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The W - Current Events & Politics - Nothin' like transparency in a Democracy - Lawyers denied clearance to investigate the NSA
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Guru Zim
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Since: 9.12.01
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.81
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12727867/

    Originally posted by MSNBC
    WASHINGTON - The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.

    The inquiry headed by the Justice Departmentís Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., on Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyersí role in the program.



When are we supposed to start worrying about totalitarian tendencies again?



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CRZ
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Since: 9.12.01
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.86
    Originally posted by Guru Zim
    When are we supposed to start worrying about totalitarian tendencies again?
You've had over 50 years to bitch about the NSA, and you wait until NOW?

Also, you should know better - America is a federal republic.

Also (2), just how many international phone calls to al-Qaeda have you made that you're worried may have been overheard? 'cause otherwise, I'm pretty sure you're just wasting righteous indignation which could be better spent on plenty of other issues. Then again, this IS the Internet, so...



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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.81
I'm pretty sure you know I'm 32.

I just can't believe that they pulled the national security card to deny the lawyers a chance to look at what they are doing. Surely there is a thing as accountability for our secret organizations?

What's stopping them from becoming the Gestapo if no one is able to oversee what they are doing?



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Since: 20.9.02
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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.29
    Originally posted by Guru Zim
    When are we supposed to start worrying about totalitarian tendencies again?


Wikipedia says that the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore on 12 December 2000. Figure that I started right around then.

Then again, I'm both an unapologetic social liberal and a terrible cynic about nearly all manners political. Your mileage may have varied.



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Since: 8.10.03
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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.95
    Originally posted by CRZ
      Originally posted by Guru Zim
      When are we supposed to start worrying about totalitarian tendencies again?
    You've had over 50 years to bitch about the NSA, and you wait until NOW?

    Also, you should know better - America is a federal republic.

    Also (2), just how many international phone calls to al-Qaeda have you made that you're worried may have been overheard? 'cause otherwise, I'm pretty sure you're just wasting righteous indignation which could be better spent on plenty of other issues. Then again, this IS the Internet, so...


1. We should have started worrying September 12, 2001.

2. It isn't relevant to whom you place phone calls. The government isn't supposed to be spying on its citizens. There is a story now that with the cooperation of major phone providers, they have the records of people's phone calls for tens of millions of people but swear they have no content, etc. Rave on Guru. We as a people can't have enough righteous indignation as we slowly slide into the abyss willingly.

If these actions must be taken, some outside source must have oversight, no matter how well intentioned the ends.

(edited by DrDirt on 11.5.06 0908)


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AWArulz
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Since: 28.1.02
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.51

[Rant /ON]
Secret, secret - what does that MEAN?

You know, I am sure it was things like this that kept us from "spying" on folks that led to the rise of Hitler, the stuff that started WW1 and other stuff.

There have always been isolationists and folks who consider that the people's free speech are above every other right and privilege. But there's a whole constitution that comes before a lot of that stuff.

I suspect that you liberals are going to get your way. The best damn spies in the world will again be handcuffed (as they were in the Bush elder and Clinton era), we'll lose HumInt and go more isolationist.

We did that, more or less for 10 years after Desert Storm. And I see us going that way again. I figure by the time Hillary is out of office that the crazy Muslims will really be ready to cash in - they ought to have Europe by them - and you'll be wondering why millions and millions have to die in a big war instead of a few thousand in a small one.

You can join Henry Ford, Eddie Rickenbacker and many others on the isolationist island and hope for the best. Or you can be proactive.

The bad guys are among us. Our neighbors calling their buddies and setting up the cels, the attacks - but we can't spy on them. No. That would violate their rights. Yeah. Everyone has rights except the people who die because of these bastards.
[Rant /off]





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Since: 8.10.03
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.95
    Originally posted by AWArulz

    [Rant /ON]
    Secret, secret - what does that MEAN?

    You know, I am sure it was things like this that kept us from "spying" on folks that led to the rise of Hitler, the stuff that started WW1 and other stuff.

    There have always been isolationists and folks who consider that the people's free speech are above every other right and privilege. But there's a whole constitution that comes before a lot of that stuff.

    I suspect that you liberals are going to get your way. The best damn spies in the world will again be handcuffed (as they were in the Bush elder and Clinton era), we'll lose HumInt and go more isolationist.

    We did that, more or less for 10 years after Desert Storm. And I see us going that way again. I figure by the time Hillary is out of office that the crazy Muslims will really be ready to cash in - they ought to have Europe by them - and you'll be wondering why millions and millions have to die in a big war instead of a few thousand in a small one.

