Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government United States News Your Rights Online

National Security Letters Reform Act Reintroduced 117

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-gag-me-bro dept.
eldavojohn writes "A bill introduced today, similar to one that died in 2007, would reform the plague of National Security Letters and greatly narrow their scope. On top of that, it would mandate the destruction of any wrongly obtained information discovered in audits by the Inspector General that uncovered widespread improprieties in NSLs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

National Security Letters Reform Act Reintroduced

Comments Filter:
  • by rodgster (671476) <rodgster.yahoo@com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:53PM (#27411205) Journal

    That is supposed to be what the courts and judges are for. Try reading the constitution some time.

  • ... information discovered in audits by the Inspector General ...

    Now, how about the vast amount of information I'm quite certain wasn't discovered in these audits? Remember who we're talking about here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was introduced by a Republican.

    • um, no. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:00PM (#27411271) Journal

      According to Thomas [loc.gov] it was introduced by a Democrat.

      But, sure, Republicans can sign on to bills that restore the rule of law to the USA, too.

      • by rts008 (812749) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:10PM (#27411713) Journal

        Apparently, you are right, but in the parent's defense:

        Now, with a new administration and a sturdier Democratic majority in place, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Monday reintroduced the National Security Letters Reform Act.

        First sentence of the second paragraph.
        Without further clarification being given in the entire Fine Article, it is easy to see where his comment(while biased) was not entirely wacked out.

        I would put more faith in the site you linked to compared to TFA linked in the summary.

        Two Thumbs Up(tm), and a standing ovation from me for:
        1. The link with the info
        2.* The motivation to double-check the source. That is too rare these days.

        Well done!

        Having said that, while information and documentation should be accurate, this is a small blip on the RADAR* overall.
        Wat's important here for the current discussion is the possibility of increased openness and manner of redress in regards to National Security Letters, and due process.

        I'm not trying to demean you or the above applause I gave, just adding some perspective overall. You do point out by example how discussion of a topic can break down into useless partisan flamewars though.

        But, sure, Republicans can sign on to bills that restore the rule of law to the USA, too.

        This is apparently what happened.

        In my mind, who introduces a bill carries slightly more weight in my mind than the co-sponsors.(although the more the merrier in regards to co-sponsors for a 'wanted' bill-YMMV!)

        Again, well done! You have shown admirable restraint with your reply.

        *I'm not shouting, it's an acronym.

      • minor quibble (Score:5, Informative)

        by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @01:29AM (#27412437)

        That was actually the previous introduction, in 2007, which died at the end of the last Congressional session. This reintroduced one is here [loc.gov]. It was introduced by the same person, though, so no substantive disagreement with your post.

        The 2007 version had 30 cosponsors, who were 27 Democrats and 3 Republicans. The 2009 version has 17 consponsors so far, who are 15 Democrats and 2 Republicans. So I wouldn't say it's hugely bipartisan, especially since one of the few Republicans in both cases was Republican-with-an-asterisk Ron Paul (Jeff Flake is the other).

        The Thomas link you give shows that the 2007 version was passed out of subcommittee in 2008 by a 7-3 vote. I'd be curious who the votes on each side were. By which I mean, of course, I want the names of those 3 fellows.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Interestingly, nothing chills republican circle-jerk fantasies of unlimited executive power quite like the possibility that a democrat might wield it.

      Who knows, another democratic term or two and the libertarian wing might actually start outperforming the authoritarian statist wing(though probably only at the same time that the invisible hand brings me a pony).
      • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:29PM (#27411457) Journal

        Interestingly, nothing chills political party circle-jerk fantasies of unlimited executive power quite like the possibility that an opposing party might wield it.

        Fixed that for you. If you think the phenomena that you have described is unique to Republicans then I think you are in for a rude surprise.

      • by rts008 (812749)

        You're deluded, it's bipartisan/tripartisan....It's Government at it's finest.

        '...Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss...'(it's a shame we leave out the 'won't be fooled again' part!)

        'The King/Queen is dead! Long live the King/Queen!'

        Welcome to reality, this concept is not new....Now Get off my lawn!

