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The Future of Tech And NSA Wiretaps 643

Tyler Too writes "Is there more to last week's story about President Bush authorizing wiretaps without court review? Ars Technica writes about what's going on behind the curtains with the National Security Agency's technology: 'When the truth comes out (if it ever does), this NSA wiretapping story will almost certainly be a story not just about the Constitutional concept of the separation of powers, but about high technology.'"
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The Future of Tech And NSA Wiretaps

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  • muddy issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andy314159pi ( 787550 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:07PM (#14304176) Journal
    The problem for the average American isn't necesarily that liberties are being taken with regard to surveillance of fringe elements who might be prone to terrorism. The real problem is in defining what is a fringe element and who might be prone to become a terrorist. The recent news that groups like Greenpeace and PETA are being investigated leads me to believe that the authorities consider anyone with an opinion about anything as being involved in a fringe element. Strangely, the NSA, FBI and other institutions harbor people who think like this regardless of the current administration and political climate. It seems that we have to clarify to them what is acceptable every couple of decades or so.
  • Re:Kein Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sbyrnes00 ( 940041 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:13PM (#14304220) Homepage Journal
    What's the real difference between spying and restriction? Spying is, of course, a necessary prerequisite for restriction as the government needs to know what you're up to in order to prevent you from doing it. So what the president ordered wiretaps? If the president ordered wiretaps in violation of his Constitutional duties then he violated his oath. If you allow one president to violate the Constitution for "security", then you are saying the President is above the law. That, unfortunately, is a prerequisite for dictatorship.
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wealthychef ( 584778 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:13PM (#14304224)
    liberties are being taken

    Yes, literally!

  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:14PM (#14304240) Homepage Journal
    When the truth comes out (if it ever does)

    You'll be pushing 70, at a minimum, and the technology will seem quaint, though cool from a historical perspective.
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:22PM (#14304305) Homepage Journal
    The real problem is yet another American president thinks he's above the law, as if the entire point of the revolution and the constitution and the millenia of history before that went over his head.

    Though sometimes I think a faux monarchical figure head would suit us well. No people should invest so much of their self worth in their elected officials as Americans do in their president. It shouldn't be as hard as it is to say "Bush, you fucked up. You're out. We're going to give some other horses ass a shot.".
  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:23PM (#14304312) Homepage
    If the article in question is to believed, and they are scanning 1% of all US calls, they probably aren't distinguishing between foreign and citizen conversations. They're simply eavedropping on everybody and then trying to figure out what's going on.

    Ignoring civil liberties is almost never warranted, and every time we do it, it turns out that not only do we regret it, but most important *it was never necessary to do in the first case*.

    Didn't we learn anything from the internment of Japanese citzens during WWII?

  • by jumpingfred ( 244629 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:23PM (#14304313)
    The way things are going you probably won't get either.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:25PM (#14304336) Homepage Journal
    I don't think anything will happen to the prez,

    That's the problem. This particular action is worthy of the worst of the Soviet Union. It's as unamerican as you can get -- secretly taking away "oversight" when the oversight mechanism itself was already as secretive as possible, and every bit as accessible as oversight can be. 72 hours AFTER the monitoring isn't enough? There can be no reason for dodging the FISA court, no excuse. If the court wasn't fast enough, he could have extended the FISA approval process to two weeks, or a month. But to remove oversight for the sake of executive secrecy? Is he implying that the FISA judges are leaking secrets to Al Qaeda? Are the oversight boards populated by "terrarists?" I don't even think any of the likely FISA judges are anything but Republicans!

    I seriously believe this is treason. This action DEFINES treason. Not some weak "censure" or "impeachment." This is stand-before-a-judge-jury-and-firing-squad serious.

  • Wartime?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Freaky Spook ( 811861 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:27PM (#14304353)
    I understand the nessecity for wiretaps & high levels of secrecy to avoid intelligence falling into the wrong hands,
    but we keep hearing we are at war with terrorists, no body is safe.

    I know there is a large imminent terrorist threat, but is this a war or more just a large unkown fear placed by the administration onto the population. So many people are fearful of nothing, they don't understand whats going on or why it needs to be done & the more it all goes on people are getting more and more frustrated because of all the paranoia regarding this supposed war.

    At some point in war there is meant to be communication between to sides, some sort of resolve, this is not happening, it is just a bunch of fundamentalists trying to stir the pot while the Government keeps declaring its a war on humanity.

    These wiretaps are more confusion to add to everything else thats going on around us, nobody know's anymore who's right or who's wrong, all we see is a President on TV bascially doing announcing he needs america to help him fight a war on Terror and thats all the details the american people are going to get.

  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:28PM (#14304363)
    Did you RTFA or are you just here to dog Bush? The article mentions a variety of situation where taps might be needed and useful, but could not be used by FISA under the pre-emptetory clauses because it is not narrow enough.

    (Needed + Useful) != Legal

    On top of that, it clearly falls into line with the supreme court's standards for intellgence (must be linked to a foreign power) as well as historical executive orders issued by Clinton, Regean and Carter and even then can easily be read into the 9/11 bills.

    You cannot make up new laws and "read them into" real laws that have actually been passed. Democracy doesn't work that way.
  • Make Yours (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:31PM (#14304406) Journal
    I'm going to quote an old post [] from the "DMCA Abuse Widespread" [] 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.
    To directly respond to you, lemme put it like this:

    If we lose liberties present in the Constitution, the Amendments and The Bill of Rights, have the terrorists won?

