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NSA Whistleblower Claims US Journalists Were Regularly Spied On: Everything Collected

from the that-doesn't-seem-legal dept

A bunch of folks have been sending in the news, as revealed by Russell Tice, who was one of the major "whistleblowers" on the NSA's questionable warrantless wiretapping activities, that the NSA was not just (as the gov't has claimed) spying on known terrorist threats, but was spying on journalists on a regular basis. Specifically, they were collecting pretty much everything (emails, phone calls, etc.) on certain journalism organizations. He explains that he was officially put on a project supposedly to "weed out" that info, but that it was a deception so that the NSA had some cover if called on it. Instead, he found that all of the data was being recorded. This seems to be an even bigger breach of the surveillance laws. Now, before some people jump up and down in the comments about protecting us from terrorists -- the point here is that there are perfectly good laws allowing intelligence representatives to tap into communications of potential terrorists. The problem here is that it appears the administration went well beyond that, spied on those who were not at all involved in terrorist activities and did not use the legally prescribed process of obtaining warrants (probably because they never would have been granted).


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2009 @ 11:13pm

    Whatever it takes..

    If you have done nothing wrong why should you honestly care.I think the nsa should do anything it takes to keep us safe, and since the journalists always in in contact with groups or people that they have to keep annonomous to tell the news, thats the perfect thing to do. I served in the military and if the goverment was to tell you about every little thing they do hear or find it would put the world in a state of panic.So again I say what ever it takes to keep us safe is fine by me.

     

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    ECA (profile), Jan 21st, 2009 @ 11:29pm

    AC

    and what happens when you are being watched.
    ANd make a SMALL mistake, that would be over looked.
    And suddenly there are COPS on your door step, arresting you for a petty crime.
    OR
    if you MISSED that stop light/sign, you totally DIDNT see it.. ANd you get a ticket in the mail, or a cop Pulls you over.
    How about those that Use drugs or drink to much AT HOME...NOT bothering anyone, not endangering KIDS or dogs.
    KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!!!

    NOW, THINK hard, as I know its difficult for you.
    But do you REALLY think that TECH is only for the WHITE MAN/SMART PERSON/person who KNOWS what they are doing.
    HOW easy is it to change your ISP location, or FAKE a email location, or any of 10,000 other ways to protect yourself.
    And in todays WORLD, it would be easy to setup a spoof site and TELL EVERYONE what you want.

     

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  3.  
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    DaveL, Jan 21st, 2009 @ 11:34pm

    RE: Whatever it takes? NO Dammit!

    That tired old horse has been dragged out by every defender of any of the old administrations illegal activities.
    And to put it in terms you might understand, "That dog don't hunt"

    I find it amazing that we made it through the entire cold war with a well funded, well organized enemy that had both the infrastrcture and ability to infiltrate and spy (the USSR) without loosing any of our civil rights. But Oddly, now that the enemy is a "isim" (terrorism) we need to give up all our rights and depend on our government not to abuse us.

    Bad news flash, this is yet more evidence of our government abusing the power we gave it, that is, abusing US.

    And as to the "effectiveness" of those programs and secret abuses of our rights, I have an "elephant attack preventing rock" in my backyard, it has successfully prevented elephant attacks in my area for more than 100 years.

    We wont even bother to talk about the well publicized "busts" of "dangerous plots" made by the DHS of people that were later released without even being charged.

     

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  4.  
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    John, Jan 21st, 2009 @ 11:47pm

    Re: AC

    What are you blathering on about? Are you even old enough to be taking part in intelligent conversation?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Jan 21st, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    I can't even begin to entail what is wrong with your statement here. Do you really think that illegally spying on innocent people with absolutely no tangible connections to terrorism or terrorists for no reason at all is going to protect this country, its people, and/or their rights?

     

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  6.  
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    Ken T, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:06am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    The problem with this theory is that the information will be used for reasons other than to prevent terrorist attacks. It could be used to embarrass a journalist that disagrees with the administration, or to stop a whistle blower, or to ruin the life of a political enemy.

    It won't just be used for the purposes you think it will be.

