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Critics say compromise bill is anything but

The U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed the FISA Amendments Act yesterday, which if made into law would expand the government's surveillance abilities and grant retroactive immunity to telecoms for their role in post-9/11 mass domestic wiretapping.

The Act, known more formally as H.R. 6304 and born after months of negotiations, represents a “bipartisan compromise” over similar legislation that died on the House floor last February.

Much of the negotiations revolved around the thorny issue of “telecom immunity,” which if included would kill the 40+ lawsuits currently in progress accusing communications providers of assisting the Bush Administration in an illegal, post-9/11 surveillance program. As the bill currently stands, a court review will determine if providers received a presidential order requesting the wiretaps – regardless of whether or not the correct warrants were filed – and then drop all pending litigation if that condition was met.

The “warrantless wiretapping” program, initiated by the Bush Administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, ran for almost six years until it was discovered by the New York Times.

With time running out on the country’s surveillance laws – current versions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs the nation’s surveillance activities, are set to expire in August – Congress has little time to negotiate. The Bush Administration previously took a hard-line stance against FISA updates that failed to include a provision for telecom immunity, although it was reported earlier this year that the White House decided to relax its stance.

The FISA Amendments Act “balances the needs of our intelligence community with Americans' civil liberties, and provides critical new oversight and accountability requirements,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

“The House of Representatives today has fallen down on the job,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Hugh D’Andrade. “By passing the FISA Amendments Act … [the House] voted to give this lame duck President an undeserved parting gift by passing immunity for telecoms that helped the President violate the Constitution by participating in the NSA's massive and illegal spying program.”

“Immunity for telecom giants that secretly assisted in the NSA's warrantless surveillance undermines the rule of law and the privacy of every American,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “We are deeply disappointed that the House Leadership, which was so courageous in its previous opposition to telecom immunity, caved to the Administration's fear-mongering and put this seriously flawed legislation on the floor for a vote.”

In addition to the aforementioned telecom immunity provisions, the FISA Amendments Bill would:

  • Allow the government to conduct emergency eavesdropping without court approval for up to a week.
  • Allow secret FISA courts to review expiring surveillance orders for up to 30 days before renewing them.
  • Prohibit the government from superseding surveillance rules, even if it invokes war powers.
  • Require court permission to wiretap Americans overseas.
  • Obscure out American citizens’ names when wiretapping conversations between an American citizen and a foreigner.

H.R. 6304 passed the House 239-129, and is slated for the Senate as early as June 23.



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Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By pauldovi on 6/21/2008 10:15:47 AM , Rating: 4
Neo-cons can make a reaonable argument for some of their surveilance stuff, but this retroactive immunity crap is a joke.




RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By wrekd on 6/21/2008 10:44:12 AM , Rating: 4
Yeah but it will keep the Telco's stock prices from falling. No fines, no jail time, no fault.

Checks and balances are gone. Long live the Corporate Juggernaut.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By straycat74 on 6/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/21/2008 9:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I cast my vote for CHANGE! (any change is good change, right?)

That line of thinking is what gets us into really sticky situations.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By callmeroy on 6/23/2008 8:57:06 AM , Rating: 5
And yet that's how Obama is gonna win this fall..."vote for change".......lol Everyone goes YAY voting for Change...woohoo!

So then you ask these obama folks "So why you voting for Obama" --- "He's for change! That's why!". Then you counter and "what change is that?"....

< dead silence >

...... "Well he's for change!".

;)

I love that stuff...lol


By GlassHouse69 on 6/24/2008 3:32:21 AM , Rating: 2
the only change is that someone with a middle name of

HUSSEIN

is going to not be a dictator we execute, but some inexperienced President.

It's time to change!! yeah, time to brainwash people and split the country racially when you arent even Black, youre a son of a Kenyan diplomat who happened to have his kid on the island of Hawaii.

yay! thats my form of affirmative action! right on?


By dsx724 on 6/22/2008 7:11:12 PM , Rating: 3
The lawsuits aren't exactly about fines or jail time. They are used to create a base from which future cases can reference.

There is nothing wrong with legislation to assist in gathering intelligence. However, the potential for abuse is great when we make them permanent. We assume that future presidents, politicians, and business leaders will be ethical in their decision when invoking these measures.

Bush clearly proved that wrong. He used every legal means to manipulate laws for his own agenda and to shove that agenda down every American's throat. Therefore, it is hazardous to make permanent laws that are as broad as this. This law is already pushing the boundary. Just think of future revisions of the law and the boundaries they will re-define.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By rninneman on 6/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Reclaimer77 on 6/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Ryanman on 6/21/2008 10:00:03 PM , Rating: 1
It's not a question of me being a criminal. You telling me "don't be a terrorist, and you won't have anything to hide" is complete BS.
Who really DOES care if someone's listening in on their conversations? Given the choice between having a G-man hearing me having phone sex and not, I'd take the latter. Any day. And wiretapping (and any other form of domestic surveillance) opens up a huge hole in the entire purpose of the constitution.
Lets say the Government passes a law allowing all of its employees to rape any person they choose. At that point, would you consider overthrowing the government? I know I would. So you have an incredibly entrenched domestic spying program that makes any sort of revolution impossible.
Now, I know what YOU and many other statists that seems to populate anandtech are thinking. "But Ryan, surely the government would never do that" and "nobody would ever condone such a thing... even in the future" And they might not (although it could be anything that pushes the apathetic public into a revolutionary epiphany). Maybe Bush and his cronies, not to mention their successors, are all moral people with a true desire to see free people. I doubt it.
No state run by humans can embrace freedom for eternity. Those in power will gain more, and the system will be corrupt. In a best case scenario, a revolution occurs and the series of events resets itself.
Read a history book. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the government didn't even have an income tax! Study many different aspect of how government has grown in size and power over its existence. It's a linear (if not geometrical) progression toward a police state. And if you're comfortable with that, feel free to move to Russia or even Britain. I'll continue to fight this trend by our legal system, and with deadly force when the time comes.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Reclaimer77 on 6/22/08, Rating: 0
RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Ryanman on 6/22/2008 1:34:13 AM , Rating: 3
At no point did I suggest that I'm a badass, that I'm a "rebel", that me arguing with people such as yourself makes my genitals larger or that it matters to anyone.

