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Old 02-09-2006, 05:15 PM   #1
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Listening in on Al-Qaida

The President's so-called 'domestic spying' program has generated a lot of debate. I've heard arguments for both sides: that the program is legal under statute and used as a tool to fight terrorism, and that it is illegal and a restriction of civil liberties. Personally, I tend to lean more toward believing the program is legal - from what I've heard, it's not 'domestic spying' because the monitoring involves international calls between US citizens and members of Al-Qaida. The issue of getting warrants for the 'wiretaps', or, more accurately, intercepts, is at the center of the debate.

There's a lot of confusion about the FISA court and what it takes to get warrants for the intercepts, and whether it's even possible to get the warrant and the intercept, because the process of getting a warrant is not easy or fast (these are phone calls, and not exactly long chats with mom, either).

Another issue surrounding the debate is the leak that made the program public knowledge. Apparently, someone at the NSA leaked the program to the New York Times, who then printed the information. Apparently, there had been selective disclosure to the Congress because they were worried about Senators leaking the program to the press, so some Congressmen are also upset because they weren't given full disclosure.



So, what's your opinion of the program? Personally, I think it sounds legal, from what I've heard about it, and if it isn't legal, I think it should be made legal. The arguments about civil liberties don't really work for me, because if you're on the phone talking with Al-Qaida, it'll probably save lots of lives to listen in on that call. I haven't heard anything to indicate that it's been used as 'domestic spying', that is, listening in on American citizens' domestic calls without a warrant, but rather is a tool to identify terrorists by listening in on international calls between people in the US and phone numbers used by known terrorists. I'm more worried about the leak than the program itself.


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Old 02-09-2006, 09:40 PM   #2
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If they really do have the phone numbers of al-Qaeda agents or affiliates, then surely it wouldn't be difficult to get a warrant. You don't need this unchecked spying program. You just go through the FISA court which was put in place specifically to stop this kind of unchecked spying.

Now, if it's true that there's too much red tape, paperwork, etc. involved in the process, then that's what needs to be changed, not the law. It seems that Bush has decided that because he dislikes the FISA court, he decided that he's just going to ignore the law and pretend it doesn't exist because he's the President and is above the law.

The process of approving spying could easily be streamlined and the stacks of papers could be cut out. It could be as simple as going before the secret court, presenting the case, and getting the judge's stamp of approval.


One question I have though is why, if we have the phone numbers of actual al-Qaeda agents/affiliates, then why aren't we tracking them down and capturing them, and stopping the problem at its root? I think that allowing "known terrorists" to talk and plan their attacks is allowing terrorism to spread. If Bush knows who the terrorists are and isn't sending in special forces to hunt them down, then he's doing the American people a huge disservice in this so-called "War on Terror."
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:31 PM   #3
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As it is, it's legal. It only applies to people directly implicated in terror plots (i.e., phone numbers in a known terrorist's phone book), and then only to phone calls made overseas - which are fair game for spying on, especially in wartime. I have no problem with the program currently. I think the controversy over this is mainly because of poor information on what Bush is actually doing. I was against it initially (better to be against something suspicious by default than be wrong, out a few rights and very angry after) until I spent a while researching what was going on. I found it was ok with me. Apparently people just don't look up things for themselves, and relying on major news sources for everything is a really bad idea.

I do think they should have tried to get as many warrants as they possibly could have. The secret courts are there for a reason, so why not use them? I don't understand that part. I don't approve of any spying or information collection on random (or all) citizens like the EU just approved. That is absolutely unacceptable. Any future expansion of the program should be carefully evaluated because there's little they can expand to that isn't illegal.

Quote:
One question I have though is why, if we have the phone numbers of actual al-Qaeda agents/affiliates, then why aren't we tracking them down and capturing them, and stopping the problem at its root? I think that allowing "known terrorists" to talk and plan their attacks is allowing terrorism to spread. If Bush knows who the terrorists are and isn't sending in special forces to hunt them down, then he's doing the American people a huge disservice in this so-called "War on Terror."
I would rather they wait and catch all of them than move too quickly and only get a few while warning all the rest to not use that particular form of communication anymore. If things do get serious, the goverment would know and would stop them. Until they do try to do something, however, it would be best to try to get them all.

