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National Intelligence Director Seeks Expansion of Spy Powers 346

Posted by Zonk
from the can-someone-update-my-file-please-i-think-my-picture-is-old dept.
Erris writes "The Bush administration is seeking even less judicial oversight for their spying efforts both here and abroad. An AP story is discussing proposed changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act proposed by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. 'The changes McConnell is seeking mostly affect a cloak-and-dagger category of warrants used to investigate suspected spies, terrorists and other national security threats. The court-approved surveillance could include planting listening devices and hidden cameras, searching luggage and breaking into homes to make copies of computer hard drives.' One of their specific goals is prosecution immunity for communications companies who comply with the program, a sheild for groups that violate privacy laws in turning over information to the NSA. The article notes that 'Critics question whether the changes are needed and worry about what the Bush administration has in store, given a rash of allegations about domestic surveillance and abuse of power.'"
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National Intelligence Director Seeks Expansion of Spy Powers

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  • by JordanL (886154) <jordan DOT ledoux AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:57PM (#18705327) Homepage
    ...fuck you Bush, get the hell out of office. I want my country back.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...fuck you and Bush. I want my country back.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:12PM (#18705583)
        What was I thinking?
      • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:22PM (#18705735) Homepage Journal

        Too late. You didn't respond when they used Terrorism to erode many of your own rights. You didn't respond when they commenced a war against consensual, victimless "crime." You didn't respond when they redefined the commerce clause as meaning "anything we want it to mean." You didn't respond when they implemented FISA, the true beginning of legal "we don't need no warrant." You didn't respond when they put people on you-cannot-travel lists. You didn't respond when they put people on you-cannot-sell-to lists. You didn't respond when they violated the sex offender's rights, and the gun owner's rights, by imposing ex post facto punishment. You didn't respond when they began to sponsor religion. You didn't respond when they decided they could torture. You didn't respond when they put domestic internment camps into place. You didn't respond when martial law became valid for "anything the executive says it is." You didn't respond when warrants became secondary and the police became able to break and enter.

        Too late. Now any response you make will separate you from your comfort, your property, your family. And you won't do that. Too late.

        • specifically

          You didn't respond when they redefined the commerce clause as meaning "anything we want it to mean."

          ?? That clause is actually one that most conservatives dislike and think its been interpreted too widely by Liberals. This was the reasoning behind Clarance Thomas voting against the regulation of marijuana [cornell.edu]

          You didn't respond when they put people on you-cannot-sell-to lists.
          ?? Export controls? Those have been around for years and years, and really aren't specific to a single party AFAIK.
        • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:11PM (#18706627)
          Oh yes, many of us DID respond. They called us names like "unpatriotic" and some even went as far to call us traitors. Our Senators buckled at the first sign of resistance and failed to represent the voice of their dissenting voters. A two party system fails to work when both parties are on the same side.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917)
      At the risk of going completely offtopic, can you elaborate on what led you to vote for Bush in 2004?

      I can completely understand why a Republican would vote for Bush over Gore in 2000. But part of what made Democrats so suicidally distraught after the November 2004 was that they were sure that nobody, not even John Kerry, could lose to Bush after the PATRIOT Act, Abu Ghraib, etc.

      So I'm curious about what made you change your mind between then and now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MightyYar (622222)
        I ultimately voted for Kerry, but I practically had to force my hand down on the lever like Dr. Strangelove.

        Kerry was such... a... tool. And his rhetoric since the election has me unsure if we'd really have been better off with him instead of Bush. We certainly wouldn't have a democratic congress right now. If I didn't dislike Bush so much, I would have gone 3rd party.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ResidntGeek (772730)

          And his rhetoric since the election has me unsure if we'd really have been better off with him instead of Bush.
          We wouldn't have been! How many fucking times do you have to hear "the parties are on the same side"? How many times do you have to watch the parties vote the same way before you believe it???
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MightyYar (622222)
            Preaching to the choir... unless you think that abortion or gay marriage is the critical issue facing our country, there is little reason to get all heated up over a Democrat vs. a Republican.
      • by JordanL (886154) <jordan DOT ledoux AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:24PM (#18705761) Homepage
        In 2004, my decision was between someone who was a little off on the margins and someone who I honestly couldn't pin down, and any time I did, I hated what he had to say.

