Democrats & Liberals Archives

Wiretapping Companies: I did what I was told

Convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann said: “I only did what I was told”. Eichmann explained that he abandoned his conscience in order to “do his job”. Now AT&T and Verizon (link) use a similar defense to excuse their illegal activities of wiretapping American citizens. I guess donating to the cause doesn’t hurt either. (link).

But with the recent account (link) (link) (link)of Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, highlighting just a small amount of the scope of this administration’s illegal activity, it's now becoming clearer why the Bush administration has been trying desperately to keep the public from knowing the size and scope of this secret NSA program. According to Klein:


"In 2003 AT&T built “secret rooms” hidden deep in the bowels of its central offices in various cities, housing computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company's popular WorldNet service and the entire Internet. These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the Internet and analyze exactly what people are doing."

"What I saw is that everything's flowing across the Internet to this government-controlled room,"

"That was my 'aha' moment," Klein said. "They're sending the entire Internet to the secret room."


Klein’s account runs contrary to the President's initial public statement following the New York Time's article describing the NSA program:
"I authorized the NSA, consistent with US Law and the Constitution to intercept the international communication of people with known links to al Qeada and related terrorist organizations." – Dec. 17th. 2005

Who's telling the truth, Bush or Klein remains to be seen. But allowing retroactive immunity for companies that engaged in this illegal activity is to spit on constitution of this country.

But what is true is that companies like AT&T and Verizon took a different route than Qwest, who refused to go against the law.

The Milgram experiment (link) proved people can be instructed to obey an authority figure to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience or ethics. It's clear that whether it’s AT&T, Verizon or Eichmann, people will do what they are told.

Whether AT&T or Verizon claim Milgram or doing their patriotic duty as a defense to their illegal activities, the law is the law and disobeying the law should have its consequences not corporate perks.

Posted by john trevisani at November 9, 2007 2:35 PM
Comments
Comment #237967

JT
Allow me to be the first. Eichmann was brought to justice long after the Neremburg trials.

Posted by: Bills at November 9, 2007 4:26 PM
Comment #237993

Bills, john didn’t say that Eichmann used that defense at Nuremburg. Eichmann was tried by Israel, and he did in fact use that defense.

I’ll simply pass over the notion that a Democratic senator who is also one of those zillionare Rockefellers has been bought off by the telecommunication industry to cover for illegal administration activities with a $42,000 campaign contribution. That seems a bit hard to believe.

The main problem here is that this fellow Klein is not actually saying anything of substance.

What is he actually claiming? Only that the government had the access and means to intercept whatever it wanted to on the internet. Even if true, is this news?

It’s a huge step from saying that it’s technologically possible for the government to act outside of the legal limits (i.e, to actually look at private material passing over the the internet without a warrant) to saying that they ever did so or that they had permission to do so. This is a story made of nothing but innuendo and paranoia.

To use a comparison. It’s true that the cops have both the ability and the means to kick down our doors and drag us off into the night for no reason. But the fact that it’s possible doesn’t mean that it happened to your neighbors last night. This telephone technician Klein is serving up nothing but vague innuendo and paranoia so far. He’s needs to do a lot better than that and produce something specific before he’s taken seriously.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 10, 2007 12:41 AM
Comment #238000

LO:
BillS is referring to something that i reworded after the initial posting. It didn’t read right and i reworded it.

Klein was NOT a ‘telephone technician’; you made that up. Klein was a 20-year employee of AT&T in charge of managing IP-based traffic. What Klein is saying is that the government was tapping into ALL of the Internet traffic for AT&T and many of those lines were actual feeds to other carriers (Qwest, Verizon, etc…) as well. That means that all IP traffic (Web, email and VOIP transmissions) were captured by the NSA program. i attached a few links to Klein’s report (there’s also an interview on NPR) that goes into much more detail.

It’s true that many whistleblowers (like Klein) are judged as nattering nabobs of negativism, but if his story holds true (i point to the detail schematics that showed the design of the network topology along with were the NSA snoopers tapped in), then what Bush said was a complete fabrication.

i agree with you, however, that this is not new news; everyone expects this government and its current leader to mislead its citizens whenever questioned for their activities.


