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DOJ Report On NSA Wiretaps Finally Released

ScuttleMonkey posted about 5 years ago | from the drilling-giant-holes-in-secure-communications dept.

Government 174

oliphaunt writes "As regular readers will recall, after the 2004 elections the New York Times revealed that the NSA had been conducting illegal wiretaps of American citizens since early 2001. Over the course of the next four years, more information about the illegal program trickled out, leading to several lawsuits against the government and various officials involved in its implementation. This week several of these matters are coming to a head: Yesterday, the lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit against the Obama DOJ. The motion begins by quoting a statement made by Candidate Obama in 2007, acknowledging that the warrantless wiretap program was illegal. US District Judge Vaughn Walker has given indications that he is increasingly skeptical of the government's arguments in this case. In what might just be a coincidence of timing, today the long-awaited report from the DOJ inspector general to the US Congress about the wiretapping program was declassified and released. Emptywheel has the beginnings of a working thread going here."

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174 comments

Now That This IS Sanctioned By Law (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 5 years ago | (#28655295)

It's the last whitewash report we expect to receive on the matter.

See you in Baghram!

Re:Now That This IS Sanctioned By Law (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655355)

Not surprising that jews would whitewash their hook-nosed villainy

Re:Now That This IS Sanctioned By Law (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 5 years ago | (#28655573)

I don't care if they all look like Natalie Portman.

Can somebody translate this to English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655313)

>> CIA did the threat assessments until May 2003, when the Terrorist Threat Integration Center took over. Then ODNI--and the National CoutnerTerrorism Center--picked it up in April 2005. There's a lot of detail on how the ODNI did the threat assessments, including mention of DOJ review.

Above is from Emptywheel working thread. Can somebody translate any of this to English? Or we will just get lost in legal mumbo-jumbo here?

Ah yes (5, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 years ago | (#28655331)

The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.....based in Saudi Arabia, tied to Al-Qaeda and banned by the United Nations Security Council Committee 1267.

http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/ [un.org]

Re:Ah yes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655697)

Clearly adherents of the "religion of peace" ... one wonders why they feel the need to repeat that phrase so very often ...

prophet killed over 12000 in religious genocides you say ? Mymy
raped children ? mymy
stole, raided and plundered ? mymymy

Can someone explain me how the religion of "imitating that guy" can be peaceful ? How someone can claim so with a straight face ? I just don't get it. Must be my rational upbringing ...

The only peace in islam is the peace of the graveyard.

Ah yes (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | about 5 years ago | (#28655739)

American lawyers.... based in America, and protected by the Constitution no matter how fast the Republicans spin the word "People".

The lawyers are the aggrieved party here, having received a copy of their own wiretap in the mail and therefore being the only people outside of the government able to prove that these wiretaps occurred. That they just happen to be lawyers for an Islamic foundation that gives all its money to a bunch of murderers would be a good reason to put in a request for a warrant from the secret FISA court that rubber-stamped almost every single request ever, shame Bush's administration just couldn't be bothered to obey the law.

Re:Ah yes (4, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 5 years ago | (#28655823)

See my other post in this thread. Not all of al-Haramain's money went to al-Qaida. A lot of it went to very poor people for food, education, or health care. Only a small minority of it was skimmed by a few sympathizers.

That's the problem with the guilt-by-association game. If you're a large charity and any one of your employees helps al-Qaida, your whole charity's image is permanently tarnished, even if your employee was acting outside of official capacity.

Re:Ah yes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28656097)

So ... you think the NSA should call back to the states to ask a judge "mother may I?" when one of their foreign, hostile targets gets a phone call, just in case it's an American lawyer calling. Let me give you a hint. The "charity" is part of the Al Hut propaganda machine. We, as westerners, are such pussies that we let them continue their campaign. What do you think makes taping the phone call "unreasonable"?

If we loose this war overseas, and our current administration has chosen to loose, then we will fight it here, in the west. If we do not see it as it is, we will loose, and our daughters will be property.

Re:Ah yes (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28656449)

What do you think makes taping the phone call "unreasonable"?

The constitution.

Re:Ah yes (3, Insightful)

Teufelsmuhle (849105) | about 5 years ago | (#28656699)

"Don't throw the Constitution in my face anymore. The Constitution is just a Goddamn piece of paper."

Re:Ah yes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28657715)

[citation needed]

Re:Ah yes (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 years ago | (#28658329)

"Don't throw the Constitution in my face anymore. The Constitution is just a Goddamn piece of paper."

::facepalm::
Long story short: It's the fake quote that just won't die.

According to Google, the last time I bothered to rebut it was March 2008:
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=496572&no_d2=1&cid=22832270 [slashdot.org]
And in that post, I reference an earlier post I made in Oct 2006.
Nothing has changed since then.

While I realize that quote has taken on the mantle of Truthiness in its condemnation of Bush Era policies,
and it now represents the general spirit of lawlessness, it'd be better to find something true to use as a cudgel.
"I'm the decider, and I decide what's best" would be a good place to start.

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28658759)

What do you think makes taping the phone call "unreasonable"?

The constitution.

Nowhere in my copy of the constitution is there any mention of phone calls. And the tricky thing is, there's no definition of 'unreasonable'. See, that's the tricky part - what's unreasonable and what is not. It's up to the courts, the legislature, and the executive to hash out. Not slashdot armchair lawyers. And not up to the summary writer who asserts the searches are 'illegal'. And it's not up to the New York Times, either.

Re:Ah yes (5, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 5 years ago | (#28656513)

1) Yes, I expect the government to go before a judge and ask if they can wiretap a foreign target, because that's how we make sure they aren't wiretapping domestic targets. Remember, once they have the warrant, they don't need to ask a judge anymore.

2) Even if they're so lazy that they can't bother to get warrants for wiretapping known terrorists, there's still the emergency retroactive warrants.

3) Even Pentagon officials admit that the "charity" spent the majority of its money feeding hungry people, teaching poor people, and helping sick people. Only a small portion of it was skimmed by a few terrorist sympathizers who infiltrated the charity.

4) Actually, we don't let them continue to campaign. We had many of their branches in foreign countries shut down.

5) Do you seriously think that a handful of fools wearing sandals and turbans who hide in caves are going to take down 300 million people? Can you imagine the size of the force that would be needed to invade American soil? It's moot, anyway, because you're more likely to die of colon cancer in Wisconsin than you are to die from a terrorist attack.

6) ...it's lose, not loose.

Re:Ah yes (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 years ago | (#28657441)

"Even Pentagon officials admit that the "charity" spent the majority of its money feeding hungry people, teaching poor people, and helping sick people. Only a small portion of it was skimmed by a few terrorist sympathizers who infiltrated the charity."

