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House says yes to 5 more years of Americans surrendering their freedom in exchange for temporary safety

There seems to be a never-ending battle to spy on Americans in the name of "fighting terrorism" in the United States.  This week the U.S. House voted 301-118 to pass the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 5949).  The bipartisan-backed bill will give the government a blank check for 5 more years of warrantless wiretaps.

I. How Did We Get Here?

The FISA mess, like many in the government is a story of what seemed like a good idea being perverted to accomplish the exact thing that it was original intended to prevent -- non-transparent and unaccountable wiretapping.

The FISA was designed to eliminate Fourth Amendment violations, and was put in place in the wake of accusations that President Richard Nixon had used wiretaps to spy on political rivals.  The act only allowed for warrantless wiretaps if one of the parties was "reasonably believed" to be outside the U.S.

While well intentioned, perhaps the FISA left open the door to abuse by putting domestic surveillance mechanisms in place.  While the bill criminalized abuse, with a penalty of up to five years in jail, it has been difficult to prove abuse allegations against ranking federal officials. 

But for its flaws FISA did offer some protections for a while.  Then came the PATRIOT Act of 2001, which dramatically expanded warrantless wiretaps, and the "Protect America Act" of 2007 (Pub.L. 110-55S. 1927).

II. Both Romney and Obama Support Spying on Citizens

As with many kind of domestic spying over the last decade, usage went up and accountability went down.  It's hard to say exactly what the results are -- because the public isn't privileged with that information.

But from past warrantless surveillance program reviews, one could safely assume that the program was often used for its intended purpose (fighting terrorism) -- but also often abused in a variety of ways.

William Binney, a codebreaker for the U.S. National Security Agency -- one of the chief wiretapping intelligence agencies -- quit his post in 2001 when he began to witness abuse; U.S. citizens being illegitimately snooped on.

[Image Source: Djibnet]

He commented in a speech at this year's Defcon hacker conference, "NSA's charter was to do foreign intelligence, and I was with that all the way.  But then they took those systems that I built and they turned them on you, and I'm sorry about that."

Both President Obama and former Mass. Governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are both of the same mind when it comes to this provision and others which will likely lead to spying on American citizens -- they love them.  Both men have vocally supported the extension to the warrantless wiretaps and in support of other kinds of spying, arguing that the need for safety outweighs Americans' need for certain freedoms like privacy.

With such sweeping bipartisan support, the spying on American citizens and erosion liberties is likely to continue to be enjoyed and be advanced in years to come, assuming there is not a radical change in party leadership or some other radical shift in the American political atmosphere.

Source: GOP



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RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 9:31:00 AM , Rating: 2
Please, don't hand me that crap that we have all these terrorists just because we've "invaded" their soil. That's hogwash and you know it.

This is a deeply determined group motivated by ideologies formed thousands of years before America was even an idea.


RE: Yeah, right
By x10Unit1 on 9/14/2012 10:28:55 AM , Rating: 1
Well we have meddled in their affairs for awhile so we can have their resources. If they didn't have resources we need/want, we wouldn't be there.

They maybe be deeply motivated but we poked that hornets nest too many times.

What if the situation was reversed? What if a group of Americans killed 3000+ innocents in another country and that country started to bomb and occupy our streets? Would you be okay with that?


RE: Yeah, right
By jRaskell on 9/14/2012 11:21:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
so we can have their resources.


It's rather misleading to say that. We buy those resources, and those countries are quite wealthy as a result of that. I'm not trying to justify any sort of meddling by any means, just pointing out that your statement is misleading.

quote:
What if a group of Americans killed 3000+ innocents in another country and that country started to bomb and occupy our streets? Would you be okay with that?


I have never, and will never, be ok with the killing of any number of innocent people, for any reason. I am not aware of our country harboring or supporting any domestic terrorist groups, and I would be vehemently against any such support if it exists.


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 11:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
Moral relativism at it's worse.


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/14/2012 11:30:44 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
That's hogwash and you know it.


Really?

You think incidents where helicopters cause innocent civilian casualties aren't going to incite anti Western sentiment?

You don't think that Western spies overthrowing democratically elected leaders to install a puppet government would make the population harbor some degree of ill will?

C'mon, you're smarter than that. Revenge is a powerful motivator.

quote:
This is a deeply determined group motivated by ideologies formed thousands of years before America was even an idea.


How could they hate America before America existed?

Please try not to be a bigot. This has nothing to do with Islam. The overwhelming majority of Muslims live peacefully amongst other societies, pay their taxes, live, laugh and love like everyone and abhor terrorism as much as anyone.

