Senators Tell The Obama Administration To Reveal Its Secret Interpretation Of The Patriot Act

from the and-again-and-again dept

Over the last year or so, we've been covering Senator Ron Wyden's efforts to get Obama administration officials to come public with their secret interpretation of the Patriot Act. Wyden, of course, cannot say how they're interpreting the Patriot Act, though there have been clues, suggesting an extremely broad interpretation, that effectively allows them to spy on Americans, in direct contrast to the way most people (including many in Congress) believe the law allows. In the past, intelligence officials have basically said that they will not reveal how they interpret the Patriot Act because they don't want to, and doing so might reveal some of the details of how they spy on people.

Of course, keeping certain details secret concerning specific operations to monitor threats is reasonable. But a secret interpretation of the law that appears to go against what the law says directly? That's not acceptable. If the government can just make up how it interprets laws, and then keep those interpretations secret, we no longer have representative democracy at all. We have a sham government.

Given all of this, the NY Times and the ACLU sued the government for failing to reveal its interpretation of the law under a Freedom of Information Act. The administration is now seeking to get the two lawsuits dismissed... leading Senators Wyden and Udall to send a rather direct and forceful letter to Attorney General Holder questioning this move. I'll include a bunch of snippets below, but one key bit in this letter, which I believe is new, is the acknowledgement that further information that Wyden and Udall have come across suggest that the secret surveillance operation that makes use of this secret interpretation of the law is not even effective:
We would also note that in recent months we have grown increasingly skeptical about the actual value of the "intelligence collection operation" discussed in the Justice Department's recent court filing regarding the pending lawsuits. This has come as a surprise to us, as we were initially inclined to take the executive branch's assertions about the importance of this "operation" at face value. We will provide more detail about this skepticism in classified correspondence.
That's a pretty pointed claim, and certainly makes clear another reason why the administration is fighting so hard against revealing the secret interpretation. They know that once people find out just how widely they're tracking people under this bogus interpretation of the law, that not only will people be upset about it, but that the administration won't even be able to prove that such efforts did anything to prevent terrorism in the country.

On to some other key parts of the letter:
It is a matter of public record that section 215, which is a public statute, has been the subject of secret legal interpretations. The existences of these interpretations, which are contained in classified opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or "FISA Court") has been acknowledged on multiple occasions by the Justice Department and other executive branch officials.

We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn't know what its government thinks the law says.
That seems like quite an understatement. It really makes you wonder what country we live in today. I'm fine with the government keeping certain things secret -- but one thing that it should never keep secret is the law itself. That's not a democracy any more at all, a point made in the letter as well:
In a democratic society -- in which the government derives its power from the consent of the people -- citizens rightly expect that their government will not arbitrarily keep information from them. Americans expect their government to operate within the boundaries of publicly-understood law, and as voters they have a need and a right to now how the law is being interpreted, so that they can ratify or reject decisions made on their behalf. To put it another way, Americans know that their government will sometimes conduct secret operations, but they don't think that government officials should be writing secret laws.
Later, the letter notes that the administration certainly has been willing to reveal this secret interpretation to some members of Congress (such as the two of them), but it appears that even many members of Congress have no idea how the administration is interpreting the law:
While the executive branch has worked hard to keep the government's official interpretation of the Patriot Act secret from the American public it has, to its credit, provided this information in documents submitted to Congress. However, these documents are so highly classified that most members of Congress do not have any staff who are cleared to read them. As a result, we can say with confidence that most of our colleagues in the House and senate are unfamiliar with these documents, and that many of them would be surprised and angry to learn how the Patriot Act has been interpreted in secret.
Wyden and Udall are equally troubled by the insistence by the administration that it needs to keep its interpretation of these laws secret to prevent adversaries from understanding what's being done. They point out that this is "chilling logic" as it could mean that the government could basically create all sorts of secret intelligence laws:
The crux of the Justice Department's argument for keeping the official interpretation of the law secret is that this secrecy prevents US adversaries from understanding exactly what intelligence agencies are allowed to do. We can see how it might be tempting to latch on to this chilling logic, but we would note that it would then follow that all of America's surveillance laws should be secret, because that would make it even harder to guess how the United States government collects information. For example, when Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ct in 1978 it would have been useful to keep that law secret from the KGB, so that Soviet agents would not know how the FBI was allowed to track them. But American laws should not be made public only when government officials find it convenient. They should be public all the time, and every American should be able to find out what their government thinks those laws mean.
There's a lot more in the full letter, but it's difficult not to be furious about the sense of entitlement the administration has over this. Keeping details of investigations secret is perfectly reasonable. But keeping a secret interpretation of the law secret -- and one that lets them do much greater surveillance than what the law appears to state in plain language, is a significant problem for those who believe in a working democracy and representative government.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

    Everyone railed against the Bush Administration for the passing of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act. But this shows that there really is not much difference between the two parties in the US.

    Both want to monitor you.
    Both want to hide what they are doing.
    Both want no oversight of what they are doing.
    Both just want more power to reside with them and their party.
    In a democratic society -- in which the government derives its power from the consent of the people

    One correction I would like to add to the article and it is something we all seem to forget. We in the US are NOT in a DEMOCRACY. We ARE in a Representative Republic. The founding fathers hated Democracies and felt that they are nothing better than Mob-rule. In a Representative Republic the government derives its power from the consent of the people. In a Democracy the people vote on everything and it is Mob-Rule meaning that the Politician that can best insight the crowd holds the power.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Greevar (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:27am

      Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

      It doesn't matter what kind of government you have. As long as it can be bought, it's a bad one.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Berenerd (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:54am

        Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

        Using that, any government can be bought. It is human nature.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:20am

          Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

          Which is where insane dictators really get their chance to shine. If the guy's batshit crazy, you can never tell if he's going to take the money or have you taken out and shot.

