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Justice Department To Review Domestic Spying 222

Posted by kdawson
from the yep-they're-listening dept.
orgelspieler writes, "According to the New York Times, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine has opened a review of his department's role in the domestic spying program. Democrats (and some Republicans) have been requesting an all-out investigation into the legality of the so-called 'Terrorist Surveillance Program' since it was made public. But this new inquiry stops short of evaluating the constitutional legitimacy of the program." From the article: "The review, Mr. Fine said in his letter, will examine the controls in place at the Justice Department for the eavesdropping, the way information developed from it was used, and the department's 'compliance with legal requirements governing the program'... Several Democrats suggested that the timing of his review might be tied to their takeover of Congress in this month's midterm elections as a way to preempt expected Democratic investigations of the N.S.A. program."
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Justice Department To Review Domestic Spying

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  • by finkployd (12902) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:01AM (#17031914) Homepage
    And one reason alone...

    "I'm sorry Senator, I cannot comment on the program due to an ongoing Justice Department investigation" - Alberto Gonzales, speaking to the new Democrat controlled congress sometime next year

    Finkployd
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:09AM (#17032008) Journal
      "I'm sorry Senator, I cannot comment on the program due to an ongoing Justice Department investigation" - Alberto Gonzales, speaking to the new Democrat controlled congress sometime next year
      He sure isn't afraid to speak his mind now [cnn.com]. And I think that's been his stance since the beginning [cnn.com].

      Regardless if they're doing this to prevent a congressional hearing, I think all of Bush's cabinet are in up to their necks with this thing. They've promoted it, publicly praised it & even publicly defended it--I'm excited to see it publicly scrutinized & watch revisionist history write them all off as enemies of the constitution. I mean, my grandfather tells me about the horrible things the president authorized against Japanese-Americans during World War II & my father tells me the horrible things that Nixon did. I'm sure there will a time when I'm a haggled old coot that keeps telling my kids how lucky they are not to have a president that's pushing for government archival of their phone & internet records--and that's the only part I knew about which mean it must be twice as worse! So I put an onion in my pocket which was the style at the time ...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Revisionist history, eh?

        This domestic spying is without warrant. Thus, it very clearly violates that amendment of the Constitution known as the Fourth. It also is against the very specific set of statutes known as the FISA statutes. FISA is short for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. If an executive branch office wants to spy on the American people because they think they may gain foreign intelligence (i.e., the infamous bad guys were calling into the United States so we had to spy on all of you e
      • Are you implying that Bush's spy plan was constitutional? I don't see where 'revisionist history' comes into play here...Bush and Co. seem to prefer 'revisionist present' where they lie through their teeth until the evidence of their evilness can no longer be denied.

        lying is evil.
      • I think that Congress is looking for water in a dry hole. Let us consider that the president's people have made the right actions over the last 6 years. Because, we all know, the president could not sell umbrellas, or wind shield wipers in a rain storm. If the president was really interested in hosing the expansion of Islam, he would move America in the direction of the Hydrogen Dollar, he has not. I just find it hard to accept that the pipe line from Iraq through Jordan through Israel/Lebanon is to be
      • by Guppy06 (410832)
        "I mean, my grandfather tells me about the horrible things the president authorized against Japanese-Americans during World War II"

        And is Franklin Roosevelt reviled today because of it? No, we put him on the dime.

        The only president I can think of that approached this level of contemporary controversy in office over executive powers and the like is Lincoln, and we put him on money too. I believe I've said it before, but as much as we dislike Bush, until 2009 January 20, he's just an assasin's bullet away f
  • Preemptive strike (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:11AM (#17032024)
    It's a preemptive move. Either the justice department can order an inquiry (Justice dept = Bush cronies), or Congress can order a special investigator (which would be independent).

    So this is a preemptive move, designed to head off a full investigation.
    • by walt-sjc (145127)
      Well, yeah. Fox watching the hen house. It will be no surprise when they release their findings.
  • Stops short? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:13AM (#17032048)
    But this new inquiry stops short of evaluating the constitutional legitimacy of the program

    Unless, when they say "Justice Department" they actually mean "Judges," then of course it "stops short" of determining the constitutionality of a program. That's what judges do. They don't always do it well, but that's what they do.
    • by DannyO152 (544940)

      Absolutely correct. The Justice Department will make a finding about the operations as they relate to current law. (The really interesting bet is whether they will resort to referencing Presidential War Powers to aid the lipsticking of this pig.)

      Regarding constitutionality, judges don't investigate that. They ajudicate a dispute between two parties, one of whom is arguing that some activity or law is harming them and is in conflict with another law or the Constitution. The other argues that there was no ha

      • They key is "request". A case is dropped only by the consent of the plaintif or a ruling of the court.