Posted by: john trevisani at November 10, 2007 7:11 AM
Comment #238002

So, do you think this will give a breath of life into the impeachment process? Probably not.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at November 10, 2007 8:44 AM
Comment #238009


The President has said that Congress is leaving the country vulnerable to attack every minute that Congress does not pass the Surveillance Act. But, if the bill does not provide amnesty for the telecomunications companies, he will veto it. Which is more important to Bush, protecting these companies from probable violations of the law or national defense.

Posted by: jlw at November 10, 2007 11:16 AM
Comment #238011

jlw, it seems pretty obvious that protecting the companies is more important than national security for the Bush Administration.
If I remember correctly Qwest didnt go along with this scheme and the CEO of Qwest was indicted on insider trading charges, I wonder if there is a connection there.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 10, 2007 11:29 AM
Comment #238030


j2t2: We have to assume that the prosecution was connected because they are all guilty of insider trading irreguardless of the law.

Posted by: jlw at November 10, 2007 8:07 PM
Comment #238041

When you compare the Holocaust to internet monitoring to look for patterns of terrorist communication, I really have to wonder about your frame of reference.

Yes, if the truth ever comes out, we may learn the the this program illegally helped foil some terrorist plots. Or maybe we will learn that we were dealing with technicalities or that it was not illegal after all.

The more I think about it, the worse this comparison seems. It shows how far we have come from reality when we can compare the “oppression” we potentially suffered from having somebody monitor the pattern of our internet activity to the murder of millions of men, women and children. When we add in the fact that this monitoring may have prevented the murder of more men, women and children we realize that the comparison is not only silly but morally suspect.

We Americans can feel lucky. Few of us have experienced real oppression. That is why we can think we are in the same category as a prisoner starving to death in a concentration camp when somebody may, potentially, have checked out our pattern of Internet use.

Complacency sets in when people have enjoyed safety and prosperity for a very long time. Many start to think these conditions are natural and in the absence of real threats they start attacking and tearing down the barriers that protect them from the real bad guys. Have you actually ever seen anybody killed? It is not the same as having someone monitor your visit to an adult content site.

The danger of the hysterical hyperbole practiced with such eagerness by the perennially aggrieved is that they can weaken the very things that protect us. Then they let the real bad guys in.

The protection of civil liberties is essential. But be realistic. We are talking about fine tuning and legitimate disagreements, not an Eichman operation. You would have to slide very far down that slippery slope before you even reached the level of civil liberty you could expect in America of the 1940s, where we routinely monitored communications going into and out of the U.S. or even of the 1970s.

So you all can keep your pretend world of oppression and consider yourselves concentration camp survivors because somebody, maybe, potentially monitored your patterns of Internet use. I think people like this idea because it makes them feel important. The truth is that probably nobody cares what you are doing on the Internet. You are not that interesting.

Maybe they could potentially spy on you, but why bother.

BTW - this zeal for prosecuting and punishing people for crimes you have not yet defined is sort of what Eichman did, isn’t it?

Posted by: Jack at November 10, 2007 11:50 PM
Comment #238042
Klein was NOT a ‘telephone technician’; you made that up./blockquote>

I just followed your link to an article written by Klein himself that begins: “For 22 and 1/2 years I worked as an AT&T technician, first in New York and then in California.” Since the internet as we know it isn’t 22 and 1/2 years old and they guy calls himself a technician who worked for a phone company, I just made that assumption. But what we call him isn’t really important.

What matters is what he’s actually saying.

All he’s claiming that information passing over the internet was routed to “secret rooms” where that information was accessible by the NSA. But so what? There are legal guidelines in place passed by Congress about what can be actually be monitored and what cannot. He offers no evidence that anybody ever overstepped any of these regulations—all he’s saying is that they wanted to, they could have. But that’s as true for every function of law enforcement.

The mailman “could” open your mail. A cop “could” plant listening devices in your bedroom without a warrant while you’re out of the house. That doesn’t mean that it happened though, and without evidence that it did, the mere opportunity to break laws doesn’t mean that laws were broken.

Klein is not a “whistle-blower” so much as a conspiracy theorist.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 11, 2007 12:14 AM
Comment #238043

So what are you saying Jack, that we should not say or do anything until millions of us are dead or in concentration camps? When is the right time to worry about it? With the actions of this administration and the secrecy they insist upon, habeus corpus, unitary executive why should we not be watching very closely and insisting upon a clean break between the government and the corporations of this country.
BTW isnt it a real leap to compare the holocaust and overly dramatic millions dead to internet monitoring because the name Eichmann is used because a statement he made is similar to the ATT and Verizon executives.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 11, 2007 1:12 AM
Comment #238046

j2t2

I am saying that this hysteria is unjustifed. It is plain silly, like hearing the meow of a kitten and running away from the lion. My sad conclusion is that many people actually lack the capacity to make reasonable distinctions.