If you know where the wasp is in the room, its sting is not an immediate threat. It's the unknowns that can't be prepared for that are the dangerous ones.


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Old 02-10-2006, 08:51 AM   #4
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Got any more info on what the EU is up to?

I gotta say I don't know the details... and can't be bothered researching them.. as most of what i'll find will be opinion pieces anyway.

However - much as it probably was the wrong place to bring it up, whoever it was that mentioned the wire-taps on the Kings at that funeral did raise a good point.

The whole reason that things like courts and warrants exist is to prevent people abusing the system. Much like what used to happen when the FBI spied on civil rights activists, communist students and lots of other innocent groups back i the 50s-70s.

Now it might well be that THIS TIME the authorities did restrict their spying to legitimate targets... but if they are bypassing the courts and the legal system to do so then there is no oversight. So next time it is possible that their target won't be so legitimate... and there will be no checks and balances in place to stop them.

A lot of people's worries when it comes to privacy and government monitoring aren't to do with when they do it right.. they are to do with making sure that there are some checks that stop them doing it wrong.

Heck, detention without trial would be a great idea IF we could be sure they always detained the right people... but we can't - which is why we need the checks and balances that the justice system provides.

If there are special courts, laws and other legal systems in place then they shouldn't be sidestepped... and if they can be sidestepped then the law should be changed so they can't be. Because 1 time in 100 the reason for sidestepping them might not be so reasonable.



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Old 02-10-2006, 02:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toms
Now it might well be that THIS TIME the authorities did restrict their spying to legitimate targets... but if they are bypassing the courts and the legal system to do so then there is no oversight. So next time it is possible that their target won't be so legitimate... and there will be no checks and balances in place to stop them.

A lot of people's worries when it comes to privacy and government monitoring aren't to do with when they do it right.. they are to do with making sure that there are some checks that stop them doing it wrong.
From what I've heard, there was some Congressional oversight...they just didn't tell many Congressmen about it, because the Congress is more leaky than a cheap diaper.


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Old 02-10-2006, 04:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rccar328
From what I've heard, there was some Congressional oversight...they just didn't tell many Congressmen about it, because the Congress is more leaky than a cheap diaper.
Maybe. As i said i don't know the details... but that doesn't inspire a huge amount of confidence.... Not if you can pick your own oversight... thats a bit like defendents getting to pick their own jury.



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Old 02-13-2006, 05:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by toms
Maybe. As i said i don't know the details... but that doesn't inspire a huge amount of confidence.... Not if you can pick your own oversight... thats a bit like defendents getting to pick their own jury.
Not really...the President doesn't get to pick the Congress, or who sits on what committee. If I remember correctly, the Congressmen who were let in on the program were committee chairs, I think on the judiciary and intelligence committees. I think there were a couple of others, too, but I don't remember off hand.


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Old 02-13-2006, 06:05 PM   #8
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In my opinion, there should be no debate on this topic, the Bush administration has overstepped it's boundries and 'Dubya' should be impeached. As a matter of *fact*, the PATRIOT Act shouldn't even be in place, read it over, the whole thing, then read the Constitution, then remember the fact that the latter trumps the former in almost any case, thus rendering Bush's wiretapping illegal. The fact of the matter is that the wording of it is overly broad and can be applied to anyone who may or may not have commited an illegal act.

To sum up, I'll say that unless we are living in a constant state of emergency (which we aren't according to the 'Terrorist Threat Advisory Chart') , this sort of thing should not be tolerated.

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Old 03-29-2006, 01:27 PM   #9
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A pannel of FISA judges has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush was acting within his authority & did not violate the law.

Read all about it.


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Old 03-29-2006, 04:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rccar328
A pannel of FISA judges has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush was acting within his authority & did not violate the law.

Read all about it.
I don't know what these judges have based their decision on, because it must not be the law they're using to make such a decision. The law is pretty clear in that it says that, just as Bush has said before this was exposed, that wiretapping requires a court order.

