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America... Spying on Americans

 
 
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 01:25 pm
I can't believe there isn't a topic up for this already.

I'm too young, but I'm sure this is familiar to many of you:

Quote:
NYTimes: Bush ordered NSA to conduct domestic spying [updated]
by PsiFighter37
Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 08:39:44 PM PDT

Despite having the Patriot Act, that wasn't enough for this administration, who ordered the National Security Agency to spy in America:


Quote:
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.


It's bad enough that the Patriot Act passed with next-to-no resistance shortly after 9/11 (save for our man, Russ Feingold), but this? Since when did NSA become the MI-5 of America?

Reading on, we find that some people who worked on this project questioned the legality of it:

Quote:


A somewhat convenient time to temporarily shelve the program, wouldn't you say? You can draw your own conclusions about that.

But what really burns me more is the lack of initiative that the NYTimes took with this story:

Quote:
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.


The fact that the NYTimes chickened out on a story about Bush possibly using a wire during the debates last year really rankled me, but this is about our right to privacy. The public has a right to know. Clearly, the Times was comfortable with the information they had a year ago that they were going to press, but the White House basically got them to sit on the story for a year.

What else could the Bush administration be hiding from us on this matter? I have a feeling that the Patriot Act is only the surface...

[Update]: WaPo, which basically wrote an article about the Times' article (I find it mildly humorous that a newspaper is reporting on another newspaper), includes some commentary which indicates that this may have constituted a criminal act:

Quote:
Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies at George Washington University, said the secret order may amount to the president authorizing criminal activity.

The law governing clandestine surveillance in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, prohibits conducting electronic surveillance not authorized by statute. Government agents can try to avoid prosecution if they can show they were "engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction," according to the law.

"This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration," said Martin, who has been sharply critical of the administration's surveillance and detention policies. "It is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans." (emphasis mine)
Timescriminal act

Chilling, scary stuff.

Cycloptichorn

Edit [Moderator]: Note: Successor Topic is Here: http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=71859
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 01:41 pm
There was something in General I think, but not sure. BBB had an article.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  0  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 01:54 pm
What better breeding ground for a terrorist to farm than groups of disenfranchised youths hellbent on opposing America's actions throughout the world? Keeping tabs on the activities of anti-war protest groups seems like a good idea considering the times we live in.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 01:55 pm
McGentrix wrote:
What better breeding ground for a terrorist to farm than groups of disenfranchised youths hellbent on opposing America's actions throughout the world? Keeping tabs on the activities of anti-war protest groups seems like a good idea considering the times we live in.


Ack!
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:16 pm
Re: America... Spying on Americans
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I can't believe there isn't a topic up for this already.


FreeDuck wrote:
There was something in General I think, but not sure. BBB had an article.


Here, quite some time already, but obviously not of much interest.
0 Replies
 
Lord Ellpus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:17 pm
McGentrix wrote:
What better breeding ground for a terrorist to farm than groups of disenfranchised youths hellbent on opposing America's actions throughout the world? Keeping tabs on the activities of anti-war protest groups seems like a good idea considering the times we live in.


Stalin would have been proud of comrades like you in his USSR.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:18 pm
No, I read it with interest, there's just nothing left to say. I don't think there are anymore lines to be crossed now. Maybe I was naive, but some certain restrictions on government were, in my mind, what made us a "free" country. I'm at a loss.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:21 pm
Lord Ellpus wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
What better breeding ground for a terrorist to farm than groups of disenfranchised youths hellbent on opposing America's actions throughout the world? Keeping tabs on the activities of anti-war protest groups seems like a good idea considering the times we live in.


Stalin would have been proud of comrades like you in his USSR.


Well, those old comrads are spread all over the world .... after the fall of the iron wall.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:28 pm
Lord Ellpus wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
What better breeding ground for a terrorist to farm than groups of disenfranchised youths hellbent on opposing America's actions throughout the world? Keeping tabs on the activities of anti-war protest groups seems like a good idea considering the times we live in.