      • Who knows, another democratic term or two and the libertarian wing might actually start outperforming the authoritarian statist wing

        Which one is which? The humans and pigs all look the same.

        though probably only at the same time that the invisible hand brings me a pony

        I don't have one for sale; how about a pony brought by an invisible pink hoof?

    • by wstrucke (876891) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:12PM (#27411355)
      This anti-republican dogma has really got to stop. First of all, if you are going to believe in the myth of the "two sided democracy", then you have to at least admit that there are both good or bad eggs on both sides of the aisle. If that weren't true, then there would be no way we would be in the constitutional mess we are in today -- as soon as the "right" side got the majority, everything would have been fixed. Since that's obviously not the case, you have to assume that each majority has its' own agenda and the entire contemporary political machinery exists solely to maintain the existing power base in Washington and the elite of the U.S. Only when we as a society can get beyond the Democrat versus Republican myth will we truly start dismantling the subterfuge that is destroying our liberties, our Constitution, and our democracy. If we start looking at every politician based soley on his or her merits alone and ignore his or her political affiliation we would see the enormous "change of course" that we have been promised oh-so-many times and never actually seen.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

        Only when we as a society can get beyond the Democrat versus Republican myth will we truly start dismantling the subterfuge that is destroying our liberties, our Constitution, and our democracy. If we start looking at every politician based soley on his or her merits alone and ignore his or her political affiliation we would see the enormous "change of course" that we have been promised oh-so-many times and never actually seen.

        What have you been smoking?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556)

        If we start looking at every politician based soley on his or her merits alone and ignore his or her political affiliation we would see the enormous "change of course" that we have been promised oh-so-many times and never actually seen.

        The problem is that the vast majority of voters will never do that. The politicians know this and they know the key to winning is name recognition and publicity. That requires vast amounts of money in the modern era, which requires a vast organization (i.e: political party) to raise and manage said funds. Like most other large organizations the political party eventually forgets its original mandate and starts to focus on preserving and expanding the organization.

        Smarter people than I have failed to com

        • by causality (777677)

          If we start looking at every politician based soley on his or her merits alone and ignore his or her political affiliation we would see the enormous "change of course" that we have been promised oh-so-many times and never actually seen.

          The problem is that the vast majority of voters will never do that. The politicians know this and they know the key to winning is name recognition and publicity. That requires vast amounts of money in the modern era, which requires a vast organization (i.e: political party) to raise and manage said funds. Like most other large organizations the political party eventually forgets its original mandate and starts to focus on preserving and expanding the organization.

          Smarter people than I have failed to come up with a viable solution to this problem. In short, we are all screwed.

          That's what I mean when I say that we've lost our way. I do, with respect, disagree with you on one thing: "smart" isn't going to solve this problem. Wisdom is up to the task, however. The misunderstandings about wisdom happen not because it is so difficult that few could hope to grasp it, but rather, because it is so simple that nearly everyone overlooks it. The way I see it, there are but a few root causes of the mess we're in:

          The original American spirit of rugged individualism, independence, and

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)

        Perhaps I'll stop with my anti-Republicanism when they stop actively fighting my self interest.

        If they want me to stop hating them perhaps they should stop fighting hate crimes legislation and preventing me from having all of my rights. Perhaps they should acknowledge that as a citizen, one that pays taxes no less, that I should have an equal amount of freedom.

        But then again, we could just pretend like the party doesn't have some incredibly anti-American policies. Perhaps we could then force it into a dogma

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:33PM (#27411845)

          Why is "hate crime" legislation a good thing again? Honestly... why do you care about a person's motives when they beat someone up or kill them? It's assault and murder, all the same. It's all unacceptable, no matter the motivation.

          • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by billbaggins (156118)

            Why is "hate crime" legislation a good thing again?

            If I beat you up and leave you for dead, that's one victim.

            If I beat you up and leave you for dead because I don't like your hair color, and it's known that I belong to a large group of similarly-minded people, then not only have I victimized you, but everyone who has your same hair color is now going to be looking over their shoulders, in fear that one of my compatriots is after them next.

            That's why "hate crimes" deserve special punishment - because they have the intent and effect of victimizing not just

            • by moeinvt (851793)

              " . . . everyone who has your same hair color is now going to be looking over their shoulders, in fear that one of my compatriots is after them next."