     

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  7.  
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    Leo, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:19am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Funny how this "If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't care" statement is written by an Anonymous Coward...

     

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  8.  
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    Alan, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:20am

    Why is it that it seems every time I read a news item criticizing the Bush regime, the first entry is always a Bush apologist?

    Alan

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:24am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Plz forward all your emails, bank account, etc. to : xxx@hotmail.com after all this is completely acceptable to you for other people to monitor you. It's fools like you that deserve to be tattooed & branded with a Bar Code to track your movements. PS. when I don't receive your email i guess you have summat to hide.

     

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  10.  
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    Brin Dalton, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:24am

    I. Don't. Care.

     

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    PT (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:38am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    So, AC, if the new administration suspects you have dangerous right wing sympathies and decides to record all your calls, secretly open your mail and track all your friends and contacts, that would be ok with you, right? You've done nothing wrong, so why should you honestly care?

    The fact is, governments change, and everything they do is subject to mission creep and abuse. What today you think nothing of, may tomorrow be used against you by a malicious prosecutor and ruin the rest of your life. In the end, only the Constitution gives you the freedom and safety you enjoy. That's why you should care when it's violated.

     

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  12.  
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    ToySouljah, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:12am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    It is thinking like that that the government loves. Just keeping telling yourself that "as long as you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about." The thing is that the government has time and time again over-stepped their boundary in the sake of "keeping us safe". The term "terrorist" has been broadened to the point that even real patriots are labeled terrorists since they speak out against the U.S. government and want to take action. A real patriot loves his country, but is always critical towards the government in power since we were given that right in the Declaration of Independence. "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,.." and a little further down..."when a long train of abuses and usurpation's, 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."

    Also, I guess I shall quote Benjamin Franklin who said it best "Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty."

    The point is that as citizen's of the United States of America we have the duty to make sure our government does not get too big and impede on our freedom. If they do then again, it is our duty to remove them and replace them with a new government that will do their duty of guarding and protecting the Constitution and not raping it and changing laws to limit our power and increase theirs. This is OUR country...they work for US. I'm not banking on big change soon, but real patriots of this country are well armed and waiting to take back our country.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:23am

    What should good man be afraid of? Everything.
    - Robert Freeman, Interpol, early '90s

     

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  14.  
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    zS, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:26am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Says the anonymous coward.

    The pathetic part is that fools like you endanger all of us.

    You served in the military? Congratulations. I was red beret. That doesn't mean that I want to see the US government spying on it's own citizens for no good reason. There are laws against this because it's a generally unsavory thing. Tossing those laws out the window so you can pretend to be safer accomplishes NOTHING.

    Those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither and will lose both.

     

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    shaman, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:26am

    Indeed, ToySouljah, not just our right, but our duty. REAL patriots are waiting ... and watching.

     

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  16.  
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    Keill Randor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:08am

    re: whatever it takes....

    Just to clarify the point the others are making:

    How can you NOT do anything wrong, if you have NO say, input or power over what is defined as right or wrong in the first place?

    This is the whole FOUNDATION of western society:

    It's the CITIZENS of our countries that have the ultimate say over what should be allowed and what shouldn't - it's what (should) make our countries different from those run by dictators, like Zimbabwe - where it's the ONE person at the top that decides what's right and wrong, and not the general population.

    When a small group of people in power choose to start making their own rules, without using the systems in place to change the existing rules if they can be proven to be ineffective, then they are traitors, and should be dealt with as such. There should and can be NO room for error here - if you give them an inch, they WILL take a yard - and everyone will deserve everything they get...

     

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  17.  
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    Nobody, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:39am

    1984 by George Orwell

    Read it...re-read it.

    We may have gone past that date, but we are still heading down that road.

    Be very, very worried anytime the general populace becomes complacent about what the Government (any government) is doing.

     

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  18.  
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    Twinrova, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 4:25am

    The notion of privacy you all expect is rather entertaining.

    I've said it once before: If it leaves your home, it's no longer private despite what you believe.

    Only a fool believes their information is "private" when sent out into the world. Nothing is private at that point.

    Even you aren't considered private once you leave your home. Facial recognition software is building popularity.

    Soon, you'll be recognized in other countries without even having visited it before.