Nor did I say Bush invented wiretapping. If you notice, I spoke of the entire history of the United States as a whole, from the Civil War, to the New Deal, to WWII, to now. There has been a trend showing the increase in government power. By mincing my words and quoting select passages, you dodge the main question I put forth.

As you said I'm a "kid". I was an idiot who believed god existed back when Clinton was getting sucked off by Lewinski. And you making this into a personal attack about my age when you can't even muster respect and coherence speaks volumes about not only yourself, but people who accept what is told to them.

And as I also said in my reply, that was of course an extremist argument. My main question is: "WHAT if anything will get people to stop accepting domestic surveillance as a necessary evil to prevent terrorism". Our forefathers are rolling in their graves while the American public stares at the TV and continues to be apathetic about their constitutional rights being "raped".


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Reclaimer77 on 6/22/2008 5:02:33 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
"WHAT if anything will get people to stop accepting domestic surveillance as a necessary evil to prevent terrorism"


The freedoms we enjoy go both ways. The terrorist living here and learning how to fly planes into buildings were also enjoying our freedoms. How can you possibly stop that without legislation like the Patriot Act and wiretapping ? Would you rather we just rounded up all the dark looking people and throw them in internment camps WWII style ? Thankfully we have a better way now.

The freedoms we enjoy today could very well be because Lincoln, in an effort to save this country, completely discarded the Constitution and did what he had to do to secure the union.

quote:
Our forefathers are rolling in their graves while the American public stares at the TV and continues to be apathetic about their constitutional rights being "raped"


I think our forefathers would be damned proud today, and I don't care one bit for your over exaggerating doom and gloom outlook. America has helped defeat fascism. It took 40 years to defeat, mostly, Communism. Here we are 200 years later, after all the wars, death, pain. Triumphant. We stand alone in the world, and everyone knows it. We are the direct embodyment of the principles they left us with.

Do we not have freedom, liberty, equality, and opportunity? All that didn't come from a single piece of paper. All of that can't, and wont, be brought down by a 4 or 8 year term of the President.

Either go live somewhere else, or build a time machine so you can go back 200 years and live like they did. I guess I'm content to be an " apathetic " American who realizes wire tapping isn't the end of the world, and won't effect my life. Because I KNOW why they are doing it. Its to PROTECT me, and the ones I love.

I respect your opinion. I don't like the IDEA of wirtapping either. But people like you who want to pretend the world is Hello Kitty and hold onto ideals while stark realities are presented don't do anyone any good.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By Polynikes on 6/22/2008 5:55:20 PM , Rating: 3
You think our forefathers would be "damned proud" of our current government?

State's rights: died with slavery.

The federal government having limited power? It's practically limitless now. We have an extremely strong central government, which is exactly what the founding fathers DIDN'T want.

Security? I know at least one founding father who wouldn't like today's security situation. You've probably read this quote 800 times, but here, you can read it again:
quote:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

- Ben Franklin


By Reclaimer77 on 6/22/2008 7:48:52 PM , Rating: 1
Ummm wasn't Ben Franklin also the one who said " The Constitution is not a suicide pact " ??


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By masher2 (blog) on 6/22/2008 12:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
> "Lets say that when people need to resort to extremist arguments like this, that they in fact, HAVE no argument"

But, Reclaimer, many governments have existed which allowed its elite to do essentially anything they wished, including rape and murder ordinary citizens with no fear of recourse.

Now, one must ask oneself why such has never happened here in the USA. Do you believe we're genetically superior to the rest of the human race? If not, you have to accept that certain social ethics exist which prevent the government from gaining that much power.

From that, a wise person arrives at the attitude of the previous poster. Allowing the government to restrict certain rights is a slippery slope that ultimately slides down to despotism and oppression.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By EricMartello on 6/22/2008 11:29:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I can say with a high degree of certainty that there are many "elites" who live above the law. I have no doubt that there are people here in the USA who can get away with things that would normally mean a jail sentence for the "common man".

Even though times have changed since our forefathers created the Constitution, the underlying principles of the Constitution are still applicable today. I don't think that the people standing by, allowing terrorism or whatever the "flavor of the day" threat is, is a valid basis for altering the foundation of what the USA was built upon.

You got laws like the DMCA, the ISPs blocking Usenet access, law enforcement being allowed to operate 'outside the law' and beyond established protocols...sign of the times. These things should not be taken lightly, yet to many of us, it's just another headline to read and forget about in a week or two.


By nstott on 6/23/2008 8:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually, I can say with a high degree of certainty that there are many "elites" who live above the law. I have no doubt that there are people here in the USA who can get away with things that would normally mean a jail sentence for the "common man".


Especially if your a Kennedy. Just ask Teddy (Don't ask Mary Jo Kopechne; she's not available for comment).