        As much as people rail at Bush for being daddy's boy, Kerry made me believe MUCH more that he wanted power for the sake of power, and at the time, that looked like something worse.

        Since he was reelected though, it's like he misplaced his... humanity or something. He doesn't stand for what he did the first term, he doesn't stand for freedom or justice, he doesn't even seem to stand for the conservative principals that got him elected in the first place.

        It was Kerry that made me vote Bush. I voted for Bush and I'm a registered Libertarian... that should tell you something...
        • by Nimey (114278)
          A lot of what the Decider has been doing started back in his first term, it's just that it was kept secret until after the second election. Wiretapping, waterboarding-is-not-torture, and so on.
        • He never stood for "conservative principals" he is a neo-con [wikipedia.org].
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MrCopilot (871878)
          Since he was reelected though, it's like he misplaced his... humanity or something. He doesn't stand for what he did the first term, he doesn't stand for freedom or justice, he doesn't even seem to stand for the conservative principals that got him elected in the first place.

          Lemme fix that for you...

          Since he was reelected though, it's like he doesn't care what the voters think/believe/expect of him.

          That's the rub about a president's second term, he has no incentive to keep the people happy or content,

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cyphercell (843398)

            Republicans would rather betray their own ideals then vote against a republican for president.

            I find this to be the most sickening reality in our democracy. It's not fiscal policy vs improved healthcare, it's red states vs blue states. I find this state of affairs thoroughly disgusting.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:40PM (#18706031)
        I remember the Florida recounts, that Democrats were whining, and "Dear God, when will this END!?"

        I remember 9-11, and flying the biggest damn flag I could find.

        Then I remember rumors of war with Iraq, and thinking we'd never do that--it was just about the stupidest thing we could do right then.

        Then I remember them doing it, anyway.

        Then I remember Kerry vs. Bush, no great candidate on either side. I remember thinking it was his mess, and he should clean the damn thing up. Neither one was that great, right?

        Then I remember more Diebold scandals. I still feel like they're frauds.

        Then I remember Haliburton, we're paying them HOW MUCH!? As if we aren't far enough in debt.

        Then I remember oil companies posting record profits while the rest of us were suffering. I didn't buy the "War for Oil" bit at first--Saddam was a bad guy--but damn if the oil companies weren't out to screw us over. I still think he got what he deserved in the end, but I don't think it was worth it in terms of the lives lost, let alone the way we went about it.

        Then I remember Abu Garib... since when is America allowed to torture people!?

        Then I remember hearing that they were holding American citizens and suspending habeus corpus. Isn't that illegal? If not, it sure ought to be. Even terrorists deserve a fair trial. NO government should be allowed to lock people up and throw away the key. Although I admit that I might be inclined to bend that rule if the people who originally did it were charged with treason and thrown in prison without trial...

        Then I remember hearing that our own country was spying on us for no reason and suing to make sure we didn't hear about it.

        Then I remember them blowing up lite brites in Boston, and getting even stupider, rather than calming down with respect to stupid security theater measures. Mind you, I've only flown twice since 9-11 and NOT because I'm scared. At this point, I'd almost rather walk than deal with airport "security" that's stupid, reactive and pointless.

        Then I remember a few other things, but mostly I remember getting so pissed at the Republican party that I turned my back on it and helped vote their ass out of congress in the mid term elections.

        I suspect other people may have similar stories.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lawpoop (604919)
          Do you remember the anthrax that was mailed to certain senators and news anchors? I wonder where the investigation is at this point. After six years, they should be close to solving this, right?
    • by 70Bang (805280) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:19PM (#18705681)

      But have you given thought to the slippery slope?

