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WAR: Nonpartisan arm of Congress says wiretaps may be illegal

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posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 12:26 AM
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A nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report finds that President Bush may have lacked the legal authority to conduct surveillance on international calls through the National Security Agency. The report cited difficulty in making a definitive conclusion without the necessary access to information currently protected by the government as "classified" information.
 



rawstory.com
A 44-page nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report on whether President Bush had the legal authority to impose surveillance on international calls without consulting Congress found that Bush's claim of executive power was not "well grounded" in law, RAW STORY has learned.

The report, issued Thursday, offers the strongest indication to date that secretive National Security Agency spying conducted in the wake of Sept. 11 was illegal. It was prepared by legislative attorneys at the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

It noted that Congress has had an active role in regulating surveillance, and was unlikely to inherently defer to the executive branch.

Read the actual report.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


And therein lies much of the problem with this and other issues advanced by the Bush administration. All meaningful review and accountability of their exercise of power has been eliminated.

How are we to be certain there is no abuse of power here? Under the administration's rationale, how are we to ensure there will be no abuses in the future?

I have often heard we should have nothing to fear from government surveillance if one has nothing to hide. Why, then, does not the same logic apply to the government? If their actions are made legitimally for our own protection, why would this government fear and prevent meaningful inspection of its activities?

[edit on 1-8-2006 by Valhall]




posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 12:36 AM
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From your above linked RawStory.com article:


“Whether an NSA activity is permissible under the Fourth Amendment and the statutory scheme outlined above is impossible to determine without an understanding of the specific facts involved and the nature of the President’s authorization, which are for the most part classified,” it concluded.

Here is what the NSA has to say:
NSA chief not concerned by congressional inquiries

Here is also a nice 'what if':
What if President Bush had actually gone to the court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?







seekerof

[edit on 8-1-2006 by Seekerof]



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 01:01 AM
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Originally posted by Seekerof

NSA chief not concerned by congressional inquiries



...because it is a universal human experience for people to admit their criminality...




Originally posted by Seekerof

What if President Bush had actually gone to the court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?



...equally ridiculous.


That argument demonstrates how by attacking the vehicle and manner in which one learns of potential wrongdoing, you get to avoid ever discussing whether in fact there was wrongdoing...


I do not understand people who argue against government accountability.

Is it that you believe only the executive (in this case, the Bush administration) is capable of competently protecting us from the ills of the world? Is the remainder of our government, and other checks and balances, irrelevant?

I can't imagine anything more unAmerican... :shk:


[edit on 8-1-2006 by loam]



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 01:07 AM
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Obviously, criminality is a subjective determination, is it not, loam?
Being unamerican is simply spouting off that one is guilty when there has been no due judicial judgement.


Originally posted by laom
I do not understand people who argue against government accountability.

About as much as the same people advocating and preaching continued government accountability not demanding the same for media accountability?

Likewise, again, there is the two sides of a coin issue here, and apparently, becaue you have made your own decisions, observations, and judgements, any one who disagrees is now contrived to be unamerican or gets the 'a' typical
? My how the white elephant has grown.

Me, I will simply continue to stick with the innocent till proven guilty mantra.







seekerof

[edit on 8-1-2006 by Seekerof]



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 01:52 AM
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Originally posted by Seekerof

Obviously, criminality is a subjective determination, is it not, loam?


It is... which makes your use of the word "determination" so important. Without process to make such determinations there is NO accountability.



Originally posted by Seekerof

Being unamerican is simply spouting off that one is guilty when there has been no due judicial judgement.


Who said guilty? I'm arguing for the opportunity to determine if that is the case. My comment above concerning "criminality" was to make the point that a simple denial and no meaningful process to determine otherwise IS ridiculous.

I am not confident we have a meaningful process... and I assume many others are not either.



Originally posted by Seekerof
Likewise, again, there is the two sides of a coin issue here, and apparently, becaue you have made your own decisions, observations, and judgements, any one who disagrees is now contrived to be unamerican or gets the 'a' typical ? My how the white elephant has grown.


Do not spin the words I have written. I made no such accusation. My comments were clearly relegated to the ridiculous notion that meaningful accountability is not necessary, because only the executive is competent to make such unilateral judgments. I called a lack of belief in government accountability unAmerican. Let's be clear.



