Much Ado About Surveillance …

By Denise Best | Related entries in Blogging, In The News

I’m sure I’ll raise some ire by offering this humble opinion, but in response to the revelation that President Bush authorized secret surveillance after the 9/11 attacks

I’M THANKFUL!

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

At the time, our country was most definitely under attack and for all effective purposes at war.

In that type of instance, we should expect extraordinary efforts may have to be used to address our national security and safety.

The eavesdropping program grew out of concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks that the nation’s intelligence agencies were not poised to deal effectively with the new threat of Al Qaeda and that they were handcuffed by legal and bureaucratic restrictions better suited to peacetime than war, according to officials. In response, President Bush significantly eased limits on American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the military.

Rapidly changing times, and threats, demand quick and decisive responses – anything less would have been deemed negligent by the administration.

As this post-mortum of the decision and actions relating to the 9/11 responses continues, it’s useful to note the uncertainty of the time and circumstances.

What’s more important to consider now, is how policy should be defined for the future.

In regards to determining how civil rights considerations should be factored into the equation, how much latitude do you feel should be allotted the President and respective government agencies?


This entry was posted on Friday, December 16th, 2005 and is filed under Blogging, In The News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

40 Responses to “Much Ado About Surveillance …”

  1. ford4x4 Says:

    Ultimately, isn’t this just an extension of wiretapping, in order to keep up with technology? There’s nothing exciting for them to see in my email, and I don’t think I give them any reason to watch, anyway.
    Who knows what it may have prevented so far, and now that it’s public knowledge, the terrorists will have that much more trouble communicating.

  2. Larry Jines Says:

    We forget our laws – the laws that “protect” our freedoms from surveillance are for good – and bad – times. It keeps being said, these are “extraordinary times”. I agree, but, the law should not distinguish between good times and bad. Law enforcement, intelligence agencies must learn to work within the framework of the law. If the law is to be changed – then change it through the proper channels. Given the reported incompetence of the FBI and Intelligence agencies, I would rather the focus be on repairing their deficiencies and disorganization before giving up my protections.

    Freedom against survenillenace is fundamental – attack or no attack.

  3. Sean Hackbarth Says:

    Let’s note in the Times story the Justice Department audited the program. This is not just a case of an administration drunk with power. They are concerned about balancing security with civil liberties.

  4. Jim Muehe Says:

    I disagree. We have laws and checks and balances on those laws – It does not matter if you are the President, the Pope, or the poorest man in the word. We (the people) created these laws to protect our society. Some of these law were specifly written to ensure that the people we give (yes give) power to do not abuse that power.

    I am happy that the Times published this story and brought it to the attention of the Nation. I am disturbed that they sat on the story for so long. I feel that we need t know more about why they shelved it for so long and who (if anyone) applied pressure on them not to publish. The journalist and news organization are one of the key factors that keep our country free. Free speech should not be suppressed.

    In regards to other post I have read. I have nothing to hide in my emails or phone calls either – but that does not mean I want someone listen in on them either.

    Muehe

  5. Ronald Clabaugh Says:

    The Consititution does not impower the President to chose which laws enacted by Congress should be followed by his administration and which laws he may disregard. We are a nation of laws. If the President is free to choose which laws he willl follow and which he can ignore or rewrite at his whim, then what is the difference in our “democracy” and a dictatorship.

  6. Skeptical Says:

    I think the war metaphor is growing tiresome, and generally has produced artless policies.

    Take it seriously yes. Over-react no. Breast cancer and heart disease are still and will continue to be the leading killers in this country. Our focus should be on them.

    Everything we know about the truly diabolical cells, the ones who would do as much damage as the could, suggest that they take a great deal of time and undergo a great deal of planning. Certainly there is time to get a warrant, and there has been plenty of time to write thoughtful laws about how best to pursue them. There is no “rapidly developing threats” that demand “quick and decisive” responses.

    That is dramatic baggage from the war metaphor.

    In the meantime, the negative historical fallout from domestic spying does not usually take the form of abusing individual citizens, it usually takes the form of high-ranking government insiders spying on each other, and holding each other political hostage to information blackmail. This is what happened during the excessive abuses during Hoover and again under the Nixon administration.

