Reporters Tell Attorney General Eric Holder They Won't Agree To 'Off The Record' Meeting As Scale Of Journalist Spying Expands

from the thousands-and-thousands dept

A few quick updates on the continuing saga of the DOJ's highly questionable spying on the communications of reporters. First up, we find out that the AP is claiming that the DOJ's scooping up of phone records wasn't nearly as limited as some people have suggested, but rather contained records for "thousands and thousands" of phone calls. Remember, the DOJ's own guidelines say that any such record retrieval must be very targeted rather than broad.

Of course, as all of this was happening, a sympathetic story leaked to the press, claiming that Eric Holder feels tremendous remorse for the specific case of the spying on James Rosen. Though, as you read the details, it sure sounds a lot more like "political expediency" rather than honest "remorse."
The sweeping seizure of the AP phone records had thrown Justice on the defensive. But at least in that case Holder had some personal insulation; having been interviewed by the FBI, he'd recused himself from the investigation and, thus, had not personally signed off on the subpoenas. In the Fox case, however, Holder knew he bore a direct measure of responsibility. He had approved a search-warrant application that equated a reporter's newsgathering activities with criminal conduct. That put Holder at the center of the brewing controversy, all while the Obama administration was being buffeted over allegations that the IRS had targeted conservative groups and by the continuing Benghazi tempest.

By week's end, Holder knew he had to be proactive in stemming the criticism and restoring the department's credibility with the press. He and his advisers began exploring ways to reform the Justice Department's internal guidelines for investigating leaks to safeguard the media against overly intrusive tactics. (Obama announced a review of the guidelines during a major speech on counterterrorism last Thursday.) Meanwhile, on Friday, Holder made a round of calls to Capitol Hill in an attempt to mollify concerned lawmakers. In calls to Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Holder said he understood why there had been such an outcry over his department's actions. As one of Holder's advisers put it, the message was: "Look we get it. We understand why this is so controversial, and we're ready to make changes to find the right balance." At the same time, Holder enlisted their help to get a media-shield law passed in Congress. (On Sunday, Schumer announced the formation of a bipartisan "gang of eight" to press for the legislation.)
However, he supposedly is upset that his public image is not reflective of what he thinks of himself.
But sources close to the attorney general says he has been particularly stung by the leak controversy, in large part because his department's—and his own—actions are at odds with his image of himself as a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves.
Of course, one way to avoid being accused of such things is... you know... not to do them in the first place.

In response, Holder announced that he'd be holding a meeting with news organizations to go over the DOJ's guidelines on getting access to such information. But, he couldn't even do that correctly. After announcing that this meeting would be off-the-record, a variety of news organizations, including the NY Times and the Associated Press announced they would not attend.

Of course, they could just attend and then "leak" the results. What would Holder do in response?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 10:49pm

    What would Holder do in response?

    Throw a big hissy fit, and then lash out in some sort of incredibly petty way. I can read this guy like a book; I can see his ego from halfway across the country. Just hearing third-hand about him talking about his "image of himself" makes me nauseous. It sounds like a bad fanfiction author describing his self-insert.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 10:52pm

    Imagine how much damage could have been averted if he'd been allowed to fry for selling arms to terrorists instead of being shielded from the very justice he was appointed to preserve.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 10:59pm

    PrIson

    That sends the right message.

     

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    Anon E. Mous (profile), May 29th, 2013 @ 11:04pm

    The fact that Obama and Holder are holding fast that this was an oopsie and a simple mistake is fairly laughable.

    Holder seems to think that the monitoring of e-mail and other communications of the Media strikes me as a way to either prevent another Wikileaks style event or they are looking to stifle dissent from their critics in the media.

    Not that anyone should be surprised that Obama's government is trying to stifle it's critics (the IRS fiasco with the Tea Party and other groups for example)isn't exactly the first time this sort of thing has happened, and it won't be the last.

    The Bush Government smeared CIA agents and many other who were stead fast against the Iraq war campaign and after the war started, and even tried to go after whistle blowers.

    Mind you Obama has Bush beat on the punishment of Whistle blowers, in fact the Obama government has prosecuted more whistleblowers that any other U.S. government in history.

    Obama and bush weren't the only ones though who want to stifle the press and whistle blowers Nixon too went after the NYT reporter after a story leaked that embarrassed his government.

    That being said it would seem there is some kind of a renewed effort to go after and silence critics of the government from a variety of different levels, you see it from the IRS, to the Pentagon, to the White House.