I agree the threat has been blown out of all proportion [ombwatch.org] , 65yrs in jail for charity work is nothing short of barbaric.

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28657615)

6) ...it's lose, not loose.

Everyone knows, loose is a bigger form of lose. Like we are loooosing our rights.

Re:Ah yes (1)

m1xram (1595991) | about 5 years ago | (#28658777)

5) There are 1.62 billion to 1.82 billion (2009) [islamicpopulation.com] Muslims world wide. They have a growth rate over 8 [youtube.com] whereas the U.S. has a growth rate of 2.11 including immigrants and illegals. If 10% are fundamental Muslims, that follow the literal teachings of Mohammed, that makes up a sizeable force. Camps [youtube.com] are already on U.S. soil.

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28660013)

5) Do you seriously think that a handful of fools wearing sandals and turbans who hide in caves are going to take down 300 million people? Can you imagine the size of the force that would be needed to invade American soil? It's moot, anyway, because you're more likely to die of colon cancer in Wisconsin than you are to die from a terrorist attack.

If somebody (Iran, North Korea) gives them access to nuclear weapons, all they'd have to do is suicide-bomb a few large American cities to pretty much destroy the US economy. That and the the accompanying political chaos would cause human misery on a scale that'd make today's economic woes look like a cakewalk.
So yes, I do think a few rag-headed idiots in caves could cause us serious harm. If wiretapping some foreign coversations might forestall that, fine by me.

Re:Ah yes (3, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | about 5 years ago | (#28656547)

So ... you think the NSA should call back to the states to ask a judge "mother may I?" when one of their foreign, hostile targets gets a phone call, just in case it's an American lawyer calling

So ... you think the government is too stupid to find the other end of the wire? (Well, they did manage to mail the transcript there...) Maybe you think they're too lazy to bother with all that dumb paperwork? (Well, there were all those wiretaps that were cancelled because the phone company didn't get paid...) Maybe you think they're ignorant of the FISA law allowing them to take several days AFTER the wiretap to call back and ask a judge? (Well, YOU certainly are!)

Re:Ah yes (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28659113)

that gives all its money to a bunch of murderer

First of all, I do thing that Al-Quaeda is a bunch of crimial assholes.
But let's be objective for a minute:

You are paying how many taxes to the US government?
And how much of that budget goes into the war budget?
And how many people were killed by US soldiers because of that war? (Hind: A multiple of that of all terrorist attacks ever.)
So by your own definition you are not much better than that foundation, are you?

Now you might say that this as an unfair comparison, because the people that are killed by US soldiers are evil people, and the people killed by Al-Qaeda are good people.
While I doubt that more than a small fraction of the people killed by Al-Qaeda were not good people, I also doubt that this is any different from the people killed by US soldiers.
Simply because most people in the world are good and kind people, no matter where they are from or what they believe in. Or am I wrong with this? :)

I think killing people always is wrong. And I have the logic and philosophy to prove it. Because there never ever is an absolute right and wrong. These are things defined by society. They are relative to that society only. At least if you think trough the usual dogmas and social contitionings of "It's just right! I *know* it! (But I don't want to think about why!)" (aka. truthiness).

But at least, you are you. Which means you can change who you support, and not support murderers at all. It also means you can free yourself from any propaganda. (Of which the USA is the grand master of the "western" part of the world by the way. Remember the "orange revolution"? Well, turns out most the protesters were US agents and extras, including the stuff that went trough the news. As soon as the agents stopped having an eye on it, it flipped into the other direction.)

I am not saying that the US is bad. Or that the people there are bad. That would be a crime to state, in my eyes. I am just saying that they are not *better* than others. They are just like anybody else. Humans. With a criminal government. Like everybody else. ^^

No matter what side your so-called leaders are on: Free yourselves, and stop supporting murderers. Instead of just parroting the propaganda of your side, and calling all of the other side evil/worse per se. :)

Re:Ah yes (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#28655769)

Since they are such an awful bunch(and to be fair, they do seem to be), it would have been really fucking easy to do the surveillance in a legal manner.

But hey, anything goes, right?

Re:Ah yes (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28656047)

The preception by the administration was that it was a legal manner.

Your sort of arm chair quarterbacking here and using the later presumption of not being legal to invalidate the entire idea of thinking it was legal at the time it was done. Let's see if I can put this in a car analogy, if you checked your blindspot and thought it was safe to change lanes only to find later the you missed a car and hit it when changing lanes, did you act maliciously and intentionally to hit the car or did you think you were being legal and safe but erred?

Re:Ah yes (2, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | about 5 years ago | (#28656313)

In the eyes of the law, it wouldn't have mattered, you were still at fault and liable for damages. Especially if you claimed you checked your blindspot and missed them, since that implies that you weren't paying close enough attention.

Similarly, in the eyes of the law, it doesn't matter that they 'thought' it was legal. Legal in this instance being them going to their lawyers and saying "I want you to tell me this is legal so I can claim I was told it was legal". It only matters if it actually were legal.

Re:Ah yes (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28657491)

In the eyes of the law, it wouldn't have mattered, you were still at fault and liable for damages. Especially if you claimed you checked your blindspot and missed them, since that implies that you weren't paying close enough attention.

Yes, but your not looking at the context. You are at fault if you hit someone. If it is an accident, you pay a fine and move on. If you hit the person intentionally, you are then charge with vehicular assault and face fail time.

The point is that the administration was under the impression it was acting legally.

Similarly, in the eyes of the law, it doesn't matter that they 'thought' it was legal. Legal in this instance being them going to their lawyers and saying "I want you to tell me this is legal so I can claim I was told it was legal". It only matters if it actually were legal.

The law doesn't really matter in this context. The person I was responding to said "Since they are such an awful bunch(and to be fair, they do seem to be), it would have been really fucking easy to do the surveillance in a legal manner." Now when the administration thought it was a legal program, then they did what the op asked of them even if it turned out to be wrong.

Re:Ah yes (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 5 years ago | (#28657603)

The point is that the administration was under the impression it was acting legally.

Yeah, that's their story, and they're sticking to it. That, of course, would be the smart move. "If the president does it..."

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28658771)


Now when the administration thought it was a legal program, then they did what the op asked of them even if it turned out to be wrong.

That's not what they thought though.

They went out of their way to get a legal opinion that gives them the green light from a single DOJ lawyer (the same lawyer who found the CIA's waterboarding torture legal), circumventing all the higher level (more experienced and less willing) DOJ laywers.

It later on escallated in top DOJ officials refusing to sign off on that form of the warrantless wiretap program.

The administration here fully knew that they were acting illegally, and were trying all tricks in the books to create some sham 'legal opinion' that gets them off the hook.

