Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

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Robert
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Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

December 26, 2005

Recent revelations that the National Security Agency has conducted broad surveillance of American citizens' emails and phone calls raise serious questions about the proper role of government in a free society. This is an important and healthy debate, one that too often goes ignored by Congress.

Public concerns about the misnamed Patriot Act are having an impact, as the Senate last week refused to reauthorize the bill for several years. Instead Congress will be back in Washington next month to consider many of the Act's most harmful provisions.

Of course most governments, including our own, cannot resist the temptation to spy on their citizens when it suits government purposes. But America is supposed to be different. We have a mechanism called the Constitution that is supposed to place limits on the power of the federal government. Why does the Constitution have an enumerated powers clause, if the government can do things wildly beyond those powers-- such as establish a domestic spying program? Why have a 4th Amendment, if it does not prohibit government from eavesdropping on phone calls without telling anyone?

We're told that September 11 th changed everything, that new government powers like the Patriot Act are necessary to thwart terrorism. But these are not the most dangerous times in American history, despite the self-flattery of our politicians and media. This is a nation that expelled the British, saw the White House burned to the ground in 1814, fought two world wars, and faced down the Soviet Union. September 11th does not justify ignoring the Constitution by creating broad new federal police powers. The rule of law is worthless if we ignore it whenever crises occur.

The administration assures us that domestic surveillance is done to protect us. But the crucial point is this: Government assurances are not good enough in a free society. The overwhelming burden must always be placed on government to justify any new encroachment on our liberty. Now that the emotions of September 11th have cooled, the American people are less willing to blindly accept terrorism as an excuse for expanding federal surveillance powers. Conservatives who support the Bush administration should remember that powers we give government today will not go away when future administrations take office.

Some Senators last week complained that the Patriot Act is misunderstood. But it's not the American public's fault nobody knows exactly what the Patriot Act does. The Act contains over 500 pages of detailed legalese, the full text of which was neither read nor made available to Congress in a reasonable time before it was voted on- which by itself should have convinced members to vote against it. Many of the surveillance powers authorized in the Act are not clearly defined and have not yet been tested. When they are tested, court challenges are sure to follow. It is precisely because we cannot predict how the Patriot Act will be interpreted and used in future decades that we should question it today.

[url]http://www.house.gov/paul/legis.shtml[/url]

Mike G
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Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

Robert

Thanks for the post, I'd question how it was used today and I'd also question the reasoning of the sheeple out there, who are perfectly fine with the government listening to their conversations.

A new order of moonbats exists today, actually they have always been with us, it is basic human nature to fear other culture and foreign dangers more then your own government. They in one breath yearn for less government intrusion in their lives and in the next breath say the government can do whatever it sees fit to combat the new menace.

Terrorists and "the enemy" are an ever changing target that can be defeated and cannot significantly affect our freedom. Our own government however is the one that has the real power to destroy our freedom.

Someone here, and elsewhere, opined that we have to give government total control over finding terrorists, no matter individual freedom costs, because if we don't, government will steal all of it at the next 9/11. Nice Catch 22.

I have no doubt that at the next 9/11, government will do it's best to steal more of our freedoms. That is what governments do best, let's not let them steal more then they already have over the last 200 years.

mediadog
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Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

The bottom line is: Some people will never understand the lesson of 9/11.

woodcanoe
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Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

Robert, thanks for a great post. I have raised questions about the power of government surveillance w/o warrants on other threads and have been derided greatly for it including being accused of wanting to bring down George Bush and being a member of the "loony left" yesterday. Anyone who knows me would laugh at the latter. I am about as liberterian and consitiutionally minded as anyone on the planet today.

I have no interest in dethroning a sitting president or toppling the US government. I am just a citizen concerned about the "liberty" that all of us are granted by our constitution. I was asked yesterday to come up with a legal definition of "liberty". While there may be one I am not sure what it is. However "liberty" to me is more of an idea than a legal definition. I am sure in my own mind that the founders envisioned a life for Americans free from unwarranted intrusion by big brother. Since they had just thrown off the strong arm of the British government and the king's armies I am certain that was foremost in their minds. In fact they vested in all of us a DUTY to see that it stayed that way. I take that duty as a serious matter. I am NOT willing to surrender liberty in exchange for a promise of security.

Everybody needs a straw man to blame and to encourage the expansion of government. "Terrorists" is just the latest straw man. In my youth it was "communists". It is all one and the same, a limp excuse to expand the reach of big brother then and now!

Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel summed it up well in 1989 when he wrote: "I would rather have my liberty than a filthy bowl of oatmeal and a promise of security from liars."

Well said then and certainly appropriate now.

I am not opposed to George Bush necessarily, on the other hand I am not supported of giving him, or anyone else, the right to overrule the balance of powers between the three branches of government as laid down by the founders.

In my mind there should not be a problem with obtaining judicial review and authorization of warrants in any case. There are special courts that have been set up just to deal with this issue.

