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Cube Jockey
This story has increasingly been around the news and appears genuine, this version of it is from the San Francisco Chronicle.
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.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in U.S. intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.


The article goes on to say:
QUOTE
In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the al Qaeda figures, the NSA began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.

~snip~

Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses, according to several officials who know of the operation. Under the special program, the agency monitors their international communications, the officials said. The agency, for example, can single out phone calls from someone in New York to someone in Afghanistan.


Questions for debate:
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?
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Amlord
First of all, we must keep in mind exactly what we are talking about here.

Link to the original NYT story

QUOTE
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.


US policy says that you cannot spy inside the US. All of these communications had an international aspect to them. I find this tidbit (later in the story) a bit light-shedding:

QUOTE
Under the agency's long-standing rules, the NSA can target for interception phone calls or e-mail messages on foreign soil, even if the recipients of those communications are in the United States.


Second, the article never says anything about US citizens (although the headline does). We have no idea who these people are and I'm fairly sure the author doesn't either. Where is the factual basis in the statement "U.S. citizens among targets of secret spying "?

Third is the term "secret". Secret to whom? The Congress was informed (more than a year ago if the author held off reporting it for a year) as was the court responsible for overseeing and issuing national security warrants. MSN story

QUOTE
The Bush administration had briefed congressional leaders about the NSA program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that handles national security issues.


Fourth, I wonder who leaked this story (which definitely has national security ramifications) to the press and whether or not they will be prosecuted... Somehow, I'm not holding my breath...

On to the questions...

1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

It may be, or it might not be. The story does not include enough details to decide. How are targets of these investigations chosen? What is done with the information? Is the information gathered primary evidence or corroborating evidence?

The article does say that the numbers which are monitored were selected because they have ties to known Al Qaeda agents via their cell phones and computers. So it isn't random Joe Blow being targeted.

2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

Suspend which laws, exactly? The technical answer to your question is yes and it happens every day. The executive branch decides (through its agencies) how laws are to be enforced and in many cases, what constitutes a violation. I don't see which laws have been suspended. Certain law enforcement practices may have been modified, but nothing suspended.

The Bush administration had difficulty with the FISA judge, who refused to issue warrants based upon NSA gathered materials.

QUOTE
A complaint from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge who oversees the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, helped spur the suspension, officials said. The judge questioned whether information obtained under the N.S.A. program was being improperly used as the basis for F.I.S.A. wiretap warrant requests from the Justice Department, according to senior government officials. While not knowing all the details of the exchange, several government lawyers said there appeared to be concerns that the Justice Department, by trying to shield the existence of the N.S.A. program, was in danger of misleading the court about the origins of the information cited to justify the warrants.

One official familiar with the episode said the judge insisted to Justice Department lawyers at one point that any material gathered under the special N.S.A. program not be used in seeking wiretap warrants from her court. Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not return calls for comment.


3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?

If they catch some lunatic who is plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge (as the Bush administration claims it did with this program) then it's worth it. I guess it is worth it. I haven't seen any harm coming from this program. No war-protestors arrested for purchasing opium in Afghanistan. If people aren't disappearing off the streets, I don't see the harm.
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(amlord)
... I wonder who leaked this story (which definitely has national security ramifications) to the press and whether or not they will be prosecuted... Somehow, I'm not holding my breath...
My thoughts exactly, from the Times article:
QUOTE
Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.
Still waiting for the hue and cry about this leak, the CIA rendering flights leak, the Eastern European prisons leak ... I also will not hold my breath. If some here can't see that the CIA is leaking like a sieve, uniformly in a manner to discredit the current administraion, then they are just not looking.


1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?
I'm not 100% sure that overseas phone calls / emails are protected. Much like the USA cannot effectively ban overseas internet activity (e.g., gambling), we couldn't ever ban overseas countries from collecting info from Americans, once that info leaves our borders.
DaytonRocker
I'm not sure what the problem is here. Bush didn't order anyone's phone to be bugged to discover whether they're communists, cross-dressers, or tear the tags of their mattresses. One of the few truths spoken by Bush, is the world did change over 9/11. For it to be a fair fight, we do need to adapt. So nothing in the entire premise of this issue seems nefarious to me as say, embellishing the threat of a tinpot dictator.

The only thing I'm a little concerned about, is wondering exactly how many terrorists have been arrested and convicted since implementing these types of efforts. It's be nice to know that our small sacrifices have paid off in terms of security.

I hope it doesn't turn into the slippery slope that normally goes with this. Will people be locked up for crimes other than terrorist threats based on this type of spying? For instance, the courts decided it was ok for the police to pull you over and test you for drunk driving without probable cause (sobriety checkpoints). In our area, they typically stop about a 1000 people. 2 get popped for DUI and they write 150 tickets for seat belt violations.
NiteGuy
QUOTE(Amlord @ Dec 16 2005, 02:45 PM)
US policy says that you cannot spy inside the US.  All of these communications had an international aspect to them.  I find this tidbit (later in the story) a bit light-shedding:

QUOTE
Under the agency's long-standing rules, the NSA can target for interception phone calls or e-mail messages on foreign soil, even if the recipients of those communications are in the United States.

Yes, Amlord, as long as the communication originated in the foreign country, it was fair game. However, under these new rules, calls originating in the US to foreign countries were able to be targeted, as well. Without a warrant, and without any oversight whatsoever.
QUOTE(Amlord)
Second, the article never says anything about US citizens (although the headline does).  We have no idea who these people are and I'm fairly sure the author doesn't either.  Where is the factual basis in the statement "U.S. citizens among targets of secret spying "?

I'm sorry, Amlord, but the story does indeed say that US citizens were being targeted:
QUOTE
But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden.

Hmm....Iranian-American. Unless you don't count naturalized citizens as being "real" citizens?

QUOTE(Amlord)
Third is the term "secret".  Secret to whom?  The Congress was informed (more than a year ago if the author held off reporting it for a year) as was the court responsible for overseeing and issuing national security warrants.

Secret to whom? You're kidding, right? If this was such a great idea, it needed to be codified in law, debated in Congress, and voted on, as part of larger package, like say, the Patriot Act.

The White House and the NSA don't work for Congress, and they don't work for the FISA courts. They work the American People (at least that's the theory). You want to change how the law may work for or against the citizens of this country, you inform them, and let them decide if it's worth the possible cost.

QUOTE(Amlord)
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

The article does say that the numbers which are monitored were selected because they have ties to known Al Qaeda agents via their cell phones and computers.  So it isn't random Joe Blow being targeted.

You don't know this to be a fact, Amlord. Either does anyone else, at this point. Because the very next paragraph in the story from your above referenced paragraph, is this:
QUOTE
In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.

So, if they were also targeting all of the other known phone numbers, email addresses, and such, tangetially linked to the original source, they could indeed be targeting "Joe Blow", just because his number shows up two or three levels down from the original source.

QUOTE(Amlord)
2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

Suspend which laws, exactly?  The technical answer to your question is yes and it happens every day.  The executive branch decides (through its agencies) how laws are to be enforced and in many cases, what constitutes a violation.  I don't see which laws have been suspended.  Certain law enforcement practices may have been modified, but nothing suspended.

The Bush administration had difficulty with the FISA judge, who refused to issue warrants based upon NSA gathered materials.

Good for the judge. My question is, why did it take more than a year for someone to get a backbone, and actually begin defending the fourth amendment?

3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?

QUOTE(Amlord)
If they catch some lunatic who is plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge (as the Bush administration claims it did with this program) then it's worth it.  I guess it is worth it.  I haven't seen any harm coming from this program.  No war-protestors arrested for purchasing opium in Afghanistan.  If people aren't disappearing off the streets, I don't see the harm.

There it is. The old "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" argument. If that's the case, why bother having laws that restrict the government at all? I mean, they only have my best interests at heart, right? Amlord, you of all people should know better. It's not about whether or not any harm actually has come from this program yet. It's about the possibility of abuse this kind of program can generate.

As to your assertion that you haven't seen any harm from it, or people disappearing off the streets, you don't know that for a fact either, do you? Conversely, of course, I don't know that it has, either. The thing is, we have far too little knowledge of about what actions have been taken as a result of this program. How many were later slapped with National Security Letters, for further investigation, how many were investigated under "sneek and peek" warrants? How many were detained and questioned for something that turned out to be totally innoccuous in the long run, that we won't find out about, because the Patriot Act prevents these people from even talking about it?

No, sorry. "I haven't seen any harm yet" isn't the standard here, Amlord. The standard is "what's the oversight to keep this from being abused?". It appears here, that there was no oversight. Not good for a country that's supposed to be open and honest with it's citizens.
nighttimer
I don't have the time to answer the questions right now that Cube Jockey posed, but I do want to put this thought down while it's with me.

I find it ironic THE SAME DAY the New York Times breaks a story that the National Security Agency has been spying on U.S. citizens at the behest of the president that in the U.S. Senate the reauthorization of the Patriot Act goes down in a crushing defeat by a vote of 52 to 47.

