Tuesday, January 31, 2006

AT&T sued over NSA eavesdropping

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

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Here's my feeling about the whole wiretapping:

As for the EFF - Keep up the good work!

As for the wiretapping, its a new face to the same game. This president holds fear-mongering over all else. If something isn't going well for them, the scare the public back in line.

To quote Vice President Cheney on the wiretaps
"It’s the kind of capability [that], if we’d had before 9/11, might have led us to be able to prevent 9/11." - Nightline, Dec. 18, 2005.

Its convenient that all one needs to remind us why our rights are being trampled is due to a tragic event in our history. You know we could have prevented Pearl Harbor if we had the Atom bomb sooner too.
If someone can please give me a good reason why the FISA court was by-passed, and these warrant less wiretaps are needed *note - I'm asking why they were by-passed, not why they are doing them*

Before you answer that, I just wanted to point a few things about FISA. Founded in 1979, its goal is to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence, and be sure no laws were broken. As for the paper trail, well they are kind of ahead of you here. There are seven federal judges who sit on a secret FISA court. These judges are appointed by the Chief Justice (ie all were appointed by the late Justice William H. Rehnquist). From 1979-2002, the court issued 15,264 surveillance warrants, not a single one rejected. Since then the court as turned down 4, yes 4 cases. On top of that you are allowed 72 hours after the fact to pick up a warrant.

Now that doesn't seem like something too difficult to get through, but that is from the outside. For the stake of argument, lets say there is something wrong with the court. Why not try to fix it instead of go around it (remember we are talking about events that started soon after 9/11). Do you really think that the congress wouldn't bend to that request?

I don't know about you, but when you look at the two facts 1) the avoid getting warrants and 2) they made no effort to correct any issues with the court, if there was any problem with it. When I look at those two elements, I can only draw one conclusion. The NSA is casting out a much wider net then they are currently talking about. If you truly believe that they are actually targeting terrorists only, then I wish I had your optimism. As was described earlier, the more logical notion is that they are data mining calls for key words or statements. That would flag the call for further investigation. And if you think this is a long shot, I have another question for you. What do you think is a harder line to cross, trolling for terrorists via wiretapping, or holding on to the ability to torture individuals. If you are willing to torture, wiretapping in a mere jaywalk in my opinion.

As for any claim the Clinton did the same.. well I just don't remember any federal judges resigning off the FISA court in protest during Clinton's years.

But that's my two cents, and I could always be wrong.

PS- http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Terrorism_militias/fisa_faq.html is a great source of info on FISA

There were some good responces that I wish to share as well:

"As for any claim the Clinton did the same.. well I just don't remember any federal judges resigning off the FISA court in protest during Clinton's years."

You're right that Bush FUBed in this particular case but resist the urge to turn it into a partisan issue-- or else you'll create needless resistance for something that should concern everyone. This is not a left or right thing. This is a freedom issue. There is absolutely no reason for a President to not get warrants. He just needs to make sure everyone knows his intentions were in the right place.

My main concern is not that this issue won't be resolved (it will be). My big concern is that some bomb will go off somewhere( eventually) and dolts everyone will go "see see. We should have had no government controls. Here are some more of my rights Mr. Government".

They irrationally believe that by eliminating their own rights that it equates to eliminating threats. Didn't help the Soviets. It didn't help WW2 Germans. Didn't help Saddam. That's a quick way to turn the whole country into a police state rather quickly.

This is the problem when you engage in war. People become completely paranoid and lose touch with reality. Of course the only solution here is to make sure the 4th is followed (i.e. Warrants first) and to push forward with the "roadmap to peace" which seems to have dropped off the radar. I'm not sure what the issue is here, the problem is not going to disappear by itself.

This is off topic but it's no mystery this whole "war on terror" trip began with that friggin conflict.

Israel needs to be made secure but the Palestinians need a place they can call home too or else they are going drum up bad press against America till the end of time. The answer is for both Israel and the Palestinians to be told publicly they're misbehaving and either agree on some borders by so-and-so date--- or we are going to make them for you.

End of debate. If that doesn't work then the Arabs have run out of excuses and must face the consequences (which could get very ugly if they can't control their own people)

Hopefully it doesn't come to that and everyone can finally get back to fearing their own wacko's.

posted by there on the comments section of this story

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