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NSA's Role In Terror Cases Concealed From Defense Lawyers

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Government 172

Rick Zeman writes "'Confidentiality is critical to national security.' So wrote the Justice Department in concealing the NSA's role in two wiretap cases. However, now that the NSA is under the gun, it's apparently not so critical, according to New York attorney Joshua Dratel: 'National security is about keeping illegal conduct concealed from the American public until you're forced to justify it because someone ratted you out.' The first he heard of the NSA's role in his client's case was 'when [FBI deputy director Sean] Joyce disclosed it on CSPAN to argue for the effectiveness of the NSA's spying.' Dratel challenged the legality of the spying in 2011, and asked a federal judge to order the government to produce the wiretap application the FBI gave the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to justify the surveillance. 'Disclosure of the FISA applications to defense counsel – who possess the requisite security clearance – is also necessary to an accurate determination of the legality of the FISA surveillance, as otherwise the defense will be completely in the dark with respect to the basis for the FISA surveillance,' wrote Dratel. According to Wired, 'The government fought the request in a 60-page reply brief (PDF), much of it redacted as classified in the public docket. The Justice Department argued that the defendants had no right to see any of the filings from the secret court, and instead the judge could review the filings alone in chambers."

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Facebook (2)

Ben Aitchison (2956707) | about a year ago | (#44048247)

So have NSA denied their involvement in taking facebook down today?

Re:Facebook (4, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44048561)

If they did that, maybe I'll have a change of heart and start supporting them.

The government has its rights (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048269)

why showing your hole cards before the hands are actually played?

Welcome to Democratic People's Republic of America.

Re:The government has its rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048331)

why showing your hole cards before the hands are actually played?

Welcome to Democratic People's Republic of America.

We need Hyena Plissken to fuck the President, fuck the fascist US of A government (with all its secret courts, secret laws, secret prisons, etc...). Maybe then the world will be a far better place.

Re:The government has its rights (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048585)

Yeah, fuck the fascist USA with their terror squads, secret death camps for civilians, mass murders of citizens and what-not. Fucking come on.

Re:The government has its rights (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048777)

Yeah, fuck the fascist USA with their terror squads, secret death camps for civilians, mass murders of citizens and what-not. Fucking come on.

The first step in curing a disease is acknowledging its symptoms.
Chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A won't get you nearer to the solution.

Re:The government has its rights (2, Insightful)

hajo (74449) | about a year ago | (#44050131)

>Yeah, fuck the fascist USA with their terror squads,
We have those, they're called special forces and they will kill people in autonomic countries without permission of the government of said countries. We don't deny this, we're proud of them.

>secret death camps for civilians,
The US has acknowledged innocent civilians being held in Guantanamo. Even though we know they are innocent, various legal and political issues keep us from releasing them. People do die and commit suicide in that hellhole.

>mass murders of citizens and what-not.
We lost about 3,000 people on 9-11, Since then we've lost about 3 times as many US military lives and 30 times as many permanently injured. A high price to pay for the US. Since we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan between 300,000 and 1,5 million citizens in those countries have lost their lives due to military type conflict.

>Fucking come on.
I'm fucking coming into your ass right now...

Re:The government has its rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44050425)

>Yeah, fuck the fascist USA with their terror squads,
We have those, they're called special forces and they will kill people in autonomic countries without permission of the government of said countries. We don't deny this, we're proud of them.

>secret death camps for civilians,
The US has acknowledged innocent civilians being held in Guantanamo. Even though we know they are innocent, various legal and political issues keep us from releasing them. People do die and commit suicide in that hellhole.

>mass murders of citizens and what-not.
We lost about 3,000 people on 9-11, Since then we've lost about 3 times as many US military lives and 30 times as many permanently injured. A high price to pay for the US. Since we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan between 300,000 and 1,5 million citizens in those countries have lost their lives due to military type conflict.

>Fucking come on.
I'm fucking coming into your ass right now...

It really puts quite a spin on the recent Memorial Day events honoring our troops. Really, it's a memorial day for the daily evil done in the name of my country. It might have been a noble force for good maybe a few times over the last 250 years, but, "what have you done for me lately?" It's really disgusting.

Re:The government has its rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049501)

Everything you described is getting closer. If you described the current state of affairs to someone in WWII, they would have been appalled (despite the rampant propaganda and the internment camps they had back then).

America needs COMMUNISM (2)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#44048313)

The putrescent decay of the capitalist order can no longer be denied! The only hope for mankind is in the only revolutionary class, the PROLETARIAT! Rise up, workers and shatter the chains of imperialist barbarism!!!!!!!!!

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (1, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#44048537)

Yes, because Communist barbarism is vastly superior.

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048665)

Communist barbarism, Capitalism barbarism ... both the Soviets and America have demonstrated that eventually you get fucked by either system of government, and both systems will conspire to take away your rights if they find it expedient.

If you think glorious Capitalism is sparing you from any of this stuff, you are somewhat clueless.

Unjust societies come in all colors and stripes, and America is already an unjust society, moving towards even more state control over the individual.

Capitalism is a system of defining who owns what, but it doesn't make any guarantees about what you get to do with the rest of it. In its current form, corporate profits are more important than human rights.

