Court: Feds Can Spy On Americans Without Warrants With No Legal Repurcussions

from the uh,-what-now? dept

We've followed the Al-Haramain case against the US government for a while through all of its ridiculousness. This was the challenge to the government over warrantless wiretapping, which went through crazy twists and turns, because information on the wiretapping was deemed classified -- even though it was published by reporters. The only reason the case exists in the first place is that the government accidentally leaked a document that proved that such wiretapping happened. Earlier cases to challenge the warrantless wiretapping in general failed on the grounds that the people suing had no standing since they couldn't prove that they'd been spied upon without a warrant (and if this sounds like something Joseph Heller would write about, you've got the right idea).

Eventually, the court actually ruled that the feds violated wiretapping laws, but then there were questions of what the court could actually do about it. It turned into a wrist slap for the government, with it being ordered to pay $20,400 to each of the two lawyers who represented Al-Haramain.

However, earlier this week, that got overturned. The appeals court has basically said that even though Congress passed a law that said the feds could not eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant, it didn't waive sovereign immunity rights for the government, which lets the government basically wave away any lawsuits. And thus, the government can ignore wiretapping lawsuits -- even in the one and only case where there's clear evidence of it violating the law. Yeah.

Think about that one for a second.

And then... realize it gets worse. That's because in a different ruling, by the same court, a few months ago, the court said that someone couldn't sue the telcos for helping the government warrantlessly wiretap Americans, in part because they could still sue the government. Yet now they're saying that you can't actually sue the government either (once again, paging Joseph Heller).

The court tries to get around this by suggesting that you might be able to sue individuals within the government (though it then goes on to reject such an attempt in this case) or to recover actual monetary damages, if you can prove that such damage occurred. But "distress" apparently doesn't qualify since there's no monetary issue there. So, as long as the government spies on you illegally (and everyone seems to admit that it's illegal) without doing anything with that info that is causing you monetary damages, even if you find out about it, you probably can't do anything about it.

Yeah. That doesn't seem right.

The court itself admits that this result is "anomalous and even unfair," and says that's really Congress' problem because of the way it drafted the statute. Either way, the end result seems pretty crazy, and gives the federal government wide ability to spy on people at will, even as the law says they can't. This is a situation that Congress now needs to fix, though it almost certainly will not do so.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:15pm

    This article reads like a Joseph Heller novel.

     

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  2.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

    Congress's problem?!?

    How in the world is this Congress's problem for writing the law badly? What happened to the principle of Judicial Review? Last I checked, it was specifically, explicitly a part of the Judiciary's mandate, according to the Constitution, to strike down bad laws.

     

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  3.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    So basically the government gets a free pass to do whatever the hell it wants because "hey, I'm the government"?

    Is it just me that gets the sickening feeling that it is going to take a massive revolt to get this country back where it belongs?

     

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  4.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    So I take it the government has given up even trying to hide the fact that they consider themselves above the laws then.

    I must say, their honesty is both refreshing and extremely worrisome.

     

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  5.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    TV's

    The American public need to order those Amazon TV's and take to the streets.

    But we wont.

    Just a sheepish... O kay.

    Disgusting what we have let happen to our republic.

     

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  6.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Congress's problem?!?

    Now a days it is the Judiciary's job to be the boot licking lap dogs of Congress. Did you miss the memo?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Time for a Restart

    Can we detain Obama, his administration along with senior military officials and advisors forever and never charge them under the newly passed NDAA?

    They are providing support to Al Qaeda and other terrorists groups in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa.

    No trial needed. Let's lock those terrorist enablers up. Fucking cowards. Won't even play by the rules they put in place.

    It's time to remove everyone in power from any further decision making in this country and start fresh. They have had much time to correct mistakes they and those before them have made, but they chose not to or are too stupid to do so. The time to do so is fast approaching. The ends will justify the means. If you have had any role in the government to date, you are no longer fit to do so. Some qualified individuals will not doubt be thrown out; however, it will be worth it. Prepare...

     

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  8.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:29pm

    Re: TV's

    "We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution."

    Abraham Lincoln

    "The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible."

    Senator Hubert H. Humprey (D-Minnesota)

    Remote in America, yeah right.

     

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  9.  
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    DCL, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    Circular logic is circular...

    How does 'sovereign immunity' overrule the Constitution (and amendments) that give that same government its 'sovereign immunity' that it is using to avoid responsibility?

    In essence they are ignoring the Constitution and should be ignoring what they claim gives them the right to have this power over the People. I guess it is 'selective application' of the Constitution.