But since 60 votes are required under Senate rules to end debate, the Patriot Act was left hanging. The House of Representatives voted, 251 to 174, last week in favor of the latest version of the bill, which had been worked out in negotiations between the two chambers.

The Senate action today leaves the bill up in the air and due to expire on Dec. 31. President Bush and House Republican leaders had pushed hard for the bill and had spoken strongly against any further compromises. But no one would be surprised if yet another round of talks is undertaken to avoid the prospect of the lawmakers going home for Christmas and allowing the statute to lapse.

Today's Senate debate and vote reflected deep divisions that cut across party lines in ways rarely seen. For instance, Senator Larry Craig, a conservative Republican from Idaho who would be expected to support President Bush on most issues, opposes the present form of the Patriot Act.

"Of all that we do this year that is lasting beyond tomorrow," Mr. Craig said, the decision on the Patriot Act is the most important.


http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics...artner=homepage

Domestic spying at home. The Patriot Act is put on an indefinite hold.

Coincidence? hmmm.gif

carlitoswhey
QUOTE(NiteGuy @ Dec 16 2005, 04:58 PM)
QUOTE
But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden.

Hmm....Iranian-American. Unless you don't count naturalized citizens as being "real" citizens?

MALDEF (Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund) regularly defends the "rights" of illegal aliens. So does the National Iranian-American Council. Reporters routinely refer to illegal aliens as hyphenated-Americans. They are not citizens. Nor are Iranians living here with a green card. What evidence do you have that this program targets US citizens?

edited to add - nighttimer, I find it ironic that the New York Times sat on this story for a YEAR, and finally ran it the day after the Iraqi elections. Back at you - coincidence? hmmm.gif I'll give them credit, though - at least they put them both on the front page.
ConservPat
QUOTE
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

Sure, unless I missed the part in the Constitution authorizing the government to spy on its own citizens...Also, Amlord, as NiteGuy said, we don't know if it wasn't John Q. Citizen being spied on, and that's not the point either. The point is that under our current policy of "screw the law to stop the criminals" allows for John Q. Citizen to be violated.

QUOTE
2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

No, unless I missed the part in the Constitution that blah blah blah etc.

QUOTE
3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?

Is saving lives worth the loss of everything this country stand for...no. Principles are worth sacrificing for...That's always the justification for a war but for some reason it's scoffed at when it's said about civilians...Go figure.

CP us.gif
Cube Jockey
Some have made the argument that none of the news articles claim for an absolute fact that US citizens were targeted. I don't believe that matters because there is absolutely no provision in the executive order preventing it and I don't think there is any way for anyone but the NSA to know who was targeted, that'll be classified until long after all of us are dead if it is ever even made public.

If you have an executive order that gives the NSA the power to spy on people in the US and does not explicitly exclude US citizens without judicial oversight that is a serious problem. Especially when they might start with a legit connection and then get into something a little more shaky.

The fact that the people on these terror lists are very often not terrorists is also a little unsettling - anyone recall the story in the news recently about a bunch of peaceful anti-war protestors getting on the watch lists including a quaker of all people.

So whether there is proof that this has been used on US citizens is really irrelevant in my mind, it very easily could be. Given past performance of the government in other similar areas it is a near certainty it has been. It is a clear violation of our constitutional rights.
Paladin Elspeth
As far as the government spying on our people, if you didn't know about it, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Didn't Americans know what the PATRIOT (I forget what the acronym stands for, but does it matter?) Act was all about?

For many years now, the NSA has been monitoring our telephone calls based on key words used in conversations. It was on some network nighttime documentary, for pete's sake (probably CBS)! God help you if you said something like "the package" while talking to Aunt Fanny.

And for those of us who say, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about," a nice stay as an unindicted person of interest in Guantanamo Bay might change your mind. Wake up! Americans can have their homes broken into with a warrant from no court they're ever liable to be in contact with, and the government doesn't even have to tell you your place was searched. Now, unless there is a law against cluttered houses, I probably won't be in much danger. But it's the principle of the thing! This is not supposed to be communist East Germany!

And as far as infiltrating the Quakers (and I have been to Hicksite Quaker Meetings) to look for terrorists, THAT'S JUST DAMNED PATHETIC! Our government can't manage to have a satisfactory foreign intelligence, but they damn well know which Quaker brought the scalloped potatoes to the meeting... whistling.gif

And to think our taxes are paying for this... mad.gif
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carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Dec 16 2005, 05:42 PM)
Some have made the argument that none of the news articles claim for an absolute fact that US citizens were targeted.  I don't believe that matters because there is absolutely no provision in the executive order preventing it and I don't think there is any way for anyone but the NSA to know who was targeted, that'll be classified until long after all of us are dead if it is ever even made public.

If you have an executive order that gives the NSA the power to spy on people in the US and does not explicitly exclude US citizens without judicial oversight that is a serious problem.  Especially when they might start with a legit connection and then get into something a little more shaky.

The fact that the people on these terror lists are very often not terrorists is also a little unsettling - anyone recall the story in the news recently about a bunch of peaceful anti-war protestors getting on the watch lists including a quaker of all people.

So whether there is proof that this has been used on US citizens is really irrelevant in my mind, it very easily could be.  Given past performance of the government in other similar areas it is a near certainty it has been.  It is a clear violation of our constitutional rights.

It's not just being pedantic - Government spying on US citizens is the title of the thread and no evidence of spying on US citizens has been presented. You've also got to ask whether overseas phone calls and emails are the USA. I suspect they are not.

QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth)
As far as the government spying on our people, if you didn't know about it, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Didn't Americans know what the PATRIOT (I forget what the acronym stands for, but does it matter?) Act was all about?

For many years now, the NSA has been monitoring our telephone calls based on key words. It was on some network nighttime documentary, for pete's sake (probably CBS)!
I find it interesting that the same folks who fear the PATRIOT act and that ECHELON is tapping their phone calls for keywords also blame George Bush for 9/11 and our phony war based on lies. Next time we're attacked, the focus will again be on why we didn't have intelligence beforehand, and the blame will go straight to the sitting president.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Dec 16 2005, 04:17 PM)
It's not just being pedantic - Government spying on US citizens is the title of the thread and no evidence of spying on US citizens has been presented.  You've also got to ask whether overseas phone calls and emails are the USA.  I suspect they are not.
*


I took the title of the news article which is similar to every title on the subject that I've read this morning. Based on the content of the articles they say that US citizens have been targeted but you have pointed out that isn't enough proof for you. I stated that it really doesn't matter because the potential is most certainly there and I'm pretty sure it has happened based on the track record of our government on these issues.

If it makes you feel better don't debate the title, debate the questions for debate smile.gif

The articles also say that having the NSA monitor calls that are either inbound or outbound from the US is unprecedented.
QUOTE
The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in U.S. intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.


Personally I would probably be ok with this extension of the NSA authority if and only if it fell under the judicial oversight of the federal courts. That isn't the way the Bush administration plays this game though - they like to do what they want, are accountable to no one and call you unpatriotic for disagreeing with them.
smorpheus
Just to contribute something, I heard on NPR this morning that the NY Times actually sat on this article for one year at the behest of the White House. So the timing is maybe not as conspicous as originally throught. The Times did in fact consult the White House before releasing this info, I guess it's just surprising that they don't have the Damage Control spin & talking points ready.

AMLord and Carlito are already falling back on old deflection points, recently used in other debate threads related to the Patriot Act and other topics.

1.) No specific evidence that US Citizens were targetted has yet been cited. (But as CubeJockey correctly pointed out, it's completely superflourous since US Citizens, by this order, could be targetted)
2.) That this is somehow related to Plamegate and is related to a CIA Leak. There is a signficant difference between exposing an illegal act by the White House which supercedes Consitutional rights to privacy of American Citizens (Regardless of whether or not this order has been actually been used to do so or not), and outing an undercover spy as punishment for releasing reports that disagree with the White House.

To summarize my answers to CubeJockey's questions, there is absolutely no excuse for this action or the Patriot Act, sacrificing founding principles is not an acceptable way to win the War on Drugs, the Cold War, or even War on Terror.
Adam
QUOTE
1.) No specific evidence that US Citizens were targetted has yet been cited. (But as CubeJockey correctly pointed out, it's completely superflourous since US Citizens, by this order, could be targetted)

Actually, this is a completely valid argument. Even if the EO doesn't explicitly prohibit spying on Americans, the constitution does. And the constitution has precedence. So if someone were to use this order as justification for spying on American citizens, it should be ruled out-of-scope of the order and appropriate action taken.

For example, when writing a new law the congress doesn't have to add a clause indicated the law can't be enacted ex post facto, because everyone knows that is already unconstitutional.

However, it's possible the omission of a prohibition against spying on Americans is nefarious at heart, but the burden of proof is on the accusers.