  7. Tony V Says:

    I completely agree with Mr. Muehe. This administration has shown time and again how they twist reality to fit their purposes. I can easily see a situation where this Administration tells the NY Times not to publish this report because it could “jeopardize national security” but what they really meant was that it could jeopardize their chances of remaining in the White House. We’ve already seen how they manipulated Judy Miller. It scares me when the press succombs to political pressure and freedom of speech, one of the freedoms our soldiers are dying for in Iraq, becomes freedom of speech light.

  8. W. Wright Says:

    I am happy that President Bush took quick, decisive action as well. While I have some apprehension that we are chipping away at our constitutional rights, I have to wonder why Democrats seem so concerned about some rights, and totally unconcerned about others?

    I’d like to point out that the NYT article states plainly that this was reviewed with Congressional leaders FROM BOTH PARTIES. Congressional oversight was still in force. DEMOCRATIC leaders effectively approved the actions that were taken.

    This means that if you object to the actions that were taken on the grounds that they were unconstitutional, then you are damning BOTH major political parties….wait, wait – what is that thundering sound? Could it be the liberal members of this blog stampeding to leave the Democratic Party because the Party leaders approved and conspired with Republican leaders to take away their rights as American citizens?

    (insert night cricket sounds here)

    Well, no. Most liberals (and I stress MOST) are like most conservatives – they follow their Party talking points with unnerving and unswerving loyalty. Using logic to point out hypocrisy is like using a diaper-wipe to try and hold back the New Orleans flood.

  9. Mr. Madden Says:

    President Bush’s does not have the authority to tell the NSA to spy on it’s own citizens without judicial oversight.

    The Bush regime has used the specter of 9-11 to scare us into all kinds of things that would be laughable before the twin towers fell.

    It’s about time that people wake up and see that we are slowly but surely turning into a police state.

    This jackass has mismanaged our country every step of the way. Instead of promoting alternative energy/nuclear plants, he sold out to his buddies in the oil industry, putting the US even more at risk of an oil shock. He’s pandered to religious fanatics instead of backing biotechnology and keeping us on the cutting edge of emerging fields. He’s left “No child left behind” unfunded and allowed the gap between rich and poor grow and grow.

    They lied to us about WMD and fooled us into a war who’s sole purpose was to imperialize the middle east for its oil resources.

    This administration has done nothing but harm our country, and now they authorize the NSA to spy on us? Condi, Wolfy, Bush and Cheney should be tried for treason, how’s that?

  10. David in NYC Says:

    I notice your banner says “Big Teeth. Huge Ass”. I am not sure how that is a selling point, but apparently you forgot to include “Small brain. No ethics.”

    Some thoughts:

    * How and by whom were we “under attack” months after 9/11 (or now, for that matter)?

    * What were these “rapidly changing times and events” that made it okay in your mind to violate the law and the Constitution?

    * How does illegal spying on American citizens qualify as “quick and decisive responses”? Just how many terrorists have we conviceted so far based on this information? (Zero, in case you forgot.)

    * How and why is it “negligent” of the administration to obey the law?

    * How and why does the fact that the government has been, and perhaps still is, illegally spying on American citizens make you “thankful”? If you find out that you are one of those citizens being spied upon, will you still be thankful?

    I having been living in Manhattan, less than 2 miles from Ground Zero, for over 25 years. I do not feel any safer now than I did on 9/11; in fact, because of this administration, I feel MUCH LESS safe.

    I find it instructive that voters in Manhattan gave Bush about 10% of their vote in 2004 (and in case your answer is “the voters in Manhattan hate all Republicans”, remember we have elected a Republican mayor in the last FOUR elections). Don’t you think we know, first-hand, what is going on with the so-called War on Terror (or whatever name it goes by now)? In reality, this is a war on the Constitution, democracy, free thought, and anything else that Rove/Cheney/Rumsfeld think is in the way of their permanent government.

