Senators: Why Is Everyone So Worked Up About Verizon Spying? We've All Known About It Since 2007

from the uh... dept

Towards the end of my piece this morning about the administration's ridiculous response to the leaked evidence and confirmation that the NSA is scooping up every single phone record (confirmed from Verizon at least, though you can assume it applies to everyone else as well) was a quick note mentioning that Senator Dianne Feinstein was saying that this was a continuation of the same program that had been going on for seven years. And, now, lots of Senators are coming out and saying the same thing. In fact, it appears that our 100 Senators all knew that this has been going on for seven years without telling us:
"Everyone's been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Chambliss told reporters that the program has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said he was not aware of a single citizen filing a complaint about it.
I love that last bit. Yes, since no citizens "complained" about the totally secret program in which their private data was sucked up by the NSA, what's there to worry about? Senator Harry Reid's response is equally ridiculous, suggesting that everyone should calm down because this is nothing new:
"Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand that this isn't anything that's brand new -- it's been going on for 7 years," Reid said.
Again, it's astounding how out of touch these people are. They're pretending that a secret program that went way, way, way beyond what most people believed was happening now being revealed is no big deal because they knew about it for seven years? Frankly, that makes the whole situation that much worse, because it means they supported it and did nothing to end it for seven years.

I know that Senators Ron Wyden and Marc Udall have been trying to get this fact out to the public for years -- demanding that the NSA say how many Americans they were spying on. It was obvious that Wyden and Udall knew what was going on, but couldn't say anything since such information is "classified." But shame on every other Senator for not standing up against this.

Some are arguing that they didn't know:
"If you're on the intel committee, or if you're in leadership, you might have been briefed. I'm pretty good about attending meetings; I don't remember being briefed," said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). He said he voted for the FISA reauthorization and the Patriot Act but did not intend to grant authority to collect millions of phone records at a time.

"I never voted intentionally for any bill that would grant blanket [authority] to just monitor every phone call," he said.
But that's a lame excuse as well, because Senator Wyden spent an awful lot of time making this very point on the Senate floor, pointing out that very clearly that the NSA was using FISA to spy on tons of Americans (hinting strongly that it was all of them) and saying that the Senate shouldn't approve the reauthorization until the NSA told them how many people were being spied on. If Senator Isakson didn't pay attention to Senator Wyden ringing the alarm bell, that's his own fault.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    Maybe we should dump their phone records, the phone records of all the people who work for them, their families, their friends, anyone who's ever been in contact with them, their emails, their snail mail, etc. and see how they like it.

    Of course, that won't happen. After all, the House keeps trying to repeal Obamacare, even though they get free health benefits for as long as they're in Congress.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    Genocide and disease are nothing new either. Should we accept those too?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    All 100 senators should be indefinitely detained in Guantanamo and if nobody in Cuba complains then it should not be a problem and they should be kept there until Obama closes it.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Again, it's astounding how out of touch these people are. They're pretending that a secret program that went way, way, way beyond what most people believed was happening now being revealed is no big deal because they knew about it for seven years? Frankly, that makes the whole situation that much worse, because it means they supported it and did nothing to end it for seven years.

    It didn't go way, way, way beyond what I believed was happening. Hell, with Google scanning my every e-mail and tracking me where I go and whatever I search for- I'm not dumb enough to believe that there are not tons of organizations doing the same thing.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    and you called the conspiracy theorists crazy. ha.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    This is exactly why everyone should use VoIP, encryption and proxies all the time.

    Although I believe what they are after is not the content but the relationships and what that might tell them is still troubling.

    Imagine a rogue president mandating the agency spy for security reasons on all members of congress to find out who of them are working with the "enemy".

    It will happen eventually, chances are very good that at least somebody inside that huge government complex is contemplating the idea and thinking "why not?" because he/she doesn't remember Nixon.

     

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  7.  
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    Automatic Grammatizator, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Right now I'd just like someone to approach those senators and shout, "YOU USELESS MORONS!" before firing every last one of them.

    Well, except for Wyden and Udall, I guess. What I'm saying is that it's plain to see that this tooth of the government is rotten, so it's time for a root canal.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    "I never voted intentionally for any bill that would grant blanket [authority] to just monitor every phone call," he said.
    -- Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)


    Can someone get these people a subscription to Techdirt?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Weird re-writing of the 4th ammendment

    In this case the senators are saying that it's OK that they grab all the data, because the feds won't look at it until they have a real investigation.

    I think what they are doing qualifies as a illegal seizure (regardless of whether or not they've pinky-sworn not to look at it without probable cause).

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Nah... it's just a conspiracy.

    ^

     

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  11.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    calm?