To raise a related question: Are we sure that these types of conversations are even protected by the constitution? A cell phone call is broadcasted over public airwaves. I'm not sure this is protected by the constitution. Is it illegal search if you over hear a conversation at a bar? If not then how is listening in electronically over a broadcast signal any different?

How about email, travling over the privately and publically owned internet infrastructure. Everyone knows that email isn't secure, perhaps it's isn't private in the legal sense either.
smorpheus
QUOTE(Adam @ Dec 16 2005, 06:31 PM)

How about email, travling over the privately and publically owned internet infrastructure. Everyone knows that email isn't secure, perhaps it's isn't private in the legal sense either.
*



To monitor any communication of an American Citizen you need to get a warrent, issued by a judge. There is two-hundred years of precendent of what you can and can't monitor according to the fourth amendment. Most of it has to do with "Plain Sight"

I'd recommend you read up on how that works here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendm...es_Constitution

This order and the Patriot Act both supercede the Fourth Amendment by not requiring a warrent to be issued in order to monitor someone's communications.

And yes, unless the conversation is made in a public place, you need to have a warrent. I find it a bit disconcerting that you seem to be completely unaware of this, this includes e-mail (intercepting e-mail is exactly the same as tapping someone's phone).

Just exactly how far are we going to bend over backwards to justify this President's actions?

QUOTE
Actually, this is a completely valid argument. Even if the EO doesn't explicitly prohibit spying on Americans, the constitution does. And the constitution has precedence. So if someone were to use this order as justification for spying on American citizens, it should be ruled out-of-scope of the order and appropriate action taken.


Post-facto, yes it would be thrown out of courts, but this kind of surveillance can be illegally used to go on what the legal system calls "fishing expeditions" against people vaguely suspected, and is illegal in every sense of the word.

This is why the police can't go monitor a suspected drug dealer's phone line(w/o warrent), determine they are in fact drug dealer's and then get a warrent to raid the house based on this illegally obtained evidence.
Paladin Elspeth
QUOTE
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."--Benjamin Franklin
Amen, Ben. thumbsup.gif
QUOTE(carlitoswhey)
I find it interesting that the same folks who fear the PATRIOT act and that ECHELON is tapping their phone calls for keywords also blame George Bush for 9/11 and our phony war based on lies. Next time we're attacked, the focus will again be on why we didn't have intelligence beforehand, and the blame will go straight to the sitting president.

We don't fear the PATRIOT Act, carlitoswhey, we just know a little about human nature. We've seen that human nature manifested at Abu Ghraib prison when supervision and training weren't up to snuff. Americans are every bit as capable of being petty tyrants on a power trip as any person of foreign nationality.

The PATRIOT Act was drawn up, all 1500 or 1600 pages of it, quite some time before the 9/11/2001 attacks. Those who took it to Congress didn't even want the State Representatives or Senators to read it through before they voted on it. One lawmaker from Wisconsin refused to sign it. There must have been some kind of pressure on our legislators to push this measure through, and they bought it like a pig in a poke. Why was that? Could it be that those who drew it up and pushed it knew that Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class America would have balked, big time, if they heard about how comprehensive, far-reaching, and dangerous to our individual Constitutional rights these measures were going to be?

And what do they tell every Johnny Come Lately about signing on the bottom line of a contract he hasn't read? Why was it okay under these circumstances? They were to just trust them? blink.gif

Now there is a hue and cry among some sectors of the American populace that the PATRIOT Act provisions give too much power to law enforcement and the government. Maybe it has to do with having their lives disrupted in a real way, from finding out they are being spied on if they're not draped in red white and blue, or having their houses broken into with no obligation on the part of law enforcement to admit it or explain why, or being placed in detention for an indeterminate amount of time without being charged or having recourse to legal defense.

How many of the "freedoms" I learned about in school back in the Dark Ages will fall victim to government assurances that we will all be "safer" because they're fighting the terrorists this way? Can you GUARANTEE that the United States will not be attacked by terrorists if we lose all of our personal freedom and have cameras ala Big Brother in every room of our houses with taped conversations?

QUOTE
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."--Lord Acton


The PATRIOT Act and domestic spying on the part of the NSA or any of the other fifteen-or-so government security agencies will not guarantee our safety, but I'll guarantee you that breaches of protocol and instances of pushing the envelope too far will become regular occurrences under our current regime.

As far as blaming the Administration for its false steps (any administration for that matter), it will happen as long as there is freedom of speech. How long that will last in the current political climate, I do not know.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Adam @ Dec 16 2005, 06:31 PM)
QUOTE
1.) No specific evidence that US Citizens were targetted has yet been cited. (But as CubeJockey correctly pointed out, it's completely superflourous since US Citizens, by this order, could be targetted)

Actually, this is a completely valid argument. Even if the EO doesn't explicitly prohibit spying on Americans, the constitution does. And the constitution has precedence. So if someone were to use this order as justification for spying on American citizens, it should be ruled out-of-scope of the order and appropriate action taken.
*


(emphasis added)

Well that's the problem isn't it? By whom should it be ruled out of scope? There is no judicial oversight to these activities. Do you expect the NSA to police themselves or something? They are going to go after whoever they go after and they aren't going to care whose rights they violate in the process.

The reason we have judicial oversight is explictly to protect the rights of American citizens while allowing the government and authorities to do their job.
nebraska29
Questions for debate:

QUOTE
[b]1.  Is this a violation of our constitutional rights?  Why or why not?  If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?


It most definitely is, there is nothing in the constitution that endorses warrantless searches of any kind. Why is this the case?, I guess that I read the bill of rights and that no where does it state that what the NSA is doing is covered under any realm of the Constitution.

I'm a bit miffed by people stating that international phone calls somehow negating the fact that one-U.S. citizens are on the phone, and two, that the U.S. citizen is on American soil. That means it is domestic spying.

QUOTE
3.  The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?


This is simply outrageous to me, if Clinton had done it, you would'ven ever heard the end of it. dry.gif Even in a time of war, I doubt it could be seriously maintained that those in charge of protecting us are hamstrung in the war on terror by the requirement of probable cause and obtaining a search warrant from a judge.
Adam
QUOTE
To monitor any communication of an American Citizen you need to get a warrent, issued by a judge. There is two-hundred years of precendent of what you can and can't monitor according to the fourth amendment. Most of it has to do with "Plain Sight"

I'd recommend you read up on how that works here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendm...es_Constitution

That is your opinion, shared by others to be sure. But, I am questioning that opinion's validity and the criteria you use to come to your determination. I would appreciate it if you would answer my argument instead of claiming that's just how it is and moving on.

Furthermore, your statement is untrue. You do not need a warrant to monitor the communications of an American Citizen, as clearly indicated by the "plain sight" doctrine, which unrestricts an entire body of communications as unprotected (even for American citizens). Additionally, I see nothing that protects the conversation of non-Americans. To me this means any conversation including someone who is not an American citizen is unprotected. At the very least, the words spoken by the non-American are not protected. Perhaps the half spoken by the American are protected (and thus not admissible in court).

The standard you refer to in the Wikipedia article is the "plain view" doctrine. My question was if cell phone conversations should be considered "in plain view". The electromagnetic transmissions from a cell phone aren't directed to a recipient. They can be received and interpreted by anyone able to close the comm link on the signal. To me, this means any conversation traveling via EM waves is in "plain view" and thus not protected by the 4th amendment. There is no difference between listening to 0's and 1's and listening to sound waves from behind a rock in a park. The only distinction is the first requires better technology.

Again reference my park analogy. Two people may be having a discussion in place they assume to be private, such as a park. However, there is no certainty that it is indeed private; there could be someone hiding behind a tree. This means that people's perception of what is private is irrelevant, since their perceptions can be wrong. The standard that should be applied is whether the conversation actually is private. Cell phone calls, on unencrypted transmissions over the internet (i.e. almost all email), are easy to intercept and thus not private; thus not protected under the 4th amendment. There are technologies that exist to prevent such unauthorized listening and if people choose not to use them they should assume their conversations are easily overheard.

QUOTE
And yes, unless the conversation is made in a public place, you need to have a warrent. I find it a bit disconcerting that you seem to be completely unaware of this, this includes e-mail (intercepting e-mail is exactly the same as tapping someone's phone).

I'm not unaware of the precedence regarding the tapping of phone calls, and I don't appriciate your tone. I was questioning the validity of this logic. I'm suggesting this standard shouldn't apply to unencrypted email because adequate precautions haven't been taken to protect the information. This adequate protection standard is applied by the courts when determining if a company has taken the precautions necessary to protect a trade secret. If Coke were to talk about their secret formula on a cell phone call, or email it around, no court would uphold their right to protect the information as a trade secret, as they had not take appropriate cautions to protect it. I suggest the same standard should be applied to private correspondence such as email.

As no readily available technology exist to protect phone calls, and given the long history of them being protected, the issue of tapping phones appears to be settled. However, there is no clear reason why this logic extends to all other forms of communications.

