A Trip Down Memory Lane: People Warned What Would Happen When Congress Passed Bills To Enable Vast Spying

from the let's-go-back dept

One of the points we've made throughout this discussion on the revelations around widespread NSA surveillance is that if you had been paying attention, none of this should have come as a surprise. It's just the confirmation of the exact issues that people raised. In 2007, when Congress passed the "Protect America Act," some people quickly pointed out that it massively expanded warrantless surveillance with little oversight:
But the hastily-enacted legislation, dubbed the Protect America Act, does more than permit the interception of foreign-to-foreign communications. It permits warrantless surveillance "directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States." There is no language specifically restricting surveillance activities to communications originating outside of the United States.
And then, a year later, we got the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which raised more concerns:
In passing the FISA Amendments Act, Congress gave the executive branch the power to order Google, AT&T and Yahoo to forward to the government all e-mails, phone calls and text messages where one party to the conversation is thought to be overseas. President Bush signed the bill into law Thursday morning, describing it as a bill that "protect[s] the liberties of our citizens while maintaining the vital flow of intelligence."
Of course, last year, the FAA was up for renewal and we spent a lot of time discussing how folks in the House and the Senate (1) pretended that it only applied to foreign calls (when it clearly did not) and then (2) ignored Senators Wyden and Udall, who repeatedly made it clear that the law was being abused in this way, and asked others in Congress to demand a full and public accountability.

And, of course, the nefariousness here is not a partisan issue. Both of the laws above were signed by President Bush, and while President Obama campaigned on the fact that he would end such practices, we can safely say that that never happened.

So, while it's good that people are now realizing just how widespread the spying is, perhaps next time, when the same group of folks raise the alarm at these bills, they shouldn't be ignored or brushed off to the side as "oh you guys again..."


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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:46am

    A lot of people will be patting themselves on the back saying "Nah nah, told you so, told you so" over this.

     

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      out_of_the_blue, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:56am

      Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

      Now if he'd only look honestly at Google.

      Yeah, I'm basically just crowing today. Much of what I've said is now admitted.

      BUT my goal is to get you kids to see the obvious patterns of corporatism and for ten seconds to consider jumping ahead of the current revelations to asking WHAT'S NEXT, and HOW DO WE STOP IT? You know they're planning more.

      Getting The Rich and their corporations back under control with steeply progressive tax rates is proven effective and an again achievable goal that'll have large popular support. Stop letting them steal us blind. Stop their "austerity" programs. The poor are not the problem; we didn't start the class war. Society isn't just for The Rich, and the rest to be serfs.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:00am

        Re: Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

        The answer to pervasive government spying is to give government more money to work with?!??!??!

        You. Are. Nuts.

         

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        Gwiz (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

        Getting The Rich and their corporations back under control with steeply progressive tax rates is proven effective...


        Got any proof of this supposed effectiveness?

        And you still haven't explained how "taxing success" will benefit society in the long run. Sounds more like you wishing to clip the wings of those who dare to fly to keep the Dodos from extinction.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

          In his mind if there are no rich people the government, itself a collection of select individuals not unlike 'the rich' in size and makeup and with significant overlap to boot, would take all the money and power they've taken from 'the rich' and suddenly stop doing what they've been doing all along... because idealism.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

        Much as I agree that we need a more progressive tax system, and that taxes simply HAVE to go up to fix our gigantic national debt and constant $500 billion+ deficit every year, that's not the problem here.

        Nor is the problem here already about big corporations.

        This is about a continuing trend of the slide from democracy to a police state style dictatorship. Some corporations have helped cause that trend with all the laws they buy that benefit them financially in the short term, but this isn't one of those cases.

         

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          Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

          Part of the problem

          Let's ask a question...

          Why do we set up an inherently undemocratic system of governance that we believe will actually work?

          We have corporations that are managed by middlemen who make short term profit with long term costs. The workers have no say in just such a system.

          That's liberalism in a nutshell. What we've done is go right back to the 1920s where a private market has been said to work best without the government, the rich can rule the country, and nothing can be done for the public.

          And we've watched that argument explode in the face of every right wing person for the past 30 years as the public has suffered for it. Lobbyists and lawyers control Congress over the demands of the people, gerrymandering has effectively taken away the voice of minorities in America, and our politicians fight each other while protecting the rich and powerful.

          But the debt really isn't a problem because Obama is indeed paying it down. Our deficit is also going down.

          The rights and liberties we cherish in a democratic republic? That's what's going down. Screw the 2nd Amendment. I want my 4th and 5th Amendment rights. I want my 14th Amendment rights. I want the right to speak without being incriminated like Aaron Schwartz. I want the right to protest a war without being labeled a terrorist. I want the right to argue with someone who I might not agree with politically so that we can find the flaws of our position and improve our nation.