    The recent proposals to allow the government to access any kind of communications of reporters, critics, whistle blowers and your average citizen is just the start of a huge collection of following the electronic trail of anyone and sucking up and ciphering whatever data they fell is justified whether your are a suspect of something or just someone who got caught up in the vacuum.

    Used to be that government agencies like the NSA were forbidden from spying on Americans domestically, well apparently after William Binney the head of the NSA spying program said that they were spying on Americans that pretty much confirmed what most people already expected.

    Everyone I am sure remembers the ATT San Francisco employee who found the plans for that special room at ATT's wire center and how that pipe of traffic was intercepted and routed through the black boxes that were in that room and then to be passed on as usual.

    The amount of data they could suck up was quite substantial, and I imagine that capability is dwarfed even more some by todays standards.

    The fact that Obama government is trying to give the government unlimited powers to peer into Americans of all walks of society whether their is a belief of a threat or not to America seems to signal what a lot of people have feared, and that is all your private communications are for the government to access, whether there is a need or not.

    It seems that the powers that be don't think the constitution matters in it's eyes when it comes to the communications of American citizens, whether you are a suspect in the eyes of the government matters not, but yet you are told not to worry and that it's nothing to be concerned about.

    The era of freedom is starting to become a very loose term and one that the government seems to think it at their discretion.

    Much like Communist governments have tried to control the government and the people, as such with some of the Muslim governments as well, and even dictator ships, it seems the Obama government as with government by presidents before it
    still wants to roll back the freedoms, laws and parts of the constitution it feels are too liberal for the people to have and enjoy.

    Tyranny comes in many different ways, and the government rolling back freedoms could be just a start of one version of it.

     

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      art guerrilla (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 8:43am

      Re:

      that att employee is Mark Klein, one of the few with the principles, will, and balls to go against Empire...

      i don't generally have heroes, but he is one amongst all the whistleblowers i greatly admire: manning, whitehead, kiriakou, etc, HEROIC citizens with a conscience...

      holder, et al ? fucking zeroes: no respect for the constitution, much less common, proper human behavior and consideration...

      art guerrilla
      aka ann archy
      eof

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 11:04pm

    Now reporters get mad bro?

    http://boingboing.net/2013/05/28/media-hypocrisy-in-rosen-case.html

    Julian Assange was charged under the same 1917 Espionage Act and all those media outlets shut their mouths and let it happen, now that its happening to them they cry?

    LoL

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:34am

      Re:

      First they came for the Communists, and I said nothing, for it was not me.
      Then they came for the Gays, and I said nothing, for it was not me.
      Then they came for the minorities, and I said nothing, for it was not me.
      Then they came for me, and there was no one to speak.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 11:07pm

    ...Why has Holder not been killed for his traitorous beliefs?

    Oh wait, because he's "one of us".*

    *By which I mean one of those seemingly immune from his own watchman. Qui custodes qui custodient? Not this guy!

     

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    Some Guy, May 30th, 2013 @ 12:16am

    I'm waiting to hear "Good news, Eric Holder investigated himself and found no evidence of wrongdoing by himself! Though, regrettably, a proper scapegoat was found, and it turns about to be all this guy's fault. We're really sorry, though. But don't worry, we threw that guy under the bus."

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 12:52am

      Re:

      At this point things can go three ways: Holder admits to having done some of it and tries to hold on, Holder keeps denying and the cases become investigations or we find out that it is all one big conspiracy to take down Holder.

      It doesn't matter at this point. The only even rremotely satisfying conclusion will be him retreating.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 12:57am

    Eric Holder only feels tremendous remorse because he was caught.

     

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    techflaws (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:01am

    "Look we get it. We understand why this is so controversial, and we're ready to make changes to find the right balance."

    Balance, my ass! Get a search warrant or don't snoop. Easy as that.

     

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      Beech, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:12am

      Re:

      The story says that Holder "had approved a search-warrant application that equated a reporter's newsgathering activities with criminal conduct."

      And thats the problem. He found a judge that approved that malarkey. I think we should equally scrutinize the judge that approved the warrant and demand his retirement.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:04am

        Re: Re:

        One piece at a time I say.

        Frak Holder first and then we look at the judge and the people above Holder that certainly granted Holder his current path.

         

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    Robert Freetard, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:14am

    "As one of Holder's advisers put it, the message was: "Look we get it. We understand why this is so controversial, and we're ready to make changes to find the right balance.""


    How about you just follow the laws that ALREADY EXIST, that CONGRESS MADE FOR YOU TO FOLLOW?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:32am

    I am remorseful also!

