Democrats & Liberals Archives

Are You a Spy or Terrorist?

Could you and I be spies and terrorists and not know it? Maybe so. Because our National Security Agency (NSA) is worried about your security it is compiling a huge data base of calls made by telephone customers of ATT, Verizon and BellSouth. The president assures us that we still have privacy. Do you think you could believe him?

The old problem of NSA spying without a warrent has not been resolved. Bush says he is allowed to do this for the security of all Americans - you and me. Ordinary Americans need warrents; President Bush does not.

And now we hear that the situation is much worse than we thought. ATT, Verizon and BellSouth cooperated with the NSA by giving them domestic phone records that, according to the N.Y. Times:

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

Do you feel more secure now? By the way, Qwest did not agree to turn over their records. Wonderful. At least we have one outfit that is concerned with privacy. The others deserve a tongue lashing from you - if you are a customer.

This is domestic surveillance, and many are protesting. Again, from the N.Y. Times:

"Fifty-two members of Congress asked the president to name a special counsel to investigate the N.S.A.'s domestic surveillance programs....

"Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said, 'If they don't get a court order, it's a crime.'"

It's so bad that even super-Republican Newt Gringrich doesn't like it:

"Look, I'm not-Alan, I’m not going to defend the indefensible. The Bush administration has an obligation to level with the American people. And I'm prepared to defend a very aggressive anti-terrorist campaign, and I'm prepared to defend the idea that the government ought to know who’s making the calls, as long as that information is only used against terrorists, and as long as the Congress knows that it’s underway.

"But I don’t think the way they've handled this can be defended by reasonable people. It is sloppy. It is contradictory, and frankly for normal Americans, it makes no sense to listen to these three totally different explanations.

Remember Total Information Awareness, a Pentagon program that Congress stopped in 2003? According to experts, this NSA program appears to be suspiciously like it. However, Bush can not be prevented from doing what he wants by Congress. He is above the law, especially when he is increasing our security. So he continued the program under a different name.

I hope you feel more secure now that your phone calls are contributing to the security of the country. Or do you still feel like a spy or a terrorist?

Posted by Paul Siegel at May 12, 2006 5:40 PM
Comment #147731

Warrant, not Warrent!

Posted by: MMH at May 12, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #147735


Do you feel like a spy or a terrorist?

I don’t…

Posted by: Cliff at May 12, 2006 6:02 PM
Comment #147739

I doubt the government is interested in spying on any of us. What a bunch of narcissists.

Since 9/11, Verizon, BellSouth, and ATT have connected nearly two trillion calls, according to the Washington Post. The lists are stripped of personal information. If you think that someone is looking at you from among those two trillion calls, you must think you are pretty important.

The government is looking for patterns, looking to connect the dots and prevent future terror attacks. If you feel your privacy is violated by a statistical analysis of two trillion calls, you have a much inflated opinion of yourself. It would be funny if you were not so serious.

Posted by: Jack at May 12, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #147740

Didn’t we already go through this with Nixon and Watergate; and the witch-hunts with McCarthy? Why all of a sudden is it OK to wire tap and spy on Americans. Listen, the Bushies can’t even capture Osama, Zaquawi or handle Iraq. Are we willing to give up our precious civil rights to a bafoon who can’t do anything right. If anyone thinks the Bushies are looking for terrorists, rather than looking for anti-neo con sympathizers, there is a Brooklyn bridge for sale.

Posted by: wheredemballs at May 12, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #147745

IT’S NOT ABOUT a “FEELING” or “BEING SAFE” - to quote REPs with regards to illegal immmigration… IT’S AGAINST THE LAW!


You want to build a datatbase of American communication activities - you start a program, and get Congress to approve it and provide oversight.

Let me ask a quetions - to all those sucking Bush’s hind tit:

Bush said that the NSA program was ONLY gathering information on suspected terrorists outside the USA. Does the fact that he LIED about this, does that phase you or are you so drunk on his milk you could care less?

Posted by: tony at May 12, 2006 6:42 PM
Comment #147748

What all this clearly illustrates is the Bush administration’s unwillingness to tell the truth—about anything.

Two years ago, there would be no wiretapping without warrants. Besides, we’ve only been doing this with a couple thousand folks we want to keep an eye on. Then it becomes clear that that isn’t the case, either. Now, it’s tens of millions of domestic phone calls. Everything having to do with the Bush modus operandi is like peeling an onion: secrecy, misrepresentation, distortion, half-truths and just plain lying.

Step by step, day by day, month by month, the lies get bigger, the silence and stone-walling gets more obtuse, the defense of failed policy and criminal activity more strident. The vast majority of Americans are on to them now—the only people they hate worse than Democrats, are Republicans and Congress.

