NSA Illegal Wiretaps? Who'da thunk it?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Let's go with the overview:

    Today's revelation in the New York Times that the National Security Agency engaged in "significant and systemic" violations of the nation's already highly relaxed surveillance laws manages to be both shocking and unsurprising at the same time.

    Shocking because of the vast amounts of information apparently involved -- as well as the specific targeting of American citizens, including even a member of Congress.

    But unsurprising because critics predicted that the removal of direct judicial oversight from the surveillance process would result in just such abuses. You simply can't trust government officials working in complete secrecy to police themselves, no matter what the circumstances -- or who the president is.


    (Froomkin)

    Dan Froomkin is commenting on Wednesday's NYT story by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen describing the legal and operational questions surrounding the National Security Agency's massive wiretapping of American citizens without warrants.

    Things apparently got to the point that the NSA was spying on Congress:

    And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

    The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact — as part of a Congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 — with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations, the official said.


    (Lichtblau and Risen)

    And Glenn Greenwald checked in, commenting,

    Everyone knew that the FISA bill which Congressional Democrats passed -- and which George Bush and Dick Cheney celebrated -- would enable these surveillance abuses. That was the purpose of the law: to gut the safeguards in place since the 1978 passage of FISA, destroy the crux of the oversight regime over executive surveillance of Americans, and enable and empower unchecked government spying activities. This was not an unintended and unforeseeable consequence of that bill. To the contrary, it was crystal clear that by gutting FISA's safeguards, the Democratic Congress was making these abuses inevitable ....

    .... Note the wall of extreme secrecy behind which our Government operates. According to the article, various officials learned of the NSA abuses and then secretly told some members of Congress about them, and those individuals have been secretly discussing what should be done. The idea that the Government or Congress should inform the public about the massive surveillance abuses doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone other than the whistleblowers who leaked what they knew to The New York Times.

    Ah, to recall only a year ago, when conservatives regarded such concerns as petty politics. You know, this was the kind of rhetoric that would only be of concern to partisans who wished to impugn the intelligence services or badmouth the Bush administration.

    Although I do admit this makes the whole teabagging thing even more hilarious.
     
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  3. countezero Registered Senior Member

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    You neglect to mention that this shows that the system works. Namely, that there were violations, they were caught by the oversight and corrected.
     
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  5. John99 Banned Banned

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    phones have been tapped since they were invented.
     
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  7. jps Valued Senior Member

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    How so? We know that there were violations. That's it. We don't know who exactly authorized what. We don't know, indeed we have no way of knowing, the full extent of them, or even that they, or violations of another kind, are not ongoing. We have not held anybody accountable.

    To say that this is the end of the matter, and that it shows the system works would be like the police announcing:

    "The body discovered is still unidentified, but we have determined that the cause of death was homicide. This concludes our investigation of this matter, and we believe this resolution highlights the effectiveness of our criminal justice system."
     
  8. countezero Registered Senior Member

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    5,590
    In addition to an obvious gift for poor metaphors, you apparently cannot read. The NYT story clearly states:

    "The Justice Department, in response to inquiries from The New York Times, acknowledged Wednesday night that there had been problems with the N.S.A. surveillance operation, but said they had been resolved.

    As part of a periodic review of the agency’s activities, the department “detected issues that raised concerns,” it said. Justice Department officials then “took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance” with the law and court orders, the statement said."

    So the review process worked.

    And for the record, Greenwald is being Greenwald. That is, he is radically over-inflating what has happened by throwing words like "massive" around when they are not applicable. But then, his entire understanding of how FISA changed seems flawed, too, so what else should I expect?
     
  9. jps Valued Senior Member

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    1,872
    ah, so, in other words,
    We know that there were violations. We don't know who exactly authorized what. We don't know, indeed we have no way of knowing, the full extent of them, or even that they, or violations of another kind, are not ongoing. We have not held anybody accountable. BUT the justice department assures us that it eventually detected the "significant and systemic" violations that were occurring and they have taken care of everything.

    I stand by my metaphor, but would add that the police "have taken steps to ensure that this individual's murder is not ongoing, and that he will not be murdered again"
     
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    If YOU aren't doing anything illegal then YOU have nothing to fear. It is only those who fear what they are doing might be wire tapped is when they complain the most.
     
  11. countezero Registered Senior Member

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    Whatever. Let me know when you have something of substance to offer.
     
  12. Diode-Man Awesome User Title Registered Senior Member

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    Wire taps sound like a scary idea to me. But perhaps it's for the safety of all?


    I think black mold should be considered a national security threat.

    It can cause a huge range of symptoms that can be extremely costly. Toxic delirium to go! That's what black mold does.
     
  13. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

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    I know, I don't know why they even made it into legislation for people to complain about, we all should know they've been doing it forever.
     
  14. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    Tiassa we had a similar story here recently of the defence signals directrate allegidly tapping the computer of the defence minister which is an apsolute violation of there charter. The only way an investigation of a minster (excepting of course a police investigation for criminal actions) can happen is if the PM specifically authorises it. It was an unconfermed report (the sec of the department is currently investigating) and if its acurate will probably turn out to be a disgruntled indervidual. I would be highly surprised if this went very high up the uniform branch and shocked if anyone from the civilan side of the department was involved
     
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Jane Harman (D-CA): The Blue Dog finally barks

    The member of Congress was apparently a Blue Dog, Democrat Jane Harman of California. There's a certain amount of irony there, as Greenwald enjoys pointing out.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Singel, Ryan. "Harman: It's Not My Fault I Couldn't Figure Out Domestic Wiretapping Was Illegal". Threat Level. March 31, 2008. Wired.com. Accessed April 22, 2009. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/03/harman-its-not.html

    Greenwald, Glenn. "Jane Harman: Angry, partisan, civil liberties extremist". Unclaimed Territory. April 21, 2009. Salon.com. Accessed April 22, 2009. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/21/harman/index.html
     
  16. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    That's why I favor letting the police have cameras in all of our homes. It's only the criminals who should care, and fuck them. The law abiding citizens should be happy living in a police state.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  17. John99 Banned Banned

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    first thing they did after inventing the phone was make a call. second thing they did was tap it.
     
  18. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

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    Those who give up their liberty for temporary safety deserve neither.
     
  19. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

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    I almost got a job in the telcom industry dealing with the installation of the fibers and equipment that carried phone calls. I was almost 100% trained for said job. I have a good idea of the capabilities of the equipment at the different levels. They were tapping junctions of major fiber bundles. We are talking about fibers that can hold a several thousand phone calls. Junctions of bundles of these kinds of fibers were being tapped. tens of millions of phone calls being potentially looked at over the course of the program is not idle speculation but a decent low ball guess of what they could have looked at if they wanted to. The idea of them having access to hundreds of million or god forbid over a billion over the course of the program is not outside of the realm of possibility.
     
  20. John99 Banned Banned

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    of course phone calls can be listened to and email read by other people. not only a government but by criminals too. i had a wireless phone that picked up other peoples calls.

    that is ridiculous. what liberty and what temporary safety?
     
  21. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

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    There is a difference. scale for one thing.



    not a fan of benjerman franklin I see
     
  22. John99 Banned Banned

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    what difference? how many phone calls are made each minute? a few hundred thousand...millions? who the hell is going to sit there and listen to even one percent of them?

    he was ok but anyone can say something and have it used later for something out of context or irrelevant to the time he said it.

    who is Benjerman Franklin?
     
  23. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

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    It is an invasion of privacy with out due process and that my friend is illegal. and secondly the information is transmitted digitally. It would take much effort to key in on certain phrases.



    Cept I'm using his quote perfectly.
     

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