Its like saying Christianity is evil based on the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church. Its a small, fundamentalist minority who are totally committed to their cause - every religion has them, but it doesn't meant the religion itself is the problem.


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 12:22:50 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You think incidents where helicopters cause innocent civilian casualties aren't going to incite anti Western sentiment?


And that leads to 911? Really?

Please just stop, I know what you people have been shoveling since this whole thing started, and nobody is buying it. These people have been radical nutjobs for thousands of years!! Read some goddamn history.

The bodies of those Americans in Egypt are barely cold and you repeat this stupid shit? How dare you. Oh right, I guess the fact that an embassy was on their "holy soil" was justification in your eyes.

You anti-American Liberals just love this issue, because you get to point and say "see? They hate America too!".


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 12:35:32 PM , Rating: 2
You know what, lots of things cause me to have "resentment". But so what? Do you think that's an excuse for their behavior? Does that make it okay? Is this a proper way to voice your concerns or effect change?

These people are evil and they are doing evil things, criminal things, injustices. You can sit there and wring your hands all you want.

I guess that reporter they raped half to death then took a video tape of her being beheaded was just keeping the Arab down right? So she had to die. Go tell her parents how justified they were and how much you understand their motivations.

Thanks Paj, you've set me free from the shackles of civilized society. Next time I have a grievance with someone, I'll just strap a bomb to myself and take out a bunch of innocent people who had NOTHING to do with the offender aside from a lose regional association.

Go to hell.


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/14/2012 5:57:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You know what, lots of things cause me to have "resentment". But so what? Do you think that's an excuse for their behavior? Does that make it okay? Is this a proper way to voice your concerns or effect change?

These people are evil and they are doing evil things, criminal things, injustices. You can sit there and wring your hands all you want.


Once again, you are putting words in my mouth, and jumping to a conclusion I never made. I never sought to justify their actions. If it makes it easy for you to construct falsehoods, then go for it. If you have some insight to add, then I'd love to hear it.

quote:
I guess that reporter they raped half to death then took a video tape of her being beheaded was just keeping the Arab down right? So she had to die. Go tell her parents how justified they were and how much you understand their motivations.


Well, that escalated quickly.

You're seriously going to bring rape into this? I literally have no idea what that has to do with anything.

What is it with American politics and rape lately? Everyone seems to be bandying it about. Is this something I'm missing? Is rape some sort of icebreaker conversation topic in the US? Because it's pretty fucking wrong everywhere else mate.


RE: Yeah, right
By madtruths on 9/14/2012 2:43:16 PM , Rating: 2
"If wise and learned philosophers of the elder world…. Should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this: …She has uniformly spoken among them …the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights; … she has abstained from interference in the concerns of others , even when the conflict has been for principles through which she clings as to the last vital drop that visits the heart."
John Adams

Just so we are clear, I am not a liberal and I do not hate America, but one thing I do greatly dislike are people who would make America something it was never meant to be. If you care to, read up as much as you can on the founding fathers and their beliefs, be it political or whatever and maybe you will understand this.


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/14/2012 3:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And that leads to 911? Really?


I have no doubt that many in the Middle East see the West as an enemy, due to the constant political interference over several decades - the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran, continued support of repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, and Yemen.

Does this excuse terrorism? No, absolutely nothing excuses the killing of innocent people. Does it explain it? Many have said it does.

quote:
These people have been radical nutjobs for thousands of years!! Read some goddamn history.


Every civilization has behaved like nutjobs at some point throughout history. The British Empire committed unspeakable atrocities all over its empire, as did many of the colonial powers. Germany did the same during WW2. Slobodan Milosevic brought Eastern Europe to ruins. Pol Pot, Stalin, the list goes on. And some Muslims are crazy fundamentalists too.

But you are ignorant of history if you think the Islamic world has contributed nothing. While Europe engaged in pointless holy wars during the dark ages, Islamic scientists were devising trigonometry and refining our knowledge of optics, medicine and astronomy.

quote:
The bodies of those Americans in Egypt are barely cold and you repeat this stupid shit? How dare you. Oh right, I guess the fact that an embassy was on their "holy soil" was justification in your eyes.


Please don't bring up straw men again. The death of Chris Stevens in Benghazi is tragic - from everything I have read about him, he was a very intelligent, kind and gifted diplomat, which makes his death, and the deaths of all the embassy staff, all the more tragic.

I don't seek to justify what the perpetrators did, because nothing can. However, I do want to understand what motivated them beyond "Islam is evil and therefore all Muslims are crazy". This is exactly the same simplistic reasoning they deploy against the West. It doesnt solve anything.

quote:
You anti-American Liberals just love this issue, because you get to point and say "see? They hate America too!".