     

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  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:39pm

    Re:

    Is it just me that gets the sickening feeling that it is going to take a massive revolt to get this country back where it belongs?


    It's not just you. I think so, too.

    The problem is that it's very rare that a revolution results in a government that is better than the one that caused the revolution.

    Scary times.

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Time for a Restart

    Can we detain Obama, his administration along with senior military officials and advisors forever and never charge them under the newly passed NDAA?


    It won't do any good. Obama isn't the problem. The problem is that the entire government has been systemically subverted by ultra-wealthy corporations and individuals. The corruption is in the bureaucracy itself, and transcends any group of politicians.

     

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  12.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re: Time for a Restart

    In order to weed a garden, the weeds must be removed entirely--root and leaf. The seeds of future weeds must be carefully removed as well.

    It's quite a ragged garden--who is up to the task?

     

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  13.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    > So basically the government gets a free pass
    > to do whatever the hell it wants

    THINK OF THE CHILDREN !!!

     

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  14.  
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    Glen, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:01pm

    Yup. I just got a really sick feeling about this.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Are your politicians for sale?

    America fire selling its democracy.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Howard, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

    Suing individuals?

    Well that makes future lawsuits easy, it's obviously the work of Major [REDACTED] de Coverley.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Finally it's 1984. Time travel is possible:)

     

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  18.  
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    athe, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Supreme Court next?

    I'm not American, but sut surely if this isn't begging for constitutional challenge, I dont know what is.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Circular logic is circular...

    > How does 'sovereign immunity' overrule
    > the Constitution (and amendments) that give
    > that same government its 'sovereign immunity'
    > that it is using to avoid responsibility?

    It doesn't. The basis for this suit was a civil claim for damages as a result of the government's violation of statute. It wasn't a constitutional claim.

    If the plaintiff in question here was a criminal defendant and the government was trying to use the information they obtained through warrantless wiretaps against him in his criminal trial, his claim of 4th Amendment violation would not be barred by sovereign immunity. There's no such thing as soveriegn immunity from a suppression claim arising from a violation of the Constitution itself.

    But the plaintiff here wasn't being charged with anything. There was no criminal trial (and hence no evidence to suppress via the 4th Amendment). This guy was just pissed when he found out that the government spied on him without a warrant and sued based on the fact that the government violated the congressional statute prohibiting such practices. However, unless Congress specifically waives the government's sovereign immunity when it passes such laws, it essentially creates a toothless paper tiger, where the agencies being sued can just invoke immunity and have all lawsuits dismissed.

     

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  20.  
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    johnny canada, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:29pm

    An old song keeps coming to mind when I read about your government.

    I did it my Way

    And now, the end is here
    And so I face the final curtain
    My friend, I'll say it clear
    I'll state my case, of which I'm certain

     

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  21.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Supreme Court next?

    > I'm not American, but sut surely if this
    > isn't begging for constitutional challenge,
    > I dont know what is.

    The notion of soveriegn immunity has been thoroughly challenged and litigated since the early days of the Republic. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld it and said it is not inconsistent with or prohibited by the Constitution. It's about as settled as law can get at this point.

    This was Congress's fuck-up. They failed either through mistake or intention to include the standard waiver of immunity that is included in most laws like this as a matter of routine.

    The Court of Appeals was right. However absurd and unfair this situation is, it's a mess of Congress's own making and it's up to them to fix it. The courts have no power to do so.

     

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  22.  
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    Minimum Wage Shill, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    " This is a situation that Congress now needs to fix, though it almost certainly will not do so."

    what are you talking about, congress has bigger problems right now, like stopping those pirate thieves that are costing the economy trillions of dollars a year.

     

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  23.  
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    ebilrawkscientist (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:36pm

    USA isn't America!

    ZOMG! Its true! The entire Western Hemisphere, thirty five countries from Greenland all the way down south to Cape Horn thats the America's! The United States alone is just ONE little country. And I'm pretty damn sure those warrants will be needed outside of the United States. So youse federales STFU and git outa my part of the America's!

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    I connect such kind of news to a different song:

    A Dark Passage

    The field was lost
    Hope had passed away,
    The sun went down
    Beyond the sea.
    Dark was the hour,
    But day shall come again.

     

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  25.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Congress's problem?!?

    The Judiciary is there to strike down laws that are unconstitutional or are in direct conflict with other laws. It isn't there to pat Congress's hand and say "there there, we'll fix it" when they half-ass it and forget to put in an important part of a law. Believe me, you really don't want to give an unelected body the power to arbitrarily add things to the law.