I just pray to God that we can get to the elections in November without the GOP and the Neocons doing something truly desperate to get the sheep to rally around the flag once more: like another war with Iran.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 12, 2006 7:05 PM
Comment #147751

Jack, my worry is indirect. The feds use this today to go after “terrorists” (a somewhat flexible term). How about drug offenders next? One day down the road, we might want to program the NSA computers to flag “evidence” of minors (or gays?) having sex. That would be ok, wouldn’t it?

One of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ better metaphors is that short-term interests exert a sort of “hydraulic pressure … before which even well settled principles of law will bend.”

In courts today, the availability of 4th Amendment protections often depends on whether a person starts off with a “resonable expectation of privacy.” Not surprisingly, prosecutors are going out of their way to establish, bit by bit, that nobody has an expectation of privacy anywhere. Do you want to believe that your phone calls are private (thereby compelling the government to get a warrant based on probable cause before listening in)? Most of us probably still believe that, but it will be increasingly harder to sustain that belief if Bush succeeds in establishing government’s “right” to sift through anyone’s calls at anytime.

Posted by: Homer at May 12, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #147768

Our government as is consists of nothing less than organized crime and a corrupt syndicate that will stop at nothing to remain in power.

Posted by: Confused! at May 12, 2006 8:08 PM
Comment #147773

Wow….it is absolutely amazing that there is the few hangers-on that will justify anything Buscho does ! I certainly don’t believe this has anything to do with arrogance, high opinions of ourselves or anything like that. It is about breaking the f***ing law ! boldly, brazenly and without any concern that he is committing a crime!!!! Self-importance, egotistical….blatant rejection of propriety….to say nothing of making a mockery of the Constituion and its’ principles……..this fool must be stopped.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 12, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #147777

“Bush said the program has been reviewed regularly by the nation’s top legal authorities and targets only those people with “a clear link to these terrorist networks.” - Dec, 2005

Posted by: tony at May 12, 2006 8:37 PM
Comment #147778

It’s incredible that 63% of the U.S. Population is ok with this according to a Thursday night Washington Post-ABC poll. Unbelievable…

Posted by: markw at May 12, 2006 8:41 PM
Comment #147781

Yea - well 63% still think Miller is less filling, tastes great.

never underestimate the level of stupity of large groups of people.

Posted by: tony at May 12, 2006 8:54 PM
Comment #147782

Well if you did not have anything to hide you wouldnt care who listened to your phone calls,would you. And you wonder why 63% are to foolish to understand why this is an issue.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 12, 2006 8:59 PM
Comment #147785

“Well if you did not have anything to hide you wouldnt care who listened to your phone calls,would you. And you wonder why 63% are to foolish to understand why this is an issue.”

Are you saying that as long as there are baseless talking points to support the program, then you’re all for it?

Posted by: tony at May 12, 2006 9:11 PM
Comment #147789


It is not determined if this violates any law. It is trillions of calls w/o names attached. It is a lot like counting cars on the freeway to figure out where and when there is the most traffic. Your privacy has not been violated and no court has decided you even have those sorts of privacy rights.

I really hope this gets to be a big issue. I would like to see this go to the courts for a decision. Let’s see if it IS against the F**king law.

Posted by: Jack at May 12, 2006 9:25 PM
Comment #147790

j2t2, What will you do when this is used to hunt down the right wingers who threaten national security? You realize a left wing government will be back in powere soon don’t you?

Posted by: gergle at May 12, 2006 9:25 PM
Comment #147791

tony, good point.

j2t2, are you saying that 37% of us have somethig to hide from Big Brother? Or that this should be just fine with everyone who has nothing to hide. What exactly are you saying?

Jack, this is more than just counting cars, it is checking on where they are coming from, where they are going, who is driving them, riding in them…it can go on and on.

Posted by: markw at May 12, 2006 9:33 PM
Comment #147795

“It is not determined if this violates any law. “

It goes against the FISA law - notice the word LAW! Come on, read the FISA and tell me how this doesn’t go agaist it.

Also, at first this was just a program to spy on other people in other countries… then it was only other people who might call people in this country… and now we find out that it has parts of the program that only focus on Americans on American soil. WITHOUT WARRANTS. YOUR Administration has lied to us all from the beginning.

Prove to me it follows the law. Prove to me that has served any useful purpose. Prove to me that they are only tracking people’s calls and not listerning in on them.

Posted by: tony at May 12, 2006 9:49 PM
Comment #147797


The president’s just powers are determined by the Constitution. The exact permutations of FISA have not been tested. AND this newest revealation is probably not even covered by FISA.

The way it works is that nobody has to prove to you that it follows the law. The burden is on you. Just as you do not have to prove to me that you didn’t kill someone yesterday.

I sure hope this goes into the courts. Let Congress investigate it. To quote the President, “Bring it on.”