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#44048993)

Eh, in their pure forms they are functionally identical.

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44049587)

Communist barbarism, Capitalism barbarism ... both the Soviets and America have demonstrated that eventually you get fucked by either system of government

Capitalism is not a system of government. It is an economic strategy. Autocratic and democratic governments alike can make use of capitalism.

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44050229)

moving towards even more state control over the individual

I was with you right up until there.

Who's the person or organization that oppresses you the most times each week? It's probably not the cops, because chances are you don't interact with cops on a regular basis. It's probably not the NSA, although they're reading your stuff and possibly listening to your phone calls and all sorts of other bad stuff. It's probably not the FBI, who you almost definitely don't interact with. Nope, it's probably your boss and the organization he or she represents that makes coercive demands on you, several days a week at least.

Now, your boss can't lock you up like the government can. But your boss can definitely screw up your life, for any reason or no reason at all, any time they want.

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049517)

Hey, at least their kangaroo courts are public, not secret - because what's the use of show trial without a show ?

Re:America needs COMMUNISM (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year ago | (#44049703)

And yet it doesn't stop American and US corporations from doing business with and in China....

Star Chamber much? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048323)

And by the way who the FUCK is overseeing the chain of evidence?

Re:Star Chamber much? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048377)

And by the way who the FUCK is overseeing the chain of evidence?

Obviously a secret overseer.

Re:Star Chamber much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049997)

And by the way who the FUCK is overseeing the chain of evidence?

Obviously a secret overseer.

Just in case you're wondering...it's secrets all the way down

Re:Star Chamber much? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44049447)

And by the way who the FUCK is overseeing the chain of evidence?

RTFA. The NSA data was not used as evidence in court. The NSA data was used to identify suspicious behavior, and establish probable cause, but all the evidence used to convict was collected by normal law enforcement. A chain of custody is not required for all evidence. It is only required for evidence used in court.

Re:Star Chamber much? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44049711)

Really? Up here in Canadaland, the evidence required to get a warrant(aka R&PG and/or probable cause) require a chain of evidence when presented in court, because the defense must have full disclosure.

Re:Star Chamber much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049761)

> The NSA data was used to identify suspicious behavior, and establish probable cause

That has got to be the most significant sentence in this entire discussion! Think about it!!

Re:Star Chamber much? (5, Insightful)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about a year ago | (#44050011)

The NSA data was used to identify suspicious behavior, and establish probable cause, but all the evidence used to convict was collected by normal law enforcement.

Court cases get thrown out every single day because of issues in establishing probable cause. It is one of the most common reasons for criminal cases to be dismissed in court. For the government to now claim that probable cause can be established without the defendant seeing the evidence is quite literally overturning centuries of jurisprudence.

So much for... (5, Informative)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about a year ago | (#44048359)

The right to face your accuser. In a regular court, all evidence being used against a person has to be in both the prosecutors and defenses possession. I watch enough Law and Order to know this :) (Also, my neighbours are lawyers)

Re:So much for... (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44048465)

In theory, the judge is supposed to take into account whether an assertion of the state-secrets privilege prejudices the outcome of the case, and if so, is supposed to take action accordingly in the interest of justice. For example, they could exclude evidence if the defendant isn't given the proper right to examine it; or they could dismiss charges entirely if the government's assertion of privilege makes a fair trial impossible.

In practice this does not seem to happen much.

Re:So much for... (3, Informative)

xelah (176252) | about a year ago | (#44048627)

Very definitely a problem. The UK has some secret evidence in court proceedings (for control orders, I think this was), and AIUI, a problem which comes up is that the defence is left guessing what they have to rebut. The defence lawyers have to ask the defendent (hmm, I'm not sure if he's technically a defendent) to guess what secret evidence might have been presented so that they can, say, present some evidence that he was at a certain place at a certain time in the hope that it invalidates some of the claims. Sounds rather farcical.

Turning of the tables (5, Insightful)

gay358 (770596) | about a year ago | (#44049707)

If prosecutor is allowed to present secret evidence to the judge, the defence lawyers should also have the right to present their own secret evidence that the prosecutor will not be able to see/hear. I wonder how fair they would find it...

Re:So much for... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#44050205)

The defence lawyers have to ask the defendent (hmm, I'm not sure if he's technically a defendent) to guess what secret evidence might have been presented so that they can, say, present some evidence that he was at a certain place at a certain time in the hope that it invalidates some of the claims.

Dangerous, dangerous. What if the only way to "guess" about the evidence is to either be guilty, or be privy to the secret info?

If the government might have evidence that defendant was at place P at time T, and defence now shows that defendant was elsewhere E at time T, then the fact that defendant knows that T is material to the case might already show that he knows something which he couldn't if he were innocent. Nice Catch-22.

Re:So much for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049975)

In short, America has reached the advanced state of justice called "Spanish Inquisition".

Re:So much for... (5, Interesting)

portwojc (201398) | about a year ago | (#44048471)

You are facing your accuser. You just don't have the security clearance to view the evidence. And because such evidence will raise nasty questions about how it was collected. Like what's happening now...

