Why Do We Need Warrantless Wiretapping If Not A Single Wiretap Warrant Request Gets Rejected?

from the oversight? dept

While the government continues to defend its warrantless wiretapping program -- despite it being found illegal and prone to serious privacy violations -- the latest report on official wiretaps that did receive a warrant shows not only that they were way up in 2009, but that not a single request for a warrant to wiretap was turned down. Not a single one. Now, admittedly, these are different types of wiretaps: by the police, mostly for drug cases, rather than the feds for terrorism cases. But it does suggest that the judicial system is pretty open to approving wiretap requests, and still makes us wonder why the government keeps insisting that actually getting a warrant -- as is required by the law -- is too much to ask in many cases.


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  1.  
    identicon
    RD, May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Sometimes, the simple explanation is right...

    Thats easy. They dont want to get a court order because then there is a record of it somewhere, and eventually can be made public or FOIA'd. By bypassing (read: ignoring the law) the court, they can wiretap anyone with virtually zero accountability.

     

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  2.  
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    Alan Williams (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    To them, the fact that none of the wiretap requests are being denied shows that we can trust them, so having to request a warrant is an unnecessary step and impediment in the war on terror.

    Do you think terrorists ask for warrants before doing something? We should be allowed to and must employ all tactics the terrorists use. They [terrorists] hate us for our freedom!

     

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  3.  
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    Mecha, May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:42pm

    The requirement for warrants is the largest institutional barrier to monitoring communications indiscriminately. I'm still unsure how they plan on hand-waving away the relevant portions of the Bill of Rights, however.

    My guess is utilizing corporate willingness to give information and access to their systems to trump the end user's rights.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:50pm

    perhaps every wiretap that didn't have a warrant would have been rejected if a warrant was requested...

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    OTOH

    If the 'courts' never refuse a wiretap request, why bother with warrants?

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:54pm

    Answer

    Because perhaps ultimately the goal is not simply to get these wiretaps, or even wiretaps in general. Perhaps the goal is to chip away at one more protection of our liberty, paving away for the next chip, and the next, and the next.

    It's called a feature creep, and it's an extremely effective way at slowing down public opposition to otherwise damnable actions. Show this law to colonial Americans in the hands of the crown and they would FLIP....

     

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  7.  
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    cops as robbers, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:03pm

    democracy

    why would anyone want in a democratic nation to have any over site is right?
    LIKE the Vancouver police running over to a guys apartment knocking on the door to serve him not only a warrant BUT a beating BIG TIME, then turns out hes the wrong guy.

    THAT'S why you want to see that warrant and find out WHO MADE the address error and then you can MORE likely hold the bad cops accountable.

    END OF STORY

     

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  8.  
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    RD, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:03pm

    Re: OTOH

    "If the 'courts' never refuse a wiretap request, why bother with warrants?"

    See my comment #1 above. One of the main purposes of getting a court order is ACCOUNTABILITY and having it ON RECORD. Just because they approve all of them doesnt mean there should be no paper trail.

     

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  9.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: OTOH

    "One of the main purposes of getting a court order is ACCOUNTABILITY and having it ON RECORD. "

    OK, I'll bite. Who has been held accountable for a wiretap?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Answer

    "It's called a feature creep, and it's an extremely effective way at slowing down public opposition to otherwise damnable actions."


    No, it's called "Scope creep". The way warrant-less wiretapping is being used today is outside of the original scope. I'm not disagreeing with you.

    As noted in the article: "Now, admittedly, these are different types of wiretaps: by the police, mostly for drug cases, rather than the feds for terrorism cases."

    Thusly, it needs to be re-evaluatated, and new controls should be added to ensure it remains used within it's original intent. What is happening may show a level of un-ethical application of the law's use.

     

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  11.  
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    andrew johnson (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Fiscal Responsibility

    Obviously they are just trying to save tax payer money.. since the request for a warrant is apparently just a formality. Maybe they think that they are just doing the responsible thing to save taxpayer money by removing the "safeguard" entirely.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:41pm

    Yeah but

    I mean did you all see and take note of the low ratio of arrests and lower ratio of convictions from all these authorized wire taps? I guess what I'm saying is that in a significant number of cases it turned out that this stuff was being both authorized and carried out for what amounts to no reason at all. Shouldn't that maybe factor into future requests at least a little?

     

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  13.  
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    abc gum, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:53pm

    Re:

    We have met the enemy ...

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: OTOH

    recently?

     

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  15.  
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    Be afraid, be very afraid, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Answer

    And any time the populous needs encouragement, they drag out the boogeyman man.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:17pm

    "But it does suggest that the judicial system is pretty open to approving wiretap requests"

    We need an elected judicial system without lifetime limitations. Some way of holding judges accountable to the people.