    I'LL CALM DOWN WHEN ALL OF YOU MOTHER FUCKERS ARE IN JAIL!

     

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  12.  
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    jackn, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    I think you are dumb enough.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    out of context...it almost reads like he is upset that he can't also hear the conversations...almost like he wants more than to "just monitor"

     

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  14.  
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    RD, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Response to: silverscarcat on Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    "Of course, that won't happen. After all, the House keeps trying to repeal Obamacare, even though they get free health benefits for LIFE even after they leave Congress."

    FTFY.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    "You shouldn't complain because no one has complained."

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Re:

    Can someone get these people a subscription to Techdirt?

    I know for a fact that Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) is a regular reader and one of the leading intellectuals on most matters that are valued by Techdirt's readership. I'd say he's right up there with Wyden and Udall. Here he is in action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7XXVLKWd3Q

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Senator Sanders says 'Unacceptable'

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said: "To simply say in a blanket way that millions and millions of Americans are going to have their phone records checked by the U.S. government is to my mind indefensible and unacceptable."

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    Senator McCain conditionally says 'Hearings needed'

    Arizona Sen. John McCain said, "But if it was something where we just blanket started finding out who everybody called and under what circumstances, then I think it deserves congressional hearings."

    Well, Senator McCain, the allegation is that it's just "blanket started finding out who everybody called". I think your "if" there is met.

     

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  19.  
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    Dan, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Can he get a hearing aid under obamacare or he is too old to be in senate?

     

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  20.  
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    Dan, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Re:

    Not sure about Verizon, but with AT&T all the data will be open with an undisclosed URL which anybody can access. (remember the guy facing charges :D) It will be fun to watch when someone gets the data and publishes to whom senators are in touch with and where they are hanging out...

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Senator Merkley say 'Outrageous'

    Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement:
    "This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans' privacy. I have had significant concerns about the intelligence community over-collecting information about Americans’ telephone calls, emails, and other records and that is why I voted against the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act provisions in 2011 and the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act just six months ago.”

    “This bulk data collection is being done under interpretations of the law that have been kept secret from the public. Significant FISA court opinions that determine the scope of our laws should be declassified. Can the FBI or the NSA really claim that they need data scooped up on tens of millions of Americans?”

    "This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans' privacy."

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

    Senator Paul says 'assault on the Constitution'

    Kentucky Senator Rand Paul stated, "The National Security Agency's seizure and surveillance of virtually all of Verizon's phone customers is an astounding assault on the Constitution."

     

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  23.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Re:

    There's a difference between a private company not bound by the Constitution gathering the data and the Federal government which is SUPPOSED to be bound by the Constitution gathering the data.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    Senator Heller has questions

    “This is yet another example of government overreach that forces the question, ‘What sort of state are we living in?’" Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said in a statement.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Senator Mikulski says she doesn't know what's going on

    Senator Mikulski, D-Md., said that to say members of Congress has been "fully briefed" drives her up the wall.

    "Because often 'fully briefed' means a group of eight leadership; it does not necessarily mean relevant committees," Mikulski said. "So fully briefed doesn't mean we know what's going on.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    I never voted intentionally for any bill that would grant blanket [authority] to just monitor every phone call," he said.


    When was the last time the good senator actually read the bill he was voting on? This speaks far louder to me than the disclaimer he didn't know. Evidently he just threw up his hand when it came time to vote. I wonder if that coin in his pocket can still be told which is heads?

    The idea that all the senate knew but couldn't be bothered to tell the public or arrange to where this was no longer secret in very much on purpose. After all the NSA is not supposed to collect info on in country citizens. Yet here they are willingly violating the Constitution with the express permission of congress. What is wrong with this picture?

    This is akin to the sound engineers that couldn't figure out what was the problem with the audience that paid good money to go see a concert only to find it was lip synced. Being so close to the issue, everyone has forgotten what moral behavior is because everyone is in on it. That's a sad commentary on the state of our country.

    It's even more condemning when you realize that actions like this are at the root of why the American people don't trust their government.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re:

    Isn't Verizon a private company too?

    Do you think that google is not providing information to the alphabet agencies in ways that would raise consitutional issues as well?

    Maybe we should file a complaint with Sen. Saxby just in case they are.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    'it means they supported it and did nothing to end it for seven years'

    even worse they supported it BUT DIDN'T TELL THE PEOPLE, THE VERY ONES THAT WERE BEING SPIED ON. how bloody stupid can people get? i fail to see how these 'officials' get voted in in the first place, let alone get voted back term after term. and dont forget the shit storm that would happen if it was them being spied on. people like Feinstein would be the first to protest!!