        Point 2 is that Judges DO rule on constitutionality, and they are the final word. Article III of the constitution. Try reading it some time.
  • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:35AM (#17032280) Homepage
    Does anyone else find it interesting how slowly the slashdot crowd is responding to this topic? I figure it's one of three things, but I can't guess which:

    - We're too tired of talking about this issue
    - We realize that we all agree it's evil, and that no one is listening to slashdot
    - We're somewhat afraid that this topic will actually be read carefully by the Justice Department
    • The thought that the Justice Department would commit the resources to read Slashdot-word-vomit is more terrifying than, well, terrorism.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      thats because the non American readers are all sat hitting refresh and shouting 'FIGHT! FIGHT!'

      This one is going to be good...
    • Its only 8:44 am EST, most of us haven't enjoyed our coffee yet. Furthermore, what much more can we say that already hasn't been said?

      • Its about time!
      • Its a trap!
      • Cowboy Neal..or something
      • Its only 8:44 am EST, most of us haven't enjoyed our coffee yet. Furthermore, what much more can we say that already hasn't been said?
        • Its about time!
        • Its a trap!
        Cowboy Neal..or something

        You forgot:

        • Poland
        • "I for one welcome our Department of Justice Overlords"
    • by houghi (78078)
      You forgot one:

      - We wait for a repost
  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0,,-62440 89,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

    But that will not prevent the coming Congressional Wankfest and Witch Hunt. Henry Waxman as much as said so.

    The next two years will be a reprisal of the inept, ill conceived and utterly useless Iran Contra Hearings.
  • by giantsquidmarks (179758) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:40AM (#17032348)
    W says with this program he's "listening to al queda operatives in the United States make plans". My question is, if W knows al queda's phone number, why doesn't he go and bust them?

    In all these years one can count the number of terrorist convictions racked up by the DOJ on one hand. Experts are saying there is no vast al queda presence in the United States (see PBS Frontline "enemy within" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/enemywithi n/view/ [pbs.org])

    Who the heck are they listening to...?
    • by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:23AM (#17032964) Homepage Journal
      This is not hard to figure out. I am not being overly dramatic here, and I ask you to look at the sources I am citing and consider what I am saying seriously.

      These people basically have a centralized, facist mindset. They don't really believe in freedom; they think that the masses people need to be managed and controlled. They believe that there should be a class of ruling elites who run the show, and then the common folk, who have no real power or influence. They view society as a corporation, with a few owners, some managers, and a bunch of peon workers who just take orders. They want to be the CEO sitting in the control chair, watching a real-time dashboard of everything that everyone is doing.

      All of this tracking and surveillance they are doing has nothing to do with watching Al Qaida and terrorists. What they want to do is what all totalitarian governments -- be they communist or fascist -- want to do: track everybody. That way you can have control over everybody. Knowledge is power. Check out "IBM and the Holocaust". The Nazis were using then state-of-the-art information processing technology to keep track of Jews, opposition groups, everybody. Everybody had a number, everybody had a file. The same thing happened in communist Russia and in Iraq under Hussein. It's the calling card of totalitarianism.

      The smoking gun is the Total Information Awareness [wikipedia.org] program which was introduced shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is a conglomerate database of all electronic information that exists about everybody in the US -- all your bank, medical, school, work records -- even the purchases you make with your shopping club card. Due to public outcry, the program was ostensibly canceled, but in actuality all of the seperate features were just broken up into smaller programs. Check out the wikipedia article linked above.

      9/11 was the excuse for all of these fascistic plans to come out of the woodwork and be given a go. Yes, we do need to be protected from Al Qaida and other terrorists, but not at the expense of the constitution.

      Things are not bad yet, but they could go bad. Pieces are being moved into place that would give a dictator all of the tools that he would need to exercise incredible power. We are already seeing the media bullied, silenced, and propagandized. I guess the next sign of things getting worse would probably be disappearances and prominent people flee^H^H^H^Hleaving the country.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Experts are saying there is no vast al queda presence in the United States

      So the main solution to our Al-Qaeda problem is to basically strengthen our borders so that it's more difficult for Al Qaeda operatives to enter. That actually can be done without negative impact on domestic freedoms.

      -b.

    • In all these years one can count the number of terrorist convictions racked up by the DOJ on one hand.

      How is it that people keep getting this so wrong [usdoj.gov]? Mind you, that link is only some of the cases. Good grief.

      My question is, if W knows al queda's phone number, why doesn't he go and bust them?