Stalin would have been proud of comrades like you in his USSR.


I was listening to DemocracyNow on the radio yesterday and they had a whole hour dedicated to this. I was interesting to listen to. They spoke about how their groups had been "infiltrated" and such.

Seems to me that for the most part, that these groups organize to have peaceful protests and anti-recrutment rallies. There is certainly no harm in any of that and I am glad to see them excercising their rights to do such things. I also see no harm in the peaceful surveillance of these groups either though. As far as I know, nothing more than some files have been created and no actions have been taken regarding those files.

It only takes one group to set off a bomb, or set an SUV dealership on fire or destroy someone's lifework. It's sad that it has to happen, but because those things have happened and will continue to happen, I prefer that we have warning before it does.

If these groups have nothing to hide, and are not guilty of anything, they should not be worried about being watched.

As far as your comment, it's easy to make silly comments, it's hard to discuss the topic.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:42 pm
McGentrix wrote:
I also see no harm in the peaceful surveillance of these groups either though. As far as I know, nothing more than some files have been created and no actions have been taken regarding those files.


The act of observing something changes it. Would you feel it was ok if one of "these groups" was the NRA or the Christian Coalition, or Bhuddists for Bush?


Quote:
If these groups have nothing to hide, and are not guilty of anything, they should not be worried about being watched.


This sort of thinking creeps me out. Why would someone with nothing to hide worry about being watched or searched or having secret files that they don't have access to being created and used by the government? Because there is no reason to trust those in authority that's why. Because if this is legal, combined with all of the new "powers" the government has, you could be disappeared based on what's in those files and have no recourse -- no way to challenge what you can't see.

This would all be A-ok if the people doing the surveilling and the data collecting never ever made any mistakes.

This sort of thing is disaster waiting to happen. Where is Ben Franklin and his quip about trading freedom for safety?
0 Replies
 
Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:51 pm
Some time ago I watched a documentary on the rise of Nazism in Germany, and the narrator said words that chilled me:

"People were deprived of their rights and no one saw the harm in it."

The rationale of "If the group isn't doing anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about" suggests blind obedience to the state.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 02:56 pm
Quote:

If these groups have nothing to hide, and are not guilty of anything, they should not be worried about being watched.


I just saw Shep Smith ask this question of the Judge they have on Fox news often (Napitilano? Can't remember). The judge responded, unequiviably, that the framers of the US constitution specifically instituted the neccessity of a judge between a police agent and a target b/c the police agent cannot be trusted to make the right decision every time.

What the NSA has done is specifically against the law. The judge mentioned that jail time would almost certainly follow.

The argument 'those doing nothing wrong have nothign to hide' is an UnAmerican idea and contrary to the principles of freedom and democracy. I'm actually kind of disappointed that you said such a thing, not that you care.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 03:05 pm
Bush in an interview said he won't discuss it.

Congress is pretty pissed; Republican and Democrat.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 03:14 pm
Quote:
Bush said in an interview that "we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country. And the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them.

"I will make this point," Bush said. "That whatever I do to protect the American people -- and I have an obligation to do so -- that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

The president spoke in an interview to be aired Friday evening on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer."
Source
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 03:17 pm
D'artagnan wrote:
Some time ago I watched a documentary on the rise of Nazism in Germany, and the narrator said words that chilled me:

"People were deprived of their rights and no one saw the harm in it."

The rationale of "If the group isn't doing anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about" suggests blind obedience to the state.


Quote:
"First the Nazis came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
"Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
"Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
"Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
"Then they came for me, but by that time, no one was left to speak up."

- Pastor Martin Niemoeller
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 03:35 pm
A complete investigation of these actions will reveal illegal activities authorized by this President.

Joe(Call your Senator today, you may not have one tomorrow.)Nation
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  0  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 04:09 pm
What rights have been broken exactly? No one has stopped any groups from meeting, they have not harrassed anyone for attending any meetings, no protests have been stopped, no groups have been disrupted in any way.

I doubt any illegal activities will be discovered. Perhaps, some immoral (by some) rules have been broken, but I doubt any laws have been broken.

