Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

all-powerful president

does anyone here believe in that?

does anyone believe that the wiretapping ordered by bush was legal?
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
January 10th, 2006
"Legal" in a vague technicality sort of sense, but I can't imagine it was legal if you go by the spirit rather than the letter of the law. However, IANAL, so who knows, but it was almost certainly immoral even if it wasn't strictly illegal..
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 10th, 2006
Actually he wanted to be doubly sure about what he spoke over the phone. So he ordered his lines to be tapped !!
Permalink Vineet Reynolds 
January 11th, 2006
I think it's funny that the best the White House can do to spin this is to brief everyone that yes, it's legal.

Don't make it so, buddy.

Unfortunately, looks like the steam's already gone out of the story, so I guess he'll skate on *this*, too. Shouldn't surprise me - nobody's said a word about holding people without letting the Red Cross see them in Guantanamo, or holding an American citizen without Constitutional protections, or fighting the "no torture" law... what ever made me think they'd care about illegal wiretaps?

[sigh]

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 11th, 2006
Where's the media in all of this? Illegal wiretaps, the outing of a CIA operative. This should be on the front page of every paper in the country. Every press conference should start out with the question "which administration officials were responsible for leaking the name of an undercover CIA operative and shutting down an intelligence operation in a time of war?" I think it is very telling that it took 2 years to have any investigation into the outing of Valarie Place and two weeks to launch an investigation into who outted the President's illegal wiretapping operation.

.....
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 11th, 2006
Oops - make that Plame, not Place.
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 11th, 2006
This is not about about wiretapping a phone-call from a US Citizen in NJ to a US Citizen in CA. This is about wiretapping a member of Al Queda/foreign national of a different country that we are at war with calling a US Citizen/person in the US. I personally dont have a problem with this (as I suspect neither does more than well over half the country).

Wouldnt it be a little disconserting (to say the least) to know that
a) the government gets the phone list of say someone in Pakistan with ties to Al Queda
b) the phone list includes the phone number of a US Citizen in New York
c) the number was called frequently and is still being called
Wouldnt you want the government to wiretap this phone as soon as they got the information (legal or not)?

This information should not have been leaked to the press. There are whistle-blowing rules (which I dont think this is a whistle-blowing situation). It should have been dealt thru the internal processes. What this has effectively done is expose a classified operation and signal that there is a good chance that communications are monitored (although you would assume that this would be the case, but who knows), phone numbers captured, so re-establish communications with new phones, etc.

"I think it's funny that the best the White House can do to spin this is to brief everyone that yes, it's legal. "
What's funny??- the argument is what they've done is *illegal*. Their argument is that it was/is *legal*. What the hell are they supposed to say?

Mike
Permalink MikeG 
January 11th, 2006
"This is not about about wiretapping a phone-call from a US Citizen in NJ to a US Citizen in CA."

How do you know?

"This is about wiretapping a member of Al Queda/foreign national of a different country that we are at war with calling a US Citizen/person in the US."

How do you know they are a member of AlQueda? We think? We know? What evidence is there? These are all things the FISA court looks at before they grant the warrant. In fact, because of the nature of the cases the court deals with there are provisions to get retroactive warrants. That is, you can start wire tapping and gathering information and *then* go to the court and get a warrant. How are these cases any different from the n-thousand othere cases for which the court has granted warrants?

My concern with this is the precedent it sets for future "wars" against undefined enemies. If this goes unchecked, imagine what the "war on drugs" could look like in 20 years. You go down to Wallgreens and buy a box of sudafed and by the time you get back your phones are tapped and you house is bugged? Not in my country.

Just because he says they are evil-doers doesn't make it so.
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 11th, 2006
Well, MikeG, it's not really an argument when one person says "Hey, you authorized wire-taps in contravention of this law right here!" and the other person says "Yes, but that's not illegal, because I'm the president in time of war, and Congress authorized me to do what it takes to win."