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:28am

      Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

      People don't forget that, because it's not there to be forgotten.
      A republic is a state without a monarch and has sweet FA to do with whether it is a democracy or not.
      The US like many nations is a democracy, a representative democracy is not somehow magically not a democracy and it is necessary for democracy to be representative once it is too big for all citizens to gather together on a regular basis to vote on everything.
      The distinction you are making is between direct democracy and representative democracy and then just getting confused with the idea that being a republic has some bearing on it.

      The UK is a constitutional monarchy and a democracy, the UK has it's own laughable concepts (the major one being that their "constitution" is unwritten) but they don't make the mistake of conflating two completely unrelated concepts.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

        Those are good points but as a representative republic means that the basic division or states get to choose.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

          The point is that representative republic leaves out the fact that our representatives are democratically elected.

          We don't assign representatives by appointment, or lottery, or through some type of peerage system; all of which would be representative and could be done at a basic division or state level. Our representatives are elected through a democratic process, making it a democratic republic.

           

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

          •  
            icon
            Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

            On a state level. When was the last time your US Senator or President elected by the vote of the people?

             

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

            •  
              icon
              dcee (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

              Well, same thing in Canada... we vote for a deuty, they choose the prime minister. Normaly it's chosen upfront, to be honest, but they can change whenever they want.

              Doesn't change the fact that it's a democracy.

               

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

              •  
                icon
                dcee (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:29am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                "deputy"... not a deuty, and certainly not a deity.

                 

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

                •  
                  icon
                  TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                  Member of Parliament.

                  There FIFY

                  (Each Province has different names for its members but federally it's MP).

                  That and you'd be hard pressed to convince Chretien or Harper that it's not diety. ;-)

                   

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

              •  
                identicon
                Cowardly Anonymous, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                I believe the phrase you are looking for is Representative Democratic Republic. A democracy, even indirect, provides for no division of the populace.

                A democracy would elect a Senate by having all members of the populace vote for each position (somehow), rather than regional separations. For the system to work properly, it would likely require some form of ranking comparison, preferably iterative in nature.

                A republic elects a Senate via some division of the population. A democratic approach to the republic uses a popular vote only within each division.

                A democracy would elect a solo office by straight percentage election.

                A republic elects a solo office by divisional voting, typically weighted in some manner. A democratic approach uses a census to determine the weights.

                Representative is what accounts for the level of indirection provided by the offices.

                It is also worth noting that there exist a substantial number of appointed offices (more than elected) within the US structure, as well as sub-governments for various elements within the republican structure.

                 

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

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

              Obo won the popular vote iirc.

              I think your argument against our ability to have a true democratic election might be better focused on our inability to have a candidate we actually like or trust or believe in or would still vote for if our other options were not so shitty. Just look at the ongoing repub elections. People keep talking about how they will vote for Romney because he can win (e.g. not obviously batshit crazy) or how they will vote for one of the nutjobs because Romney is too moderate. It is a matter of who they dislike the least not who they like the most.

              Th people get a handful of morons marched in front of them and are forced to choose. Sure anyone could have run for the primaries, anyone with tens of millions of dollars to bankroll them. But I guess those are people we know share our beliefs and values and are a people who truly represent the voters because the vast majority of us are millionaires.

               

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

              •  
                identicon
                hothmonster, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:35am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                /rant

                 

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

              •  
                icon
                Jay (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                Our electoral college and primary system is to blame for that.

                And I truly believe that Ron Paul is getting screwed out of the nomination. They decided beforehand that they would pick Romney even though Paul has the best shot against Obama. But he won't play ball on Iraq and he won't play ball on civil liberties.

                No, this isn't a Paul boost. He'll still have his own problems, but Romney is damaged goods. He won't be able to defeat the president and Obama cruises to a great finish for another election.

                In order to really change the two party system, you'd have to abolish the Electoral College, change all elections to the alternative vote, then work on electoral reform in each state. Until then, we'll have constant problems with our elected officials ignoring the people for special interests.

                 

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

                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 11:39am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                  Even then to be a nominee you already need to be pretty heavily supported by special interests. Getting on the ballot and in front of voters is not cheap.

                  I think the biggest reason the parties can get away with presenting us with such useless and moronic candidates is our news world. Interviewers and pundits will let these candidates get away with saying outright lies and not challenge them on some of their core beliefs. I have seen no one bring up Santorium's thoughts on interracial marriage, or his comments saying that letting gay sex be legal is equivalent bestiality and incest. If people actually challenged these candidates and didn't let them get away with talking out of their ass it wouldn't take long to see how unfit all of them are to represent our country.

                  So it is not just the fact that one that gets elected is more concerned with special interests then the people. The special interests shape the race, the talking points, our views of the candidates and corrupt the process from start to finish.

                  The sad thing is the vast majority of people know they are all crooks and liars but for some reason they are content to pick their favorite assclown from the set of assclowns that lie to us, pander to the crowd, and speak from their ass every four years and consider that a free and open election.

                  "It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

                  Douglas Adams.

                   

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

                  •  
                    icon
                    Jay (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 12:19pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.


                    I think the biggest reason the parties can get away with presenting us with such useless and moronic candidates is our news world.


                    Again, the news world for the most part is absolutely usurped. Their interests coincide with the government in keeping the populace downtrodden. Sure, this sounds conspiratorial, but look at Fox News objectively for a second and you'll see what their main strategy is. Class warfare. The war on dissent goes unabated except to those paying attention. Just think how no one paid attention to SOPA save for Judge Napolitano in the mainstream while the battle waged on silently in the background. People WANT to know more but they can't get their news from the MSM. So they've turned to places like CurrenTV and RT that show the lies MSNBC, Fox, and ABC love to tell.

                    . I have seen no one bring up Santorium's thoughts on interracial marriage, or his comments saying that letting gay sex be legal is equivalent bestiality and incest. If people actually challenged these candidates and didn't let them get away with talking out of their ass it wouldn't take long to see how unfit all of them are to represent our country.

                    I would suggest looking at The Young Turks or Keith Olbermann because they do so on a daily basis.