          But what I don't want is to believe that our government can't be brought to heel. I refuse to believe that our democracy is so far gone that we can never attain it.

          So the problem has a solution. Force Congress to listen to the people instead of the money that's already in politics. Force our corporations to be changed to something far more beneficial. We tried reforms to the system. It's time for some new ideas. We can try minimal income projects similar to Social Security. That seems to have worked for the past 75 years. Other projects I can think of are co-ops where the workers decide what they produce, where they produce and how they produce. Obviously, this creates new challenges than just raising taxes and watching the same movie play out a little faster than when it occurred in 1932.

          ootb does have a point, no question.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

            Re: Part of the problem

            Again, we have here a clear example of abuse when government is given too much power and yet somehow people have it in their twisted minds that the answer to all this is to give government more power. You're just as nuts as ootb.

             

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              Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 4:03pm

              Re: Re: Part of the problem

              No, it's not "give the government more power".

              It's recognizing that taking away power while not taking away corporate power will maintain the status quo and make it worse for people.

               

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        jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

        Nobody here cares what you think about Google.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re: Yot, here's Mike saying "Nah nah, told you so".

        That last thing you want is propose more taxes from the government. They waste so much money that it would be foolish. That is like loaning money to a gambling addict. Before there is any type of tax change there needs to be cutbacks. The recent IRS spending is a great example of government waste.

         

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      PRMan, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:57am

      Re:

      And the NSA will have a list of all of them within the hour.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      Others are pretending they were the only one saying something and that this somehow validates everything they've ever said.

       

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

    IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...

    ...[When] a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

     

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      Phoenix84 (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:11am

      Re: IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

      Sadly, most Americans still don't care. Until that changes, this will never happen.

       

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        RyanNerd (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:36am

        Re: Re: IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

        "Sadly, most Americans still don't care..."

        ...But as the colonists discovered how difficult and dangerous military service could be, enthusiasm waned. Many men preferred to remain home, in the safety of what Gen. George Washington described as their “Chimney Corner.” Early in the war, Washington wrote that he despaired of “compleating the army by Voluntary Inlistments.” Mindful that volunteers had rushed to enlist when hostilities began, Washington predicted that “after the first emotions are over,” those who were willing to serve from a belief in the “goodness of the cause” would amount to little more than “a drop in the Ocean.” He was correct. As 1776 progressed, many colonies were compelled to entice soldiers with offers of cash bounties, clothing, blankets and extended furloughs or enlistments shorter than the one-year term of service established by Congress.

        The following year, when Congress mandated that men who enlisted must sign on for three years or the duration of the conflict, whichever came first, offers of cash and land bounties became an absolute necessity. The states and the army also turned to slick-tongued recruiters to round up volunteers. General Washington had urged conscription, stating that “the Government must have recourse to coercive measures.” In April 1777, Congress recommended a draft to the states. By the end of 1778, most states were conscripting men when Congress’ voluntary enlistment quotas were not met.

        Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Myths-of-the-American-Revolution.html#ixzz2VYYXSg5 A

        It appears to me that even once the "emotions" of a revloution are felt it will still require conscripting Americans to the realization that freedom from a government that has shredded the constitution working only in the interests of the rich ruling class is worth fighting against and to drag them away from their "Chimney corners" will take a truely revolutionary commitment.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    Boiled Frog

    You only noticed the water's hot, just now?

    Of course, the problem with the boiled frog story is that it turns out (from experiment—although I didn't perform this experiment myself), it turns out the frog actually does jump out of the water no matter how slowly you bring it up towards a boil.

    Are frogs smarter than people?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    So, we took away the dam, and then our town was flooded?

    Hmm... so you're saying we used to have a big dam to prevent the local river from flooding our whole town?

    And you're saying that after a few decades of the dam being successful we decided we didn't need the dam anymore because the river already knew not to flood us? So we got rid of the dam?

    And you're saying that the river then flooded our town because we didn't have a dam to block it anymore?

    OMG! Who could have EVER foreseen this problem! Congress sure couldn't, because they got rid of the dam!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:29am

    While people were quick to blame the Bush administration for this, they forgot that these provisions were signed in 2010. Bush vetoed the original 2008 draft of the 2010 FISA amendment back when it was proposed just before he left office...Congress then voted by 2/3 majority to have the bill reintroduced to Obama.

    Keep in mind this bill was signed in by Obama and the original FISA amendments from Bush Jr. only gathered communications data when someone of a foreign nation called another foreign person in the US who was just visiting the country.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:40am

      Re:

      2007. It's 2007, not 2010 that the PRISM started working. Try harder next time.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re:

        FISA amendments add to the functionality of PRISM....which is a security program and it was enacted and added to FISA 1978....in 2007. Once again it was only meant to monitor conversations of non US citizens calling foreign nations from US soil....that got extended use in 2010 when it was signed in by Barak Obama.