The Holocaust comparison is stupid and immoral. I have been to Aucshwitz several time and met surviors. It was worse. You might consider a visit if you feel the comparison between Internet monitoring and the camps is apt.

The real argument is about the interpretation of laws. It is an important, but technical argument. Villians like Eichmann are not involved. Nobody has been oppressed, NOBODY, by this. That is clear to anybody who can make reasonable distinction.

Things on the Internet are there forever. It is a privacy concern, but not really a spy issue. Someday people will be ashamed of the things they wrote on the web, but it will not be government oppression.

Posted by: Jack at November 11, 2007 2:36 AM
Comment #238050

What hysteria Jack, I see an article reporting facts about a privacy issue that should be of concern to all citizens. I dont see outlaandish claims nor claims of sinister conspiracies from anyone , well except for accusations of such by yourself and LO. Why the spin Jack, I have not compared the two, in fact as I asked previously isnt it a real leap to compare the two. I guess its more fun to throw the thread off track than to discuss why such a broad scope oof “monitoring” is require. “Klein said he decided to go public after President Bush defended the NSA’s surveillance program as limited to collecting phone calls between suspected terrorists overseas and people in the United States. Klein said the documents show that the scope was much broader.”

Posted by: j2t2 at November 11, 2007 7:18 AM
Comment #238057

I found this interesting:

Definition changing for people’s privacy

A top intelligence official says it is time people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, a deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people’s private communications and financial information.

Like they’ve done such a good job on this already.

Posted by: womanmarine at November 11, 2007 11:43 AM
Comment #238058

The Holocaust did not happen in a vacuum. It did not just suddenly occur without years of planning and incremental attacks on peoples rights. I agree that what is happening now is not the Holocaust, however; I think it is imperative that we compare what is happening now to the early warning signs(that were ignored) of what was to come-the Holocaust. In my opinion this is not hyperbole, immoral, or silly. Check out Naomi Wolfe/Wolf and her well researched book “The End Of American” and then come back and claim that this is silly and immoral.

Posted by: Carolina at November 11, 2007 11:52 AM
Comment #238060

Womanmarine, so much hysteria over such a little thing as privacy. Keep repeating the neocon mantra of “Nobody has been oppressed, NOBODY, by this. That is clear to anybody who can make reasonable distinction.”

Posted by: j2t2 at November 11, 2007 11:56 AM
Comment #238062

What’s next?! We’re already getting used to being watched and listened to through some aspects of our lives now. It’s conditioning and before long that camera lens in our bedrooms or bathrooms won’t even get a pause out of us. Sad !

Posted by: Jane Doe at November 11, 2007 12:11 PM
Comment #238064

But Jane Doe dont you feel safer now? Just knowing the Government and the corporations are working together to make us safe should be reason enough to …. wait what is the definition of Fascism?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 11, 2007 12:35 PM
Comment #238066

j2t2: Uhh, not really, and George Bush in my bedroom doesn’t produce a feeling of warm and fuzzy.

Posted by: Jane Doe at November 11, 2007 1:01 PM
Comment #238068

Jack,

You are basically saying that electronic communications aren’t private, and that only people with something to hide should be worried.

Let’s apply that standard to the White House, then, and have them turn over their all of their e-mails and other IP traffic.

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 11, 2007 1:06 PM
Comment #238073

I missed the part where John said that warrantless wiretapping was the moral equivalent of the Holocaust. All he said is that the phone companies are using the same defense as Eichmann.

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 11, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #238074
Things on the Internet are there forever.

No it is not, that is like saying everything on a phone line is there forever. Now if you talk about the answering machine, your statement could be correct. Similarly, if the government wanted to confiscate a server they could indeed find a record of the traffic that arrived there, but first they would need a warrant. Listening to the Internet is no different than tapping a phone line, even if the government is calling it data mining, it is still supposed to be illegal.