Keep some straw for next time. I know I bang on about the USA a lot on here, but I dont hate it. I despise some elements of it's foreign and domestic policies, but that doesnt mean I hate the USA, or it's people. Its a great country that has given a lot to the world.

I just hate to see the same mistakes being made. After two of the most prolonged, unproductive, costly and ultimately pointless wars of modern times, now Iran is in the crosshairs. When does the madness stop? Do you not tire of war?


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 3:37:31 PM , Rating: 1
???

Before it was America, it was the Jews and Israel. Before that, it was some other group. Are you aware of history? When in the last 1000 years has the Middle East EVER been a region free of hate, bigotry, violence and oppression?

Are you even aware of the history? You obviously cannot be. Anyone blaming America for this seemingly recent rash of Islamic terrorism has some sort of agenda they're pushing, plain and simple.

quote:
However, I do want to understand what motivated them beyond "Islam is evil and therefore all Muslims are crazy".


Talk about straw men? Thanks for pulling that out on me, cause I never went there! Why do people from your side of this debate always insist on calling your opponents racists and bigots?

quote:
But you are ignorant of history if you think the Islamic world has contributed nothing.


See? Where the hell did I say that!!!! WHERE!!!??? FUCK YOU!

quote:
I know I bang on about the USA a lot on here


Yeah you think? I never noticed /sarcasm.


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/14/2012 6:37:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When in the last 1000 years has the Middle East EVER been a region free of hate, bigotry, violence and oppression?

Are you even aware of the history? You obviously cannot be. Anyone blaming America for this seemingly recent rash of Islamic terrorism has some sort of agenda they're pushing, plain and simple.


I would laugh if it wasn't such a tragic question. Where in the world has been free of such turmoil in the last 1000 years? Please don't say Europe.

By contrast, the Ottoman Empire existed for nearly 9 centuries, with the Islamic Golden Age occurring during this period while Europe bickered over religious and territorial wars.

Most countries in the Middle East are young, formed in the 20th Century by carving up the spoils of war after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan... all of them created out of thin air by Western European powers. And with them, came a growth of Arab nationalism. Then they did exactly the same thing with Israel, and I think we can all agree that that isn't going particularly well.

So yes, I have a pretty reasonable understanding of the history.

quote:
Thanks for pulling that out on me, cause I never went there!


No?

quote:
This is a deeply determined group motivated by ideologies formed thousands of years before America was even an idea.


There. You place the blame with the core tenets of Islam, and completely ignore the wealth of contextual or historical factors. Are you even aware of any of the history of the Middle East? From the looks of your poorly constructed jingoistic jibberjabber, it doesn't seem that way at all.

quote:
These people have been radical nutjobs for thousands of years!!


Again. Pretty hard to read it any other way. Unless there's some subtle facet of your argument I'm missing?

I'm not defending the disgusting animals that use the slightest provocation to incite violence that result in the deaths of good men.

But it's important to learn from the situation, so it can be prevented from happening again. And I don't think invading Iran is going to help, I think it will only make things worse.


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 10:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm not defending the disgusting animals that use the slightest provocation to incite violence that result in the deaths of good men.


Except you clearly are. Hello? What exactly do you think we're discussing here?

Whatever, you're just another "blame America first" terrorist apologist. Talked to one, talked to them all.


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/15/2012 12:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Except you clearly are. Hello? What exactly do you think we're discussing here?


Seeking an explanation for behaviour != defending them.

Is that clear enough? You think sending thousands more troops to win a 'hearts and minds' campaign in Iran is seriously going to work?


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2012 12:57:40 PM , Rating: 1
Oh and why did they attack New York fucking City if they were making a "statement" about military occupation? Last time I checked there were no military bases in downtown New York! How was that an act of "revenge"?


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/14/2012 6:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
Last time I checked, the Pentagon is a military base.


RE: Yeah, right
By Reclaimer77 on 9/15/2012 7:36:25 AM , Rating: 2
Once again Paj excuses away thousands of civilian deaths to support his argument that there was some novel and honorable goal on the part of the perpetrators of 911.

You seriously disgust me. Your disdain for my country could not be more clear.


RE: Yeah, right
By Paj on 9/15/2012 11:58:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Once again Paj excuses away thousands of civilian deaths to support his argument that there was some novel and honorable goal on the part of the perpetrators of 911.


Just refuting your original point, and for the third time, I neither said, nor inferred any such thing.


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