              Unless their hair color is blonde, in which case they're a "racist" for looking over their shoulder.

            • That would be the case for a general definition of hate crimes as something that's intended to intimidate a group of similarly-minded people. But hate crime statutes generally only protect specific, enumerated groups of similarly-minded people. So, for example, the federal Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Act provides for enhanced penalties if the victim was selected due to "actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation".

              Note that your exam

          • by lawpoop (604919)

            Because a hate crime is not just a crime against the victim. It's intended to affect the class of poeple that the victim belongs to.

            When the Klan burns a cross on a black family's lawn, or a gang beats up an apparently gay man on the street, they are not just tyring to harm their victims. They are threatening and intimidating all black homeowners in that area, or gay people going about their daily lives.

            It's terrorism, plain and simple, against a class of people. The victim is just an exam

        • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:38PM (#27411869) Homepage Journal

          Perhaps I'll stop with my anti-Republicanism when they stop actively fighting my self interest.

          If they want me to stop hating them perhaps they should stop fighting hate crimes legislation and preventing me from having all of my rights.

          Meaning that your rights are better the somebody else's because you're in some "special" group. So if you get assaulted your assailant should be punished more than if you assault them. Yea, I get your issue with them, there.

          Perhaps they should acknowledge that as a citizen, one that pays taxes no less, that I should have an equal amount of freedom.

          That's funny, it sounded like you just said you wanted a greater amount of freedom than somebody else - my mistake, I guess. Wait - what's that "hate crimes" legislation that you want all about again?

          But then again, we could just pretend like the party doesn't have some incredibly anti-American policies. Perhaps we could then force it into a dogma because clearly people's own self interest must be dogma.

          Dogma? Self interests? You lost me. What is it the Republicrats - err, I mean the Republicans doing to you again?

          I think it's vaguely ironic that you can't comprehend that people might hate the Republican party on it's merits without being strict partisans.

          What's ironic is that you don't seem to be able to articulate anything specific that you think is bad about that party in particular.

          • by Improv (2467)

            Perhaps I'll stop with my anti-Republicanism when they stop actively fighting my self interest.

            If they want me to stop hating them perhaps they should stop fighting hate crimes legislation and preventing me from having all of my rights.

            Meaning that your rights are better the somebody else's because you're in some "special" group. So if you get assaulted your assailant should be punished more than if you assault them. Yea, I get your issue with them, there.

            No, the rights are the same, but not all assaults are the same. There are social issues - assaults that are based on enduring hatred of some traditionally weaker parts of society deserve special attention. Intent of an attack is a big part of consideration in how justice systems work.

            I may have a right not to be robbed when walking down the street, but there is a world of difference between someone robbing me because they need food, because they want new shoes, and because they hate me because of my race/se

        • by causality (777677) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @12:05AM (#27412049)

          Perhaps I'll stop with my anti-Republicanism when they stop actively fighting my self interest.

          If they want me to stop hating them perhaps they should stop fighting hate crimes legislation and preventing me from having all of my rights. Perhaps they should acknowledge that as a citizen, one that pays taxes no less, that I should have an equal amount of freedom.

          But then again, we could just pretend like the party doesn't have some incredibly anti-American policies. Perhaps we could then force it into a dogma because clearly people's own self interest must be dogma.

          I think it's vaguely ironic that you can't comprehend that people might hate the Republican party on it's merits without being strict partisans.

          You're absolutely right about the Republican party having anti-American policies. Unfortunately, both of the major parties have this problem. If it were only one of them, then this would have been a self-correcting system.

          The one thing I'd like to ask you about is hate-crime legislation. To me, a hate crime is a thought crime because it depends on what the criminal was thinking at the time the crime was committed. It seems to me that if someone commits i.e. murder, we should try them for murder. What they were thinking at the time may help the prosecution to establish motive, but the actual crime is having illegally killed another human being. Otherwise the next logical step is to punish people who have such thoughts whether or not they also committed any other crime.