  11. Lou Rush Says:

    Denise is thankful that the democarcy and country of laws that used to exist is now a thing of the past because it is simply too inconvenient for the administration to offer a judge or other arbiter some kind of reason for investigating the private communications of our citizens. Personally, I am willing to assume some of the additional risk to my saftey that may come with forcing the government to demonstrate a legitimate need to spy on americans. That “we were under attack” is little more than a general statement which, for Denise, siffices to justify government intrusions into the private lives of our citizens without the slightest oversight or control. It’s astonishing that it takes but one attack for some of our very own citizens to sanction the suspension of our most basic constitutional rights. At the very least, Denise should be asking just who was investigated and why? Or does that even matter to her?

  12. Chris Russo Says:

    I find it ironic that Republicans, who were in the forefront (and rightfully so) in the battle against the Soviet Bloc and its lack of freedoms, are the ones adding the ‘SR’ to the ‘US.’

    If I told you of a country that:

    A. Held detainees indefinitely without trial, habeas corpus, or other due process;

    B. Spied on its own people in secret, without oversight;

    C. Maintained secret prisons run by its main intelligence agency;

    D. And kidnapped people, sending them to countries where they could be tortured;

    Which country do you think I would be talking about? China? North Korea? The old USSR?

    Nope.

    George Bush’s Amerika?

    Yep.

  13. erg Says:

    The constitution cannot be clearer on this. The President cannot violate the 4th Amendment, and authorize domestic wiretapping without court orders

  14. stevem Says:

    Re. “In that type of instance, we should expect extraordinary efforts may have to be used to address our national security and safety.”

    I suppose you mean… like the U.S. government interning U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during WWII? “Extraordinary efforts” should not include violating the basic rights of Americans as granted by the constitution.

  15. Michael Says:

    You say “At the time, our country was most definitely under attack and for all effective purposes at war.” Not true. Who else was attacking us. What proof is there that there was any other attack planned against the US? None. We were attacked, we were not under attack

  16. Tom Says:

    This issue is not whether extraordinary measures needed to be taken, or whether certain types of surveillance were appropriate – the issues are simply this: Shall these things be done by the executive branch without a warrent, and thus at least some oversight – a check, from a different branch of government? And should the POTUS have the ability to decide, by himself, secretly, that this can be done?

    I have not heard any Bush apologist offer a persuasive argument in favor of either – mostly the issues are ignored in favor of the “we are at war – trust the leader” perspective, which strikes me as pretty shameful coming from citizens of the USA.

  17. rob Says:

    When did the GOP become such pussies?

    “I so scared of the terrorists!! Please protect me daddy! You can do anything you want, I don’t even want to know what you do, just protect me!”

    Sickening, wanting to live like children.

  18. Denise Best Says:

    David,

    An important element in this discussion is the ability to look back at that moment in time and, if we’re going to evaluate appropriateness of action by the administration, to judge in the context of what the government is expected to do … preserve and protect.

    This (9/11) was undeniably an attack on American soil and there was a fear and uncertainty that had to be addressed by gaining more intel as quickly as possible. The target was one that had been attempted by terrorists in the past, but this time the means were unprecedented – commercial aircraft with innocent victims being used to attack a symbol of U.S. might.

    With the Oklahoma City bombing in the not so distant past, it was difficult to know with certainty whether this was an attack from within this country’s own citizenry or the actions of outside terrorist camps. To not have sought an extra degree of surveillance to avoid placing more people at risk would have been inexcusable.

    Here are what may be be more relevant questions for today …
    - How highly do you place the personal safety of yourself and family relative to what the government needs in the way of intel to insure greater national security?

    -Is there a level of acceptable surveillance that can be administered without unfairly infringing upon personal rights?

  19. Denise Best Says:

    Michael,

    You say “At the time, our country was most definitely under attack and for all effective purposes at war.� Not true. Who else was attacking us. What proof is there that there was any other attack planned against the US? None. We were attacked, we were not under attack

    It’s too bad we can’t utilize some sort of time machine that would allow passage back to a moment in time and capture the context of an event before leveling criticism.

    The proof you are looking for of subsequent attacks was the unknown that the administration needed to be able to determine and avoid as best they could.