At minimum the administration lawyer who signed off on Cheney's "dark ops" here should be disbarred. (Maybe that gives him the incentive to come forward with proof for how the Cheneys asked him for all this.)

Re:Ah yes (2, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | about 5 years ago | (#28656329)

It doesn't matter whether you were malicious or merely erred, you were still at fault and should be held accountable for your actions.

Re:Ah yes (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28657497)

It doesn't matter whether you were malicious or merely erred, you were still at fault and should be held accountable for your actions.

It certainly does matter. Accidents are usually minor misdemeanors and don't carry any jail time. If it was malicious, then it can be a felony carrying several years in prison.

Re:Ah yes (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#28656499)

I think your analogy gives the administration way too much credit. The fact that you can find a hardcore loyalist who has passed the bar to tell you what you want to hear is hardly an excuse.

For the car analogy, if you pasted a picture of a nice, clear road onto your rearview mirror, and, after carefully checking that, hit another vehicle, it'd be all kinds of your fault.

Re:Ah yes (0, Offtopic)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 5 years ago | (#28656975)

It's not about high expectations with rose-colored glasses. It's about them making up the rules as they go along (the "Hey, look what we can do!" principle) and then going even further than that after not enough people step up and say, "Hey, wait a minute..."

Re:Ah yes (1)

oliphaunt (124016) | about 5 years ago | (#28657577)

Or had your drunk 6-year-old child change lanes with his eyes closed. Which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty apt description of the way the Bushies ran the country.

Re:Ah yes (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 5 years ago | (#28656589)

The administration got a hack lawyer to say it was legal. It was so hacky that other administration officials who came on board later had no choice but to revoke the legal justifications used for the program. Any legitimate legal scholar who reads that opinion will point out that it's complete bullshit (it makes me wonder how many people they had to ask before they found one who would write the bullshit they wanted to hear)

Allow me to extend your analogy. You ask your passenger to tell you there's no one in your blind spot. The passenger looks over his shoulder and sees that there's a car in your blind spot, but tells you to change lanes anyway.

Oh, and good intentions cannot be used to find someone not guilty, only to mitigate their punishment.

Re:Ah yes (2, Insightful)

Teufelsmuhle (849105) | about 5 years ago | (#28656757)

Asking enough "experts" until they found one that gave them the answer they wanted was par for the course amongst the Bush Administration, and it was hardly restrained to legal matters. This behavior was common in a variety of scientific, environmental, and economic areas as well.

Re:Ah yes (1)

floodo1 (246910) | about 5 years ago | (#28658445)

except that they didnt ask around because the president was the only person allowed to let people into the circle of knowledge of the program. It was the president HIMSELF who sent Gonzalez to Ashcrofts hospital bedside to override Ashcroft's deputry who was balking at the program. Yu was specifically chosen for the job so that they WOULDNT have to ask around, and thus could keep the program as secret as possible.

Re:Ah yes (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28657687)

The administration got a hack lawyer to say it was legal. It was so hacky that other administration officials who came on board later had no choice but to revoke the legal justifications used for the program. Any legitimate legal scholar who reads that opinion will point out that it's complete bullshit (it makes me wonder how many people they had to ask before they found one who would write the bullshit they wanted to hear)

Allow me to extend your analogy. You ask your passenger to tell you there's no one in your blind spot. The passenger looks over his shoulder and sees that there's a car in your blind spot, but tells you to change lanes anyway.

Oh, and good intentions cannot be used to find someone not guilty, only to mitigate their punishment.

My comment wasn't about finding someone guilty or not. It was about the parent which I replied to that said if the terrorist we so bad, they could have gotten a legal wiretap. The administration was operating for the most part under the assumption that they were legal, whether because of some hack lawyer or not. So saying they could have gotten a legal wiretap when at the time of this tap, it was presumed legal is not in line with correct logic.

Re:Ah yes (1)

bogjobber (880402) | about 5 years ago | (#28656937)

Looks like the administration didn't check their blindspot as well as you think. [nytimes.com] It appears that the wiretapping program was approved in the same way most decisions in the administration were approved. They made their decisions, then cherrypicked the evidence and strongarmed those that disagreed with those decisions.

From the linked article:

The investigation stopped short of assessing whether the wiretapping program broke the law that required the Justice Department to get a court-ordered warrant before it could wiretap Americans' communications. But the report did find that legal reviews were often short-circuited or kept to such a small number of officials in the government that adequate review could not be conducted.

For instance, the report said that John Yoo, a lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, gave the White House his first legal opinion endorsing the wiretapping in November 2001, weeks after the program had already begun, and that his boss, Jay Bybee, was not even aware of the program.

Moreover, John Ashcroft, attorney general at the time, gave his legal authorization to the program for the first two-and-a-half years based on a "misimpression" of what activities the N.S.A. was actually conducting. The legal problems led to a showdown at Mr. Ashcroft's hospital room in March 2004, when top Justice Department officials refused to sign off on the legality of the program and threatened to resign.

Nonetheless, the report said, the White House allowed the program to continue the program by having Mr. Ashcroft's successor as attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales, sign the authorization.

Re:Ah yes (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28657709)

And your point is what? Did they or did they not assume the program was legal until it was determined not to be?

The op I respondid to said if those guy were so bad, they could have gotten a legal tap. Well, when that tap was made, they thought it was legal so the in effect did get a legal tap.

I'm in no way arguing their innocence with the comment. I'm stating that if something was thought to of been legal, no matter how they reached that conclusion, they were getting a legal tap even though later they found it to be illegal. It's not like they knew it was illegal and did it anyways in the beginning. And all the secrecy was because it was a secret program. You don't real go around asking everyone if this secrete program is legal, then it wouldn't be a secret anymore.

Re:Ah yes (1)

bogjobber (880402) | about 5 years ago | (#28658109)

I'm stating that if something was thought to of been legal, no matter how they reached that conclusion, they were getting a legal tap even though later they found it to be illegal.

That's absolutely, completely wrong. So very, very, very, very, very wrong. Whether or not you *believe* something to be illegal has no effect on whether it *is* legal, even if you're the president. And even if they acted in good faith, they can't use that defense because they didn't have a proper inquiry as to the legality of the wiretapping program.

And all the secrecy was because it was a secret program. You don't real go around asking everyone if this secrete program is legal, then it wouldn't be a secret anymore.

Bullshit. We're not talking about asking Joe Schmoe's public practice for legal advice. We're talking about the highest-ranking government officials here. You can ask the Justice Department and Attorney General to review the legality of a program, that's their job, and they're just as trustworthy as the administration or intelligence agencies that ran the programs.

