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rkzenrage 05-12-2006 01:59 PM

Look Everybody We're East Berlin, Pre-Wall Topple!
 
Do we get to have statues of Dubya to topple later... much later? I bet we will...

Link to article with photos and links

Bush Is Pressed Over New Report on Surveillance
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Gen. Michael V. Hayden speaking to reporters following a meeting with Senater Chuck Hagel, left, on Capitol Hill.

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By ERIC LICHTBLAU and SCOTT SHANE
Published: May 12, 2006
WASHINGTON, May 11 — Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike demanded answers from the Bush administration on Thursday about a report that the National Security Agency had collected records of millions of domestic phone calls, even as President Bush assured Americans that their privacy is "fiercely protected."

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Video: Domestic Spying Controversy

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Related
With Access Denied, Justice Department Drops Spying Investigation (May 11, 2006)
President Bush's Statement (May 11, 2006)
Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts (Dec. 16, 2005)

The USA Today Article: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls

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Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Gen. Michael V. Hayden and Senator Mitch McConnell spoke to reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.
"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Mr. Bush said before leaving for a commencement address in Mississippi. "Our efforts are focused on links to Al Qaeda and their known affiliates."

The president sought to defuse a tempest on Capitol Hill over an article in USA Today reporting that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth had turned over tens of millions of customer phone records to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But Mr. Bush's remarks appeared to do little to mollify members of Congress, as several leading lawmakers said they wanted to hear directly from administration officials and telecommunication executives.

The report rekindled the controversy about domestic spying.

Several lawmakers predicted the new disclosures would complicate confirmation hearings next week for Gen. Michael V. Hayden, formerly the head of the N.S.A., as the president's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

One senior government official, who was granted anonymity to speak publicly about the classified program, confirmed that the N.S.A. had access to records of most telephone calls in the United States. But the official said the call records were used for the limited purpose of tracing regular contacts of "known bad guys."

"To perform such traces," the official said, "you'd have to have all the calls or most of them. But you wouldn't be interested in the vast majority of them."

The New York Times first reported in December that the president had authorized the N.S.A. to conduct eavesdropping without warrants.

The Times also reported in December that the agency had gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to get access to records of vast amounts of domestic and international phone calls and e-mail messages.

The agency analyzes communications patterns, the report said, and looks for evidence of terrorist activity at home and abroad.

The USA Today article on Thursday went further, saying that the N.S.A. had created an enormous database of all calls made by customers of the three phone companies in an effort to compile a log of "every call ever made" within this country. The report said one large phone company, Qwest, had refused to cooperate with the N.S.A. because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Some Republicans, including Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, defended the N.S.A.'s activities and denounced the disclosure. Mr. Hoekstra said the report "threatens to undermine our nation's safety."

"Rather than allow our intelligence professionals to maintain a laser focus on the terrorists, we are once again mired in a debate about what our intelligence community may or may not be doing," he said.

But many Democrats and civil liberties advocates said they were disturbed by the report, invoking images of Big Brother and announcing legislation aimed at reining in the N.S.A.'s domestic operations. Fifty-two members of Congress asked the president to name a special counsel to investigate the N.S.A.'s domestic surveillance programs.

rkzenrage 05-12-2006 02:00 PM

cont'

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who heads the Judiciary Committee, said the reported data-mining activities raised serious constitutional questions. He said he planned to seek the testimony of telephone company executives.

The House majority leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said he wanted more information on the program because "I am not sure why it would be necessary to keep and have that kind of information."

Mr. Bush did not directly confirm or deny the existence of the N.S.A. operation but said that "as a general matter every time sensitive intelligence is leaked it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy."

Seeking to distinguish call-tracing operations from eavesdropping, the president said that "the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval."

The phone records include numbers called, time, date and direction of calls and other details but not the words spoken, telecommunications experts said. Customers' names and addresses are not included in the companies' call records, though they could be cross-referenced to obtain personal data.

General Hayden, making rounds at the Capitol to seek support for his confirmation as C.I.A. director, did not discuss the report but defended his former agency. "Everything that N.S.A. does is lawful and very carefully done," General Hayden said.