    What were you and most every American expecting our country’s leadership to provide?

    Answers and protection against subsequent attacks … that is what actions such as the surveillance activities that was employed were aimed at providing.

    We were attacked, and there was no telling at that time without more intel, that there weren’t going to be more attacks executed.

  20. tommy Says:

    What proof is there that there was any other attack planned against the US?

    Are we really supposed to believe that was the last attack? Why not any of the previous ones? They had continued to attack after each attack, and I have never seen anything to suggest they had met their objective and were now done.

    Of course I could have missed it.

  21. Tom Says:

    Once agian, Denise and her supporters avoid the issue. Make the case for us that by asking for a warrent, ANY necessary surveillence would have been blocked. The warrents would be issued by a special national security court with all the necessary clearances and authority to decide the matter expeditiously. And the burden on the intel agency would not be very high. Is there ANY record of important investigations being undermined because a warrent could not be obtained?

    Clearly the warrents would only be denied in cases that they should be denied – gross overreaching, or entirely specious “probable cause”.
    To maintain an argument that national security imperatives justify this action, you would need to argue that obtaining a warrent would undermine national security. I have heard no such argument.

  22. Mr. Madden Says:

    Let’s say that obtaining a warrant does undermine national security.

    I’m perfectly willing to accept that fact. Moreover, I’d be perfectly willing to accept the idea that our Government shouldn’t be able to use wiretaps, monitor our e-mails, or build databases full of our personal information at all.

    I don’t trust our Government with this kind of power, and there’s a history just full of reasons why you shouldn’t either.

    Twenty or thirty years from now, assuming our Government then remotely resembles the one we pretend to have now, this period of time where it was ok to torture, and kidnap foreigners, and use all the wonders of the information age to blatantly deceive and spy on our citizens will make the era of U.S. McCarthyism look like a love in.

    As for fools like Denise Best above are either shills for the fascists, or completely brainwashed. The Government isn’t “protecting” us from terrorists, they are slowly but surely turning our country into a police state.

    I would have to say that our Government is enacting terrorism on this great country by destroying the values that form its foundation.

  23. Striving For Average » Blog Archive » The Domestic Spying Mess Says:

    [...] From an article in the NYT (go check out bugmenot so you don’t have to register).  You can see the kerfluffle here, and here.  I’ve touched on this before, but these issues go to the very heart of what is different between veterans of the volunteer military and the rest of the population.  You see, I joined an organization that gave the U.S. government the right to monitor my phone calls, check my email, search my car and my house at will.  The required warrant was that I was in uniform.  I spent 10 years living like that, and not once did I notice or sense any sort of problems with it.  [...]

  24. Eric Blair Says:

    You might be interested in a report I did a few years ago
    regarding the NSA spying on us domestically.

    Especially those of you unconcerned about NSA spying.
    Were you concerned about Texas Republicans using Homeland
    Security to try and find a plane full of Democrats?

    My report includes a treatment of how they perform Internet email
    monitoring, by way of my describing how I monitored the
    emails of more than 7000 employees on Wall Street.

    Cryptography_Manifesto

    Somehow I’ve also managed to include a description of how
    life begins from lifeless atoms.

    Can you say, ‘bloviate’? Well, it was my first polemic.

    —-

    Whitfield Diffie, Distinguished Engineer—Security at Sun Microsystems:

    “An essential element of freedom is the right to privacy, a right that
    cannot be expected to stand against an unremitting technological attack.”

  25. Rizalist Says:

    I agree with the sentiment you express that leaders must do what is necessary to “preserve and protect.” But one thoughtful commentary I read on another weblog said that only ONCE in its 20 year history has the special Court in Washington DC that processes the mandated Court Orders, rejected a request from the govt. And that one request was granted soon after on immediate appeal. It’s also Glenn Reynolds point today: it was not necessary to avoid the Courts to get lawful permission to do what was necessary for national security. Thanks my first time here, just saw the link on MEMEORANDUM. Btw, we’ve been going through our own wiretapping crisis for six months, but here WIRETAPPING is just ELECTION by other MEANS.