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Senator Flake says 'Wow, that's a revelation'

    "Wow, that's a revelation," Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said during an appearance on MSNBC. "Why they would need that much data puzzles me. It just seems strange that they would collect all of that only to, I'm sure, drill down on certain aspects later on. But that was a surprise and raises some questions that I think we ought to answer."

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    Senator Durbin says 'Disturbing but not surprising'

    Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the assistant majority leader says, “Today’s revelation is disturbing, but it should not be surprising."

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 2:59pm

    Senator Corker says 'Extremely serious concerns'

    Tenness Senator Bob Corker, in a letter to the president, wrote:
    “On its face, if true, the collection of this massive amount of detailed information about the communications of American citizens raises extremely serious concerns about why such a broad collection is necessary and how this information is used. The Administration must therefore immediately come to Congress and to the American people to explain whether this story is accurate, what is being collected, what it is used for, and how the privacy and civil liberties of Americans are protected."


    "Collection of this massive amount of detailed information about the communications of American citizens raises extremely serious concerns."

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    Senator Schumer says 'Invasive'

    New York Senator Chuck Schumer wants explanation for "invasive" program.

    “One thing I have not heard is what the explanation is for needing to do this,” he said.

     

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  33.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Senator Merkley say 'Outrageous'

    Oregon FTW! Both Senators have more than protozoa level IQs!

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re:

    You sound pretty smart!
    /s

     

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  35.  
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    Gothenem (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 5:18pm

    Welcome

    Welcome to the United States of America, the current year is 1984.

     

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  36.  
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    Rob, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 5:35pm

    Re:

    Who says Presidents haven't been doing this?

    Neither party in Congress has been interested in challenging opposition party Presidents on this issue. Have they been "gotten to?" Or are they just cool with the whole thing?

     

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  37.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Re:

    There's a difference between a private company not bound by the Constitution gathering the data and the Federal government which is SUPPOSED to be bound by the Constitution gathering the data.

    And the work around will be that the private companies will collect the data (as they are already doing) and then the government will become clients of these companies and buy or contract for the data just like the other clients/custmers/partners of these companies.

    The data is being collected. And it is being sold. If government buys it, then it isn't any different than if anyone buys it.

     

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  38.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Right now national security hasn't been fully privatized, but it will be. Government will just hand those functions to private companies and that will circumvent whatever political/Constitutional issues being debated now.

    As long as any company can collect and monitor people, it's being done. The government can put enough degrees of separation between itself and the private companies that it will be increasingly difficult to say it is a "government" function.

    Here's how it is done for military operations.

    Pentagon Has No Idea What 108,000 Contractors Are Doing: "According to CRS, there are now 108,000 private workers in Afghanistan, a workforce that dwarfs the 65,700 American troops still stationed there. That means there are 1.6 contractors for every American soldier in Afghanistan. This is an increase from last month, when The Fiscal Times reported that there were 1.4 contractors per American soldier."

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 6:16pm

    Senator Lee is 'Deeply disturbed'

    In a statement today, Utah Senator Mike Lee said, “I am deeply disturbed by reports that the FISA Court issued an extremely broad order requiring Verizon turn over to the National Security Agency on a daily basis the company’s metadata on its customers’ calls. Under this secret court order, millions of innocent Americans have been subject to government surveillance.”

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 6:54pm

    Why dont people go out on the streets with cameras and ask the general population if they know about it NOW!?

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 6:55pm

    Senator Tester points to 'Example A', has questions

    Montana Senator Jon Tester released the following statement:
    "Time and time again Congress extends the Patriot Act without properly considering the law's impact on Americans' civil liberties. Today's news is ‘Example A' for what happens when we ignore the very Constitutional rights that make our nation great and respected around the world.

    "While we must keep our families safe, I have many questions about the scope of this program and how it affects law-abiding citizens. As I work with my colleagues to get to the bottom of this issue, I will continue my fight to repeal the Patriot Act and stand up for our privacy, our civil liberties and our fundamental American rights."

    "I have many questions about the scope of this program and how it affects law-abiding citizens."

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 7:00pm

    Senator Baucus calls it 'Intrusion'

    Max Baucus, the senior senator from Montana, states:
    "This type of intrusion on law-abiding Americans is exactly why I voted to get rid of the secret surveillance program last year. Everyone wants to do their part to keep America safe, but that doesn't give the government free reign to ignore civil liberties."

    "I have very serious concerns with law-abiding citizens getting swept up in surveillance that is meant for terrorists. If the government really needs this type of information to keep the country safe, they ought to be able to make their case in an open and transparent courtroom instead of behind closed doors."

    "I have very serious concerns."