There is a quote out of SW EP1 that rings so true in government when anything goes south on them: "I will make it legal" - Darth Sidious

Historical Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048779)

Here is an in-depth NPR broadcast from 2006 that explains the history, and abuse of the executive branch claiming State Secrets

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5495919

Re:So much for... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44048851)

You just don't have the security clearance to view the evidence. And because such evidence will raise nasty questions about how it was collected.

Well, not all the evidence anyway. The fact that some evidence exists at all reveals important things about how it was uncovered.

For the purposes of illustration, suppose the US was able to listen in on a North Korean spy that had just delivered a load of man portable anti-aircraft missiles to an al Qaida cell*. If the al Qaida leader had told the North Korean spy that he had a plan to shoot down a passenger jet at San Francisco airport, and the spy reported that back to headquarters, the US could intercept that message and know about it. There might be enough information in the spy's report (to whom the missiles were delivered, where, when, what they would be used for) to lead to an arrest of the terrorist. But if the source of the information leading to the arrest was made public, then North Korea would know that it didn't have secure communications with its spies in the field, and would change its codes and/or communication procedures. If it did that, the US would lose its ability to conduct surveillance of the spies of a hostile nation, which would be a pretty important thing to lose. There can be plenty of conundrums that arise from this sort of thing.

* Manual found in Mali suggests al-Qaida training to use surface-to-air missile [calgaryherald.com] . State Sponsors: North Korea [cfr.org]

Relist North Korea As a Terrorist Sponsor [humanevents.com]

...Pyongyang kidnapped at least 10 Japanese citizens and harbored Japanese Red Army terrorists since the 1970s. Until 2008, the Bush administration routinely cited the kidnappings and the presence of Japanese Red Army terrorists as justification for including North Korea on the list.

CRS cites reports describing North Korean attempts to smuggle conventional arms, including machine guns and anti-tank rocket launchers, to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers), a U.S. Government designated foreign terrorist organization in Sri Lanka. Those reports indicate the Sri Lankan navy intercepted and attacked three North Korean ships carrying arms in separate 2006 and 2007 incidents.

North Korea’s relationship with Hizballah, an Iranian terrorist proxy that is also designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., continues. CRS cites 2006 and 2007 reports detailing an extensive program by North Korea to provide arms and training to Hizballah. The training provided to Hizballah cadre lasted months and included officials such as Hassan Nasrallah, Hizballah’s secretary-general. North Korean trainers masquerading as the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation went to southern Lebanon to teach Hizballah terrorists how to develop and construct underground military facilities.

Re:So much for... (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year ago | (#44049057)

For the purposes of illustration, suppose the US was able to listen in on a North Korean spy that had just delivered a load of man portable anti-aircraft missiles to an al Qaida cell*. If the al Qaida leader had told the North Korean spy that he had a plan to shoot down a passenger jet at San Francisco airport, and the spy reported that back to headquarters, the US could intercept that message and know about it. There might be enough information in the spy's report (to whom the missiles were delivered, where, when, what they would be used for) to lead to an arrest of the terrorist. But if the source of the information leading to the arrest was made public, then North Korea would know that it didn't have secure communications with its spies in the field, and would change its codes and/or communication procedures. If it did that, the US would lose its ability to conduct surveillance of the spies of a hostile nation, which would be a pretty important thing to lose. There can be plenty of conundrums that arise from this sort of thing.

It is a problem, but even arresting the guy would could have the same impact. It's not as if his chums will assume that the SEALs came on account of those outstanding speeding tickets. Of course I understand that merely arresting the guy won't necessarily tip them off to the source.

I see a bigger problem in the form of evidence being kept secret and used against someone in a trial. That's a bigger risk, as at that point we may as well employ the Star Chamber for "terrorism".

I'm fine with evidence being kept secret for limited operational reasons, with suitable judicial oversight and disclosure of volume and reasons for these request, but not for it to allow Guantanamo Bay-like limbos to spring up.

Re:So much for... (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44049335)

I see a bigger problem in the form of evidence being kept secret and used against someone in a trial. That's a bigger risk, as at that point we may as well employ the Star Chamber for "terrorism".

It is problematic for trials and other court proceedings. I have seen cases reported in which a defense attorney was given a security clearance to review the evidence and work the issues it creates. Of course that attorney is limited in what he or she can tell the defendant. And not every attorney is trustworthy in handing national security related matters.

Conviction of disbarred lawyer Lynne Stewart upheld for smuggling messages to jailed terrorist [nydailynews.com]

It would be way better if al Qaida would simply stop attacking, but I guess there is little chance of that happening.

Re:So much for... (1)

rthille (8526) | about a year ago | (#44049493)

I accept your premise, but I reject that North Korea changing their codes and our agencies having a harder time listening in being worth giving up our Constitution for. A few downed planes a year isn't worth giving up our freedoms for.

Re:So much for... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44049709)

I reject the assertion that the Constitution is being given up even if there are some difficult corner cases.

Down enough planes and much of the public will abandon air travel, with all of the consequences that will entail, including massive price increases for remaining travel which will cause more people to leave it.

NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44050151)

That whole discussion is a Wrong Dichotomy: If NSA finds out something, they are supposed to "anonymously tipp off" the FBI about the criminal/terrorist and let them do the rest. If the government wants to use an NSA intercept as "evidence", then they need to make it open how NSA got it.