    Maybe you or someone else can specify some criteria for the terrorists 'winning' over our (former) way of life. If we don't spy on everyone, have the terrorists won?
  • Terrorist activity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rewt66 ( 738525 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:32PM (#14304411)
    Look. The word "terrorist" has a rather specific meaning. Raiding a mink farm and freeing the mink doesn't qualify as terrorism. Sabotage, economic warfare, street theater, whatever, but it isn't terrorism.

    Even if they killed the mink farmer, that's just murder. (My point is not to minimize how horrible murder is!) But it's not terrorism.

    The real problem is that "terrorism" is getting stretched to mean "anything law enforcement wants to have an easier time checking into". This trivialization of the word "terrorism" means that pretty soon, we're going to need a new word for the real thing...
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Philip K Dickhead ( 906971 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:33PM (#14304433) Journal
    Yeah! Let's watch Brazil, and get nice and cozy with our futures!
    In 1975, former Monty Python cast member and celebrated animator Terry Gilliam had a great idea for a movie. Along with playwright Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), he'd write and direct a sweeping, epic masterpiece about a world gone wrong.

    The film would take place "somewhere in the twentieth century." It would feature an oppressive, totalitarian government which systematically stripped the public of its basic freedoms in favor of an ostensibly fraudulent and hopeless war on terrorism. The term "information retrieval" would be used implicitly throughout the film, a euphemistic nickname for the gruesome torture techniques applied to suspected terrorists as they're kidnapped, secured, and readied for interrogation.

    The mechanics and systems of this "fantastical" world would need to be absurd and contradictory, serving only to bury its chief directors under bureaucracy, red tape, and endless coils of administrative paperwork. Identification cards, DNA scans and security checkpoints would round out Gilliam's view of a monolithic, technologically-driven society, and patriotic propaganda posters telegraphing a mandatory us-or-them mentality would be broadcast regularly to all citizens amidst the false cheeriness of a consumer theme park culture.

    Spot-on, Mr. Gilliam!

    Some of you guys thought it'd be like Trek. Oh, well. That was a "gimme", so we'd embrace technology as a beneficial end in itself - not just another manifestation of human tool appropriation. Technology won't make a paradise by creating super-abundance. We HAVE super-abundance, where 2% Elite own and control 96% of the resources, wealth and secondary benefits of that abundance. The rest of us fight it out over notions of artificial scarcity. That's CONTROL, baby!

    Now, you get to live in the U.S., just like the old DDR! They payed engineers 2-3 times the "worker rate", and bought allegiance there, too! "I'm not worried about the totalitarian state. They pay for my Trabant! Why shouldn't I build eavesdropping equipment? At least we are safe from the evil forces of International Capitalism and the Jew-Bankers!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:37PM (#14304470)
    "This really isn't anything new. In fact Carter used the Exact same Authority that Bush is using now. That executive order became Executive Order 12333 under Reagan in 1981. Gorelick also stated that Clinton used the same authority."

    This is a common argument from power-abuse apologists. "It happened before, so it's ok now." "It was done by our opposing party, so it's ok for us to do it."

    Millions of people have been massacred by governments historically. Governments committing massacres of civilians is nothing new. Do you believe, therefore, that it should be allowed to continue?

    That is the flaw in your logic -- if one can be so generous as to call it logic.
  • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:41PM (#14304498)
    When was this ever challenged in court?

    There is a law that specifically forbids spying on American citizens without a court order, in this case an exceptionally easy to get court order. The fact that they didn't do so tells me that they were doing more than conducting surveillence on suspected terrorists and have moved on to spying on political enemies.

    What other reason can you think of?
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:41PM (#14304500)
    Exactly! All the argument about whether these particular measures are good, misses the real point: given that our President feels he can supersede the law with secret Presidential orders, and that hiding the truth is good for us, do we have ANY IDEA what else our government is up to?
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Castar ( 67188 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:43PM (#14304510)
    No, the real problem, from my point of view, is that the President apparently considers himself above the law.

    Irrespective of whether the surveillance was justified, whether it's a good thing or not, or even whether he's spying on terrorists or political opponents, the President does not have the authority to disregard laws. One of the important founding principles of this country is that no one is above the law, even the President.

    It's especially bad in this case because the FISA requirements are so easy to meet. You can't argue that wiretaps would be delayed, because you're allowed to get approval after the fact. Plus the FISA court has mostly rubber-stamped requests as they come through, so there's very little reason to break the law in this regard.

    But break the law he did, and hopefully he will answer for it.
  • by Azreal ( 147961 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:50PM (#14304582)

    Don't look now, but the terrorists are already here. The threat is clear and present on United States soil and no, I'm not talking about islamic radicals or Waco militia types.

    adj : characteristic of someone who employs terrorism (especially as a political weapon)

    Look no further than the politicians in government who manipulate Americans' fear and terror of "terrorist activity" to undermine the freedoms of its very own citizens.

