Bush Administration Admits That Telco Immunity More Important Than Increased Spying Power

from the doesn't-that-say-something? dept

While we had thought that Congress was going to easily roll over on the so-called (but not really) compromise bill on new surveillance powers that included telco immunity from potentially illegal acts committed in the past few years, there has been some pushback in the Senate, where the bill is finally about to come up for vote. Some Senators have put together an amendment stripping telco immunity from the bill, but leaving the increased surveillance powers in place. Amazingly, the Bush Administration has now said that if telco immunity is stripped from the bill, Bush will veto the bill, even if everything else is identical. In other words, all the talk you hear from politicians about how this bill is necessary to protect Americans is hogwash. If it were true, then it is simply unforgivable to veto the bill without telco immunity.

What has been made abundantly clear by this statement is that the US government does not need these extended surveillance powers at all. Its existing surveillance powers are quite sufficient. The entire purpose of this bill then, has absolutely nothing to do with security, and everything to do with making sure that the telcos (and the administration) do not have to defend their potentially illegal actions in court. If that were not the case, then the President would still be willing to approve the bill without telco immunity.


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  1.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:32am

    Heh

    Is anyone seriously surprised by this?

     

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    Herr John, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    Soon...

    Soon, Bush will threaten to veto any measure that does not include goosestepping and saying "Hail Bush! Hail Bush!" every day.

     

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    Thurston, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:43am

    Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Clearly the administration in particular, and many conservatives along with them, believe the the telecoms acted in good faith after 9/11.

    Furthermore, in the even of another national emergency they believe that the administration (Democrat or Republican) needs to have the cooperation of the telcos.

    Pretending that this immunity is not seen by the President as an a tool as essential as any other in the bill seems either obtuse or disingenuous.

     

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    Joel Coehoorn, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:52am

    MIxed

    I'm mixed on the immunity issue here. On the one hand, what the telcos did was almost certainly wrong. On another hand, it's likely they were put between a rock and a hard place. On yet another hand, they probably could have done a lot more to fight the requests. And on one final hand, I would think that to win any lawsuit against them, the plaintiff would have to _prove_ their phone was tapped during a particular conversation and also show financial or physical harm resulted.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:58am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    No one's arguing your point. What they are arguing, though, is that if the telecos broke the law they should be held accountable to it. Having good intentions doesn't change whether or not they broke the law. All we're asking is to have our day in court, and if the telecos did nothing wrong then so be it. All this grandstanding, though, starts to make it seem more and more that the telecos DID break the law. The the President asked them to do it isn't good enough, either; no one is above the rule of law. You're right that it's important to have the cooperation of telecos in the case of another emergency, but that doesn't mean that you toss out the rule of law and due process.

    You can argue all you want about good intentions and necessary actions, it doesn't change the facts if the law was broken.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:59am

    Re: MIxed

    My count is one hand for immunity and three against...

     

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    Adam, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:05am

    Nixon redux

    For some reason this brings to mind Nixon's final days, and all of the speculation around his desire for immunity from prosecution...

     

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    Willton, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Call your Senator

    This is one of those instances where it's better to talk to your representative than to complain. Yes, it's good to get the story out there, but now the people who frequent this blog should do less commenting and more acting.

    The EFF's article provides a link that gives readers assistance in contacting their senators and letting their voices be heard. If the people here are truly disgusted by this legislation, then do something about it: participate in the democratic process. Until you do, you have no reason to complain.

     

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    Randy, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Here's another hand for immunity!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:24am

    Re: Call your Senator

    Until you do, you have no reason to complain.

    No, until you do you are not justified to complain. There's still plenty of reason to complain.

     

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    DL, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:25am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    When you violate the civil rights of citizens I don't think your intentions are relevant - Especially so when it would have been so easy for the administration to work within the law. The FISA court is no obstacle to our security. It is an obstacle to 4th amendment violations however and that might have been the real problem for the administration.

    There are two sides to this argument. The constitutional side and the boundless corporate power side.

     

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    Richard Ahlquist (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:27am

    Re: MIxed

    A rock and a hard place, nahh its not like AT&T wanted a huge merger with Bell South back then did they? Oh wait they did!

    I guess a little friendly co-operation on both sides was just what was needed.

     

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    Old Guy, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    BOHICA

    Is it November yet?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    Telco immunity is truly the side issue. No-one in Washington cares about it. Whats more important is that by giving the telco's immunity, its also giving the administration immunity. I really couldn't care less if the Telco's broke the law on this one. They had several possible bad choices, and any choice they took would hurt them. I'm more worried about the retroactive immunity it would give the bush administration. Starting illegal investigations on political rivals they didn't like(then firing people who said they wouldn't do it), the lie that is the Iraq war, illegal wiretapping, lies(before congress) that my three year old nephew wouldn't use, and! The Crown Jewel of the Bush Administration... all that is Gitmo. I'm tired of it. Someone hurry up and put at least some of them behind bars.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:43am

    RE: Bohica

    We will still be stuck with satan in November. The question is....Is it January yet?