      Those "powers" will be in place for the next White House occupant. And if you think they'll rescind them, regardless of the political leanings, you're sorely mistaken. They will only add to the tools they have available. Pre Homeland Security, the CIA had no jurisdiction in the US. Now that Homeland Security is in place, they can simply make a request of someone at a higher level who can pose it to someone who does have the authority, then throw it back over the wall for the CIA to use.

      Perhaps we need to heed Dr. Kurtzweil from the X-Files movie?

      ...during a vacation when everyone is away from home, a national emergency is declared, FEMA takes over...

      (Or should we be wearing tinfoil hats, waiting for the black helicopters?)

      • But have you given thought to the slippery slope?

        Your post is a good example of why the "slipper slope" is NEVER a good argument. Government power ebbs and flows all the time, and has throughout history. You think the FBI today has power? The FBI is a shell of its former self of the 50s and 60s.

        You think there are restrictions on freedom? Take a look at the laws that were passed during WW/II (illegal to own gold, Japanese concentration camps, etc). Hell, we had price controls in the 70s! By a republic

      • by sootman (158191)
        Those "powers" will be in place for the next White House occupant.

        One of my favorite .sig's is along the lines of "will you still be happy with _________ (the patriot act, etc etc etc) when Hillary is president?"
      • by IdleTime (561841)
        USA has become a fucking banana republic. It's no longer a 1st world country.
    • It is bad enough that you are one of those morons that unleashed another four years of misery on the world by voting for a party color instead of using your brain and look past the mudslinging. The main problem your country faces is it's two party/district system. That concentrates the power in two parties that inevitably will be very similar and will be mostly serving their own interests. You vote not (only) because you think your candidate is the best the country has to offer, but because the other lizard
      • by JordanL (886154)

        The main problem your country faces is it's two party/district system.
        Actually, our two-party system saves us in many ways. I can't ellaborate much further, I spent an entire term studying the benefits and costs, and I can't concatonate that down to a /. post.
      • by Yaa 101 (664725)
        In my country it is forbidden for anybody working for parliament to have any connection with business, whether it is a position or stock options. As far as I know this is not the case in the US so they will never be able to solve this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lurker2288 (995635)
        Even if there were no political parties, individual candidates would still favor middle-of-the-road approaches because they generally appeal to the largest number of voters. Depending on the size of different interest groups (say, environmentalists) you may be able to pull more votes by taking a strong stance on a limited scope issue, but another candidate might still beat you by taking a position halfway between the extreme and the middle.

        As for the electoral college system...eh. Arguments for, arguments a
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Even if there were no political parties, individual candidates would still favor middle-of-the-road approaches because they generally appeal to the largest number of voters. "

          If ONLY we could get a candidate that was more middle of the road. It seems that all we get lately are those on the fringe elements on both sides to choose from. The extreme right-wing has hijacked the Reps....and the Dems, well, c'mon look who they have to run the party..Dean. They seem to be run by the far left extreme.

          I wish som

        • by nietsch (112711)
          With only two parties, there is no need for them to be in the middle of the road, they just need to be as unattractive as the other one. Nothing is stopping them from drifting to the left or right, as has happened in your country. In the Netherlands, the democrats would be ranked as far-right wing on most issues, and the republicans would probably be forbidden as the neo-nazis that they are.
          If you have more parties it is easier to determine the middle ground, just as a matter of statistics.
    • Suddenly I find myself becoming more sympathetic to the black helicopter fearing gun nuts. Wow, Bush really is a uniter!
  • by computational super (740265) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @12:59PM (#18705359)

    I've often wondered - suppose they surveil a house, assume nobody's home, and break in ("legally", if not justifiably). Now, if you were home, just sleeping when they broke in, and you snuck up and attacked the person you thought was an intruder - are you guilty of assaulting a police officer? I fear that the answer would be yes...