Which is why this present Administration has focused so intently on protecting (retroactively) the companies from lawsuits, who has assisted them in these illegal searches. Fortunately the law doesn’t distinguish between “interesting” conversations and non-interesting conversations; we have a right to expect a secure and private line.

Posted by: Cube at November 11, 2007 2:56 PM
Comment #238088

On average Verizon alone handled 88k request for monitoring each year according to one of the links provided by John. Thats just 1 company, if we assume ATT did the same, that turns to 166k request for monitoring. Could there be that many foreigners in this country suspected of terrorist activity or are we allowing this monitoring to be used for other criminal and/or political activity.
Unfortunately we dont know and our elected leaders in Congress apparently have not been able to monitor the monitoring. If this administration is not abusing the program they simply need to satisfy the oversight requirements of the majority party in Congress. Because of this administrations past performance I dont believe anything they say and neither should our representatives.
More so now as senior administration officals are stating publicaly that our expectation of privacy rights should be revised to benefit the government and its corporate bosses. When you stop to think about it, if there were no abuses why would this administration and the corporations involved be so worried about civil suits from American Citzens?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 11, 2007 7:15 PM
Comment #238092
You would have to slide very far down that slippery slope before you even reached the level of civil liberty you could expect in America of the 1940s, where we routinely monitored communications going into and out of the U.S…

Pay attention. The administration has already publicly acknowledged that international calls are fair game. If these allegations are correct, domestic communications are subject to monitoring too.

Not only are we sliding down the slope, we may be close to hitting the bottom and have no privacy left to lose.

The truth is that probably nobody cares what you are doing on the Internet. You are not that interesting.

What about people who ARE interesting to the government? Political opponents, executives from companies that are out of favor with the administration, annoying public intellectuals, etc.

This is the question conservatives should be asking themselves: How much do you trust Hillary Clinton? After all, these presidential powers aren’t going to disappear in January 2009.

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 11, 2007 8:03 PM
Comment #238093

This time its terrorist,last time it was communist.Remember that nut-case,J.Edgar Hoover and the huge numbers of files he had on about everybody. He used those files to keep power for decades. With high tec methods it should even be more helpful to the power mad trannys of the right.

Posted by: BillS at November 11, 2007 8:31 PM
Comment #238096

Even if all this is true, all it means is that the government has access to information passing over the internet. It DOES NOT mean that any private information is being monitored without the proper warrants obtained through the proper channels.

If you see a cop car parked beside the highway, do you just assume that he is illegally stopping and searching people? Why assume that because the government could do something, they are? With no more evidence than that, it borders on believing in faked moon-landings and aliens at Roswell.

How much do you trust Hillary Clinton? After all, these presidential powers aren’t going to disappear in January 2009.

That’s exactly right. And if Hillary Clinton becomes President and evidence emerges that she’s abused her authority, then she should be held to account. Just as Bush should be if evidence emerges that he abused those authorities.

I will not, however, simply assume that because the NSA under Hillary has the authority to monitor international telephone calls or internet communications when one party to that communication is a known terrorist affliate, that Hillary is listening into my phonecalls to my Aunt Maud and keeping tabs on my donations to conservative causes.

I don’t like Hillary one bit. But my dislike for Hillary doesn’t mean that I’d want to defang our national security agencies out of partisan paranoia. When and if she abuses presidential powers, I’ll be among the first to show up the White House with a torch and a pitch-fork. But until then I see no reason to become hysterical.

You see, I’m one who thinks that Al Qaida and groups like them actually are trying to kill Americans and that they pose a greater threat to my freedoms than does Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 11, 2007 10:10 PM
Comment #238100

LO,

It’s more like routing All American mail through a government facility needlessly. Sure there’s a chance the government isn’t opening everyone’s mail, but… what possible other reason could there be for doing that?

Posted by: Max at November 11, 2007 10:25 PM
Comment #238102

Max, what possible reason could there be? Isn’t it obvious?

Even in low-tech law enforcement, the authorities have all their personnel and equipment prepared and in place before they serve properly issued warrants. They don’t wait for a judge to issue a warrant before buying a police car and training an officer to drive over and serve it. It’s called being prepared.

Let me ask you this. Do you think it would EVER be okay for our intelligence services to intercept Al Qaida’s emails—even with a properly issued warrant from a judge? And if you do think it’s okay, shouldn’t the government have the technology, resources, and personnel already in place and ready to go?

