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Warrantless wiretaps illegal and unconstitutional

  1. Aug 17, 2006 #1

    Note in particular her discussion about the states secrets privilege, behind which the executive wants to hide most of his illegal activities.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2006 #2
    Yes, I heard this on the radio yesterday. Good, its about time we get our rights back.
  4. Aug 17, 2006 #3


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    But, Wait! Alberto Gonzales believes it is lawful, and so does GW. Therefore it must be so.

    District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is one of those liberal activist judges who is trying to protect civil and human rights, and the Constitution.

    How dare she!

    What does she think - liberty and justice for all? What kid of crazy idea is that? What will those liberals think of next?
  5. Aug 17, 2006 #4
    Dear god you are right!

    If the government says its to jump, we should shut up and say how high master!? :rofl: :wink:
  6. Aug 18, 2006 #5


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    There's more to it than just protecting people's rights. At this point, there's not even an independent evaluation of the program's effectiveness.

    With this administration, that's almost as important as whether people's rights are protected or not. So far, Bush's administration seems to have the habit of providing the answer to the technical guys and the only role the experts have is to provide the reasons the answer is correct.
  7. Aug 18, 2006 #6


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    Independent evaluation of a top secret program?
  8. Aug 20, 2006 #7


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    Per the Rules and Procedures for the SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, UNITED STATES SENATE; in particular, Rule 9.6, under 'Procedures for handling classified or sensitive material':

    The classified technology or program couldn't have been provided in the first place unless employees, with the appropriate security clearances, of the company providing the product had access to information on the program, so it's only Congress's access that's being restricted so strictly.

    There's a capable pool of potential technical experts with the appropriate security clearances available. There's just problems in the implementation. Relying on the contractors from the company that provided the product isn't exactly an independent review. Having experts, with the appropriate clearances, from a different company provide the independent review would violate some of the proprietary agreements the government has with defense contractors not to share the information with competing companies.

    There's common sense ways around this, since even the executive branch itself would want some kind of an independent look at what a company is providing the government. Typically, there are companies whose only role in a program is independent oversight. A company providing the oversight is prohibited from competing to provide the product or a follow-on product to ease concerns of defense contractors having proprietary information shared with competing companies.

    The change would almost be as simple as moving the companies providing oversight out from under the Executive branch's chain of command to being under Congress's chain of command, with the Executive branch receiving informational copies of everything the oversight companies provide Congress.
  9. Aug 20, 2006 #8
    You say that as a joke, but I have met many a person who considers it traitorous and wrong to disagree with their govenment, it's positively frightening to think that people living in a democracy can be so brainwashed in their support of a party, that questioning it is against every fibre in their body, but these people exist, I can assure you of that.

    I've met one or two in person, although most you meet on line. These people are right wing(generally although not always) Caricatures of belief in being politically partisan; even pointing out the meaning of democracy has no effect against such people; they simply throw terms like liberal or relativist or hippy around, as if it's a means to rationalise their bias, that somehow I'd rather be dead than democrat, or left than conservative. or however it goes. Besides I never get tired of criticising poor government, and neither should anyone else, it's not post Stalinist Russia, they do not round up dissidents and throw them into a Kamchatkan uranium mine, or Siberia and then throw away the key.

    How can you be accused of being a traitor to your nation if your PM or president or king or Big cheese is a jerk? That's what I want to know? Isn't their a constitutional right to overthrow tyranny in the US:wink: :smile:

    Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.

    Thomas Jefferson.

    The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.

    Thomas Jefferson.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2006
  10. Aug 21, 2006 #9
    ok so I have a stupid question

    The administration claims that they are only tapping transmissions that are made overseas.

    I assume these transmissions travel as radio waves, no?

    How do they go about wiretapping these transmissions?

    If it's the case that they intercept them as radio waves in the air, nobody's privacy has been violated as these transmissions are public domain (at least in my mind - if something is out there in the air it's up for grabs).

    If, however, there is something that is done with the phone companies to intercept these transmissions before they are actually transmitted as waves, then yes this could be considered a breach of privacy.

    I apologize for my ignorance on the subject.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2006
  11. Aug 21, 2006 #10


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    No, the calls would be carried br trans-oceanic fiber laid across the ocean floor. They go in and out of the US through specific international gateways.
  12. Aug 21, 2006 #11
    Yeah, if they were just listening in on conversations off radio waves there wouldn't be a problem.
  13. Aug 21, 2006 #12
    ahhhhh, ok thank you for raising me out of the pit of ignorant despair. Little embarrassed I didn't know something so trivial.

    So now I can see that they are unconstitutional, however I'm not convinced they aren't necessary.

    It's a delicate balance, I think. On the one hand, I'd say that if you're making phone calls to "known terrorists" or they're calling you, you are inviting suspicion on yourself. As long as this information isn't used to prosecute you directly, I don't see the big deal with the government monitoring these calls.

    On the other hand, there is the possibility of abuse. There is little oversight to these taps, so there is no guarantee they are being used as claimed. But then again, having oversight means the integrity of the information is compromised.

    After all, my fellow americans, this is the administration we have allowed to take power. We have gotten what we asked for (even though I never voted for bush). This is why we elect the president - to protect our nation against threats. The world now is entirely different than it was when the constitution was drafted. Certainly those that wrote it did not foresee such a future. Indeed, this wouldn't be the first time the constitution was twisted around (see Roe v. Wade here in the US. Sorry women, but the constitution does not say anything about your supposed right to abort).

    As an addendum, I like the quote by Jefferson - the one about sacrificing essential liberty. I don't, however, view phone calls as an essential liberty. They are a luxury. Nor do I think I have any ownership over the transmission itself.

    Some might be tempted to make an analogy to the mail system. I think, however, that this is flawed. When you send a letter, you seal it. When you make a phone call, you do not encrypt it (which would be the counterpart to sealing a letter). Hence there is no justifiable expectation of privacy.
  14. Aug 21, 2006 #13
    If the president sees something wrong with our laws then he chance petition to change them just like anyone else, there is no rational for sidestepping that. Also, I really doubt "essential liberty" was a phase Jefferson ever used.
  15. Aug 28, 2006 #14
    This is, in my opinion, an interesting and controversial interpretation of the constitution.

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    In my mind, clearly the first amendment could not have been violated. These people were wiretapped without their knowledge, hence their speech was not abridged in any way. The government did not keep them from speech, they merely listened to what they were saying without their knowledge.

    As to the fourth amendment, I think it is a stretch to say that a phone call constitutes personal property, or in the specific wording of the amendment, an effect (clearly it is not the person house or paper). If a phone call belongs to anyone or anything, it belongs to the phone company. By analogy, if someone taps into my cable to steal it, they are stealing from the cable company. I may not take them to court to sue for the degraded signal - because the signal is not my property.

    Furthermore, since when is it unreasonable to be suspicious of people who are conversing with suspected or known terrorists?

    Bottom line, your liberties were not taken away from you.

    What I will concede, however, is that there is a lack of oversight and no demonstration of its effectiveness. AS is the way with our government, checks and balances must be enforced. Moreover, there is no sense to instituting such a program if it does no good, although not because it is a violation of your liberties - more because it's a waste of valuable resources.

    I'd be interested in the actual ruling, does anyone have a link?
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