    • by king-manic (409855) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:03PM (#18705427)
      I'm a 100% sure that no matter what the actual events are the police report / fbi report will state you assulted the police officer without provocation after they had identified themselves. I can also promise that unless you are white, protastant, and affluent that you will be severely beaten if you managed to hurt that officer in anyway. Possibility of being murdered and then passed off as a guilty party is also there. These promises were valid before 9/11 as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by garcia (6573)
      Too many fucking crooks get their way in suits when homeowners protect themselves against the illegal entry/theft. If those pieces of shit are getting their way I can't imagine that the "legalized" pieces of shit would be treated any differently.

      I think that if the Bush Administration gets this that the American Public should have the ability to walk into Bush's bedroom at night -- after all, him and his lapdog cronies have perpetrated more spying, illegal activity and terrorism than any single citizen of
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Related to your question, what about states like Texas where you're allowed to use deadly force to defend yourself / family if you catch an intruder in your home? I imagine that as usual, federal law would trump state laws, and an otherwise self-defense case would be considered murder of a federal agent.
      • I think the self defense aspect does hold some credence assuming you live through the raid AND can still convince everyone (judge/jury) that you were honestly defending yourself. Probably just best to break his nose then apologize profusely.
      • by lawpoop (604919)
        "Related to your question, what about states like Texas where you're allowed to use deadly force to defend yourself / family if you catch an intruder in your home?"

        If the law really is as you say, that you are allowed to use deadly force to *defend* yourself from an intruder, then I would guess that you would have to show that you were reasonably threatened. If there were law enforcement officials just snooping around in your house, not threatening you, then you were not defending yourself if you harm them
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          As a single woman who lives alone, I consider any strangers breaking into my house to be a direct threat to my safety. I do not currently own a gun but I have seriously considered getting one, and if I were to do so, then shoot a stranger who entered into my home, I feel I had every right to do so. "But they identified themselves"? Hah. And rapists/murderers don't lie?

          Anonymous posting for obvious reasons.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Miseph (979059)
          I believe the theory is that strangers sneaking about your home at night pose an imminent threat even without doing anything else. For all that I abhor unnecessary violence and feel that many in this country are altogether too willing to use lethal force against any presumed "threat", I have to admit that this seems pretty sensible to me. If you're sneaking around my home in the middle of the night, I'm going to take that as an implicit threat on myself and my family, because you certainly don't have any be
        • by GryMor (88799)
          Pretty much by definition, if they break into your house they are threatening you and your family, and they have allready violated your property. Texas at least codifies this and, as of September 1st 2007, will extend that presumption to your workplace and motor vehicle. I'm unsure as to what other states have enacted similar legislation, but, many states, including Washington and Texas also have Stand Your Ground legislation, meaning there is no duty to retreat when you are legally in a place, and there wa
      • by 70Bang (805280)
        OT:

        Speaking of Texas, has anyone heard Texas is now the third largest state?

        They cut Alaska in half.

        (most of my friends from Texas seem a bit upset about that joke.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by no_pets (881013)
      You bring up a good point. This is exactly one great reason why there should be no emergency surveillance without court oversight. Just because someone is police or government agent does not mean that they are not a "bad guy". If someone breaks in without warrant then you should be able to stop them. Period.

      And that is just one point brought out in TFA.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Outcome 1: Lots of federal agents. Even if you are sufficiently armed, they also have the element of surprise. There is no reason to think you were acting in self defense, since you are now dead and cannot introduce this evidence. They will assume you were resisting being brought in by force.

      Outcome 2: You manage to kill the federal agents. When they fail to report in on the outcome of the raid, more agents will be sent out to bring you down and in greater number. There is no reason to think you were act
    • by SoCalChris (573049) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:28PM (#18705849) Journal
      Why don't you ask Randy Weaver how that worked out for his family? http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/cops _others/randy_weaver/1.html [crimelibrary.com]
    • by autocracy (192714)
      My favorite case: http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articl e ?AID=/20070314/NEWS/703140547 [heraldtribune.com] "John Coffin won't spend any more time in jail for beating up two sheriff's deputies inside his house, striking one in the head with a Taser gun he took from the other.