  26. thutmosis Says:

    W Wright // Denise

    The president said it best:

    “If this were a dictatorship we’d have it a lot easier. Just so long as I’m the dictator.”
    George W Bush 11/12/2004 FreePress Intl

    He was not joking. HE MEANS IT!!!

    Freedom, protection, fighting terror ad nauseam do not mean anything to this president, those are talking points for shills and for consumption by uninformed, easily brain-washed americans whom this Republican Administration takes this country for.

    This Republicans administration is working slowly and steadily to maintain a permanent Republican majority in the country and for changing America into a Totalitarian Dictatorship.

    BIG BROTHER WELCOME HOME!!

    Americans that uphold our laws should be really AFRAID of this ongoing assault on our liberties. It is the responsibility of Americans to become informed about the lies and abuse that this Republican Administration is forcing, by stealth and deceit, into our lives. Sadly there are very few true Republican and Democratic politicians willing to risk their careers for the COMMON GOOD of our country.

    Only through our vote can we stop this threat while there is still time.

  27. DosPeros Says:

    Anyone with the slightest inkling of respect for civil liberties should be aghast. Bush, obviously, is trying to find the lowest ebb of his constitutional authority and take two-steps over it. Arrogance doesn’t quite hit the mark here — more like some divine evangelical transcendence — G.W. born of the Sun god, Vicar of Security and all that is Good and Right — Jesus’ Best Buddy – High Counsel to Santa Clause on the Naughty and Nice Committee. All of this unmitigated drivel spouted by cowards trying to justify this would be amusing if it wasn’t so fucking sad; a true commentary on the pulse of political degenerates backing their pony regardless of the consequences. I understand that the point on Donklephant is be a good little centrist – but someone explain the center of tyranny, please.

  28. Peter Says:

    How can you be “thankful” that the President does not support the Bill of Rights? Our personal liberties are long gone with this President in the White House. I am a Republican, but have been increasingly disappointed with the President since the Republican involvement with the Terri Shiavo case.

    I can’t support the Democrats, either – so consider me a disenfranchised politico. All other politicos can join me at http://americanmoderateparty.blogspot.com

  29. john Says:

    Denise,

    You act as if this were a single incident immediately following the 9/11 attack. All evidence seems to point to the fact that this effort continued for YEARS after 9/11 even after the inception of the patriot act. If the President did nothing wrong then why not let a senate panel review this incident, a full review minus the typical stall and delay tactics of this administration. And when testifying before this commitee every member voluntarily testify under oath, even GW and Cheney. No nice little chats like the 9/11 commision. Do you really see that happening? Absolutely not, they will play the same game they have played with every other issue this administration has encountered.

    Yours and others defense of this type of infringement on our civil liberties is “IF you’re not doing anything wrong, THEN you have nothing to fear.” It’s time we put this same burden of proof on this Administration. If he has nothing to hide, then he has no problems with oversight. Right?

  30. john Says:

    Now in general about this incident. The president did flagrantly break the law. The congress passed this act to prevent presidents from doing just what he did. They set up a court that could be utilized at a moments notice, and if that was not quick enough, a court order could be issued after the surveillance was committed. On top of that, the court very rarely refused surveillance. Why did Bush feel that he needed to break the Law. If the Administration needed more power they should have gone to congress and asked for it. The congress has never Declared War on Terror. Therefore, there is not War on Terror. So minus the fact that the President was not actually acting at a time of War against Terror, he had even less right to do as he did, which was already against the law. If the president broke the law should he not be impeached? Regardless of whether he thought he was acting in the best interest of the people. Hell Clinton lied about a blowjob and y’all put up a huge fuss that he must be impeached.

  31. ford4x4 Says:

    Wow…. so many constitutional scholars. I’m surprised you’re not all judges.

    This is just another one of MANY classified govt programs that are needed to protect the people. Since WWII, and probably before, there have been a lot of this type of activity going on. Don’t just blame W. Most of the time, not only do you not hear of the program, you don’t here of the crimes that were stopped by them.