     

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    cryptozoologist, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:46am

    ok, so a veto would be unforgivable...

    he is a lame duck after all

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Well said Anon,

    I would also like to add that (sadly) many conservatives (oddly, mostly Christians) tend to want to change the government into a form of facism. They don't think it is facism, but it fits the dictionary definition quite well.

    They don't think there is anything wrong in doing something "because the President said" even though that is exactly the kind of behavior that caused this country to go into revolution.

    They also would rather the innocent be imprisoned just so that the one guilty person will not go free; a direct contradiction of the country's founding principals.

    Something got warped along the way with that segment of the population. In their religion and political beliefs they seem to fight and preach the opposite of what they supposedly beleive. It's very tragic.


    This will probably be seen as a slam or flame but that is not how its intended. This is just an observation from one that's studied a bit of history. I hold no malice for these people (well, most of them; a few individuals have earned it) just concern over the consequences of their actions.

    As the (rather negative) saying goes, they breed faster than "smart" people. I put that in quotes because many of the "smart" people who run around with that quote and rag on conservaties tend to be a little blind to the areas they fall behind in.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    Seriously, someone start getting The Siege with Denzel Washington playing in theatres again. Little older of a movie now, but DAMN is it freaking relevant. Especially the speech just before the one citizen gets tortured by the General . . .

     

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  19.  
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    AC, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:20am

    What?

    "In other words, all the talk you hear from politicians about how this bill is necessary to protect Americans is hogwash. If it were true, then it is simply unforgivable to veto the bill without telco immunity."

    That's a pretty narrow interpretation of a very vague statement. What would happen if he said he'd sign it either way? Bush would have no leverage to get the whole thing passed. He's playing hardball. No politician of any stripe has ever been satisfied with getting half of what they want, so he takes the more controversial part of the bill and makes a (hollow?) threat over it. Now you think that means he only cares about that one part?

    Wow.

     

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  20.  
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    C Sense, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:26am

    I am a little confused

    I admit to not knowing enough about this and I figured this would be the best forum to ask. Can someone clearly, intelligently, and without blantant bias explain to me why the telcos should be liable? From how I understand it, the government ordered them to do this and they complied with them. Do we think the telcos should be punished because we demand for them to question the Gov on this? Granted, I think that was the right action, but I think a lot more anger should be directed at the governing body who ordered the illegal taps than the telco who was doing what their government ordered them to do.

     

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  21.  
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    Robert, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    Telco Immunity

    I for one, struggle with this. I am a law abiding citizen, that does not have conversations on the phone that could be scrutinized as illegal/terrorism activity. There is no guarantee of privacy in this country no matter how many constitutional amendments we have. We need to actively be involved with the process as some have suggested in contacting their representatives. In most cases, their #1 priority is re-election, so we do have some pull with them.

    However, if the spying powers prevent another terrorist attack, (thank God we have not had another in the US) then, have them listen away to my conversation. Again, I am under no assumption my conversations are private using public communications mediums; Phones, internet etc.. Neither should you be.

     

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  22.  
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    moe, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:32am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    While they may have acted in good faith, it doesn't excuse illegal acts.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:34am

    Re: Telco Immunity

    I am a law abiding citizen, that does not have conversations on the phone that could be scrutinized as illegal/terrorism activity.

    This is perfectly fine until they enact a law you don't agree with.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:38am

    Is this any more clear?

    The main argument here, I think, is that it doesn't matter who told you to do it, if you break the law you ought to be held responsible for your actions. Whoever told you to break the law should be similarly liable, but that's not the point in question: we're discussing telecom immunity so arguments about the administration's immunity are for another forum.

    There WERE ways for them to do what they did legally, and in many cases the proper procedure was followed. The concern is that in some cases the procedure wasn't followed, the taps were illegal, and now there's work being done to get them off the hook after the fact.

     

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  25.  
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    DakotaKid, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    Re: Telco Immunity

    Dear lord, you are missing the point. This is not about "I've got nothing to hide" or preventing terrorism. This is all about the administration listening in on conversations and not wanting anyone to know who they are listening to. If this WAS about terrorism then the FISA courts would be notified, issue warrants and there would be no controversy. Bush does not want the Telco records exposed because it will show that he is listening to people he shouldn't be...(political opposition? Reporters/pundits?)