Bush, Cheney and others have used the argument to justify the warrantless wiretapping that it's a Commander-in-Chief power, which it isn't (the military has nothing to do with domestic spying), and that he was given a blank check after 9/11 to do whatever he wants, which he wasn't given (he was given the power to use military force against al-Qaeda).

There is no justification for wiretapping without a warrant. The law is there. If they want to wiretap without a warrant then change the law. But until then the law must be followed.
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Old 03-30-2006, 04:30 PM   #11
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"If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now," said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act. "I think that the president would be remiss exercising his constitutional authority by giving all of that power over to a statute."

The judges, however, said Mr. Bush's choice to ignore established law regarding foreign intelligence gathering was made "at his own peril," because ultimately he will have to answer to Congress and the Supreme Court if the surveillance was found not to be in the best interests of national security.
So, if it can be established that the NSA program is being used for something other than national security, President Bush is toast. Otherwise, he's not doing anything illegal.


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Old 03-30-2006, 04:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rccar328
So, if it can be established that the NSA program is being used for something other than national security, President Bush is toast. Otherwise, he's not doing anything illegal.
But there's the issue; he has the power to define what is national security, and who's a terrorist. If he wanted to spy on anti-war activists and say that they're terrorists and it's for national security, apparently that'd be fine!
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Old 03-30-2006, 04:38 PM   #13
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But it has to stand up to Congressional review, as well as the Supreme Court...

There are checks & balances in place.


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Old 03-30-2006, 05:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by rccar328
But it has to stand up to Congressional review, as well as the Supreme Court...

There are checks & balances in place.
Except that the members of Congress who have been briefed have no power to do anything. If they don't like the program, too bad for them, it's a secret. And discussing anything about the program with anyone else would be illegal, even to other legislators, or to their staff in order to determine the program's legality.

I don't see why this thing needs to be so top-secret. Of course al-Qaeda members already know that it's very likely they could be being spied upon, which is why they speak in code. All that knowing about such a program means is that it confirms something that al-Qaeda already knew: that they were likely targets for government spying. There's no harm in knowing more about what YOUR government is doing with YOUR tax dollars.

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Old 03-30-2006, 09:27 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by TK-8252
I don't see why this thing needs to be so top-secret. Of course al-Qaeda members already know that it's very likely they could be being spied upon, which is why they speak in code. All that knowing about such a program means is that it confirms something that al-Qaeda already knew: that they were likely targets for government spying. There's no harm in knowing more about what YOUR government is doing with YOUR tax dollars.
Well, if we broadcast every secret national security strategy (like this one has been broadcast), it lets our enemies know how we're going after them, and gives them plenty of chance to change strategies. The US media is broadcast worldwide. The last thing we need is for our counter-terrorism strategy being broadcast on page 1 of the New York Times or on CNN for every terrorist to see.

If you really don't understand why major portions of national security strategy need to be classified, you need to start thinking more about the nature of a war against terrorism. Broadcasting programs like this to the world is tantamount to telling Hitler that we'll be invading Normandy two weeks before D-Day. The first major step for terrorists to avoid detection & defend against capture is to know what means we are using to try and catch them.

On top of that, if the President is acting illegally, then the Congress can stand up and call him on it...the problem here is that (despite those who say differently) there is no hard evidence that the President has done anything wrong - only suspicion and rumors. Suspicion and rumors do not justify compromising our national security.


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Old 03-30-2006, 09:59 PM   #16
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Broadcasting programs like this to the world is tantamount to telling Hitler that we'll be invading Normandy two weeks before D-Day.
A better analogy for telling Hitler about D-Day prior to invasion would be that it's like telling the individuals who are being spied upon that their phone is being tapped in advance. No one is asking for such a thing to happen... all people are asking for is that the President either prove that he has the power to spy without warrants, or if he can't do that then get warrants, or if he doesn't want to do that either, get the law changed so that it is certainly legal.