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Ron Edmonds/Associated Press
"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans." PRESIDENT BUSH

Multimedia

Video: Domestic Spying Controversy

Graphic: Domestic Surveillance Revelations and Responses
Related
With Access Denied, Justice Department Drops Spying Investigation (May 11, 2006)
President Bush's Statement (May 11, 2006)
Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts (Dec. 16, 2005)

The USA Today Article: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls

Threats & Responses
Go to Complete Coverage »
Readers’ Opinions
Forum: National Security


Doug Mills/The New York Times
"I don't think we can really make a judgment on whether warrants would be necessary until we know a lot more about the program." SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER


Doug Mills/The New York Times
"Everything that N.S.A. does is lawful and very carefully done." GEN. MICHAEL V. HAYDEN
The law on data-mining activities is murky, and legal analysts were divided Thursday on the question of whether the N.S.A.'s tracing and analysis of huge streams of American communications data would require the agency to use subpoenas or court warrants.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said, "If they don't get a court order, it's a crime." She said that while the F.B.I. might be able to get access to phone collection databases by using an administrative subpoena, her reading of federal law was that the N.S.A. would be banned from doing so without court approval.

But another expert on the law of electronic surveillance, Kenneth C. Bass III, said that if access to the call database was granted in response to a national security letter issued by the government, "it would probably not be illegal, but it would be very troubling."

"The concept of the N.S.A. having near-real-time access to information about every call made in the country is chilling," said Mr. Bass, former counsel for intelligence policy at the Justice Department. He said the phone records program resembled Total Information Awareness, a Pentagon data-mining program shut down by Congress in 2003 after a public outcry.

The N.S.A. refused to discuss the report, but said in a statement that it "takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."

AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth all issued statements saying they had followed the law in protecting customers' privacy but would not discuss details of the report.

"AT&T has a long history of vigorously protecting customer privacy," said Selim Bingol, a company spokesman. "We also have an obligation to assist law enforcement and other government agencies responsible for protecting the public welfare."

Mr. Specter said in an interview that he would press for information on the operations of the N.S.A. program to determine its legality.

"I don't think we can really make a judgment on whether warrants would be necessary until we know a lot more about the program," he said.

One central question is whether the N.S.A. uses its analysis of phone call patterns to select people in the United States whose phone calls and e-mail messages are monitored without warrants. The Times has reported that the agency is believed to have eavesdropped on the international communications of about 400 to 500 people at a time within the United States and of thousands of people since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Democrats said they would use the new disclosures to push for more answers from General Hayden at his confirmation hearing, set for May 18.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, predicted "a major Constitutional confrontation on Fourth Amendment guarantees of unreasonable search and seizure" and said the new disclosures presented "a growing impediment to the confirmation of General Hayden." Some members of Congress also reacted angrily to the news that the ethics office at the Justice Department had been refused the security clearances necessary to conduct a planned investigation of department lawyers who approved N.S.A.'s eavesdropping.

Mr. Specter called the denial of clearances to the department's own investigators "incomprehensible" and said he and other senators would ask that the clearances be granted to employees of the department's Office of Professional Responsibility

Ken Belson contributed reporting from New York for this article

Urbane Guerrilla 05-13-2006 12:27 AM

It's worthwhile to look at this number-sifting as a way to clear just about everybody of any hint of chatting with terrorists, and with thee and me out of the way, the intel boys concentrate their finite resources actually upon the stuff we'd like to listen to.

This, like most intel sources and methods, is going to remain hidden in the fog. The bad guys have this problem: to execute anything strategic or even tactical, they have to plan, communicate, and coordinate. They are vulnerable at the communication and coordination stages. The other part of this, the problem on our part, is that we have to keep them from knowing how much we know about them -- the details of how this was done basically can't and shouldn't emerge until well after the war's over.

The leakmongers can be indicted for their deliberately trying to screw up our effort to win the war. What can such bozos be thinking?

Ibby 05-13-2006 12:29 AM

Maybe they're thinking, "I should do something to try to uphold the constitution"?

Urbane Guerrilla 05-13-2006 12:35 AM

Worthwhile question, but I don't think so. The Fourth Amendment is to provide protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and what this looks like to me is a method of making the search reasonable. We do want the good guys searching and seizing the bad guys, right?

Ibby 05-13-2006 01:05 AM

Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Slightly paraphrased cause I can't remember his exact wording.