Posted by: Jack at May 12, 2006 10:13 PM
Comment #147798

Let the 2006 congress investigate it.

Posted by: markw at May 12, 2006 10:16 PM
Comment #147803

Fine. Any Congress. I trust that even if the Dems take control, they will have enough integrity to put their country first and follow the constitution.

Posted by: Jack at May 12, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #147804

“The burden is on you.”

No - actually, the burden in on Congress. As far as the power’s of the President go - please be specific. As far as everything I’ve read - you can not tap or track an American citizen’s phone without a court warrant. And in case you want to toss in the “war powers” - the Supreme Court has expressly stated that the right to privacy should be even more protected in a time of war. FISA exceptions are extactly : 72 hours, FISA court warrant, or within 15 days of a declaration of war.

Posted by: tony at May 12, 2006 10:47 PM
Comment #147805

Unfortunatly any investigator of this will be denied clearance to veiw the facts.
Yet anonther master stoke by the puppeteers!

Posted by: Ted at May 12, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #147808

“I trust that even if the Dems take control, they will have enough integrity to put their country first and follow the constitution. “

Why the hell should they!? Bush and the Republicans haven’t!

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 12, 2006 11:22 PM
Comment #147811

So Tim, you advocate dishonesty and mendacity? Good to be on the record about that. And I suppose the reference to the infernal regions is meant to demonstrate your passion to be dishonest and mendacious.

Posted by: Jack at May 12, 2006 11:32 PM
Comment #147815

I believe in fighting fire with fire- mendacity and dishonesty are hallmarks of the Neocons. The American people are too stupid to be honest with according to them—every policy, every action, every move they make is dripping with deceit.

Of course they’re counting on the Democrats being ladies and gentlemen—while they figure out what went wrong for the next screwing.

You see, that’s the problem with stonewalling, lying, claiming the Constitution is just “a goddamn piece of paper”— that’s a direct quote from your moron-in-chief. It drags the whole sticken’ process down, and frankly, if I were in charge, I would make sure that the Necons pay big—the damage they have done maybe irrevocable.

Yeah, you want things on the up and up now, with the Neocons slowly sinking into the cesspool they crawled out of. I think the Dems ought to surprise the hell out of them and be as nasty, vicious and and vengeful as they were in ‘99 when the majority of the people didn’t want an impeachment and the Repubs crammed it through anyway. If you’re going to lie and deceive, do it for a good cause—burying the Republicans alive.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 12, 2006 11:49 PM
Comment #147819


You have some very interesting ideas that you project on others. Just keep writing those things. That is what you are good at.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #147820

Actually, what the American political process is really good at is payback. The Bush administration has been the most venal, vicious, duplicitous group of hacks in recent American history. Their policies have torched the treasury, trashed the Constitution, ignored the suffering of the many and soothed and given succor to the exact groups that don’t need it. They’ve lied, bullied and stolen their way through American history. Whether its the Dems, history or their own party that villifies them won’t matter—they have assured their place on the dustbin of history.

Thanks for your confidence in my writing—coming from a master such as yourself, it means a lot.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 13, 2006 12:11 AM
Comment #147825


You give the Congress too much credit - they truly do not care for the American public. If in fact the Dems take control of the House, AND THIS IS A BIG IF, they have already shown that the only item on the agenda is the impeachment of President Bush. Obviously, writers such as Tim Crow want mediocrity, believe that adultery, grand larceny, petty larceny, destruction of National Archive docs, Medicare/Social Security going broke, the defeat of America by terrorists, undermining of all morality and family values, small companies not being able to get health insurance (just in the paper today!), just to name a few - is just what this country needs! To get all of this and more, just vote Democrat in November!

Posted by: LLE at May 13, 2006 12:30 AM
Comment #147826


All joking aside, you can write. I like the alliteration. We are not speaking of the validity of the sentiments, you understand.

The flow and parallel, however, would be better thus -

…ignored the suffering of the many to sooth and succor the privileged.

You get the idea.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 12:35 AM
Comment #147827


Thanks for the pointer—I’ll take it under advisment.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 13, 2006 12:38 AM
Comment #147829

“Or do you still feel like a spy or a terrorist?”

Oh, it seems more than clear that a great many of us lefties are already considered terrorists to these Neocon Bushies. In fact, it seems that “tens of millions” of us are the kind of terrorists (or should we say, terr-ists?) they need to monitor.
To further back this impression up, we can read stories like this one — about how those who are paid to defend this criminal president are now being armed with automatic weapons in order to threaten any protesters — and how for some strange reason, these “guards” (or should we say, goons?) believe they need to keep their finger right on the trigger when in our presence.

“I doubt the government is interested in spying on any of us. What a bunch of narcissists.”