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Originally Posted by rccar328
there is no hard evidence that the President has done anything wrong - only suspicion and rumors. Suspicion and rumors do not justify compromising our national security.
I have yet to see anything in writing that justifies wiretapping without warrants. The law says you need to get a warrant. Never was the President given the power to go around the law.

And there is a point when I'd rather die by a terrorist's hand than give up my civil rights. Do I want the government to be able to listen to my phone calls without a warrant in the name of security? Hey, no I don't. I'll gladly die for what I believe in: freedom and liberty.

Wasn't it good ol' Ben Franklin who said that he who would give up his freedom for security deserves neither?
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Old 03-30-2006, 10:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rccar328
A pannel of FISA judges has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush was acting within his authority & did not violate the law.

Read all about it.
They shouldn't be the ones deciding this issue (they're not are they?). "Let's ask the secret court about possible illegal activities they may have been involved in! They couldn't possibly lie, they're judges!".



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Old 04-02-2006, 12:48 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TK-8252
A better analogy for telling Hitler about D-Day prior to invasion would be that it's like telling the individuals who are being spied upon that their phone is being tapped in advance. No one is asking for such a thing to happen... all people are asking for is that the President either prove that he has the power to spy without warrants, or if he can't do that then get warrants, or if he doesn't want to do that either, get the law changed so that it is certainly legal.
As I found it, it is legal. It only applies to people talking with others outside of the US, however. If he wants to spy on people talking in country, he's got to get a warrant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Patriot Act (from the NPR site
Sec. 201: Adds to the list of offenses that can be used to justify a federal wiretap. That list now includes the use or development of chemical weapons, crimes of violence against Americans overseas, development of weapons of mass destruction, multinational terrorism, financial transactions with a country designated as a sponsor of terrorism, and providing material support to terrorists or terror organizations.

Sec. 202: Adds computer crimes to the list of offenses that justify a federal wiretap.

Sec. 203(b): Allows foreign intelligence gathered through criminal wiretaps to be shared with a wide array of federal agencies, including defense and intelligence agencies.

Sec. 203(d): Authorizes law-enforcement personnel to share foreign intelligence information with the same broad set of federal agencies.

Sec. 206: Expands the use of "multipoint" or "roving" wiretaps in foreign intelligence investigations.

Sec. 207: Expands the duration of foreign intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. citizens.

Sec. 209: Clarifies that law enforcement only needs a simple search warrant to seize a voice mail message, not a wiretap order. The Justice Department argued for this provision as a way to update earlier law, which demanded a wiretap order before investigators could get access to voice mail messages stored on message services.

Sec. 212: Allows communications service providers to disclose suspicious e-mail messages to police if there's immediate danger of physical injury.

The Justice Department says that prior to the Patriot Act, the FBI could not accept emergency calls from Internet service providers (ISPs) who had knowledge of an ongoing crime. Now, the FBI can intervene immediately if an online conversation reveals an emergency.

Some legal scholars say this provision is open to abuse, since the ISP gets to determine what constitutes an emergency. Critics want any information that was obtained inappropriately to be thrown out of court if there's a criminal prosecution.

Sec. 214: Makes it easier for investigators to use "rap and trace" or "pen register" devices in foreign intelligence investigations. These devices relay the numbers of the people on either end of the call.

Sec. 215: Allows a special judge to issue an order for "any tangible thing" that is sought in connection to a foreign intelligence investigation. Previously, this power was limited to hotel, car rental and storage records. Librarians and bookstore owners have objected strenuously, saying the FBI could use this section to search patrons records. This provision also prohibits the records holder from talking to anyone about the order.

It has been used 35 times as of March 31, 2005, never at a library or bookstore.

Sec. 217: Allows the government to eavesdrop on electronic communications if one party agrees, without judicial oversight. The section was designed for cases of computer trespassing, when an Internet service provider wants the police to help investigate an attack. Some critics say this provision gives the ISPs and the police the power to go after people who might be illegally sharing files or who have violated the terms of their use agreements.

Sec. 218: Expands the use of foreign intelligence wiretaps to cases where intelligence is merely a "significant" purpose of the probe, rather than the "primary" purpose as before. This key amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is also seen as key to removing the "wall" between intelligence and criminal investigations.