                    So it is not just the fact that one that gets elected is more concerned with special interests then the people. The special interests shape the race, the talking points, our views of the candidates and corrupt the process from start to finish.

                    Very true but I award this awful race to Michael Steele for his fine work in wanting to shake up the election process. Not only has this shown all of the problems of the four candidates, it's also shown how utterly horrible they are when compared with Obama. And I'm not a fan of Obama either. He should have someone running against him that the majority agree upon whether it's Rocky Anderson or Gary Johnson.

                    Such is the problem of a process that's as archaic and unnecessary as CDs to teenagers in the age of mp3s.

                    The sad thing is the vast majority of people know they are all crooks and liars but for some reason they are content to pick their favorite assclown from the set of assclowns that lie to us, pander to the crowd, and speak from their ass every four years and consider that a free and open election.

                    No, they don't know how to change the system and create better alternatives. Further, you have the Republican party trying to disparage the vote to win more seats in the House and maintain control. Poll taxes have been used to keep the Republicans in power for a long time. The drug war, our judicial system, damn near everything you can think of that seems to target minorities seem to have one thing in mind. Keep people from voting and changing the system. Such is the world of the US that still insidiously hides racism in its actions so that it can win a "game". That's the scariest part about this.

                     

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

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

              All US Senators are elected by popular vote.

              US Presidents are elected through the Electoral College, which has its flaws, but has never actually effected the outcome of the race as determined by the popular vote for President. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector )

               

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

              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:08am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                Correction to "...affected the outcome..."

                And I would like to concede that the possibility certainly exists for the Electoral College to subvert the popular vote.

                 

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

              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:33am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                correction: in 1876, 1888, and in 2000 the winning candidate did not receive the plurality of the nationwide popular vote.

                (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_%28United_States%29)

                 

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

                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                  This is distinct from my assertion that the EC has never changed the outcome of the state popular vote (the US popular vote was not under discussion). I read that article too before I replied, and it didn't change what I was going to write.

                  The EC voted with the state's popular vote in those elections. It was only through a flawed allocation of EC members that the US popular votes did not match the states outcomes. In the elections you mentioned, the EC voted faithfully; it's just a bad system.

                  The post following yours has a good breakdown of the way the EC can subvert the vote even by following the state's popular votes.

                  Don't get me wrong. I think the EC is horrible and has its basis only in racism and slavery. I think it should be abolished.

                   

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

              •  
                identicon
                Cowardly Anonymous, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                Your claim is a misdirection. The problem with the electoral college is one of trust in electors, but one of inversion between the popular vote and the electoral vote. There has never been given an argument that satisfactorily demonstrates a need for the level of indirection that the electoral college provides.

                The reason for utilizing the popular vote, is simply that information is lost* in the electoral process. This information actually is a collection votes, which are arguably reduced to null votes, or not counted. The problem with this is that it reinforces the diametric view of politics in hiding any third-parties from the final tally.


                *Metaphorical use: means that the system fails to represent this information.



                I want to introduce you to an extreme example that should drive the point home fairly well, using the system's design but no real numbers:

                Suppose there are 10 divisions of a populace, each having a population of 100 and 1 vote in the electoral college.
                Suppose there are 3 candidates, each having a rather large following entering the elections.
                Suppose candidate 1 receives 51% of the vote in divisions 1-6 and no other votes.
                Suppose candidate 2 receives 51% of the vote in divisions 7-10 and no other votes.
                Suppose candidate 3 receives 49% of the vote in all divisions.
                Candidate 1 receives 306/1000|6/10 (30.6%-->60%) votes and wins.
                Candidate 2 receives 204/1000|4/10 (20.4%-->40%) votes and is reported as the runner up.
                Candidate 3 receives 490/1000|0/10 (49% --> 0%) votes and is reported as being soundly defeated.

                Do you see the problem now? 490 votes are not counted, despite being the largest subset of the population. Candidate 3 has significant troubles drumming up support in the future, because people would rather attempt to ensure Candidate 1 (who 3's followers view as worse than 2) is not elected again. Next election:

                Candidate 1 receives 51% of the vote in divisions 1-6 and no other votes.
                Candidate 2 receives 49% of the vote in divisions 1-6 and 100% of the vote in divisions 7-10.
                Candidate 3 receives no votes.
                Candidate 1 receives 306/1000|6/10 (30.6%-->60%) and wins.
                Candidate 2 receives 694/1000|4/10 (69.4%-->40%) and loses, despite clearly being seen as superior to Candidate 1.
                Candidate 3 is once again reported as being soundly defeated.

                Remember, if the popular vote was used, 3 would have taken office from the start, and now 3 might as well not run.

                 

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

                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                  I wasn't intending to misrepresent anything. This thread derail started out because someone above rejected the word "democracy" in the description of the country, which is absurd.

                  I get it. The arguments for the EC don't reflect reality. I was only saying that the US is in fact a democracy, even if it produces poor results [occasionally/often/always].

                   

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

                •  
                  icon
                  The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 20th, 2012 @ 8:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                  Note that it is also a way to prevent those states with higher density cities with more voters to overshadow the votes of the Wholesome Small-Town Folksy People. Thus you have states with ridiculously low population density having the same "weight" as states with the highest density that have the largest cities.

                   

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

              •  
                icon
                Jay (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 12:23pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

                We're picking 538 electors where 40% of them don't have to follow through with what their constituents (ie the people) don't want.

                People win states, not people, leading to situations such as Mitt Romney, who have more delegates, but people absolutely hate him.

                And the electoral college has a 5% failure rating as evidenced from the Cowardly above.

                But rather than show all of the issues with the Electoral college, I'll point you to a video that is less than 5 minutes long and can explain the problem with it much better and with pictures in how to win the presidential election with only 22% of the vote:

                Link

                 

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

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

              i'm not sure if you are being cynical or serious. in my state our senators are elected every 6 years by the people. this is a fully democratic vote. now i may question the party system and process of getting on the ballot, but on election day i am voting for a candidate, and the one who gets the most votes becomes senator.

              president, not so much with the electoral college.