     

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    Mr.Mo, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:00am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    I agree, pretending that there is one side, does not make it so. What DOES make it so is the circumstances. Bush's position concerning this bill can only be construed in one way. By only supporting a bill that grants immunity to telcos and vetoing anything that does not, he clearly states his intentions for the bill. This is the opposite of good faith. This is just bad faith lol.

     

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    Justin, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:10am

    Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    The whole issue is whether the telco's should have immunity for helping the government in terrorist surveillance. And yes, they should. They should be protected from the scum sucking lawyers out there for abidding by law. It makes perfect since to veto a bill if its going to harm a private individual or company with lawsuits if they pass this bill. That doesn't take away the importance of it. I just want to say, Thank you President Bush and the military for keeping us terrorist attack free since 9/11. Additionally, FISA does not give any right to anyone to just spy on any US citizen. It's for specific terrorists or people linked to terrorists so that the law enforcement can do its job more sufficiently and protect against another 9/11. The same people who disagree with the "spying" are the same people who were completely in agreement with Billary's Echelon program, which is way more invasive than anything Bush has proposed and allows for any and all data to be collected from whoever the government wishes. The author of this article is making blanket statement with nothing to back himself up with the facts. But what do I know... I'm just a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re: Telco Immunity

    Oh wait! You mean the telco employees who enabled the taps aren't selling their stories about the workings of satan??

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    Its obvious they plan to utilize the bill proactively so they can continue to have the Telcos give in to them.

    I have said it before and will continue to ....

    ...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

     

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  30.  
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    uncle bob, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:34am

    Re: Telco Immunity

    With all the talk of Watergate, I'm surprised few have made the obvious connection...

    Would your view of retroactive immunity change if evidence came out that the Bush administration was using wiretaps for some other purpose than terrorism prevention? Like spying on political opponents?

    Of course we don't know if that happened, but it's not unreasonable to consider the possibility, and we won't ever get the chance to know until we have our day in court.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:44am

    I would agree to Telco immunity if the government took RESPONSIBILITY for violating the rights of the people it governs!

    Responsible means ...

    Public apology...
    Resign...
    Compensate the American people for your CRIMES!

    #29 ... "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their RIGHT, it is their DUTY, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

    hmmmmm

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes its laws."

    -Mayer Anselm Rothschild

     

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  33.  
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    Beta, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:55am

    Re: I am a little confused

    Can someone clearly, intelligently, and without blantant bias explain to me why the telcos should be liable?

    I'll do my best, but I think your question is backwards. If there is a law in my society, and I am suspected of breaking it, the correct question is not "why should I be liable?", but rather "why SHOULDN'T I be liable?". I should be liable because it's a law. If I am to be given immunity from this law, there had better be a very, very good reason. Perhaps that sounds like a bias, but that's how I feel: laws are default-ON.

    From how I understand it, the government ordered them to do this and they complied with them. Do we think the telcos should be punished because we demand for them to question the Gov on this?

    Yes. If the governent (or one branch, office or member thereof) orders me to break the law, it is my duty to refuse. To comply (or to condone compliance) is to cede absolute power to the government, or in this case the President.

    ...I think a lot more anger should be directed at the governing body who ordered the illegal taps than the telco who was doing what their government ordered them to do.

    What does that have to do with immunity?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 9:09am

    Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    The whole issue is whether the telco's should have immunity for helping the government in terrorist surveillance. And yes, they should.

    No, they shouldn't. Whatever the intention, no one is above the law.

    They should be protected from the scum sucking lawyers out there for abidding by law.

    If they abided by the law then they have nothing to fear from appearing in court.

    Additionally, FISA does not give any right to anyone to just spy on any US citizen.

    You're right, and the point of contention is that FISA and other rules were broken. It doesn't matter what FISA is meant for if the rules are disregarded. As noted, there are legal ways of doing what they claim to have done, but the point is we don't believe that everything was done according to the proper procedure. Even if they ONLY tapped terrorists, doing so without following the right channels is wrong if for no other reason than that it undermines the rule of law.

    The same people who disagree with the "spying" are the same people who were completely in agreement with Billary's Echelon program

    No I'm not...

    I'm just a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

    Funny, me too, but at least I can recognize that when you break the rules you have to be held accountable.

     

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    Abdul, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    I really agree with your comment. It's easier a times to lean on one side of an argument and then ignores the legitimate concerns of the other. The Telcos acted in good faith and i don't see why they should get punished at all. Every body wants privacy but we should not forget the circumstances prevailing in the world now to our detriment:Warrantless Surveillance: The Worst Is Yet to Come(http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=494&doc_id=143396&F_src=flftwo)

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 9:28am

    Opposing viewpoint

    Search for "Aaron Russo" He died last year... Hmm

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=7nD7dbkkBIA

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    The Telcos acted in good faith and i don't see why they should get punished at all.