Sec. 220: Allows nationwide search warrants for electronic communications. Eliminates the need to seek multiple warrants for Internet messages, which may pass through several jurisdictions.

Sec. 223: Allows people to sue the government over unauthorized disclosures of wiretap information.

Sec. 225: Provides immunity from lawsuits for people cooperating in an intelligence wiretap.
201, 215, 217, 218 are the ones most relevant. In particular, the bolded ones are quite disturbing, but law...

Quote:
I have yet to see anything in writing that justifies wiretapping without warrants. The law says you need to get a warrant. Never was the President given the power to go around the law.
Yet he alone has the power to enforce it. Interesting... because presidents do let laws 'die off' by not enforcing them, even though they're still on the books as punishable offenses.

Quote:
And there is a point when I'd rather die by a terrorist's hand than give up my civil rights. Do I want the government to be able to listen to my phone calls without a warrant in the name of security? Hey, no I don't. I'll gladly die for what I believe in: freedom and liberty.
Quite. I don't want that to happen either. I think the Patriot Act was a baad piece of legislation, forced to pass because of the gung-ho attitude immediately following 9/11 - it would have been political suicide not to vote for it, even if the legislators hadn't had enough time to properly read it or clarify every portion. I think it was a mistake to extend it; it isn't even necessary, save for some portions such as the info sharing between bureaus.


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Old 04-02-2006, 02:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
As I found it, it is legal. It only applies to people talking with others outside of the US, however. If he wants to spy on people talking in country, he's got to get a warrant.
However, that is still domestic spying. You're still spying on someone in America... you're just also spying on someone in another country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
201, 215, 217, 218 are the ones most relevant. In particular, the bolded ones are quite disturbing, but law...
As bad as they all sound to me, none are quite so bad that they give the President the power to wiretap without warrants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
Quite. I don't want that to happen either. I think the Patriot Act was a baad piece of legislation, forced to pass because of the gung-ho attitude immediately following 9/11 - it would have been political suicide not to vote for it, even if the legislators hadn't had enough time to properly read it or clarify every portion. I think it was a mistake to extend it; it isn't even necessary, save for some portions such as the info sharing between bureaus.
I think it's important for me to point out that the threat of terrorism is hyped. Recent investigations have shown that you can smuggle materials for a dirty bomb into the country no problem, and can get them through several airports no problem. If terrorists were so dedicated to destroying us like they are in Israel, which might I add has the tightest security on the planet and yet terrorists still manage to pull off plenty of attacks, they would be doing it. We haven't been hit since 9/11, and it clearly isn't due to Bush's security (or lack thereof).
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:43 PM   #20
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Quote:
As bad as they all sound to me, none are quite so bad that they give the President the power to wiretap without warrants.
Let's try a fun thought experiment then.

Quote:
Sec. 217: Allows the government to eavesdrop on electronic communications if one party agrees, without judicial oversight. The section was designed for cases of computer trespassing, when an Internet service provider wants the police to help investigate an attack.
If one party agrees, eh? Does one of those parties include the ISP? So the government asks nicely and they have full access to anything going through that ISP without oversight. Does the person under investigation use VOIP? I wonder.

Now, suppose the government asks nicely for someone who just happens to be in the same general area as a terrorist and whose name is Mohammed? How does the situation look to the ISP? They could either not give in, which would most definitely expose them to a lot of flak if the guy actually is a terrorist (the ISP has no way of knowing), or they could let the goverment have what it wants, even though it's not required of them to do so - a fairly safe option for them as long as it's kept under wraps. What would you do if you're an apolitical entity like a major communications corporation? We've already seen how willing some corporations are to give up information, like Yahoo did, if asked nicely by the authorities. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly feel the best knowing that the privacy of my internet use (which includes a large part of my communications) is protected only by my ISP's self interest.