I am smelling a boatload of bullshit here. The Military Industrial Complex and their "ISR" subbranch want absolute police powers instead of just tipping off law enforcement and let them collect evidence the usual way (bugging some person very specifically instead of fishing expeditions).

Re:So much for... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44050497)

I reject the assertion that the Constitution is being given up even if there are some difficult corner cases.

As if getting molested at airports, spied on, tracked, and shoved off to free speech zones are "difficult corner cases"...

You're a coward who believes that safety is more important than freedom, but it's not. Why don't you and your ilk go ruin another country?

Re:So much for... (1)

hammyhew (2729501) | about a year ago | (#44050273)

I see the right to a fair trial as far more important than preventing acts of terrorism. I don't care if you claim that the terrorists could kill literally every single american overnight without these systems in place.

Re:So much for... (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44048607)

In a regular court, all evidence being used against a person has to be in both the prosecutors and defenses possession.

Well, that shit-cans my defense plans:

Mom: "You never call me on the phone!"

Me: "Sure I do! Just ask the NSA!"

Re:So much for... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#44048655)

The right to face your accuser. In a regular court, all evidence being used against a person has to be in both the prosecutors and defenses possession. I watch enough Law and Order to know this :) (Also, my neighbours are lawyers)

...and probably terrorists. What kind of pinko, socialist, anti-American nonsense is this? How dare you suggest that some lofty notion like liberty or privacy supersedes our government's need to protect us from "teh evil-dooers'?

Re:So much for... (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44049353)

protect us from "teh evil-dooers'?

The phrase is "bad guys." Because that's how high-ranking law enforcement and military officials are supposed to talk nowadays -- like preschoolers. I can't figure out whether that indicates their own intelligence and maturity, or their opinion of the public's.

Re:So much for... (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44048683)

What the "national security" cloak is really about is controlling the evidence. It's easy to claim you're stopping terrorism when you control all the evidence that shows whether there was any terrorist threat in the first place. When the government goes to the bother of having a trial -- and that will be increasingly rarely -- they can bring out their best stuff and prevent the defense from ever seeing anything remotely exculpatory. When we get to the point where the government fabricates a key piece of evidence now and then, how will the court know? Who's to say that is not happening routinely?

Why the courts admit secret evidence totally escapes me. Quite possibly, that's a worse breach of personal freedom than the surveillance itself, because without secret evidence the surveillance couldn't be (legally) used against citizens.

Re:So much for... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#44049597)

Did you stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night too?

If people don't take their privacy seriously (0)

arcite (661011) | about a year ago | (#44048365)

Then why shouldn't the government have complete access to your data? Honestly, we use Google, Facebook, ect... they all have detailed records of our activities and identities that they aggregate and sell for profit. Yet no one protests, as they enjoy the bread and circuses of free Facebook or YouTube. If people started to take their privacy seriously, to attribute a value to their individuality, then maybe we'd get somewhere. The internet is a cesspool, assume everyone is watching. If you don't want your secrets known, protect yourself. We are still in the stoneages of Internet development, imagine what it will be like in 20 years! Wake up people! Take responsibility! If the NSA doesn't get you, Chinese/Iranian/Russian/ect... hackers will.

Re:If people don't take their privacy seriously (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048483)

For starters, the government are the ones making the law and they are usually elected, that together with knowing everything about you is asking for trouble. Especially since I believe in the US, you lose the right to vote once you become a "criminal".

Not saying that people are doing the right thing on facebook, but because people are idiots there doesn't mean we shouldn't protect them from government. People simply don't know about this all happening in many cases, and its their fault and the fault of the people that do know. They really should be more interested, but the people that know should show more concern. If you never tell anybody you actually value your privacy a lot and they should as well, why would they, they probably assume you don't care either. Making a lot of commotion around all these things on slashdot isn't exactly going to make many more people aware of the facts.

Re:If people don't take their privacy seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048661)

But is it the peoples fault "if they don't know?", just as the new standard of math in weather forecasting is 2+2=3, if an agency is formed, unknown to the public, till it is ratted out. Doe the public know what the agency is doing? I think you are justifying war by the bushes.
This revelation of the agency, the NSA, was told of during the bushes era, no one "protested", or so we heard of in the news. But is that true? Only one agency could say. Now the revelation of what is in the records, And then this information is used by the agency, with contractors, who have total access. And we are complaining of revelation of secrets of ours?
How about this. There are missing people in the US of A. Now we know that some those people had cell phones in their possession, till the cell phone went dead. And they did not help the police? We know that some murders are committed with people with cell phones, and those cell phones can track you to with in 6 feet. Better then GPS, which is 60 foot , places you or a witness within a crime scene area,
  Lets get some use off those bastards of security. Make their listening useful for something.

Re:If people don't take their privacy seriously (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049745)

Then why shouldn't the government have complete access to your data?

For the same reason that (some) people being exhibitionists shouldn't allow the government or some business to secretly install video cameras in my bathroom. And then when they are discovered have some idiot say (and be taken seriously) that everyone knows that you should sweep your bathroom for cameras and anyone who doesn't has no expectation of privacy.