By JonnyDough on 6/23/2008 5:25:59 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the rape is already being done, just not to American citizens, and possibly not by Americans. But if we transport POWs to a third party country and THEY do it, then it is just like us doing it. This crap has been going on for years and Americans seem oblivious to it. We talk about "the government" as if it's a third party, when democracy is supposed to be "we the people" aka we are the government. We have no control over what our military is used for, and we have very little say in how our tax dollars are spent. It's ALREADY time for a revolution, America just hasn't realized it yet. It will take much more to wake us up, starting with our liberties being taken away. The revolution will come, it is just going to take more governmental bullcrap before Americans realize that they've been bought. 6 billion people on earth, and a few men are able to run around doing as they please to whomever they like. Do you honestly think that the heads of the "greatest nation on earth" aren't doing the same? Anyone who isn't suspicious and defiant has chosen to be ignorant and therefore is just as responsible. There is power in numbers, but if the majority is complacent then there is nothing to fear. A secret comes out in the press, and a limited number of people hear it. It would take EVERYONE hearing ALL the secrets to realize how corrupt the American Government really is.

As long as we have our beer and entertainment who cares if we have privacy/civil liberties/and the money we rightfully earned, right?


By Icelight on 6/23/2008 11:05:22 AM , Rating: 2
Lets say the Government passes a law allowing all of its employees to rape any person they choose.

Let's say the President has a nuclear bomb in his hand and has taken hostage everyone you know. He will detonate the bomb (and everyone you know) unless you let him wiretap you! What would you do?!

See, anyone can make extreme, exaggerated examples.


By nstott on 6/23/2008 8:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ryanman: Lets say the Government passes a law allowing all of its employees to rape any person they choose.


I thought they already have that law; it's called the Bill Clinton Stress Relief Act, or "Clinton's Law." Just ask Juanita Broaddrick.

When Clinton was caught having FBI files collected on Republicans and other political enemies, the mantra was that it was a "bureaucratic snafu." Subject changed.

How about the democrats beloved Franklin D. Roosevelt? He authorized the interception of ALL communications traffic into and out of the United States the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Woodrow Wilson (D) did the same with communications between the US and Europe during World War I. During these times of war, a warrant wasn't required, so this isn't anything new. Furthermore, FDR and Wilson monitored all communications, even those of US citizens and without any probable cause.

In the modern case, only communications to and from foreigners in terrorism hotbeds and terror suspects in and out of the US are being monitored. Even if they conducted a fishing expedition against a US citizen and found evidence of a crime not related to terrorism, the evidence could not be used in court based on 4th Amendment protections. If not, then where are all of the cases of people caught in NSA fishing expedition drag nets? Where are the White House press releases of your phone sex? The government has always had the ability to tap your phone at any time long before all of this, but it doesn't mean that they do it.

The Bush Administration was applying the same laws that are used against organized crime in order to avoid missing critical information. The same time issue applies to terrorism even more so. Furthermore, the New York Times publishes classified information leaked from career bureaucrats in the government every other day, so there are security reasons involved with limiting the knowledge of what the NSA is doing and how they are doing it.

BTW, the term "illegal wiretap" is not correct. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the ACLU to overturn a 6th Circuit Court verdict that said the case was without merit since they could not show any evidence of substantial personal injury to the ACLU or any other plaintiffs in the case based on NSA wiretaps. The legality or illegality was not stated by the 6th Circuit, meaning that the wiretaps have yet to be determined illegal by the courts. Calling the wiretaps illegal is similar to guilty until proven innocent.


RE: Who follows the Constitution Anyways?
By emboss on 6/21/2008 11:02:48 PM , Rating: 3
I'm only mildly concerned about government employees listening in on my personal phone calls. What I am more concerned about is government employees listening in on my business calls. I discuss confidential and financial information on the phone. This information would be very interesting to competitors and to the people running the tenders (the latter of which is sometimes a government department). While I would like to only use encrypted calls for this purpose (eg: Zfone), the rest of the business world doesn't seem to be interested.

If there are no checks and balances in the system, it becomes much easier for an entity to use the government surveillance resources for corporate espionage.

I'm mildly concerned about personal calls mainly because I tell people when I'm going to be away from home, or that the house key is under the third rock from the left in the garden. While I would like to believe that such information wouldn't find it's way to criminal elements, it does, and a more widespread wiretapping programme would only make the problem worse.

Basically, it's not the government I'm concerned about. It's government employees.


By Ryanman on 6/22/2008 1:36:42 AM , Rating: 2
That's a legitimate point. I wouldn't be so worried about the government helping your competitors, as it using said information as leverage. Telcom companies are giving into this because they don't want the hassle, but when it takes a little more to persuade the business sector to help the government, I'm sure that Domestic Surveillance will pop back into the picture.


By AntiM on 6/22/2008 11:21:12 PM , Rating: 4
Go back to sleep America. You can trust your government. Sleep, sleep, we are in control. You have nothing to fear. Go back to sleep America. Watch your American Idol and other favorite TV shows, play your video games, do not pay attention to your government. We are in control. Go back to sleep America. You have nothing to fear.


Catching the Enemy
By Photonjohn on 6/21/2008 1:21:32 PM , Rating: 1
If you were President and took an oath to defend the constitution of the U.S., and if you knew things that may never become public about our enemies from our intelligence groups (regardless of their misinformation on some subjects), would you allow free, unhindered enemy communications in our country, a country that possesses the greated communications network in the world, wire and wireless?

For years the government has publicly funded techniques to allow this to happen with the telephone companies and paid for an organization to make sure it doesn't violate ordinary citizens rights. Our Congress has known about this, the same Congress that won't drill for oil in our country but tolerates $4-$5 a gallon of gas.

If you knew terrorist cells existed in our country but couldn't monitor them, or knew that enemies outside the country were collecting money from us and communicating with their kind inside the country, knowing that this might lead to losing a war inside our borders, what would you do?