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Old 04-03-2006, 12:24 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by TK-8252
I think it's important for me to point out that the threat of terrorism is hyped. Recent investigations have shown that you can smuggle materials for a dirty bomb into the country no problem, and can get them through several airports no problem. If terrorists were so dedicated to destroying us like they are in Israel, which might I add has the tightest security on the planet and yet terrorists still manage to pull off plenty of attacks, they would be doing it. We haven't been hit since 9/11, and it clearly isn't due to Bush's security (or lack thereof).
Good point. I really want to see some statistics on the risk of being killed by terrorism compared to the risk of being kiled by say: a car, a falling meteorite, lightning, fires caused by toasters. I doubt its a higher risk than any of those.



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Old 04-03-2006, 04:08 PM   #22
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Sam, Sec. 217 seems to have been designed specifically for computer and internet eavesdropping, not wiretapping.

Now, I could be wrong on that, after all I'm no lawyer. But I know that there's been recent revisions to the PATRIOT Act, and is that section taken from the newest version?
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Old 05-11-2006, 10:25 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by TK-8252
Sam, Sec. 217 seems to have been designed specifically for computer and internet eavesdropping, not wiretapping.
It is. I'd be surprised if even normal telephone calls didn't go through a computer somewhere though. Certaintly VOIP calls do.

I think, however, that this info may change my mind about this wiretap business. Had they limited themselves the way they said in the beginning, I would have agreed with them. However, they have apparently not.


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Old 05-11-2006, 10:31 PM   #24
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I think, however, that this info may change my mind about this wiretap business. Had they limited themselves the way they said in the beginning, I would have agreed with them. However, they have apparently not.
Just started a new thread on that issue...
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Old 05-15-2006, 02:47 AM   #25
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In my opinion, there should be no debate on this topic, the Bush administration has overstepped it's boundries and 'Dubya' should be impeached. As a matter of *fact*, the PATRIOT Act shouldn't even be in place.....

This is exactly why Republicans keep winning elections. What is your solution to the problem of potential Al Qaeda cells in America? Should the NSA really have it's hands tide like it did before 9/11?

I'm not a big fan of being spied on though I'm sure I'm not cool enough to be monitored by the gov.....
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Old 05-15-2006, 07:57 AM   #26
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Should the NSA really have it's hands tide like it did before 9/11?
Well, I hate to say it, but it's always going to have its hands tied. It's the government, it's a bureaucracy, and it's only gotten to be a bigger bureaucracy under Bush's direction. Solution? Make it SMALLER. Hell, turn it over to a private company and they'll really get the job done.
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Old 05-15-2006, 10:10 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Good Sir Knight
This is exactly why Republicans keep winning elections. What is your solution to the problem of potential Al Qaeda cells in America? Should the NSA really have it's hands tide like it did before 9/11?
Irrational fear??? You are probably right. But you say it like that is a good reason to elect a government...

Did you ever hear a saying that there is "a price for freedom"? Well, this is it.

We could cut crime in an instant if there were 1984 style cameras in every home, gps trackers on every person, people listening in on every phone call and email, permits and travel restrictions to track terrorist movements, a secret police force and informers that reported everyone who was thinking of commiting a crime or an act of terrorism.

.. we'd be like communist russia or china and have no freedom... but we'd all be a lot safer.

no country can ever protect itself completely from insane random acts... and a free country is even more vunnerable due to it's very nature.

Communist Russia and China certainly seemed to have a lot less terrorism than the USA.. so i guess they had it right after all? Its only after russia embraced western style democracy and got all sensitive that those pesky chechens started to cause trouble.

Of course, even now russia's security forces probably don't have their "hands tied" to anywhere near the extent that you seem to think the NSA/CIA does.. but that doesn't seem to help them much does it?
And israel has some of the most powerful, dangerous secret police in the world, plus many restrictions on freedoms and human rights - but even so some crazy person can always find a hole.

You can't be vigilant all the time, against every possible threat. They could have doubled the NSA budget, taken away a lot of civil liberites and I would still bet my life that the 9/11 attacks would have happened.

All they are really doing is scaring people with spurious threats.. and its amazing how quickly people will give up their rights when they are scared. WW2 veterans must be wondering why they fought and died for our freedoms when we just cower and give them away.