In the future, when all phone calls move to voice-over-IP, and encryption becomes standard for phone calls as well, unencrypted phone calls should also be considered unprotected.

QUOTE
Well that's the problem isn't it? By whom should it be ruled out of scope? There is no judicial oversight to these activities.

Valid point, but one that misses the purpose of my original statement. My comment was that the EO does not have to prohibit illegal search of Americans (whatever that is) because it's already prohibited by the constitution. People are up in arms (at least this is one thing their concerned about) because it doesn't contain a clause exempting Americans from being the subjects of this spying. I'm just saying the EO doesn't have to because Americans are assumed to be protected under the consitution.

As for whom should rule on the legality of any illegal searches: it would obviously be the courts. This would happen when any illiegally obtained information were used to obtain a conviction. Same way it happens for police work. If the police conduct illegal searches they get tossed out in court when the case comes to trial.
barnaby2341
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?
Assuming that you are talking about the sixth amendment and unreasonable search and seizure, I would have to say that the law is too vague and the power of the Executive Branch is too great to warrant any action other than two or three weeks of fringe media coverage. It really does not matter if this is a violation.

I cannot really answer for the Supreme Court, but if I were a justice, I would consider these actions as a violation. I would just ask myself a very simple question; would I want someone spying on me? I assuredly would not and do not think that this administration or any for that matter is reliable enough to have our unwavering faith to believe that somehow, this behavior is saving lives as the President claimed recently.

2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?
He can't just do anything and claim "National Security." Which is what this President has been doing recently. Even during a time of war, throwing out constitutional rights is unacceptable.

3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?
My initial response is, "of course not" but after watching enough Fox News I start to question myself, maybe I am outside the mainstream. These are some of the random tidbits I have heard from the Fox "Dayside" show with Juliet Huddy, arguably the best looking talk show host after Tyra Banks. Dayside, for those who don't know, is the FOX version of Regis & Kelly. I have heard some people from the audience say things, and I paraphrase, "When the government fears the people, they should be able to do anything to repress them." I know you think I am making this up, but I'm not. Something this stupid is genuine and not contrived. Another one was, "the government should be able to do anything necessary to obtain information" this statement was in reference to McCain's bill that outlawed torture. The audience was extremely upset at this event and completely unaware of the utterly hypocritical a torture exemption would have been.
Curmudgeon
QUOTE(George W. Bush @ December 17, 2005)
As President, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life.

<snip>

The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.

1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

I personally believe that the President has grossly overstepped the Constitutional division of power, as well as our rights to peaceable assembly, free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. His opening statement from yesterday's speech outlines his responsibilities as he sees them. His actions are more in line with a statement he made before he assumed office.

QUOTE(George W. Bush)
I’m the commander; I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.

If this case were before the Supreme Court, I would expect a 9-0 ruling that the power of the courts is restricted to the courts, that the President has no power whatever to authorize wiretaps, search warrants, etc. Alternatively, they might also rule it a conflict of interest, and state that they have no power to try a sitting President for "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," because that is the responsibility of the Senate.

2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

I have from time to time read the Constitution in its entirety, and while such a clause may be in there, I don't recall having ever seen it. (But this is a declared war, or am I wrong?)

3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?

To my mind, the answer is, CLEARLY NOT!

We lost ultimately, around 3,000 people on 9/11 if memory serves me correctly. We will probably surpass that in the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in wars created because we were attacked by terrorists from Saudi Arabia. Yes, the numbers are large. They probably pale by comparison however, to the number of deaths from homicides and traffic accidents over the same period. Should we confiscate all of America's guns, knives, and automobiles to "protect us?" The terrorists have borrowed a page from George Washington's playbook. We fought the British with "irregulars" and "militia" that purchased their own weapons, and wore no regular uniforms. If we are to fight, and win a war; we need to provide our military with tools to fight the enemy, not tools to suppress our citizens.

I have been told that these actions by the President were used, among other things, as a justification to investigate the Quakers. I am really left at a loss to understand why. Perhaps this is because they are by and large opposed to war, and the President wants us to understand how serious he was when he said “You’re either with us or against us.” Perhaps someone told him, “There’s a Quaker named Al, and we need to know if that’s an English spelling for Al Qaeda.”

Forty years ago, I routinely attended Quaker meetings. Some Quaker friends lent my first wife and I their house for 3 months while they took a trip to Australia. They needed someone to feed and water their dog. They lived, like so many Quakers I have known, a simple life in a quiet community. They were operating a small farm, sharing a section of land with their daughter and son-in-law.

At the time, I never managed to find the village that our mailing address said we lived in. I was a college student, and a fellow student described that village to me.

QUOTE
The village has an intersection with a four way stop. There is a bar on one corner, a gas station on a second, a small grocery store on a third, and the municipal bldg. on the fourth. The municipal bldg. is open 3 mornings a week, houses a fire truck, a clerk’s office, and the mayor’s office. In the last election, both of the village’s registered voters wrote in the other person’s name for both offices. Election officials held a meeting with them, and a coin was tossed to decide the outcome. The winner of the coin toss chose the clerk’s job, and the loser got stuck with the job of mayor.”

As Quaker’s, they tried to “Listen to that still small voice within.” Every few weeks, they would meet with a half dozen like minded families to discuss what they were hearing from that voice. It was usually something like, “If we are to create peace in this world, we first need to create peace within our own lives.”

Yes, hearing voices is a sign of paranoid schizophrenia, but if I were to suspect someone of being crazy for hearing voices and acting on them; I would choose to suspect the man who says “We need to investigate the Quakers, because they’re not supporting our war on terror!”
Amlord
We must keep things in focus (how the heck did Quakers get brought into this conversation... ?)

Under FISA, an agent of a foreign power is defined as:

QUOTE
(1) any person other than a United States person, who–
(A) acts in the United States as an officer or employee of a foreign power, or as
a member of a foreign power as defined in subsection (a)(4) of this section;2

(B) acts for or on behalf of a foreign power which engages in clandestine
intelligence activities in the United States contrary to the interests of the United
States, when the circumstances of such person’s presence in the United States indicate that such person may engage in such activities in the United States, or when such person knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of such activities or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in such activities;
© engages in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefore
[sic]; or3
(2) any person who–
(A) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on
behalf of a foreign power, which activities involve or may involve a violation of the
criminal statutes of the United States;
(B) pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of a foreign
power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on
behalf of such foreign power, which activities involve or are about to involve a
violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;
© knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that
are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power;
(D) knowingly enters the United States under a false or fraudulent identity for
or on behalf of a foreign power or, while in the United States, knowingly assumes a
false or fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power; or
(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described in
subparagraph (A), (B), or © or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in
activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or ©.


Also, a "person of the United States" is defined as:
QUOTE
The term “United States person” in FISA is used to describe a citizen of the United States, a permanent resident alien, an unincorporated association a substantial number of the members of which are U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens, or a corporation which is incorporated in the United States.

source

Congress amended the definition of "foreign power" in 2004 to include most terrorist organizations and even individual terrorists if they seek to do harm to the United States.

Now, FISA, first enacted in 1978, covers surveillance of foreign power (expanded to include terrorism). Domestic agencies (such as the FBI and DoJ) are expressly forbidden from using FISA to monitor persons in the United States because the intent is to monitor for intelligence gathering purposes and not for law enforcement purposes. (Note, there is still a "wall" between foreign intelligence gathering and domestic security agencies. Such a wall has been cited by former FBI director as a prime reason why the FBI could not track down the terrorist prior to their execution of the 9/11 attacks.)

FISA includes very specific instructions that the Attorney General must "minimize" any references to US persons.
QUOTE
FISA defines “minimization procedures” with respect to electronic surveillance in 50
U.S.C. § 1801(h). The term is defined under FISA with respect to physical searches in 50
U.S.C. § 1821(4). As the two definitions are similar, the definition from Section 1801(h)
is included for illustrative purposes.
(h) “Minimization procedures”, with respect to electronic surveillance, means–
(1) specific procedures, which shall be adopted by the Attorney General,
that are reasonably designed in light of the purpose and technique of the
particular surveillance, to minimize the acquisition and retention, and
prohibit the dissemination, of nonpublicly available information concerning
unconsenting United States persons consistent with the need of the United
States to obtain, produce, and disseminate foreign intelligence information;
(2) procedures that require that nonpublicly available information, which
is not foreign intelligence information, as defined in subsection (e)(1) of
this section, shall not be disseminated in a manner that identifies any
United States person, without such person’s consent, unless such person’s
identity is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or
assess its importance;
(3) notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), procedures that allow for the
retention and dissemination of information that is evidence of a crime
which has been, is being, or is about to be committed and that is to be
retained or disseminated for law enforcement purposes; and
(4) notwithstanding paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), with respect to any
electronic surveillance approved pursuant to section (1802(a) of this title,
procedures that require that no contents of any communication to which a
United States person is a party shall be disclosed, disseminated, or used for
any purpose or retained for longer than 72 hours unless a court order under
section 1805 of this title is obtained or unless the Attorney General
determines that the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily
harm to any person. source


That's the groundwork, here's the meat:

Under FISA, the government (the Attorney General, actually) may authorize warrantless searches for a period of up to one year. The rules for doing such are covered under Section 1802 of Code 50: Electronic surveillance authorization without court order
QUOTE
(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that— (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at— (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and © the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.