I’m not disturbed at all at the idea of there being “secret rooms” where the government has the technological ability to do their job. In fact, I EXPECT them to be ready and technologically equipped to deal with a threat BEFORE it emerges.

I don’t simply assume that because this ability exists, that it’s being abused. If it was abused, I’d be upset. But I no more assume that an NSA technician with access to information passing over the internet would break the law and invade my privacy than I assume that giving police officers firearms means that they’re going to shoot me for no reason.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 11, 2007 11:07 PM
Comment #238110


Imagine if Richard Nixon had this technological ability. Power corrupts. Allowing the government and the corporations to have this technology guarantees that it will be abused.

Posted by: jlw at November 12, 2007 12:06 AM
Comment #238113

jlw, that’s nothing more than an argument against giving the government any power.

I agree up to a point, but I do find it interesting that except when it comes to monitoring potential terrorist threats (powers which COULD potentially be abused), liberals are otherwise eager to take as much power from the people and give it to the government as possible. Powers which we ALREADY know are being abused.

We mustn’t let the government monitor a phone call or email from a known terrorist overseas if the phone call is being placed to an American citizen. After all, that American citizen has rights!

But in the meantime, we’ll tell that same American citizen how much of his paycheck needs to be confiscated in order to pay for mismanaged government programs, control when and where he can donate to political causes, where he can send his kids to school, how his health care is delivered, what kinds of “speech” are permitted and which are politically incorrect, what he should drive, eat, think, and the list goes on all the way to the horizon.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 12, 2007 12:45 AM
Comment #238115

John Trevisani

I wish someone could explain how Black-Water can

get away with having three training bases here in

the United States, with all

the amenities the regular Military have. I was

under the impression, no private or foreign groups

were allowed because of the probability, of these

ass-wipes turning on the American Public for a

mired, of reasons.

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 12, 2007 1:05 AM
Comment #238116

LO
“We mustn’t let the government monitor a phone call or email from a known terrorist overseas if the phone call is being placed to an American citizen. After all, that American citizen has rights!”
Do you really believe this is about known terrorist. The question I have to ask is this If they are a known terrorist why pray tell are they arrested instead of monitored? 88k request to 1 company for monitoring activities per year. Just how many foreign terrorist are here LO? I thought we were fighting them there so we wouldnt have to fight them here, so much for that huh.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 12, 2007 1:30 AM
Comment #238117

That should read :If they are a known terrorist why pray tell are they NOT arrested instead of monitored?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 12, 2007 1:40 AM
Comment #238118

j2+2

We need to ask the question, “How many Americans

have been charged with being a terrorist?” These

folks here, have a problem of seeing the point of

millions of Americans who have no foreign contacts

an are being wire tapped for reasons other than

terrorism! Today some nit-wit from The Bush Adm.

is saying Americans need to consider, giving up

some of their (Rights) an I say screw them, an

preserve our Constitution an all the Bill of Rights.

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 12, 2007 2:30 AM
Comment #238120
Max, what possible reason could there be? Isn’t it obvious? Even in low-tech law enforcement, the authorities have all their personnel and equipment prepared and in place before they serve properly issued warrants.


WASHINGTON, July 28 - A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program…
The confrontation in 2004 led to a showdown in the hospital room of then Attorney General John Ashcroft, where Mr. Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff, tried to get the ailing Mr. Ashcroft to reauthorize the N.S.A. program…
Mr. Gonzales insisted before the Senate this week that the 2004 dispute did not involve the Terrorist Surveillance Program “confirmed” by President Bush, who has acknowledged eavesdropping without warrants but has never acknowledged the data mining.

The New York Times

Posted by: Cube at November 12, 2007 2:54 AM
Comment #238128

LO,

You are really being obtuse here. I don’t think any of us would have a problem with the Administration monitoring people with known terrorist connections, provided reasonable protections are in place. There is ample evidence here of something much more comprehensive. You just don’t want to see it. I mean come on, why do you think these companies want amnesty? Do you think they are worried about being sued by OBL?

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 12, 2007 7:39 AM
Comment #238135

“This time its terrorist,last time it was communist.Remember that nut-case,J.Edgar Hoover and the huge numbers of files he had on about everybody. He used those files to keep power for decades. With high tec methods it should even be more helpful to the power mad trannys of the right”

Actually BillS, the last time it was VAAPCOM.
Disagree with the govt, get put on a list. Talk with a possible terrorist, get put on a list. Buy a gun, get put on a list.