No freedom loving American should condone the unauthorized eavesdropping that seems to be taking place.

I am sure we have just seen the tip of the iceberg. I bet we will be shocked at the invasions of privacy that have really taken place when we find out the truth.

I encourage free and open intellectual debate of this question with neither name-calling and accusations of government agents who may have been involved, nor of those who seek to raise what I consider to be serious questions of the practice.

Instead let us debate the question on its merits, or lack thereof.

Michael Vaughan
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Some of our "citizens" are currently trying to blow us up, perhaps with a nuclear weapon.

But that's OK, I guess.

Dan Billings
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[quote="woodcanoe"]Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel summed it up well in 1989 when he wrote: "I would rather have my liberty than a filthy bowl of oatmeal and a promise of security from liars."

Well said then and certainly appropriate now.[/quote]

Look up the meaining of the word "liberty" in the dictionary and then explain to me how the NSA operation impacts anyone's liberty.

charlotte
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With all this surveillance going on..you would think we would have done better in the homeland security assessment.

Bob Stone
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We should be taking the issue of "spying on citizens" in the proper context.

1. I am [b]damned pleased[/b] that the Bush Administration is employing all possible assets, within the law, to ferret out the jihadi.

2. Unless you maintain a top secret security clearance and are involved in the "spying", [b]you really don't know what is going on[/b]. I don't know, and you don't know.

3. We have been told, and I have no reason to doubt George Bush, that the spying is being done:

a. on people within the United States with [b]known connections to Al Qaeda[/b].

b. and on communications [b]to and from people not physically on the soil[/b] of the United States.

4. This intel has a time value.

5. There are likely a number of cells under scrutiny.

6. FISA court is not instantaneous with the warrants.

7. All snooping is documented to the court post facto.

Having some experience (since 1970) with computing, I can surmise that very little in the way of listening in on phone conversations and reading e-mails is being done. Rather, supercomputers are scanning trillions of bytes of information looking for tell tale "strings" of characters, in many languages, to ferret out items of an intel value. I doubt that an e-mail to a male lover down the street would pop up as an item of interest.

I do know that there are miscreants in this world who are living to kill as many Americans as possible. I say do what you have to within the law to ferret these jerks out.

Robert
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[quote="Michael Vaughan"]Some of our "citizens" are currently trying to blow us up, perhaps with a nuclear weapon.

But that's OK, I guess.[/quote]

Then why are borders still wire open.

Robert
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[quote="Dan Billings"]
Look up the meaining of the word "liberty" in the dictionary and then explain to me how the NSA operation impacts anyone's liberty.[/quote]

Dan these government agencies act covertly. Thus I feel you know that your question cannot be answered. ;) Yet!

Dan Billings
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Robert: woodcanoe claims to already know. I would like him to fill us in.

Michael Vaughan
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[quote="Robert"]Then why are borders still wire open.[/quote]I understand they wired them shut.

BnB
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Bob
I agree. There are not a bunch of people with ear pieces listening to calls. In todays age it is all software and logs. They don't give a rats behind about me or anyone else that doesn't flag the software. I would also think if I do flag at that point a human would then read it to make the call on it's follow up.

Bob

Robert
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[quote="Michael Vaughan"][quote="Robert"]Then why are borders still wire open.[/quote]I understand they wired them shut.[/quote]

Sorry, wide open. I was doing too many things at once. While we are fighting out the front door, the back door is wide open, thus the need for the patriot act, kill two birds with one stone.

Robert
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Domestic Surveillance and the Patriot Act

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission gave broadband Internet service and voice-over-Internet Protocol services, or VoIP, 18 months to ensure that their networks are wiretap-ready. This followed the FCC's formal release of the order in September.

Privacy advocates say law enforcement agencies already can wiretap Internet services. They criticize the FCC for overstepping its bounds by requiring businesses to devise systems to the specifications of the federal government.

"This is like saying, `Everybody has to keep their doors unlocked because the FBI might need to get in,"' said Mark Rasch, a former attorney who handled computer crime cases for the Justice Department and is now senior vice president and chief security counsel of Solutionary Inc., an Omaha, Neb., computer security consulting company. "The harm of everybody keeping their doors unlocked all the time is much greater than the benefit."

[url=http://thedaily.washington.edu/news.lasso?-database=DailyWebSQL&-table=A...

Michael Vaughan
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Sorry Robert, couldn't resist.

I agree that has to happen and once again I think more is being done than we are aware of.

Trucks are being monitored for radiation emissions, just like mosques. Border security is being beefed up, unmanned spy planes are, or will be patrolling the borders, and many of the existing policies are being scrutinized for change.

I would just as soon the border with Mexico were closed, or at least the remote portions of it, and the legitimate crossings seriously bottled up.

Robert
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Woodcanoe, it just shocks me, the number of people today, who say, if the government is doing it, it must be for a reason, and that's OK with me.