    Because good faith isn't enough to excuse breaking the law. Not everything the telecos did was wrong, no, but there's reason to believe some of it was. Immunity denies we the people the ability to have these alegations tried in court. If something illegal happened, then there should be some kind of punishment. If there are mitigating factors, so be it, but you can't just say, "aw, come on guys, they meant well," and then be done with it. You can't undermine the rule of law just because you agree with the intent of illegal actions.

     

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  38.  
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    mobiGeek, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Telco Immunity

    No one is saying that the telco employees know anything more than "I let suit-n-sunglasses guys in the server room".

     

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  39.  
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    Sam, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:00am

    Grow UP

    People who are crying about their privacy and civil rights being violated, GROW UP! Yes privacy and civil rights are important, but do you really think the government was more interested about eardropping on your silly conversations than about trying to prevent another attack?

    I would personally let the government, the army, Jay Leno or whoever listen to all my phone calls if it had a tiny chance of saving the lives of the 4000 americans who died on 9/11.

    I understand there are laws that governs wiretapping, but I also understand that extreme circumstances sometimes requires extreme measures.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:10am

    Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    "Thank you President Bush and the military for keeping us terrorist attack free since 9/11"

    I guess that depends on what you consider a terrorist attack. In 2002 "the shooting spree of the “Beltway Snipers”, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, which killed ten people and wounded three more. For three weeks in October of 2002 they terrorized Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia, and mesmerized the local and national media.

    My earlier report on Jamaat ul-Fuqra in Virginia cites a Defense Watch article in 2002 detailing the connections between John Muhammad and the terrorist organization Jamaat ul-Fuqra. There are some indications that he took time off during his spree to hole up in a safe house at the Red House, Virginia compound for a little R&R.

    Given Muhammad’s stated sympathy with Osama bin Laden, the jihad-related documents possessed by Lee Malvo, and Muhammad’s connection with Jamaat ul-Fuqra, it becomes clear that this was a domestic terrorist operation"
    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2005/10/no-terrorist-attack-on-us-soil-since.html

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:20am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    There's already laws in place to ensure cooperation from the telcos. If the government asks for assistance from any of the telcos, they are legally obligated to provide it as long as a warrant or similar approval has been granted. If the government doesn't have these documents, telcos know that if they comply they are at risk of the exact same situation they are in. The telcos were obligated to request proof that what they were asked to do was legally sanctioned. Failure to do that exposes them to the lawsuits that are being threatened.

    Basically, the telcos and the government didn't follow the process that was established that would have given them immunity in the first place. If they would have just asked to see a warrant or other approval for what they were asked to do they would have had immunity from the start.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Re: Grow UP

    That's fine, so long as you agree with the government, the army, Jay Leno or whoever. But the precedent this sets will outlive anything you or yours intend or believe. When the day comes that you don't agree so much with The Powers That Be, you may be less enthusiastic about undermining the rule of law. The powers you grant today to prevent the next 9/11 could be used tomorrow to conduct the next Holocaust.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Grow UP

    Accept Jesus, you twit. Then stress just kinda rolls off of you. You won't have to worry about amassing power. There are other things to worry about.

    GOLDEN RULE

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Good Faith

    In the movies, the Godfather and his operatives acted in Good Faith among each-other. They made deals. They bought politicians and judges. They co-operated, in good faith, a great deal. The thing is, their good faith dealings amongst themselves didn't do the rest of us any good.

    Similarly, the Administration and the telcos (except Qwest) also acted in "good faith" with the warrant-less wiretaps. But for whom were they keeping the faith? Certainly not for the public, on whom they would spy without due process of law.

    I don't care how chummy they were as they went about abrogating my rights, they should be accused of their crime, and put to trial. If in fact there was no wrong committed, then they will win in court and clear their name.

    If, in contrast, laws were broken, then they will have to face the penalty, or perhaps make a case for duress. Duress would imply that they were somehow inextricably pressured to do the crime by some other party. I suspect that this is at least partly the case, and that they are being protected by that "unknown" third party.

    BTW, this is not some witch-hunt based on some trivial legal violation like a hummer or jaywalking. This is YOUR government spying on you. Your government, possibly forcing companies to break the law to spy on you. Your government, feeling above the law, failing to use the EASY FISA warrant process for wiretaps for one of two reasons: they are lazy, or they wanted to wiretaps that wouldn't be approved. FISA warrants, BTW, can be applied retroactively by, I think, a couple of days, so the gov't can rush a wiretap and get the warrant later - but that wasn't convenient enough??!