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 7:25pm

    Re:

    What a stupid, fucked up statement is that, Genocide and disease are not things instigated by Government, it's not nothing to do with the NSA listening to your phone calls.

    BTW: people and Governments DO, DO things about Genocide and disease.

    No you should not accept (or commit) genocide and as for disease, do you have a choice here ?

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    Complain on

    Chambliss told reporters that the program has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said he was not aware of a single citizen filing a complaint about it

    Soooo OK...EVERYBODY complain to Chambliss!

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 7:36pm

    going on for 7 years

    You're kidding right !!!!, 7 years, try 60 years, you might be a little closer.. in fact not long after the first telephones were introduced, phone tapping occurred.

    But get really upset about it now, you cant be expected to know what happens in the REAL WORLD, has always happened and will continue to happen.

    get over it. (again)...

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Senator Flake says 'Wow, that's a revelation'

    I'm not gonna do it...I'm not gonna do it...What the hell...Seems flakey to me.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Senator Flake says 'Wow, that's a revelation'

    ...Seems flakey to me.

    SOURCE:GOP Sen. Flake Skeptical Of NSA’s Collection Of Phone Logs”, by Tom Kludt, TPM Livewire, June 6, 2013

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 12:08am

    Domestic Terrorism

    While under surveillance the Government couldn't stop the Boston Bombers.

    If this is such a good thing why didn't it stop the acts of domestic terrorism this year.
    I mean with hundreds of millions of American's records at their disposal you would think they could have shown us something about how our money is being spent

    Aurora, Sandy Hook and Boston.Three chances to show us how good they are and they failed miserably.

    And they say "trust Us" we need this info to protect you

    I say get the fuck out of my personal life and me and Mr Browning will take care of ourselves.

     

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  49.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 3:46am

    Re: Re:

    actually, i would be interested in the number of times genocide was perpetrated when it *wasn't* done by a gummint action...

    by far, it has been duly formed gummints who promote genocide...

    individuals and NGOs, not so much...

    (and if you want to talk diseases, i have some smallpox infested blankets to give you...)

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 6:08am

    Re: Re: Senator Merkley say 'Outrageous'

    Oregon FTW! Both Senators…

    Besides Oregon, Montana has both Baucus and Tester on this issue.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    Re:

    Why wouldn't Obama be joining them? The NSA is part of the executive branch. He signed the FISA extension. There's no way at all he wasn't briefed on this and the senators were.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because it's Google and Verizon's job to make sure the alphabet agencies are dutifully adhering to the constitution...

     

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  53.  
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    TurboKitty, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:11am

    CSPAN

    What the Bush administration did in 2007, was equally about spying on "terrorists", as it was about keeping the cell providers from suing the Bush administration, and the cell phone providers from being sued by their subscribers. Any representative that was in office at that time, knows good and well what was going on in the FISA bill. As for the violation of the Constitution, look up ex post facto law. Then look up Article 1, Section 9, of the United States Constitution. The Bush administration in its entirety, violated the Constitution.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    Senator Franken says 'public can't be kept in the dark'

    "The American public can't be kept in the dark about the basic architecture of the programs designed to protect them," said Minnesota Senator Al Franken.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Senator King is 'Nervous'

    Maine Senator Angus King said, “It makes me nervous that all those phone records are in the possession of the National Security Agency.”

     

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  56.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!"

    So when is it appropriate to break out the guillotines?

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    Senator Inhofe learned about program from news

    Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe said he learned of phone monitoring through news reports, although he said it “wasn’t a surprise.”

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Senator Kirk

    This weekend, I watched the webcast of the Senate Appropriations Committee (Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee) FY14 DOJ Budget Hearing (June 6, 2013). The entire hearing was informative, and I'm glad I took the time to watch the complete webcast, both the testimony from Attorney General Holder, and also the testimony from the Inspector General.

    Illinois Senator Kirk's questions and remarks occur at approximately 2:00:00 into the webcast. They have been reported elsewhere, and extracts from the video have also been published.

     

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

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Senator Graham

    South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham's questions and remarks, which immediately followed Illinois Senator Mark Kirk's time at the FY14 DOJ Budget Hearing, were also noteworthy.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Senator Thune says Congress not fully aware

    South Dakota Senator John Thune said:
    "I think the times that this program's been reauthorized, much of this operates in levels where there are not that many people — members of Congress — who are fully engaged in what's going on. You know, the intelligence committees obviously are involved and homeland security, I think, to some degree but most members of Congress are given a piece of legislation to vote on and I don't believe that most members of Congress, perhaps, going into this were fully aware of how broad this program was and so yes, you vote because you're obviously concerned about protecting the country."

    "I don't believe that most members of Congress… were fully aware of how broad this program was."

     

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


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