          The problem is we as a culture are not big fans of taking ideas to their completion, to any and all "next steps" to find out at what point they break down. If that point is fairly close to the proposed implementation, then the idea is probably a bad one that will do more harm than good. If that point of failure is a far extreme that is not remotely connected to the proposed implementation, then it may or may not be a good idea. To me, hate crimes are clearly the former case.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Dhalka226 (559740)

            Going to reply to your post backward, just to get the simpler half out of the way before the more rambling part.

            Otherwise the next logical step is to punish people who have such thoughts whether or not they also committed any other crime. [. . .] the problem is we as a culture are not big fans of taking ideas to their completion, to any and all "next steps" to find out at what point they break down.

            I agree to a point. It's definitely worthwhile to follow something to a conclusion. On the other hand, wh

            • So... to stop people being racist... you propose to put them in what probably is the most extremely racist environment available?

              Because there's plenty of hate to go around in prison.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by moeinvt (851793)

              "In context, hate crimes legislation doesn't mean we're going to start punishing people before they ever commit a crime."

              What about punishing people who were acquitted of their crime in a state court, and then get hauled into a Federal court because the alleged "victim" was a minority? It happened right near where I grew up. A group of Caucasian Americans got into a mini-brawl with a group of Hispanic Americans. I wasn't there, and don't know the details, but in the end, some of the guys went on trial fo

          • by ppanon (16583)
            Two things about hate crimes:
            • They're harder to solve because they're relatively anonymous
            • Their motivation - hate - is more likely to lead to repeat offenses of life-endangering violence than poverty or crimes of passion.

            So somebody who kills or attacks somebody else because of the color of their skin or because they held hands with the "wrong" sex of person, for instance, is both harder to track down (because most violent crimes are either local or involve people with some type of pre-existing relationsh

            • by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @03:31AM (#27413053)

              You punish an action, not a thought. If we are in the practice of punishing thoughts, please let me know so I can move to a country that is a little bit more liberal about these things... like China.

              You're also more than implying that its not possible for other, non-protected groups, to be targeted based on their race or gender. Is it impossible to have a black man who will beat a white man because the white man is white? Is it impossible that some deranged homosexual exists who hates heterosexuals for simply being heterosexual? Do heterosexuals get protection because its possible that they can be singled out?

              You would argue that such people's motivation is hate, which would lead to more offenses in the future.

              Also, there is no reason why such a turnabout assault could not be anonymous. What if the white man walked into the projects? What if the heterosexual was in a gay-frequented area of town?

              Hate crimes legislation is the very antithesis of the idea of equality before the law that we play lipservice to. As long as such a thing exists or is seriously contemplated, we are enforcing legal discrimination and that is not acceptable.

              A beating is a beating. It's illegal already, and there are certainly remedies that exist already for frequent offenders. Why do we need anything else? It's not like blacks and gays are the only people who have ever been beaten for who they are.

              • by Improv (2467)

                I went into it a bit more with my comment above, but..

                Is an accident equivalent in moral weight to an intentional harmful act? Is "mens rea" a simple binary distinction?

          • by Al Dimond (792444)

            Murder is already more than killing someone illegally. It requires premeditation, which has to do with what the accused was thinking. You even referred to motive. Motive is really only important in crimes like murder that require intent and premeditation. If the charge is more like manslaughter motive is not so important; it's just a matter of the fact of who killed whom.

            My previous paragraph is an oversimplification, is probably wrong in many places outside the US, and IANAL or anything... the point st

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by iminplaya (723125)

          Yes well, there are those of us who remember the democrats haven't exactly been a bunch of angels. Before Iraq there was a little thing called Vietnam and George Wallace and the rest of the "Dixiecrats" who simply switched sides in 65. For some it's pretty easy to see that there is no real opposition. Singling out one faction is counterproductive. The basic problem goes much deeper. Jeeze! These guys are traveling insurance salesmen with much nicer threads. Why are we falling for this?