Originally posted by Seekerof
Me, I will simply continue to stick with the innocent till proven guilty mantra.


....which returns me to the original point- How is that to be achieved, if the executive's actions are not subject to meaningful inspection and review? :shk:



[edit on 8-1-2006 by loam]



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 02:36 AM
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Originally posted by Seekerof
Obviously, criminality is a subjective determination, is it not, loam?
Being unamerican is simply spouting off that one is guilty when there has been no due judicial judgement.

Criminality is subect to the law. You may think its some arbitrary decision, but its not.


Originally posted by Seekerof
About as much as the same people advocating and preaching continued government accountability not demanding the same for media accountability?

Any reason you've tried to go off topic with a media accountability tangent? Misdirection?


Originally posted by Seekerof
Likewise, again, there is the two sides of a coin issue here, and apparently, becaue you have made your own decisions, observations, and judgements, any one who disagrees is now contrived to be unamerican or gets the 'a' typical ? :@@"

Two sides of a coin? It's not even that complicated. There have been allegations of illegal conduct, it should be investigated by Congress. They have high enough clearances to view classified documents. If they deem the actions of the executive branch and the NSA to have been illegal they should bring about charges and or impeachment proceedings. Simple.


Originally posted by Seekerof
My how the white elephant has grown.

I dont see any partisan discussion here. Only your attempt at accusing loam of such activity.


Originally posted by Seekerof
Me, I will simply continue to stick with the innocent till proven guilty mantra.

I dont think any one has said otherwise. The problem is that this administration is obstructing Congress in their quest to prove guilt or innocence. Do you believe this administration should get away with obstructing an investigation into the legality of their actions? "Government accountability" is the issue here, not assuming they are guilty already.

[edit on 8/1/06 by subz]



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 02:58 AM
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Somehow, I missed this comment:


Originally posted by Seekerof

About as much as the same people advocating and preaching continued government accountability not demanding the same for media accountability?


Aside from the fact that I have stated no position concerning media accountability, are you suggesting that government accountability should be dependent upon media accountability?


Media has no "official" authority.

Get the difference???



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 10:15 AM
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".... Is it that you believe only the executive (in this case, the Bush administration) is capable of competently protecting us from the ills of the world? Is the remainder of our government, and other checks and balances, irrelevant?"

REPLY: As to the above, the Constitution MANDATES the president to protect the citizens, not the "remainder of government". The checks and balances are the laws, not Congress.

But, this post is beating a dead horse. Although this has already been covered in another thread, the specific U.S. Code brought to light there specifies the restrictions and requirements for a "wiretap" without a court order, and those specifics were met. Therefore, no law was broken.



posted on Jan, 8 2006 @ 10:32 AM
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I also am not comfortable with government wiretapping. However as long as there are Mohammedan terrorists with the sole goal of establishing world Mohammedan hegemony under a Caliphate, I can look the other way - for awhile.


When and not if the time comes that Mohammedan terrorism is squelched, then the wire tapping needs to cease. I do not trust a Democratic Party nor a Republican Party government with that kind of perpetual power. The temptation to selfish political protection is just too great.



posted on Jan, 9 2006 @ 08:05 AM
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Originally posted by Theway2k
I also am not comfortable with government wiretapping. However as long as there are Mohammedan terrorists with the sole goal of establishing world Mohammedan hegemony under a Caliphate, I can look the other way - for awhile.


When and not if the time comes that Mohammedan terrorism is squelched, then the wire tapping needs to cease. I do not trust a Democratic Party nor a Republican Party government with that kind of perpetual power. The temptation to selfish political protection is just too great.


Where in the history of civilization has any entity ever given up power once it's claimed it?



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 12:08 AM
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The thoughts concerning the wiretaps never going away could be viewed as correct, as some laws are indeed over-used or mis-used to some extent or another. However, the wiretap laws in use are not being misused, and most of the stipulations allowing them are only true in a time of war.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 12:12 AM
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Originally posted by zappafan1
The thoughts concerning the wiretaps never going away could be viewed as correct, as some laws are indeed over-used or mis-used to some extent or another. However, the wiretap laws in use are not being misused, and most of the stipulations allowing them are only true in a time of war.


