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United States Government Privacy Politics

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.ledoux@gm a i l . com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @01:57PM (#18705327) Homepage
    ...fuck you Bush, get the hell out of office. I want my country back.
  • This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pfingst (99750) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:03PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:07PM (#18705523)
    ...fuck you and Bush. I want my country back.
  • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:08PM (#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++

  • Big Government (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shambly (1075137) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:09PM (#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.
  • by no_pets (881013) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:10PM (#18705565)
    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.
  • Freedom Isn't Free (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SandwhichMaster (1044184) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:12PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:21PM (#18705713)
    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.
  • This says it all. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RagingFuryBlack (956453) <NjRef511@gmaiCURIEl.com minus physicist> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:21PM (#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.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:22PM (#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.

  • by nietsch (112711) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:23PM (#18705745) Homepage Journal
    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 is even worse.
    I would not know how exactly, but it is up to you (and the rest of the USian people) to change your country in such a way that excesses like BabyBush can not happen anymore. Getting rid of district and inderect voting would be a very good start (and likely cause a civil war as your overlords do not like to give up their cushy jobs).
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:25PM (#18705787)
    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 acting in self defense, since the witnesses are now dead.
  • by Miseph (979059) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:28PM (#18705851) Journal
    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 benign reasons to be there.

    That said, any cop worth the stamped sheet metal badge would claim that they clearly announced their identity and presented a valid warrant, and for some reason people are always willing to believe them about it.
  • morons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:08PM (#18706581) Journal
    Open letter to everyone who is demanding this power:

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

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:09PM (#18706599) Journal
    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.

    In general most of your rant is on target, but you should stick to things that are true and verifiable, otherwise a casual observer might remark that both sides are equally dishonest.
  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:11PM (#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.
  • by ardent99 (1087547) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:27PM (#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?

  • Not Quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:27PM (#18706875)
    "At least it's mostly Bush voters suffering in Iraq"

    I don't think Iraqis can vote in US elections.
  • by The_Pey (532136) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:40PM (#18707087)
    This is also simply not true. The allegations that the majority of the troops on the ground and the contractors supporting the war effort are mostly conservatives that voted for Bush is baseless.
  • Re:Balance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dragonslicer (991472) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:46PM (#18707181)
    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".
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:01PM (#18707409) Journal
    I don't know, maybe it's because he's their boss.

    Seriously. How far do you think you'll get in the army if you walk around dumping on the president? The joker was blacklisting generals who disagreed with him before the damn war even started.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:03PM (#18707435) Homepage Journal
    Did you resond when they burned up kids at Waco?

    Yes. I bitched a blue streak in numerous directions.

    Did you respond when the CIA was gutted for political correctness?

    No. We don't need secret police, extra-national or otherwise. The doings of other nations are not our business until they are made to happen on our own soil, and then we don't need spies, we need heavy weapons. Of which we have plenty, as well as the means and will to deliver them.

    Did you respond when Clinton told FBI to drop Islamic groups and focus on Americans?

    No. I wasn't aware of it. I would have, though, as I consider religion and religious groups to be one of the most dangerous and poisonous - and unavoidable - elements of any nation that wants to embrace freedom. Of course, I would have insisted that without warrants issued for cause, the FBI had no right to "focus" on anyone.

    Did you respond when the ACLU took the side of terrorists while going after Boyscouts for not allowing pervets in?

    Yes. I thanked the ACLU for protecting the rights of one of our minorities. Homophobia is a disease, specifically a mental disorder, one you apparently have in spades. You should seek help.

    Did you respond when millions of illegals were allowed to cross over with no checks and creating financial, health and security risks?

    I am pro-immigration. We are all immigrants, or the children of immigrants some generations removed. My own paternal ancestors immigrated here in 1634. That doesn't make me any better - or worse - than someone who immigrated here yesterday, or across the land bridge millennia ago. I have no objection to immigration; I don't consider it a threat on any level. I do consider the blue-collar knee-jerk response to immigrants to be one of the defining characteristics of uneducated trash. I still think of "I lift my lamp beside the golden door" as something beautiful. You might want to look that up.

    Did you respond when Clinton shot crusie missles at people to distract people from the intern whose vagina he stuck cigars in?

    To the extent that the president manages to have a sex life, I think that should between the president and the president's partners. I consider any questions by the public or any arm of the government in that regard of any citizen of the country, unemployed or employed in the public or private sectors, as a blatantly unconstitutional, unethical and immoral invasion of consensual and victimless activities.