    Ah. Technology. Wonderful stuff.

    Now shut the hell up, #5972. You're causing anarchy amongst the stupid.

     

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  19.  
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    Jerome, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 5:02am

    Seriously.

    Oh come on guys, stop making such a huge bloody deal on basically nothing. Are you seriously going to believe what this Tice guy says without even bothering to validate any of his claims?

    Stop with the petty fights- check to see if what you're arguing about even makes the least bit of sense. Damn.

     

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  20.  
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    Monach, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 5:02am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    The terrorist have already won if you have that mentality. The Government has NO right to spy on its citizens without probable cause! I don't care if I have nothing to hide, I don't want the government spying on my private life. I don't want them to hear or read about my own private issues that I would only share with loved ones.

    Anyone who thinks it is ok for the government to spy on its citizens to keep them safe, is so far removed from the ideals that the United States was founded on, that they should have their U.S. Citizenship revoked, or put into a reeducation camp to learn American history.

     

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  21.  
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    stingwolf, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 5:30am

    Good thing we have Obama

    Luckily we have a new president who preaches change and doesn't support this kind of stuff... Wait, what? He voted to allow it?! Oh God...

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Dog mentality

    "f you have done nothing wrong why should you honestly care.I think the nsa should do anything it takes to keep us safe, and since the journalists always in in contact with groups or people that they have to keep annonomous to tell the news, thats the perfect thing to do. I served in the military and if the goverment was to tell you about every little thing they do hear or find it would put the world in a state of panic.So again I say what ever it takes to keep us safe is fine by me."

    sounds like the words of a dog that blindly follows its master.

    *If* you have ever read history, you would realize that the governments abuse their own people when given the power to do so. It's a slippery slop we don't want to start.

    Human nature is to abuse power then given the opportunity. We can't blindly give the government power. It's suppose to serve us. And as a 'military man', you are suppose to serve the constitution, not the president.

     

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  23.  
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    Adam, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear." I've heard that before somewhere... The problem with the idea you've brought forth is that I can sit here and say "I've done nothing wrong!" until I'm blue in the face, but the NSA could edit whatever recordings they had to the point where anyone could convict me of anything. The protections guaranteed in the Constitution have worked well for us so far. Why throw them out in a panic now?

    "Those who give up freedom for security deserve neither."--Thomas Jefferson

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:13am

    REALLY?

    You mean the BUSH administration violated the law and abused its powers for political gain . . . wow, who would have thought the administration that used a homosexual prostitute to pose as a fake reporter to throw softball talking points at White House press briefings would do something like this? All I can say at this point is, to those who supported this adminsitration, why do you hate our Constitution so much?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:17am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    "If you have done nothing wrong why should you honestly care.I think the nsa should do anything it takes to keep us safe, and since the journalists always in in contact with groups or people that they have to keep annonomous to tell the news, thats the perfect thing to do. I served in the military and if the goverment was to tell you about every little thing they do hear or find it would put the world in a state of panic.So again I say what ever it takes to keep us safe is fine by me."


    You would have been right at home in the Societ Union, to bad its gone now. Try China, they seems to be much closer to your cowardly, authoritarian views then Americans.

     

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  26.  
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    Capt Obvious, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:24am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    "If you have done nothing wrong" != Innocent

    If you do not understand the above, seek professional help immediately

     

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  27.  
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    Matt Polmanteer, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:45am

    Security

    Have you learned nothing from history. It starts out as we are doing this for your safety then for some strange reason people who disagree start to disappearing. Whats the next section of the Bill of rights that we don't really need? I'm guessing you approve of the second amendment? You know if we took all the guns away from everyone but the military we would be much safer. Hahahaha.

    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." ~Ben Franklin

     

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  28.  
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    hegemon13, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:50am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Wow, what a shocking and terrifyingly ignorant post. Safe? Let's see, East Germany was pretty damn safe from terrorism. How about we imprison all our citizens and take away all their freedoms. That would, after all, be the "safest" for everyone.