Like Bob Stone would say, people get the government they deserve, eh Bob.

Dan Billings
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Robert: How are you going to be harmed if someone in Washington listens in to all your phone calls and reads all your e-mails?

If liberty is your concern, your liberty is going to be impacted more by making it harder for people and goods to cross the border.

Robert
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Dan, PM me your IP# so I can check out your hard drive and browse a couple of your e mail accounts. You have no problem with that, do you?

Mark T. Cenci
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[quote="Dan Billings"]Robert: How are you going to be harmed if someone in Washington listens in to all your phone calls and reads all your e-mails?

If liberty is your concern, your liberty is going to be impacted more by making it harder for people and goods to cross the border.[/quote]

Dan, you know full well that political operatives use personal information against people. And you know that the best intentioned gov't program gets perverted to the whims of these operatives.

How will conservatives be treated in the future when the Dems control these systems?

We all know the Clinton White House used the IRS to intimidate conservatives and conservative causes and think tanks. And it looks like they will get away with it.

Sometimes I can't believe you are a grown up.

And just so you know, I posted Cato's response to the Patriot Act after you groused that no one was offering substantive criticism and I don't think you ever noticed.

Bob Stone
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Robert...

I think Americans deserve the protection of the federal government. I am very pleased that the feds are putting much effort into protecting my family. If that means running algorithims looking for Muhammed's e-mails to Uncle Akbar over in London about sending some cash over, that's fine with me.

I am amazed at how people automatically assume that people who have access to information regularly misuse it. In a former job, I had access to over a million consumer's financial information. Some people think that we sat there all day, looking at bank balances and comparing same with our co-workers. You get immune to the information.

One of the worst violations of privacy I saw was a check sorter operator who clipped the endorsement end of the Boston Red Sox payroll checks so he could have the autographs of the the entire Red Sox team (early 1970's vintage). He thought the Sox front office would never notice. LOL

Mark T. Cenci
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[quote="Bob Stone"]Robert...

I think Americans deserve the protection of the federal government. I am very pleased that the feds are putting much effort into protecting my family. If that means running algorithims looking for Muhammed's e-mails to Uncle Akbar over in London about sending some cash over, that's fine with me.

I am amazed at how people automatically assume that people who have access to information regularly misuse it. In a former job, I had access to over a million consumer's financial information. Some people think that we sat there all day, looking at bank balances and comparing same with our co-workers. You get immune to the information.

One of the worst violations of privacy I saw was a check sorter operator who clipped the endorsement end of the Boston Red Sox payroll checks so he could have the autographs of the the entire Red Sox team (early 1970's vintage). He thought the Sox front office would never notice. LOL[/quote]

Oh, I guess I'm wrong about how the Clinton's used IRS info.

And no one ever used information about Muskie's wife against him either.

Bob Stone
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Mark...

That's why the Clinton White Houses FBI file scandal was much worse than this supposed "spying on Americans".

Robert...

I don't believe that Dan has known ties to AQ.

Bob Stone
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So, she liked a few pops and told a few jokes.

Mark T. Cenci
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Bob: I agree it was worse, because it was a perversion of the function of the agency.

I do not believe the Bush administration is using this info wrongly. I do believe it will be used wrongly some day. Sooner than later.

Robert
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[quote="Bob Stone"]Robert...

I think Americans deserve the protection of the federal government. [/quote]

The federal government is the one putting me in harms way by trying to Americanize the world. I am more than capable of protecting myself and my family. Is there a box I can check off somewhere declining their protection. ;)

Bob Stone
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If it is, whomever is doing it, hang em high.

Dan Billings
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[quote="Mark T. Cenci"]Dan, you know full well that political operatives use personal information against people. And you know that the best intentioned gov't program gets perverted to the whims of these operatives.[/quote]

They can only use something against you if there is something there.

[quote="Mark T. Cenci"]And just so you know, I posted Cato's response to the Patriot Act after you groused that no one was offering substantive criticism and I don't think you ever noticed.[/quote]

I asked for what rights were being taken away, not for substantive criticism. I read the Cato piece and did not find it responsive to my question. Many of Cato's suggestions were addressed by the redraft of the Patriot Act that was rejected last week.

Mark T. Cenci
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[quote="Bob Stone"]What's up with Muskie's wife?[/quote]

Was it Muskie? Now I'm thinking that I'm confusing events.

Who was it whose wife's mental illness was made public, and when asked about it broke down into tears and was summarily dismissed as presidential timber?

Sorry.

Bob Stone
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I think Americans should be more concerned about what the Red Chinese are doing with computing these days. That's all I'll say.

Dan Billings
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[quote="Robert"]Dan, PM me your IP# so I can check out your hard drive and browse a couple of your e mail accounts. You have no problem with that, do you?[/quote]

Did you work for the NSA?

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