      ...Coffin, 56, had a right to defend his family and property because the deputies had no right to be in Coffin's house in the first place, De Furia said."

    • by compro01 (777531)
      sadly, yes. even if they do not identify themselves as law enforcement.

      such as with the case of Kathryn Johnston [wikipedia.org], and i also believe there is a similar case (can't seem to get info on it, due to ITs filters) where another person was tried (and convicted!) of 1st degree murder (though a new trial was ordered on appeal. don't know what the result was or if the trial is still in progress). the screwy thing is, if i'm remembering the case correctly, was that they weren't even after that person. they had a w
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:01PM (#18705389)
    ..... living in Soviet Russia is looking better and better every day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:02PM (#18705419)
    I for one will take a decrease in national security if it means that my privacy remains intact.
    • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:08PM (#18705533) Homepage Journal
      Anonymous Coward Said:

      I for one will take a decrease in national security if it means that my privacy remains intact.

      You are believing the fallacy. These laws do not increase security. The government and police already have all the tools that they need. These new laws will do one thing - They will decrease my security as well as my privacy.

      --jeffk++

      • by durdur (252098)
        Even if warrantless surveillance, breaking and entering, etc. are a little bit effective, you are giving up a lot of freedom, and drawing a lot of innocent people into the net of law enforcement, to find a very few bad ones. The government does make mistakes, arrest and spy on people who are no threat, and also has a long history of using law and intelligence powers to target people they don't like for political reasons.

        Plus, with all the powers they have, or want, some bad guys will slip through, anyway. Y
  • This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pfingst (99750) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:03PM (#18705433)
    Intelligence Director wants more spy powers.
    IRS wants fewer tax exemptions.
    Pope is Catholic.

    Really, what do you expect someone in that position to want? Something to make his job harder? Not that I think he should get what he wants, I'm just not surprised he's asking for it.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Really, what do you expect someone in that position to want? Something to make his job harder? Not that I think he should get what he wants, I'm just not surprised he's asking for it.

      We're not surprised they want it ... we're appalled to find out they're doing end-runs around the constitution, federal law, SCOTUS rulings, common sense, and everything else.

      They're not legally allowed to have it. Yet, they keep giving it to themselves.

  • If we don't like the idea ge will let us know that he is already doing it to make us feel better.
  • by IvanTheNotSoBad (977004) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:08PM (#18705529)
    From TFA:

    Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States.

    "Determinations about whether a court order is required should be based on considerations about the target of the surveillance, rather than the particular means of communication or the location from which the surveillance is being conducted," NSA Director Keith Alexander told the Senate last year.

    Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails -- such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.

    Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge.

    Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush's terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.

    Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.
    • by quantaman (517394)

      Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States.

      A lot of the Bush administrations rights abuses seem to be centering around people without US citizenship. Does anyone know if this selective application of rights to only apply to American citizens something that's alway existed in the US (albeit to a lower extent) or is this division something more or less invented by the Bush Administration?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by necro81 (917438)
      Well, at least they are seeking to change the law on the books, instead of flouting it and doing things their own way.

      Not that I'm anxious to see a furthering of the surveillance powers of this administration (or any administration, for that matter), certainly not on the terms they want.
  • Big Government (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shambly (1075137) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:09PM (#18705537)
    There is very little left to say about these continual abuses by the US goverment. Of course the one in charge of keeping the people safe want to increase the powers they have. No matter what they do or were stopped from doing if another terrorist attack happens people will blame them for everything they do. The problem is not that they are seeking power to protect their own interests it is that their is no strong oposition to it. If Americans revolted, held country wide strikes, marched down the street then you would see a change because not having that change would be even worse. As it stands, no one cares about your witty words and your self righteous indignation as yet more of your rights are removed. - I do agree that it's easy for me to criticize because i'm not an American and i understand that i just did the same thing here that I criticize in my post but what can i say I'm a hypocrite.
    • Even more (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:20PM (#18705691) Homepage Journal
      The politicians do care about witty words and self righteous indignation to the point where they want to promote the creation of even more forums where even more people can use even more witty words and express even more self righteous indignation because, as long as people are talking about it, they aren't actually doing anything about it--and that's what government is all about.