    Journalists sources have their anonymity protected for a reason - for their own protection. In a perfect world with perfect government officials that could be 100% trusted, maybe you would be right. But, in a perfect world, we wouldn't need this surveillance in the first place. Your system allows corruption to run rampant. Who is going to stop a corrupt power that had the authority to do anything they want in the name of "safety." Wake up, jackass. This isn't a police state.

     

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  29.  
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    hegemon13, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: Whatever it takes..

    "Anyone who thinks it is ok for the government to spy on its citizens to keep them safe, is so far removed from the ideals that the United States was founded on, that they should have their U.S. Citizenship revoked, or put into a reeducation camp to learn American history."

    Er, pot, kettle. Seriously, do you not see the inherent hypocrisy in that paragraph?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Re: REALLY?

    REALLY? You mean the Clinton Administration did the same thing? NO WAY! Elian Gonzales anyone? Waco anyone?

    Truth is every president and administration over steps their bounds at some point or points. This incoming administration will be NO different. Now get over your Bush derangement syndrome and move on. He's out of office. Everything now is officially Obama's fault.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Whatever it takes..

    "Er, pot, kettle. Seriously, do you not see the inherent hypocrisy in that paragraph?"

    Its not really hypocritical (although I can see how a terse reading could make it appear that way). He is saying that people who act in defense of the united states by destroying its founding principals, do not properly understand them and as such should be denied citizenship until they do. This is really an apeal to "social contract" and "tasset consent". This position is perfectly consistant with the ideals of the US founders (its derived directly from Locke).

    I dont necessarily agree, but I do see the consistancy. There is no such consistancy on other side, violating the constituion of the united states is in no way consistant with the ideals of the founders, whether it is done to protect the united states or not. If you want to violate the constitution to protect us citizens then you MUST declare martial law, anything less is simply a violation of the founding principals (since they clearly lay out the martial law doctrine).

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: REALLY?

    "REALLY? You mean the Clinton Administration did the same thing? NO WAY! Elian Gonzales anyone? Waco anyone?"

    Who was the homosexual prostitute the Clinton administration used as a fake white house correspondant to avoid actually answering to the American People? Yeah . . . there not really all the same are they LMAO . . . nice try though.

     

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  33.  
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    Anon2, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 7:55am

    FISA

    There is, and for decades has been, a perfectly adequate -- and highly secretive -- process in place for the gov't to apply to Article III judges for warrants when it has a reasonable belief (note: lower standard than probable cause) that the information sought will lead to evidence of threats to national security. Read up on FISA, it works, it keeps the gov't relatively honest and in line, and it is why all this post-9/11 insanity about compelling needs to spy on Americans is utter nonsense.

    Spying on journalists and newsgathering organizations in this broad a manner is something I think even the currently constituted Supreme Court would have a problem with. I am guessing that as we discuss this, the NYT, Washington Post and others are busy submitting their FOIA requests to see if there is anything to the story. It could be a good test of the sincerity and robustness of Obama's policies on greater transparency and openness -- which include specific directives concerning FOIA requests.

     

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  34.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    "If you have done nothing wrong why should you honestly care."

    Here's what I say when people ask me that...

    "So what time should I come by and watch you and your wife have sex? I mean, you are doing nothing wrong, correct? So why should you care if I watch?"

    That usually shuts them up.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Whatever it takes..

    During the Olbermann Television Interview, Russell Tice said EVERYONE was spied on, not just Journalists. Mr. Trice said 'You could live in Kansas, and never make a foreign call, and the NSA would have all your communications.'

    Later he said he wrote a letter to the Obama campaign on paper and pencil because he knew the bredth of the program, the fact that computers could be and were tapped, and didn't write a letter on his computer, even in a wordprocessor.

    Earlier in the program, Olbermann said in a bump that they spied on Politically non-affiliated tech savvy people. This sounds like Ron Paul Supporters, doesn't it?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Abuse of power. They have already shown that they can't be trusted with the power we give them. They go well beyond what we allow them to do. Why should we believe that they won't abuse the power you think should be granted to them? Next thing you know they will abuse that power in the name of protecting us from ourselves.

     

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  37.  
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    batch, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Whatever it takes..

    You are my hero for the rest of the day. I'm going to use that on the next douche who pulls that crap on me.