As the technological means of snooping improve at a pace consistent with Moore's Law, and the "internet of things" increases the physical space that is internet connected, the expense and technological difficulty of maintaining any privacy will become prohibitive for any person who wishes to communicate at all.

  Accepting the argument that nobody has any justifiable expectations of privacy under any conditions where a better informed person might not have an expectation of privacy is the sure path to nobody having any privacy anywhere.

The role of NSA in terror cases is CREATING TERROR (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048367)

NSA is now shown to be an anti-american organisation, anti-constitutional, illegal in its very nature.

It should be shut down, spending on NSA should be brought down to 0 and people working in it should be looked at individually, because each one of them is violating the law and the management should be imprisoned (but at least impeached) for lying to Congress.

NSA has a role in terror cases alright, it's creating terror. It's terrorizing Americans (and others as well by the way, not that it matters to Americans much).

roman_mir [slashdot.org]

Re:The role of NSA in terror cases is CREATING TER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049769)

I don't feel particularly terrorized, honestly.

And no, I don't want our premier signals intelligence group shut down for this.

Just pass some laws to ensure that this stuff only gets used in courts for actual terrorism or defense. I don't want to see even armed bank robbers thrown in jail due to NSA intel. Not unless they declassify it. That actually makes sense.

Re:The role of NSA in terror cases is CREATING TER (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049929)

I don't feel particularly terrorized, honestly.

And no, I don't want our premier signals intelligence group shut down for this.

Just pass some laws to ensure that this stuff only gets used in courts for actual terrorism or defense. I don't want to see even armed bank robbers thrown in jail due to NSA intel. Not unless they declassify it. That actually makes sense.

News flash for you.... those laws already exist, and are being willfully skirted as we type. What makes you think they will follow the "new" laws you propose?

The media's logic. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048389)

I felt I needed a dose of stupidity, so I tuned into one of the news channels to see what they were saying about this case. After they were done with their character assassination of Edward Snowden (as if it has anything to do with the NSA's spying), they decided to apply some brilliant logic to the situation: Since Snowden is so clearly a dirty traitor and can't be trusted, we should all trust the guys from the NSA to do what's right. Evidently, if one person cannot be trusted, you must trust the secretive guy who is in direct opposition to the other guy...

And this comes from the people who claim to want small government. Yeah, okay. Small government... unless we think something will help stop the terrorists, and in that case, the government should do whatever it wants and violate the constitution as it wants!

Re:The media's logic. (1)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#44050243)

I felt I needed a dose of stupidity, so I tuned into one of the news channels to see what they were saying about this case. After they were done with their character assassination of Edward Snowden (as if it has anything to do with the NSA's spying), they decided to apply some brilliant logic to the situation: Since Snowden is so clearly a dirty traitor and can't be trusted, we should all trust the guys from the NSA to do what's right. Evidently, if one person cannot be trusted, you must trust the secretive guy who is in direct opposition to the other guy...

And this comes from the people who claim to want small government. Yeah, okay. Small government... unless we think something will help stop the terrorists, and in that case, the government should do whatever it wants and violate the constitution as it wants!

The US (and many other nations like France and the UK) have done this for ages. The enemy of your enemy. Remember the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s? Afghanistan - Russia back then as well? This created the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan that turned evil later on. It's stupid opportunistic policy, it's a problem for later. When news channels broadcast this kind of logic, it's only because many people want to hear this. These are the news channels that don't bring news, but that feed the fear, by request of the people who fear, just to be reassured.

Secret courts and the right to know ... (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44048391)

So you lose the right to know your accuser, the basis on which you're accused, and the ability to see the evidence against you.

But you have to trust us, if he wasn't a bad person we wouldn't be watching him. We're just not allowed to tell you why.

This is getting pretty scary, and it seems like it undermines some pretty basic rights of the accused. Because apparently you could be tried and convicted without ever being told what for.

The US (and sadly by extension most every other country) is ceasing to be free, and starting to get to the level of the of Soviets in terms of being able to do anything in terms of state security.

Sad. This freedom thing has been a nice experiment, but not we're moving towards the global police state -- or at least a globe filled with a bunch of different police states.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44048511)

Everyone need to read (or reread) Kafka's "The Trial" *now*.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (0, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44048631)

The FISA court doesn't try people. Its primary purpose is to issue warrants for national security surveillance operations. You can find some background on it at the link:

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [fjc.gov]

Any actual trials would be held in other courts.

The US and the West are still free, but the people need to be politically active to maintain that freedom. Legislatures and executives must engage in oversight of their intelligence agencies.

There is still a pretty substantial difference between the Western nations and the Soviet Union. Even Russia is far from being the Soviet Union even if it is on somewhat shaky ground from time to time. (Old habits can die hard.)

The Soviet Story (2008) [youtube.com]
A Portrait of Stalin: Secret Police [youtube.com]

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44048781)

The FISA court doesn't try people. Its primary purpose is to issue warrants for national security surveillance operations.

And then deny the people who they claim to have evidence against access to that, while telling the actual trial judge to trust them.