Yep, those righties sure are power mad.

Posted by: kctim at November 12, 2007 10:06 AM
Comment #238138


Kctim: Imagine how a liberal president could abuse this technology if she is not held accountable for the ways she is using it. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. For me, this is an issue that goes straight to the heart of individual freedom vs. the governments abillity to control it’s citizens.

Posted by: jlw at November 12, 2007 11:06 AM
Comment #238139
Buy a gun, get put on a list.

I was going to suggest that liberals should be happy with this surveillance system because the UN stormtroopers could use it to find the gun owners. ;)

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 12, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #238143

Absolutely jlw. Great point.
That is why I disagree with this wiretapping and ALL other govt abuses.

The only reason why it is a liberal or conservative issue for me, is because neither side seems to care one bit about these abuses unless it is the other side doing it.

We the People can no longer afford to stay divided and let govt keep taking away rights we are not concerned with. And until we join together and fight for ALL of our rights, things like this will keep happening.

Woody
Mock all you want, but remember, for every one of you who fear guns and don’t mind losing their 2nd Amendment right, there is someone who fears terrorists and doesn’t mind losing parts of their 4th.

Besides, EVERYBODY knows that liberals will never be “happy with this surveillance system” unless it is created by a liberal and is being used by a liberal.
Then, its no big deal and the left will defend, ignore and excuse it until somebody on the right uses it. Because THEN, it is wrong.

Posted by: kctim at November 12, 2007 12:38 PM
Comment #238145
LO,

You are really being obtuse here. I don’t think any of us would have a problem with the Administration monitoring people with known terrorist connections, provided reasonable protections are in place.

In that case, what is wrong with or unreasonable about the protections that are already in place? That would be a good place to start.

What constantly happens is that when critics talk about “wiretapping” and “eavesdropping” on American citizens they conveniently leave out any mention of the safeguards that are in place, such as the requirement that one party to the communication has to be a known terrorist affiliate and the communication has to either originate with or be directed overseas.

Fact is that critics here either DO have an objection to the administration monitoring terrorist activities or are deliberately muddying the waters in order to make paranoid accusations. Could such an authority be abused? Yes. Just like any law enforcement measures could be abused. When we know of such abuse, it’s legitimate to talk about that—but just saying that it could be abused because the capability is there is pointless.

When the government wants to monitor, harass and invade the privacy of US citizens for politically-motivated (or other reasons) they have literally endless capabilities to do that using means that are much more powerful than a narrowly defined measure focused on communication intercepts of known terrorist affiliates.

Even just the tax codes, for example, give them every opportunity to hound people they don’t like to their graves—and they can usually do so under the cover of a “legitimate” case.

Should we get rid of the IRS because it COULD be used (and often has) by unscrupulous politicians to harass political opponents and dissidents?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 12, 2007 1:20 PM
Comment #238156


L.O.: If a politician or any citizen thinks that he is being harass by the IRS, he can go to court and both sides have to present evidence. How could he do that with this program when the government can and has gotten such cases thrown out of court for top secret, national security reasons.

You claim that there are safeguards in place to prevent abuse but, we have no way of knowing that abuse is not taking place because of the secrecy, not to mention Attorney Generals willing to turn a blind eye to abuse for political reasons.

For me, this is not a case of wheither abuse has or has not taken place. It is a case of a new and powerful government program, shrouded in secrecy, that establishes a corporate/government alliance, especially when you consider that for the most part, our politicians are sponsored by and beholden to the corporations. This program, like all government programs, will eventually be expanded to encompass other senarios.

Posted by: jlw at November 12, 2007 2:54 PM
Comment #238157
What constantly happens is that when critics talk about “wiretapping” and “eavesdropping” on American citizens they conveniently leave out any mention of the safeguards that are in place, such as the requirement that one party to the communication has to be a known terrorist affiliate and the communication has to either originate with or be directed overseas.

I think that most of us can agree that the kind of program you described would be defensible. Now, back to reality…

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 12, 2007 3:08 PM
Comment #238161

KCTM
Fortunatly for the country the are lots of liberals,conservatives too for that matter ,that resent losing 2nd amendment rights AND 4th amendment rights.Guess we just don’t love Big Brother as much as you.