Get real about what it takes to win a war. It takes everything at your disposal. War is to kill the other poor bastard, I think General Patton said. He did it without spending his time debating about it on the floor of Congress or in the New York Times or at the Democratic Convention.

Your choice, love everybody and lose your freedom, or win the war with all expediency and cunning.




RE: Catching the Enemy
By mrkun on 6/21/2008 1:54:43 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Your choice, love everybody and lose your freedom, or win the war with all expediency and cunning.


Which country are we at war with again?

Not intercepting the communications of American citizens without a warrant (violating the US Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights) = losing our freedoms??


RE: Catching the Enemy
By Ringold on 6/22/2008 4:22:45 AM , Rating: 1
No country, just a powerful ideology.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1213794...

In some cases, though, the lines do blur. Hizbullah, with cells operating globally, is more then a political force; it's a puppet of Iran.

Therefore, an attack by Hizbullah on Canada would equate to an attack on Canada by Iran. As everyone should be aware, Canada, for all defensive purposes, might as well be America with our open borders and the fact we share this huge mass of land. In such a situation, the OP could easily identify a nation we'd be in at least an undeclared war on; Iran, by way of Canada and Hizbullah. (That only applies to Hizbullah though, which is a whole different animal than Al Qaeda)

Lincoln, Roosevelt, and to a lesser degree every president since Roosevelt has had to deal with the issue of violating some parts of the constitution in order to ensure that the overall document survives or remains relevant moving forward. I'm not passing judgment, just pointing that much out (as have others).


RE: Catching the Enemy
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/22/2008 1:06:50 PM , Rating: 1
I'd say be glad we arent rounding up every arab and muslim and throwing them into camps like was done to the Japanese in WW2. We seem to have come a long way since then. Wire tapping is absolutely tame in comparison.


RE: Catching the Enemy
By JonnyDough on 6/23/2008 5:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
Since we're making comparisons how about we relate this to the cold war instead? I think we'll throw you in jail for saying crap against the U.S. government in previous posts and on the telephone. We heard you say something bad in a convo with someone, but we won't take it public and discuss who it might have been. But just so you know, if you've contacted anyone who we also suspect we'll be sure to round them up and hold them without a warrant for an indeterminable amount of time as well. Camps? Try "undisclosed location." How do you like that you commie scum?

When making comparisons, it is important to look at ALL parts of history, otherwise your point might be made invalid. This is not akin to WW2 as much as it is to the cold war when we spied on our own citizens, labeled them, and then hung them for treason because we were afraid of every American citizen. You only say "muslim" and "arab" because now you think that terrorists are arab.

NEWSFLASH:

The KKK is active.
Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist, and most terrorists are DOMESTIC. Get this through your heads people. 911 was a one time deal, and we have killed THOUSANDS of people overseas for every American that has died since 911 due to this "war". I'm sorry, I thought we were fighting Al Queida. why are we in Iraq again? Oh yeah, that's right...weapons of mass destruction.


RE: Catching the Enemy
By masher2 (blog) on 6/23/2008 12:29:00 PM , Rating: 1
> "we have killed THOUSANDS of people overseas for every American that has died since 911 due to this "war". "

3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks. Just counting those, a death toll of "thousands" for every one would mean a minimum of six million people killed. Whoops.

Even if exclude the death toll of 9/11 itself, we've lost 4,000 people in Iraq. That works out to 8 million people we've supposedly killed. Whoops again!

> "when we spied on our own citizens, labeled them, and then hung them for treason because we were afraid of every American citizen"

No one was "hung for treason because we were afraid". If you're referring to the Rosenberg case, they were self-confessed spies, tried for espionage not treason, and executed in the electric chair, not hung. And for very good reason.


Why take it?
By lco45 on 6/23/2008 5:53:03 AM , Rating: 2
You guys over there (US) do know that your government is just the guys you nominate to run things for 4 years right?
Why do you take this kind of crap from them?
Luke




RE: Why take it?
By nstott on 6/23/2008 11:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
You mean taking the kind of "crap" of no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9-11 after enacting the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping of terror suspects?


RE: Why take it?
By umerok on 6/24/2008 4:40:42 PM , Rating: 2
We haven't had a terrorist attack since I turned 18 years old (September 17, 2001). Therefore, my reaching adulthood is solely responsible for the lasting security America has enjoyed over the past 6.5 years. You're welcome.


RE: Why take it?
By nstott on 6/24/2008 8:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
[D]umerok said: We haven't had a terrorist attack since I turned 18 years old (September 17, 2001). Therefore, my reaching adulthood is solely responsible for the lasting security America has enjoyed over the past 6.5 years. You're welcome.


This is a non-argument unless you can show evidence as to how you turning 18 has any relationship to terrorist attacks in the US. Some guy won the lottery a few days ago. Did he win because (a) he bought a ticket with the winning numbers or (b) I clipped my toenails that day? Go study logic and the scientific method before making stupid comments.

The Patriot Act and NSA wiretaps have given the Bush Administration the resources necessary to catch terrorists inside and outside the US since 9-11, thereby disrupting terrorist attacks. A partial list of terrorists caught between 9-11-2001 and 6-4-2007 is here:

http://wcbstv.com/topstories/Terrorism.New.York.2....

quote:
Foiled Terrorist Plots Since 9/11 (CBS/AP):

Some of the cases of plots that U.S. authorities say they have foiled since Sept. 11, 2001 include:

December 2001: Richard Reid, a British citizen and self-described follower of Osama bin Laden, foiled an attempt to blow up a Paris-to-Miami flight with explosives hidden in his shoes. He pleaded guilty in 2002.

May 2002: Jose Padilla is arrested in Chicago on a return trip from Pakistan. Initially held as an enemy combatant and accused of planning to build a "dirty bomb," he was formally charged with aiding foreign jihadists in a Miami court in 2005. His trial began May 14.