    Regarding his use of cruise missiles, it is my impression that he was making very limited, very strategic attempts to precisely hit terrorists in direct response to hits they had made against us. I don't expect all such attempts to be successful; I do expect the executive, in its role of CinC, to attempt to defend the country and I much prefer a limited response such as a few cruise missiles, than I do the invasion of an entire country at the expense of American soldier's lives.

    People keep focusing on there little pet issues while ignoring the big picture.

    Yes, Mr. AC, they certainly do.

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:13PM (#18707707) Journal
    Some people believed the lies.

    And then there were the rest of us. I am not a pacifist; I like a good war as much as the next guy. But if we're sending people to die, it damn well better be for a good reason. The case against Iraq was utter bullshit; it was a regurgitation of crap that we've known for fricking decades wrapped in a smoking 9/11 flag, and if you fell for it you should be ashamed for being so damn stupid.

    Genocide among the Kurds? No, really? There were goddamn Doonesbury strips about it at the end of Gulf War I. Chemical Weapons? Duh. See Gulf War I, and the SCUD launchers that had everybody crapping their pants. Giving money to terrorists? That's like a sport in the Middle East...You don't see us invading Saudi Arabia do you?

    If you didn't see through that case, to the fricking drooling they were doing at the thought of invading Iraq, you really need to work on your bullshit detector.
  • by necro81 (917438) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:18PM (#18707819) Journal
    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.
  • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:21PM (#18707865) Journal

    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???
  • by dmartin (235398) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:26PM (#18707989)
    Come on.

    I did not support the war, I felt that the evidence was flimsy but I think that you are being unfair to those that did.

    You are correct that there was evidence presented. For example the aluminium tubes were presented and were real. However, there was other "evidence" (testimony) that was completely bogus: such as claiming the only purpose for those aluminium tubes could be the manufacture of weapons grade plutonium. Now in this case, you may say that any rational, thinking person should be responsible enough to tell the difference between physical evidence and someones opinion. There would be a real problem if physical evidence was fabricated, but it wasn't. As I understand your position, it is simply the case that the implications and conclusions drawn from the physical evidence was overstated.

    The reason that I disagree with your sentiment is that much of the evidence that compells governments to say "we know that [country X] was behind/ has/ did [Y]" is classified. They say "trust us". The overplayed example of the Twin Towers is a good example of this. How did we (the public) know that the Taliban played a key role in the Twin Towers incident? There is lots of information now about why that conclusion can be drawn, but it was relatively sparse at the time. In New Zealand, where I was living, the government pledged its support to the US and explained that it knew because of "classified information". I was against NZ going into Afganistan because I felt that they had not proven their point. As it turns out, the evidence they were working off was reliable -- or, more precisely, the conclusions they drew from the evidence presented are the same as the conclusions one can draw from the reasonably reliable information now publically avialable.

    The real question is this: how can the public make an informed decision about the validity of the conclusions drawn if the evidence itself is classified? For this reason I believe that the US government bears far greater responsibility and did lie to the population when they said over-and-over that "we know that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction".

    The other point which is continually raised is

    People voted for the war because Sadam was a really bad buy, Iraq was a state sponsor of terror, and a lot of people here felt like we had unfinished business from the end of the first war. The WMDs were just an excuse to claim that their was an eminent threat that needed to be eliminated. That's why people did not scrutinize the evidence.

    I agree that Saddam is a bad guy, and I think that you would be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees. But, if that is sufficient for making the case for an invasion, sell your invasion on that basis. Then people are able to have a rational discussion of what the costs and benefits are to their country and the Iraqi's of invading Iraq and disposing of Saddam. To try and scare people into agreeing with you and your plan of action by creating an imagined threat off flimsy evidence is dishonest. It amounts to being lied to.

    The best thing I think that people should take out of your post is that there is an absolute need to question your government and not believe them. However, to try and get reliable information we should also be holding them responsible for misrepresenting information and actively engaging in spreading things they knew not to be true (see grandparent post about Cheney last week connecting AQ and Iraq). To dismiss these lies as acceptable because people should be questioning their government (and they should be!) is counter-productive.
  • Re:flamebait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:31PM (#18708073) Journal
    > We are the greatest country precisely because...

    It's the greatest country because that's what you were taught as a kid, just like everyone else in the world who thinks that their country is the greatest.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:34PM (#18708143)
    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.
  • You made the right choice in not voting democrat or republican. A vote is always worth one vote. Voting for the party that wins, or might win, does not increase or decrease the value of your vote. It is always one vote. You can and should vote your conscience, and you did. Kudos.

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