I also know that these guys will decide all sorts of shit is legal in their closed rooms that no reasonable person would agree with. You know, like Alberto Gonazles saying there was no actual right to habeus corpus. These guys can always find one or two people on their side to come up with legal opinions which ignore the laws and obligations of government. Those opinions are frequently blatantly illegal, but as long as someone on staff said it was OK, they do it.

These guys are far more interested in expediency and paranoia than any laws.

Legislatures and executives must engage in oversight of their intelligence agencies.

Those branches have demonstrated time and time again they can't be trusted. And the more they do shit like this, the more obvious it is that they aren't trustworthy.

So now we have citizens who can't see the evidence against them or defend against it, based on the assertions of organizations who refuse to be named or involved. And I simply don't believe you can trust these people are complying with the law unless there's far more transparent oversight of them.

Because right now, it sounds like they could pretty much cook up anything in the back room, and just say "trust us judge".

You may want to live in that world, but I'm not particularly happy about it.

If someone is now finding that their own defense lawyer has no access to the evidence against them, then I would call that a kangaroo court like you'd see in a banana republic, not a fair process in a democratic country. And if you're not actively keeping your country free, you're watching it slide into an over-reaching state.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year ago | (#44048873)

If you want to know what the FISA Rubber Court is about:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/19/fisa-court-oversight-process-secrecy [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44049227)

A key paragraph in the article being this one:

Under the FAA, which was just renewed last December for another five years, no warrants are needed for the NSA to eavesdrop on a wide array of calls, emails and online chats involving US citizens. Individualized warrants are required only when the target of the surveillance is a US person or the call is entirely domestic. But even under the law, no individualized warrant is needed to listen in on the calls or read the emails of Americans when they communicate with a foreign national whom the NSA has targeted for surveillance.

If they are targeting a foreign national and listening to their communications, they don't need a warrant if you, an American, calls that person. It would be like the FBI conducting surveillance of a mob run business and having a warrant to tap its lines. It wouldn't need to get a warrant for each different caller so that it could listen to the conversation. That doesn't make a lot of sense, which is why Greenwald is up in arms about it.

And then there is this section:

...Contrary to the claims by NSA defenders that the surveillance being conducted is legal, the Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted any efforts to obtain judicial rulings on whether this law is consistent with the Fourth Amendment or otherwise legal....

There have been numerous court cases regarding even warrantless surveillance in particular circumstances. The courts have sided with the President's power to do this.

Surveillance Court Upholds Bush on Warrantless Wiretapping [nationalreview.com]

The New York Times reports that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review — the specialized federal appeals court created by the 1978 FISA statute to rule on questions involving national security surveillance — has reaffirmed that the President of the United States has inherent constitutional authority to monitor international communications without court permission.

Congress has no power to change the President's Constitutionally derived powers by ordinary law.

Greenwald is a smart man that leads many astray due to his fringe politics.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048691)

I hate to say it, and will probably get on some secret list for saying so, but perhaps it's getting time to excersize our 2nd amendment rights in defense of the others especially the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th.

Our founding fathers enumerated these rights (9th amendment). Also it can safely be assumed that the order in which they appear was probably pretty important to them.

The 2nd amendment exists specifically to guarantee that all governments including our own remember the others. Hence the well regulated militia which actually means well armed, non-professional citizen-soldiers, not the "well controlled, semi-pro soldiers" of the reserves and national guard.

Our biggest problem right now isn't the politicians so much as the populace. Most people think that the Constitution and the Bill or Rights are a grant and don't seem to comprehend that they were intended as an enumeration or acknowledgement. However this is why they are called rights and not privileges.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44049115)

Our founding fathers enumerated these rights (9th amendment). Also it can safely be assumed that the order in which they appear was probably pretty important to them.

Actually, by definition, didn't the amendments come after the original document?

Those amendments aren't written in a priority list, they're in the order people realized they needed to be added.

They're called amendments because they were added later .. in fact, 1-10 were some 4 years later, with the rest coming in over time.

The 1st doesn't trump the 2nd ... they're all supposed to be inviolate.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (1)

dryeo (100693) | about a year ago | (#44049981)

Actually be definition the amendments are in a sort of priority list, at least in the sense that later amendments trump earlier ones and the original constitution. Doesn't matter with the original 10 as none conflict but for example (I'm not American so don't remember the actual numbers) you can have an amendment prohibiting alcohol, then a later one repealing the first one. You could also have a new amendment that changes one of the earlier ones, eg an amendment that allowed government to legislate against certain types of speech such as child porn or speech not in the interests of national security. Strictly speaking that is how it should have been done rather then a court ruling that "Congress will pass no law" actually meaning "Congress can only pass these laws" that restrict speech.
I find that the proposed Corwin amendment is interesting as to quote

It would forbid subsequent attempts to amend the Constitution to empower the Congress to "abolish or interfere" with the "domestic institutions" of the states, including "persons held to labor or service"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corwin_amendment [wikipedia.org]

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (1)

rthille (8526) | about a year ago | (#44049573)

No, it's way too early to use the 2nd. Besides, you'd just be gunned down by many more people with many more guns.
Now is the time to organize at the grass-roots level, work with your neighbors and others in your community and vote the bastards out.

Oh, and when ever anyone brings up terror, point out that they must be really scared of cars, since they kill far more people than terrorists ever will.