September 2002: The "Lackawanna Six," American citizens of Yemeni descent living near Buffalo, N.Y., are arrested for allegedly having attended an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks. The six pleaded guilty in 2003 to providing material support to a terrorist organization.

May 2003: Iyman Faris of Columbus, Ohio, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kashmir, pleads guilty to supporting al-Qaida. He was accused of planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. He is sentenced to 20 years.

June 2003: In Virginia, the FBI charges a group of men with being part of a conspiracy to support holy war overseas. In all, 11 men eventually were convicted in what the government described as a "Virginia jihad network" that used paintball games as a form of training.

August 2004: U.S. authorities issue alert, announce evidence of a years-long plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J. They later accuse plotters of also planning attacks in England. Eventually, five men pleaded guilty in London, where alleged ringleader Dhiren Barot was convicted. At least one other man is awaiting trial.

August 2004: Two men are arrested on the eve of the Republican Convention in New York for allegedly plotting to blow up a busy subway station. James Elshafay, a U.S. citizen, eventually pleaded guilty and testified against the other man, Shahawar Matin Siraj, a Pakistani. Siraj was sentenced to 30 years in prison; Elshavy to five.

August 2004: Authorities arrest two leaders of a mosque in Albany, N.Y., and charge them with aiding in a purported plot to buy a shoulder-fired grenade launcher to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat. The former imam of the Masjid As-Salam mosque, Kurdish refugee Yassin Aref, and Mohammed Hossain, a mosque founder, were later found guilty to counts relating to money laundering and conspiracy.

June 2005: A Pakistani immigrant and his American-born son in Lodi, Calif., are arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI about the younger man's training at a jihadist camp in Pakistan. Hamid Hayat, the son, was found guilty of supporting terrorism and lying to the FBI. He is seeking a new trial. The case against Umer Hayat, the father, ended in a mistrial; he later pleaded guilty to lying to a customs agent about trying to carry $28,000 into Pakistan.

August 2005: Four California men, one the founder of a radical Islamic prison group, are indicted for allegedly conspiring to attack Los Angeles-area military bases, synagogues and other targets. The men have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

February 2006: Three men are arrested in Toledo, Ohio, for allegedly providing material support to terrorists. One of the men is accused of downloading videos on the use of suicide-bomb vests.

April 2006: Two Georgia men are charged with material support of terrorism after allegedly videotaping buildings in the Washington area, including the Capitol and the World Bank, and sending the video to a London extremist active on jihadist Web sites.

June 2006: The FBI announces the arrests of seven men in Miami and Atlanta in what officials called the early stages of a plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, and destroy FBI offices and other buildings. All pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

July 2006: U.S. authorities announce the arrest of Assem Hammoud, a Lebanese man they claim was plotting to bomb New York City train tunnels to flood the financial district.

March 2007: A Pentagon transcript is released indicating that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to that attack and a string of other terror plots, including that of Reid, during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

May 2007: Six men were arrested in an alleged plot to unleash a bloody rampage on Fort Dix in New Jersey. Five are charged with conspiring to kill military personnel and could face life in prison if convicted. The sixth faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of weapons charges.

June 2007: Four Muslim men planned to destroy John F. Kennedy International Airport, kill thousands of people and trigger an economic catastrophe by blowing up a jet fuel artery that runs through residential neighborhoods. Three men were arrested and one was being sought in Trinidad.


Neo-cons????
By A Mad Pole on 6/23/2008 9:51:48 AM , Rating: 2
"Neo-cons can make a reaonable argument for some of their surveilance stuff, but this retroactive immunity crap is a joke"

Hmm, I thought that it is the Democrats who are in the control of both the House and Senat, not the neo-cons.




RE: Neo-cons????
By JCY on 6/23/2008 11:11:57 AM , Rating: 2
Both are right wing from my perspective, so the choice seems more of the degree of neo-con when looking at Democrats and Republicans. When compared with other multiparty governments in Europe.


RE: Neo-cons????
By nstott on 6/23/2008 9:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
You have no clue what "neocon" means. Why not just call them "Zionists" instead like the people in the Middle East do to anybody they perceive to be an enemy? Actually, "neocon" is the new "Zionist" over there too.

Neocons, or new conservatives, are such because they mix in some of their liberal roots with the conservative principles. The traditional conservatives, occasionally called paleocons or old conservatives, are far more "right-wing." One example is Pat Buchanan:

http://www.buchanan.org/

Most Republicans in Congress and Bush are not neocons. Wikipedia actually has a decent entry on the movement (one of the few cases).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neocon

Also, go take a look at The Weekly Standard to read the neocon perspectives directly from the horses' mouths:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/

The paleocon perspective can be found at The American Conservative:

http://www.amconmag.com/


RE: Neo-cons????
By A Mad Pole on 6/24/2008 11:21:46 AM , Rating: 2
"Both are right wing from my perspective"

So you must be quite a lefty if the US Democrats are "right-wing " to you.

Ever lived in a communist-run country? Try it first before praising the left.


Mark Twain said it best
By majBUZZ on 6/21/2008 10:13:48 PM , Rating: 3
"My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its
institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the
substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and
care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its
mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be
comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and
death." - From "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" - Mark
Twain(aka Samuel Clemens)

"First God created idiots, this was for practice. Then he made
congress." - Mark Twain(aka Samuel Clemens)




Wiretapping??
By jhb116 on 6/21/2008 12:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
The term "warrantless wiretapping" used very freely when this first broke - at least concerning how the telecons played in the matter? All the telecons did was provide records of who called whom and where a persons I-net traffic went - at least according to wiki. Wiretapping, at least in my mind, is a very specific activity of actually listening in on conversations and possibly recording them. This was lumped under the term warrantless wiretapping becuase it did allow the NSA to conduct warrantless surv. on suspected terrorists. The term "warrantless wiretapping" was thrown around to put a draconian spin that would illicit strong emotions against the administration for anything that had to do with this directive.