And then no matter what the first person says -- Constitution, Supreme Court, not above the law, Dictatorship, King George, CIA excesses in the 1950's, Balance of Power -- no matter what issue the first person points to, George Bush just says "Nope. President. War. Authorized".

That's not an argument -- except perhaps in some Monty-Python-esque universe.

That's why we have courts in this country. So when some person decides to do something that's against the law, but they don't THINK it's against the law, we can take them to court (as a last resort) to show them the error of their ways.

And I agree with Philo -- this is yet one more step down the "Terrorists have NO civil rights, NO Geneva Convention, Torture if we have to" extreemism of the Bush government.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 11th, 2006
AllanL5,
"That's why we have courts in this country..."
That's exactly right but it is clear that you assume what he did was illegal(..."So when some person decides to do something that's against the law, but they don't THINK it's against the law, we can take them to court (as a last resort) to show them the error of their ways."..) Calling it a "Monty-Python-esque universe" is not really an argument either. So what Federal Court do you sit on to make such a decision??

As A. Nonymous pointed out we really dont know the facts of this case. From the bit of information I've seen, it seems related to overseas communications into the US (with most likely a US citizen) but there is no way for sure to know that at this point. And to me that is a totally different question of US citizen to US citizen with the country.

It seems kind of silly to me to argue that it is possible to get a warrant after the fact. Either you need a warrant or you dont- What's the consequences if you go without a warrant and then ask for one after the fact and are denied?? Is what you did illegal since you didnt get it? (most likely the information cant be used *legally* but you got the information you wanted anyway- horse already escaped thru the open barn door)

As far as precedents, I think this is a red herring. (From what I see) We're talking the NSA spying on telephone conversations between people overseas in effectively a war zone and persons living in the United States. If the facts were truely something like US citizen in the US with a US citizen then you got problems.
Permalink MikeG 
January 11th, 2006
A quick disclaimer that I am for procescuting anyone, including the president who breaks any laws. 

That said, I personally have never cared if the government invades privacy of those suspected of crimes. Perhaps nievely, I trust the government to only spy on those they suspect of crimes.  Its not like they just pick people at random that will have juicy gossip lives, there is usually very good reason to suspect someone before wasting hours and hours listening to phone calls.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
Yeah like for example they write a political blog that the president doesn't like.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 11th, 2006
Is this based on a real example, or just conspiracy theory?
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
Or a book, even.
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
January 11th, 2006
I seem to recall from a recent thread that Phil seems to have inordinate faith in the government, being in favour of keeping boneheaded laws and only complaining once it's too late (presumably working on the assumption that the government and their agents always do The Right Thing™). Naïve doesn't even begin to cover that sort of thinking!
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 11th, 2006
Mat if you have no faith in the laws or government, then there might as well be anarchy. I don't know of anyone in real life that has been arrested or charged with anything that didn't deserve it, so until that happens I continue to believe the system works 99% of the time, and the few cases you hear about are ancedontal. I have friends who work for the NSA, the DoD, the police force, and the federal government, and none are the shady people described here who want to spy on honest hard working americans, descriminate against innocent people or the otherwise.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
"Mat if you have no faith in the laws or government, then there might as well be anarchy."

Repeat after me -- "I will not fall prey to the law of the xcluded middle".

"I don't know of anyone in real life that has been arrested or charged with anything that didn't deserve it..."

Then you're a blinkered idiot. Off the top of my head I can thing of several high-profile examples of a miscarriage of justice -- the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, Johnathon Jones, the Scottsboro Boys, Sam Sheppard (supposedly the inspiriation for "The Fugitive"), and poor sods like Timothy Evans who were executed and subsequently found innocent. Not forgetting, of course, Brazilian electricians who commit the heinous crime of, er, getting on the London Underground.

"...so until that happens I continue to believe the system works 99% of the time, and the few cases you hear about are ancedontal."

Er, no. (See above for actual, documented, genuine and REAL examples; 5 minutes work would produce countless more..)