    I had only the chance to vote for Tweedledee or Tweedledum. The result is a constitution that has been literally shredded by the professor of constitutional law that apparently has Alzheimer disease on legal rights. All they do is run around screaming terrorists, cyber-terrorists or worst of all hackers. They can't nail Kim Dotcom or Assange because neither broke any laws here. Arron Swarz blew up in their face, they are going to make Bradley Manning a marter. They did coerce one so called hacker to pea out under CFAA oppression but they still can't seem to keep those Chinese foxes out of the pentagon's hen house. Then our own government wants to advise us on cyber security. We get fucked and he's remorseful, right, that position needs to be reversed then we will be remorseful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 4:39am

    it would only be 'off the record' until Holder decided to make it official! too untrustworthy a person. wonder how his family feels when they see all the lies and bull shit he puts out? cant give them much reason to like him, surely

     

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    Seegras (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 4:51am

    not unlike the president he serves.

    "a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves."

    The liberal president which imprisons people without charge? Yup, not unlike each other. Neither liberal, nor pragmatic, nor balanced, however.

     

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    Beta (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 4:53am

    I've been haveing these ethical blackouts

    "...[H]e has been particularly stung by the leak controversy, in large part because his department's—and his own—actions are at odds with his image of himself..."

    If I found I had been doing things at odds with my image of myself, I would either revise my image of myself, or consult a psychiatrist about my Jekyll-and-Hyde behavior (and maybe consult a lawyer before turning myself in to the police). My first concern would not be stemming the public controversy I had caused.

     

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    The Real Michael, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:15am

    Their credibility is shot. They have no business talking down on other (rogue) nations over stuff like suppression and censorship because they act in very much the same way.

     

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    JH, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:22am

    Guidelines

    > the DOJ's own guidelines say that any such record retrieval must be very targeted rather than broad.

    > He and his advisers began exploring ways to reform the Justice Department's internal guidelines

    Oh sure, reform the guidelines that aren't being followed, that will help. Maybe consider adding "follow these guidelines" to the guidelines.

     

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    John Doe, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:35am

    What surprises me...

    What surprises me is that anyone is surprised by anything that goes on in the current administration. They showed their true colors in the first term yet go re-elected. So now they feel they can do whatever they want and are doing so.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:42am

    Who does the DOJ think it is ... News of the World ?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:04am

    It's hard to feel sympathy for a bunch of hypocrites

    I'd feel a lot more sympathy for the media if they gave a damn whenever the rest of us had our privacy and rights violated. I mean look at the hypocrisy.

    -Aaron Swartz gets prosecuted on bogus CFAA claims? Who cares, until he committed suicide, then briefly mention it, but then who cares after a few days?

    -Over a third of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay being held have been cleared of ALL charges for YEARS, and were determined to NEVER have been a threat to the US in the first place, or a terrorist. Yet they're still being held there 3+ years later because their home country doesn't want them/wont' guarantee their security, and US politicians don't want to release a bunch of innocent people accused of terrorism in the US. The mainstream media says "who cares", until several months into a massive hunger strike, then they care briefly for a few days, then they don't care again.

    -Government does lots of warrant-less wiretapping on millions of Americans. Mainstream media thinks it's largely not worth reporting, even when lots of stories about innocent people being watched by the government for simply being or looking like Muslims come out. Mainstream media gets wire tapped and their emails read, and suddenly Mainstream media thinks this is a HUGE problem, just not when it happens to regular Americans, ONLY when it happens to them.

    The Justice Department and prosecutors and law enforcement doing all this stuff aren't great people either. But the Media hardly has a leg to stand on here at claiming to be completely innocent when they let the government get away with violating everyone else's rights.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:46am

      Re: It's hard to feel sympathy for a bunch of hypocrites

      hypocrisy == only when the other guy does it

       

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      tqk (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 7:44am

      Re: It's hard to feel sympathy for a bunch of hypocrites

      Mainstream media gets wire tapped and their emails read, and suddenly Mainstream media thinks this is a HUGE problem, just not when it happens to regular Americans, ONLY when it happens to them.

      Gee, I think I'm seeing a pattern here. For years, you've allowed your politicos and LEOs to run roughshod over your constitutional rights *for security* reasons, and you now think it's horrifying that they're even doing it to your Fourth Estate.

      So when does mainstreet USA grow a backbone and live up to all the highfalutin' talk the USA was founded upon? You guys can crow and kvetch all you want, but until I see *a lot* more of you MEANINGFULLY standing up against this crap, you'll remain little more than noise from the peanut gallery, and we'll all continue being dragged down into hell with you.