Re:Ah yes (1)

floodo1 (246910) | about 5 years ago | (#28658459)

You fail to actually gain knowledge on this subject and ignore facts of the matter like how even after people started to question the legality of the program the administration CONTINUED to perpetrate it. So even if at the outset they thought they were doing something legal at some point they full well knew that it was illegal but kept trying (and succeeding) to operate it.

Re:Ah yes (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28657609)

The preception by the administration was that it was a legal manner. Your sort of arm chair quarterbacking here and using the later presumption of not being legal to invalidate the entire idea of thinking it was legal at the time it was done. Let's see if I can put this in a car analogy, if you checked your blindspot and thought it was safe to change lanes only to find later the you missed a car and hit it when changing lanes, did you act maliciously and intentionally to hit the car or did you think you were being legal and safe but erred?

Oh please. The legal situation here is actually not terribly complex.

At the time, Bush and his legal advisers never claimed that the search programs respected the 4th Amendment, because they obviously didn't. The official legal argument was that it didn't apply because the President said it was important to executing his Presidential Duties that it not. So, it basically comes down to whether you buy that bullshit. Does the Constitution say the President can just write a note that says that he doesn't think he has to follow a law passed by Congress, or if he really has to he can ignore the Bill of Rights and that's it? Gee, that's not in the Constitution. So maybe you can make a legal argument for it, but don't tell me it's apparent, and that you aren't working backwards from the desired conclusion. As if lawyers, especially our previous two AG's, work any other way. Yeah, they "accidentally" broke the law due to a "misunderstanding". Not "thought they could pile up enough BS to get away with it."

And now Obama is caving in to the same shit, in part because obviously defending the executive branch and its power regardless of handovers to other parties is what Presidents and their legal teams do, and also not in the least because it's not worth the political capital to fight against the Congressmen from both parties for whom National Security(terror war al qaeda terror) is still a big issue. Like ordering Gitmo closed, then backing off as much as possible when they screamed about (alleged wah?) evil terrorists being held on U.S. soil in our normal civilian justice system.

So frankly I'm glad the Judicial Branch has come through once again and denied the specious reasoning no matter who is presenting it. The main reason all those Gitmo detainees are still in legal Limbo is because the Judicial denied Bush the ability to convict them of crimes in military courts. Funny how the least Democratic branch of government ends up being such a defender of our freedoms. Of course when they don't you can't do a lot about it, but that just makes the result all the more astounding.

Re:Ah yes (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 5 years ago | (#28658069)

if you checked your blindspot and thought it was safe to change lanes only to find later the you missed a car and hit it when changing lanes, did you act maliciously and intentionally to hit the car or did you think you were being legal and safe but erred?

Better analogy: Suppose you are a surgeon who wants to perform a dangerous operation. You start asking other surgeons to back up your decision, and promise them the most prestigious position in their specialty if they do. Suppose you find a surgeon who accepts the compromised position.

Now suppose he is the chair of the malpractice board. And that HIPPAA has been extended to give unlimited authority to seal records. Suppose you are the HIPPAA compliance officer and can seal all records that might implicate the chair of the malpractice board.

Now, suppose you were the patient in that situation. Would you get the operation?

One more: Suppose it weren't just a doctor we were talking about, but The President of The United States. Would that not be an even more unacceptable situation?

People with extraordinary power or risk -- military officers, detectives, surgeons, ship's captains, pilots, over-the-road truck drivers, structural welders, wildcatters -- have extraordinary obligations to diligence. The greater the power or risk, the greater their obligation, and the smaller the tolerance for error. The punishment for failure is termination from employ. The punishment for negligent failure is stricter than on people not in such positions. The punishment for willful negligence harsher still. And the punishment for premeditated and intentional abrogation of duty is truly severe.

It's about holding our elected officials to a higher standard. Not to sound too jingoistic, but this is America, dammit. We deserve the very best defending the principles of The Constitution. If a person who accepts that mantle fails in their duty, the punishment should befit the extraordinary nature of the position.

Re:Ah yes (1)

floodo1 (246910) | about 5 years ago | (#28658441)

I guess you're not familiar with the term "plausible deniability". See you set up a program where only the president is allowed to determine who has knowledge of it, and then you get a certain friendly lawyer to write you memos stating that it's legal and then you say "well I thought it was legal" even though you knew the whole time that you were just setting up plausible deniability so that you can say that your intent was to do nothing wrong. This is exactly how it worked for domestic spying and for torture.

Re:Ah yes (4, Informative)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 5 years ago | (#28655775)

Right, because it's okay to violate the rights of bad guys. We never, ever get the "bad guy" designation wrong. Just ask Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil [mcclatchydc.com]

It's not like the vast majority of the donations to al-Haramain went to feed hungry Somalis, teach poor Indonesians, or help sick Kenyans [cbsnews.com] . It couldn't possibly be that there were a few sympathizers working in al-Haramain were skimming the money for al-Qaida.

No, no, no, we don't care about any of that. Some very, very important people tell us that these other people are evil, so why should we care if their rights get trampled on? They're only terrorists, just like Wakil.

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28658913)

Nice try, but your fallacy fell flat. The link you gave is the UN trying to freeze Al Qaeda's assets, which are not the same as saying the UN banned Al-Haramain.

Re:Ah yes (1)

Misterfixit (890118) | about 5 years ago | (#28659167)

With respect, it is irrelevant who kills or hates whom in this case. The statues clearly state that interception of communications within the boundaries of the USA and/or it's possessions and territories shall require FISA Court approval with appropriate warrants. If the NSA either figured out a way to circumvent the law or simply disregarded the law, then the issue, ipso facto, is: "did they violate the law?" My opinion is that we can detest which ever group we wish to detest, but the Constitution and Body of Laws which provide the social framework of our country absolutely must be obeyed. Therefore, I believe that the NSA and any other entity which violates USA law should be examined in court. Should it be an open court or one which is sequestered (like the YELLOW FRUIT(U) Courts Martials)? That status would depend upon the prosecution and defense hashing out revelation of Sensitive Sources and Methods (which I believe must be protected).

The Big Question is: (1)

Nautical Insanity (1190003) | about 5 years ago | (#28655335)

What is the Federal Government going to do with all the data that has already been collected? Personally, I'd like to see it destroyed. That and I'd like to have a monopoly on a magical river of inflation-proof cash.

Re:The Big Question is: (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#28655785)

They are going to feed it to the pony that you've been wishing for.

Campaign promises? (5, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#28655345)

There's no way on earth a judge is going to hold that a statement made on a campaign is anything binding. If he were to, Obama would be utterly buried in lawsuits, as would every other president.

Re:Campaign promises? (5, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 5 years ago | (#28655505)

And this would be a bad thing?