Re:Secret courts and the right to know ... (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | about a year ago | (#44049685)

What's lacking here is branding awareness and a lack of a clear plan of execution. Watching this unfold in the media is torture. We need a catchy new name to get the public behind this fast-track form of getting the obviously guilty terrorists brought before the law.

How about the Stars and Stripes Chamber?

NSA is the least of the problems... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048407)

Congress should be impeaching the President, and then in an act of real patriotism impeach themselves.
99% of Congress went along with Bush's illegal anticonstitutional plan, and then went along a second time to Obama's tune.
Fucking traitors that they are.

* is critical to national security. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048423)

Confidentiality is critical to national security.
Call tracking is critical to national security.
Email tracking is critical to national security.
Location tracking is critical to national security.
Financial tracking is critical to national security.
Social network tracking is critical to national security.
  tracking is critical to national security.

I bet some dictators are feeling silly of not thinking of this before...lets call it democracy and then rollback the changes saying "critical for national security"

Re:* is critical to national security. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44048551)

Kim Jung Il would like a word with you. I mean, it is called "Democratic People's Republic of Korea".

I blame the american people (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048441)

Why? Because they let it happen.

You don't give a toss about your own constitution, if you did, you would have done something by now.

Re:I blame the american people (1)

coId fjord (2949869) | about a year ago | (#44048459)

I blame the american people

I blame both.

Re:I blame the american people (5, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#44048467)

As long as they can get their weekly does of the Kardashians, Americans just don't give a shit about their freedoms anymore.

Fat, dumb, and happy. That's how the emperor of Rome did it, and that's how our government is doing it now.

Re:I blame the american people (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048495)

Club of Rome is REAL

dprogram.net/2013/06/17/source-http911disclosure-blogspot-com201306proof-of-bilderberg-conspiracy-100-htmlixzz2wxc6ncad-proof-of-the-bilderberg

Check out this image.... http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7mKARzRd5Zw/Ub-4mZLiiAI/AAAAAAAADBY/4t0YInFKn5w/s1600/DSC_0350.JPG

Re:I blame the american people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048593)

"As long as they can get their weekly does of the Kardashians"

A doe is a female deer. I think the proper term for Kardashians is "bitches."

Re:I blame the american people (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#44049013)

I wish I could get a dose of Kardashian or three.
At the same time even!

Re:I blame the american people (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44049247)

I wish I could get a dose of Kardashian or three.

You might get a dose from Kardashian ... she's like the town bicycle.

Re:I blame the american people (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#44049845)

Actually it's dose and stop snooping on my TV watching habits! NFW would I touch a Kardashian with a 10 foot pole either, too much fat. Also, I happen to take my freedoms seriously and yes, sometimes I do wish that everybody who had a vote actually cared and studied the issues. From Gerrymandering to people who go across state lines and vote twice we have a system that works but has some very serious flaws and any attempts at changing that result in court challenges and calls that somebody is disenfranchising some minority group. Shit if we gave the Snail Darter or Spotted Owl the vote we'd grind to a fucking halt. We've become all about perception and putting labels on things to make people feel special and so others with like attitudes or situations can rally around it and call everybody who isn't in their little clique barbarians. Which is what the Romans did...

And actually Rome wasn't all about keeping them fat and happy, that was the Senate which curiously sounds similar to today's situation. They had technology and a very well disciplined military that were highly advantageous but it's hard to maintain that for an extended period of time. That coupled with the size of the empire and a lot of barbarians getting smarter and an untrustworthy bunch in the Praetorian Guards (read mercenaries who were to protect the Emperor) didn't help either. More than one emperor fell at the hands of the Guards who were promised or paid off somehow. There's volumes on the subject, too much for a post here.

Re:I blame the american people (5, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about a year ago | (#44048635)

No individual let this happen.

The problem with the US as a whole is that everyone votes along party lines, versus voting for a candidate (regardless of their party affiliation) that best matches their individual ideals.

At the same time, we have politicians making bold promises, and then failing on actually keeping any of those promises. The President for example promised a more open government, and an end to the surveillance programs that Bush started. Absolutely none of that has come about. He may have started, and possibly intended to keep those lofty goals, but in the end, he just failed.

It is like that for every single politician out there. I'm not even going to get into the fact that they are all bought and paid for by one special interest group or another.

What we need is to clean house, we need people who don't want the jobs as politicians, they will be the ones who will perform the best. Pick a teacher, pick a garbage man, pick anyone but those who are actively looking to be a politician. I look at the current crop of Congress critters and Senators, and I am not sure what they stand for, they certainly don't stand for the little guys within their respective states..

Meh.. I am done,.. This turned into a rant that I was hoping to avoid.

Re:I blame the american people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049635)

Watching the idiots that get elected around the world I can't help but feel that we would be just as well off (better, perhaps) if we selected our leaders at random with a lottery system.

QUERY: IF A FISA IN A FIST IS WORTH 100 . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048455)

Then

How many Bee Gees are StayinAliiiiiiiiiiiiii eye iiiiiiiiiiiiiii eye iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiivah ??