      You guys can't even keep Hollywood in line, and that's just money problems. Does your Declaration of Independence still actually mean anything to any of you?

      The USA was once a beacon of freedom to the world. Recently, you've become the exact opposite of that.

       

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    ahow628 (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    How awesome?

    How awesome would it be to have a job where you can just recuse yourself from any difficult task you have and then when they say: "Hey, you didn't do your job. You're fired." You can just reply: "No, I recused myself."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:30am

    Slow to wake up

    I've been pointing out the problems with this administration for years. I've been called a teabagger, fox groupie, etc whenever I tried to engage in a factual conversation about how this administration is subverting laws for it's own ends. Now I'm beginning to see some of the anger I have felt show up in places I consider to still be somewhat liberal.
    And before I get dumped on, yes I scan Drudge regularly and read many of the stories linked but I spend more time in the comments. I would suggest some of you look at those comments and you'll see just how much resentment is building...it's not pretty and is a bit scary at times.

    All that said, I wasn't much different than most people. I graduated as a Liberal but will retire as a Conservative.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:52am

      Re: Slow to wake up

      Yeah, I'm sure Drudge and Fox are the epitome of unbiased journalism.

      Pointing out issues does not necessarily cause ad hom attacks, perhaps it was the way in which you engaged in "factual conversation".

       

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      ottermaton (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 7:11am

      Re: Slow to wake up

      I graduated as a Liberal but will retire as a Conservative.

      I suspect that, as with most people who go down the path you're on, you once felt there should be some equality, fairness, and balance to the world. Now that you've gone out and grabbed yourself a bigger than average piece of the pie (which, I'm sure you'll claim you "earned" with your exceptional hard work and intelligence) you want to keep it for yourself and your cronies.

      Give me a break with that shit. You didn't grow "older and wiser" - you sold out. Period.

      All that said, I do agree that Obama, his administration, et al are gigantic shitbags. But that has nothing to do with them being liberal. In fact, the reason I despise them so is that they're neo-cons disguising themselves as liberals.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re: Slow to wake up

        Sold out! I have a small business (screen printed t-shirts). I am a sole proprietor and only employee. I work 6 days a week usually 10 hours a day and bust my butt to try to get a profit in this down economy.
        Damned straight I earned what I have. And to see how much is given away to undeserving people pisses me off.
        Last time I looked Obama didn't do a damn thing for me. I built this and I'm sure anyone else here that has their own business can appreciate what I'm saying.

         

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          AdamR (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 10:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Slow to wake up

          " And to see how much is given away to undeserving people pisses me off."

          Really who are this undeserving people you are talking about? I have seen a few but compared to the corporate tax breaks, manipulation of their books, overseas tax shelters and hundred of million of dollars spent bribing(err Lobbying)easily dwarfs many times over these few undeserving people you might be talking about. Wake up and stop inhaling all the t-shirt ink buddy. Apple has over 100 billion dollars hidden overseas that just one corporation.

           

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          ottermaton (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 11:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Slow to wake up

          Wow, I'm SO shocked to hear this kind of reaction.
          /sarcasm

          Read back over your post. All I hear is, "Me! Me! Me! Mine! Mine! Mine! Damn freeloaders! Get off my lawn."

          There once was a time you gave a fuck about the other humans around you and not just yourself. That time is clearly past.

          Damn right you sold out.

          Oh, and thank you so much for illustrating my point. ;-)

           

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          DCX2, May 31st, 2013 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Slow to wake up

          The workers at Foxconn work twice as hard as you for 1/10th the pay.

          Tell me again about how much of a hard worker you are and what you deserve.

           

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          DCX2, May 31st, 2013 @ 11:50am

          Re: Re: Re: Slow to wake up

          Oh, and re: "I built this"

          Did you build the roads to your home? Did you build the cars that your customer drives on? Did you weave the material that your shirts are made out of? Did you build your own equipment? Did you design the circuit boards?

          That's what Obama meant when he said "you didn't build that". There's a whole infrastructure in America that your business depends upon, and your business could not exist without this infrastructure, and no, you did not build that infrastructure.

           

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      Gwiz (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 8:29am

      Re: Slow to wake up

      I graduated as a Liberal but will retire as a Conservative.