    "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Re:Make Yours (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brpr ( 826904 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:50PM (#14304583)
    That's right, any abuse of government power, however outrageous, can be justified on the grounds that it might (or might not) make it ever so slightly less likely that you'll die in a terrorist attack. You should be far more worried about dying in a car crash than dying in a terrorist attack.
  • Re:USA! USA! USA! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kerrle ( 810808 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:52PM (#14304599) Journal
    You have no democracy at all. That equally describes the society where there's no expectation of privacy, and every citizen knows they may be under government surveillance.
  • by SeattleGameboy ( 641456 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:55PM (#14304627) Journal
    Did you know that Clinton, Reagan and Carter all excercised the exact same authority? Did you know that a federal court declared it legal in 2002? If not, why are you posting. If so, why are you posting?


    The concern is NOT about whether or not the standard for suspicion is too low for this administration, the concern is that THEY BROKE THE LAW AND CONSTITUTION by authorizing ILLEGAL SEARCHES!!!

    Go and READ the Constitution, its the FOURTH AMENDMENT. No unreasonable search and seizure. Which is EXACTLY why we have warrants. The course ruled long time agon (and again and again) that govt should NOT be doing searches without warrants.

    Are you implying that Clinton and Carter authorized warrantless searches? PROVE IT!!! It has NOT occurred since Nixon. And this administration has clearly proven that its integrity lies in the same murky depths that Nixon did.

    This is a DIRECT assault on the Constitution. And you are willing to just let it piss away. You should leave your citizenship at the door.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:56PM (#14304632)
    Implying a moral equivelence to the USSR simply betrays your political bias.

    Yeah, whoever said that was way out of line. Americans may fight tooth and nail for the right to torture people, strap electrodes to their balls and shove sticks up their asses, but the guy in a black suit here tells me to tell you that the official line is that the CIA planes flying in Europe do not, in fact, travel to Siberia (which is incidentally in Asia), and they disavow any knowlege of anyone named Sergy.

    Did you know that Clinton, Reagan and Carter all excercised the exact same authority?

    Ah, yes, the "the guy before me did it first" excuse. Why don't we just start demanding that all our presidents be accused rapists, to preserve that fine tradition that Clinton started? THIS is why our country is going to hell in a handbasket. It's not because we took "Christ" out of "Christmas" or whatever bullshit the televangelists would have you believe, it's because we've started aiming low, and hold our leaders to bullshit standards. For once, I'd like to see someone elected who was better than the people who came before.

    As for being found legal in 2002, is this [] what you were talking about? A secret court assembled specifically for the purpose of taking care of these secret wiretaps found them legal as the very first ruling they issued? Shock! Next thing you know, the Republicans will publically apologize for threatening appeals court judges who refused to side with them on Schiavo's case. Because obviously these judges are never wrong.
  • Re:Factual error (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:59PM (#14304671)
    Ahhh. Another one who has not read the article. One, according to FISA themselves, if the person on the other line is suspected to be linked to a foreign power, Bush's consitutional authority trumps FISA. It's linked in 4 other comments here, you can find it.

    Also, if you read the article, the problem is about building a better model to catch people who want to do harm. Only in slashdot's collective perverted imagination does that include them (unless a few Al Qaeda decide to hit this article to find out if there are some technical details on how they do this... which by the way, does happen). To do that you need to have soft triggers. Softer triggers means more data. More data means that a warrent for monitoring is very impracticle.

    I appreciate people's emotional response to this, but for once get past you Bush boogyman nightmares and realize that there is a very good reason that Bush, Clinton, Carter and Regean all used this authority.
  • by deathy_epl+ccs ( 896747 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:00PM (#14304678)

    And the program was terminateed when no longer needed in 1945.

    So, as soon as we've defeated all the terrorists, we get back our civil rights? How long will that take?

  • Even worse ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by willtsmith ( 466546 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:02PM (#14304691) Journal

    If you believe the Bush administrations definition of fast food as "manufacturing" jobs, you can start speculating what "international" and "terrorist" means.

    For instance if you place a domestic long-distance phone call, it could go over a satellite link. Well, orbit is international territory. Therefore using Bush administration verbal gymnastics, this would be an international call. And what about cell phones??? Well, all those signals go into orbit, so that could be an "international" :cough: call as well.

    What about terrorists??? Well we already know that the Bush administration considers unions (the NEA in particular), peace activists and environmental activists as "terrorists". And many Democrats subscribe to ideas of unionism, peace and environmentalism. Indeed they believe anyone who opposes this war is aiding and ebetting terrorists. Ergo, Democrats are terrorists.

    And what about any businesses that do businesses in country where there may be terrorists? Couldn't they be terrorists as well. Well I'm sure there is a lot of strategic business information that could be learned from "international" calls by "terrorists".

    The fact that Bush refused to go through the FISA court leads you to believe that this court was unlikely to approve the wire taps they wanted. This court has a history of rubber stamping pretty much anything an adminstration wants.

    The alternative thought is that Bush is asserting a new right of "presidential supremacy". This basically means that the President can do whatever he wants so long as he claims it is pursuit of his "commander in chief" duties. Frankly, this is the more disturbing option. This is the avenue that Hitler took.

    If Congress does NOT oppose these actions, Bush will have successfully established a precedent of violating the law simply because "he feels like it". This would transform GW Bush into a dictator. GW Bush could decide to cancel the next election because of "terrorist threats".

    If you are a Republican, please think long and hard about giving your approval to this. Now think whether you would approve this if it was Bill Clinton.