I'm not saying that providng the records was right or wrong, however, I'm alot less worried about the NSA knowing who I called versus listening to me talk dirty to my wife will I'm on travel.

When it comes to right or wrong - remember that companies are making fortunes on your credit information (certainly much more sensitive for most people) and tracking your web habits which is part of the information the NSA wanted. Again - I'm much less worried about the NSA doing this versus some company that only wants to make a buck any way it can.

It's a sad day when we trust DoubleClick spyware more than the NSA.




Voting from the rooftops
By Howard on 6/21/2008 1:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
It was an inevitability.




By zBernie on 6/23/2008 1:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
Thankfully the vote was a bipartisan 239-129. The same warrantless wiretaps have been used by Clinton and other presidents. Now since a Republican is in the Whitehouse, lefties whine about constitutionality in order to undermine the president. Thankfully, the vast majority of congressmen have set politics aside in the interest of our nation.




What a joke.
By theflux on 6/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: What a joke.
By theflux on 6/22/2008 3:11:53 AM , Rating: 1
Rated low. What a surprise. Bothered that your favorite representatives talk the talk, but then do nothing to stop the president's abuse of power?


Correct the article.
By ProofReader on 6/21/2008 9:39:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
accusing communications providers of assisting the Bush Administration in an illegal, post-9/11 surveillance program


The judiciary has not determined that the surveillance was illegal.

The author is being irresponsible by making such a statement as if were fact, rather than his opinion.




No Problem
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: No Problem
By GarfieldtheCat on 6/21/2008 10:24:02 AM , Rating: 4
Hate to tell you, but no one has to (in fact, they are required not to) follow an illegal order. If a cop tells you do do something obviously illegal, are you really going to do it? I didn't think so.

The telco's have know this was illegal for 30 years now (since FISA passed). It's black and white, and been around for a long time. They have plenty of lawyers to tell them this. They knew it, and knowling broke the law. And you want them to get off? Do you support Enron exec's getting off? Or regular criminals as well?

So basically, you are support the power of the government (specifically the President) to overrule the law whenever they feel like it, with no consequences. Is that what you really want? What happened to a nation that had to follow it's own laws? Did Congress pass a bill declaring Bush a King, and above that law that I missed?


RE: No Problem
By abzillah on 6/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: No Problem
By Ticholo on 6/21/2008 11:54:49 AM , Rating: 2
So because they "took the money", they're less guilty?
Or it's because the government was the one "handing them the money"?
Oh, wait! The government is the people, so the people paid the companies! They should sue themselves!!!


RE: No Problem
By Some1ne on 6/21/2008 3:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just like you wouldn't do anything if the cop tells you to do when illegal, but if you have two choices of doing what the cop says and you get benefits, or you don't do anything the cop says and he bothers your for the rest of your life, we would choose the easier route.


Just because following the order and taking the reward/payout/bribe is more convenient, that doesn't make it right.

People/business entities are just as obligated to disobey unjust orders and laws as they are to follow the just ones. And if ordered to do something illegal, then yes, they should refuse to do it, even if it means that the person giving the orders may attempt to punish them for it. That's what the judicial system is for. The government orders you to do something illegal, you refuse on the grounds that it is illegal, and then if the government tries to penalize you for refusing, you take them to court for both the initial illegal order, and for any retalliation that they tried to exact.


RE: No Problem
By lco45 on 6/23/2008 6:05:36 AM , Rating: 1
No abzillah,
If the government of your country sends some guys around to the head office and says "hey, we know it's illegal, but we really want to catch these bad guys", you should say "oh, it's illegal? How dare you ask us to do it then?".
Then the people who did the asking should go to court for breaking the law.
The laws are there because they are the laws the people want, and the current government shouldn't ask people to break them for any reason. The current government CAN ask the congress or parliament if it would be OK with everyone if the laws were changed, but they can't just go ahead and ignore them.

Luke


RE: No Problem
By nstott on 6/23/2008 11:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
Please go study US history and law before posting anymore sophomoric nonsense.


RE: No Problem
By emboss on 6/21/2008 11:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Did Congress pass a bill declaring Bush a King, and above that law that I missed?


Wasn't that the Patriot Act? :)

Anyhow ... IMO the immunity clause is redundant. If the telco made sure that all the legal i's had been dotted for the wiretaps, then they have nothing to fear from the lawsuits. If they didn't, then they broke the law and in the true spirit of the US legal system should be taken to the cleaners.


RE: No Problem
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/21/2008 1:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
What is legal and what is illegal is up to the government to decide. I enjoy that people seem to think that following government mandate to provide phone records to the government was "illegal" however it has not yet been proven in a court of law to be infact illegal. As far as the law is concerned right this second, the Telco's were legally required to produce the documentation at the request of the government.

Pending the results of the countless lawsuits against the government and telco's nothing is illegal or legal quite yet. Granting the telco's immunity is the only protection they have should later on the courts decide that the request was illegal. If you were the telco's, it is not within your right to determine what is legal and what is illegal. You abide by all government requests and then challenge them in court later over the legality of the request. But as we know this takes years to determine legality.


RE: No Problem
By wrekd on 6/21/2008 3:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What is legal and what is illegal is up to the government to decide.


Um, in spitit, I think that is exactly the situation the founders where trying to avoid.