    For the apologists commenting here: What part of this situation, does it seem to you, wasn't understood by the founding fathers? The architects of the constitution knew that government may get out of hand, and comment #29 illustrates that perfectly. So why do we need a new law, a law that specifically immunizes some Parties from some specific act that may have been illegal? The laws we already have are already fair, already adequate, and already protect us from terrorism.

    Are we proposing a law just to forgive a certain specific crime? Passing a law as a cover-up? That's worth looking into.

    The right to bear arms may seem to have nothing to do with this, but it strangely does. We have that right only so that we might rise up against a government that over-reaches its powers. But times have changed. We can't resist our government with muskets - we need to fight back with words, letters, and phone calls. We need to NOT roll over apathetically when our government invades our privacy. Ironically, there is probably a lot of overlap between people who are pro-gun, and people who are willing to let the government run roughshod over us in this immunity case. Put down your gun, raise your pen, and fight for your rights.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Yeah, where are the judges fighting this abuse of power that's clearly unconstitutional? SUPREME COURT ANYONE?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Bobbknight, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Everyone Is Faping Again

    All this chatter about Telco Immunity is moot.
    When El Prezidente departs office in January next year he will just issue a blanket pardon. Everyone will bitch, whine, moan and gnash their collective teeth, on the right and the left. But it will be a "fate accomplis" and no one will be able to do a damn thing about it.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Roger, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:01am

    Re: Good Faith

    Derek,

    Thank you. Your words speak truth. I'm going to use parts of this and forward it to my congressional leadership.

    http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Willton, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Yeah, where are the judges fighting this abuse of power that's clearly unconstitutional? SUPREME COURT ANYONE?

    They can't say anything until a case is put before them. The judiciary is not a proactive body of government.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Ralph, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    Re: Grow UP

    Sure, that works until the government decides YOU are on their watch list. Why? Who knows? Obviously, you don't care why the government might want to listen in on your conversations. Maybe you're a Democrat, and the Republicans in office don't like Democrats. Or, if this passes, maybe you're a Republican and the new Democrats in office don't like Republicans, so they start tapping your phone. Is it okay then? Or is it only okay when it's the Republicans who are breaking the law?

    And it's not limited to Republicans vs. Democrats (I simplified it that way because you probably wouldn't understand anything more complex), but it could just as easily be Christians vs. atheists, vegan vs. omnivores, left-handers vs. right-handers, and so on. In your world, the government can spy on you for any reason, even though you're a law-abiding citizen. If this becomes law, law-abiding no longer has any real meaning.

    Maybe you should grow up, and defend yourself for once. The government is not your nanny, and rarely has your best interests at heart.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    The court can't rule on a case that doesn't exist.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    What does it take to get a case rolling? Should a case be preemptively filed to test the constitutionality of FISA?

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Grow UP

    What in the hell are you talking about? What does my own personal belief have to do with anything if it's evil men amassing power that I fear? Even if you buy into some kind of Second Life awaiting you, you don't feel any moral responsibility to prevent another Hitler coming to power?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Willton, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    Re: Everyone Is Faping Again

    All this chatter about Telco Immunity is moot.
    When El Prezidente departs office in January next year he will just issue a blanket pardon. Everyone will bitch, whine, moan and gnash their collective teeth, on the right and the left. But it will be a "fate accomplis" and no one will be able to do a damn thing about it.


    That, however, does not immunize the President himself. The President is looking to cover his ass, not necessarily the telcos. Further, pardoning the telcos for something that (1) may or may not be illegal, and (2) is not even known publicly, gives him more bad attention than he likely wants.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    It seems to me that someone would have to bring suit against the Administration or one of their cohorts. Like, say, a telecom company. You know, the ones the Administration are trying to give immunity? Because if they're immune, there can be no suits.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Willton, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    What does it take to get a case rolling? Should a case be preemptively filed to test the constitutionality of FISA?

    Such a case would not be ripe at the time of filing and likely be tossed out of court.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    John, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    hands off

    when it comes to the current admin. Do u really think the gov cares about whats best for AMERICA the only time u c bush or channey cut a smile is when they hear oil prices went up again. THIS WHOLE ADMIN IS(F.U) TO AMERICA. JUSTICE AND LEAVING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ALONE IS TO MUCH TO ASK BECAUSE THEY DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO US. SO THE NEXT TIME U HAVE A ? FOR OUR CURRENT ADMIN FIND A MIRROR DROP YOUR PANTS & ASK YOUR QUESTION YOU'LL BE BETTER OFF. I LOVE MY COUNTRY AMERICA BUT I HATE MY LAST 2 VOTES 4 PRESIDENT

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Was thinking: test the Constitutionality of warrantless wiretaps in it's current context.

    Seems The Supremes Sent message about Gitmo a few weeks ago.