     

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  17.  
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    :PCMcGee (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:23pm

    Re:

    Yes, we should do everything terrorist do.(sic) But, then, don't be surprised when the rest of the world calls you a terrorist.

    Idiot.

     

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  18.  
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    Willton, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:33pm

    Re:

    "We need an elected judicial system without lifetime limitations. Some way of holding judges accountable to the people."

    Then I suggest you turn your attention to the state level, as most state judiciaries are elected by popular vote. Perhaps then you will see how well an elected judiciary is able to apply and interpret the law fairly and justly when under political pressure.

     

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  19.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:55pm

    Re: They [terrorists] hate us for our freedom!

    Thats utter bullshit.
    "We should be allowed to and must employ all tactics the terrorists use."
    So we can be as low as them? You sound like Hitler.
    We USED to be able to claim moral high ground, but we have no morals anymore.

    They hate us for placing puppet regimes in their countries.
    "shows that we can trust them"
    HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....ahhhh....ahem.
    "war on terror"
    HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....ahhhh. Just another ism to instill fear in the people.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dDidZZN7KI
    Here is your terrorism:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiOUSZp1Pkw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RylZke3T0ao

     

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  20.  
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    annonymous coward II, May 3rd, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    waaaaa...

    While I do believe in civil liberties and accountability... I don't see the big deal about warrant less wire taps. I'm not a terrorist, I don't sell illegal drugs, not a sex offender... what do I care. All you whiners about "oooo the government is taking away my freedom", maybe you should stop with the above actions as you clearly have something to fear from wiretapping. I'm sure you're the first to be up at arms when a terrorist does blow something up. Nice we have to play by the rules but they don't. Get over yourselves and think of what's more important... the government overhearing (and not caring) about your perverted phone conversations, or possibly finding out about some plot to kill innocent people (who might just be on the other end of your phone conversation).

    Not to go on a tangent, but I think too many people take the Constitution and Bill of Rights as is and don't put it in a modern context. Do you really, REALLY think our founding fathers would have wanted every citizen of the US running around with hand guns and automatic weapons after the formation of our nation's military branches (I'm sure most people hunted for food back then, and we didn't have much in the way of armed forces for protection). Let's evolve a little and adapt our 200+ year old documents to follow suit.

     

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  21.  
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    anonymous coward III, May 3rd, 2010 @ 7:28pm

    Re: waaaaa...

    If we become terrorists ourselves in the process of defending against them, then we are no better than they are. What made this country strong was the ideals that it stood for and practiced. Now that we have sunk to the level of common cowards/thieves, what is really left to be proud of?

    The founding fathers may not have wanted every citizen of the US running around with handguns and rifles (have fun trying to get an automatic weapon legally), but they DID want each and every citizen to be able to make their own choice as to how they want to defend their family and country against whatever may come.

    Besides, an armed populace for the government to fear/consider isn't that bad of a thing.

    If you want to give up your rights - fine. But don't take away mine.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 7:33pm

    Re: waaaaa...

    And your point is ?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:38pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm relatively sure he was being sarcastic.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:38pm

    Re: Re: They [terrorists] hate us for our freedom!

    See above...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:40pm

    Re: waaaaa...

     

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  26.  
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    Louis, May 3rd, 2010 @ 9:15pm

    Stats not showing all applications?

    It could be that the statistics don't reflect the way things work in practice. Not sure how this warrant process works but in general:

    If:
    - I need approval for something from someone
    - I'm time constrained
    - and I have direct access to this person,

    Then:
    I'd check with them before submitting a formal application to ask whether they'd approve it. So I'd say "Hey will you approve this if I submit it" and I'd alter the application if they feel it needs changes, or not submit it if it has no chance in hell.

    Thus I'd only submit winning applications. Not sure if something like this is skewing the stats?

     

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  27.  
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    Chargone (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re: Answer

    it could, of course, simply show that no requests are made for warrents under conditions where the request would be turned down.

     

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  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 12:20am

    Re: waaaaa...

    While I do believe in civil liberties and accountability... I don't see the big deal about warrant less wire taps

    The beginning of your sentence is in total conflict with the end of your sentence.

    I'm not a terrorist, I don't sell illegal drugs, not a sex offender... what do I care.

    Yes, but the gov't gets to define what it doesn't like, and what if something that you do currently engage in -- which you feel is fine -- is suddenly classified as "wrong."

    All you whiners about "oooo the government is taking away my freedom", maybe you should stop with the above actions as you clearly have something to fear from wiretapping.

    Ah, so anyone concerned with the basics of the 4th amendment must be a terrorist?

    That's convincing.