The question is whether or not US person (i.e. US citizens, legal resident aliens, or US corporations) have been monitored. If they have not, then this is completely legal and even redundant to powers which have been available since 1978.

What has changed is the definition of "foreign power" which now refers to terrorists.

It is pretty unfortunate that such worthies as the Washington Post and New York Times have not tried to understand how this could be legal.

We don't know for sure that these activities pertain exclusively to non-US persons. The people covered are not known (to respect their privacy and to respect the secrecy needed in such investigations). However, considering the fact that the President and his legal advisors have decided that is is within bounds we can be relatively assured that they have at least reviewed this and are aware of the limitations. Had the President said that they were reviewing the legality, then I'd have some concerns.

Thus far, I have not seen a case where a US person has been the subject of these investigations. When I do, my position might change. Until then, I want the President doing everything in his power to protect us from terrorists.
Kuni
QUOTE
The Congress was informed
If you call being told that the NSA was engaged in “unspecified activities” as informed; feel free but I’m sure that Congress and the American People have a different opinion.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051218/ap_on_...zkxBHNlYwN0bQ--
. . . House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she had been told on several occasions that Bush had authorized unspecified activities by the National Security Agency, the nation's largest spy agency. She said she had expressed strong concerns at the time, and that Bush's statement Saturday "raises serious questions as to what the activities were and whether the activities were lawful." . . .

QUOTE
The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?
What ever happened to the “Better Dead Than Red” mindset that used to exist?

As Franklin said: They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security . . .
barnaby2341
QUOTE(Amlord @ Dec 18 2005, 10:55 AM)
We don't know for sure that these activities pertain exclusively to non-US persons.  The people covered are not known (to respect their privacy and to respect the secrecy needed in such investigations).  However, considering the fact that the President and his legal advisors have decided that is is within bounds we can be relatively assured that they have at least reviewed this and are aware of the limitations.  Had the President said that they were reviewing the legality, then I'd  have some concerns.

Thus far, I have not seen a case where a US person has been the subject of these investigations.  When I do, my position might change.  Until then, I want the President doing everything in his power to protect us from terrorists.

Amlord, you have gone to great extent to justify the President's actions. His actions define a truism that most of us on this forum and in this country should understand with great clarity. The Constitution is for suckers. Disect the behavior of any government within the United States, Federal, State, or Local. And you will find one commonality; those in power will do as they please.

The Constitution states, we are 'secure...from unreasonable searches and seizures' and that 'no warrant' shall be issued without probable cause. This was in today's news:
QUOTE
Bush acknowledged Saturday that since October 2001 he has authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails of people within the United States without seeking warrants from courts.

You are smart enough to know that no warrants as stated by the Constitution, and without seeking warrants as acknowledged by Pres. Bush are in contradiction. Since the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land, whatever document you dug up in your previous post would be easily declared unconstitutional. But alas, it will not, because their is not sufficient enough power in any opposition to the President to hold him accountable.

On another note, I hope that you are able to see the glaring hypocrisy in the President's overall message about Iraq, freedom, and the war on terror. He claimed, quite eloquently in his 2004 campaign that freedom was the 'gift from the Almighty' beholden to all humanity. He was going to bestow that gift upon the Iraqi people wearing his cape of magnanimity. Obviously, through his actions, you can see that those freedoms aren't exactly available here in the United States.

It's unfortunate as well that you are willing to allow the President to do everything in his power to protect us knowing that the actual boundaries of that power far exceeds the theoretical ones that the public perceives. Furthermore, you express a willingness to allow these investigations if the person is not a US citizen. Four words to describe your position; Racist, Jingoist, Ethnocentric, and Depressing.
smallfarmer
[quote=]
It's not just being pedantic - Government spying on US citizens is the title of the thread and no evidence of spying on US citizens has been presented. You've also got to ask whether overseas phone calls and emails are the USA. I suspect they are not.[/quote]

It's nothing new and not surprising that the US government is spying on its own citizens. Ever hear of COINTELPRO? After the Patriot Act was passed everyone who was paying attention knew the government would use it to spy on citizens without a warrant. If they CAN they will. What's more, it's pretty obvious to some people involved in visible antiwar groups that agents have been showing up at meetings occassionally.

Here is the evidence that the Pentagon has been spying on American citizens recently
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections...baseTracker.pdf

Lesly
QUOTE(Amlord @ Dec 18 2005, 10:55 AM)
We must keep things in focus (how the heck did Quakers get brought into this conversation...  ?)
*


Quakers, along with other anti-war groups, make up some of the dangerous people being spied on.

QUOTE(DemocracyNow.org)
The list included: counter-military recruiting meetings held at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Forth, Florida. Anti-nuclear protests staged in Nebraska on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki. An anti-war protest organized by military families outside Fort Bragg in North Carolina. And a rally in San Diego to support war resister Pablo Parades. The Pentagon database described all of these events as threats.

- Pentagon Caught Spying on U.S. Anti-War and Anti-Nuclear Activists


There’s no need to spy on this activity when the High Court is hearing the government out on campuses keeping recruiters off the grounds. Questions of legality aside, another reason to nix spying on Americans is the wasteful byproducts of money and man hours it produces. When one branch doesn’t have another branch checking in on its information-gathering activities, paranoia can have its way.

QUOTE(Amlord @ Dec 16 2005, 03:45 PM)
Third is the term "secret".  Secret to whom?  The Congress was informed (more than a year ago if the author held off reporting it for a year) as was the court responsible for overseeing and issuing national security warrants. MSN story
*


From Amlord’s link:

QUOTE(MSNBC.com)
“The president has authorized NSA to fully use its resources — let me underscore this now — consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution to defend the United States and its citizens,” the official said, adding that congressional leaders have also been briefed more than a dozen times.

- Official: Bush authorized spying several times


I watched Stephanopoulos on This Week this morning. The crosstalk between reporters was that congressional leaders, including Pelosi, discussed the legal issues surrounding emerging technologies and the Fourth with White House personnel. If this is what happened it shows the House and Senate wasn’t opposed to broaching the issue off the bat. And ff there was any gray area involved why didn’t the president ask for legislative approval instead of settling for an opinion?

Under the Patriot Act the National Security Agency can check records first, and get a search warrant from FISA later. Well, Moore was right about one thing. Spying agencies have been checking on protesters for a few years. The missing link was who authorized it. Why did Bush assume no one would bat an eyelash at him for passing on officially hammering out new terms and conditions with Congress? As the power to declare war residing (usually) with Congress, the U.S. has been in the business of setting the example for separation of executive powers to the rest of the world. Americans don’t take that example lightly.

QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Dec 16 2005, 05:30 PM)
QUOTE
Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.
Still waiting for the hue and cry about this leak, the CIA rendering flights leak, the Eastern European prisons leak... I also will not hold my breath.
*


This is a straw man. Outcry concerning this leak and the Eastern European prisons would require us to presume that there is nothing our intelligence agencies can do that justify the actions of the leaker. By that interpretation the FBI’s Carnivore internet spying program, as Clinton was on the way out, should have gone online without notice and debate from House and Senate appropriations committees.
nebraska29
QUOTE
Thus far, I have not seen a case where a US person has been the subject of these investigations.  When I do, my position might change.  Until then, I want the President doing everything in his power to protect us from terrorists.


I don't believe that any citizen wants the government to not be pro-active when it comes to terrorism. Concerns about the Patriot Act and other things the President approves of, mostly goes along the lines that these extra-weapons of surveillance and monitoring will be used on not the enemy, but rather, domestic groups. ermm.gif There already has been a case of spying on a domestic group in the U.S., hence the constant reference to the Quaker organization. It's one thing to allow the government to fish for evidence on terrorists, but to fish for it in groups run by a pacifist religion simply because they don't tow the official line? A lawsuit by various groups is now being brought to reign in big brother. Years ago, the COINTELPRO program was used to monitor and disrupt local activities. The government should never have a meddling hand in regards to them(unless their activities are illegal) Concerned citizens like myself, don't want to return to the J.Edgar Hoover days. mad.gif us.gif mad.gif
entspeak
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

Yes, it is. The government should not be originating the taps in the US without some kind of warrant or oversight. And it's not like the government didn't have the time to go to the court. There is a grace period in which the government can act and then go to the court to get the warrant retroactively. What happened in this case is that they acted and never went to the court... they bypassed that whole process.