     

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  26.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, I am not hoping for a revolution per say though. I am wanting the people to wake up and take their country back. Go back to the things that made this nation great. Toss out all these corrupt buffoons and all their corrupt laws.

    They Government has been running far to long only moving in one direction. Laws are added but rarely ever removed. The end result is this mess of laws on top of laws.

    We need to clean out the system, purge all the useless laws and consolidate the ones that are good. It has gotten so that our legal system is bogged down by all the junk so that it is no longer even functioning.

     

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  27.  
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    Rekrul, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Supreme Court next?

    The Court of Appeals was right. However absurd and unfair this situation is, it's a mess of Congress's own making and it's up to them to fix it. The courts have no power to do so.

    Why would Congress have even the slightest desire to "fix" this? The majority of them want the government to have as much power as possible. In their opinion, this is a good thing.

     

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  28.  
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    Rekrul, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

    In other news, a judge today told Farmer Brown that it's up to the Fox whether or not he can be sued for raiding the chicken coop...

     

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  29.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Congress's problem?!?

    I never said they're supposed to add laws. But they *are* supposed to strike down existing laws that are bad. Here they are saying that the law Congress wrote is bad, and they're just saying "oh well, that sucks." Well, that's called "not doing your job."

     

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  30.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Re:

    no, heller used humor to effect; this is the banal, bureaucratic horror of the nazi regime: kafkaesque in nature...
    Empire doesn't brook irony...
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  31.  
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    Vic B (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:24pm

    Repur...what?

    What are the repercussion for not using a basic spell checker?

     

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  32.  
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    urza9814, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:25pm

    A legal opinion

    I forwarded this post along to my father, an attorney (though this isn't quite his area of expertise) and I thought his reply might be of interest to some of you:

    "Theoretically, if there's a conflict of opinions that aren't distinguishable and when the second opinion didn't specifically overturn the first one, there would be basis for a Supreme Court appeal.. I don't think that would be advisable given the current court composition (nice alliteration, eh?) While I didn't read the first opinion, if only the Telcos' were sued, then the case would be distinguishable. I think maybe you could file another claim against the telco's citing the second opinion as a bar to action against the feds. I think it would depend on whether the first claim was dismissed or actually adjudicated."

     

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  33.  
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    PRMan, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:25pm

    Re: USA isn't America!

    And "South Africa" needs to go! That place doesn't even cover 1/28 of the continent, let alone 1/4!!!

     

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  34.  
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    MikeC (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:35pm

    We've met the enemy and it is us?

    “The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.”

    Kudos to those who know who said this.... and ain't it the the truth.

     

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  35.  
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    MikeC (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Congress's problem?!?

    Actually they can't do anything in this case.. There is in effect a law that says you can't wiretap without a warrant, but there is no penalty in the law for doing that or a recourse for cases where it can be proved. Basically there is nothing judicial, they can't strike down the law, that does no good since it already says that it's illegal. They can only say there is no law under which you can claim redress for damages done. They can't fix that.

     

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  36.  
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    athe, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: Supreme Court next?

    Are you saying that "sovereign immunity" is basically a trump card and can't be challenged? I'm genuinely curious, I'd have thought that its use could still be challenged, regardless...

     

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  37.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Supreme Court next?

    > Why would Congress have even the slightest
    > desire to "fix" this?

    Maybe they don't, but Congress's collective lack of will doesn't suddenly give the judiciary the power to act where before it had none.

     

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  38.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Supreme Court next?

    > Are you saying that "sovereign immunity" is basically a trump card and can't be challenged?

    if the government's claim to immunity is legitimate, then yes, it pretty much ends there. There's nothing that can be done about it.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: TV's

    "who pervert the constitution"

    Trying to get the constitution to participate in orgies with various animals?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 5:27pm

    Re:

    Brack Obama is watching you.

    War is peace
    Freedom is slavery
    Disagreements on policy is racism

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    that's just what happens; the weight of the bureaucracy buries the entire country

     

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  42.  
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    BW (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:01pm

    Can't a lawyer's license be revoked if they knowingly break the law?

    Most of the FBI are lawyers too.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:02pm

    Re: TV's

    pluracracy

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Re: Time for a Restart

    Where have you been? It's always been that way. We were founded by elites for elites.

     

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  45.  
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    ebilrawkscientist (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Re: USA isn't America!

    errr this Africa place you speak of ... is like on the other side of the ocean... *points*--->
    Ovar Thar sair!