      I've already taken my stand and they made me homeless by treating me like a third class citizen on the job and then spreading enough garbage to prevent anyone else from wanting to employ me when I left.
  • by j-turkey (187775) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:10PM (#18705575) Homepage

    Wow, that's a first. The Bush administration usually just assumes expanded powers with less oversight, and then claim that they had those powers in the first place (followed by blaming the whistle blowers).

    Anyway, I sure hope that they don't get expanded powers with less oversight. Maybe it's based on my predisposition to distrust the Bush administration, but they sort of earned that on their own over time. It seems to me that these guys are the reason why we have oversight. Actually, if you look at history, FISA was designed to protect us from the Bush administration (indirectly, of course). Some of Bush's cabinet members also served in President Nixon's cabinet. Many of FISA's provisions were written because of the Nixon administration's abuses against American citizens. The same guys that were screwing us over then are running the show now, and are claiming that we don't need to be protected anymore -- the same guys. I sure hope that they don't get what they're asking for.

  • Freedom Isn't Free (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SandwhichMaster (1044184) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:12PM (#18705593) Homepage
    I know the bumper sticker that says "Freedom Isn't Free" refers to wars and the cost of defending our country. But I think the saying is MUCH more appropriate for garbage like this. If having freedom means I'm slightly more vulnerable to a terrorist attack, FINE. To all the cowards out there who will sacrifice anything for the slightest illusion of safety, I say "Freedom isn't Free", move somewhere else.
  • This says it all. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RagingFuryBlack (956453) <NjRef511@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:21PM (#18705715) Homepage
    Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one. - Benjamin Franklin I think that sums it all up.
  • ...breaking into homes to make copies of computer hard drives.' One of their specific goals is prosecution immunity for communications companies...

    This actually looks really scary to me. Seems they can have your ISP hack your computer (using it for illegal crap) and press charges against you, while the law would prevent them from pressing charges against the ISP.

  • Because you made a phone call!!!!

  • Remember RICO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jerry (6400) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:33PM (#18705913)
    It was made LAW for the purpose of fighting organized crime. Opponents claimed that it could and would be used against others. They were right. Now, RICO is used about 10,000 times per year, primary to add additional funding to law enforcement budgets around the country. In one episode of "COPS", featuring the sheriff who went on to make police videos for TV, they met before hand to discuss how they were going to divide the "loot"...i.e., the property of the family they had targeted with the act. Even if it later turns out that they raided the wrong house the "police" aren't required to return the property they stole using RICO. In more than one instance the home
      owner being raided at 3:30AM thought buglers were invading his home and were shot dead when they brandished a pistol in hopes of scaring off the "buglers".

    The RICO act is being abused as badly as the police at the South Denver precinct abused their power, a couple decades ago. The police would roll up to a block in force, cordon it off to prevent pedestrian or car traffic, then proceed to a building in the middle of the block. There, they'd start hauling out property and putting it into the police van. Afterward, the owner was called and notified of the "theft". The property usually appeared in pawn shops later on, but no one was ever caught until someone with a movie camera filmed the whole thing from a third floor apartment across the street from the target building.

    Reducing accountability for using FISA will only INCREASE its abuse. Public prosecutors like Mike Nifong, and even politicians, would use the added spy powers to further their own goals and political ambitions.

    No one is safe from RICO abuse. No one will be safe from FISA abuse.

    The Constitution? What's that?
    • by unity100 (970058)
      and i was thinking maybe i should move to united states in order to escape the ever increasing conservatist tendencies in turkey, mainly censorship.
    • by Nimey (114278)
      I'd be pretty scared too if someone broke into my house in the middle of the night and started playing Taps.
  • What a crock (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The current FISA court is basically a rubber stamp anyways, and it's not like us ordinary citizens have any oversight over it. Not that the Bush Administration or NSA bothered with FISA warrants (FISA warrant requests were minimal compared to during the Clinton administration).