If questionable information is received by an individual outside of the US by an individual in the US, then there is cause for the government to act and gather information in the US from that particular individual -- but not without a warrant and not without oversight. But the gathering of that information must occur outside of the US. Then you are not spying on US citizens.

Cube Jockey is correct in stating that there is nothing in the executive order to prevent spying on individuals in the US who are not connected to terrorist activities. We have only the President's word that this won't happen... that is not enough. That is too much of a blank check for potential abuse of power by the executive branch.

Freedom always involves a diminished amount of safety, that is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he made the statement regarding liberty and security. You can't be completely safe and free... not in this world. If you allow an individual to own a gun, you allow for the possibility that something bad will happen with it -- that an innocent person will die at the hands of it. That is life in a free society. If you allow US citizens to freely communicate, you allow for the possibility that they might use that ability to plan the destruction of the Brooklyn bridge. If, however, they are planning it in coordination with someone outside of the US, you just might be able to stop if surveillance is being done on that individual outside the US. You might not. That is life in a free society.

To give the executive branch authorization to spy on US citizens with no oversight whatsoever, is to open the door to tyranny because the executive branch will use the powers they are granted -- it is naive to believe otherwise.
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Lesly @ Dec 18 2005, 12:03 PM)
QUOTE(Amlord @ Dec 18 2005, 10:55 AM)
We must keep things in focus (how the heck did Quakers get brought into this conversation...   ?)
*


Quakers, along with other anti-war groups, make up some of the dangerous people being spied on.

QUOTE(DemocracyNow.org)
The list included: counter-military recruiting meetings held at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Forth, Florida. Anti-nuclear protests staged in Nebraska on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki. An anti-war protest organized by military families outside Fort Bragg in North Carolina. And a rally in San Diego to support war resister Pablo Parades. The Pentagon database described all of these events as threats.

- Pentagon Caught Spying on U.S. Anti-War and Anti-Nuclear Activists
The article you referenced has something to do with a Pentagon database. I haven't seen any reference to the NSA monitoring the Quakers' overseas phone calls and emails, which was the subject of this debate. I know that I'm being specific here, and that you have a general objection to the government monitoring any citizens (which I respect highly) but this really does appear to be apples and oranges. The Pentagon monitoring anti-war groups is much more a la Hoover's FBI, while the NSA thing is much more targeted at overseas / terrorists. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

QUOTE(lesly)
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Dec 16 2005, 05:30 PM)
QUOTE
Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.
Still waiting for the hue and cry about this leak, the CIA rendering flights leak, the Eastern European prisons leak... I also will not hold my breath.
*


This is a straw man. Outcry concerning this leak and the Eastern European prisons would require us to presume that there is nothing our intelligence agencies can do that justify the actions of the leaker. By that interpretation the FBI’s Carnivore internet spying program, as Clinton was on the way out, should have gone online without notice and debate from House and Senate appropriations committees.

It's not a straw man. The CIA is leaking like a sieve. Over and over, we see front-page NY Times articles that reference dozens of anonymous sources. In this case as with the European detentions and rendition flights, these leaked stories directly impact national security by compromising ongoing operations. It's hypocritical at best.

As for the general issue of spying on "US citizens" the FISA is specific that, if these citizens are acting at the behest of a foreign power, the President certainly does have the right to tap their phone. Traitorious terror-abettors Sami al-Arian and Lynne Stewart come to mind.
Erasmussimo
I occasionally drop in here to see if there's anything I can learn from the debate here, and I am often disappointed, but this particular discussion is particularly bereft of information and logic. I would suggest that those who are interested in the subject consult some of the material on Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com). In particular, this, this, this, and this.


carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Erasmussimo @ Dec 19 2005, 10:49 AM)
I occasionally drop in here to see if there's anything I can learn from the debate here, and I am often disappointed, but this particular discussion is particularly bereft of information and logic. I would suggest that those who are interested in the subject consult some of the material on Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com). In particular, this, this, this, and this.

While we indeed appreciate your gracing us with your presence, we find this type of post bereft of addressing the questions for debate. This is not a blog, so my posting something like the following - see how unhelpful this is?

If you'd like an opposing view, I'd suggest consulting Hugh Hewitt (hughhewitt.com). Especially here or here.

I would much prefer that refute the posts "bereft of information" and logic rather than criticize them from 30,000 feet and then run back to comment on the Daily Kos site. That's what makes ad.gif so much fun.
CruisingRam
Well, CW- since you put on the tinfoil hat and believe that the CIA is out ot get poor GW to "make him look bad"- I think he does that quite nicely by himself- it is what happens when you vote for a guy that is posibly the most incompetent man in US history to hold the office- not to mention trying to keep up with Grant, Reagan and Nixon for corporate corruption- LOL

Yes, poor GW just can't get a break from those mean ol' CIA liberals LOL- seriously- that one should be on the political joke thread- in fact, I am going to use it alot now LOL


How is the above statement germane to the questions at hand? I think it all plays into GWs blantant disregard and contempt for individual rights in this country- pretty much he is on the wrong side of liberty in every single issue that has become before him since he stole the election in 2000.

Of course it is unconstitutional- of course it is wrong-

I always tell those that would support GW on his various idoitic or evil deeds- "Okay- would you be okay if Clinton was spying on various right wing organizations like the NRA?" - if you can apply that to an organization YOU belong too, and you are okay if YOUR political opposite is doing this thing you are defending- then you probably are too trusting of your goverment.

What boggles my mind is that the very <ahem> "conservatives" (who are more and more sounding like 70s liberals without the concern for thier fellow citizen) - is that with one sentence will decry "to large a goverment" and "goverment abuse of power" or "holding goverment responsible" - won't apply this to folks like GW and thier own <ahem> <cough> "conservatives"?

So I ask folks like Amlord and CW- would you be okay if Janet Reno was doing the same thing? But not for the quakers- perhaps the pro-war crowd?
Erasmussimo
Sorry, Carlitos, but it's much cleaner up here at 30,000 feet, and your idea of fun is not my cup of tea. My post was informational, not argumentative, as I have no interest in arguing with you. If you are not interested in following up on the information -- don't! It's my expectation that others will in fact be interested in acquiring some more detailed information about all this.
Jaime
QUOTE(Erasmussimo @ Dec 19 2005, 12:59 PM)
Sorry, Carlitos, but it's much cleaner up here at 30,000 feet, and your idea of fun is not my cup of tea. My post was informational, not argumentative, as I have no interest in arguing with you. If you are not interested in following up on the information -- don't! It's my expectation that others will in fact be interested in acquiring some more detailed information about all this.
*


Be constructive in your posts. If you're not interested in engaging others in actual debate, perhaps a blog is better suited for you.

TOPICS:
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?
Amlord
Thanks for the links to the very balanced DailyKOS, Erasmissimo. If I didn't know where to go for left-leaning commentary, I do now!! thumbsup.gif

As I cited, the FISA Act of 1978 has provisions for warrantless searches. These searches are limited to foreigners and "agents of foreign powers" the definition of which has been expanded by Congressional fiat (i.e. they passed a law laugh.gif ).


The Echelon program, employed by the NSA to monitor electronic transmissions, has been performing essentially warrantless searches for decades. During that time, both parties have been in control of the executive branch and the Congress. Little has changed, to no one's surprise.

The fact that this particular use of our intelligence gathering capabilities when it is actually being used against our enemies is disheartening to say the least. I can see the concerns with monitoring our European allies or economic summits, but we are talking about enemies of our country in this thread.

QUOTE(entspeak)
Cube Jockey is correct in stating that there is nothing in the executive order to prevent spying on individuals in the US who are not connected to terrorist activities. We have only the President's word that this won't happen... that is not enough. That is too much of a blank check for potential abuse of power by the executive branch.


I haven't seen a link to the executive order. Without source material, how can you contend that it does not prevent spying on US citizens?

If there is so much concern about "blank check potential abuse of power", why aren't we talking about the FDA (blocks drug applications and generally delays the distribution of new medicines everyday) or the IRS (spends tens of thousands of dollars auditing tax payers who owe less than the investigation costs) or other executive branch agencies (EPA, OSHA, EEOC--the list is endless).
entspeak
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Dec 19 2005, 11:15 AM)
If you'd like an opposing view, I'd suggest consulting Hugh Hewitt (hughhewitt.com).  Especially here or here. 
*



And exactly where does the President claim to get this authority now? What makes his vague, undefined Constitutional power suddenly specific and definable in this case? He claims he gets it from the Authorization for the Use of Force resolution passed by Congress in 2001. Unfortunately for him, that resolution does not give him the authority to use the NSA to spy on US citizens within the United States without a warrant. The resolution clearly gives him the authority to use the United States Armed Forces in any way he deems necessary in order to fight international terrorism. The NSA, last I checked, is not a branch of the United States Armed Forces.
CruisingRam
QUOTE(Amlord @ Dec 19 2005, 10:29 AM)
Thanks for the links to the very balanced DailyKOS, Erasmissimo.  If I didn't know where to go for left-leaning commentary, I do know!!  thumbsup.gif

As I cited, the FISA Act of 1978 has provisions for warrantless searches.  These searches are limited to foreigners and "agents of foreign powers" the definition of which has been expanded by Congressional fiat (i.e. they passed a law  laugh.gif ).


