntly restricted only to communications common carriers, and would be expanded to "any person with authorized access to electronic communications or equipment used to transmit or store electronic communications".

          It deletes the requirement that warrant applications for surveillance include "a d

    • by Exp315 (851386) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#16160752)
      It's truly terrifying to see this happen in my lifetime. I grew up reading SF stories about bleak future worlds in the "1984" vein, but it was always difficult to understand how any people who loved freedom and democracy could let those worlds come about. Who would have believed that all it took was 19 nut cases acting together? Osama bin Laden must be ROFL wherever he is that he was able to destroy the ideals of the United State of America that took centuries to build so easily.
      • It didn't take just 19 nut cases. It also took 30% of the US population to re-elect the person who's making many of these changes. Not that the other guy would have done all that much differently, but at least he'd have to fight with his enemies in the Congress to get anything done.
        • by mooingyak (720677) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:20AM (#16160901)
          Not that the other guy would have done all that much differently, but at least he'd have to fight with his enemies in the Congress to get anything done.

          I think the best part of Clinton's presidency was that for most of it we had a Democrat for president with a Republican dominated Congress that hated him. The Lewinsky stuff kept all of them busy from doing real damage. I've always felt gridlock makes for good government, and I look forward to having it again in November.
        • It didn't take just 19 nut cases. It also took 30% of the US population to re-elect the person who's making many of these changes.

          Actually, it took the 99.9999999999% of the US population who didn't stand at the last election on a rational platform.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:59PM (#16161683)
        Osama bin Laden must be ROFL wherever he is that he was able to destroy the ideals of the United State of America that took centuries to build so easily.

        He knew exactly what he was doing.
        Read this quote from an interview right after 9/11:

        "I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in -- and the West in general -- into an unbearable hell and a choking life."
        --Osama bin Laden, October 21, 2001 [cnn.com]

    • If the technology for governments to monitor (spy?) on citizens like this was around earlier, they would have found a reason then too.

      They're attempting to use technology and "terrorism" to achieve their agenda, and citizens unfortunately are not well represented on the issue.

    • by Detritus (11846) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:24AM (#16160933) Homepage
      There is no "silver bullet" to stop terrorism. Stop claiming there is. Our best bet to end terrorism is making it a world wide effort and treating other countries with respect -- the same way our country would like to be treated.

      Some fights are unavoidable, unless you would rather surrender or run away. The idea that we can end terrorism by treating everyone with "respect" is naïve.

      • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:33AM (#16160985) Homepage
        No, the attitude that NOT treating countries with "respect" WON'T cause more terrorist acts is naive.
      • The idea that we can end terrorism by treating everyone with "respect" is naïve.
        No more naïve than thinking that increased nuclear warheads, military spending and seek & destory missions in other countries will end terrorism.

        Did I suggest we surrender or run away? No, I suggest an alternative more condusive to listening and thinking than burning and shooting.

        Also you misunderstood me, I didn't say "everyone" as in individuals, I said "other countries" specifically the ones we have exerted influence over in order to benefit our own country or economy. I'm not concerned about respecting Osama Bin Laden. Hollowing out countries where he has been in the past in an effort to find him does concern me, however. I feel it leaves long lasting detrimental effects on the populace living there and only creates more anti-American sentiment. We should be fighting a war of words and asking for help from other countries, not blowing up what we want and demanding things. We make our allies look like puppets to the rest of the world and say things like, "If you're not with us, you're against us." Stupid.
      • by xtracto (837672) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:41AM (#16161070) Journal
        Some fights are unavoidable, unless you would rather surrender or run away. The idea that we can end terrorism by treating everyone with "respect" is naïve.

        Allow me to disagree on that. In order to end with terrorism on your country, you have to get to the root of the problem. What is it?, why are the people of the middle east so angered against your country/government/people?

        Is it because they hate your "way of living"/culture? (as your government wants to make you believe). I really doubt it. See, I am from the poor country which sits at the south of yours (I am assuming you are from USA). I am from Mexico. One of the things that bothers me (a bit, as I run on the same tunnel a lot of times) is how we (Mexicans) love to imitate the American lifestyle. Hell, you just have to see the spark in the eyes of some Asian guys wen they ask me if I have been to America. America is cool for other people.

        So, it is not your culture as the culture in my country is trying *so hard* to be like yours.