    Finally, consider Bush's justification. There have been no terrorist attacks since Bush started the program. Well, consider that from the first WTC attacks in '92, Al Queda made no successfull strikes until 2001. A total of NINE YEARS passed between Al Queda attacks against US territory without a SINGLE illegal wire tap (at least during the Clinton administration).

    I would submit that there was PLENTY of intelligence available to the Bush administration to stop attacks. Indeed, the Clinton administration managed to thwart multiple Al Queda attacks against the US without using illegal wire-taps (but no doubt using the legal (and secret) FISA court). John Ashcroft de-prioritized anti-terrorism to just under porn and prostitution.

    Richard Clarke was screaming as loud as he could to get access to the President and take anti-terrorism seriously. He was ignored. The intelligence fore-shadowing 9/11 was forestalled. Somehow the Bush administration had managed to bring the US airforce to a state of unreadiness whereby it could not intercept a jumbo jet.

    Please Republicans, take your party and your Constitution seriously. This man is dragging your party into ignominy. If you are a patriot you MUST support checks and balance. The President is NOT an elected king. The Presidents job is to respect and enforce the laws passed by Congress. The President cannot just "make up" laws.

    If you don't support checking the president's power, you are a fascist. If you don't like that label, than you need to change your position. You will bring this country to a state of civil war against those of us who will NOT bear a President affecting the same transformation on the US as Hitler did to Germany.

  • by ToasterofDOOM ( 878240 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:02PM (#14304693)
    This particular action is worthy of the worst of the Soviet Union.
    I'm not endorsing this in any way at all, in fact I'm ashamed that he did this, but you are saying that this is worse than murdering 15 million of your own people and depriving them of property and liberty as well? I understand this is a bad thing, but acting in this polarized manner is exactly why today's political climate is as vicious and childish as it is.
  • You are a complete fucking liar.

    The president does have authority to obtain foreign intelligence information. You see the important word there?

    No court has ever held that anyone has the authority to warrantless searches on Americans. NOot executive, not legistlative. Period, full stop, no exceptions at all. This includes conversations that are only halfway including Americans.

    I.e., if Osama called me up today, it would be illegal to listen to the conversation without a warrant.

    This is why FISA was created. It allowed people to spy now in the case of emergencies, and get a warrant retroactively. If they can't get the warrant, they have to throw the info away.

    And, Mr. Complete Dumbass, the permission to invade Afghanistan authorized the use of military force. And Congress can't authorize the President to violate the constitution no matter what, so all you're actually arguing there is that his constitutional violation is not a felony.

    Which doesn't fly anyway. To revoke a law, you have to explicitly override it. If you don't, the more specific law applies. The President can't go and commit tax fraud to fund the War on Terror, and he can't violate FISA. When a law says 'you can do X', it means 'you can do X in a manner consistent with all other laws', unless it explicictly says you can disgard other laws.

    This is a rather obvious principle of the law. Otherwise, the fact I am authorized to stop the credit bureau from selling my info would me I am authorized to bomb them to get them to stop. Or the fact I have a driver's license would allow me to drive through private property and buildings, and run over whoever I want. After all the government said I could drive, and this obviously overrides all other laws.

    FISA, OTOH, does explicitly say it overrides all other laws WRT to wiretapping. And there is no constitutional principle that lets the executive branch spy on citizens without warrants. (Or even any non-citizens in the US legally.)

  • Great movie ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by willtsmith ( 466546 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:09PM (#14304751) Journal

    I would argue that Gilliam drew heavily from "1984". I would argue that 1984 was based on Nazi Germany.

    I would argue that the Bush administration is using the same techniques as Hitler to transform Democracy into totalitarianism.

    GW is a greater threat to the US than Osama Bin Laden. There is NOTHING that OBL can do to remove our civil rights.

  • by sakshale ( 598643 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:09PM (#14304756) Homepage Journal
    To quote a comment to that article;

    The U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment (1791): "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    I couldn't find the phrase "except if you don't want to" anywhere.
  • by theCat ( 36907 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:10PM (#14304762) Journal
    Nicely put. There is an exchange between Alice and HumptyDumpty that gets at this exactly:

    Humpty Dumpty: When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.
    Alice: The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.
    Humpty Dumpty: The question is: which is to be master - that's all.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:11PM (#14304767) Homepage
    ...that they didn't think they could get the FISA court to rubberstamp?

    The FISA court has only turned the government down, what, twenty times in thirty years? And the law allows them to wiretap first and get court approval afterwards... and if the court turns them down they can appeal to another secret court, and if that court turns them down they can appeal to the Supreme Court, meeting in secret session with only the government in attendance.

    The mind boggles. What could they possibly have been afraid to take to FISA court?
  • by willtsmith ( 466546 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:16PM (#14304806) Journal

    Throwing blood on minks is NOT a "terrorist" activity.

    Burning down an empty house is not a "terrorist" activity.

    I don't like PETA either and I don't approve of ELF. But property destruction is NOT murder. Terrorist KILL indiscriminately at civilian targets in order to produce a state of fear. As goofy as they are, none of these liberal radical groups do this.

    By the way, it is quite ironic that while the FBI classifies PETA, Greenpeace and ELF as terrorists, they DO NOT classify white supremacist groups who practice para-military operations and gladly sport their copies of "The Anarchist Cookbook" and "The Turner Diaries".