Yay for totalitarianism!


RE: No Problem
By nstott on 6/24/2008 12:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
No. That's what all governments do. Since the US government is of and by the people through a democratic process, it is not totalitarian in this case. Do you really think the US courts are part of the private sector?


RE: No Problem
By Some1ne on 6/21/2008 4:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I enjoy that people seem to think that following government mandate to provide phone records to the government was "illegal"


If the mandate was obtained in an illegal fashion, then following it is illegal. Specifically, granting a wiretap is *supposed* to require a warrant to be issued. And getting a warrant issued is supposed to involve a judge reviewing any evidence that exists in favor of putting the wiretap in place, and then deciding whether the evidence justifies the wiretap or not. If the party requesting the wiretap does not have sufficient evidence to make it appear justified to an impartial third-party, then they have no right to be putting the wiretap in place. And if they have not been granted the legal right to put one in, then putting one in is illegal. It's as simple as that.

Just because some high-level government official decides "warrants are inconvenient, so I'm just going to start passing out mandates requiring them as I see fit", that doesn't make the process legal (and more importantly, it doesn't make it just, for that matter), and it doesn't make compliance with the mandates legal, either.


RE: No Problem
By emboss on 6/21/2008 10:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As far as the law is concerned right this second, the Telco's were legally required to produce the documentation at the request of the government.


Then, like I said, the telcos don't need an immunity clause. They walk into the courtroom, point at the law that required them to put the tap in place or supply information, and walk out. The fact that there is an immunity clause suggests that the telcos didn't do enough checking of the requests.

The legality/constitutionality of the law or executive order that required the telco to do something is a completely different matter, and irrelevant to the telco lawsuits. Would it be nice if the telcos had challenged the law? Yes. Are they required to? Not at all.

quote:
You abide by all government requests and then challenge them in court later over the legality of the request.


I should certainly hope not. Given that the "government request" is, in this case, coming in the form of an NSA employee requesting a wiretap without a warrant, I'd expect that the telco would tell the employee to get the proper bits of paper in order and come back later rather than just put the wiretap in place and assume everything was OK. If an executive order (say) accompanied the request, then the telco must do it and their hands are clean.

It's exactly like GarfieldtheCat said - if a police officer tells you to do something that is clearly illegal, would you do it? Unless the officer can cite the chapter and verse where it says I'm required to follow the order, I'd tell them to go do it themselves. Similarly, the telcos should have asked where it said they were required to perform an otherwise illegal action, checked to make sure that the statute said what the employee was claiming it said, documented it, and then proceeded. If they followed this process, then they don't need immunity.


RE: No Problem
By masher2 (blog) on 6/21/2008 11:28:31 PM , Rating: 3
> "Then, like I said, the telcos don't need an immunity clause. They walk into the courtroom, point at the law that required them to put the tap in place or supply information, and walk out"

The point of this immunity, however, is to dismiss the need for the telcos to even supply that information. Once that happens, exactly what the government is collecting becomes a matter of public record, which is why they're adamantantly opposed to displaying it.

> "Unless the officer can cite the chapter and verse where it says I'm required to follow the order, I'd tell them to go do it themselves"

You will then wind up with a charge for resisting arrest an-- depending on municipality-- a few bruises and scrapes for your trouble. A vast amount of legal precedent has established that citizens are not allowed to to debate the legality of orders from police personnel.

Personally, I sharply disagree with such rulings, but let's have the proper facts on the table.


RE: No Problem
By emboss on 6/22/2008 1:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You will then wind up with a charge for resisting arrest


Err, nope, because I would not be resisting arrest. I *could* be arrested for violation of whatever statute the officer was attempting to invoke.

quote:
A vast amount of legal precedent has established that citizens are not allowed to to debate the legality of orders from police personnel.


While this is correct, if you read my post I am not claiming that you should debate the legality of a police order.

You are completely within your right to ask any law enforcement official the law under which the order is being made. If they cannot provide the information, you do not have to comply with the order. Once they do provide the information, you still have a somewhat of a choice as to whether you follow the order or not. If you choose not to comply because you believe the order in unlawful, you can/will be arrested (again, the officer must inform you under which law you are being arrested) at which point the lawyers come in to see if the order was legal or not.

Of course, in the real world, it's a heck of a lot easier to simply comply with an illegal order than go through the whole process of getting arrested, going to court, and eventually getting the charges dismissed.


RE: No Problem
By masher2 (blog) on 6/22/2008 11:53:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are completely within your right to ask any law enforcement official the law under which the order is being made. If they cannot provide the information, you do not have to comply with the order. Once they do provide the information, you still have a somewhat of a choice
I'm sorry, but this just isn't correct. As just one recent example, a case I was looking at last week involved a Florida motorist who was (it was later ruled) illegally stopped by a random police check. When the motorist -- who knew the stop was illegal -- refused to give the officer his license, the officer told him to turn around and allow himself to be handcuffed. When the motorist refused this second order, he was pepper-sprayed, wrestled to the ground, and charged with a felony count of resiting arrest.

In court, the felony count was downgraded to a misdeameanor but the charge itself was upheld. The defendant attempted the same erroneous argument you yourself present here-- that he "didn't have to obey illegal orders". The judge explained otherwise, and hit him with a large fine and a year's probation.


RE: No Problem
By emboss on 6/22/2008 11:48:38 PM , Rating: 2
Please read my post again, particularily the bit just after you cut it off. Where I say that if you decide to not obey the order, you can/will be arrested. This appears to be exactly what happened in this case (ref? I can't find anything about it through Google). Though the resisting arrest was (as always) a bad idea. It used to be legal to use anything up to and including lethal force (at which point it became involuntary manslaughter, IIRC) to resist an unlawful arrest. Unsurprisingly, this right has been revoked in most states, with resistance to an unlawful arrest either being classed as resisting arrest or interfering with police duties. Since I can't find the case you're referring to, was the penalty for the failure to present the license or resisting arrest?