Re:Campaign promises? (3, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | about 5 years ago | (#28655867)

Yes, because the president is supposed to lead the country, not waste taxpayer money every time somebody has a real or imagined beef with the federal government. If you want to change the government, the Constitution has these things called "elections", not "lawsuits". I don't even agree with Obama on most topics, and I'm 100% convinced that his expansions of the federal government that Slashdot seems to completely approve of will have a vastly higher negative impact on my individual rights than the hypothetical outrage that people here feel that somebody in Al Queda might have had his "right to privacy" intruded upon. However, the proper way for me to affect change in the government is not by suing every time they adopt a policy I don't agree with.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

CajunArson (465943) | about 5 years ago | (#28655927)

s/affect/effect near the end there... preemptive grammar strike.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 5 years ago | (#28656075)

No one is suggesting that the president should be open to a lawsuit over every minor disagreement over how the government is run. It makes perfect sense, however, that all politicians--the president included--should be held liable for the promises they make during their campaigns, to at least the same extent that commercial entities are held liable for their advertising promises. Promising something to get elected and failing to carry out that promise afterward can reasonably be considered a form of fraud.

Also, no suggestion has been made that the government should fund the legal defense, so no additional taxpayer money would be wasted. They made their campaign promises as individuals, ergo ensuring that those promises are carried out is also their responsibility as individuals.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 5 years ago | (#28656405)

Promising something to get elected and failing to carry out that promise afterward can reasonably be considered a form of fraud.

Only if one is a simpleton.

Re:Campaign promises? (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28656279)

Yes, because the president is supposed to lead the country

Does anyone remember when we elected people to represent us, not to lead us?

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#28657431)

Sure - in November I voted for a "representative" to represent me, and a president who presides over how the government is run - aka, a leader. I also voted for a senator that is supposed to represent the interests of the states, but the 17th amendment pissed that away.

Re:Campaign promises? (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28657663)

Does anyone remember when we elected people to represent us, not to lead us?

No, I don't remember, from my life or from history. The President has always been Leader, not representative. Do you think the people voted General George Washington to represent or to lead the nation? We vote for Congressmen, aka Representatives, to represent our interests in creating the law that governs us. We vote for Presidents to lead the nation, to guide its direction in war or peace. You vote for a leader you think is capable of the task, and who wants to lead the country in a direction you want to go. They're the Executive both in name and in terms of the powers granted them in our Constitution. That's what President means -- leader of the Republic.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | about 5 years ago | (#28657783)

In America we have no leaders. We lead ourselves.

Sovereign (n.)
1 a: one possessing or held to possess sovereignty b: one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere c: an acknowledged leader : arbiter

I am a Sovereign Individual, not Obama's subject. You can be a subject if you like.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28659613)

Oh please. And when I was a Boy Scout Patrol Leader, that made the other scouts my Subjects who'd sacrificed their self-determinacy to me. That you had to specifically pluck a word from the dictionary with the connotation you want just proves how vacuous the argument is. The President isn't a King, that's why he can't just order the people around. There are different types of leader [reference.com] than just sovereigns.

Re:Campaign promises? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28658439)

Not unless that person is 150 years old.

Oh, so McCain was a free choice? NOT (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | about 5 years ago | (#28657693)

Elections do not change our government. In the last election we had the choice of continuing Bush's foreign policy OR continuing Bush's foreign policy with nicer rhetoric. We had the choice of bailing out our economy with favours to those corporations that favour fascism or bailing out our economy with favours to those corporations that favour socialism. We basically had the choice of Bush the third in white or Bush the third in black.

They don't let us vote on real change, allowing the people a choice on the truly important topics is never allowed. .. Beyond this we are NOT represented at all. Somewhere around 1% to 2% of the public supported the 700 Billion Bailout... I mean "Rescue" bill and it was forced upon us because the elite in Washington thought we didn't know better. Doing something people refuse to support, regardless of their reasons, is not representation.. it doesn't matter how hard you squint.. it's not representation, it's fucking tyranny. It's leaders ruling over others, not preforming their wishes. We have an elected dictatorship where the ruling class only presents us limited options.

The federal government threatens us with it's foreign policy, is a extreme burden to each and every last person financially by doing little more than placing us all in debt, and a disaster in ever area attempt to provide a service that people would actually want from a government. It's time the states declared independence from this cancer and failure of a free nation.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

dwpro (520418) | about 5 years ago | (#28659365)

With your mention of the constitution, I would think you wouldn't have to put "right to privacy" in quotes. Illegal wiretaps are a clear violation of "the right of the people to be secure...from unreasonable searches", and are due more than hypothetical outrage.
 
Our presidents take an oath and are bound by the constitution, and if we don't hold them to that, we deserve the government we get.
 
You seem to imply that the proper way to effect change is to wait until the next election and vote them out. I'm damned sure not waiting that long for a redress of grievances.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

oliphaunt (124016) | about 5 years ago | (#28656079)

I don't think the intent is to make the promise binding on this case. I think the intent is to make Obama look like a hypocrite in front of the whole world. The problem isn't with this judge, it's with the Obama administration's approach to dealing with the wholesale criminality of their predecessors. People can try to change that policy by winning lawsuits, or they can try to change it by shaming Obama into actually sacking up and doing something about it. This case just presents a nice opportunity to do both at the same time.

Re:Campaign promises? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28656189)

Obama can't do anything legally. Public officials are pretty much exculpated from acts done in good faith in public office. Breaking a law to avoid a death is a common excuse to violate the law. For instance, it you jaywalk in order to pull a small child out of the street, should you be cited. If you are, a legal principle called "necessity" would get you out of the fine. It's illegal to shoot someone, illegal to discharge a firearm within so many feet of a dwelling and illegal to discharge a firearm within the city limits in most areas, but you won't ever be charged with any of that if you shoot an aggressor to save your life or the life of someone else who isn't the aggressor in most places. The president and his administration claimed it was to prevent another 9/11 and the nations security depended on it.

Anyways, Obama knows that nothing will happen and he will just look more like a bitter old fool like he does when it get's pointed out that the stimulus hasn't created one new job yet and he referred to inheriting the economy from Bush.

From the old mathematics joke... (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | about 5 years ago | (#28655415)

US District Judge Vaughn Walker has given indications that he is increasingly skeptical of the government's arguments in this case. In what might just be a coincidence of timing, today the long-awaited report from the DOJ inspector general to the US Congress about the wiretapping program was declassified and released.

"NSA is now funding research not only in cryptography, but in all areas of advanced legal analysis including legislation, lobbying, and litigation. If you'd like a circular describing these research opportunities, just pick up your phone, call your lawyer, and ask for one!"

- With apologies to any crypto geeks who got hired by talking to their grandmothers about mathematics on an open line :)

interesting.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655423)

personally ide like them to set up some kind of database where you can use your identification (ss number or something) to see if you were one of the people being spied on, and what they found or what they recorded, and it would be for the persons eyes only, kinda like after the fall of the berlin wall.