The Echelon program, employed by the NSA to monitor electronic transmissions, has been performing essentially warrantless searches for decades.  During that time, both parties have been in control of the executive branch and the Congress.  Little has changed, to no one's surprise. 

The fact that this particular use of our intelligence gathering capabilities when it is actually being used against our enemies is disheartening to say the least.  I can see the concerns with monitoring  our European allies or economic summits, but we are talking about enemies of our country in this thread.

QUOTE(entspeak)
Cube Jockey is correct in stating that there is nothing in the executive order to prevent spying on individuals in the US who are not connected to terrorist activities. We have only the President's word that this won't happen... that is not enough. That is too much of a blank check for potential abuse of power by the executive branch.


I haven't seen a link to the executive order. Without source material, how can you contend that it does not prevent spying on US citizens?

If there is so much concern about "blank check potential abuse of power", why aren't we talking about the FDA (blocks drug applications and generally delays the distribution of new medicines everyday) or the IRS (spends tens of thousands of dollars auditing tax payers who owe less than the investigation costs) or other executive branch agencies (EPA, OSHA, EEOC--the list is endless).
*



That is entirely my point Amlord- why are you so quick to defend GW when you have other fine guvmint institutions already abusing thier power? The only group that can keep GW in check is the self styled religious right conservatives- so where is the outrage? You okay with those other agencies powers too? hmmm.gif

The FDA and those others - with the exception of the IRS- has alot less freedom to hold you in jail indefinately without any counsel or contact- or "render" you to other countries for torture- so yeah, I am a tad more concerned with this use of the constitution as a bathroom item.
logophage
Amlord, you're making an interesting case for your position here. So far, your claim is that the Whitehouse is within its authority to employ warrantless searches on "foreign agents" who may or may not be US citizens, correct? Assuming these searches are being done on US citizens, who determines whether or not these searchees are, in fact, agents of a foreign power? Is there any oversight?

Also, my understanding is that the NSA can retro-actively get a warrant for a search when timing is essential (that is, they don't have to wait to get a warrant rather they can do a search and then get the warrant within 36-48 hours). Furthermore, the court, the NSA uses, has only ever rejected one search warrant request in its history. I assume this is because the NSA does such a good job justifying the need for these searches. Given these two items, why does the Whitehouse need to bypass these procedures? Is it because they don't have sufficient justification for these searches?
johnlocke
w00t.gif
This is the biggest non story of the year! laugh.gif

I can't believe that this story has exploded as big as it has. I'm currently waiting for two things:

1. A list of members in congress who actually knew about the wire taps as I'm told they are not few.

2. A phoney memo from Dan Rather mrsparkle.gif .

Where were all of these maniacs who are screaming about how evil President Bush is when Bill Clinton was doing the same thing sad.gif ???

QUOTE
On Friday, the New York Times suggested that the Bush administration has instituted "a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices" when it "secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without [obtaining] court-approved warrants."

But in fact, the NSA had been monitoring private domestic telephone conversations on a much larger scale throughout the 1990s - all of it done without a court order, let alone a catalyst like the 9/11 attacks.

In February 2000, for instance, CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft introduced a report on the Clinton-era spy program by noting:

"If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, there's a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the country's largest intelligence agency. The top-secret Global Surveillance Network is called Echelon, and it's run by the National Security Agency."
NSA computers, said Kroft, "capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world."

Echelon expert Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told "60 Minutes" that the agency was monitoring "everything from data transfers to cell phones to portable phones to baby monitors to ATMs."

Mr. Frost detailed activities at one unidentified NSA installation, telling "60 Minutes" that agency operators "can listen in to just about anything" - while Echelon computers screen phone calls for key words that might indicate a terrorist threat.

The "60 Minutes" report also spotlighted Echelon critic, then-Rep. Bob Barr, who complained that the project as it was being implemented under Clinton "engages in the interception of literally millions of communications involving United States citizens."


This story is from Newsmax and everyone knows that they are a conservative organization, but all the facts in the story check out. And it doesn't even scratch the surface of Bill Clinton using satelites to track people, reading private citizens e-mails in a program called "Carnivor" etc etc.

I don't know about the constitutionality of the whole thing and how it plays today against FISA and all, but I know it doesn't feel good to know the government is spying on me. mad.gif

Nevertheless, it has always been common sense that these things were going on, and people who didn't know it were probably just blind or uneducated. The terrible truth is that as I am typically seen as a biased conservative around here and maybe I am, people won't look in the mirror and admit that they always ignore what went on in the Clinton era, only to explode when George Bush does the same things.

This is the worse kind of hypocrisy mad.gif . From attacking Iraq due to WMD which Clinton did, to spying on citizens which Clinton did. I am so sick and tired of the media decrying President Bush as a liar and a Makievelli style Big Brother President and then calling conservatives biased in President Bush's defense, only to know that not one of the media agencies seemed to care about it when Bill Clinton did it.

It's extra-pathetic to know that it's not just WMD and Iraq that the media will ignore in correlation between Presidency's, but apparently EVERYTHING that President Bush does wrong is okay for Bill Clinton to have done whistling.gif .

Stupid. Just plain stupid.


jleavy
Well - as has been pointed out this is not exactly a new development, the NSA has been spying domestically for over a decade now (and did so more extensively during the 90s, tracking ordinary citizens as compared to the terrorist affiliates and supporters that Bush has done).
Amlord
I have not seen evidence that a US citizen has been the target of these investigations. I cannot rule it out, but I have seen no evidence.

I have already stated that my position would need to be re-examined if indeed US citizens were targets since FISA expressly covers agents of foreign powers (which now includes terrorists). Of course, US citizens can also be agents of a foreign power, but they should be allowed due process (i.e. a warrant).

I heard at lunchtime that the FISC has denied 5 warrants (out of 1900 or so) but your point is taken. I don't think the administration has cited concerns over not getting warrants, but has focussed on the timeliness of the warrants. It is not clear how quick that process is, although I have read that FISC judges are available around the clock.

Now, the President seems to be saying that the "all necessary and appropriate force" clause in the declaration of "War" against terrorists gives him authority. That justification is a bit too broad to be acceptable. Bush cited the exception under FISA which says that warrants are necessary unless Congress "otherwise authorizes".

QUOTE
"There were many lawyers within the administration who advised the president that he had an inherent authority as commander in chief under the Constitution to engage in this kind of signals intelligence," said Gonzales, speaking on CNN.

"We also believe the authorization to use force that was passed by the Congress . . . constituted additional authorization for the president to engage in this kind of signals intelligence," he said.

FISA says that, "A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally . . . engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute." Congress did indeed authorize the newly disclosed eavesdropping by statute, said Gonzales, when it passed the 2001 resolution called "Authorization for the Use of Military Force."


That interpretation is a bit broad to me, but the US Supreme Court has said that the clause gives the President the authority to detain suspects, actually calling it "explicit congressional authorization for the detention of individuals". So maybe the President's lawyers have it right...
entspeak
QUOTE(jleavy @ Dec 19 2005, 01:00 PM)
Well - as has been pointed out this is not exactly a new development, the NSA has been spying domestically for over a decade now (and did so more extensively during the 90s, tracking ordinary citizens as compared to the terrorist affiliates and supporters that Bush has done).
*



I see, so the fact that is has been going on for multiple administrations is a good excuse to allow it to continue and to allow a President to sign an executive order for it to be done -- genius rationale there. This is brilliant. I mean, sure, let's continue to allow this to be done even though it violates the Constitution just because it's been going on for over a decade. Just like Clinton and his lying scandal... this President is being called on it. And he doesn't have very good excuses to give, it seems.

Amlord,

It is 5 out of 19,000 warrants in it's history. Also, the administration can act first and then get a warrant retroactively... so this need for speed excuse is ridiculous. And the clause in the declaration of war specifically referred to use of the United States Armed Forces, of which the NSA is not a branch. Detainees are held by the military, i believe so... that action may fit within the confines of the authorization, but this action clearly does not.
johnlocke
QUOTE
I see, so the fact that is has been going on for multiple administrations is a good excuse to allow it to continue and to allow a President to sign an executive order for it to be done -- genius rationale there. This is brilliant. I mean, sure, let's continue to allow this to be done even though it violates the Constitution just because it's been going on for over a decade. Just like Clinton and his lying scandal... this President is being called on it. And he doesn't have very good excuses to give, it seems.