By refusing to comply with the order, you are essentially lobbing the ball back into the officer's court. They must now decide between dropping the issue (or negotiating) or arresting you, with the latter having a chance of an official complaint or false arrest suit filed against them if they're wrong. For example, see 1995 OK Civ App 107, 910 P.2d 1087: "They claim [...] being arrested for disobeying a non-existent or unlawful order constitutes the tort of false arrest. We agree."

The range of orders (not requests, for which compliance is completely voluntary) a peace officer can give you is very limited, outside of traffic duties. They are basically just "go away", "stop doing <x>", and "make yourself available for arrest". And, in some states, "show some ID". In a traffic situation, the orders are more varied (and a little bit fuzzily defined in some states), but are still quite restricted.

However - and I suspect this was important in this case - you are often obliged to provide your license to any officer who asks for it if you are in control of a (motor) vehicle. Exact wording varies from state to state. In Florida, it is:
"XXIII 322.15 (1) Every licensee shall have his or her driver's license [...] and shall display the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer or an authorized representative of the department."
and
"XXIII 322.15 (4) A violation of subsection (1) is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318."
(a nonmoving violation is $30, FWIW) So although the stop was unlawful, the order to provide the license was quite possibly not. Again, I'd have to see the judge's wording to see what the actual reason was. However, if the order to produce the license was in fact an unlawful order, and he didn't resist arrest, he would have had a good shot at false arrest.


RE: No Problem
By masher2 (blog) on 6/23/2008 10:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
> " For example, see 1995 OK Civ App 107, 910 P.2d 1087"

That case directly contradicts your tertiary point. From the ruling:
quote:
When arresting a person without a warrant, the officer must inform him of his authority and the cause of the arrest, except when he is in actual commission of a public offense
In other words -- even if the officer doesn't observe you committing a crime he only has to tell you the reason for the arrest. He doesn't have to cite the particular statute or clause. Furthermore, if he believes you've just committed a crime, he doesn't even have to tell you the reason for the arrest.

Now, lets turn to your main point. We're essentially saying the same thing, only disagreeing over the meaning of the word "have". If you don't obey a police order -- even an unlawful one -- you will be given additional orders and be arrested. Continue to disobey and you'll wind up assaulted and/or dead. The proper place to debate the legality of police orders is in the courtroom, not the street.


RE: No Problem
By Ringold on 6/22/2008 4:36:15 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
If a cop tells you do do something obviously illegal, are you really going to do it?


I dont see how the post deserved a +5 with the above logic.

Damn right I'd do what the cop told me to do. Why? He's got a baton, and that isn't enough for him, he's got a gun. If the police are corrupt, my resistance would be all for naught; I could just end up in jail, or mysteriously find myself out of a job or blackballed in other ways.

If people have a problem with what happened in the past, I fail to see the logic in pursuing companies. If what they did was in fact illegal, and they did it at the direction of the government, then here is my logical conclusion: Someone in the government needs to go to jail, because the government was the source of the illegal activity, not the companies. Has my logic train skidded off the tracks?


RE: No Problem
By masher2 (blog) on 6/22/2008 1:00:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Someone in the government needs to go to jail, because the government was the source of the illegal activity, not the companies. Has my logic train skidded off the tracks?
No, people are just at the mercy of their education by Hollywood-movie, which has taught them that government is the ultimate fount of all goodness, whereas corporations are all run by evil, domineering arch-villians.


RE: No Problem
By nstott on 6/23/2008 10:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't illegal, so your understanding of FISA and history is lacking. The US Supreme Court upheld a 6th Circuit decision against the ACLU lawsuit against the NSA. The legality was not determined, which means that it has not yet been determined to be illegal.

FDR had ALL communications in and out of the US monitored during World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Woodrow Wilson had all communications between the US and Europe monitored during World War I.

What Bush is doing with his presidential war powers by monitoring communications to and from foreigners residing in terrorist hotbeds or terrorist suspects in and out of the US is far more limited than what FDR and Wilson were doing (especially if you throw in FDR's Japanese internment camps). This is not "the biggest power grab of any President in US history." The only people who believe that don't know US history.

BTW, the biggest power grab of any President in US history was by Abraham Lincoln. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus and emancipated the slaves. Most believe that he violated the US Constitution when he suspended the writ of habeas corpus, but Article I, Section 9 states:

quote:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.


Hmmm... "...unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."

So what was the intent of the Founders?


RE: No Problem
By ChiefNuts on 6/21/2008 10:40:19 AM , Rating: 2
Well that's what Qwest said, and because of it they lost several multi-million government contracts to long back-haul lines across qwest territory.


RE: No Problem
By Jad77 on 6/21/2008 10:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
Sue the government, now that's rich.


RE: No Problem
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/21/2008 1:39:11 PM , Rating: 2
People sue government agencies all the time. Nothing new.


RE: No Problem
By CuiBono on 6/21/2008 9:46:32 PM , Rating: 4
Like all of you can see now - the bastards that run this county are above the law, so sueing will not work. The law and the cops and all are their tools to keep us down. What are you going to do now?!


RE: No Problem
By LostInLine on 6/23/2008 2:04:34 PM , Rating: 3
Then you should vote for candidates that vow to reduce the size of government.

...like there are any.


RE: No Problem
By masher2 (blog) on 6/23/2008 2:40:31 PM , Rating: 3
There was Ron Paul...unfortunately, he only pulled in about 5% of the vote.


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