Seems like nothing now... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655479)

Compared to nationalizing the auto industry, confiscating the retirement savings of GM bond holders and giving it to the UAW, taking over the banking sector, eventually passing the economy killing cap and trade bill, planning to ration health care.

Barry is worse than the most ridicules hyperbole dreamed up about Bush.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (4, Informative)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 5 years ago | (#28655641)

It's worse than that. Bish got rid of Habeas Corpus after 800 years. Obama now reserves the Executive Privilege to detain indefinitely, those acquitted and exonerated!

Obama claims right to imprison "combatants" acquitted at trial
By Bill Van Auken
10 July 2009

In testimony before the US Senate Tuesday, legal representatives of the Obama administration not only defended the system of kangaroo military tribunals set up under Bush, but affirmed the government's right to continue imprisoning detainees indefinitely, even if they are tried and acquitted on allegations of terror-related crimes.

This assertion of sweeping, extra-constitutional powers is only the latest in a long series of decisions by the Democratic administration demonstrating its essential continuity with the Bush White House on questions of militarism and attacks on democratic rights.

The testimony, given to the Senate Armed Services Committee by the top lawyer for the Pentagon and the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, came in the context of a congressional bid to reconfigure the military tribunal system set up under the Bush administration.

In 2006, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act in an attempt to lend legal cover to the system of drumhead courts set up to try so-called "enemy combatants," which had been found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. The high court subsequently ruled against the congressionally revised system as well.

This latest effort, like the one carried out three years ago, is aimed at fending off successful court challenges to the system. The Senate Armed Services Committee introduced new military commission legislation last month as part of the 2010 military spending bill.

As the committee's Democratic chairman, Carl Levin of Michigan, put it, the aim was to "substitute new procedures and language" that would "restore confidence in military commissions."

As the administration's lawyers made clear, however, any changes will amount to mere window dressing in an Orwellian system where the government decides who is entitled to trial, whether defendants are brought before military or civilian courts, and even whether or not to free those who are found not guilty.

The Justice Department attorney, David Kris, told the Senate panel that civilian and military prosecutors are still debating whether scores of detainees who have been marked for trial will be brought before a military tribunal or a civilian court.

"This is a fact-intensive judgment that requires a careful assessment of all the evidence," Kris said. He acknowledged that some form of trial was preferable to simply continuing to hold the detainees as "unlawful combatants."

What is clear, however, is that this "fact intensive" process is aimed at determining which detainees can be convicted in a civilian court, which of them must be sent to military tribunals because of the weakness of the evidence against them, and which will simply be held without trial because there is no evidence that would stand up in either venue. In such a system, all must be found guilty--the only question is by what means.

Undoubtedly another major concern is keeping out of open court cases which could make public the heinous crimes carried out by the US military and intelligence apparatus in the "war on terror," including acts of "extraordinary rendition," torture and murder.

The Obama White House has repeatedly demonstrated its determination to cover up these crimes, including by defying a court order to release Pentagon torture photos and the Justice Department's attempts to quash legal challenges to the criminal practices of the Bush administration, including rendition, torture and illegal domestic spying.

Appearing with Kris was Jeh Johnson, the chief lawyer of the Defense Department, who made the case for the president's supposed power to continue holding detainees without bringing them before any court and to throw men acquitted back into prison without new charges or trials.

"There will be at the end of this review a category of people that we in the administration believe must be retained for reasons of public safety and national security," Johnson said. "And they're not necessarily people that we'll prosecute."

He continued: "The question of what happens if there's an acquittal is an interesting question--we talk about that often within the administration. If, for some reason, he's not convicted for a lengthy prison sentence, then, as a matter of legal authority, I think it's our view that we would have the ability to detain that person."

Johnson indicated that such extraordinary powers--which continue the Bush administration's repudiation of habeas corpus, the bedrock right to challenge unlawful imprisonment--stemmed from the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. This is the same all-purpose legal pretext used by the Bush administration to justify unconstitutional measures.

One member of Congress accurately described as "show trials" a system in which prosecutions are carried out in civilian or military courts based on where they are assured convictions, and, in the unlikely event that a defendant manages to escape conviction, he can be sent back to jail anyway.

"What bothers me is that they seem to be saying, 'Some people we have good enough evidence against, so we'll give them a fair trial,'" Representative Jerrold Nadler (Democrat of New York) told the Wall Street Journal. He continued: "Some people the evidence is not so good, so we'll give them a less fair trial. We'll give them just enough due process to ensure a conviction because we know they're guilty. That's not a fair trial, that's a show trial." Nadler chairs a House Judiciary subcommittee which held a hearing Wednesday on military commissions.

In his testimony, Kris of the Justice Department acknowledged that there are "serious questions" about whether charges of "material support for terrorism" can be brought before a military tribunal, which, according to Obama, will exist solely to prosecute violations of the laws of war.

But Kris made it clear that the administration's lawyers had determined that the "material support" charge could be brought before military commissions, and, in most cases, lumped together with conspiracy charges that would help convictions stand up on appeal.

The point was a significant one, as the great majority of those held at the US Navy prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba--as well as the thousands more who have been thrown into military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as CIA "black sites" around the world--have not been accused of any specific terrorist act. Rather, with little or no evidence, they are charged with support for or association with terrorists.

"Material support for terrorism" has also been the principal charge figuring in a succession of frame-up trials in the US itself, where dozens of individuals have been ensnared by government agent provocateurs in FBI "terror plot" sting operations.

The Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers claimed that both the administration and the Senate panel were on the same page in barring the use of confessions extracted under torture to convict those brought before military tribunals. However, differences emerged between the Justice Department lawyer Kris and a top uniformed legal official who also testified.

While Kris warned that the use of "involuntary" confessions could lead to convictions being overturned on appeal, Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, the navy's judge advocate general, argued that a military judge should be able to evaluate the "reliability" of "coerced statements" in deciding whether they can be introduced as evidence.

The administration's lawyers also backed the provision in the legislation passed by the Senate panel that allows the use of hearsay evidence, which would be excluded from a civilian court. As Kris put it, the use of such evidence is necessary "given the unique circumstances of military and intelligence operations."

The testimony of the Pentagon lawyer, Jeh Johnson, also further called into question Obama's pledge to close down the Guantanamo prison by January 22, 2010. He allowed that many of the cases would not be ready by next January and declined to state where the military tribunals would be held, saying the administration was considering "various options." Earlier this year, Congress blocked funding for transferring detainees to the US.

Testifying before a House panel Wednesday, a former Guantanamo prosecutor delivered a scathing indictment of the military tribunal system, including in the revamped form proposed by the Obama administration.