        • I agree with most of your post except the apparently unrelated bit about hate-crimes legislation. How does that help you to have all of your rights? It establishes more severe penalties for identical crimes if there's a finding that they were influenced by a specific category of hatred. By implication, there are lower penalties if you are a victim of the same crime but it wasn't because of one of those categories of hatred. That somehow doesn't seem like much comfort to me if I'm "only" assaulted because so

          • by Trepidity (597)

            I should add though, that your post did an oddly good job of illustrating the point of the one to which you replied to. I haven't considered voting for Republicans on civil-liberties grounds in quite some time, because the Democrats have generally been better on everything that's come up (habeas corpus, torture, wiretapping, etc.). I'd almost forgotten if there were any civil-liberties issues that I care about on which Republicans were better (I don't greatly care about guns), but you came along and provide

            • by Ded Bob (67043)

              Democrats have generally been better on everything that's come up (habeas corpus, torture, wiretapping, etc.).

              Although I was rather hoping that Obama would not win--I consider McCain less Republican than Obama being less Democrat, I thought Obama was going to overturn the warrant-less wiretap executive order. In that regard, I sadly do not see the majority of Democrats being any different than the majority of Republicans.

        • by moeinvt (851793)

          "If they want me to stop hating them perhaps they should stop fighting hate crimes legislation"

          Hate Crime =~ Thought Crime. It has never been applied universally, and has typically been used as an end-run around the double jeopardy clause to prosecute "thought criminals" who are otherwise innocent of any real crime. Cheers to anyone of any party that's against this Orwellian $#!t.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "then you have to at least admit that there are both good or bad eggs on both sides of the aisle."

        Since the Republicans had a majority in the legislature and the Executive Branch for quite some time, I think it is more than appropriate to blame Republicans for the messes the US is in now including but not limited to an extreme erosion of civil liberties and a disregard for the rule of law. The first vote I ever cast in a national election was for Newt's Republican Revolution. In high school, I actually wo
        • by Ded Bob (67043)

          Since the Republicans had a majority in the legislature and the Executive Branch for quite some time

          The Senate was split from 2000 to 2006?, and the House until 2006. The Democrats have controlled Congress for a little over two years.

          As far as I am concerned and until shown otherwise, I consider every last one of the Republicans to be incompetents or scumbags. I had hope that the Democrats would show some backbone and make some smart changes. I'm not so far all that impressed. But I still blame the Republi

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @01:27AM (#27412429)

        This bill has 17 cosponsors: 15 Democrats and 2 Republicans. I will admit that, on the issue of National Security Letter reform, there are two Republicans so far who have shown an interest: Ron Paul and Jeff Flake. And Ron Paul is well known for his frequent divergence from the party's positions. What about everyone else? Of course, they can still vote for this when it hopefully comes up; Representatives need not consponsor everything. But there seems to be a decidedly lopsided enthusiasm in the 15 vs. 2 cosponsors there.

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        I find your post to be patriotic, rational, and highly relevant to our current context. Thanks! :)

      • If we start looking at every politician based soley on his or her merits alone and ignore his or her political affiliation we would see the enormous "change of course" that we have been promised oh-so-many times and never actually seen.

        Sorry Charlie, even that won't help fix the problem. It doesn't matter how we evaluate candidates and politicians.

        What matters is how our electoral system is set up, the bylaws that encourage a two-party system, and the very real way that support for specific legislation is

      • by Improv (2467)

        Or alternatively, "only when people stop paying attention to other differences and focus on a single issue, agreeing with me significantly in my stance on it, can we make a lot of progress on that issue". I don't buy it, both because I believe I disagree with what your stance is given your wording, and because I think there are plenty of other issues you would marginalise here. Liberty is not the only value we should consider in our notion of the public good.

        For example, I believe in universal public health

  • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:03PM (#27411295)

    > On top of that, it would mandate the destruction of any wrongly obtained information discovered

    Why not toss out any court case based on such wrongly discovered info?
    Why not criminal prosecutions of those issuing the letters from which information was wrongly discovered?
    Why not remove the muzzeling of anyone issued such letters? After all if they were improperly issued letters in the first place any inducement to STFU about such a letter must also be wrong.

    • by rts008 (812749) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @12:01AM (#27412005) Journal

      Good questions...but, some of them could have been answered by RTFA.

      Why not remove the muzzeling of anyone issued such letters? After all if they were improperly issued letters in the first place any inducement to STFU about such a letter must also be wrong.