Posted by: BillS at November 12, 2007 3:53 PM
Comment #238163


The FBI admits to wiretapping wrong numbers: The FBI says it sometimes gets the wrong number when it intercepts conversations in terrorism investigations.

“The FBI would not say how often these mistakes happen. And, Although any incriminating evidence mistakenly collected is not legally admissible in a criminal case, THERE IS NO WAY OF KNOWING WHETHER IT IS USED TO BEGIN AN INVESTIGATION.”

FBI Acknowledges: Journalists Phone Records Are Fair Game:

” It used to be hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush Administratio,” said a government official.

“Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL). The NSL’s are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.”

It does not take a conspiracy theory nor a great leap in imagination to see how the Bush Administration is determined to use the Patriot Act to stimy or destroy the ability to uncover government wrongdoing by a Free Press which seeks to do so on behalf of We The People. It is nothing less than a direct assult on the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Posted by: jlw at November 12, 2007 4:24 PM
Comment #238171

Yes BillS. They resent it so much that they will still vote for clinton, Obama, edwards or Rudy G.

I’m sure its easier to fight for some rights, rather than for all of them. I will try harder to quit thinking for myself and join the herd.
In fact, I’m going over to moveon and kos right now so that I can be told what to think tomorrow.

This side good, that side bad.
Bah! Bah! Bah!

Posted by: kctim at November 12, 2007 5:05 PM
Comment #238180

LO & kctim

I was going to add some sentiments on here but I believe you have it covered for me….keep it up ;oP

I’ll go talk to my mom on my cell phone and hope to god that they are not listening in on all our Thanksgiving plans….it’s a pretty exciting conversation you know :o)

Posted by: Traci at November 12, 2007 6:56 PM
Comment #238183

Traci,

That’s funny, kctim and LO had rather contradictory opinions about surveillance…

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 12, 2007 7:27 PM
Comment #238187

LO

You say, (only one party must be a terrorist) an

that is a falsie,

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 12, 2007 8:55 PM
Comment #238190

Traci,
I’ll go talk to my mom on my cell phone and hope to god that they are not listening in on all our Thanksgiving plans….it’s a pretty exciting conversation you know :o)

Are you implying that its OK for the government to monitor your phone calls and internet use as long as they tell you its because they are looking for terrorist? How about when they decide to put cameras in your house? Where do you draw the line? What other rights are you willing to give up so easily? It saddens me to think that people are so willing to give up any of their constitutional rights. The same rights our soliders are fighting and dieing for in Iraq now and the same rights generations of Americans have fought to protect. Maybe we truely dont deserve them anymmore.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 12, 2007 9:42 PM
Comment #238191

kctim says”We the People can no longer afford to stay divided and let govt keep taking away rights we are not concerned with. And until we join together and fight for ALL of our rights, things like this will keep happening.”
Which I think is a very wise and true statement.

But then he says;
“Besides, EVERYBODY knows that liberals will never be “happy with this surveillance system” unless it is created by a liberal and is being used by a liberal.”
“I’m sure its easier to fight for some rights, rather than for all of them. I will try harder to quit thinking for myself and join the herd.
In fact, I’m going over to moveon and kos right now so that I can be told what to think tomorrow.”

Well I just cant understand why we cant seem to work together on any issue. Maybe we should try to listen to a little less hate radio and we could find some common ground on important issues.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 12, 2007 9:53 PM
Comment #238201
It does not take a conspiracy theory nor a great leap in imagination to see how the Bush Administration is determined to use the Patriot Act to stimy or destroy the ability to uncover government wrongdoing by a Free Press which seeks to do so on behalf of We The People. It is nothing less than a direct assult on the First Amendment of the Constitution.

If it doesn’t take a “conspiracy theory” or a “great leap in imagination” then what does it take? Apparently, in your view, it takes nothing at all.

How about even one tiny little fact to support such an absurd allegation? The Bush Administration has been using the Patriot Act against the Press. Tell me when and where or else admit that you’re spouting bull.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 12, 2007 11:50 PM
Comment #238202

j2t2~

Unlike you I believe in my country and do not suspect they they would waste one moments time on a person like me.
I am in fact a Republican but I would feel the same if a Democrat was in office also.
There are too many damn people in this country for them to honestly be wasting their time waiting for me to have 1 suspicious conversation where I may in fact mention something of terrorism to a friend. People are acting as though they have no other top priorities to deal with.
Bring up the soldiers to me if you like for a dramatic effect…I chat at least 3 or 4 times a week on line with my friend who is a Sgt. in the Army and is in Iraq as we speak….he is fine with my stance and does not feel as though his efforts are wasted because of it. My cousin is Mike Lehnert who is a Major General in the Marines…go ahead and Google him.
I am not simply a couch quarterback…I turn to my friend often to get his direct opinion and how his troops feel as well.