    Maybe they would like for a warantless wiretaps case to roll their way. Then from there, once that's established in a court of law, continue current path?

     

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  58.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!


    Clearly the administration in particular, and many conservatives along with them, believe the the telecoms acted in good faith after 9/11.


    Acting in good faith does not mean you are not subject to the law.


    Furthermore, in the even of another national emergency they believe that the administration (Democrat or Republican) needs to have the cooperation of the telcos.


    And they would, if they followed the law.

    Pretending that this immunity is not seen by the President as an a tool as essential as any other in the bill seems either obtuse or disingenuous.

    No. Pretending that opening up a system that allows the President to excuse any illegal behavior is not an incredibly dangerous precedent is either obtuse or disingenuous.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Trench Foot, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    "I would also like to add that (sadly) many conservatives (oddly, mostly Christians) tend to want to change the government into a form of facism."

    Want to? It's a done deal (where have you been?)!

    Germany may have lost the war, but the facists won! Thousands of Nazis were brought to this country in 1945-46 to staff positions in science and "intelligence" (ahem), to contribute to what our evolving facist nation.

    Anyone notice than during the 80's when the Soviets seemed to be loosening up, about the time when Reagan was paying his in-person respects to those buried in a German SS cemetary... Bittenburg, I believe it was called, that the US was tightening down? This was a time the US was training foreign troops at the so-called School of the Americas for various right wing Latin dictators... in order to suppress their populations - done in the name of "democracy" don't cha know...

    When, prior to leaving office, former president Dwright Eisenhower warned of the "military industrial complex" (he should have also mentioned the prison industrial complex), he wasn't just whistling Dixie. But then again, I suppose most people were too much concerned with millionare athletes sore muscles to pay much attention.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    You make a persuasive for /more/ wire tapping
    and domestic spying.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Yo Trench foot,

    As a Christian, I really agree with your statement. There's a *lot* of crazies out there that twist religion into a cult like atmosphere! The best religion is really between you and your creator.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    Or he argues for the futility of even pervasive spying. Even if you can ready anything you can't read everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    DCX2, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    Clearly the administration in particular, and many conservatives along with them, believe the the telecoms acted in good faith after 9/11.

    Except that they came to the telcos before 9/11. This kind of 4th amendment violation dates back to Clinton and his attempted Carnivore and TIA programs.

    Also, if they're acting in good faith, then why did they threaten to shut off the wiretaps until the government paid their wiretap bills?

    Furthermore, in the even of another national emergency they believe that the administration (Democrat or Republican) needs to have the cooperation of the telcos.

    The telcos are REQUIRED BY LAW to engage in surveillance when provided with a court order. They can't say "oh...we don't want to, we're afraid of getting sued." If you have a court order, the law says they absolutely MUST engage in the surveillance.

    Pretending that this immunity is not seen by the President as an a tool as essential as any other in the bill seems either obtuse or disingenuous.

    Disingenuous is saying that the telcos won't help the government even though they are required to by law when presented with a warrant, and then using this argument to justify immunity.

    Disingenuous is ignoring the fact that there are billions of dollars in government contracts that were handed out for cooperation in this warrantless surveillance program. Contracts that Qwest did not get because they refused to comply with ILLEGAL orders, which lost contracts caused their CEO to dump some of his stock, which was then used to put that CEO in jail.

    There are more than two sides to this story, and one of them involves a lot of money. Are you willing to look at that side as you're so willing to believe that everyone involved actually had good intentions?

    On that note, I'm sure Cheney had "good intentions" when he told the CDC to remove all references to the effects of climate change on human health because he was afraid it would make it harder to prevent the EPA from regulating carbon emissions...this administration is full of people with "good intentions" - for the wealthy.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Ed, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    Good Faith has nothing to do with it.

    The law is the law. There are a lot of laws I don't like. There are plenty of roads where 25mph is ridiculous. Most people do 35-40 on them. I actually "try" to keep it at 25, but sometimes I forget. If I get a ticket for 35, I do not expect the court to say "Well, you try to do 25, so.......". I expect the fine, and the points. Period. I wouldn't like it, but tough.

    For all those who say "Well this was dangerous times, we needed the info, so the law breaking should be excused", I ask the following question:

    It's two in morning, your kid needs medicine. You forgot to get it. The pharmacy is closed. You break down the window, get the pills, leave a check on the counter (for window and all). Is this acceptable? Should the police say to the pharmacy "Well, he did it in good faith, it was important. So don't bother us"? The pharmacy would not think so.