      FTFA:

      The National Security Letters Reform Act would do that, and a good deal more. While it would still permit high-ranking FBI officials to issue NSLs with temporary gag orders attached, the Bureau would have to petition a judge in order to extend that order beyond an initial 30 days. Instead of requiring NSL recipients to challenge such orders, showing there was "no reason" to think disclosure might harm public safety or the integrity of an investigation, the agency would have the burden of showing a court specific facts justifying each six-month extension of the gag.

      Not ideal, but moving in the right direction.

      Why not criminal prosecutions of those issuing the letters from which information was wrongly discovered?

      FTFA:

      The bill also establishes strict "minimization" requirements, mandating the destruction of any wrongly obtained information. While intelligence agencies often rely on "minimization" to protect the privacy of US persons, this often means only that innocent information will be retained without being indexed in a log or database for the relevant case. Anyone whose records are obtained via an NSL without adequate factual basis, or in violation of the statutory restrictions, is entitled to sue the person responsible for issuing the letter, to the tune of $50,000.

      Not as harsh as you suggest, but again, moving in the right direction.(ie:redress)

      Why not toss out any court case based on such wrongly discovered info?

      FTFA:

      Perhaps most significantly, however, the law would radically narrow the scope of National Security Letters, which can currently be used to obtain financial or telecommunications transaction records that an FBI agent asserts are "relevant" to an ongoing investigation. Under the Nadler-Flake bill, NSLs would have to certify that the target to whom the information sought pertained was believed, on the basis of "specific and articulable facts," to be a "foreign power or agent of a foreign power."

      Not an 'Epic Fail', but far from ideal...again, it's moving in the right direction.

      Have some patience, it took us a while to get here, so it will take us a while to climb back out.(now we are in a hole, here's to hoping we have stopped digging finally)

      Be observant, be vigilant, be aware, and be active...if you really care.

      BTW, I do agree with your ideas.

  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:03PM (#27411299) Homepage Journal

    Looking back at the pre-american-revolution era, it's incredible the similarities the to-be-americans faced with what we are going through now.

    Things like the Writ of Assistance etc. Basically "we're going to ignore any laws or rights you thought you had for a little while here, please step aside." These NSLs are basically doing that sort of thing.

  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:06PM (#27411317) Homepage

    Hard to believe something like this was ever introduced in this county. And supported by...a lot of you. At least many of you voted and stuck up for the dirt bags who proposed it.

    Obama bailing out the auto industry and trying to fix health care is the path to socialism, but spying on Americans without due process and then trying to forbid them from talking to an attorney, you're okay with that.

    • Re:About time (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:20PM (#27411407) Journal
      First, NSLs have been around since at least IKE, and I think even before that. The difference is that all prior admins showed restraint and only used them MOSTLY for real issues (a few, were known to be total BS).

      As to those that supported the GD neo-cons and this behavior, I say let them swing along side of the top neo-cons. Every last one of these kind of ppls should be swinging for the traitors to the Constitution that they are.
      • by Shakrai (717556)

        Every last one of these kind of ppls should be swinging for the traitors to the Constitution that they are.

        If you want to hang everybody who is a traitor to the Constitution then I hope you have lots of rope -- you'll be hanging most of Congress. You'll also need a plan to get past the Secret Service if you plan on holding Obama accountable for his failures [senate.gov] to uphold his oaths.....

    • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:49PM (#27411577) Journal

      Obama bailing out the auto industry and trying to fix health care is the path to socialism, but spying on Americans without due process and then trying to forbid them from talking to an attorney, you're okay with that.

      Why do you assume that someone who is opposed to the former must be in favor of the latter?

      • It's obviously not necessary, but we've seen way too many Americans who fit that stereotype on the internets.

  • by ITEric (1392795) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:09PM (#27411337)

    All of our government officials are sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. "Exceptions" to the bill of rights such as NSLs, particularly when they are abused, weaken the Constitution as a whole, and officials responsible should be held responsible, preferably with criminal charges of their own.

    Without enforcing the protections provided by the bill of rights, those principles become mere historical curiosities as the "antiquated" ideals of the founding fathers.