Just a throw in here…

But, two days ago…I asked him..
“How do you feel about waterboarding?”
his reply..
“What is waterboarding?”..
he honestly did not know…I told him and he said he knew of no such thing…we speak candidly and he would tell me.
My point is not that it has never been used (it is a fact that it has)but that it is quite obvious that they are not chomping at the bit to use it.
Which ties in my theory that our country is not looking for an excuse to harm people.

Posted by: Traci at November 13, 2007 12:27 AM
Comment #238204

Wow Traci,I never doubted your repubness for a second, my friend. It seems your party platform has no room for less government intrusion and those other silly notions such as a right to privacy huh.
I guess your right, why worry, as long as its all about you and not about other Americans. That united we stand divided we fall stuff is so last year isnt it. Im sure the repubs appreciate such blind loyalty to the party leaders.
Beleive in our country Traci, I do, but keep a close eye on those in power, its easy to put aside the constitution and our liberties its harder to get them back.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 13, 2007 2:13 AM
Comment #238220

j2t2~

Ok…I guess this discussion is over. You still want to accuse me of being “partisan” when I already stated that this still would not bother me even if it was Hillary implicating it.

You are truly unbelievable…I am quite sure that there are quite a few issues that you are all for that I am against. But, you do not want to have a discussion about why people (me) feel this way…you just want to call me a Republican cronie in so many words.

How do you feel about smokers? Are you one of the many that are working everyday to take rights from them? They say it is because second hand smoke also affects them….well you could say that terror plots also affect me.

How about seatbelts?
How about Religion?
How about those poor people living on the borders that are having their personal property invaded everyday?

Everyone in this country lets the rights of others go to the wayside when it is not affecting them, it all depends on what rights they hold near and dear to their hearts.

BUT…BELIEVE ME…I AM QUITE SURE THERE IS SOME COCK-A-MAMIE CRAP THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE PASSED THAT I DISAGREE WITH….BUT I AM SURE THAT WOULD JUST MAKE ME CRAZY…NOT “CONCERNED”.

Another thing…cellphones have never been secured lines….EVER…the police have listened to them for years….that is why drug dealers use code words or talk in private. I haven’t seen evidence that the police are dragging innocent people from their homes for the simple fact that they are “power junkies” just trying to abuse their power.

When I say I believe in my country….I mean, that I believe that no American running for office is the next Hitler…even those on the opposing side…we were raised in America which is a truly different experience than that of a dictatorship. Does that mean that I believe all politicians are pure good people? No! I just don’t believe that they are “evil”. It is quite one thing to say that you will be keeping an eye on someone….which I believe is wise…and saying that something absolutely can not ever take place because YOU already know that if given the chance they WILL not MIGHT abuse it.

Posted by: Traci at November 13, 2007 9:47 AM
Comment #238233

Traci, you are in violation of our Rules for Participation when you make comments like: “j2t2~ Unlike you I believe in my country”

Debate the topic, not other commenter’s attributes. This will be your only warning to read and comply with our rules.

Direct any responses to this comment to managing_editor [at] watchblog.com.

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at November 13, 2007 12:38 PM
Comment #239430

The notion of our government spying on the people is not new. Technology has made it easier to do. Other countries have taken harsh measures to squash discenters and/or “terrorists”.
But if you think things can’t get any worse in this “free” country, discover the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act that passed 400 to 6 in the house, Oct. 24,2007. Read it well, but remember, Big Brother has been watching us long before the Internet. The federal government is charged with a sometimes overwhelming task of protecting us from invasion or attacks from abroad. A tactical plan for this can be blurry and flawed at times, motives are unclear, secrets are kept secret, suspicion is born. Is there a sinister plot brewing? I DON’T KNOW. Just do as you’re told. Obey. Go shopping.

Posted by: kevin at November 27, 2007 6:57 PM
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