               

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

          That is due to the federal nature of your union of states, again nothing to do with the nation being a republic or the nature of your united states being that of a representative democracy.

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      sue eighmy, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:56am

      Re: Further evidence that today Politicians are pretty much the same.

      This post is right on. We the people have been duped by both parties. We no longer elect our presidents, the parties do. The American people absolutely hate Mitt Romney and would never nominate the jackass and both parties know it. This has all been planned and we are the duped. There is no difference between the two parties, they just put on a big show for us silly citizens. Sadly it will take a revolution to right this wrong, these crooked politicians think they can do anything they want to and are doing just that.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    at what point does this behavior rise to treason?

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      Who's? Yours/the Senators' for even bringing this up? I'd say about as fast getting groped by the TSA...

      (I wish I could put a /sarc here... but sadly this is the truth)

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:57am

      Re:

      "at what point does this behavior rise to treason?"

      I believe at the point that the Senators give the terrorists enough information to get around the system and attack us again.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re:

        At this point, I no longer believe that all of this Security Theater is about protecting the citizens. When laws are created and defined in secret, how is the citizens supposed to correctly behave? We all recognize that terrorists will do what ever they can but lately, it feels like its just an ongoing power grab sold through basic fear mongering to the public.
        I am FAR more afraid of the Government's willingness to overreach the laws of the land (As I understand them.) to spy on my activities and communications, under the pretext of protecting us.
        At this point, I no longer believe in the current administration is here to help us. Obama's administration is just as corrupt and guilty as any other administration. They prove this themselves but not informing the public on laws, rules, treaties and other things that we need to know to participate in our own government.
        I guess being Libertarian is the only way to go anymore if we are to reset our government for the people and about the people.
        At least I can buy the TSA myself now. For a $100, I don't have to be groped. Now how secure is that? Obviously security isn't the real drama here.

         

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

      •  
        icon
        weneedhelp (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:49am

        Re: Re:

        "I believe at the point that the Senators give the terrorists enough information to get around the system and attack us again."

        Thats laughable. You think in a free and open society it is difficult to cause terror? You really think it would be difficult to blow up 30, 40, 50 trucks in a day? (With more than a crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks)

        Inside, they discovered three canisters of propane like those used for barbecue grills(with relief valves), two five-gallon cans of gasoline, consumer-grade fireworks — the apparent source of the “pops” — and two clocks with batteries, the mayor said. He said the device “looked amateurish.”

        "get around the system" Oh you mean like Mr.Shoe bomber?


        Let me tell you a little something, that once understood, will put all of this security theater in perspective. You ready? OK, here we go.

        YOU WILL NEVER BE 100% safe. NEVER EVER EVER EVER, in a free and open society, and I speculate in a closed Police State either. If someone is determined enough to do harm, they will find a way. PERIOD. No amount of groping, checkpoints, spying, etc will matter.

        So suck it up Americans, time to be brave and live free, than cowards hiding behind perceived security. I am sorry we lost those lives on 9/11, but we have done them no justice in our actions since them, and for that, I am truly sorry.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          weneedhelp (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          since then hate typos.

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          Ruben, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Those who would sacrifice essential civil liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither."

          -Ben Franklin.

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          Cowardly Anonymous, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 11:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, it isn't even a matter of speculation of whether you are safe in a closed Police State. At that point you have no protections, whatsoever, besides your what pitiful martial arts skills you might have, against the military grade weapons of the police. In a Police State there is no legal barrier against them doing as they will to you. In a Police State there is no extra-legal barrier against them, as that simply is an open invitation for them to escalate.

          Outside of a Police State they can't escalate freely, which means that moderate levels of extra-legal action can sometimes push back against a developing Police State, though it is more likely that extra-legal actions will simply be used to encourage faster development. Once the Police State is entrenched, only extraordinary levels of extra-legal action or interference from a third party can shake it.

          In other words, a coordinated, powerful, legal strike is needed to reverse a developing Police State, which invariably takes a significant amount of time. If you live in such a state (I do) better get started in a hurry. Voting out anyone who didn't listen to the people regarding SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/TPP would be a good first move, but only if we are prepared to ensure that such a measuring stick is applied every election cycle and that voting those who ignore us out is rigidly adhered to.

          By the way, the politicians won't solve this problem, we have to. Some of them may aid us, but our demands (separate from voting) are necessary to lend them any power and even then we must press for some things they can not.

           

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:37am

        Re: Re:

        I believe at the point that the Senators give the terrorists enough information to get around the system and attack us again.

        They didn't need that information before.

        They don't need it now.

        Given that the "front lines" -- the TSA -- are staffed with chimps recruited via ads on pizza boxes, who spend most of their time stealing from passengers when they're not sexually assaulting them, it's entirely possible that the only reason we haven't seen another major terrorist attack is that they're too busy laughing. WHY BOTHER with all the expense and logistics and risk of an attack when our society is willing to give pedophiles, rapists and thieves badges and put them in charge?

        "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." -- Napoleon

         

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

  •  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:53am

    In future I shall do the same.

    If I am accused of breaking a law I shal defend myself by saying that I am not breaking MY interpretation of the law - and if asked what that is I shal say that it is a secret.

    If it works for them why shouldn't it work for me?

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    A couple of thoughts on this...

    You want to know how completely backward politics is in this country? All you have to do is point to the fact that not Republican candidate has pointed to this rediculousness as an election issue. This is REALLY simple and would be a refreshingly accurate position for Romney or Santorum to take: Your current President is taking steps that almost certainly allow the federal government to spy on you.

    It's an EASY WIN, but they won't even take it. And the fact that the Patriot Act was largely a Republican creation doesn't really even matter, because all you have to say is, "Shit, we never meant for THIS STUFF to happen, for Christ's sake".