        Then, what could it be?, what could conutries like Mexico, France, Canada (not sure about them), Japan, Brazil, Chile have been doing to avoid these terrorism attacks, hey, I guess, no.. I am positively SURE that the security systems in my country does not compare to the super technological security here in UK or in the USA.

        My country cant afford that, neither Chile or Brazil can do it.

        So, what I can tell you is that none of your gadgets/law-bills will help.

        It is my view that what you [your government of course] should do to avoid being "terrorized" is to stop puttin gtheir noses everywhere. Leave other countries alone. Spain learnt the hard way, but HEY THEY LEARNT!!!.

        It seems UK and USA government hasnt learnt (because they dont want to I guess).

        btw, as one sig I read said, dont mod me down just because you dont agree with my opinions :-)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by frdmfghtr (603968)

          It seems UK and USA government hasnt learnt (because they dont want to I guess).

          Or the two governments are too arrogant in their world status to think they can learn from others.

          In the Battle of the Atlantic of WWII, British intelligence had broken the German communications encryption (it may have been ENIGMA, I' don't know) and could reliably track German U-boat sorties to the US east coast. In fact, the Brits were supplying this intel on nearly a daily basis.

          The US Government, however, did nothing with

      • The idea that we can end terrorism by treating everyone with "respect" is naïve.

        well, the fact that the US pulled out of Afghanistan right after the soviets did, and the soviets basically trashed things on their way out, along with the fact that the various mujahideen groups that were fighting the soviets (some backed by the CIA) started fighting among each other, further screwing the country, which then lead to general dislike of the US as they basically used them as pawns against the soviets, then le
    • Maybe it will ensure that I never have to worry about a terrorist inside my country ever again.
      What I still don't get is why US people would "worry about terrorists". Especially when almost nobody else on the planet does. What are people in Iowa worried about ? Exploding corn stalks ?

      Isn't there anybody speaking out against the fearmongering media over there ?
    • by SpecialAgentXXX (623692) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:45AM (#16161104)
      Maybe it will ensure that I never have to worry about a terrorist inside my country ever again.
      What a lot of people seem to overlook is that our gang problem in the US is huge. For example, the MS-13 gang is spread out across the US and is made up of former South American guerrilla soldiers. Go into any inner-city: Los Angeles, Chicago, Detriot, etc. and the people there live in fear on a daily basis from the gang warfare. Drive-by shootings, rapes, murders, etc. Gang violence has only increased in the past several years.

      Yet all we hear about from our corrupt politicians is that the boogeyman Osama and Al Quaeda is coming to get us. Fear! Fear! Fear! I lived in the inner-city for awhile. I absolutely guarantee you that those people living there could care less about Osama or Al Quaeda or Emmanuel Goldstein. The real threat to their lives, to their children's lives 24/7 is the gang problem. Those people truly live in fear.

      However, what do our despicable policians do? Do they order the police and national guard to round up all gang members and get them off of our streets? No. They want to grant amnesty to the illegals! (I would say the majority of gang members are illegals or children of illegals.) And what happens when an individual police force tries to get tough on gangs? Civil lawsuits! The police "violated" these murderers', rapists', drug-dealers', and illegals' "rights."

      So what do our politicians do? Why they enact laws that are meant to monitor, arrest, and imprison... we, the people!

      I do not live in fear of "terrorists." I live in fear of my own government.
  • by HugePedlar (900427) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:51AM (#16160684) Homepage
    ...(-1, Flamebait).
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:08AM (#16160824) Journal
      I'm going to quote an old post [slashdot.org] from the "DMCA Abuse Widespread" [slashdot.org] article:
      Whenever a controversial law is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're lying . They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible.

      I think pretty much any law that claims to be about [insert fear mongering item here] and isn't specifically limited (in the text of the law) to [fear mongering item] should be considered Flamebait.

      "The Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, ..., would also allow federal law enforcement officials to spy on U.S. residents for up to 90 days without a court order in the period after a terrorist attack. The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation Wednesday by a 20-16 vote, with all committee Democrats present voting against the bill.

      The bill, ..., would reduce the amount of information required from federal agents applying for a wiretapping warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."


      90 days without a court order after a terrorist attack?
      It passed the committee 20-16 on a party line vote.