    I have NO DOUBT that the Bush administration is spying on liberal organization by labeling them "terrorists". And I also have no doubt that they are simply asserting another authority that they have not admitted to for domestic calls.

  • Re:USA! USA! USA! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Intron ( 870560 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:19PM (#14304831)
    Kind of depends on who you think are the domestic enemies of democracy, doesn't it?

    If we believe that we can defeat terrorism by reducing privacy, maybe the first place we should open up is the nation's largest employer [], and no, it isn't Walmart. Perhaps if we had greater openness on the part of this group, it would lead to a stronger democracy and less terrorism. Isn't democracy defined as public understanding and participation in government?

    I think the Patriot Act would be fine if it worked both ways. I should be able to find out what my representatives are doing the same way they can with me. What deals are they making with the energy lobby? What deals are they outsourcing on no-bid contracts? Surely if giving up privacy makes us safer you have no problems with that.
  • by SeattleGameboy ( 641456 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:20PM (#14304840) Journal
    Nice lies... Bush would be proud.

    "court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue [our emphasis], held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information." And further that "we take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."

    WOW, talking about taking it out of context!

    The court was talking about executive branch's ability to gather intelligence on FOREIGN SOIL!!! They deemed that the Fourth Amendment did not extend to foreign governments and their agents. Which is the correct reading and MOST of us here would agree to.

    What the courts have CONSISTENTLY ruled against is using that power on US CITIZENS! In fact FISA specifically guards against and makes that illegal. To balance that it makes it easier for authorities to get secret warrants and allows warrantless searches within the first 15 days of a war and allow agents obtain warrant AFTER the tap.

    They applied only to calls involving al Qaeda suspects or those with terrorist ties.

    LIAR!!! Do you have security clearance? Have you seen the list of warrantless searches? No? Then how do you know? Oh because Bush said so? Oh, and they also said they didn't use Patriot Act on non-terrorist groups and guess what? They used it on Peace groups and PETA!

    But the Members of Congress who were informed about this all along are now either silent or claim they didn't get the full story. This is why these columns have long opposed requiring the disclosure of classified operations to the Congressional Intelligence Committees.

    LIAR!!! Were you there when they were briefed? No? Then how the FUCK do you know? EVERY senator (Republican & Democrat) said they did not get complete information on this. But you KNOW they are lying??

    And NO, this is not a reason to hide things! It is a DAMN GOOD REASON TO NOT HIDE things!!! Because if they didn't then Bush would have some RECORD to bolster his statements.

    By contrast, the Times' NSA leak last week, and an earlier leak in the Washington Post on "secret" prisons for al Qaeda detainees in Europe, are likely to do genuine harm by alerting terrorists to our defenses. If more reporters from these newspapers now face the choice of revealing their sources or ending up in jail, those two papers will share the Plame blame.

    Man you are just a walking LYINGPALOOZA!!! You mean to tell me that Al Queda DID NOT suspect that this government was TAPPING EVERY PHONE call? Hello? Govt has been tapping Al Queda since the mid-80's. Are you REALLY that dumb to think that Al Queda was SHOCKED! SHOCKED I TELL YA to find this out from NY Times?

    Not only are you a liar, you are dumb too...

  • by Incongruity ( 70416 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:20PM (#14304850)
    The mods here don't know anything about pki to have modded this up so high. The NSA would also have to have each senders private keys to decrypt the messages. This is extremely difficult if proper security is used with each users private keys.

    Except, it's right on:

    Let's use a conversation between Andrew and Charles, aka A and C... Now, assume I'm some ill-willed person named Bob, aka B that wants to play a man in the middle attack on A and C. If I can convince A that I'm C and C that I'm A initially, before they exchange public keys as the OP stated, I'm home free. Why? It should be clear... I give my public key to both A and C and they both give me their public keys. I can, therefore, receive messages from both (and decrypt them using my private key) and send messages to both A and C, using their public keys. So, A sends me a message encoded with my public key, I decrypt it, store the contents and then re-encrypt it with C's public key and send it along to C, etc. A B C but both A and C think they're talking directly to each other.

    Prior exchange, out of band, of the public keys would make the man in the middle attack harder to do.

  • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:27PM (#14304910)
    Actually, no. He didn't "go around" the court because the powers had already be granted. We can debate whether he should have but I'm confident that whatever he did was under legal council. Look, Republican or Democrat no President would wilfully risk becoming the next Nixon. If there is an argument here, it isn't "howe could this President do this" but rather, "where is the legal precident that he was advised he was working under."
  • by willtsmith ( 466546 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:28PM (#14304920) Journal

    "They hate us for our freedom" - GW Bush

    Well if they hate us because we are free and have liberties from a totalitarian government, than taking away freedoms for the sake of FIGHTING terrorists affectively accomplishes there goal.

    Well, that's GW Bush's world. Which tells you he doesn't think very long about keeping a consistent line of values and reasoning.

    Don't kid yourself. The terrorists hate us because we're up in their business. They want us out of the Middle East. Increasing our presense in the Middle East only increases the amount of radicalism. Hence more terrorism.

    That's why "fighting the there so we don't have to fight them here" is so stupid. Fighting them there only makes more of them.