    Secondly, think about the logic here for a second and take it a step further than Wyden did in his letter:

    "The crux of the Justice Department's argument for keeping the official interpretation of the law secret is that this secrecy prevents US adversaries from understanding exactly what intelligence agencies are allowed to do."

    If you consider this logically, then the US Justice Dept. has lumped every American citizen into the same group as the terrorists as "adversaries". They have to keep this stuff secret because that way the enemy doesn't know what we're doing. American citizens are part of the group that doesn't know what they're doing. Are American citizens therefore adversaries, or potential adversaries?

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:07am

      Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

      "that not Republican candidate has pointed to this rediculousness as an election issue"

      Of course they haven't, because they got there first in the Bush era. They cannot yell fowl, because they were the ones that started the ball rolling. I suspect that the order signed by Obama is pretty much a duplicate of an order signed by Bush in his last term as well.

      I think Wyden is a shit disturber, and likely to be a very short termer in Washington.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:14am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        "Of course they haven't, because they got there first in the Bush era. They cannot yell fowl, because they were the ones that started the ball rolling. I suspect that the order signed by Obama is pretty much a duplicate of an order signed by Bush in his last term as well."

        I guess you missed what I said directly after that about current Republican candidates being able to easily sidestep that issues, didn't you?

        "I think Wyden is a shit disturber, and likely to be a very short termer in Washington."

        I think peanut butter gives you blue balls.

        What? Oh, sorry, I thought we were just saying random things for no reason....

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        GOOSE!

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        "likely to be a very short termer in Washington"

        I actually think the opposite. There is a rapidly growing swell of public outrage to this sort of nonsense. People are growing tired of being abused. People are now also more enabled to effectively communicate with one another than has ever before and are quickly growing to become more and more politically active because of this. Occupy and SOPA are just the beginning of the "Arab spring" of American politics. Wyden wisely recognizes this and acts accordingly. He may make enemies of other insiders that want to maintain the status quo but his constituents will reward him for it and those enemies will be replaced by others waiting in the wings that also recognize this trend and use it to their advantage.

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        rubberpants, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        "Yeah, if Wyden would just get with the program we could all make out like bandits by manipulating the government and it's citizens for our own personal gain. Come on Ron, play ball okay?"

        -Anonymous Coward Lobbyist

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        MrWilson, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        "I think Wyden is a shit disturber, and likely to be a very short termer in Washington."

        Um...Wyden has been in Congress as first a representative and then a senator since 1981. What exactly is your definition of "short termer?"

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:51am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

          Well, considering he appears to have spent most of those years with a muzzle on (had anyone heard of him before?), I would say that his time is up now.

          He is pretty much taking potshots at his own party, which is a pretty good way to find yourself on the outside, looking in.

           

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

          •  
            identicon
            MrWilson, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 11:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

            He's elected by the people in his district and it doesn't seem like they dislike him very much.

             

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

      •  
        icon
        The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 20th, 2012 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        Agreed, since your government is so full of shit. That shit needs disturbin'.

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        Chris, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        Right, Wyden a short termer in DC. Are you too stupid to google or just lazy?

        Ronald Lee "Ron" Wyden (born May 3, 1949) is the senior United States Senator for Oregon, serving since 1996, and a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 to 1996.

        Or maybe wiki is too tough for you to use?

         

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

    •  
      icon
      Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:08am

      Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

      DH, thank you. I want to say that the point you stated is why the people in America need to wake up.

      American citizens are seeing the slippery slope and the soft-tyranny combined.

      I will quote from a favorite Democratic speaker Rahm Emanuel:
      "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

      Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/rahmemanue409199.html#ixzz1pZkfuA9U

       

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

    •  
      icon
      silverscarcat (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:12am

      Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

      "You want to know how completely backward politics is in this country? All you have to do is point to the fact that not Republican candidate has pointed to this rediculousness as an election issue."

      Ron Paul has, several times. In fact, he specifically stated that he would repeal the Patriot Act.

      Problem is, you have people who don't understand why the Patriot Act is bad and they think that Ron Paul's an insane moron for suggesting it is bad and needs to be done away with.

      BTW, Ron Paul voted AGAINST the Patriot Act in the first place.

      It *IS* an easy win... For Obama.

      Since they won't bring it up at all.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:17am

        Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

        Okay, I'm on record saying I like Ron Paul in general, but let's be honest: He has ZERO shot at winning the nomination and if he runs 3rd party he might as well not run at all. I'm not saying I like it, but that's how it is.

        I don't see Santorum picking up the issue because he's a hardliner douche nozzel, but why the fuck can't Romney? This is an EASY DAMNED WIN....

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:24am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

          Ron Paul can't win. Why? Because he is not for the Status Quo. He is not for keeping the power with the politicians. The other way that we can take the power from the politicians is with the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax is the most researched tax plan in the history of the US and it is also the greatest plan to remove power from Washington insiders and politicians.

           

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

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

            Except he would win if people voted for him.
            But enough people won't, that isn't due to corruption, it's democracy.

            I do have a certain respect for Ron Paul, he starts from an insane place but every step he takes follows logically on from that bizarre starting point, so at least you know where you stand with him and can predict where he will stand on pretty much any issue.

            The average US citizen would do even worse under a full on libertarian ideology than they currently do under either the ultra capitalists of the Republican party on the one hand or the uber capitalists of the Democratic party on the other.

            Personally, not having to live in the US I would be all in favour of that crazy guy winning. Because although he is clearly nuts, his particular craziness would mean the rest of the world could get on with their business without the constant threat of terror from the US.

             

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

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

              I don't think the world would be as safe as you think it would. He wants to remove all government regulations for businesses. Right now our companies do all kinds of harm to the world and the people of the world despite those regulations, he thinks for some reason we would all be better off if those same companies self regulated? And you do to? Sure our government might be less troublesome for the world but I can only imagine how much worse companies like Monsanto, Pfeiffer and Dupont would become, and the list of threats is certainly longer than that.