    I don’t trust the govt blindly, in fact, I trust them ALL less than I would trust a used car saleman. However, I do understand the need for them to run programs like this once in a while. Again, they are only “watching” those people that pose a threat. When they start watching my next door neighbor because he’s a member of the NRA, then I’ll start complaining.

    I’m more concerned about who leaked the program. I learned when I got my security clearence in the military, if I talked about anything I learned, even after I got out, I was going to jail. I guess we’ve relaxed those laws a little bit.

  32. john Says:

    Ford,

    The question isn’t do they need to have the power to wiretap and listen in on terrorists. There is no doubt that the administration has that right. The question is why he felt the need to circumvent the established system in order to do it. We have a system in place to allow for such needs.

    The thing is that we the people, nor our elected officials in congress know who they were spying on. That is precisely why there is an oversight of impartial judges to decide on these cases. And there has been cases where the Patriot Act has been misused, namely to spy on Quackers who are against the war. Quackers Ford, Quackers! Given that, could you not see how the administration might misuse the NSA as well, and why the established oversight should be used?

  33. ford4x4 Says:

    Is it not possible that someone other than Quakers may be attending these anti-war meetings being held by the Quakers? They may be someone that is on a list somewhere, and because they go to a Quaker meeting, the NSA or DIA watches. Everyone jumps to the conclusion that the government is watching Quakers.

    Yes, the govt can (and does) misuse every department they run. Many of these misuses should be considered illegal. I duobt there will ever be any indictments over this particular issue, because I’m sure there is a loophole somewhere that allows for this very thing.

    Many times, our govt is more like a Tom Clancy novel than we’d like to think. The small, covert parts are just a lot more efficient than the big, bureaucratic parts.

  34. W. Wright Says:

    I’m not certain why Denise and I were singled out by thutmosis in his post. For myself, I was merely pointing out that Congress KNEW about this, reviewed the policy, supported it and authorized it.

    Why should I be any more careful with my vote now than I was before? BOTH MAJOR PARTIES participated in this debacle – voting for a Democrat as opposed to a Republican wouldn’t fix the problem.

    I don’t know if what President Bush did was illegal. The difference between myself and most of the bulging brains I’ve read in this thread is that I don’t pretend to know, I admit my ignorance. I’m not a constitutional scholar nor am I a lawyer expert in Federal law. I’m waiting – and suspending any hypocritical hysteria – until the facts are in.

    Spare me your biased, partisan ranting. YOU. DON’T. KNOW. THE. FACTS. And I know you don’t. More importantly, you don’t know if the actions that President Bush took were outside the law or his span of powers or not. Now, if you want to try to convince me that he did act unlawfully or beyond his powers, then try to convince me with fact, not assumption.

    This means that statements like “What about the 4th amendment?” aren’t going to cut it. Saying that President Bush can’t violate the 4th presupposes so much that it is a meaningless statement – something like, “Man can’t violate the law of gravity.” Yet man can fly. It’s true that man has to use airplanes or other aids and that they follow certain physical laws in order to get off the ground, but MAN CAN FLY. A bald statement that man can’t violate the law of gravity is therefore meaningless by itself.

    If the President can’t violate the 4th amendment, then NO ONE in Federal Government can violate the 1st or the 2nd amendment – yet we have that appalling Campaign Finance law that was proposed by McCain limiting free speech 60 days prior to an election; and the right to own firearms is constantly being infringed.

  35. Denise Best Says:

    Let’s see where to start …

    Tom,

    To maintain an argument that national security imperatives justify this action, you would need to argue that obtaining a warrent would undermine national security. I have heard no such argument.

    With the reality of leaks (which we’ve certainly seen some prime examples as of late), an argument could certainly be made for the need for greater secrecy given the circumstances.

    Mr. Madden and others protesting the violation of their personal information …

    Do you realize that there’s more surveillance being conducted in the name of marketing, of which you are unwitting targets, than what has been conducted by this administration against the American public?

    So, if you’re going to unleash a verbal barrage on the subject of personal information transgressions, don’t forget the Big Brother of Marketing!