"I have friends who work for the NSA, the DoD, the police force, and the federal government, and none are the shady people described here who want to spy on honest hard working americans, descriminate against innocent people or the otherwise."

So that means that the government will never do anything nefarious? No black-ops? MK Ultra is a fiction? Nixon was innocent? (Oh, wait, innocent people getting in trouble never happens, so Nixon was guilty. But then that means that the government might... But then... DOES NOT COMPUTE!)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 11th, 2006
Repeat after me -- I will learn how to type "excluded". :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 11th, 2006
Sorry by "Real Life" I meant MY life. Until aunt sue gets hauled off by the feds for being a terrorist wrongly, then I believe the cases are ancedontal. Sure mistakes will happen, nothing is 100%, and i'm not sure there ever would be. Sure some government will be corrupt, but for the most part if you are not doing anything wrong these will not effect you.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
Oh an Nixon was a complete lunatic and absolutely guilty for the record.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
"It seems kind of silly to me to argue that it is possible to get a warrant after the fact."

No, it's not. The FISA court has provisions for obtaining retroactive warrants because of the acknowledged expediency needed in foreign intelligence cases. This has been noted by many sources and is the reason why the administration's circumvention of the court so shocking.

As for the precedent issue, I don't think it is at all irrelavent. What we are talking about is the executive branch authorizing the NSA to perform surveilance on American citizens without a warrant and share (I assume they will share) their findings with other government agencies. I don't consider it too far of a streach to consider drug-dealers to be the enemy-combatant of the war-on-drugs and have the NSA performing surveilance for the FBI.
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 11th, 2006
"[Aunty Sue]...then I believe the cases are ancedontal."

So are you telling me that the cases I cited above didn't actually happen? "If I don't personally know anyone to whom [something] has happened, [something] never actually happens" seems like a good line of reasoning to you? I've heard people come out with some crazy crap in my time, but you should win a prize...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 11th, 2006
Anon, i'd assure you the people at NSA have better things to do then spy on drug dealers, but even if that were the case, whats the harm done? They are still breaking federal law, its just a formality that its the NSA instead of the FBI or ATF doing the snooping.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
Mat did I say it NEVER happens? I said those cases cited are the exception not the norm.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
>I have friends who work for the NSA, the DoD, the police
>force, and the federal government, and none are the shady
>people described here who want to spy on honest hard working
>americans, descriminate against innocent people or the
>otherwise.

It is not the individual people who are shady, it is just regular people who are susceptible to acting that way in good faith in certain situations. Most people are like this.

Check out the Stanford prison experiment.
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
January 11th, 2006
"Until aunt sue gets hauled off by the feds for being a terrorist wrongly, then I believe the cases are ancedontal."

I'm not entirely sure I follow your meaning, really -- you're admitting miscarriages of justice *do* happen, and that the government doesn't always act in the best interests of the population, but until it happens to someone you know you don't care?

Anyway, not convinced that anyone's ever been wrongly identified as a terror suspect due to dubious intelligence (or more accurately a retarded way of applying possibly good intelligence)? Try asking Senator Ted Kennedy about it...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 11th, 2006
All I'm saying Mat is that I think more good is done then harm by federal authorities. For every innocent person that gets their phone sex taped, 99 criminals are being caught discussing something naughty. Nothing will ever be perfect, but it is VERY VERY unlikely that you as an average hard working tax paying american will ever run into any trouble with the government you didn't deserve.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
"...but it is VERY VERY unlikely that you as an average hard working tax paying american will ever run into any trouble with the government you didn't deserve."

All we are trying to do is keep it that way. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Elevating the executive branch "above the law" seems to be a significant advance toward absolute power.
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 11th, 2006
"Anon, i'd assure you the people at NSA have better things to do then spy on drug dealers, but even if that were the case, whats the harm done? They are still breaking federal law, its just a formality that its the NSA instead of the FBI or ATF doing the snooping."

Without a warrant at the request of the executive branch? Lots.
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 11th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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