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Old 05-15-2006, 01:21 PM   #28
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You can't be vigilant all the time, against every possible threat. They could have doubled the NSA budget, taken away a lot of civil liberites and I would still bet my life that the 9/11 attacks would have happened.
We can't be vigilant all the time, so we shouldn't be vigilant at all? One of the Constitutionally defined roles of the US federal government is to "provide for the common defense." After 9/11, the Bush administration (and, to a lesser extent, the Clinton administration) was sharply criticized for failing to "connect the dots." Things like the Patriot Act and the NSA program are reactions to that criticism...yet the administration is criticized for it. The problem is that many people (our politicians in particular) want it both ways: they want to be totally secure and totally free...but that's not how it works.

Personally, I think some security is a good thing, and I am not bothered by anything I've seen so far. In fact, I think that the US government should be going farther, by securing the ports and the borders. However, I believe that limiting just how far the government can go is essential - while we can't have total freedom, we cannot be totally secure, either...and that's just how it should be. Personally, I am willing to go through life knowing that I may be at some risk of dying at the hands of terrorists if that means that my freedoms are secure. This is why I disagree with President Bush when he calls for Congress to make the Patriot Act permanent. While there may be certain portions of the Patriot Act that could be made permanent, the entire Act definitely should not be.

Let's face it: President Bush answers to the people. The fact that the same people who criticized President Bush for failing to 'connect the dots' after 9/11 are now complaining when he takes measures to do so speaks to those peoples' stupidity, not to some kind of 1984-style plot to turn the United States into a Stalinistic police state.

In my mind, what it gets down to is this: throughout our history, Americans have given up freedoms during times of war in order to ensure America's security...and the War on Terror should be no different. Our government has a Constitutionally defined duty to ensure the safety of its citizens. However, it is essential that the people keep the government accountable to set those extra powers aside once the war is won. It's been done in the past...and that tradition should continue.


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Old 05-15-2006, 04:26 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by rccar328
Our government has a Constitutionally defined duty to ensure the safety of its citizens.
I'm a billion times more likely to be killed by a gang member when I travel into the city or be killed by a robber when I go into a convenience store than I am to be killed in a terrorist attack.

Why isn't the government ensuring my safety in THAT way? Why are they so focused on foiling the plots of terrorists than they are to foil the plots of gangs and robbers?

Shouldn't there be a "War on Gangs" instead? Or a "War on Robbery" even. They could tap the phones of all gang suspects and robbery suspects. They could create secret prisons where suspects could be locked up in without trial, representation, or rights.
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Old 05-15-2006, 07:57 PM   #30
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Maybe they already exist. I couldn't say; it would be a *secret* after all...

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Sam, Sec. 217 seems to have been designed specifically for computer and internet eavesdropping, not wiretapping.
I'm not so worried about Internet eavesdropping. Really because of two things:

1) My Internet activity is basically about 5 forums, a little other stuff. Not much, and nothing at all related to supporting terrorist cells AFAIK. At least, I don't think a Computer Help forum is going to support Al-Queda...

2) Hackers attempt to infiltrate my computer several hundred times a day. I actually, on a whim, logged every attack my firewalls, etc. foiled for a week. The file size was in the 400 MB range. So one more spying attempt isn't going to make a difference to me, eh? Though I can just see the headlines: "Government internet taps foiled by personal firewalls"

I'm just going to put my 2 cents in and leave (for now, anyway): I have no problems with the CIA monitoring international calls to/from suspected terrorists. I have seen no proof (and based on this thread, you aren't very likely to be able to provide such proof) that W has stepped beyond the boundaries, and I therefore support this -- but by no means am I a hardcore fanatic on the issue. It's really a borderline issue for me, and I'm likely to become against it if W ever does cross the line. Just to make it clear.

TK-8252, you can't play the "improbable" harp. What are the odds of planes being flown into buildings? Incredibly small. Yet, two very important buildings are missing from the New York skyscape.