     

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  38.  
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    Kirk, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 10:18am

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    I am fortunate in that I do not have the words to describe the emotions elicited by your comments. I'm sure someone below has already quoted thusly, but here, Sir, is your dose of Franklin: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    All that is needed for the terrorists to defeat us, is for us to forget that we are Americans.

     

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  39.  
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    john smith, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Security!

    All the more reason not to trust in 'big brother' anywhere. This includes cloud computing as well as any & all social sites. What is REALLY needed is a cell phone (including a home version)which has encryption embedded. Similar to the seatbelt laws in the US. If everyone used 'secure' communications they would have a hard time even WITH a warrant.
    Encrypting of emails is rather simple if you take the time.
    I don't IM and email once in a blue moon.

     

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  40.  
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    Janet Altman, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Digital Security

    The technology is definitely out there in digital security or is being developed as we speak. Check out his site that I thought explained where we are today evolution wise:

    http://www.justaskgemalto.com

     

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  41.  
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    blackbelt_jones, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Reasons to care.

    One good reason to care., even if you're not doing anything wrong is because it's against the law. You want your government to follow the law, don't you?

    What if the government is doing something wrong? Don't you think that spying on the media could be helpful in covering it up? Think about that for a moment. This could be the end of any hope of any govenment misconduct ever reaching the public. Easily. The implications are horrifying. If the government can spy on the press,

    If you can secretly collect evidence, manufacturing evidence gets a whole lot easier. It's a worst-case scenario, but anticipating worst case scenarios is what the constitution is all about.

    We're not supposed to just blindly trust the government. The constitution is based on the idea that the Government must be bound by law, and this seriously weakens that. Please don't tell me that you're undermining the constitution to protect my tender white ass. The Constitution is one of the few things that I care about more than my tender white ass. The president doesn't take a vow to protect our tender asses, he takes a vow to protect THE CONSTITUTION. More than a place, more than a people, America is a great idea, and the Constitution is where that idea is written down.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:47pm

    The president swears this oath-

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    Part of that requires the President and those under him to follow the laws of the land. Bush may get off on the to the best of abilities clause but this was obviously illegal. The law has to equally apply to the president and every other citizen, resident and visitor to this country or it is meaningless.

    The exit interviews of the Bush administration officers show a stunning lack of awareness of the peril of their position. Cheney may have incriminated himself three or four times in this process.

    Fortunately the current management understands this better.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    "The exit interviews of the Bush administration officers show a stunning lack of awareness of the peril of their position. Cheney may have incriminated himself three or four times in this process."

    This is why no one from the Bush Administration would ever testify, EVER, under oath (they cant legally lie then - if they cant lie, then they cant say anything). Remember BUSH even refused to testify or allow anyone from his administration to testify in front of the damn 911 commision (and he or the VP never did testify - they had a chat, not under oath and with no record), thats how concerned with our security he really was (alot less then his concern for some ole fashioned CYA).

     

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  44.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Hi, troll!

     

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  45.  
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    Valkor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    Wow, guys, don't feed the trolls.
    Seriously, I've never seen so many liberty-saftey-neither quotes in a single thread.

     

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  46.  
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    TDR, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 8:42am

    Of course, one must keep in mind that many of the alleged "terrorists" are on the CIA payroll. It's a trick that goes back as far as the Roman Empire - create the enemies you need, then use them as a focal point to divert public attention away from what you're really doing.

     

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  47.  
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    mike ip, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Whatever it takes..

    What are you so afraid of? If I had served next to you in the military, I'd be ashamed to admit to knowing such a chicken little, sky is falling sort.

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    12, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    THE BOTTOM LINE — THIS IS AN OUTLAW GOVERNMENT. THE DEMOCRAT & REPUBLICAN PARTIES ARE BOTH INVOLVED IN A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES. ALL MEMBERS OF THESE PARTIES MUST BE REMOVED FROM POWER AND REPLACED WITH INDEPENDENTS WHO WILL OBEY THEIR OATH OF OFFICE.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    greatfog, Mar 3rd, 2009 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: AC

    ECA is old enough to reach the shift key.

     

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


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