Yeah, and we’re the kind of “narcissists” that feel so strongly about protesting against these lying scumbag dictators (Cheney/Bush) and their minions, that we’ll still come out to stand and face their goons, even when they threateningly wave automatic weapons in our direction for no good reason. We’re that vain and self-absorbed.

“The government is looking for patterns, looking to connect the dots and prevent future terror attacks.”

Sure, that’s right. Patterns. By looking at data from “tens of millions” of Americans who they consider “terr-ists”. FACE IT, JACK. BUSH (for the umpteenth freaking time) LIED. He claimed they weren’t looking at Americans. Then only some Americans who made overseas calls. Then all overseas American callers. Now it’s data mining of the phone records and e-mails of “tens of millions” of Americans.
Pray tell Jack, when-oh-when is what they’re doing going to cross a Constitutional line for you? Or is the case that when gripped by irrational fear, is there no longer any line for Republicans at all?

“The president’s just powers are determined by the Constitution. The exact permutations of FISA have not been tested. AND this newest revealation is probably not even covered by FISA.”

This really is just nonsense. Every bit of it.

According to Jonathan Turley (who is a Constitutional scholar and a George Washington University law professor):

“This is one of the most serious constitutional crises that we’ve ever faced in the country.”

“There’s no limiting principle to that theory. The president inevitably ends up a maximum leader in a system of limited powers.”

“It is a crime to engage in domestic surveillance without a warrant. It’s an express provision in a federal law. The White House is … not disagreeing with that provision, they’re just saying that Mr. Bush trumps it with some inherent authority.”

That is what he has said previously, and Turley just appeared as guest on MSNBC’s Countdown to talk about the legal issues with the NSA’s collecting of “billions of phone calls” of “tens of millions of Americans”, and he was describing how this isn’t just a violation of FISA laws, but also a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, which stated that phone companies could not give out any information on their customers calling habits. He then said: “If what was reported in USA TODAY is true, it seems to me, once again to violate Federal Law.” At the end of the segment Turley also said: “I’ve spent a day now looking for the possible authority that they would use for this operation and I’ve come up with nothing.”

So, if I have to choose between what you are saying, and the opinions of a highly respected Constitutional scholar, I’m afraid I’ll have to go with those of Professor Turley.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 13, 2006 12:57 AM
Comment #147831

Oh, and by the way Jack, it seems we haven’t heard everything about all this illegal activity yet — but we will:
NSA Whistleblower To Expose More Unlawful Activity: ‘People…Are Going To Be Shocked’

Tim, great posts!

Posted by: Adrienne at May 13, 2006 1:03 AM
Comment #147833

I was about to author a post here on this subject, when I saw Paul beat me to it. Some may be shocked that a blue column writer has a significantly different perspective:

The existence of a database of trillions of phone call records is not an outrage. A cause for concern in the hands of this Administration, yes; but an outrage, no.

In contrast to the clearly illegal wiretapping program uncovered a few months ago, this program does not record any details of the calls. But really my concern in either case, is not with the surveillance so much as with its potential misuse. If our government was composed of gods, it wouldn’t really be troubling if every secret was known, but it is of course composed of human beings so requiring documented justification for surveillance is certainly reasonable. If the government has to be more open about its activities, that prevents it from abusing the privilege. When secrecy is rampant already, I don’t buy the argument that eliminating oversight is necessary for security. Indeed security is damaged if insiders become compromised through bribery or self-interest, and that secrecy is used to protect those from whom it is supposed to protect us. The FISA solution made a lot of sense by providing oversight without wide knowledge, and so the Administration’s bypassing of it requires more public oversight in spite of any perceived risk.

This newly revealed program which gives access to a database which can be queried if real terrorist numbers are discovered, sounds like a very defensible program in the right context, but Bush defenders should hardly be surprised that it arouses major suspicion in the context of a secretive administration which regularly flouts the law, misleads the public, and manipulates the press. Still I want to be careful about flying off the handle and declaring that the existence of this database is an outrage. It is not. Misuse of the database might range from somewhat unethical to truly outrageous, but the potential for it to be used only in the interest of security does exist, and I wouldn’t want to deny the method forever and for all time simply based on my mistrust of Bush and his minions.

What I really want is a government I can trust. Imagine a program where every infant born or immigrant to our shores got DNA sequenced and that information was retained in a secure database for future medical decisions and law enforcement. That would frighten most libertarians and civil libertarians to the core, and with good reason. But ideally it would be a wonderful asset if guarding against its misuse were taken seriously, and we could feel assured that it would only be used appropriately. This would be great, not only for victims, but for the wrongly accused, where DNA evidence could exonerate them. And what a deterrent to crime when you know that any found DNA can pinpoint you to a scene or weapon. In the long run it would be worth developing the system to guard the system against misuse, in order to benefit from it. I’m not going to push for it any time real soon, however.