      Fuck the Republicans on this one.
      They've forgotten the reason we had those laws in the first place.
  • Interesting but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 56ker (566853) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:52AM (#16160693) Homepage Journal
    If the Republicans lose control after the mid-term elections will this piece of legislation ever make it to the statute books? Isn't this just another example of the Republicans in an election year trying to look strong on their chosen election issue of terrorism/national security?
    • by HugePedlar (900427) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:57AM (#16160739) Homepage
      The problem is, what senator is going to openly disapprove of a bill that "Protects us against Terrorists"? You know the spin that will be put on this, whoever's in power.
      • Someone with some balls and a true believer in people's rights?

        Yeah you guys in the US are shafted, not that we have it much better...
        • by 56ker (566853)
          There's too much "group think" in US politics and not enough politicians willing to risk criticism just for being independent and actually reflecting the views of their constiuents rather than special interest groups that have contributed to their election campaign.

          I think it's partly the media to blame in the States though and the way they don't cover politics more than superficially and tend to overly dramatise everything out of proportion with endless drivel and comment. This puts any politician off taki
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jafac (1449)
            American politicians are TERRIFIED right now of the abuse and character assassination that is going on in the mass media, and the massive network of lobbying organizations, think tanks, consulting groups, pundits and commentors, posing as "real news". From a media perspective, it's profitable, and it's good business. Give us dirty laundry. And Karl Rove and his minions are all too happy to dish it out.

            If you think they're not above punishing disloyalty in their own ranks, just take a look at how they sli
        • Someone with some balls and a true believer in people's rights?
          AKA "Mr. Unelectable".
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)
            I don't really understand this. US politicians are frightened of opposing bills in cease their opposition at the next elections starts saying 'Candidate X voted against the think-of-the-children act!' Surely this can work both ways. Why doesn't anyone run campaigns saying 'Candidate X voted for 20 bills that restrict individual freedom in the last session?'
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      The American senate can move as fast as they want to. Since the congress is controlled by Republicans, and the president is a Republican, they could practically pass this overnight. And no, in an election year, Democrats are not going to oppose this.
      • by 56ker (566853)
        Perhaps I'm just incorrectly assuming that legislation in the States moves through the two Houses there at the glacial speed it moves through the Houses of Parliament here. Here the stages of a bill are:- first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage, third reading, passage through the other House followed by Royal Assent.
  • Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fr05t (69968) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:57AM (#16160733)
    "to get court-issued warrants"

    Why bother when the non-court-issued ones are readily available?
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@op t o nline.net> on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:57AM (#16160736) Journal

    ...should be members of the House panel. Perhaps if they were the subjects of the electronic spying they were authorizing, they might think twice. Still, this is the House Judiciary Committee, not the full House or Senate, so there's still time to write your Congressman and tell him/her that if they vote for this, you'll help hand them a one-way ticket to unemployment.

  • by glomph (2644) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:57AM (#16160737) Homepage Journal
    They are an essential part of the terrorists' support chain. After that, the gas stations. Do we care about defeating the evildoers or not? This is no time to be weak!
  • by vijayiyer (728590) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#16160746)
    First off, I totally disagree with these kinds of laws. But if they're going to have them, they should have a clause that the gathered evidence can only be used to convict for treason/terrorism. That would lessen the likelihood of abuse (well, we happened to hear about a drug deal going down, so...) Of course, with the bad precendent set, the scope will expand anyway :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by finkployd (12902) *
      Wouldn't help, everything is classified as terrorism anyway. Dealing drugs is terrorism with chemical weapons, pirating music is financial terrorism directed at our corporations, etc.

      I understand wanting laws to have scope and restriction, but making that restriction "terrorism" today would not really restrict it in any way.

      Finkployd
  • by Chemisor (97276) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#16160748)
    One really great thing about being the President is that if you find yourself doing something illegal, all you have to do is tell congress to make it legal, and then continue doing it. Gosh, I wish I could do that!
    • by idonthack (883680)
      Laws can't be applied retroactively, so at least they get in trouble for stuff before it was passed. Ex Post Facto clause for the win.
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:59AM (#16160759) Homepage Journal
    What I ordered the NSA to do what technically illegal. Now that the public has found out about it please pass a bill to make it legal.

    Thanks,

    - GWB

    p.s. Please redefine "torture" so our interrogators can keep up the good work.

    p.p.s. And, uh, please don't hold an official vote on Bolton since some of you may prevent him from representing us at the UN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lawpoop (604919)
      Am I mistaken, but aren't you still guilty of a crime you commit today, even if your actions are legalized next year?