What are the odds that some poor nation would attempt to build a nuclear bomb? While there is no proof, the odds are likely to be beaten by Iran, who is being so stubborn they are suspect at best.

As we were all told in ESB: "Never tell me the odds!"



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Old 05-15-2006, 08:16 PM   #31
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TK-8252, you can't play the "improbable" harp. What are the odds of planes being flown into buildings? Incredibly small. Yet, two very important buildings are missing from the New York skyscape.
I'm saying that thousands of people are killed all the time in gang shootings and robberies, and yet it seems that the government has singled out terrorism as the single biggest threat to the American people. The reason why is because 9/11 was a tragedy... and that poor guy who was shot on the street was a statistic.
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Old 05-16-2006, 01:46 AM   #32
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The federal government has singled out terrorism...yet across America, local and county law enforcement agencies are doing just what you're suggesting. The FBI also has units that focus on gangs. The fact that the government hasn't solved the gang problem doesn't mean that they aren't trying to do something about it. I mean, the government has had its 'war on poverty' for how long? About 40 years or so? And they haven't fixed that problem yet. If the government can't fix poverty in 40 years and billions upon billions of dollars worth of trying (and it never will fix the problem - that's the sad part), it's not going to do any better with gangs...it could, but the measures that need to be taken to fix the gang problems would be stopped by the likes of the ACLU before anything substantive came of it.

As StaffSaberist said, what were the odds of terrorists hijacking planes and flying them into buildings? Pretty small...but it happened. And on top of that, it wasn't like that was the first time terrorists had tried to take down the World Trade Center towers (both attacks were perpetrated by Al-Qaida, no less). Yes, the odds are small...but the consequences of inaction are very great, as we discovered on 9/11. Just because one problem is more likely doesn't mean we should ignore the other - we should be focusing on both problems...and we are. Terrorism is in many ways an international problem, and as such, it is being delt with by the federal government. Gangs are local problems, so it stands to reason that local officials would be better equipped to deal with the problem.


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Old 05-16-2006, 07:56 AM   #33
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I mean, the government has had its 'war on poverty' for how long? About 40 years or so? And they haven't fixed that problem yet.
So what makes you think that a "War on Terrorism" is going to work if all the other wars on something have failed? War is a government program, Mr. Conservative!

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Originally Posted by rccar328
As StaffSaberist said, what were the odds of terrorists hijacking planes and flying them into buildings? Pretty small...but it happened.
What are the chances that tomorrow we get nuked by North Korea... pretty small... but it could happen. Why aren't we doing anything about it??
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Old 05-16-2006, 09:58 AM   #34
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We have been attempting to get North Korea to disarm:

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/nkorea/

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/northkorea/

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB87/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/2340405.stm



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Old 05-16-2006, 12:53 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by rccar328
We can't be vigilant all the time, so we shouldn't be vigilant at all?
I think i explained it badly. I was going for "no matter how vigilant we are we can't be completely secure... so we shouldn't risk other freedoms simply to increase largely irrelevant vigilance". Or somthing.

Quote:
Personally, I am willing to go through life knowing that I may be at some risk of dying at the hands of terrorists if that means that my freedoms are secure. This is why I disagree with President Bush when he calls for Congress to make the Patriot Act permanent. While there may be certain portions of the Patriot Act that could be made permanent, the entire Act definitely should not be.

...

However, it is essential that the people keep the government accountable to set those extra powers aside once the war is won. It's been done in the past...and that tradition should continue.
Those two statements appear to contradict. I definately don't trust Bush or Blair to voluntarily give back any powers they took "at time of war". Infact I don't see that this is a war that can officially ever end... so i just see them taking more powers each time, and none of those powers having much effect on our security.

The best guides we have for the war on terror are the war on communism and the war on drugs. Neither turned out very well. Both caused numerous innocent parties to suffer. Both caused out governments to justify doing some pretty terrible things in the name of a greater good that was never achieved.



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Old 05-16-2006, 04:04 PM   #36
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I know, but that hardly amounts to a "War on North Korea" like a "War on Terrorism."
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:58 PM   #37
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http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/...l_source_.html



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