Also, keep in mind that the Bush administration will only be around for 3 more years, so please stop with the "America is Nazi Germany" comparisons. I would encourage those that can, to vote for your candidate next time and perhaps get some of the like-minded folk to go vote with you. I know I will be voting for whom I believe will represent me and my point of view best.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 04:52 pm
Quote:
What rights have been broken exactly? No one has stopped any groups from meeting, they have not harrassed anyone for attending any meetings, no protests have been stopped, no groups have been disrupted in any way.


Incorrect, McG.

Have you forgetten so quickly the reason that John Bolton wasn't confirmed as the US Ambassador to the Senate, and instead was placed as a recess appointment?

From the Legal Times, September: "During the confirmation hearings of John Bolton as the U.S. representative to the United Nations, it came to light that the NSA had freely revealed intercepted conversations of U.S. citizens to Bolton while he served at the State Department. . . . More generally, Newsweek reports that from January 2004 to May 2005, the NSA supplied intercepts and names of 10,000 U.S. citizens to policy-makers at many departments, other U.S. intelligence services, and law enforcement agencies."

Illegal information was shared with many, many agencies. There is absolutely no telling what has happened as a result of this.

Sheesh

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 05:04 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
Where is Ben Franklin and his quip about trading freedom for safety?


He died back before the term "Weapons of Mass Destruction" had been invented.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2005 05:05 pm
The person who wrote a memo approving of this, John Yoo, is the same one who wrote a memo claiming that organ failure was the only definition of torture, and that Bush couldn't be held responsible anyways.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2005/10/23/war_counsel?mode=PF

Quote:

Conservative legal scholar John Yoo, whose memos helped shape White House policy, says the framers gave the president all the war powers of a king

By Christopher Shea | October 23, 2005

IN JOHN YOO'S world, President Bush didn't need to ask Congress for permission to invade Iraq. And if the special forces captured a terrorist suspect who might know of an upcoming attack on the New York subway, Bush could order him placed on a torture rack-regardless of treaties the US has signed or whether Congress had passed laws banning torture.

Yoo is an academic-a Berkeley law professor-but these aren't exactly theoretical issues. The Supreme Court faces several cases concerning how much control the president has over military detainees. And last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the president has the right to attack Syria, without congressional approval, if he deems that a necessary move in the war on terror.

Nor is Yoo's experience in this area merely Ivory Tower: He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and from 2001 to 2003 served as a lawyer in the Justice Department's prestigious Office of Legal Counsel. Last year, Yoo found himself at the center of controversy when it was revealed that he had written a memo during his Justice Department stint arguing that physical interrogations had to cause damage on the order of major organ failure before they were considered torture under American law, and that anyway the commander in chief was exempt from such laws.

The memo got some seriously bad reviews. ''The stench of corruption permeates the page," wrote the Yale law professor Jack Balkin, on his blog. Now, in a new book, ''The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11" (Chicago), Yoo has produced a full blueprint for the kind of potent presidency he thinks is necessary to fight the Global War on Terror. Given his connections to the administration, Yoo's sketch of the presidency will no doubt be interpreted in some quarters as revealing how the Bush White House sees itself in its dreams.

When it comes to foreign policy and the president's role as commander in chief, ''Yoo concludes that for all intents and purposes we have an elected king," says Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University's Fletcher School, reflecting a common view among left and centrist scholars.

Yet Yoo, for his part, says he's offering a fresh look at constitutional history that not only reflects the framers' ideas, but also better mirrors the reality of modern history than does mainstream international law. ''There are these areas-war powers, treaties-in which academics all say one thing, and then presidents, Congress, and the courts all do something that is opposite," he said in a recent interview. His book tries to explain why the people he describes as ''my friends in international law" get so many things wrong.

Yoo wants to revise our understanding of the Constitution in two areas: presidential war powers and the interpretation of treaties.