      In other words, we have no Ex Post Facto laws. You can't have something made illegal retroactively into the past. If congress passes a law tomorrow making it illegal to use the internet, we aren't breaking the law for using the internet today.

      Similarly, can you retroactively make something legal? If the president is breaking the law today, and his actions are made legal tomorrow, isn't h
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by truthsearch (249536)
        I can't speak for this particular bill but there is at least one active bill which attempts to make GWB's actions legal retroactively. Of course it shouldn't work this way and the courts shouldn't allow it, but today just about anything goes.
  • by djdead (135363) <seth AT wenchel DOT com> on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:01AM (#16160775)
    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    ~ Benjamin Franklin

    • That's my favorite quote that Ben Franklin never said! See:

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin [wikiquote.org]

      Still... keep on posting it! My sig actually IS a Franklin quote :-)
    • by onion2k (203094)
      That quote always annoys me. If you take it in context he was arguing against gun control, claiming that ownership of a firearm was an essential liberty and then banning them offered only temporary safety. Speaking as a Brit, I say he was wrong. Gun control is not an essential liberty, and the level of gun crime in the UK goes some way as evidence that gun control is not just temporary safety.

      That opens up a couple of points to debate:

      1. Is privacy actually an essential liberty? You can live without it afte
  • by einolu (841446) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:02AM (#16160781)
    its about time we all stop worrying, havent the last couple of years proven that the republicans know what they are doing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by finkployd (12902) *
      I know you are being funny but there are a lot of people who honestly believe this. They believe strongly that GWB needs these powers (along with torture) to fight terrorism. They believe that he is doing a great job at it and these expanded powers just for him keep us all safe.

      I'm not going to get into whether or not that is true, but it demonstrates some serious short-sightedness. What happens when Hillary Clinton gets into power, and inherits all of these orwellian powers? Do those same "Bill O'Reilly"-l
  • Intelligence is the first means to have best defense in the war on terror. It is powerful way to keep any country safe. Excesses are best prevented by when intelligence activities are operated within a framework that is controlled...This Bill would modernize and simplify the process of getting a FISA warrant so that they can focus on protecting civil liberties of Americans, it is indeed a vital step!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Exatron (124633)
      What have you been smoking? This is a completely unnecessary step that only erodes our constitutional rights and remove checks on the executive branch. FISA warrants are already easy to obtain, and can be acquired up to three days after the surveillance occurs.
  • by DragonPup (302885) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:05AM (#16160805)
    We put ourselves in the greatest national debt in the history of the nation for fear of terrorism.

    We shred our own basic Constitutional rights for fear of terrorism.

    We blugeon our critics for being weak on terrorism.

    We start a war with a country out of fear of terrorism and place our troops on a sacrificial altar.

    Our administration runs on campaigns reminding us to be scared of terrorism.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, we lost the War of Terror already.

    • by sglider (648795)
      Can I use that in a letter to my Congresswoman?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have to agree, The war on terror is over. USA lost.

      Bin Laden wanted to a) Americans as a country and as a people to feel terror or fear and b) Cost you lots of money. Did he fail at either one of these? Every passing day his victory has been escalating.

      Very not funny is that this reminds me of the War on Drugs, which has resulted in minimal success and mostly escalated the cost of drugs for the illegal consumer, which means crime boss drug lords make more money per product now. You gave t
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:09AM (#16160828) Homepage Journal
    Here is what I understand of the situation:
    • Surprisingly, [some] people discover the NSA has been spying on them illegally, without a warrant or a FISA court authorization. Congress promptly passes a bill to legalize these wiretaps.
    • Amazingly, [some] people discover the US military has been illegally torturing detainees, in flagrant contradiction with the Geneva Conventions (which, incidentally, happen to protect US troops from the same treatment). Congress promptly passes a bill to legalize torture.


    Hmmm... Can you spot a pattern here? What's next? The coronation of George W. Bush as the emperor-for-life of the United States? What about the return of public flogging and/or public execution of people who dissent with our beloved Emperor?

    And, remember, people: We have always been at war with Oceania and its Islamofascists. Ignorance is Strength! War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Long Live the Great Emperor!