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But bureaucracy makes the world go round
    .. and round
    .. and round
    .. in circles
    Ooh, there's your revolution after all

     

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  47.  
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    Thomas (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:35pm

    Fairness..

    has not been a part of the U.S. government for a long long time. total disregard for the Constitution is considered acceptable by most federal agencies anyway. Imprisonment without trial? Perfectly fine. Imprisonment without counsel? Perfectly fine. Execution without trial? Perfectly fine. Illegal wiretapping? Perfectly fine. Holding people indefinitely and incommunicado? Perfectly fine.

    People should not expect the U.S. government to pay attention to such things as laws and the constitution.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

    Thank goodness the military is defending our freedom, huh?

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 6:48pm

    Re: Re: TV's

    What is that? Do you mean plutocracy, rule by the wealthy, or is this a new word I need to learn?

     

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  50.  
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    DCX2, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Circular logic is circular...

    The Court can only strike down laws that violate the constitution. However, the wiretapping laws do not violate the constitution, so there is nothing to strike down.

    The problem is that the feds broke the law, but the Court cannot do anything about the Executive branch violating the laws because it's not the Court's responsibility to "faithfully execute the law".

    The only real answer to an executive that refuses to obey the law is impeachment, which is what happened with Nixon. Except the President who is responsible for this isn't serving anymore...

     

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  51.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Aug 9th, 2012 @ 9:22pm

    Re: Re: Circular logic is circular...

    Aren't their quite a few current members of Congress that can be held to account for their votes for those laws that passed by both houses and were signed in by the past president?

    By held to account I do not mean hanging out and waiting for elections where those same elections are grossly over influenced by and for money. Clearly this is not ideal when party structures have fully adapted to that influence leaving the actual people that vote groveling for some sanity in representation that first and foremost abides the US Constitution in both letter and spirit.

    By held to account I mean that every currently standing yes vote on that nice bundle of laws pushed by an authoritarian executive administration be grouped together and impeached? Then impose a (the going modern significant fine for this day and age, say $600,000.00US)on all yes votes up to and including final signatories.

    You see, I'm of the mind that we, the people, are the authoritarian masters of our government only I just can't see how these other branches can be brought to task, in a meaningful way, without force. It is a quandary that will only get worse as illustrated by the current situation.

    If this topic does not or can not find its way to the US Supreme Court and in relatively short order at that then we are supremely screwed and will, in fact, be a corralled people.

    As it stands the US Government executive branch led and representative financed departments are, officially, above the law. That is no conspiracy theory. Now, who is the authority henceforth? Cookie-puss or her supervisor?

    To anyone that made it this far: if you happen to be thinking that the economy is going to save you from making any sort of decision or from giving any serious thought to this matter and its potential for some pretty significant repercussions for this and future generations then I'll take odds against and place my bet.

    The progression in the last decade, if you've been paying attention, truly paying attention, is nothing short of ominous. Prophetic signs they are not. This is today.

    I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm horrified by how potentially significant that loss truly is. We're so young, we've come so far, we've cradled the bastard step son of capitalism and even now we still let it suckle. We've inadvertently built and allowed a humongous engine of bureaucracy that seems to see us and treat us for what it truly wants us to be - the engine of its economy, not much more, not much less. I'm afraid that they're forgetting something. I am afraid for the consequences that will result if they can not be made to remember that something. We do not have enough guns and, more importantly, we do not seem to have enough able bodied men to wield the ones we do have. If history has anything to teach us it has taught us that this cyclical road is short. The last laugh will be a dying one and the last tear will be dry.

    Holy sweet mother of a comment box! I think I'm pissed.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2012 @ 10:04pm

    Re: We've met the enemy and it is us?

    I'll just say that this is one of the best reasons to pull a Godwin, as well as the best example of when pulling a Godwin is perfectly acceptable.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 1:36am

    yet every other country worldwide that does the same thing is condemned by the US. that now gives those other countries a really good reason to tell the US to go fuck itself, stop telling us what to do and not do when you are doing the same thing! has anyone actually noticed how almost every democratic country is becoming the same as eg China and Iran?

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 3:05am

    Re: Re:

    No, its not just you

     

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  55.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 4:10am

    I heard the last breath of the American Constitution. It seems it's irreversibly dead. We can only watch the US Govt piss over it.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 6:29am

    Stop whining and buy Guns and Ammo!

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re: Time for a Restart

    The problem is less the money and more the lack of accountability thanks to insane incumbency rates. That's the corrupting influence that's built into the bureaucracy itself.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    wat.

     

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  59.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Time for a Restart

    I'm in. Where's my ho?

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    You'd think they could issue an order to suspend the illegal operations. I don't know if contempt of court is enforceable against the executive. It would probably be up to SCOTUS to decide.