Hmm, and we've had a formal declaration of war then? On who I might add?



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 01:52 AM
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Originally posted by loam
I have often heard we should have nothing to fear from government surveillance if one has nothing to hide. Why, then, does not the same logic apply to the government? If their actions are made legitimally for our own protection, why would this government fear and prevent meaningful inspection of its activities?


We're at war. We depend on our duly elected officials to conduct that war and to maintain our sovereignty and our way of life. What we know, the enemy knows. The government must always reserve the right to keep secrets or there will be no security. It is a difficult balance, but our Constitution and our system of checks and balances somehow holds it all together.

"Loose lips sink ships."



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 08:30 AM
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Matters Of Law


Originally posted by intrepid
Hmm, and we've had a formal declaration of war then? On who I might add?

Not who, but what.


I understand the passion surrounding this issue. I'm a registered Libertarian, after all.


The Congressional Research Service memorandum raises some excellent points, I consider it a great tutorial for those seeking deeper understanding of some of the issues involved in this case, and suggest that those who wish to speak with greater authority on the issue give it a thorough examination.

However, I recommend against willingly being played by the media.

The leaks involving this program occurred at a politically sensitive time, and that -- to me, anyway -- implies a political motive for them.

I have not seen anything indicating that the NSA or the President actually acted outside the law, despite all the carefully-crafted and questionable sensationalism surrounding this story.

My expectation is that Congress will investigate the claims made against the Bush administration and determine for itself if there have been violations of law by the executive branch.

If so, then it's up to Congress and the President to decide what to do about it. New legislation establishing tighter control over surveillance is an option, for example.

Impeachment, conviction and removal from office would be an option if the President is found guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors", as another example.

If the President and Congress are not able to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, then I would look forward to a Supreme Court ruling on all this. That would be significant, in my opinion.

If Congress determines that there have been no violations of law by the executive branch, then I look forward to the prosecutions of those who have violated the law by publicly disclosing classified information without authority to do so.

Of least interest in all this – to me anyway – are opinions grounded only in partisan propaganda. Aside from being notorious for their lack of credibility, they carry no legal weight or express even rational correlation (in many instances) to the matters of law in question here.

And the law is supposedly what this is all about, unless that is itself a lie.



posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 10:47 PM
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Excellent post, Majic. It summarized the situation succinctly.


You have voted Majic for the Way Above Top Secret award. You have two more votes this month.



posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 11:08 PM
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Grady


We're at war. We depend on our duly elected officials to conduct that war and to maintain our sovereignty and our way of life.


It would seem the problem is that our way of life is being endangered by the very people we elected to protect it. Also, if you're comfortable relying on executives and glorified accountants to prosecute a war, that's on you. I, for one, will rest easy when the military is back in control of this nation's security.



What we know, the enemy knows.


More and more the American people feel as if THEY are the enemy, and it's not hard to see why.



The government must always reserve the right to keep secrets or there will be no security.


Nations have been trying to win security through secrecy since the dawn of civilization, and it hasn't worked yet. Perhaps it's time for a new paradigm? If the citizenry can't trust the state, and the state can't trust the citizenry, what the Hell are we playing at exactly?

Edit: I just read this post by Nerdling, it's more light being shed on the actual efficacy of this domestic wiretapping. Apparently, agents have been chasing their tails for months with no results to show for it. The whole thing is a farce, and IMO the prevailing fear of the Arab boogeyman is downright sad. It makes us look like a nation of children.




[edit on 16-1-2006 by WyrdeOne]

[edit on 16-1-2006 by WyrdeOne]



posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 06:46 AM
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Originally posted by WyrdeOne
It would seem the problem is that our way of life is being endangered by the very people we elected to protect it. Also, if you're comfortable relying on executives and glorified accountants to prosecute a war, that's on you. I, for one, will rest easy when the military is back in control of this nation's security.

That sounds dangerously close to condoning military control of this nation.




Nations have been trying to win security through secrecy since the dawn of civilization, and it hasn't worked yet.


Are you implying that nations have won security through total openness? Can you name one nation that has done so?

Nations are toppled the fastest when their security is compromised. New paradigm? What would that be? A "relationship with no secrets", like you have with your first girlfriend?