Time to end the charade (5, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year ago | (#44048497)

An individual cannot "wage war." An organization that can only field a few attackers here and there cannot "wage war." Waging war implicitly means the ability to attack an enemy, occupy their land and drive out their political authority. Most terrorist organizations cannot field an army capable of occupying a one camel town for more than week, and their affiliates that can are not making war on us.

If the President can use his war powers on them, then he sure as heck can use them on MS13 or any other large scale criminal gang in the US as most of them have more power to inflict severe loss of life and property than 90% of the Islamic terrorist groups.

Re:Time to end the charade (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44048583)

The war on terror isn't even a real war. No war was declared by Congress. It refused to lest all the insurance policies after 9/11 not have to pay up because policies always exempt acts of war.

I wouldn't be surprised if they've been updated to include acts of terrorism.

Re:Time to end the charade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048605)

Lol, wut :/

Re:Time to end the charade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048795)

If the President can use his war powers on them, then he sure as heck can use them on MS13 or any other large scale criminal gang in the US as most of them have more power to inflict severe loss of life and property than 90% of the Islamic terrorist groups.

Pffff. Obama can illegally wage war against an entire country (Libya), and the lefties & media don't care.

The US Constitution [wikipedia.org] says: The Congress shall have power ... To declare War

There was no Congressional authorization for Libya.

For all of Dubya's failures, Congress did authorize Iraq & Afghanistan.

3 Questions that should be asked (2)

Kirgin (983046) | about a year ago | (#44048501)

1. Has evidence from PRISM been used to indict citizens of the US or its NATO allies. 2. Have any of those accused been denied trial and classed as "enemy combatants"? 3. Do any of the above now reside in Guantanamo Bay ? If all the above is true then PRISM has already been used in the worst way imaginable. I think you'll find that there are 2 Canadian citizens were held in Guantanemo, with a further 16 candidates for immigration or refugees. That's just Canada, I am sure there are more from other NATO partners. I'd be curious to know who was caught with PRISM or ECHELON?

hear that splash? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44048507)

It's yet another civil right plopping down into the toilet.

Where is the right to face one's accuser? (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44048565)

Isn't that a bedrock principle of our justice system? What would you do if you were on a jury where the prosecutor was allowed to talk about evidence and not even the defendant's attorney was allowed to to see the order that showed it was legally obtained?

Should the jury at that point disregard the evidence because they can presume it was illegally obtained?

Re:Where is the right to face one's accuser? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048835)

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Amendment VI

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

Re:Where is the right to face one's accuser? (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a year ago | (#44048865)

Jury nullification should be taught in high school civics class.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification [wikipedia.org]

Re:Where is the right to face one's accuser? (5, Interesting)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a year ago | (#44048995)

In 1982, during the Falklands War, the British Royal Navy sank an Argentine Cruiser – the "ARA General Belgrano". Three years later in 1985, civil servant (government employee) named Clive Ponting leaked two government documents concerning the sinking of the cruiser to a Member of Parliament (Tam Dalyell) and was subsequently charged with breaching section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. The prosecution in the case demanded that the jury convict Ponting as he had clearly contravened the Act by leaking official information about the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War. His main defence, that it was in the public interest that this information be made available, was rejected on the grounds that "the public interest is what the government of the day says it is", but the jury nevertheless acquitted him, much to the consternation of the Government. He had argued that he had acted out of "his duty to the interests of the state"; the judge had argued that civil servants owed their duty to the government.

Re:Where is the right to face one's accuser? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44050333)

the judge had argued that civil servants owed their duty to the government

Dude, that is the scariest thing I've heard in years.

WTF is freedom if not the ability to decide for yourself where your duty lies?

Re:Where is the right to face one's accuser? (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year ago | (#44048919)

About 20% of the US population would be totally and rightfully pissed about such a situation. Another 30-40% wouldn't care. And the rest would be drooling to get on that jury so they could convict and throw away the key.

Prism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048603)

Who watches the watchers?

As all of us that are in IT that report to people who are "computer illiterate", we all know how we can spin the truth or flat out lie, and since we are the "experts" the people that we report to are in the dark. Sound familiar?

No technological ability to listen in on phone calls? So the NSA is so much out of date, that they lack the technology from the 1890's?

Granted, it has been a very long time, but the last time I read the 4th amendment, it did not say, "you have the right to privacy against illegal search and SEIZURE unless the person or agency has congressional oversight."

Perhaps our congressmen need to hire their own IT contractors to validate any and all claims before they make a decision.

Read this and weep, because it is true : (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44048625)

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

- Hermann Goering

Re:Read this and weep, because it is true : (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049851)

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

- Hermann Goering

And what grants me pause is that, before Goering said the statement above, he said: "
"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
"

Oh, if only that were still true.

http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.asp

so now they're subverting the right to fair trial? (4, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | about a year ago | (#44049025)

withholding evidence from the defense because it's classified? That's akin to a show trial.

You insensitcive clod?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049427)

profits withOut [goat.cx]

Evil Is As Evil Does (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44049675)

Sums up the Federal Government.

Obama knows that a Civil War will not erupt at his White House door.

But NSA, DNI and NSC with the White House (including DoJ) are working their way into a legal Catch-22. We'll see if someone spots it in a few days.

60-page reply brief (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#44050113)

I always find it funny how legal briefs are typically anything but.
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