    • by wstrucke (876891) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:24PM (#27411431)
      it has got to be pretty clear by now that no one in Washington has the balls to even utter the word "treason" -- which is effectively what the blatant ignorance of the Supreme Law of the Land amounts to [truthout.org]
      • by causality (777677) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:34PM (#27411481)

        it has got to be pretty clear by now that no one in Washington has the balls to even utter the word "treason" -- which is effectively what the blatant ignorance of the Supreme Law of the Land amounts to [truthout.org]

        I have always felt, and have said repeatedly on this Web site, that anyone who wants political power needs to be held to a stricter standard than the average citizen. That's especially true when you consider that nearly all politicians are also lawyers, so it's not like they are unclear on the meaning of "shall not be infringed." I do indeed consider it treason when a politician knowingly creates or votes for a law that is in any way unconstitional. Just as the Constitution demands, I would like to see vigorous enforcement of the death penalty (legally and with due process, of course) attached to anyone who holds public office and takes any action, knowingly or otherwise, that contradicts the Constitution. Let us decide that one can live a long and happy life without ever having political power; that if someone wants political power anyway, let them accept a very high standard of personal accountability to go with it.

        • by iminplaya (723125)

          ...anyone who wants political power needs to be held to a stricter standard than the average citizen.

          You're thinking of this [wikipedia.org]. Heh, At least I am... A bit more literally every day.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:47PM (#27411565) Journal

        it has got to be pretty clear by now that no one in Washington has the balls to even utter the word "treason" -- which is effectively what the blatant ignorance of the Supreme Law of the Land amounts to [truthout.org]

        *sigh*, is it just me or do people throw around the 'T' word way too easily around here? Perhaps the Founding Fathers were right to define it in the Constitution so it wouldn't be abused.....

      • by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @12:49AM (#27412279) Homepage

        Mainly because treason is specifically defined in the Constitution [usconstitution.net].

        And these abuses, while the may be (IMO) "High Crimes and Misdemeanors", do not fit the definition of Treason.

        Don't like that? Then amend the Constitution to define Treason the way you want it.

  • At the same time the NSL's are being curtailed, the current administration is seeking expanded powers for the IRS to go after imagined "tax cheats". The IRS will have broader and sweeping powers to go after people who are guilty of not paying their taxes until they prove themselves innocent.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123802635823642761.html [wsj.com]

    Some things on tap: requiring small businesses to use bank accounts for all transactions, implying that the IRS can scan your bank. Having the government track all

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      This is why the idea of income tax was considered abhorrent by the founding fathers. Unfortunately they never codified it.

      • by russotto (537200)

        This is why the idea of income tax was considered abhorrent by the founding fathers. Unfortunately they never codified it.

        Actually, they did. That's why the Sixteenth Amendment was needed to really let the fun start.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Doc Daneeka (1107345)
      Did you link the right article for your assertions? I didn't see anything of what you claim in that article. Summary provided by the first paragraph of your link:

      President Barack Obama's initiative to raise new tax revenue to pay for major policy changes likely will focus in the short run on tightening enforcement against businesses and wealthy individuals. In the long run, some experts believe it could lead to sweeping changes in the tax code itself.

      If what you claim is true, it would be huge. So, I searched for more links to provide support or refute your claims.
      http://money.cnn.com/2009/03/26/news/economy/obama_tax_reform_taskforce/index.htm [cnn.com]
      Money.Cnn's article says more or less the same thing as WSJ.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a_FIYIBVE5to&refer=home [bloomberg.com]

    • by iminplaya (723125)

      But in that article is a ray of sunshine where it really counts:

      As a step toward simplification, Mr. Obama during the campaign proposed relieving millions of workers of the burden of filing income-tax returns, an idea that seems likely to resurface.

      That's change I can hope for. We shouldn't be doing their paperwork.

      • by tjstork (137384)

        As a step toward simplification, Mr. Obama during the campaign proposed relieving millions of workers of the burden of filing income-tax returns, an idea that seems likely to resurface....

        That's change I can hope for. We shouldn't be doing their paperwork.

        Ah, but the question is, exactly how is the IRS going to find out how much in taxes you owe? IT's actually kinda creepy, when you think about it.

        • by iminplaya (723125)

          They have the W-2s from your employer, banks, etc. Let 'em live with that. If they're withholding the money for the tax, then there's no reason for me to declare anything. If I have to do that, I want to see the money first.