Having a searchable database which records billions of phone call records is pretty small potatoes on the Big Brother meter, certainly compared to my DNA suggestion above. Rather than going ape over its existence, I believe the appropriate response is to continue to demand accountability by the executive branch for how it uses any such program. There may be cases where approval of further surveillance needs to be done by a secret court such as FISA, but approval needs to come from independently created sources which shouldn’t be too chummy with those making the requests, and there is a strong case to be made that FISA is not sufficiently independent. That the NSA bypassed the required step in the earlier revealed wiretapping, in spite of that, feeds the distrust that more and more Americans are feeling for the current crop of leaders.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 13, 2006 2:17 AM
Comment #147840

Jack is right here so far what has been revealed is not illegal.

I’ve stated (in the red column) the Republican defense is going to be that the phone list data was VOLUNTEERED by AT&T, Bell South and Verizon. It is NOT illegal for the NSA to accept volunteered info.

Adrienne brings up an interesting article, let’s see what else they uncover. There does seem to be a group of bureaucrats who feel that there is something wrong going on here. We owe it to ourselves to listen.

Posted by: gergle at May 13, 2006 4:13 AM
Comment #147873

I’ve been reading in several articles that the NSA actually purchased the records… and that would imply that the major phone companies are vendors/contractors hired to do a job for the NSA… which would imply that the NSA is actively aquiring this information - not the same thing as volunteering.

Is this correct?

Posted by: tony at May 13, 2006 11:31 AM
Comment #147877

This reminds me of how things started in the McCarthy days and during the viet nam war. Many said, “we don’t mind giving up our civil rights, if it makes us free” or “if I don’t have anything to hide, why should I worry about people reading my mail or listening in on my calls or talking with my co-workers?” Like sheep or a society who is so mesmerized by buying things and TV and fantasy life in movies that they are sound asleep or something.

Because, my friends, if that is allowed, then as stated above, if I talk with someone who talked with someone who might have talked wth someone who is Islamic, then I may get a visit or a tap on my phone……etc, then all of a sudden I am wisked away, like the German who was wisked away and tortured and held without any rights? Or those countless numbers whom the red cross is refused access to? Or again, what if the anti-choice people decide they want a list of all women who have had abortions? or who is gay? or the NRA pays someone to give them the list of all those who support gun control? They have already admitted that they spied on QUakers and peace groups. This is a very very slippery slope.

But what scares me the most is the level of apathy of most folkes in congress. I cannot believe how active and energiszed they were talking about impeaching someone for committing adultery in the oval office BUT for starting a war based on lies, giving huge huge contracts to one company which happens to be previously run by our VP and also the dad of our Pres, having secret energy meetings with only big oil, outting a CIA operative to punish her husband for not toting the party line and blatantly spying on anti-war groups and now, we find out, potentially spying on every american and denying with arrogance and bullying attitudes that they can do anything they want under “we are fighting terrorism”—congress does nothing, except for a few lone members? To me that is the outrage! what will it take for congress to take action?

Posted by: judye at May 13, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #147879

I dont think I am a spy or a terriorist, and if I was being spied on I hope my country would be able to do a good enough job to hide it from me.

Sidney Brisko sure looks like she has alot of fun it might be cool.

Posted by: Bernie at May 13, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #147922

I don’t care what they they say; it’s that they have done it! Once compiled the database can used for anything! Ever if the original purpose was for “national security”. If I can I’m going to Qwest; maybe that sends the wussies at ATT a strong message about my position.

Posted by: jerryplainocountryboy at May 13, 2006 1:34 PM
Comment #147945


When/if this goes to the Supreme Court and they say it crossed a Constitutional line, then I will say it has. Constitutional scholars can debate it all they want (I saw Constitution Scholar John Yoo say it was okay, so we can have dueling experts) but it ain’t over till the Supreme Court says it is. Right now, it doesn’t look that way to me and since it still has not been decided, I go with the system to stop the terrorists.

In 1929, SecState Henry Stimson closed down the operation that was trying to break the Japanese codes etc, famously saying “gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” He changed his mind. Every couple of years we get complacent. Then we get trouble.

This time we won’t let the naïve among us prevent us from reading the terrorists’ mail. So BRING IT ON. I welcome the case being brought to court. Come on Dems. I would like to have this settled. Either the President can already do these things, or the Congress will make it possible for him to do so, since we cannot afford not to use our technologies to track terrorists.