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, appearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee, said that he was the seventh Guantanamo military prosecutor to resign because he could not "ethically or legally prosecute the defendant within the military commission system."

The Senate legislation, he charged, left in place a system that is "illegal and unconstitutional," serving to "undermine the fundamental values of justice and liberty."

Describing himself as having gone to Guantanamo as a "true believer," Vandeveld said his view was radically changed by the case of the young Afghan he was assigned to prosecute, Mohammed Jawad.

He described the basic elements of the case brought against Jawad, who may have been as young as 12 when captured by US troops in Afghanistan: "a confession obtained through torture, two suicide attempts by the accused, abusive interrogations, the withholding of exculpatory evidence from the defense, judicial incompetence, and ugly attempts to cover up the failures of an irretrievably broken system."

The Obama administration continues to hold the youth, who has faced imprisonment, torture and abuse for nearly seven years, on the basis of the confession extracted under torture.

What becomes increasingly evident is that the current administration is maintaining and expanding the police-state infrastructure created by its predecessor, with the phony claims of revived "due process" serving only to give this extra-legal system a veneer of legitimacy.

This system will not only affect the 229 detainees held at Guantanamo--though this is no small question, given that innocent men have been imprisoned and tortured there for seven years. It will be in place to deal with future detainees abducted by the US military and the CIA around the world, as well as anyone whom the president of the United States--whether Obama or his successors--deems a threat to national security, including American citizens.

Should such an "enemy combatant" prove his innocence in court, no matter! The all-powerful president can simply ignore the verdict and continue imprisoning him anyway. This is a textbook definition of dictatorship.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655759)

Who do you think will win next year's Super Bowl?

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 5 years ago | (#28655805)

Uhhh... The Pacers?

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

Maxwell'sSilverLART (596756) | about 5 years ago | (#28657679)

Madison Avenue.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28656083)

t's worse than that. Bish got rid of Habeas Corpus after 800 years. Obama now reserves the Executive Privilege to detain indefinitely, those acquitted and exonerated!

Um.. Not 800 years. Lincoln got rid of it for a lot more people just 140 years ago. Almost the entire south was without it at one point in time.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | about 5 years ago | (#28657707)

It's worse than that. Bish got rid of Habeas Corpus after 800 years. Obama now reserves the Executive Privilege to detain indefinitely, those acquitted and exonerated!

Um.. Not 800 years. Lincoln got rid of it for a lot more people just 140 years ago. Almost the entire south was without it at one point in time.

Just because it was done in the past doesn't make it ok.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#28657725)

I didn't say it was ok, I said it wasn't 800 years.

And the reason it is in the constitution is because England suspended habeas corpus on the colonies in several instances and the founders saw that it might be necessary at some time, they wanted to limit that time to when it was absolutely necessary. So even if we remove the 140 years ago with Lincoln, we has 250 years ago with king George.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 5 years ago | (#28656339)

So much for change. I have the feeling these detainees will just be held until Obama is out of office, where it's 4 or 8 years. Just pass the problem on. I think for once my mom is correct, the country really is starting to go to hell.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 5 years ago | (#28656443)

Your mother is wrong.

It started a long time ago...

Re:Seems like nothing now... (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 5 years ago | (#28655693)

confiscating the retirement savings of GM bond holders and giving it to the UAW

There were no savings of GM bond holders. GM went bankrupt, and its liabilities far outweighed any conceivable future profits. The bonds were already worthless, and the retirement savings were already lost.

The government may have wrongly given a bunch of taxpayer bailout money to the UAW, but that still doesn't mean that GM bond holders deserved any of the taxpayers' money either.

taking over the banking sector

Likewise, the entire banking sector was insolvent. Flat B-R-O-K-E. Either the US government, the Chinese government, or Middle Eastern investors were going to end up owning all of the pieces of that entire industry. The American people opted for the US government.

planning to ration health care.

Heads up: your health care is *already* rationed, by your PHB.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28655825)

Long standing bankruptcy laws give preference to the bond holders over the employees. The bond holders should be the new owners of GM and Chrysler, not the UAW, who were just as culpable as the idiot executives in running the companies into the ground.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (3, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 5 years ago | (#28656031)

There was NO MONEY for the bond holders *or* the UAW to have "preference" over. The UAW got new money from the taxpayers. That's a different issue, but the bondholders didn't have a valid claim on this new money either.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28656945)

BOND HOLDERS should be the new owners of GM.

Barry made a political payoff to UAW. It stinks to high heaven and if Bush had done anything close to this, the Left would shitting bricks and rooting in the streets.

As a point of principal, the people who had a MAJOR role in bringing down the U.S. auto industry ( spelled U.A.W) should not be rewarded with ownership in the new company.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 5 years ago | (#28657875)

BOND HOLDERS should be the new owners of GM.

Technically true. However, BOND HOLDERS would have gotten something like 1 cent on the dollar in a liquidation sale of GM's office supplies, trademarks and machine tools to obscure Chinese industrial conglomerates. However, the total humiliation that the United States of America would have experienced in such a fire sale would have in the long run damaged our country far worse than these bond defaults. We'd have to erase "Apple pie and Chevrolet" from our vocabulary.

Anyway, BOND HOLDERS could have listened to my advice 10 years ago: Don't invest in a company that sells 1950's era body-on-frame vehicles that get 14 MPG for $30,000+. The slightest hiccup in the world's oil supplies or economy would tank that business model. And it did.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28657025)

There was NO MONEY for the bond holders *or* the UAW to have "preference" over. The UAW got new money from the taxpayers. That's a different issue, but the bondholders didn't have a valid claim on this new money either.

Find me a Chapter 13 bankruptcy prior to GM where a union or group of employees got a significantly larger or even just larger share of the company then SECURED creditors. I won't hold my breath waiting because the idea of a secured creditor was raped by the Obama Administration.

Also, the tax payer bailout was prior to the bankruptcy so the bondholders did have a valid claim on that money.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

rachit (163465) | about 5 years ago | (#28657979)

There was NO MONEY for the bond holders *or* the UAW to have "preference" over.

What are you talking about? GM had plenty of assets. In a bankruptcy, the guys who hold GM debt (bondholders) should be able to decide to sell all the assets to pay off as much of the debt as they can.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 5 years ago | (#28658101)

Yeah, hey had assets, the value of which I summed up here [slashdot.org] . The insignificant residual value of GM's foreclosed assets to bondholders was a tiny fraction of its psychological value to this country.

Re:Seems like nothing now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28656595)

Likewise, the entire banking sector was insolvent. Flat B-R-O-K-E.