  • What it needs is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:30PM (#27411467) Homepage
    A provision that amounts to "if you abuse the statute, stop, don't pass go, report directly to the US Attorney for your district and make plans for spending at least a year in federal prison with 'cop' written with a sharpie on your forehead every morning." Based on the way the IG has found that the FBI routinely violates it, and there is so little accountability, the law needs to allow the IG to go damn near Napoleonic (law) on the FBI agents involved.
    • sounds great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:47PM (#27411563) Journal

      As you may or may not recall, during the Bush administration the Justice Department had this problem where some political appointees decided that they'd hire and fire people at Justice based on political affiliation (and possibly sexual orientation, in at least one case). Then the matter was investigated, by Congress, who couldn't get some individuals to show up to testify, which is contempt of Congress. When referrals for these contempt charges were passed to the Justice Department, they were promptly ignored, on the orders of - surprise - a political appointee of the President whose administration was being investigated in the first place.

      Which is all to say, investigative powers are great, so long as the ability to compel testimony and subpoena (and obtain) documents is unimpeded, and that the investigative process is unimpeded and apolitical. What we saw over the last 8 years was the willing complicity of the legislative branch (till 2006, after which we saw some true cravenness), coupled with an executive that felt it was above the law. No simple IG provisions were going to fix that.

    • Sorry, but fiddling with the wording of an unconstitutional statute is pointless. What we really need to do is refuse to comply, go to court, and fight it.

      -jcr

  • I'll go out on a limb here, and assume that the folks that are doing the investigating here are probably aware of, maybe, 10% of the actual information gleaned by the use of NSLs. Most of it has probably been squirreled away for later use.

    But, the requirement that all information be destroyed doesn't look as "after-the-fact-useless" as it may seem at first glance. Even if the information is not destroyed, it can no longer be USED in any real sense, at least in a courtroom. Although, I can imagine a few lawy

  • RTF Amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @01:54AM (#27412595) Journal

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    That's not Greek or Chinese. The government has a bad habit of ignoring the constitution, but it is nevertheless the entire legal basis for their power. If they don't want to follow the constitution, then they have no claim to legitimacy.

    -jcr

    • If they don't want to follow the constitution, then they have no claim to legitimacy.

      No strictly legitimate claim to legitimacy.

      However, they have lots of other claims to legitimacy, the most important of which is:

      The consent of the people (evidenced by the lack of support for their overthrow).

      The consent of the people trumps the Constitution in practice as well as in principle; though the failure of the people to force government to adhere to the Constitution tells me that the Constitution is a dead d

      • by jcr (53032)

        However, they have lots of other claims to legitimacy, the most important of which is:

        The consent of the people (evidenced by the lack of support for their overthrow).

        Sorry, that's nonsense. It does not follow that if the people fail to overthrow a tyrant, that the power of the tyrant is legitimate.

        -jcr

  • While it would still permit high-ranking FBI officials to issue NSLs with temporary gag orders attached,

    I think you lost me right there. The government can still issue blanket gag orders and demands for information without a judge. Oops.

    the Bureau would have to petition a judge in order to extend that order beyond an initial 30 days.

    Wow, that's some pretty weak oversight. My guess is that they will just issue a new security letter instead of extending the old one.

    the agency would have the burden of showing a court specific facts justifying each six-month extension of the gag.

    A 6 month extension is pretty long IMHO. The judge should set the duration, not the NSL.

    the law would radically narrow the scope of National Security Letters, which can currently be used to obtain financial or telecommunications transaction records

    I don't want a list of what things they can and can't get. They should be able to get nothing at all, without a court order. Anything else violates the

  • ters, and periodically i update that fact.

    (for those too lazy or with not enough time to read ALL of this, just skip to the last para)

    If am EVER asked whether or not i have received one, I WILL tell the truth. If the person asking queries as to whether s/he or any s/he was the subject, i WILL tell the truth. I might not go so far as to divulge the exact questions, but i'll be damned if cloak-and-daggger will go in in MY face. Besides, way too many technical means and illegal sneak-and-peak ops occur for mos

To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.

Working...