      One end of those calls is overseas. Some are mobile phones. Some will end in countries that don't cooperate with the US. In some cases they just might want to watch to see who they keep talking to. They might be p
  • I just hope this Glenn Fine isn't related to Larry Fine (Wise guy, eh?)
  • I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong (and will probably try even if I'm right and they're wrong) but isn't the spying program we're talking about calls that original foreignly and only terminate domestically? Based on on the criteria that the spying program is being called "domestic" all cars sold in the US would be domestic regardless of location of manufacture and assembly unless you go to a dealership in a foreign country and purchase the car there and import it, it is no longer foreign. All w
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pojut (1027544)
      While I can understand where you are coming from, answer me this:

      How do they find out who is a terrorist and who is not? A part of that process is listening into RANDOM conversations with people they THINK might have SOME connection.

      In translation: They are grasping at straws. What are you going to do when they grab yours?
      • by mikelieman (35628)
        "How do they find out who is a terrorist and who is not? "

        Without a right to a Writ O Habeas Corpus, that's not a relevant issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by d3ac0n (715594)
      Diamon,

      You are correct in that the spying program is not "Domestic". This is just a term thrown around by politicos that want to frame the debate as one where one side is "Protecting the freedoms of Americans" and the other side is "Trying to take away our freedoms". The truth of the matter is that this is a program used to keep tabs on terrorist suspects abroad and their contacts in the United States. It's important and necessary as one of the weaknesses of any terrorist organization is thier communica
      • "...tabs on terrorist suspects abroad and their contacts in the United States. "
        So, how do you classify a person as a terrorist SUSPECT?? Isn;t it the same definition as a "Person of Interest".
        Michael Moore may be a boor and uncouth, but he atleast tries to bring the truth into blinding light.
        Are you saying Michael Woodward who wrote Plan of Attack and the rest of "Bush at War:" books as criminal?
        Since when is it illgal in US to expose the reckless witless war mongering of presidents? Since when is it crim
        • You may be unaware of this, but no communications outside the US borders are covered by the US rights to privacy. If you make a call outside the US, or into the US, it can be monitored.
          See here:
          http://www.eff.org/patriot/sunset/204.php [eff.org]

          Now if both sides of the communication are US citizens, they need FASA approval. If one end is NOT a US citizen, then listening in is fair game.

          Now, there are other rights, like not being able to use that information for anything other than National Security. You could, for ex
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If by "terror suspect" you mean "person who lives outside the United States," then I can see how you make a lick of sense.

        Otherwise, given that the Justice Department has steadfastly refused to give any details on who is being monitored (to avoid "aiding the terr'ists") you don't know who is being monitored, or for what reasons. You have no way of gauging their decisions on who should and shouldn't be monitored. You have no way of gauging whether anyone's civil rights are being violated. You have no way
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darby (84953)
        The truth of the matter is that this is a program used to keep tabs on terrorist suspects abroad and their contacts in the United States. It's important and necessary as one of the weaknesses of any terrorist organization is thier communication link.

        If that's the truth of the matter then prove it.

        Oh right, you can't can you? You, in fact, have no sane reason whatsoever to believe that ridiculous nonsense, do you?

        In fact, all you have done is repeat a proven lie by Bush, who has lied about damn near everythi
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      but isn't the spying program we're talking about calls that original foreignly and only terminate domestically?

      No. The program involves surveillance of purely domestic activity as well -- the program is 'limited' to people who are suspected of having contact with foreigners with links to al Qaeda. Once the connection with a foreign person of interest is established, the administration feels that the domestic person is then an OK target for surveillance. The program isn't/wasn't limited to wiretaps -- it

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        <i> the program is 'limited' to people who are suspected of having contact with foreigners with links to al Qaeda</i>

        God help us all if Kevin Bacon ever ends up on a watchlist. I have a Bacon number of 2.0.

        <i>First they came for the actors who worked with Kevin Bacon. And I said nothing. And then they come for the people who worked with the people who worked with Kevin Bacon...</i>
    • No, it also includes domestic calls that go out internationally. Bascially if you have any friends or relatives overseas, you would be subject to monitoring. Because, you know, Al Queda has cells everywhere. Saudi Arabia. Germany. Canada.
  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda AT etoyoc DOT com> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:15AM (#17032852) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, when they start frog marching DOJ officials for high crimes and misdemenors, I'll believe that congress is sincere. Until that point I'll be treating this as a dog and pony show to appease the rabble.
  • I mean, if the DOJ is taking the trouble to review it the prof must have told them it will be on the test. Though with all these benchmarks going around maybe it's a federal requirement now...
  • the first judge allow into evidence recordings collected without a warrant. This warrantless wiretapping hasn't been brought up before the courts where I suspect all evidence collected in that manner will be thrown out. No American will be convicted on it. Any worry I do have is supression of dissenting voice using illegal wiretaps.
    • I have one additional worry. Since Bush has said that terrorist suspects go to Guantanamo (or other, similar prisons) and do not have to be given a criminal trial according to U.S. law, then how many people arrested due to evidence collected by the warrantless wiretapping will ever see a court?