It wasn't broke UNTIL the governernment started bailing people out. (Look at the timeline [subprimelosses.com] )

One bank screws up, and might have to make some big cuts to stay in the black.
Government bails bank out.
Wallstreet goes apeshit and bank's stock tanks.
Bank's partners now need bailouts.
Bank's partners get bailouts.
Wallstreet goes apeshit again then everyone's stock tanks.
Now "free" taxpayer money for all [executives].

Re:Seems like nothing now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28658017)

Heads up: your health care is *already* rationed, by your PHB.

Bullshit! Health insurance companies have never rationed anyone's health insurance. You can get all the medical what-have-yous you want. Uh, you just have to pay for them when they deny you because it's in their benefit to do so. You, of course, can take them to court. Where you may win or, most likely, lose. But, you know, you might get them to pay for some of your medical procedures. But, as long as you keep paying your money you'll always be able to go to court over you largest fees.

See, there is no rationing at all.

Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (0, Flamebait)

Mc_Anthony (181237) | about 5 years ago | (#28655577)

It's sort of clear now why BO backed down on this early.

Re:Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 years ago | (#28655635)

The whole thing dodges everything from 2001-2005. All they do is put it on Mr. Yoo. It's very light on details to a good point un until 05-07. Surprise = 0. The whole thing is a giant circljerk/clusterfuck about whose fault it is.

Re:Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (1)

oliphaunt (124016) | about 5 years ago | (#28655915)

It does kinda seem like the people running the show picked the fall guy in advance. Emptywheel's thread does point out one interesting detail - After Comey refused to sign off, George W. Bush personally called Ashcroft at the hospital, to try to hide what was going on just one more time.

The man's entire presidency was an exercise in law breaking and ass-covering.

Re:Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 5 years ago | (#28655995)

The man's entire presidency was an exercise in law breaking and ass-covering.

Bush didn't see himself as breaking any laws. The way he saw it, as "War President" he wasn't bound by any laws. The ass-covering part was merely an attempt to avoid the hassle of having to explain that to a bunch of naive liberal lawyers who foolishly believed what they were told in civics class.

Re:Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (1)

oliphaunt (124016) | about 5 years ago | (#28656125)

Bush didn't see himself as breaking any laws.

the fact that he was wrong doesn't make his conduct lawful. Ignorance of the law is no defense.

Re:Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | about 5 years ago | (#28656379)

And the Crusades were (if not started, at least kept alive) by people legitimately believing they were doing God's work by liberating the Holy City from heathens.

That's the scary part of life, villians aren't the handle-bar mustache twirling evil-doers that we see on TV. They, for the most part, aren't acting out of pure self interest and a desire simply to cause misery. Most 'villians' are people who quite clearly seem themselves in the role of the Hero (with the capital H required) in the story, doing what must be done to save the rest of us from our folly.

Whether they are heros or not depends more on if you see the world the same way as them than it does on their actual actions. I know people who still think Bush was the greatest president since Washington. I know people who spit whenever they hear Lincoln's name. And, sadly, I know people who fit both statements.

We told our lawyers to tell us it was legal... (2, Insightful)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | about 5 years ago | (#28655683)

Comes down to the same BS of: "We told our lawyers to tell us it was legal, and so it was." Will the Bush administration EVER answer for their crimes? I think not at this point.

EFF updates their commentary (3, Informative)

oliphaunt (124016) | about 5 years ago | (#28655961)

Since I wrote the summary, the EFF has a new page up with some analysis and commentary. [eff.org]

the IG report does confirm that the warrantless surveillance involved "unprecedented collection activities," beyond the surveillance program of Al-Qaeda touted by President Bush. The report described the scope of the additional spying only as "Other Intelligence Activities." Collectively, the so-called terrorist surveillance program and the Other Intelligence Activities were referred to as the "President's Surveillance Program." The report does not use the program's code name, Stellar Wind, which remains classified. Given the scope of the Nixon Administration's illegal spying (which led to FISA in the first place), it is sobering to consider that the Other Intelligence Activities were unprecedented.
[...]

The report damns the effectiveness of the program with faint praise. [...]

The IG report provided a dramatic summary of the dispute in March 2004, when dozens of Bush Administration officials nearly resigned in protest over the Other Intelligence Activities. The Department of Justice could find no legal support for these activities, and found that the factual basis for prior legal opinions was substantially incorrect. [emphasis mine]

that last bit is referring to some of John Yoo's embarrassingly shoddy 'legal' work, which (now 9th Circuit Judge-for-life) Jay Bybee signed off on.

politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28657063)

There is a "politics" section of Slashdot, you know. Here's a hint: if you're linking to fucking FIREDOGLAKE then it's a goddamn politics story. (It's also probably bullshit, but that's neither here nor there.)

Is an electronic version asking too much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28657669)

The US government is ususally pretty good about releasing reports in PDF form which do not consist of scanned bitmasked documents that can't be searched. I can understand scanning of historic documents written >60 years ago but there needs to be a law that crap like this be prepared in electronic form!!

It almost makes me wonder if the release of said document was done intentionally because with all of these words and phrases crossing the wires it would make the NSAs data mining machine go haywire.

My heart bleeds (4, Insightful)

Frantactical Fruke (226841) | about 5 years ago | (#28658621)

The NSA tapping American phones? I would feel really bad about that, if I did not just recall that I'm European and that the NSA requires no warrant or reason to invade my privacy. It was expressly created for that. Do not expect me to feel sympathy when a Chinese agency snoops on your communications. You never gave it a thought whether indiscriminate spying on 'them danged furriners', i.e. me, was ethically justified.

Criminals. (1)

crhylove (205956) | about 5 years ago | (#28658775)

Every high ranking member of our government has been criminal since they shot JFK in the face.

The public is subsequently drugged into complacency, but even the drugged out losers know:

This government is a fascist police state, and Obama is just the latest puppet, served up as a media distraction.

Parts of the report read like a novel (1)

davide marney (231845) | about 5 years ago | (#28659111)

Imagine you are a staff attorney being asked to sign off on the legality of a secret government program. You read the legal analysis, written earlier by your successor, and realize that not only are parts of the analysis legally flawed, but some the facts aren't even right. Not only does the analysis set aside an entire act of Congress, it fails to describe accurately the program itself.

In its current state, there's no way you could sign off. Problem is, the President of the United States has already been using it to authorize the secret program for a long time, and the program is really useful. How do you tell the President that you think the program is probably illegal, and at least some parts of it should be stopped immediately?

The report reads like a novel. The clash between the White House, the FBI, and the Department of Justice is a classic balance-of-power struggle about who decides what is the meaning of the law.

illegal? (1)

Danathar (267989) | about 5 years ago | (#28659567)

Not backing up the NSA in any way but WAS it in fact judged illegal by a court? I thought the matter was still to be decided by the judicial system?

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