    You can join Henry Ford, Eddie Rickenbacker and many others on the isolationist island and hope for the best. Or you can be proactive.

    The bad guys are among us. Our neighbors calling their buddies and setting up the cels, the attacks - but we can't spy on them. No. That would violate their rights. Yeah. Everyone has rights except the people who die because of these bastards.
    [Rant /off]



AWA, I can't respond for "liberals" but for this old Roosevelt liberal. I understand your frustration (and Hillary wont be elected President) but we as a country have to be very careful. We are in danger of creating essentially a shadow government that will slowly but steadily erode the constitution. The NSA, CIA, FBI, et. al. have to be held accountable to the constitution. Not the liberal or conservative constitution but THE Constitution. When we move towards an ends justify the means mentality, get everyone to go along out of fear, promote a "if you don't agree you are for the enemy" mentality, we are lost as a nation. I have heard pols from both ends of the spectrum disturbed by "W"'s action.

Back to Guru's original post, At least allow oversight. I believe these to be honorable men and women who need oversight to temper their zeal not facsists trying to destroy the country.



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RYDER FAKIN
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Since: 21.2.02
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.75
Here's a Q and A / primer, provided by USA Today...

Click Here (news.yahoo.com)

The National Security Agency has been collecting domestic calling records from major telecommunications companies, sources told USA TODAY. Answers to some questions about the program, as described by those sources:

Q: Does the NSA's domestic program mean that my calling records have been secretly collected?

A: In all likelihood, yes. The NSA collected the records of billions of domestic calls. Those include calls from home phones and wireless phones.

Q: Does that mean people listened to my conversations?

A: Eavesdropping is not part of this program.

Q: What was the NSA doing?

A: The NSA collected "call-detail" records. That's telephone industry lingo for the numbers being dialed. Phone customers' names, addresses and other personal information are not being collected as part of this program. The agency, however, has the means to assemble that sort of information, if it so chooses.

Q: When did this start?

A: After the Sept. 11 attacks.

Q: Can I find out if my call records were collected?

A: No. The NSA's work is secret, and the agency won't publicly discuss its operations.

Q: Why did they do this?

A: The agency won't say officially. But sources say it was a way to identify, and monitor, people suspected of terrorist activities.

Q: But I'm not calling terrorists. Why do they need my calls?

A: By cross-checking a vast database of phone calling records, NSA experts can try to pick out patterns that help identify people involved in terrorism.

Q: How is this different from the other NSA programs?

A: NSA programs have historically focused on international communications. In December, The New York Times disclosed that President Bush had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop - without warrants - on international phone calls to and from the USA. The call-collecting program is focused on domestic calls, those that originate and terminate within U.S. borders.

Q: Is this legal?

A: That will be a matter of debate. In the past, law enforcement officials had to obtain a court warrant before getting calling records. Telecommunications law assesses hefty fines on phone companies that violate customer privacy by divulging such records without warrants. But in discussing the eavesdropping program last December, Bush said he has the authority to order the NSA to get information without court warrants.

Q: Who has access to my records?

A: Unclear. The NSA routinely provides its analysis and other cryptological work to the Pentagon and other government agencies.

* * * * *

FLEA



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AWArulz
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Since: 28.1.02
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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.51
The nice thing about this domestic calling thing that was in McPaper today is that the supercomputers can actually do something they are capable of.

Let's say ol' AWArulz was caught calling some Osama wanna be somewhere in the world, or alternatively, Osama's disciple called me.

So, now, my name's on the old flag list. I call Pieman and Flea a couple times a month, not because we're terrorists, but because I want to talk trash about Pieman's place in the W loves Nascar Yahoo fantasy group. Flea, of course, is my cell leader. Superduper computer sees that and established that Me, Mr Terrorist calls Pieman and Flea. So it looks at that connection. Pieman never calls anybody but Papa John's and the NY Giant's Fans anonymous help line. Flea, on the other hand, calls a bunch of guys with arabic sounding names in Florida and also out of the country.

Without any more information than that - doesn't it seem like we should follow that up?




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Since: 2.1.02
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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.15
Ooooor people with Arabic-sounding names find themselves unknowingly under suspicion because *gasp!* they call relatives abroad. Because of COURSE the supercomputer can make that distinction.