    This is probably too complicated for the average Republican to understand. I will translate to something you might be able to relate too. Remember Fantasia where Mickey makes the magic broom (Mujahadeen). Well Mickey is so pleased with himself that he falls asleep when he thinks the job is done (abandoning Afghanistan after the Russians withdraw). Well Mickey wakes up and finds the broom has overfilled the water (WTC, 9/11). Then Mickey tries to kill them by hitting them with an axe (Iraq). Well, Mickey didn't think it through because every time he kills a broom, 6 more rise to take it's place (Iraqi Insurgency). Eventually, Mickie realizes that the mindless use of force is not the answer and must turn to someone more learned in magic (diplomacy (UN)).

    Tomorrow we'll make the same analogy, we'll just use drug dealers instead of terrorists.

  • by SeattleGameboy ( 641456 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:33PM (#14304967) Journal
    So the lying continues...

    Let's take a look at that Executive Order, shall we?

    1-101. Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order, but only if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that Section.

    Oh, so this Executive Order is not going AGAINST FISA, it is actually stating that since FISA gave President this right, we are going to excersize it.

    And what power did FISA grant?

    From FISA codes...

    a) "Foreign power" means-- (1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or not recognized by the United States;...

    (b) "Agent of a foreign power" means-- (1) any person other than a United States person,...

    Oh just look at that... it SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDES US CITIZENS!!!

    It does not stop there

    "Electronic surveillance" means-- (1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes;

    Oh, how about that! It REQUIRES warrant to search citizens.

    So Carter was saying to his administration that they should execute FISA codes and FISA code specifically forbids spying on US citizens. HMMMM... WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ARGUING ABOUT???

    Stop just repeating what Bush operatives and Fox News is spouting. Think for yourself every now and then.


  • by nido ( 102070 ) <nido56 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:34PM (#14304976) Homepage
    I think it was Richard Maybury's [] Whatever Happened to Justice [] where I first read about the "bandit theory of government". It goes something like this: in the beginning, people got together to work to provide for a living. But some people didn't want to work. So they set up a camp, and periodically raided the surrounding villages. Eventually they decided that banditry was too much work, so one time they moved in, and never left. "I am your King, these are my royal officers, it is your privledge to pay us tribute." Then tribute became "tax", and the government began to provide services to justify collection of said tax.

    According to Mr. Maybury, there are three politcal systems: Liberty, Tyranny, and Chaos. Liberty is what America is about; bandits have successfully re-taken the American government over the last 100+ years, leading to the problems facing the country today. Government schools were instituted to "dumb down" the population, and strip them of the possibility of an independant livelihood. (Reference: writings & speeches of John Taylor Gatto [], specifically On The Scientific Management of Children: A Short Angry History [] ).

    Government is the problem. Many people advocate that the bandits set up false terrorist attacks, to solidify their power. Some of these people are certainly kooks, but following the general principle of 'where there's smoke, there's fire', there has to be something to the claims of a grand conspiracy.

    Richard Maybury predicted the current World War III 10 years ago. He's certainly worth investigating...
  • by ceswiedler ( 165311 ) * <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:51PM (#14305106)
    Read the article...the reason (I'm beginning to believe) they didn't get authorization under FISA was because they couldn't. The wiretapping in question was done using broad analysis of a random sampling of phone calls. How can they go to a FISA judge with that?

    They aren't stupid. They could easily have gone to the judges within 72 hours if this were normal wiretapping. It's not.
  • Re:Even worse ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:01PM (#14305174)
    If you are a Republican, please think long and hard about giving your approval to this.

    As a republican, I think the guy should be impeached and removed from office.


    Repeat after me:

    You never spy on Americans

  • by willtsmith ( 466546 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:01PM (#14305182) Journal

    Osama is powerless to transform the United States into a totalitarian regime. GW Bush is well on his way.

  • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:02PM (#14305187)
    When the PATRIOT act was passed, conservatives blew off complaints that its provisions would be used to target people who were not "terrorists" in the sense that members of al Qaeda are terrorists. It was written off as liberal paranoia, and lawmakers assured us that these laws would only be used to target real enemies of the United States. Since then, the law's provisions have been used to target vandals, drug dealers, anarchists, and peace activists, and now eco-fanatics. Many people in law enforcement have been scrambling to define everything as "terrorism" so they can do sneak-and-peek searches, look at what library books people are reading, etc. It's exactly what the "liberal paranoids" were warning about.
  • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:11PM (#14305247)
    not to bring up a small point, but the US is NOT in a state of declared war with anybody right now. We are not "at war" with the country of Iraq.. we are engaging in a "policing action" against it's leader, and sticking around to make sure there is peace for the Iraqies. The Congress of the United States did not declare war... only they can do that. They allowed the president to use the military, but that's a different set of powers. Besides, like another reply says, the war on "terrorism" will never be won.. there will always be somebody new to "theaten us"
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:11PM (#14305248) Journal

    I'm not endorsing this in any way at all, in fact I'm ashamed that he did this, but you are saying that this is worse than murdering 15 million of your own people and depriving them of property and liberty as well? I understand this is a bad thing, but acting in this polarized manner is exactly why today's political climate is as vicious and childish as it is.

    But the problem is, they never start with killing 15 million people (side note: it doesn't matter "who's people" they are). They start with a little spying here, a little bending the rules there. Lie a bit a cause a few tens of thousands of people to die. Get your people into the positions of power, eviscerate the press (if it hasn't rolled over already). Come to some accommodation with the "opposition" ("play it our way or we'll ruin you" is always popular).

    In short, make it so that no one dares move against you.