    I await the flock of RINOs accusing me of political mudslinging and or hating America.
  • Balance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThosLives (686517) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:06PM (#18706545) Journal

    First of all, this site is not typically representative of the general population so opinions expressed here are often skewed.

    Second, what many people don't remember is that when we had the attacks on September 11, a large vocal fraction of the population screamed "Government, please do something to make us feel like this won't ever happen again."

    The result of that is the government says, "Ok, that means you'll have to let us take some of your freedoms, because in order to check and see if someone might do these Bad Things, we have to be able to learn about them without them knowing that they are being examined."

    Which is actually the only way you could even attempt to prevent such things from happening. The problem is that people are now starting to realize that hey, that's not really fun, but we still don't want to have some Bad People come in and mess us up.

    You really have to find balance and pick your posion: you can either live with freedoms and protection from unannounced surveillance with the real risk of unwanted activity, or you can give up freedom and allow such "nasty" governmental behavior with the very small additional security that gives.

    There is no practical way to have both security and freedom; they are diametrically opposed concepts by definition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dragonslicer (991472)
      Except the government doesn't need anything else to prevent terrorist attacks. They had what they needed before Bush was elected. I believe the phrase that best summarizes the current administration's ability to protect the country is "Bin Laden Determined to Attack United States".
  • morons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:08PM (#18706581) Journal
    Open letter to everyone who is demanding this power:

    You won't be in office forever, and you reap what you sow.

  • The "war" to protect our privacy and individual freedoms has been over for a few years now. Posting on the internet is not going to change anything. Anything you do, anything you say, anything you write is now fair game for surveillance and use against you.

    It's over, people. Democrats will use these powers the same way as Republicans because it is not about politics, it's about power. The era where our country could be one of the good guys is gone, and now the world sees us as just another threat to freedom
  • by ardent99 (1087547) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:27PM (#18706871)
    This administration has had a pattern of changing laws, and reinterpreting laws, so that they are less objectively verifiable, and more based on a "trust my judgement" attitude. To me, this is a dangerous path to take, and it seems to be present in these proposed changes as well.

    The article says

    McConnell wants to: _Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States.

    He wants to change the law to allow surveillance of foreigners inside the US, as opposed to the current law which, as I understand it, only allows surveillance of communications that involve a party outside the US. The current law has an objective standard that can be verified for compliance, namely that the communications goes outside the US. By changing the law to a characterization of the person, not the communications, it becomes less objective and more subject to abuse. Who is considered a foreigner by the people who want to spy on them? Someone who has lived in another country? A person with a green card? A person with a foreign accent? It is also easier to claim a "mistake" after the fact, and after the damage is done, when the criteria is so subjective.

    "Determinations about whether a court order is required should be based on considerations about the target of the surveillance, rather than the particular means of communication or the location from which the surveillance is being conducted"

    Once again, he is saying we should trust him to decide before the fact, based on his own judgment, whether seeking a court order to do the surveillance is even required. But more than saying the court should decide based on looser criteria, here he is saying the he shouldn't even have to go to the court at all, based on the extremely vague criteria "considerations about the target"

    _Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush's terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.

    One of the very few checks against abuse of government power that we have is that companies who comply with a request that is illegal may be punished for their compliance through civil liability. This responsibility makes them think twice. This proposed change removes any incentive for a company to think twice about it's own culpability. The only logical thing for a company to do if this change were made would be to rollover instantly to any request for surveillance, since it would be the path of no risk.

    These changes are simply more ways to dismantle checks and balances in the system, and make it harder for anyone in power to be held accountable.

    Even if you believe that the people currently in power are acting in your interests and can be trusted, what happens when the next guy takes power? Will you trust him to act in your best interests? How will you know if he is, if there are no longer any objective criteria to measure his actions against?

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