And say the current powerholders are fine and trustworthy men, only looking out for America's interests. What happens if/when someone less honorable gets into power, someone with personal agendas to push and a hankering for more control, more power? The precedent's there for them to pursue exactly what they want, safe in the knowledge that their actions go unrecorded and unchecked by the people. It's an erosion of the democracy that separates us from them.




To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires, and lights, in a box.-Edward R. Murrow
DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.95
    Originally posted by oldschoolhero
    And say the current powerholders are fine and trustworthy men, only looking out for America's interests. What happens if/when someone less honorable gets into power, someone with personal agendas to push and a hankering for more control, more power? The precedent's there for them to pursue exactly what they want, safe in the knowledge that their actions go unrecorded and unchecked by the people. It's an erosion of the democracy that separates us from them.



I think you miss the point of the Constitution. It doesn't distinguish between motives and personalities. If something is wrong it's wrong, regardless of motive. Why we have survived for 230 years is dispite hiccups, we are a nation of laws, not personalities or aristocracy.



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Since: 11.12.01
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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.42

Monitoring of phone calls and where they go has been going on for 60 years. In fact, according to the book Spycatcher, MI5 and MI6 in England lead the way in tech to to that.

It'll happen whether or not the courts rule. Perhaps that's one of the reasons nothing as extreme as 9/11 has happened again.



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AWArulz
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Since: 28.1.02
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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.51
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    I think you miss the point of the Constitution. It doesn't distinguish between motives and personalities. If something is wrong it's wrong, regardless of motive. Why we have survived for 230 years is dispite hiccups, we are a nation of laws, not personalities or aristocracy.


{nasty crap I initially wrote that, discretion being the better part of valor, I deleted}

And with regard to some of the, shall we say, tightenings on what is understood as a freedom here in the states, I would postulate that some of them are only perceived. Interstate and international communications, for example, are not protected. They are traditionally understood as protected, but that can be suspended. My Dad has plenty of letters he had censored during the war. And I was overseas during a non-wartime period in the 70s and letters I received from outside the US (and not from another APO) were opened.




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Since: 3.1.02
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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.05
    Originally posted by AWArulz
    Flea, on the other hand, calls a bunch of guys with arabic sounding names in Florida and also out of the country.


Putting aside issues with privacy and abuse of power, the problem I see with that is that you're mostly only going to flag honest arab americans who happen to be involved in the arab community. You would have to figure that the terrorists would long ago have expected the government to try to track their calling patterns, so you can bet that they have different phones under different names and aliases, and at no point in the chain are two calls going to be connected. Perhaps they've got the program set up to work around this expectation (admittedly, once they figure out someone's aliases, then that gives them will help establish patterns), but without that key information, this seems like a large database waiting to be exploited.



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Since: 20.2.03

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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.40
The supreme court has ruled that there is no expectation of privacy to phone records.
If your records show that you have been contacting or been contacted by known terrorist A for x amount of minutes, I have no problem using this tool to fight Islamofacism.

The threat of Islamofacism is very real. We need to wake up and accept that and accept the social contract that allows us to fight it.
Leroy
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Since: 7.2.02

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#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.91
For me, the main problem is that you are asking me to put my faith in the Bush administration and in computers - two things that, when they don't work right, manage to fuck things up in a major way .

(edited by Leroy on 11.5.06 2121)


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StingArmy
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Since: 3.5.03
From: Georgia bred, you can tell by my Hawk jersey

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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.63
There's nothing new about collecting and warehousing phone record information. If I recall correctly, it's totally constitutional. The problem, if any, is regarding the protection of that warehoused information. I'm more or less ignorant on this particular situation, so I don't know what safety measures have been taken (and maybe that's part of the problem of not allowing the Justice Department to investigate), but having THAT much data of THAT sensitive a nature all in one place is asking for trouble.

Is anyone suggesting that perhaps the NSA is doing more than just checking out phone records? It seems like they've denied up and down that they've actually eavesdropped on calls arbitrarily. Now THAT would be a huge constitutional problem.

- StingArmy
RYDER FAKIN
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Since: 21.2.02
From: ORLANDO

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#18 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.78
AWArulz: I call Pieman and Flea a couple times a month, not because we're terrorists, but because I want to talk trash about Pieman's place in the W loves Nascar Yahoo fantasy group. Flea, of course, is my cell leader. Superduper computer sees that and established that Me, Mr Terrorist calls Pieman and Flea. So it looks at that connection. Pieman never calls anybody but Papa John's and the NY Giant's Fans anonymous help line. Flea, on the other hand, calls a bunch of guys with arabic sounding names in Florida and also out of the country.