Care to respeond to my piece entspeak? Clinton being called on his lies is one thing, the media making a lie out of everything President Bush says even if they have to lie is another sour.gif .
jleavy
QUOTE(entspeak @ Dec 19 2005, 01:31 PM)
I see, so the fact that is has been going on for multiple administrations is a good excuse to allow it to continue and to allow a President to sign an executive order for it to be done -- genius rationale there.  This is brilliant.  I mean, sure, let's continue to allow this to be done even though it violates the Constitution just because it's been going on for over a decade.  Just like Clinton and his lying scandal... this President is being called on it.  And he doesn't have very good excuses to give, it seems.


Where is it exactly against the Constitution? The administration has said that everything is legal (according to goverment lawyers) and Congress has been regularly updated on this. Not to mention that there is no mention of US citizens being targetted - as Amlord has pointed out. So, again, exactly where in the Constitution is what Bush has done illegal? The only targets alluded to in reports have been foreigners (suspected terrorists) found here in the US communicating with known terrorist groups.
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(entspeak @ Dec 19 2005, 12:30 PM)
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Dec 19 2005, 11:15 AM)
If you'd like an opposing view, I'd suggest consulting Hugh Hewitt (hughhewitt.com).  Especially here or here. 
*



And exactly where does the President claim to get this authority now? What makes his vague, undefined Constitutional power suddenly specific and definable in this case? He claims he gets it from the Authorization for the Use of Force resolution passed by Congress in 2001. Unfortunately for him, that resolution does not give him the authority to use the NSA to spy on US citizens within the United States without a warrant. The resolution clearly gives him the authority to use the United States Armed Forces in any way he deems necessary in order to fight international terrorism. The NSA, last I checked, is not a branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Firstly, I was being facetious in my post. I didn't make any point other than here is a source and lookee they have an opinion on the matter. Was not meant to be taken seriously, rather was illustrating that this is not the way our debate works.

Second, I'd say that the President derives his power from the US Constitution, Article II, section 1, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Implicit in that duty is the power to protect our Government against those who would subvert or overthrow it by unlawful means. In the discharge of this duty, the President - through the Attorney General - may find it necessary to employ electronic surveillance to obtain intelligence information on the plans of those who plot unlawful acts against the Government - UNITED STATES v. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, 407 UA.S. 297 (1972) link. That case reaffirmed the presidential exception to the warrant requirement in Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 18 UA.S.C. 2510-2520. As Amlord notes, the subjects of that surveillance were expanded to include terrorists.

As for what the NSA did in the previous administration, I'd say that these current pieces of surveillance should be lauded or criticized on their merits, notwithstanding what may or may not have happened in the 90's.
Amlord
QUOTE(entspeak @ Dec 19 2005, 02:31 PM)
Amlord,

It is 5 out of 19,000 warrants in it's history.  Also, the administration can act first and then get a warrant retroactively... so this need for speed excuse is ridiculous.  And the clause in the declaration of war specifically referred to use of the United States Armed Forces, of which the NSA is not a branch.  Detainees are held by the military, i believe so... that action may fit within the confines of the authorization, but this action clearly does not.
*



Actually, the NSA provides most of the intelligence for the Defense Department.

NSA

QUOTE
NSA was established by Presidential directive in 1952 to provide signals intelligence and communications security activities of the Government. Since then, the NSA has gained the responsibility for information systems security and operations security training. The Central Security Service (CSS) was established in 1972 to provide cryptologic activities within the military and thereby a more unified DoD cryptologic effort. The NSA/CSS is also a combat support agency of the DoD.



So it is relevant.

EDIT:

From the NSA FAQ: NSA FAQ

QUOTE
Does NSA/CSS unconstitutionally spy on Americans?

No. NSA/CSS performs SIGINT operations against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers. It strictly follows laws and regulations designed to preserve every American's privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects U.S. persons from unreasonable searches and seizures by the U.S. government or any person or agency acting on behalf of the U.S. government.

Of course, people will believe what they want to believe. But if the mission of the NSA is not to spy on Americans, wouldn't they get the FBI or CIA to cover those missions?
entspeak
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Dec 19 2005, 01:44 PM)
Firstly, I was being facetious in my post.  I didn't make any point other than here is a source and lookee they have an opinion on the matter.  Was not meant to be taken seriously, rather was illustrating that this is not the way our debate works.


Noted.

QUOTE
Second, I'd say that the President derives his power from the US Constitution, Article II, section 1, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Implicit in that duty is the power to protect our Government against those who would subvert or overthrow it by unlawful means.


Ah, that's a stretch -- not to mention, a very dangerous and open ended interpretation -- which is why we have laws like the ones in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. To provide for checks and balances when it comes to executive power.

QUOTE
In the discharge of this duty, the President - through the Attorney General - may find it necessary to employ electronic surveillance to obtain intelligence information on the plans of those who plot unlawful acts against the Government  - UNITED STATES v. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, 407 UA.S. 297 (1972) link.  That case reaffirmed the presidential exception to the warrant requirement in Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 18 UA.S.C. 2510-2520.  As Amlord notes, the subjects of that surveillance were expanded to include terrorists.


This court case occurred pre-FISA... you know, the law the President violated? FISA gives very clear guidelines as to the conditions that must be met in order to allow warrantless searches.

QUOTE
FISA

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—

(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or

(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;

(cool.gif there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and

© the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and

if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.


If a United States citizen is a party in the communication... a warrant is required. That is the law as of 1978... not 1972, but 1978. Again, if speed is of the essence... the administration is allowed to act first and get the warrant later. Why is there a need to bypass this?

QUOTE(johnlocke)
Care to respeond to my piece entspeak? Clinton being called on his lies is one thing, the media making a lie out of everything President Bush says even if they have to lie is another

Sure, john... you mispelled Machiavelli.

QUOTE(jleavy)
Where is it exactly against the Constitution? The administration has said that everything is legal (according to goverment lawyers) and Congress has been regularly updated on this. Not to mention that there is no mention of US citizens being targetted - as Amlord has pointed out. So, again, exactly where in the Constitution is what Bush has done illegal? The only targets alluded to in reports have been foreigners (suspected terrorists) found here in the US communicating with known terrorist groups


There are rights granted to citizens that are being violated by this action. The illegality of it stems from a violation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which limits the situations in which the administration can conduct warrantless searches... period. The President has not denied the claim that these were US citizens being surveilled... the questions I've heard asked of the President all referred to spying on US citizens... and he has never stated that they weren't US citizens.

The fact that members of Congress have been updated as to the fact that the President was violating FISA and condoned it does not make it any less illegal. Nobody in Congress ever made the determination that FISA could be legally bypassed. Where is that resolution? Where is the new Act passed by Congress to supersede FISA? It doesn't exist.

QUOTE(amlord)
Actually, the NSA provides most of the intelligence for the Defense Department.


And Space Systems/Loral provides military hardware to the DoD... does that make Space Systems/Loral a branch of the United States Armed Forces? I don't think so. The NSA is a separate organization and is not specifically a branch of the military. It is not a branch of the United States Armed Forces. So, the NSA gathers intelligence and delivers it to the DoD... the President then has very broad authority to do whatever he deems necessary with the United States Armed Forces to make use of that intelligence in order to fight international terrorism. That is what was authorized. He was not authorized to expand the surveillance abilities of the NSA.
johnlocke
QUOTE

QUOTE
QUOTE(johnlocke)
Care to respeond to my piece entspeak? Clinton being called on his lies is one thing, the media making a lie out of everything President Bush says even if they have to lie is another


Sure, john... you mispelled Machiavelli.


I'm sorry I should have clarrified further. Do you have any intelligent insight about what I said in my post, other than a snide remark which clearly looks like you were trying to throw a stone and run away thumbsup.gif ???

Cowardice hidden behind bravado, is still cowardice.
entspeak
QUOTE(johnlocke @ Dec 19 2005, 02:30 PM)
QUOTE

QUOTE
QUOTE(johnlocke)
Care to respeond to my piece entspeak? Clinton being called on his lies is one thing, the media making a lie out of everything President Bush says even if they have to lie is another


Sure, john... you mispelled Machiavelli.


I'm sorry I should have clarrified further. Do you have any intelligent insight about what I said in my post, other than a snide remark which clearly looks like you were trying to throw a stone and run away thumbsup.gif ???

Cowardice hidden behind bravado, is still cowardice.
*



You can look at it however clearly you are capable, I have no response specifically to your post. You are sick of something and that's good to know, but I don't know why that should concern me? I'm dealing with the issue at hand. You are excusing the President based on the behavior of previous Presidents. I just don't see how the behavior of previous Presidents excuses this one. Can you explain that to me?

It's not cowardice, it's ignoring insignificance.
Jaime
Stop the petty bickering and debate in a civil fashion.

TOPICS:
1. Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Why or why not? If this case were before the Supreme Court how would they rule?

2. Does the President, charged with enforcing our laws, have the right to suspend them with an executive order when war has not been declared?

3. The United States is a country built upon certain freedoms we hold dear, is the potential benefit of this violation worth the cost?
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