               

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

            •  
              icon
              Jay (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

              People did vote for him. There's been a number of stories about how there's election fraud against him. The Iowa caucus is even more egregious. They gave it to Romney even though he has NO grassroots support behind him.

              And yes, he's an Libertarian that is part of the right wing. He still values individual freedom and choice, but I believe he'd be horrible in other fields.

               

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

        •  
          identicon
          hothmonster, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:25am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

          Simple, because the people in power will get real mad if the new figurehead just fucked up the last 20 years they spent getting more freedom to spy on us. Taking away people's privacy and freedom is a hard time consuming process and you want the new transfer student to fuck that up?

           

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

        •  
          icon
          weneedhelp (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:57am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

          "He has ZERO shot at winning"

          I wonder if how many people that say that, and like Paul, actually supported him by voting, instead of "has ZERO shot at winning so ill just vote for the other guy that may have a chance." Hmm maybe Paul would win. Even if he did it would be a neutered presidency at best anyway. He wouldn't be able to do anything.

           

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

          •  
            icon
            Jay (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 3:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

            He has a lot of votes but I'm with TYT on this.

            TYT believes that entire corporations have completely bought Congress; their lobbyists donate money to electoral campaigns and often serve as major advisers for their politicians, who convince said politicians to deregulate corporations and cut their taxes, while placing the burden on the middle and working classes of America. In exchange for that, the politicians get a large sum of money once they leave politics for good, and even become lobbyists themselves. With the Supreme Court also under corporate payroll, they've made it so that corporations are legally allowed to essentially bribe politicians without repercussions, while making laws that continue to shift the burden on the middle class. Meanwhile, the mainstream media news would distract the public from the real facts, while simultaneously feeding into political propaganda machines to persuade the audiences to take sides in a divide and conquer scenario. Alternatively, the news media may want to portray themselves as "Centrist" or "equal" as possible, in order to form the illusion of bipartisan agreement (Fox News, CNN, NBC et al).

            Ron Paul doesn't stand a chance when people can show that he's willing to fight back against a ton of grievous offenses to the Constitution.

             

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

        •  
          icon
          TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:59am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

          It was pointed out, any number of times by any number of people that the Patriot Act and HSA would effectively mean "the terrorists" had won.

          Part of the point of spreading terror is to have governments clamp down hard on whatever freedoms and liberties the citizens of a country enjoy in the same of security and the need to "stop the terrorists".

          I don't know how easy a win this would be for Romney, if he chose to use it because, by and large, I think a substantial number of Americans have bought into the notion that losing previously cherished freedoms and liberties is the price they must pay to "stop the terrorists". After all there hasn't been a terrorist attack on America since 9/11 has there?

          Unless you count this sort of thing as a form of "terrorism" which I'm inclined to do because it keeps the fear level of American citizens just high enough to tolerate this trash.

          (Not that we Canucks are any better at this sort of thing. If anything frequently worse but that's for another post in another topic!)

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          hegemon13, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 6:54am

          Re: Re: Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

          "He has ZERO shot at winning the nomination and if he runs 3rd party he might as well not run at all. I'm not saying I like it, but that's how it is."

          That may be, but he is still a candidate. Let's give credit where credit is due. Saying that "no republican candidate" has spoken out against this just isn't true.

          "I don't see Santorum picking up the issue because he's a hardliner douche nozzel, but why the fuck can't Romney?"

          Because the moment he does, he'll get the same treatment from the GOP and media that Ron Paul does.

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      hegemon13, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 6:50am

      Re: A couple of thoughts on this...

      Not true. Ron Paul has pointed this out many times. And he gets ridiculed for it by the other campaigns.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:14am

    If there are secret laws and secret interpretations of laws...

    WTH is the FOIA for? If the public can't know what the laws are or how they are interpreted, how are we to know if we are breaking the law or not and if someone does break a secret law that they are not allowed to know about, how are they supposed to defend themselves against the charges if the actual law and/or all of the legal precedence surrounding the law is withheld from them?

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Call me Al, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:22am

      Re: If there are secret laws and secret interpretations of laws...

      The secret law applies to how the state spies on their citizens. As it comes from that side it isn't a case where an average joe could break the law through ignorance as the law doesn't apply to them anyway.

      The trouble here is that if the law applying to the law-enforcers is secret then how does anyone know that the law-enforcers are obeying the law and who is responsible for making sure that they do. The sheer quantity of cases against law-enforcement for all manner of other matters suggests that the basic oversight is pretty poor and that you can't rely on them to police themselves.

      Essentially I see this as the state giving carte blanche to law-enforcement to do whatever they like as they are unlikely to be caught or called up on it.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:41am

        Re: Re: If there are secret laws and secret interpretations of laws...

        I agree with the problems regarding "carte blanche to law-enforcement", however I was merely adding another point that wasn't mentioned to the discussion.

        There MAY be no secret laws that can be broken by citizens unknowingly... AT THE MOMENT. However, my point was that if secret laws are allowed at all, how would we know for sure that there aren't any? And if there were, since "ignorance of the law is not a valid defense" in many cases, then how can you say that it wouldn't apply them? And if someone was charged with breaking a secret law, and the records of the case were made secret as well to protect the secrecy of the law, how would we know about it?

        Furthermore all of the laws and decisions of the courts are inter-connected with one another, so even if someone is charged with breaking a law that isn't secret, but shouldn't a defendant have access to a secret decision by the courts in another case that supports his defense by precedent?

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:24am

    Just one person's opinion, but it does seem to me that the letter falls a bit short of the mark. It is axiomatic that a prosecuting body reads laws and on occasion (perhaps more than should be the case) attempts to interpret them quite expansively. The problem such expansion faces, however, is that courts decide whether of not there is merit to such interpretations. Well prior (about 1978 I believe) to enactment of the Patriot Act, Congress created a trial level and appellate court system that goes by the name Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). While the DOJ is the agency that crafts "theories", it is the court that sets the down the rules of law.