Urbane Guerrilla 05-13-2006 01:23 AM

My point being, we're not. This is a process for seeing who you don't search. I have a hard time seeing it as all the way unreasonable. Note, too, that this thing is constructed to do you precisely no harm -- at least, if you're not the kind of guy who showers in a suicide belt and masturbates to the idea of dead Americans because they aren't Moslem enough to suit you. Our enemies are emotionally driven by religious bigotry, remember.

One thing you will have to understand about me: I want us to win this war with the Islamofascists so thoroughly that anything but democracy will be unsatisfactory from now on to the entire Islamic world -- with the antidemocrats, slavemakers, and power pervs all rotting in the ground or making vultures and blackbacked jackals fat and torpid.

George W is not by any reasonable definition a power perv. He's a limited-government man trying to fight a war. His legal position would be simpler had Congress been moved to declare a state of war, as this simplifies matters for the Executive Branch to direct the war effort. However, since formal declaration of war struck everyone involved as disjunct, out of proportion, you have this "do whatcha gotta" Congressional resolution in its stead -- which seems to be taken by some damn fools on the Hill as license to see to it that he can't. The record shows most of these fools are Democrats.

Ibby 05-13-2006 01:30 AM

I've never made it a secret that I'm not a big fan of the USofA. Does that make me fair game for the NSA? Where do you draw the line? What about the guy who bought a persian carpet from the guy down the street whos brother once prayed in the same mosque as an al Qaeda official? Is that a valid connection? I'd rather the government have less unchecked power, rather than more.

Happy Monkey 05-13-2006 08:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbane Guerrilla
Worthwhile question, but I don't think so. The Fourth Amendment is to provide protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and what this looks like to me is a method of making the search reasonable. We do want the good guys searching and seizing the bad guys, right?

That's only part one of the Fourth Ammendment. Part two is the need for probable cause. And there aren't tens of millions of "the bad guys", so they had no probable cause to sieze the records of tens of millions of Americans. And more - even if they had probable cause, a court order is required. Which they did not get.

Adkenar 05-13-2006 12:05 PM

I don't trust this sort of thing at all. The need for warrants was intended to stop this sort of thing; if it was supposed to be "ok" to invade people's privacy like this, we'd never use warrants. Here are some reasons they might be nefcessary (though these have been hinted at already):

1) Discrimination. If the government findss that you have a certain lifestyle (eating habits, excercising habits, sexual behavior, whatever) that they don't like, it could very well be possible for them to discriminate against you in a job where such factors should not be an issue. Above that, if this information is unclassified, not only does the government know about it, but so do all your future employers, employees, etc.

2) Despotism. If the government finds that you do not support those in power, who's to say they won't use the same discrimination as above? Above that, they could stop you from assembling with like-minded friends (even if it is for peaceful discussion) to stifle any activity that isn't pro-government. This has some serious consequences; newspapers could be forced to print pro-government propaganda, opposing political parties could be eradicated, even something as peaceful as this forum could be stopped.

In addition, the United States does not have a history of only arresting "the bad guys". We arrested some people in the middle east for as little as wearing a Casio watch or a drab jacket (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11674324/)

Given this information, I don't think it's safe at all to trust the government to have wholesale access to private information.

In addition, AT&T might not have just provided phone records. AT&T possibly diverted wholesale domestic communications to the NSA by splicing the signal from their fiberoptic cables into a "secret" room where people from the NSA did installation of...something, according to a retired AT&T worker (http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70619-0.html

Happy Monkey 05-13-2006 12:46 PM

A question for supporters of this NSA program: do you think Clinton should have had the ability to, without a warrant, get a list of everybody Ken Starr and Monica Lewinski had called in the last year?

BigV 05-13-2006 07:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbane Guerrilla
...
George W is not by any reasonable definition a power perv. He's a limited-government man trying to fight a war. ...

George W is limited, all right, you and I agree on that. But demonstrate some "limited-government" position he champions. Oh, limited taxation, irrespective of unlimited spending, ok. Wait, limits on Congress' authority to decide what the laws are and limits on what they should know, sure. And there are those limits on what cases the Supreme Court should be able to hear, I forgot about them.