      Had a political science professor (real interesting guy - a card carrying Communist with his very own FBI Red File) once who described the transition from liberalism to conservatism as a person ages not from the person or ideas changing, but that the political scale is constantly moving from left to right. A liberal idea moves towards an conservative idea over time. What is a liberal idea today will be a conservative idea 20 or 30 years from now.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 9:02am

        Re: Re: Slow to wake up

        Indeed, we've grown soft as a society - so soft we're willing to imprison anyone that we simply don't like so that they can't "hurt" us.

         

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        nasch (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 1:05pm

        Re: Re: Slow to wake up

        the political scale is constantly moving from left to right. A liberal idea moves towards an conservative idea over time. What is a liberal idea today will be a conservative idea 20 or 30 years from now.

        You're saying politics in the US is getting more and more liberal? So the stuff conservatives are saying now is what liberals were saying 30 years ago? That doesn't ring true to me, it feels more like the opposite. Only if you're talking about social tolerance sort of issues could I see the trend towards liberalism.

         

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          Gwiz (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 1:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: Slow to wake up

          You're saying politics in the US is getting more and more liberal? So the stuff conservatives are saying now is what liberals were saying 30 years ago?


          I don't think it's true for every issue, per se. But there is some evidence of this. Take gay marriage for example. 20 years ago that was a extremely left wing liberal idea. Now it's becoming mainstream and eventually it will be a conservative idea to future generations.

          I also think that that lines between liberalism and conservatism has been extremely blurred by our two-party political system these days. Although they tend to label themselves one or the other, I really don't think that either is truly one or the other any more and using them as a yardstick isn't really accurate.

          That political science class I took was almost 30 years ago and I'm still not really sure how true the sliding scale theory really is, but it was something that stuck with me to this day.

           

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            nasch (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 2:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Slow to wake up

            Take gay marriage for example.

            Yeah as I said for such issues, I can definitely see that. Gay marriage, equality of the sexes and races, and so on. Otherwise though I'm not convinced.

             

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      John Fenderson (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 11:30am

      Re: Slow to wake up

      I tried to engage in a factual conversation about how this administration is subverting laws for it's own ends.


      But did you do the same when the prior administration was engaging in evil?

      The problem isn't liberal vs conservative. That's the distraction intended to keep us divided and fighting over irrelevancies.

      No party or ideology has the high ground here.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:49am

    Strung up by his testicles on the yardarm in the Navy Yard would be the most appropriate solution to the problem of Eric Holder.





    Big Brother/Big Sis Disclaimer:

    This is a personal ideation. It is in no way a call to such action, by myself or others......

     

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    New Mexico Mark, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Balance?

    "We understand why this is so controversial, and we're ready to make changes to find the right balance."

    Translation: Illegal actions by the ruling elite are not the issue here. Doing them to the extent that those ruled start to wake up is where we have to be more careful.

     

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    Rob, May 30th, 2013 @ 7:26am

    Congress

    We've got two parties in Congress, neither of whom is really interested in holding presidents of either party responsible in matters of domestic spying and other Constitutional abuses.

    Unless Congress is willing to fulfill its obligations, we have to just rely on presidents and their administrations following the letter and spirit of the law on a pinkie-swear. And they usually follow the law, unless it's easier not to. Just like you and I would do: if there were no chance of getting caught speeding through a school zone, we'd usually slow down almost to the speed limit unless it was really important and we were late to work or something, right?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 7:56am

      Re: Congress

      The Republicans can't impeach this president, because they impeached the last Democratic president. Anything beyond investigations is going to have to come from the Democrats. But the Democrats aren't going to do much beyond voicing general disapproval and then accusing the Republicans of "playing it for political advantage".

       

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    Roman, May 30th, 2013 @ 7:30am

    My favorite part

    My favorite part of this scandal is still that Eric Holder is the one charged with investigation on the charges of illegal activity of Eric Holder. No conflict of interest there, no.

     

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

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    Roman, May 30th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    The real victim here.

    So let's remember here that Eric Holder is the true victim here. Sure he and his department and government may have violated the Constitution, but this man has a bruised ego. For shame, investigators searching for truth and journalists practicing your 1st amendment rights to free speech and a free press. How dare you. Big meanie jerk faces are making Eric Holder cry inside. Monsters. I mean look at the poor guy. Bullies is what you all are. Pure, unadulterated bullies.

     

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

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    Dirkmaster (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    "image of himself as a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves."

    I have one word for this:

    Delusional

     

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

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Where's the outrage for the plebes?

    Spying doesn't matter unless it's done on the press or politicians. Watergate and the Church committee would never have been a big deal if politicians weren't being spied on. And now the outrage is over the press being spied on. But what about the rest of the Americans being spied on?

     

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


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