    Neither would most innocent people spied on think, "well, I can have no secrets, so let anybody listen". Anyone who claims this, is either a liar, or self deluded. Everybody has secrets. Everybody has things they do not want others to know. If we didn't, our houses would be all windows. It could be as trivial as how they look naked, or what their salary is, or how much money they own, or what kind of TV shows they watch. It does not matter. That is why the law is there, to protect the privacy of the innocent. This government is not above the law. That is supposed to be part of what made this country great. It's a real shame that the experiment has failed......

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Fred Waters, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Everyone Is Faping Again

    I don't think even the president can offer a pardon unless there's been a conviction. What you are suggesting is that the president can grant immunity from prosecution, which he can't. If the president could grant immunity, he wouldn't need Congress to pass this law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    uncle bob, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 1:02pm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Justin, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    No, they shouldn't. Whatever the intention, no one is above the law.

    If they abided by the law then they have nothing to fear from appearing in court.


    There's a law in place called FISA, that says it's okay to allow domestic spying on terrorists. So no law would be broken. These telco's have every fear to appear in court because they can get a judge that has an axe to grind about any Bush spying program who will try to make a point that what these telcos are doing is wrong, even if its an act of congress. These lawsuits will cause millions of dollars to be wasted in litigation when it's unnecessary. There is no evidence that I have seen that would support these telco's doing anything different than what's allowed by law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Re: I am a little confused

    Can someone clearly, intelligently, and without blantant bias explain to me why the telcos should be liable? From how I understand it, the government ordered them to do this and they complied with them.

    The government asked for wiretaps without the proper well-defined legal procedures accompanying it (getting a warrant from the FISA court, or quickly getting one in the days after the request for the wiretap).

    Just because a gov't official orders you to do something, it doesn't mean that's automatically legal. Gov'ts have ordered people to do illegal things in the past.

    Granted, I think that was the right action, but I think a lot more anger should be directed at the governing body who ordered the illegal taps than the telco who was doing what their government ordered them to do.

    Indeed. But part of the issue is that with telco immunity, there is no way to find out if the governing body ordered illegal taps.

     

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  69.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Telco Immunity

    I am a law abiding citizen, that does not have conversations on the phone that could be scrutinized as illegal/terrorism activity.

    What does that have to do with anything? By granting the gov't the ability to spy on people without any checks and balances, who knows what you might do someday that people dislike. The history of the FBI shows that when there are no checks and balances it watches whoever it wants to watch.

    However, if the spying powers prevent another terrorist attack, (thank God we have not had another in the US) then, have them listen away to my conversation.

    There are many well-defined legal procedures in place to allow this to happen with some sense of checks and balances. The problem here is that those procedures appear to have been ignored, suggesting that the administration knew that the checks and balances would have found them to have gone beyond what was reasonable.

     

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  70.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    The whole issue is whether the telco's should have immunity for helping the government in terrorist surveillance. And yes, they should. They should be protected from the scum sucking lawyers out there for abidding by law.

    If they were abiding by the law, and these are bogus lawsuits, then the courts will find as such.

    Additionally, FISA does not give any right to anyone to just spy on any US citizen.

    Indeed. But this was done *outside* of FISA. Which is the point.

    The same people who disagree with the "spying" are the same people who were completely in agreement with Billary's Echelon program

    Um, actually no. Almost everyone I know opposed to this spying was just as vehemently opposed to Echelon. Both were encroachments on our civil rights.

    The author of this article is making blanket statement with nothing to back himself up with the facts.

    Which facts are missing? It is a fact that the telcos granted wiretaps without warrants. It is a fact that Bush has said he'll veto the bill without immunity. The rest is established from the facts.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Beta, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Grow UP

    I would personally let the government, the army, Jay Leno or whoever listen to all my phone calls if it had a tiny chance of saving the lives of the 4000 americans who died on 9/11.

    Would you be willing to break the law? Would you be willing to stand trial for your crime?

     

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  72.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Grow UP

    People who are crying about their privacy and civil rights being violated, GROW UP! Yes privacy and civil rights are important, but do you really think the government was more interested about eardropping on your silly conversations than about trying to prevent another attack?

    No, I don't think the gov't is eavesdropping on my silly conversations, but that's not the point, is it? If they were doing this to prevent another attack, they have well-established means to do so. They chose not to.

    I would personally let the government, the army, Jay Leno or whoever listen to all my phone calls if it had a tiny chance of saving the lives of the 4000 americans who died on 9/11.

    Well, where does that stop. If you want to prevent another 9/11 that's easy. Put every human being in the US under house arrest. Do not allow them to leave their homes without gov't supervision.

    Do you see how easy it is to go to an extreme?

    We have civil liberties in this country for a reason. You are saying that we should give them up. That seems like a horrendously anti-American position.

    I understand there are laws that governs wiretapping, but I also understand that extreme circumstances sometimes requires extreme measures.