    Then you can kill 15 million people, or even twenty if you're in the mood.


    P.S. The polarization isn't causing the problem. The polarization is a consequence of some people realizing what is going on, and others squeezing their eyes shut and hoping it goes away.

  • Re:muddy issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:26PM (#14305346)'s good for them to keep some secrets from us. THEY'RE IN CHARGE! Parents keep secrets from children because that's better for them.
    Thanks for summarizing the administration's stance so succinctly. It's the polar opposite of the principles our nation was founded on.
    If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you care if somebody knows about it.
    The exact opposite of the 4th ammendment. But I agree that's a useful maxim when applied to officers of the government in their official responsibilities - after all, how can government officials carry out the will of the people when they won't even tell the people what they're doing?
  • by hot soldering iron ( 800102 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @10:09PM (#14305597)
    I'm at war with cockroaches. Will it ever end? No. More keep spawning to take the place of those I destroy. The only way to win my war is to remove the conditions where they can live, and thrive.

    The "War on Terror" is about power and control, period. The President was a very powerful man, an oil Co. CEO, who jumped to the highest office of one of the most powerful nations on the planet. Who has more power than a President? A President during wartime, when the title, "Commander-in-Chief" carries real power. Who do you have a war with? You don't really want to fight a country that has a descent chance against you, you might lose! But they can't be a pushover, either. That would just be a "Police Action". You need an enemy that stikes fear into the hearts of the people, but is insubstantial like smoke and shadows, or the Bogeyman.

    The only way to stop "terrorism" (an ideology), is with propaganda and an opposing ideology. To control the minds of the populace. The easiest way to do that, is to have the people volutarily give up their freedoms, for safety, "for the children" *RETCH!*

    So, we have someone who, by his apparent actions, NEEDS power. And circumstances JUST HAPPENED to give him the most undisputed power on the frikkin' planet. He has control over the military, industry, economy, and society, of America. And he is quickly removing the remaining checks and balances on his power.

    The world is in serious peril.

    DAMN! I need to quit listening to talk radio!
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AoT ( 107216 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @10:44PM (#14305827) Homepage Journal
    I often see acusations about tree spiking hurting people, but I have yet to see any proof.
  • Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @11:49PM (#14306239) Journal



    We're in charge.

    That's the one and only thing that differentiates us from a dictatorship.

    The fact that they seem to think that "THEY'RE IN CHARGE" is exactly what's got so many people who love this country so upset at them.


  • Far from it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:07AM (#14306322) Journal
    GWB could not have done all this without OBL. He absolutely needed something like 9/11 to rally people around him and the republicans.
  • Re:muddy issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wass ( 72082 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:08AM (#14306325)
    It's ironic, Bush and his supporters are claiming that they are the true patriots, making America safer by exercising these illegal spying operations. He claims to support civil liberties. hmm.

    One famous founding father patriot (Patrick Henry) claimed "Give me Liberty or give me death!".

    Another famous founding father patriot (Benjamin Franklin) claimed (and this is oft-quoted here on /.) "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    We've strayed quite far from the path of the true patriots of this land.

  • Re:muddy issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:53AM (#14306559) Journal
    Greenpeace and PETA.


    The latter publicly advocates terroristic acts (for them, apparently justifiable).
    The former, known to fund organizations like Earth First.

    So yes, they ARE terrorists or support them significantly. I'm cheering for the US Gov't black helicopters on this one, thanks.
  • by 0-9a-f ( 445046 ) <> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:19AM (#14306878) Homepage
    ... he clings to the vague notion that wartime places him above the law ...

    Isn't this exactly right? As a war-time Commander-in-Chief, the President has the duty to do everything possible to protect US citizens from the enemy. Of course, a few key definitions have been re-defined by this Administration in recent years:

    • The Enemy - "If you're not with us, you're with the Terrorists."
    • Terrorist - "Anyone who threatens the American Way Of Life (TM)." Apparently this has nothing to do with Constitutional definitions.
    • War - "It's an enemy unlike any we've faced before..." but somehow the traditional rules of war apply to Presidential powers.

    As many others have noted, once you start looking for enemies based on what they say or how they act, you'll see enemies everywhere. At least with a traditional enemy you can keep an eye on people because they look different or live in another country. When a terrorist could have been living peacefully in your own backyard for the last 10 years, well... anyone who thinks "outside the square" could be a threat to the American Way Of Life (TM), and the only way to be certain is to keep a really close eye on everyone. This rapidly enters the realm of paranoia (or, indeed, Paranoia). Just ask any Communist who survived McCarthyism.

    (Counting down the seconds for a knock on the door...)

  • Bush's claim (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Brushen ( 938011 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @05:52AM (#14307461) sc_sup_01_50_10_36.html []

    This is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillence Act. Long story short, you always have to apply for a court order to wiretap. You can, however, do it without a warrant under the conditions provided here: sc_sec_50_00001802----000-.html []

    As long as there's no chance you'll be wiretapping on a U.S. person, in which case you're fined $10,000 and you spend 5 years in prison if found guilty. "Procuring" someone to wiretap under Title 18 of the U.S. legal code also gets you the penalty, of course, which GWB is guilty of.