    I read prosecutorial theories all the time, but what really counts in the final analysis is court opinions that "lay down the law" within which prosecutors must operate. This assumes, of course, that the court actually does lay down the law, and there exists data suggesting that in large measure the court has abrogated this most basic of constitutional principles.

    Hence, while theories (secret interpretations if you will) are quite important, I believe that the court opinions are even more so, and that access to such opinions is imperative if one wants to understand the secret interpretations asked for in the letter. Courts are supposed to be a check on prosecutorial excesses. If the court is not doing so, "rubber stamping" so to speak, I would like to know why this is the case and what should/could be done to turn this around.

    Merely as an aside, our "normal" Article III courts deal with classified, national security sensitve information with regularity, and quite capably do so without disclosing such sensitive information for the world to see. Thus, I have always wondered by the FISC even exists.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    TDR, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:27am

    If the government won't reveal this secret interpretation of theirs in every detail, then Wyden should, consequences be damned. The people need to know. He knows what is, apparently, so if the government won't say it, he should.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      dcee (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      Errr... treason, death penalty... not a good way to end your days.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        TDR, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re:

        That threat didn't stop the founding fathers. Too bad so few seem to have the courage they did anymore.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 11:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Courage had very little to do with the cause and effect of the Revolution in power cirlces. The "power that be" have always been and will always be cowards looking out only for themselves and their stacks.

          What we're lacking now compared to Revolutionary times is a broad enough financial impetus for reform/revolution.

          I just might be however, that power-circles are getting dumber by the year like the public. If that is the case we just need wait for the day when they forget that a major part of looking out for oneself is keeping the mob off your lawn.

           

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

  •  
    icon
    Peter Voveris (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:30am

    Maybe this will show the esteemed Senators and Representatives what can happen when they create overly broad laws, but then again, nah.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    Who do we really need protection from?

    The "terrorists"?
    Or the Government?

    It seems - right now - the government is far more of a threat to our way of life than any terrorist.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    charlie potatoes (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Indictments? Trials?

    So ... has anyone or any group been charged with breaking Akbar Obama's secret interpretations? If so, what did the indictment say? Do prosecutors have to tell grand juries or federal judges what law precept is supposedly violated, or can they just sit and wink at the judge, asking for a directed verdict of guilty? Too much speculation here, not enough facts.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:52am

      Re: Indictments? Trials?

      Assuming that you are going to SEE public trials or discourse.
      For an administration that was sold on transparency, there has been damn little of it on the topics that matter.
      Rallying the public around free health care seems to have been a sweet lure to hide the rest of the power grabs going on.
      As long as the public is getting what it thinks it wants, they seem happy to turn a blind eye to the rest of what the government does. "As long as I get mine!"

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Charlie Potatoes (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re: Indictments? Trials?

        So ... is that a "no"? Surely anyone charged under this concept will have someone who spreads the word. My question is whether the administration's legal arm is claiming any arrests or violations of the secret interpretations. Such a secret would have to have a lot of cooperative civil servants in order to succeed, and in the past they have all pretty much shown that they will blow the whistle.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Indictments? Trials?

          I can only hope you are right.
          Given past events, relying on whistle blowers to uncover things, seems like a sad testament to the state of the police state.

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      DCX2, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

      Re: Indictments? Trials?

      This law allegedly specifies exactly how surveillance may be performed, and what requirements there are in order to perform such surveillance.

      The only way to be charged with violating this law is to surveil someone outside of the scope of the law. That is, only the spies can be charged with a violation, not those that are spied upon.

      Recall also that you do not have standing to sue the government unless you can prove that they spied upon you, and that you can't prove they spied on you when that spying is a national security secret.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Spikey, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 8:50am

    Power

    The real problem is the vesting of power in the hands of a few people. The citizenry must fight all concentrations of power.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    If you want the Congresscritters to care and do something, just point out how the secret interpretations can be used against them.
    They are all for laws that target the little people, but when they are expected to be held to them as well it is no longer a good thing.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Why don't they just amend the laws so that they can't be easily misinterpreted instead of writing ambiguous laws that can be broadly interpreted and complaining that they might be misinterpreted?

     

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

  •  
    icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 9:34am

    Favorite quote from Frank Herbert

    Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class -- whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 10:33am

    This is another reason I know the Obama administration's claims that the TPP must be negotiated in secret because other countries want it that way is a joke. That doesn't apply here and yet they still choose secrecy. What ever happened to Obama's promises of transparency?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Jack, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    How is the Nazi law a.k.a. "Patriot Act" interpreted, that's very easy.

    The Patriot Act assumes that ALL Americans ARE potential terrorists, giving law enforcement the legal (yeah right) to surveil with impunity, and if they want to (on a whim, or mere hearsay, making their actions legal to them), arrest (subjugate) you without any legal representation or ANY rights period to defend yourself legally, and bypassing our constitution and bill of rights completely.

    A democratic/federal/libertarian government, is supposed to
    provide a framework for all of its members to prosper, grow
    and evolve, in any way that member may see fit, with-in the
    law. The fact that even one member of our government looks
    at it or respects it with fear (not admiration), or
    questions it at all, on it's operation, means, this
    government has failed completely, and unfortunately, is
    living on borrowed time. Don't get me wrong, I very much
    admire and love the idea of America (not this country, or
    the last few administrations). America, to me, seems more
    like a dictatorship (under the guise of a democracy, and not
    the country that I was born in). The land of the Free, it
    seems, has died a long time ago.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Sounds like a Masnick Conspiracy Theory to me..

    This statement is counter intuitive: “Of course, keeping certain details secret concerning specific operations to monitor threats is reasonable. But a secret interpretation of the law that appears to go against what the law says directly? That's not acceptable. If the government can just make up how it interprets laws, and then keep those interpretations secret, we no longer have representative democracy at all. We have a sham government.”