The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to ''declare war." But in the mid-to-late 20th century, with hands on nuclear buttons, many scholars argued that the president-out of exigency-had more freedom to act than a strict reading of the clause would suggest, and presidents tested the limits of their war powers in Korea, Cambodia, Panama, Grenada, and Kosovo, among other places. Yoo boldly argues that this 20th-century understanding of presidential power was exactly what the country's founders had in mind.

As Glennon's jibe about an ''elected king" hints, Yoo says the Constitution was more influenced by the 18th-century British system than scholars concede. Under the British system, the king ''has the sole prerogative of making war and peace," as the British legal scholar Blackstone wrote, yet Parliament exercised considerable control via the purse strings. ''The sword is in the hands of the British king, the purse in the hands of Parliament," James Madison said during the constitutional ratifying convention in Virginia. ''It is so in America, as far as any analogy can exist."

The 18th-century understanding of ''declaring war," Yoo continues, was different from ours. When Britain declared war on France in 1756, for example, in what became known as the Seven Years' War (or the French and Indian War), the two countries had been fighting in North America for two years already. The declaration, Yoo argues, was a diplomatic notification, not a military decision, telling English citizens, for example, that any communication with the French king was now illegal.

If the framers meant ''make war," but wrote ''declare war," they would be ''very clumsy draftsmen indeed," Yoo writes.

As Parliament did with the king, Congress today still controls the military through its budget: If it wanted to stop adventures in Panama, Grenada, or Kosovo, it has only to stop funding them.

Curtis Bradley, a professor of law at Duke, says Yoo has made a ''major contribution" in showing the founders may have thought congressional control of war had more to do with appropriations than explicit declarations or authorizing statutes. But he points out that George Washington did not have a standing army to order into battle. He needed congressional funding to take the first martial step. He's not sure the Yoo view can apply when presidents wield aircraft carriers and missiles.

Yoo returns again and again, with something like glee, to President Clinton's flouting of the War Powers Resolution, a 1973 statute (which Yoo deems unconstitutional) affirming the traditional view of shared war powers. Kosovo shows, Yoo says, that even human-rights activists share his view of presidential power, so long as they agree with the president's goals.

But as Lori Damrosch, a Columbia law professor sees it, the fact that President Bush sought congressional approval for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and that his father sought its blessing for the first Gulf War, shows that even they reject the Yoo position. ''We can look at 1991, and 2001, and 2003, and say, 'Finally the Constitution is working as it's supposed to,"' says Damrosch.

Nor, according to Jane Stromseth, a professor of law at Georgetown, does a reading of the founding documents support Yoo's position. ''The founders," she says, ''had a deep commitment to the idea that no one person should be able to take the country into war."

Yoo's other revisionist project-the more arcane question of who gets to enforce international treaties-bears directly on the issue of the military detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Here, too, his critics say his constitutional readings are just a little too clever for their own good.

The Constitution makes treaties-along with federal law-"the Supreme Law of the Land." Yet Yoo, exploring how early US treaties were actually managed, says that the founders' understanding was that in cases in which treaties affect domestic law, Congress has to pass legislation ''executing" them before courts can get involved.

''He has 200 years of Supreme Court precedent against him on that one," says Michael van Alstine, at the University of Maryland's law school.

Congress has not passed legislation clarifying how the Geneva Conventions should be enforced under US law. ''If these treaties are self-executing," Yoo says, ''it would draw the courts directly into the management of the Guantanamo facilities."

Of course, human-rights advocates would say a little judicial management at Guantanamo might not be a bad idea. ''There is nothing that says the courts have to sit on the sideline and abide by the executive's judgment," says the Fletcher School's Glennon.

To the contrary, says Yoo, that's exactly what the Constitution says the courts must do: bench themselves. And the Supreme Court-divided on this question-will soon decide whether it agrees.

Christopher Shea writes the Critical Faculties column for Ideas. E-mail [email protected].


THIS is where the 'legal advice' the administration is using to justify it's bullsh*t is coming from; a guy who believes the prez. has the powers of a king.

This is going to have quite a lot of fallout, over time, as more and more of the 'secret' orders of Bush are uncovered.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
 

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