Edit: I just read this post by Nerdling, it's more light being shed on the actual efficacy of this domestic wiretapping. Apparently, agents have been chasing their tails for months with no results to show for it. The whole thing is a farce, and IMO the prevailing fear of the Arab boogeyman is downright sad. It makes us look like a nation of children.

The article cited by Nerdling does not call the effort a total disaster. You interpreted it that way.

And just because it didn't result in a large score this time doesn't mean that the tactic is a complete failure. Ask any successful fisherman or hunter.


I believe that Able Danger got the info it did on Mohamed Atta in part because of eavesdropping on phone calls; I find it hard to see how they could have succeeded otherwise. It's too bad Jamie Gorelick loused things up.



posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 07:20 AM
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Kinda ticks me off... complaint's like this. Because someone had to feel it violated they're privacy or whatnot, now terrorist's have been tipped off about this. Now they have a chance to change number's, destroy old phones and buy new one's, get a new cell phone, etc. Now they know they've been compramised and can now do something about it. All because someone didn't understand WHY it needed to be kept a secret.

I almost wonder if these people complaining about this stuff are actually working with the terrorist's. Seriously, we have this crap put in place, kept secret so we can keep an eye on them, then someone's gotta go blow it. Now the government has to do it all over again, think if something else, and try their best to keep that a secret.

No, wiretapping american citizens isn't right, but this isn't the case, WE ARE IN A WAR with terrorist's! We need ALL the intel we can get in order to ensure we don't get a stick shoved up our buttocks again.



posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 12:41 PM
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Jsobecky


That sounds dangerously close to condoning military control of this nation.


How do you figure? Putting soldiers in charge of defending the homeland is not tantamount to replacing the legislative/judiciary. What we need is ACTUAL homeland defense, not the illusion of same (which is precisely what this civilian SoD and weekend warrior CiC are providing).

Rather than mucking about in other people's sandboxes, our military should be defending our borders and airspace against terrorism/foreign agression. That's just my personal opinion of course, but I'm fairly sure there is a significant portion of the armed forces that agrees with me.



Are you implying that nations have won security through total openness?


I'm not implying anything.



Can you name one nation that has done so?


Nope, and that was precisely my point.
It hasn't been tried yet, to my knowledge, so there's no argument against it that swings the weight of precedent. I think a totally open society would be possible, so long as the goal of the nation was resoundingly clear, and not subject to the whims of power-hungry megalomaniacs.



Nations are toppled the fastest when their security is compromised.


I think you meant to say secrecy, right? Obviously if security is compromised, the nation is unsafe, and will topple. My argument is that secrecy is not necessarily a prerequisite for safety, and that we won't know the results of such an experiment until we try.

Produkt


Kinda ticks me off... complaint's like this. Because someone had to feel it violated they're privacy or whatnot, now terrorist's have been tipped off about this.


Any terrorist worth his salt assumes at all times that they're under scrutiny. They developed communications methods that bypass the eavesdropping, which is why the methodology is so flawed. They don't just hop on international lines and discuss their plans openly in plain language.



Now they have a chance to change number's, destroy old phones and buy new one's, get a new cell phone, etc.


Your lack of knowledge on the subject is clear. That being said, [sarcasm] you just tipped off the legions of terrorists yourself! Now they know they can just buy a new phone to defeat the NSA! Now they know they can just change numbers to defeat the NSA! AHHH, you've totally compromised all ongoing investigations![/sarcasm]





I almost wonder if these people complaining about this stuff are actually working with the terrorist's.


Get tossed.



We need ALL the intel we can get in order to ensure we don't get a stick shoved up our buttocks again.


Ewww...

You didn't even read the link I posted, did you? We don't need all the intel we can get, that's just not true. We need all the GOOD intel we can get, and that's the bottom line. This program has produced tons of BAD intel, and very little (if any) GOOD intel. Thus, the program is a FAILURE.

Nevermind the fact that it breaches expectation of privacy, which is probably why these guys have to be tried in secret courts with non-existent rules for evidenciary procedure.

I still think the whole thing is a farce. Y'all are doing backflips, scared out of your mind, babbling incoherently about the boogeyman. It's a shame, and a sham.



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