WHY ME?!?!(edited to respect my elders!)

LIST OF SUSPICIOUS ARABS IíVE CALLED:

MíBallz Es Hari, Grabbir Boubi, Haid DíSalaami, I-Sheet MíDrurz, Al-Suq Akweer, Awan Afuqya, Yuliqa MíDiq...just to name a few (God Bless Bobby D.)

Eddie Burkett: Putting aside issues with privacy and abuse of power, the problem I see with that is that you're mostly only going to flag honest arab americans who happen to be involved in the arab community. You would have to figure that the terrorists would long ago have expected the government to try to track their calling patterns, so you can bet that they have different phones under different names and aliases, and at no point in the chain are two calls going to be connected. Perhaps they've got the program set up to work around this expectation (admittedly, once they figure out someone's aliases, then that gives them will help establish patterns), but without that key information, this seems like a large database waiting to be exploited.

Yeah, exploited. Itís funny - the companies in question (AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth) seem to enjoy turning over (selling) your phone information to various solicitors, so the idea that they provided the NSA with a ďdatabaseĒ post 9-11? I just donít see the problem. Except the Government could come and take you away, but thatís not even an issue at this point.

The first person that gets nabbed Ė publicly nabbed - will be a poster-child martyr for the Civil Liberties groups and is already a convicted guilty felon in the eyes of anyone who takes this seriously, so itís a draw, in my opinion. Whether you think itís right or wrong, I think everyone should be disgusted that National Security is being used a political football again, just in time for mid-term elections.

Itís fear that works Ė and itís about time the Democrats exploiting this issue got on the fear bandwagon. Until another domestic terrorist act occurs, the fear will be a ďtotalitarianĒ government thatís making a mockery of freedom and civil liberties.

Almost five years removed from 9/11 and most folks arenít taking terrorism or patriotism seriously these days anyway. And why should they? Gas is $3 a gallon, Speak English or Die, that dude got kicked off American Idol and Tom Cruiseís canít draw at the Box Office. Priorities!

Yul Strokheet Al Wauch...ha ha ha

FLEA




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Since: 8.10.03
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#19 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.96
    Originally posted by AWArulz
      (nasty crap I initially wrote that, discretion being the better part of valor, I deleted}

      And with regard to some of the, shall we say, tightenings on what is understood as a freedom here in the states, I would postulate that some of them are only perceived. Interstate and international communications, for example, are not protected. They are traditionally understood as protected, but that can be suspended. My Dad has plenty of letters he had censored during the war. And I was overseas during a non-wartime period in the 70s and letters I received from outside the US (and not from another APO) were opened.


    I assume your dad was also in the military at that time. The tracking of private phone calls does not equate to miltary examination of letters and censoring. And AWA, feel free to vent on my musings, I will survive. I find it interesting when conservatives are for Big Brother actions that they have fought against in the past.

    All people like myself want is oversight and a reason that would stand up to a subpoena request. What all this says to me is that if they can quash this oversight, then they can use this for almost everything they want to do. To me, this is essentially saying that there are no checks on Executive Actions.

    And StingArmy, there is a difference between a business collecting inofrmation and the government.



    Perception is reality
Corajudo
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Since: 7.11.02
From: Dallas, TX

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#20 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.94
To me, this is first and foremost a civil liberties' issue. But, the pragmatic, terrorist-hating side of me also sees two other issues. First, it points to continued abysmal performance by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies; their breakdowns that lead to 9/11 are well documented. Second, collecting data on billions of phone calls made by tens of millions of people is insane. That is way too much data; I'm thinking needle and haystack, supercomputer or no. And, to get back to the civil liberties' side, there is no way that they have enough information to support a subpoena on that many people and that many phone calls. I begin to feel very paranoid when I hear that the government is tracking phone calls on that kind of scale.

Let me give another example. Part of the PATRIOT Act strengthened anti-money laundering/terrorist financing laws governing financial institutions. Basically it put the onus on financial institutions to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to notify financial crimes' investigators about any suspicious transactions.

Well, there are big penalties for not reporting these activities but no penalty for 'overreporting' (for want of a better term). So, there are huge numbers of defensive filings because it's cheaper to pay some employee to fill out those reports all day than risk being found in violation of this law. So, you end up with more data than can be processed effectively. I attended a speech by the head of FINCEN (the agency that investigates financial crimes), and according to the numbers he gave, my back of the envelope calculation indicated that each analyst would have to investigate 56 filings a day. Again, needles and haystacks come to mind.



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