I guess you're right UG, W is all about limited government. But he is the puppet of the power pervs using the strategies listed above to further unbalance our nation's three part system of government in the favor of the unitary executive. But the fubar Iraqi adventure is just a distraction, like the flash powder from the magician's left hand while he pockets the prize with his right.

The real war is here at home. Where our Constitution is attacked and our civil liberties are the casualties. Where the co-equal branches of government are besieged and the citizens are prisoners, suspects, subjects of investigation. All under the color of authority. "Dissent is unpatriotic" you scream. Come a little closer, ok? FUCK YOU.

Hey, really, I'm not talking to you to persuade you. I have long since concluded that your mind, which may or may not be open, is so firmly sealed up your butt that nothing can get in. Fine. You're more useful as a negative example anyway.

richlevy 05-13-2006 10:01 PM

I still remember this incident.

Quote:

05/14/2003 The Department of Homeland Security's Air and Marine Interdiction Division (AMID) says its mission is to "Protect the Nation's borders and the American people from the smuggling of narcotics and other contraband with an integrated and coordinated air and marine interdiction force."
So it is easy to understand why Texans were scratching their heads when they learned that the division's Air and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center in Riverside, California, played a critical role in tracking down the Democratic legislators who went missing from the Texas Capitol this week.
Now I know that FoxNews and some wacko Republicans consider Democrats traitors, but what was the Dept of Homeland Security doing tracking US citizens who were not terrorists?

So in addition to finding terrorists, how much effort will be made to insure that this database does not become abused in the same way that automobile license databases have been abused in the past? What law spells out penalties for misuse and how will it be enforced with no judicial oversight?

Our Constitution was built by men who distrusted goverment, and who designed a system of checks and balances to prevent tyranny, a system which we have been eroding in the past 4 years in the name of safety.

rkzenrage 05-14-2006 12:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibram
Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Slightly paraphrased cause I can't remember his exact wording.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
~Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
I will do all I can to thwart the Anti-Patriot acts and all bastardizations of cowardice that the chicken-shits of today do. Our forefathers fought people like McCarthy, now we give them medals behind closed doors.
Saying things like, we have to "do all we can" to catch them is fear speaking... the fear of the terrorists winning... the fear of our sloth.... the sickness of how far we have come from the forgotten generation and how we are letting those on the front lines die in vein and dishonor.

rkzenrage 05-14-2006 12:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibram
Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Slightly paraphrased cause I can't remember his exact wording.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
~Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
I will do all I can to thwart the Anti-Patriot acts and all bastardizations of cowardice that the chicken-shits of today do. Our forefathers fought people like McCarthy, now we give them medals behind closed doors.
Saying things like, we have to "do all we can" to catch them is fear speaking... the fear of the terrorists winning... the fear of our sloth.... the sickness of how far we have come from the forgotten generation and how we are letting those on the front lines die in vein and dishonor.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbane Guerrilla
My point being, we're not. This is a process for seeing who you don't search. I have a hard time seeing it as all the way unreasonable. Note, too, that this thing is constructed to do you precisely no harm -- at least, if you're not the kind of guy who showers in a suicide belt and masturbates to the idea of dead Americans because they aren't Moslem enough to suit you. Our enemies are emotionally driven by religious bigotry, remember.

One thing you will have to understand about me: I want us to win this war with the Islamofascists so thoroughly that anything but democracy will be unsatisfactory from now on to the entire Islamic world -- with the antidemocrats, slavemakers, and power pervs all rotting in the ground or making vultures and blackbacked jackals fat and torpid.

George W is not by any reasonable definition a power perv. He's a limited-government man trying to fight a war. His legal position would be simpler had Congress been moved to declare a state of war, as this simplifies matters for the Executive Branch to direct the war effort. However, since formal declaration of war struck everyone involved as disjunct, out of proportion, you have this "do whatcha gotta" Congressional resolution in its stead -- which seems to be taken by some damn fools on the Hill as license to see to it that he can't. The record shows most of these fools are Democrats.

Illegal search and seizure is illegal search and seizure, you don't search unless you have PROBABLE CAUSE THAT IS LEGALLY OBTAINED BY EXISTING LAWS.

The only was we win the war is to never resort to the tactics of the Taliban... to not become what we are fighting... oops.. too late.

Yeah, those signing statements are sure limiting government... who needs those pesky checks and balances?


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