         

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:37am

    Why say it myself when it's been said so well?

    Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes.
    --James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution (emphasis mine)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:57am

    So, while it's good that people are now realizing just how widespread the spying is, perhaps next time, when the same group of folks raise the alarm at these bills, they shouldn't be ignored or brushed off to the side as "oh you guys again..."

    Nope. If it's a dipshit, extremist, alarmist punk such as yourself whining about the government, most people will absolutely not believe one word. Why should they? You're too scared to state a definitive position on the propriety of copyright. You're too scared to discuss your own beliefs directly. Why should anyone believe a coward who hides behind weasel words?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:09am

      Re:

      The politicians that are establishing the fascist empire of the corporation almost always stand up and propose answers to problems. he problem is they have not researched the problem, or sounded out public opinion.
      Mike says that copyright needs reform, and so lets research the problem, hold discussions, and see if a consensus can be arrived at.
      Your continuous attacks add nothing to the discussion, and show someone who has the answer they want, and is not prepared to discuss it. Your attitude is aligned with the creation of a fascist empire, where you agree with those in power, or go to the re-education camps or worse.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    the fact is that all this surveillance wont stop any terrorist attacks. all it will do is piss the people off, stop them from having the slightest trust in the government and make them actually scared of the government as well. no one wants to be constantly watched, let alone by the very body that is supposed to be keeping you safe! this makes people less safe. on top of which, when there is this increase in fear, everyone is a suspect over something, just how it was in the 'reds under the bed, everyone's a commie bastard' days!completely unjustified and takes a long time to get rid of then get over!!

     

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    Davey, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:08am

    Actually none of this should have come as a surprise

    once the laughably named "Patriot Act" was passed and signed in 2001. That's when the basic principle of privacy and freedom of speech was dumped and replaced by "security". Somebody above compared what's happened to a dam being destroyed. If so, the breach occurred on 2001 and the flood just got bigger ever since.

    There were plenty of people back then quoting Ben Franklin -- "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither. He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security". It was as clear back then as it is now, and the current situation is the inevitable consequence of the "patriot act". As long as Americans fantasize that we can be free of all terrorism, we will give the securitat all the rope it needs to hang us all.

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:19am

    George Orwell, Animal Farm

    “they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.”

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

      Re: George Orwell, Animal Farm

      It's scary how Rush Limbaugh labeled this current administration as characters right out of Animal Farm...

       

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    Jesse (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:28am

    I like how everyone justifies violating human rights by saying, "It's okay as long as we don't do it to Americans."

    Thanks America. Fuck you, too.
    -All Canadians and the rest of the world

     

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      RyanNerd (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      America has not only become a nanny state to it's own citizens, but has taken upon itself the position of the world's policeman.
      Stumbling from one war into another. America should concentrate on it's own domestic issues... But alas, America goes out of it's way to 'smell the farts' of other countries.
      As an American, without power, but with a small voice I give my apologies to you.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

        Re: Re:

        You are still using the same rhetoric that the least understanding people on eart still use to describe the US going into IRAQ.....I ask you this...when is it ever wrong to oust an insane dictator who uses his religion as an excuse to murder his own people when they don't agree with his political views?

         

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          @ern, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So you think it's wise to step into a family dispute that you have no idea of what is going on, with a drawn weapon?

          Different cultures have different ways. Thinking you can step in and create a political culture that you understand is not the way.

           

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          Davey, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If that's the intent it should be done honestly. Hiding behind fictional WMDs as a justification is still criminal. Does Canada or Mexico have the right to invade the US because it's become a corrupt oligarchy?

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          when is it ever wrong to oust an insane dictator who uses his religion as an excuse to murder his own people when they don't agree with his political views?


          When that insane dictator poses no threat to you, it is wrong. Besides, that's not even why we invaded Iraq.

          "Whenever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." -- John Adams

          The US should not be, and in the long run cannot be, the world's policeman for three fundamental reasons: First, what gives us the right? Second, by doing so we will inevitably feel the need to force everyone else to bend to our wishes. Third, because we cannot do it without doing ourselves great harm in the long run, both economically and politically.

           

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    Wolfy, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Has anyone else noticed that it's religion that is at the very root of the "security problem"? When we ditch religion in our government, we'll make better decisions regarding whom to support. That we are supporting a nation of terrorists who invaded Palestine and kicked out most of the population, is not lost on their fellows. All this over a religious MYTH.

    We need to check ourselves.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2013 @ 12:45am

    That we are supporting a nation of terrorists who invaded Palestine and kicked out most of the population, is not lost on their fellows. All this over a religious MYTH.

    The reason for the founding of Israel in two words:
    The Holocaust.

     

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