      That is something I really think is scary...
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @11:20AM (#17033828) Homepage Journal
    The NSA warrantless wiretapping is already officially illegal [blogspot.com].

    Bush violated the FISA [wikipedia.org]. The FISA is an exception to basic Constitutional guarantees of protection from government privacy invasion and arbitrary searches, within an extended compromise with rare, extreme cases where the government claims extraordinary necessity for speed and secrecy that the normal due process cannot accommodate.

    Bush violated the FISA exception that requires him to get a warrant. Therefore he violated the Constitution. Many times, over many years. As a matter of policy, with a large staff behind him. Bush is a criminal of the highest order. That means impeachment. You or I would go to Federal prison for years and be bankrupted [wikipedia.org]. Bush will clear brush at his ranch.
    • The NSA is part of the NSA. The military does not go to civilian courts for monitoring communication on battlefields. Once the NSA discovered that a known enemy (the wiretap target) has contacted someone within the US, they pass this information to the FBI. The FBI at this point needs to go to the FISA court to make the person within the US a target of a wiretap. Note that it has be reported that FISA judges will not grant a warrant purely on information from the NSA. The FBI must find some other infor
      • by sgtrock (191182)
        I assume that your first sentence was meant to read, "The NSA is part of the DoD." That's not actually correct. The NSA's charter consists of a one page executive order that was signed by Harry Truman. So far as I know, that charter has never been made public.

        The NSA does consume a great deal of data that comes from the DoD, but the DoD has little influence on how that data is interpreted, or how any resultant information is republished.

        The NSA at one time (may still do so for all I know) have complete r
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        That's funny, the Congress disagreed totally with you when it wrote the FISA, after the last uncontrolled tyrant, Nixon, spied on us with the CIA and NSA. And the Federal judge disagreed with you, too. Bush and his lawyer Gonzales seem to agree with you, though. There's a legal authority to respect.

        "It has been reported"? What is this, Fox News? The FISA court has granted practically every warrant, including post-facto warrants, that Bush has asked for.

        Bush has been violating the perfectly clear FISA that w
  • by glider0524 (847295) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @11:57AM (#17034490)
    1. This war on terrorism is our new Cold War. It will last a generation or two.
    2. Because we are at war it is necessary to engage in certain behaviors--renditions, torture, domestic spying, secret prisons, etc.
    3. We cannot tell you what we are doing because it would compromise national security during a time of war.
    4. The courts cannot review what we are doing because it will compromise national security during a time of war.
    5. Any newspaper reporter or news outlet that reports a leak of these programs can be put under oath and forced to reveal sources, under threat of going to jail for contempt.
    6. Only select members of Congress can know what we are doing. But they cannot tell anyone because it will compromise national security.
    7. When Congress passes laws, the president has the right to ignore these law if he believes they infringe upon his war powers or his role as Commander in Chief.
    8. The courts cannot review the president's decision in rule no. 7 because it would compromise national security.
    These rules have the very convenient effect of disabling ALL of the checks and balances on the executive branch of the government. Frankly, unless many thousands of Americans are dying, violence is erupting everywhere, and this country is teetering on the brink of economic/political oblivion, I see no reason to install an emergency autocratic government. Even if we were at that point, I would still want some above-board cost/benefit arguments explained to me as to how I'm going to be safer in reality (as to just "feeling" safer) by giving up some of my civil liberties and watching the world learn to hate us.

    Much like the rest of his political strategy (Iraq war, etc), Bush puts forward nothing but a flim-flam job of justifying inflated neo-con theories of the use of discretionary executive force. How nice it would be to make all the trains run exactly on time, if we could just arrest anyone who used to make them run late? Fascism has a certain appeal when you don't realize that it actually is fascism.

    We need checks and balances in the country.. anybody who doesn't believe that should closely read the Federalist Papers. Those guys were certified geniuses in the realistic exercise of power. They had the benefit of 1,000 years of European wars and history to examine human nature at its Machiavellian worst. They knew EXACTLY what they were doing when they set up checks on presidential power, they envisioned internal and external threats to the country every bit as clear and present as they are today.

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