    The government either has the ability to function covertly so it may conceal its plans from the enemy or it does not. Your argument suggests that this “secret information” needs be policed in some way by the public so we can avoid a sham government. If I am incorrect in assessing your statement, then you would be suggesting that a government agency should be created to police the military and assist in properly interpreting the law. However, it seems very unlikely that you would be suggesting this scenario. As this story attempts to suggest the government cannot be trusted. Also, Kathleen Turner, director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also said that a joint oversight team “has not found indications of any intentional or willful attempts to violate or circumvent” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA, which was amended in 2008.


    For the most part, when it comes to defending this country people will take a strong stand. The government can in fact defend itself by any means necessary.. During the Wiki leaks, many were supportive of the leak. In essence, they felt the surprise exposure was a necessary way to police the government. This is a ridiculous argument. Of course the US Government immediately took down the info and went after those involved with posting data. It is a national threat! This was done regardless of the current state of the laws (SOPA, PIPA, PATRIOT ACT, FCC, ETC..)


    As far as suggesting that there is some “secret interpretation” of the patriot act goes; that sounds like a farfetched conspiracy theory to me. What, if any, proof do you have of a “secret interpretation” other than a hunch or a guess? Please don’t tell me that you expect me to believe that just because the New York Times and the ACLU are suing the government that obviously means the US government is guilty as charged.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      The Infamous Joe (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 3:50pm

      Re: Sounds like a Masnick Conspiracy Theory to me..

      As far as suggesting that there is some “secret interpretation” of the patriot act goes; that sounds like a farfetched conspiracy theory to me. What, if any, proof do you have of a “secret interpretation” other than a hunch or a guess? Please don’t tell me that you expect me to believe that just because the New York Times and the ACLU are suing the government that obviously means the US government is guilty as charged.

      Remember those senators we're talking about? Yeah, they say that there is a secret interpretation, because they've read it.

      I know it's a lot of work, but if you'd clicked through those pretty blue links, you'd eventually get to the non-techdirt source.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 8:22am

        Re: Re: Sounds like a Masnick Conspiracy Theory to me..

        How reckless of me. How could I possibly look past the empirical truth that if people say something is true, that irrefutably means it is. (Sarcasm intended)

        Let’s put this theory to the test… I’m a billionaire.. Dang, it didn’t happen. Who would have thunk this was the case?

         

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

        •  
          icon
          The Infamous Joe (profile), Mar 20th, 2012 @ 8:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds like a Masnick Conspiracy Theory to me..

          If Senator Wyden has read the secret interpretation of the law and says that it is significantly different than how the law is interpreted by everyone else, then it's not a conspiracy theory. If you think Senator Wyden is a liar, then feel free to show your proof.

          Either way, the only person "suggesting that there is some 'secret interpretation' of the law" is a person who has read it. Which makes it more than a "hunch" or a "guess".

           

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 5:00pm

    When the government fears the people there is liberty.
    When the people fear the government there is tyranny.

    Where do you think we currently stand?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    George, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 12:43am

    As long as American citizens, specifically naive kids right out of high school, continue to fall for recruiters lies and join the military and armed forces there will never be a shortage of pawns to empower the federal government.

    It's not rocket science people. If you are unhappy with a governing body then why join them and take orders from them? That makes no sense.

    Anyone who has ever been enlisted has given up their right to complain about it. No, literally you have. So now just because you are a veteran doesn't mean you all of the sudden can complain about it because at one point you helped facilitate all the problems that the USA is currently facing.

    This nation didn't get to this point over night, it took many small steps that many didn't notice or wrote off as no big deal. Now when we look at all of the problems or all of the dangerous legislation that has passed we see just how right those conspiracy theorist tin foil hat wearing nut jobs were.

    Americans deserve everything they are currently getting from the tyrannical US government because they allowed it to happen. In a republic the citizens are the government. The citizens have allowed this to happen, and many, the enlisted, even helped the tyrants bring us to this point.

    You have yourselves to blame.

    First thing you can do that will help your at ion. Stop enlisting in the armed forces. Don't join tyrants, don't help them, duh. Logic. The whole "war on terror" thing is a fraud. The real terrorists are the US federal government, united nations, NATO and federal reserve.

    Resist those organizations, don't join them thus making them stronger and more tyrannical. Instead of killing innocent women and children on the other side of the planet, your targets should be the real enemies, the domestic enemies that are destroying the USA from the inside. Congressmen/women, lobbyists, the central bank (federal reserve which actually is not federal), military industrial complex, "defense" contractors which are actually death merchants who ate complicit in creating chaos all over the globe in exchange for money, dirty money, and last but not least, mainstream media. These are all domestic enemies which are destroying the USA from within.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    George, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    Congressmen like this are the enemy to the USA and united states citizens. So why are the enlisted 5000 miles away killing innocents when they should be killing traitors like this guy? Because the enlisted are stupid mindless robots.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    wvhillbilly (profile), Apr 26th, 2012 @ 11:47am

    Police state preps?

    I see this nation on a fast track to becoming a police state, and I see Obama pushing it as hard as he can.

    Why all the secrecy in the formulation of SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and TPPA, all bills, treaties or trade agreements giving government and others unprecedented control over the Internet? What are they wanting to hide? And why this massive push to ram them through before anybody else finds out about it? And now CISPA, giving the government unprecedented authority to spy on everything that goes across the Internet? I see potential for enormous abuse in all of these bills and nothing to benefit ordinary citizens and/or users of the Internet.

    These are not the actions one would expect of a Democratic government, they are actions typical of a totalitarian police state. Combine this with the behavior and actions of the TSA, the FDA, the USDA and other government agencies, and I can come up with no other conclusion but that the USA is on a very fast track to becoming a full fledged police state in the not very distant future. It would not surprise me at all to see full martial law imposed here before the year is out.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    comparateur de mutuelle, Apr 11th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Je suis tout à fait d accord avec cette opinion. Cela me paraît fort intéressant. bonne continuation.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This