    Sure. And if these were extreme circumstances and extreme measures, what's wrong with establishing that in court?

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Pretending that there is only one side to an argument does not make it so!

    You know how they say, if you fight monsters be careful you do not become one?

    I'm.... pretty sure that my hatred for that group that's so facist is making me somewhat facist in the other political spectrum direction....

    I think I need to calm down a touch... Thanks for helping put that in perspective.

    DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH.

    unfortunately, I had forgotten that that meant including people who believe that diversity is weakness....

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Ed, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Grow UP

    Sam Writes:

    "I understand there are laws that governs wiretapping, but I also understand that extreme circumstances sometimes requires extreme measures."

    Gee Sam, I live in the United States of America, where the Constitution & the Rule of Law exists (or is supposed to anyway). What country do you live in?

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    - Benjamin Franklin

    Think that says it all.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Telco Immunity

    Nah, spying doesn't help much. NSA is trying to find ways to scan the reams of transcripts of conversations it has for relevant ones, but that's like searching google for apples, to find a specific apple farm that you don't remember the name or place of.

    Basically, even the most 'relevant' of conversations that are flagged for human viewing are so innocuous that they get maybe 1 true red flag per thousand human viewed documents.

    All statistics are pulled out of my... poterior

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Grow UP

    ... Yeah... I'm a Jew...

    Accept Jesus


    Do you WANT to know how that statement makes me feel?

    I would feel less threatened if you had said "your money or your life". I would have felt less threatened if you had said "Hold still while I rape you." I would have felt less threatened if you had said "I'm gonna kill you".

    Those two words, to me, mean torture, pain, forced conversions, burning, gas chambers, Inquisition, and being treated as less then human. my responce is also two words

    Fuck you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Grow UP

    Which one?

    Quaker Jesus? Muslim Jesus? Catholic Jesus, Eastern Orthodox Jesus? Jesus the spanish man who lives down the hall who I think is gay? The Jesus that belongs to Fred Phelps? Mormon Jesus? Baptist Jesus? Anglican Jesus? Evangelical Jesus? Jesus the carpenter? Jesus the man who hung out with several other men in a way that seems somewhat homosexual of an era where relationships between men was accepted and condoned?

     

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  78.  
    icon
    Allen (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:59pm

    Re: Re: Everyone Is Faping Again

    I had to read all the way to comment 53 before I saw someone make sense. This has nothing to do with da terrorists, or any concern for the telcos themselves. George Dubbya needs this or there is a good chance that the courts will test *his* "allegedly" illegal actions and come to the reasonable conclusion that he broke the law.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Spike, Jul 9th, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Bush, The Moron, has kept us terrorist free since 9/11

    Yes, by giving terrorists much easier American targets in Iraq. A very simple thing, pay people to be in a lottery to be killed and say that you've made it safe for the wealthy.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    trampled upon, Jul 9th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    The Black Box of Government

    ID10T: Hey George old buddy, I got this great invention, take a look.
    George: That's just a red button on a black box, what's so great about it?
    ID10T: It's a flabogastometer (patent pending). Whenever you push the button it will do one of three things:
    1. Wiretap ordinary citizens (those of the opposite political party, or those who have spoken out against the current government first, other citizens may be tapped as needed), and sends out press releases about how it's to prevent terrorism, it does this without any warrants or actual suspicion that the people being tapped are actually terrorists.
    2. Starts a war with a random 3rd world oil producing nation, and sends out press releases about how it's to 'protect the citizens' or 'overthrow the evil dictator'. Also prepares the multi-billion dollar 'rebuilding' contracts and awards them to companies that are friends and/or family of the current government.
    3. Kills a random puppy using GETMO approved torture techniques, then posts a video of the puppy's demise on you-tube with a George Bush 'Did I do that?' quote (morphed into the familiar 'Erkle' voice from Family Matters that the general populace seems to love).

    George: Well I already do number 1 and 2 whenever I want to, but I'm generally opposed to killing random puppies, so why would I want to use this device.
    ID10T: We made it big and red and glowing and then put 'EASY' on it, just like the Staples button on the commercials. We've also 'fixed' the programming so that the button is about as likely to kill a puppy as the Electronic voting machines are to cast accurate votes for the Democratic party.
    George: Ooh, my own easy button, I'm in, sign me up. Push... Push.... Push...

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Im-not-a-mouse Coward, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 10:02pm

    Re:

    Word. The Telco's definitely got the short end of the stick in this deal: do something morally questionable, or piss off the federal government. But I agree that the really sad part of the equation is that if the telcos cannot be prosecuted then that's a missing link in the chain of accountability that leads to the Bush administration.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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