    In other words (and this is coming from someone who loves the USA): what the fsck are you people waiting for??? Get rid of that chimp already!!
  • by keyne9 (567528) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:09AM (#16160833)
    Naturally, any given governmental employee is bound to be exempt from this surveillance.

    Fuck you, Senate. Give me my country back.
  • This isn't a violation of our civil liberties at all. The government just wants to eliminate a lot of paperwork. By removing the need to include completely different branch of government, we can do the same job with fewer agents, thus reducing the tax bill. And all the benfits go back to you, the taxpayer.
  • Great--they're still asking for warrants.

    NOT. The article and writeup claim that court-issued warrants will be easier to get this way, but the article goes on to say that no warrant is required within 90 days of a terrorist attack. Who wants to bet we'll see another minor incident every three months or so from now on?
  • by gillbates (106458) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:20AM (#16160902) Homepage Journal

    Laws like this, ladies and gentlemen, are the true cost of terrorism. Yes, the terrorists did manage to kill 0.002 % of Americans 5 years ago, but the resulting fear and paranoia has led us to a state where everyone is a suspected terrorist and even innocent people are being tortured in the name of the "War on Terror". Far more Americans are affected by the knee-jerk reaction of Congress to 9/11 than by the actual attack itself.

    On September 11, 2001, the terrorists took away more than just the lives of 4000 people. They managed to steal our liberties as well. We can't properly consider the impact of 9/11 without also considering the fact that it provided a catalyst for the removal of our Constitutional rights.

    • Well said. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FatSean (18753) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:27AM (#16160953) Homepage Journal
      9/11 killed less than half the number of people who are killed every day on our highways and streets. This act destroyed a few buildings...but not as much damage as what happened to New Orleans when Katrina hit.

      But hey...improving auto safety or levees doesn't allow for as much of a power grab does it?

    • Namely, that, whenever 9/11 comes up in the American press there is talk of "the 3000 American victims" which is patently untrue: ~2700 came from the US, ~300 were foreign nationals who worked in the twin towers or were passengers on the flights. And I'd like to point out that other nations have kept much, much cooler heads than the US about these victims.
  • A brief recap. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:23AM (#16160923) Homepage
    The President claimed that they weren't wiretapping without a warrant, because that would be illegal. He was lying. The media revealed that he was lying. Cue kvetching and moaning about how the media are helping the terrorists. (Apparently embarassing the President helps the terrorists.) Cue accusations of treason against the media. (Ignoring the fact that it's invalid to classify things to hide them because they're illegal.) The Administration claimed that it had the authority either because (a) Congress had made the President into a King when they authorized overseas military action, or (b) the President is a King Just Because.

    In reaction to these claims, Congress tries to retroactively legalize the President's actions, and pretend that he hasn't excercised kingly powers, and that they haven't scrambled over themselves to rubber-stamp said powers.

    The funny thing is that Arlen Specter's original plan would have only given a 45-day window in addition to retroactively legalizing the President's decision that the law matters only when he feels like it. Apparently Congress can't fall over themselves fast enough to enable him. I am so writing my Congresscritters on this one.
  • by plopez (54068) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:31AM (#16160968) Journal
    Terrorism has 2 functions.

    1) Obviously to spread terror.

    2) To create distrust of the exisitng government and authorities. By creating an extreme reaction by the exisitng authorities, the populance begins to first distrust and then works to actively undermine the exisitng authorities. This is what is happening in the US right now. Poeple are begining to distrust the governement and its motives.

    The terorists are winning as long as this happens.
  • by thorkyl (739500) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:31AM (#16160978)
    I was visited last night by the local sheriff.

    It seams that you have to register with the government if you own a diesel truck and buy more that 50 pounds of fertilizer and fill your fuel tank on the same day.

    Crap, I can't even even spread it in my pasture without somone in D.C. knowing what color the sh*t is.

    Ohh well time to go buy another 1,000 rounds of 7.62x39 on the credit card again

    I love messing with them.

    ----
    Smile and look stupid and the government will love you...
    • by maxume (22995) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:13PM (#16161350)
      As you long as you feel safe messing with them, we, in fact, do not have a problem.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by B1ackDragon (543470)
        As true as that may be, there's certainly been a chilling affect regarding exercising rights, and I would argue it is a strong one. While the following relates specifically to firearms rights, I think similar arguments could be put forth regarding people's hesitation to exercise rights of free speech, assembly, and basically just ask questions.