    I'm sure you're the first to be up at arms when a terrorist does blow something up

    Yes, and studies have shown that by piling on MORE data from bogus wiretaps, officials have had MORE TROUBLE actually connecting the dots on real plots.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2010 @ 2:58am

    Re: Fiscal Responsibility

    "Obviously they are just trying to save tax payer money.. since the request for a warrant is apparently just a formality. Maybe they think that they are just doing the responsible thing to save taxpayer money by removing the "safeguard" entirely."


    That may be technically be true, however if application of the law results in blowback from legally allowing what was once illegal, but it certainly raises questions if the new method of business in it's application is morally and ethically correct.

    Hence, the law needs more controls to ensure the original desire of the law is followed.

    Not to be a killjoy, but it seems a level of micromanagement is perhaps necessary with incoming business leaders as this seems to be a common problem with many regulated industries. When the original desire or "Spirit" of the law is not followed, we get things like financial crises.

    As dismal as it may be, I foresee additional industry-level bailouts as we learn more about how they subverted originally recognized protections in an effort to sell personal information to any government under the guise of public safety from "champions of non-industry". Indeed, capturing information about every citizen of the world can be quite costly, but eventually people have to question if the ends justify the means.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2010 @ 3:22am

    Res Publica Non Dominetur

    Not

    Populus vult decipi.

     

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  31.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 4:10am

    Re: waaaaa...

    "Do you really, REALLY think our founding fathers would have wanted every citizen of the US running around with hand guns and automatic weapons after the formation of our nation's military branches"

    This is a typical false question asked by gun control folks. The answer, in short, is that YES THEY WOULD HAVE. They advocated for American's ability to overthrow their own government if it became oppressive. Owning arms with the ability to do so is key to that ability. The very REASON the 2nd amendment is in the constitution is so the people can own guns capable of fighting back against the police and military....

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Fake Name, May 4th, 2010 @ 9:53am

    The Comment Below

    We need warrantless wiretapping because we cannot be trusted to do the right thing. /sarcasm

    Perhaps we should extend civil IP problems into the realm of executive agencies that are all for warrantless wiretapping. /I thought the sarcasm was completed by now.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    bob, May 4th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    I would hope

    That the requirement to get a warrant for a wire tap would be to allow the need for such a tap to be examined during any court trial. That part of due process that is missing with warrant-less taps.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Z, May 4th, 2010 @ 3:34pm

    They are Data Mining

    Because they are data mining the entire communications grid, and would be impossible to get a warrant for each of billions of emails, text messages and voice conversations a day.

    I think this is the most likely answer to the original question.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2010 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: OTOH

    "Accountability" and "on record" understates it a bit. Accountability means Johnny Law is less likely to wiretap that guy at the dry cleaners he doesn't like, or his wife that he thinks might be cheating on him.

    Having it on the record really is about a thousand times better than it being a secretive thing as far as accountability is concerned. Even if they never get denied before the fact or punished after the fact, it's a barrier to entry.

     

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  36.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    Fools

    It more than just wiretaps. Its collecting ALL electronic traffic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy3eOCkLVaw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STZFkNuUSmw
    Fo ols.

     

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  37.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 7:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: OTOH

    IOW, when has that been a real problem for anyone?

     

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  38.  
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    :PCMcGee (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 7:29pm

    Re: waaaaa...

    "what do I care"

    First, you need to understand what laws are being broken, Read Volume 5 of the Church Commissions report, title, Volume 5: The National Security Agency and Fourth Amendment Rights particularly relevant would be pg 131, effect...on fourth amendment rights of citizens.

    Next, you have to understand how the Fourth Amendment is actually a protection, needed by the rights granted under the First Amendment. It is difficult to say the least to have an open exchange of ideas, if only certain ideas are allowed.

    Stinks of communism, you're not a pinko commie are you?!

    Finally, you need to understand the the constitution is a living document. While you say we need to "put it in a modern context", you fail to understand that, that is what the amendment process does. It gets voted on, and ratified, and codified into a law. In this way it is not a 200 year old document, but a changing document reflecting our will as a people, with mechanisms built in to protect the few, an thier inalienable rights, from the many.

    The only way the Constitution can fail, is if we misunderstand it. When enough of us do that, it will become the instrument of our own destruction.

    "what do I care"?

    Why don't you care? Are you ignorant or just uneducated? Put down the Big Mac and the remote, and try to have an intelligent conversation with someone, anyone. Talk about the many innocent people that have died because of ignorance and apathy in regard to the actual costs of your house with the 2 car garage, and your fancy smartphone. Talk about the people who are starving, farmless, homeless, wounded and killed, because Fascism abhors equanimity, and freedoms.

    Get your number, stand in line, wait for the end, good job boy!

    Free speech is the last freedom standing between us and total control.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    RSL, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:28am

    Re:

    Yes, let's become just like them. Lose all sense of morality and propriety of our system to save our asses but lose our souls. Screw the Constitution! It was poorly written anyway,right?!

     

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


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