You know what you guys should worry about now. Google Earth, or the better systems the NSA has. They can watch people from the sky, so every day you could say they are monitoring every American who leaves his house.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 2:34 PM
Comment #147953

Jack -

Why are you so sure that the NSA spying is so good at fighting terrorism? Any proof? Also, why is it so dangerous to allow Congress to have oversight of this program? Do you really have unending faith that the Bush Administration will do only what they say they will do with this information? Since they lied about it being only focused on suspected foriegn terror suspects, then they lied about it being “very narrow in scope” - why do you assume the lying has stopped?

Again - I can prove that Bush broke the law by applying the FISA law. What can you do to prove that the FISA law does not apply?

At what point did you allow your fear of terrorism to override your love of America? By starting the Iraqi war (based on lies) Bush has cause the death of more Americans than OBL. Why do you so easily give him indifference with the control of your privacy?

Posted by: tony at May 13, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #147958

I would like to know why a bunch of strongly opinionated “no” bodies continually refuse to support our President, our Country.

Their policial agenda’s and corrupt actions require them to destroy any and all sense of patriotism based on their mistake to put an extra dollar in their pockets. (He has it me me me too)

We are not going to have a country if we do not protect it. There are unexplainable forces that can not be reversed - 9/11. I do not understand if you are doing “nothing wrong” and are a honest, respectable human being.

(which I could only assume those that are complaining are, otherwise they would not be paying attention to this issue or emotionally charged by it)

All I can imagine is criminial, illegal, dispicable activity being conversed about on your phone lines that you don’t want anyone to know about???

We Americans - the ones who choose to put our earnings back into the community rather than hourd our money - the 88% of us who are unworthy and uneducated - should be worried about your wives finding out about your cheating ways, the bribes you take, the money you are hiding and aquiring illegally, what a slut your daughter is, what a loser and glorified hoar you son is, the hidden propaganda you expose your children too so they are able to survive, to circulate your money amoungst yourselves and keep out of the hands of hard working intellegence because you are soooo insecure and intimidated by the truth

Oh, yes and the approval of the use of the looking glass theory, self-fulling proficies and psychological warfare you approve of until those activities come into fruision -

my outstanding citizens.

Grow-up and smell the roses - they will be blooming soon. (Hopefully)

But what the heck

- would we do with out the freedom of speech -

- arrest everyone that had an emotion of peace, love and forgiveness in their hearts.

Say a prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ there is still time for you

Posted by: Bernie at May 13, 2006 4:20 PM
Comment #147962


Congress does have oversight. Briefings are available to ALL the members of the intelligence committee AND ALL the leadership of both parties. That means that both Pelosi and Reid are in the loop, at least if they actually bother to attend meetings. Briefing the whole congress just doesn’t make sense and has never been the policy at any time during any Administration. It would be essentially public. Maybe you like to show all your cards when you play poker. I prefer not.

You can prove Bush broke the FISA law according to your standards. You cannot prove FISA laws apply in the way you think. AND the most recent data gathering would not even be included under FISA.

And the Iraq war was based on the intelligence available at the time. Most Democrats, including both Bill and Hilary Clinton who were in the White House until the year before and John Kerry, who was on the Intelligence Committee for a decade before Bush became president, believed it. Were they lying too? Anyway, you would prefer Saddam?

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 4:30 PM
Comment #148055

“Anyway, you would prefer Saddam?”

As oppose to loosing 2500 American soldiers, spend $300 billion +, and having OBL in jail? YES! In a heart beat.

Iraq was a pathetically executed distraction from OBL on a vile but uneffectional dictator. It has also increased the danger to all Americans 100x.

Read the FISA law - it states that what Bush did is illegal. If Bush wants to change the law or alter when it effects warrantless spying, then he need to go in fron of congress to make his case. For him to simply say he thinks differently and leave it at that is extremely arrogant and unAmerican.

Posted by: tony at May 14, 2006 8:51 AM
Comment #148061

Now I know what Rodney Dangerfeild ment by “I get no respect.”

Aside from the law it’s about “RESPECT”.

After hearing about my now former wireless company Verizion freely gave out information I called and can-CELL-ed my contract till at least the heads of this company fires the snake(s) that GAVE out PRIVATE information not forced by court order from “We spy on u and do not care what u think INC.”

I have spoken to Verizion and they said it was just the landlines that were exploited by George and his Goons but to me that don’t matter Verizion coulda made a stand some noise anything!

You just don’t roll over to Goons like that not if you are an American with Back Bone Period!

Yes I know the government has all kinds of ways of spying on us tax payers carnevore etc…hell I can see the top of my house on google!!!

BUT it’s the principal of the thing! the only threat they received from King George’s Goons was a threat to loose goverment contracts which tells me that my money don’t mean nothing!

And if the little guys money don’t mean anything then why are the stock numbers falling??? Hehehehe!!!!