        Related to the topic at hand, I grew up target shooting various kinds of weaponry. I've been on my own a few years now, and would like to get a gun or two of my ow
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nimey (114278)
      7.62x54R is really cheap too; I've found surplus Czech ammunition for about 70 USD / 800 rounds. Wouldn't it be ironic if we had to fight for our freedoms using old Communist-manufactured weapons?
  • by psykocrime (61037) <mindcrime.cpphacker@co@uk> on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:47AM (#16161124) Homepage Journal
    So let's take an approach (bomb) similar to the way spammers try (attack) to confuse bayesian (Hezbollah) filters... or maybe a better (Zionist pig) analogy would be the way RIAA companies (Jihad)try to "poison" p2p networks... let's (Allah)start sending so much bullshit (nuke) psuedo-terrorist looking (airplane) communication around the Internet, that (smuggle) they get so overwhelmed with (chemical) false positives (liquid bomb)that it renders (Semtex) the system unusable. I mean if (terrorist attack) everyone of us (terrorists) would (Israel) do this we could (Al Queda) really
    screw this (tube station attack) up.

  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:57AM (#16161209)
    Let's just assume (for argument's sake) you agree that there is a threat presented by a group such as Al Qaeda and those who support them. How would you handle this threat?

    Examples:
    a.)Would you allow tapping of phones incoming / outgoing calls where one or more of the parties were suspected Al Qaeda as long as a warrant was acquired prior?
    b.)Would you not attack or try to capture any Al Qaeda abroad, but instead just wait for action until they confront us?
    c.)Would you try to begin peace talks with Al Qaeda?
    d.)Would you put a fence up along both our north and south borders?
    e.)If we are attacked again would you respond by holding a press conference, shunning the actions, and then trying to negotiate peace talks?

    I just want to know, I don't want to be flamed. I want to understand how you would try to protect us from this threat?
    • Hahahahahaha. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:23PM (#16161419)

      You have completely ignored the implications of the other posters, that this sort of legislation is unnecessary given the tools that we already have, and have attempted to switch the argument around to once again say that we cannot prosecute or capture terrorists without this bill. No one is saying that we should hold peace talks with al-Qaida, no one except for strawmen erected in the yards of Republican Congressmen to be smacked around as necessary. Don't ask to not be flamed if you're throwing around flamebait.

      I'm not going to answer these trollish questions because they are foregone conclusions. If you want to make America "safer," don't continue loading us up with these bullshit bills that provide just as much pass to investigate people who are not al-Qaida suspects. Instead, foot the bill to intelligence agencies to increase the number of agents in the field, increase communcation with foreign relations. What we need right now is not a stronger net with barbs and poison - what we need are more nets. This bill does nothing to actually increase enforcement of policy - it only increases policy.

      The answer to your last question, which many progressives have provided and many Democrats agree with, is that we need to begin phasing out military operations in Iraq so that we can shift funds to intelligence agencies, bring our National Guard troops back to home grounds so that they can be ready to serve as first-responders for attacks that slip through our intelligence webs, and to begin preparing for possible engagements with Iran. As long as we continue blowing as much money as possible on the Iraqi occupation, then we're going to continue to hamper ourselves in the real goal, which is protecting American soil from terrorists. No, not the "war against terrorism," but the "protection against terrorism," which involves proactive intelligence and military action based on that intelligence. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and read any further into your questioning.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kindbud (90044)
      I just want to know, I don't want to be flamed. I want to understand how you would try to protect us from this threat?

      In the five years since 9/11 there has been no terror attack on US soil. In the five years prior to 9/11, there were no terror attacks on US soil. What we were doing prior to 9/11 is at least as effective as what we have been doing since. So, keep doing those things. We don't need any new laws, and the ones passed since 9/11 should be repealed. They are unnecessary, and freedom lovers do
  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday September 22, 2006 @11:58AM (#16161219) Journal
    What is the status of non-american regarding privacy rights in the current american law ?

    If the CIA is reading my gmail account, is it kosher ?
  • by B11 (894359) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:10PM (#16161322)
    And those wanting to blame Republicans, Bush, the Devil, et al. are just plain wrong. WE handed over our freedoms and liberty in the name of security and protection from the "terrorists." The cruel irony is that Franklin warned us us centuries ago that trading one for the other results in having neither. At least I got to live somewhat free for a few of decades.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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