  36. Mr. Madden Says:

    I’m well aware of the immense databases companies like Choicepoint are constantly refreshing with our personal information. They have staff who scour local courthouses, and have agreements with state governments to retrieve your DMV data. They receive reems of data brokered from other companies as well.

    I’m also aware of the computer programs that, when allowed to access these databases, can recognize patterns in the way you have entered information; for instance, if you use the false e-mail address “[email protected]” with your real address once, and “[email protected]” with your real telephone number a different time, these programs easily link your address to your phone number using the false e-mail address as a key (and helping to build your profile).

    If I know that false e-mail address that you have used more than once, and have access to one of these databases with the right software, I can very quickly determine the color of your car, or your neighbor’s social security number.

    Right now, these massive databases are being used primarily for marketing purposes, but the government is tapping in as well.

    As software programs become more and more sophisticated, there will eventually be a mapping of everywhere you’ve ever lived and worked. There will be the possibility of mappings between you and other people through telephone calls, and who knows what else. As computer storage and bandwidth costs drop, and voice and speech recognition software become more sophisticated, well, I think you are seeing where I’m headed here.

    Now, do I want any government having access to these kinds of tools? Do I trust that they won’t use these tools to secure their political power? Do I trust them to know where to draw the line?

    Of course not, don’t be a freaking idiot! It is unprecedented that any government could wield this kind of power over it’s populace. The thought that we should roll over and play dead because of the bogeyman has taken the form fo the “war on terror” when the “terror” itself is only a backlash to our imperialist and unjust foreign policy, well, let’s just say it may be time to move to Canada before the borders are closed.

  37. john Says:

    Ford,

    What were going to find in this case is that it will come down to the Administrations interpretation verses the congress’ interpretation. And being that the congress granted the president these powers (in the Administration’s opinion), should it not be congress’ interpretation that matters? And again if the president wanted these powers he needed to ask the congress for them, not ask around in congress about them. the WOT is not a justification for this Administration to do as it pleases, and it is about time that this Administration and its apologists start acting like they are subject to laws and oversight of congress. And stop using the WOT as a reason to scoff oversights set up in the constitution.

  38. W. Wright Says:

    JOHN, YOU ARE WRONG.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007703

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-yoo20dec20,0,4832707.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

    I said in a previous post that I didn’t know if the President had committed a crime (although most of the bulging brains I’ve read in this thread have made that assumption).

    Now it turns out that not only does the President have the authority to take the action he did, but he went out of his way to involve Congress when he didn’t have to – an involvement that turned out to be a threat to national security, since that leak had to come from somewhere.

    Who in Congress is guilty of being a traitor? Who leaked national security information to the NYT? A true and unbiased review of the facts do not allow for any other interpretation: One of our Congressional representatives is guilty of treason.

  39. Denise Best Says:

    John,

    You might want to take a gander at …
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/19/AR2005121901027.html

    A key reason the Articles of Confederation were dumped in favor of the Constitution in 1787 was because the new Constitution � our Constitution � created a unitary chief executive. That chief executive could, in times of war or emergency, act with the decisiveness, dispatch and, yes, secrecy, needed to protect the country and its citizens.

  40. Mr. Madden Says:

    Regarding your dubious implication that the Constitution was created to allow the chief executive to spy on his constituency without oversight, here is an excerpt from your Washington Post / corporate media reference above:

    “A U.S. president has just received word that American counterterrorist operatives have captured a senior al Qaeda operative in Pakistan. Among his possessions are a couple of cell phones — phones that contain several American phone numbers. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, what’s a president to do?”

    Oh, gee, I am not sure. How about investigate the numbers and make sure to obtain a warrant from your super-secret FISA court of dubious legality within 3 days?

    If protecting me involves allowing computer applications like echelon apply voice and text recognition algorythms to my e-mails and phone calls without any oversight, I think I’ll pass on the “protection”.

    Bush could be spying on the press, his political opponents, Congress, or the Supreme Court and we really wouldn’t know about it. You can debate as to whether would or would not do such a thing, but when you allow someone this kind of power without any kind of oversight, what is to prevent it from occurring?

    Please, explain this to me. What is to prevent this from occurring? I’ll take my answer off the air.

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