King George and his Goons strikes again!!! more people out of work in the name of National Security of course….Sad…

Posted by: ICE T at May 14, 2006 10:15 AM
Comment #148067

This sums up the discussion:
“The official said General Hayden appeared particularly concerned about ensuring that one end of each conversation was outside the United States. For his employees at the N.S.A., whose mission is foreign intelligence, avoiding purely domestic eavesdropping appears to have been crucial.

But critics of the program say the law does not allow spying on a caller in the United States without a warrant, period — no matter whether the call is domestic or international.

“Both would violate FISA,” said Nancy Libin, staff counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil liberties group.

Ms. Libin said limiting the intercepts without warrants to international calls “may have been a political calculation, because it sounds more reassuring.”“

(NY Times, today)

Posted by: tony at May 14, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #148079


The relationships between the president and congress are not that simple. Each of the branches of government try to assert their power at the expense of the other. IF there is a dispute the courts decide. Right now congress has not even brought this dispute up formally. I welcome them doing so and we can reslove this.

And IF what the president did is illegal, Congress will no doubt change the law.

YOur anlaysis re Saddam is flawed. You believe there was a zero option - if we did nothing things would be okay. Try to understand the dynamism of sanctions. Watch Newt Gingrige on Meet the Press. He gave a good idea of what the future might have been.

The idea that had we not gone into Iraq we would have caught Osama is based on no factual analysis at all. You assume, I suppose that we would have poured all those guys into Pakistan instead to look for him?

Posted by: Jack at May 14, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #148081

well, I was encouraged by the first few comments, but the most of the rest of you are morons. Bush did not lie about the eavesdropping program, it only targets suspected al queda in international calls. this program does something that is completely legal, per a Supreme court decision, that states that pin numbers are not considered private information. this falls under that court decision. You democrats have been legislating from the bench for so long, now it’s time for your legislation to be put into effect. Bush has not wiretapped anyone, there is only eavesdropping on international calls, there’s a difference. And in this new revelation, which 24 members of Congress knew about, there is no information on the content, it’s all analyzed by computers.

You democrats just don’t get it.

Posted by: Bo at May 14, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #148104

“YOur anlaysis re Saddam is flawed. You believe there was a zero option - if we did nothing things would be okay. Try to understand the dynamism of sanctions. Watch Newt Gingrige on Meet the Press. He gave a good idea of what the future might have been.”

What the future “might’ve been like” - and you bust on me for now using facts. You’re trying to prove that Iraq was not an option by gauging “what ifs”? YOur analysis is flawed.

“The idea that had we not gone into Iraq we would have caught Osama is based on no factual analysis at all. You assume, I suppose that we would have poured all those guys into Pakistan instead to look for him?”

So, we know the Iraqi invasion was flawed as has delivered disasterous consquences… no one could say for sure if OBL would be caught had we stayed focused on him, but it was Bush who said he really wasn’t concerned where OBL was, he really didn’t think about him that much. Bush said that because he was focused solely on Iraq. That much is fact.

Posted by: tony at May 14, 2006 2:27 PM
Comment #148253

I’m not even going to address the illiterate (and largely unintelligible) RightWingNut claptrap that pollutes this post - it speaks for itself. (Jack, you must be so proud to share a Life Philosophy with such Intellectual Giants!)


Jack is right here so far what has been revealed is not illegal.

Actually, as Adrienne points out, the Communications Act Of 1934 makes it Illegal.

Beyond which, you are in for quite a Revelation if the full scope of what the Fort (NSA) has been up to is revealed. Without going into detail, they have been using supercomputers such as this one:

to scan voice conversations for Keywords such as “Allah,” “Guns,” “Dynamite,” etc. (Jimmie J. J. Walker, beware!); when the supercomputers (nitrogen-cooled: how Cool is that!) find a “Keyword,” they begin recording the rest of the conversation: a certain number of “flags” and the Conversation is then forwarded for a review by a Human Operator.

Now, if that Human Operator happens to think like, say, FA STEPHENS, then you may expect anything from a Tax Audit to being hustled off for a one-way vacation in beautiful Guantanamo Bay, unless you are a paid up card-carrying member of das Republikkkan Partei and the NRA.

Two Words: “Daniel Ellsberg.”

Two More: “Enemies List.”

Three More: “Firebomb,” “Brookings Institute.”

Two More: “Joe McCarthy.”

Two More: “Roy Cohn.”

Five More: “Martin Luther King,” “Hoover,” “Bugging.”

Now, what do all of those Words have in common? Which party was in control when they were Current News? Which party is in control Now?