    However, the ultimate responsibility comes to the Congress to change the law and the American voter to change Congress. Unfortunately, you can't impeach a President that is already out of office. Thanks for the Constitutional mess GWB.

     

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

  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re: TV's

    "We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution."
    Abraham Lincoln


    Spoken by the man that tried to arrest members of the supreme court and congress, as well as made efforts to prevent state legislators from meeting. Notice that he didn't mention the executive branch in that quote. There's all sorts of good things you can say about lincoln, but I'm not so sure that he would have been against the unlimited executive powers that you see today.

     

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

  62.  
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    DCX2, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Circular logic is circular...

    You can't really do anything to Congress. There's nothing wrong per-se about the wiretapping laws; the laws themselves are not unconstitutional. The only power the Court has (even SCOTUS) is to strike down unconstitutional laws.

    Compare this to the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Congress passed this law. The President enforced it. Yet the law itself was unconstitutional, so SCOTUS struck it down.

    But in the wiretapping case, the President was not enforcing any law passed by Congress. There's nothing for a Court to strike down.

    You are right, though, that the Executive branch is above the law. It's called sovereign immunity. The only constitutional response is to impeach the President or vote him out.

     

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

  63.  
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    DCX2, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Can sovereign immunity be implicitly waived?

    FISA was written in response to executive law-breaking. Additionally, other statutes make it illegal for private citizens to wiretap.

    Therefore, one could conclude that the purpose of FISA was to explicitly restrict the powers that the Executive branch may exercise.

    Since Congress obviously intended for FISA to apply to the Executive branch, couldn't the argument be made that Congress implicitly waived sovereign immunity by intentionally targeting the Executive branch with the FISA legislation?

     

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

  64.  
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    Jefferson (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 10:22am

    How to get this law fixed real quick.

    1. Get you and a friend to join forces. Agree to keep everything extremely squeaky clean. (No lobbyist, etc.)
    2. You run for congress and win. Your friend gets into the FBI.
    3. Your friend wiretaps all the other members of congress, their wives, friends, business associates and stuff.
    4. You recount all the sordid deals on the house floor and motion to impeach every single house member.
    5. ????
    6. Profit!

     

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

  65.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    On the positive side, it's also true that the US has been through periods where things were much, much worse than they are now. Much more corruption, much more theft, much more trampling of rights.

    ...and we recovered from those times. We'll recover form these, too. But it will take, as you say, the people demanding it.

     

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

  66.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Congress's problem?!?

    Where the hell is that "sad but true" button when you need it?

     

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

  67.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ... that might account for the general sick feeling...

     

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

  68.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 10th, 2012 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Much more corruption, much more theft, much more trampling of rights.
    Assuming that's true, the problem you have is that while it might have been more (and recovered from) it was also more obvious... I'm not convinced that a large enough portion of the populace have noticed how far rights they woudl assume they have are actually eroded and that's kinda vital for any putative recovery.

     

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

  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: Circular logic is circular...

    Of course the wiretapping laws don't violate the constitution, because the constitution says the government can wiretap us...right? It's in there...isn't it? Just can't seem to find it right at the moment.

     

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

  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Circular logic is circular...

    Wait, I just now found it. It's right there in the same section that states that the government can outlaw prayer in school but not abortion, can infringe on the right to keep and bear arms, can outlaw certain pictures, can stop you at a checkpoint without cause, can search your vehicle and phone without a warrant, can kidnap people in a foreign country and jail them in another foreign country without charge or trial, and can impose a tax penalty on anyone who doesn't purchase health insurance. Yep, it's all in there.

     

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

  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 4:24pm

    Re: Repur...what?

    Don't fear the repur.

     

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

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Spell checker indeed!

    "What are the repercussion...". Shouldn't that be, "repercussions"?

     

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

  73.  
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    btr1701, Aug 12th, 2012 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Circular logic is circular...

    > By held to account I mean that every currently standing yes
    > vote on that nice bundle of laws pushed by an authoritarian
    > executive administration be grouped together and impeached?\

    No.

    Members of Congress cannot be Impeached. Only the president/vice president and members of the judiciary can be impeached.

     

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

  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 6:09am

    Re: Congress's problem?!?

    I do not think judicial review is part of any specific Constitutional mandate.

     

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

  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Re: USA isn't America!

    There is only one country in the western hemisphere that has America in it's name. America is not Greenland or Canada or Argentina anymore than Ontario is Quebec or Newfoundland.

     

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

  76.  
    icon
    ebilrawkscientist (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re: USA isn't America!

    This is America duh? Or is teh wiki wall wrong?

     

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


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