    There is another exception that gives the President to authorize electronic surveillence, searches, and seizures, without warrants, on any U.S. person or U.S. citizen anywhere at any time, with (each) authorization lasting no longer than 15 days, after which I suppose it'd be renewed. sc_sec_50_00001811----000-.html [] sc_sec_50_00001829----000-.html [] sc_sec_50_00001844----000-.html []

    Pen registers and trap and trace devices record the telephone number of who you're calling, and who's calling you, respectively. Normally you'd go to jail for a year for using one without a warrant.

    This exception can ONLY be used if Congress has declared war. We haven't declared war since World War II. Everything we've done since then have been, starting with Korea, I think, have been "police actions." Congress has approved "military intervention" in Iraq, but not declared war.

    Bush went to Judge John Yoo, who told him that Congressional approval of the war on terror constituted a declaration of war. The Washington Post and most places I've read don't buy that crap. Thus, Bush's claim to freedom is rendered invalid.

    Now, aside from FISA, here is a second place Bush could be jailed.

    Sec. 2511 of the Title 18, United States Code:

    "Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any
    person who intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication ...

    shall be punished as provided in subsection (4) or shall be subject to
    suit as provided in subsection (5)."

    In the intervening space, it mentions how using mechanical devices, ala wiretapping, to get this information is illegal.

    Subsection 4 says "Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection or in
    subsection (5), whoever violates subsection (1) of this section shall be
    fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

    Unless Bush stops the recorded wiretapping by the end of the year, he could be fined or go to jail, for procuring the recorded wiretapping.

    Now, paragraph B makes an exception to that punishment for first-time offenders who are not wiretapping or procuring wiretapping for illegal purposes or commercial gain. Bush is not a firsttime offender because he has authorized the NSA to wiretap 30 times since September 11, 2001.
  • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:47AM (#14307777) Homepage
    Not only that, but it doesn't matter whether Clinton or anyone else did the same thing. If it's illegal, it's illegal. If these retards who think Clinton's behavior somehow excuses Bush want Slick Willie behind bars, they're free to pursue any avenues open to them to make it happen. That doesn't get Bush off the hook, however.

    That's another of my favorite arguments from these morons: "Bush briefed congress! Including Democrats!" So? Indict all of the treasonous fuckers. "Tu quoque" is never a valid defense.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:05PM (#14310594) Homepage
    IMO, if he really were a totalitarian, it would have been much simpler for him to support a handpicked tyrant to replace Mr. Hussein in Iraq than to go through the complicated process of setting up three elections in a year and try to corrupt either the electoral process or the results of that process.

    It's only simpler if you don't take into account the rest of the world who already find our reasons for going into Iraq dubious -- even the ones who still have troops there with us. Take away "bringing democracy", and what do we have left? Even Bush knows we still need the international community to at least tolerate if not support our unilateral behavior. No, he absolutely must go through the trouble of creating elections.

    Of course their choice of appointed prime minister, Ilyad Allawi, former hitman for Saddam Hussein, shows that they were in fact thinking along those lines. Instead it looks like they'll end up with an Iranian-backed theocracy! Hooray!

    At this early stage, I'm not willing to belive any particular report about this.

    No, that's true, but at the same time if the answer was as simple as "we obtained the warrants as required by law" then I think Bush would have said so and defused the issue immediately. Instead, he is arguing that spying without warrants is legal and necessary. So that speaks pretty strongly to me that it is as the reports suggest: Bush authorized warrantless spying on people within the U.S.

    However, the fact that we're even aware about these activities through the media and Mr. Bush has acknowledged at least some of these activities publicly shows that we still live in the freest nation in the world.

    One of the most free. Or much more free than many nations. Both are correct, but the U.S. certainly isn't the only nation to have the kinds of freedoms you mention.

    However this being true, it is just that much more important for us to protect those freedoms and react aggressively when someone attempts to take them! You don't counter a report that the President is issueing unconstitutional surveilance orders by saying "We are still free because free speech allowed us to discover this" The correct answer is "Thank God our free speech allowed us to discover this so we can crush the fool who thinks our other freedoms are optional!"

    It worked 30 years ago when it became clear that Nixon had broken the law (there, the mere threat of impeachment was sufficient). And there's no reason that I can see right now why it wouldn't work now.

    Hm, well, it's going to take people actually being upset about it, instead of justifying it or playing it off or saying that we're still the freeest nation in the world no matter what.

    I belive that the idea that we're inevitably headed to a totaltiarian state is a load of bunk.

    That it is inevitable is bunk, and I agree that we are equipped to deal with it. Yet merely being equipped does nothing to prevent it. We must act. And the alarming thing to me is more the tolerance for totalitarianism that has arisen in the last four years, so long as the words "anti-terrorism" are thrown around first. Of course we would not repeat the incidents of WWII, rounding up all asians. Yet we are content to allow anyone labeled (labeled, not demonstrated to be) "suspected terrorist" to be rounded up. So the question is are we less tolerant of totalitarianism, or has the would-be totalitarians just gotten smarter with regards to psychology?

    Personally I think this incident will be something of a litmus test. So far the denials of the Pres have been extremely weak, which leads me to believe that he did in fact step outside constitutional limits. If that is the case, then the reaction will tell us a lot about how resiliant against totalitarianism we really are.

    Then again, it might be hard to separate a staunch anti-totalitarian groundswell in Congress from normal political maneuvering in which a weakening leader is ripped apart at the first sign of drawn blood. But I am cynical that way.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.