If I were you, I’d be Afraid - I’d be Very Afraid…

And I am.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 7:31 AM
Comment #148286

I see alot of inflammatory remarks being slung back and forth, and I suppose it’s understandable.
On second thought, no it’s not.
Being an American doesn’t mean being Democrat or Republican, it’s about being people, 250 million or so of us. It’s all about the America that our ancestors laid the foundation for and created for us. You know, Rights, Civil Liberties, laws to keep us in order, AND to keep our goernment in lockstep as well (checks and balances, anyone? Or does that exist anymore?).
Above all else, the governing body is answerable to the people, not the other way around. They are our “face” to the world. If anything, they are held more stringently to the
law than your average citizen (in theory anyway). The government is the example by which we live
our lives, no?
I’m no Democrat, I’m no Republican. I’m an American citizen, and as such I look at what has been done to us as a people, as a nation, and it’s unacceptable. I can’t stomach Dubya, but it’s not because he’s a Republican, it’s not because his whole life has been lived hand in checkbook with Saudi Arabia. It’s not about cocaine, desertion, DWI’s. He’s a person, and people make mistakes. It’s because he’s so scarily inept as President, and so utterly uncaring about the effects of his actions on the American people. It’s because he can stand in front of a microphone and lie with a straight face to his fellow countrymen. And it’s because he makes me look around myself and see how apathetic we have become as a people, that we can’t (or won’t) recognize the plain truth even when it’s thrust in our faces.
Stop being Demsocrats, stop being Republicans, or any other party affiliation. Open your eyes, dig, push, scream for the truth. Be Americans. You
can’t spread Democracy at gunpoint, you can’t foment freedom if you’re trampling it at the same
time. This is not who we are. We’re not sheep. We’re one of the youngest countries in the world,
and the most powerful. We’re NOT sheep. We just need to remember that. I just want my country
Oh, and for the record I’m neither a spy nor a terrorist, but the Patriot Act, The Domestic Surveillance Program, The “signing statements” thing, The Plame leak (that used to constitute
Treason, by the way), and numerous other activities our administration has indulged in, all these things turn my stomach.
Again, not democrat, not republican, just a citizen who’s not wearing blinders and is utilizing a little common sense.

Posted by: at3 at May 15, 2006 10:54 AM
Comment #148517

at3: You damn tootin’!

It’s all about the America that our ancestors laid the foundation for and created for us. You know, Rights, Civil Liberties, laws to keep us in order, AND to keep our government in lockstep as well (checks and balances, anyone? Or does that exist anymore?).

Oh, you mean that America which has been destroyed by Conservatism. Yeah, I remember it…

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #148553


If the phone companies volunteered this info then, no it isn’t illegal for the NSA to use it. This IS a basis for suing the phone companies.

I’m not a fan of this, but the biggest problem I have is the lack of oversite. People arguing about the futility of this kind of data mining are speaking out of ignorance. No one knows the details of the program. The oversite and warrant issues are serious ones, the ABC story about tracking reporters is much more serious. I’m hoping the insider testimony is going to be much more revealing. Late Friday the NSA amended it’s statement to say no American phone calls unrelated to Al Aqaeda have been listened to INTENTIONALLY. That statement is very telling IMO.

Posted by: gergle at May 16, 2006 6:22 AM
Comment #148715

gergle: The Communications Act Of 1934 (Section 222, to be exact) specifically forbids telephone companies from giving out (“voluntarily” or not - and there is evidence that these companies were “leaned on” by the NSA) any records relating to their customers’ calling habits.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 16, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #148849


Granted, but this is a legal problem for them not the NSA. The game here is for the US to then deny evidence based on national security.

Greg Palast has writen a new book about this subcontracting the data base game out, and the legal loophole that is being used to usurp the Constitution.

Posted by: gergle at May 17, 2006 4:00 AM
Comment #148872

Well then I say “Jail `em ALL! and let GOD sort `em out!

F*ckit: Government Bastards, Corporate Bastards - can you really tell the *difference* these days?!

Y’know, gergle, there is a Woodcut I am fond of: it was done in 1917 and depicts a crew manning a water-cooled, hand-cranked machine-gun outside the Kremlin Wall…

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 17, 2006 7:13 AM
Comment #148897

your missing the point…{AMERICA} FOR SALE…to the highest bidder! the only difference between the rep. and dem. are…when a rep eats his sandwitch he hold his plate under it as not to drop the crumbs…but a dem will let the crumbs fall to us rats!
wake up people…they are all crooks!!

Posted by: george at May 17, 2006 9:26 AM
Comment #151363

What the president is doing is against the law! If one of you- or me- were caught by the authorities we would be tried and probably convicted, but the ‘all-knowing’ president who is ‘never’ wrong can do whatever he wants! I may not have the right to vote, but I have the right to my privacy, especially from having my phone tapped! It is illegal and everyone involved, including ATT, Verizon and BellSouth, should be punished for what they’re did/ are doing.

Posted by: PoliticalTeen at May 25, 2006 5:50 PM
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