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Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.

Privacy 170

An anonymous reader writes There's an independent agency within the U.S. government called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions. As you might expect, the NSA scandal landed squarely in their laps, and they've compiled a report evaluating the surveillance methods. As the cynical among you might also expect, the Oversight Board gave the NSA a pass, saying that while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason. In the completely non-binding 191-page report (PDF), they said, "With regard to the NSA's acquisition of 'about' communications [metadata], the Board concludes that the practice is largely an inevitable byproduct of the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets. Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

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Shocking (5, Insightful)

Kardos (1348077) | about a month ago | (#47372539)

"Government declines to voluntarily give up its power, news at 11!"

What exactly was the expected outcome again?

Re:Shocking (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372577)

Obama was supposed to fix the world remember? They gave him the Nobel prize for being black, I mean for promoting peace before he even did anything. This must somehow be Bushes fault. He forced Obama to expand the powers of the NSA.....

Re:Shocking (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372701)

I don't know why this is modded flamebait. It's 100% correct. Until people get seriously pissed at both parties things have no chance of changing. If you're unwilling to vote third party then how the fuck do you expect to rise up if there is a revolution? People need to be angry.

Re:Shocking (3, Insightful)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a month ago | (#47373115)

Well flamebait and truth are not mutually exclusive.

Also, see my sig.

Viva la Revolución!

Re:Shocking (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a month ago | (#47373271)

What exactly was the expected outcome again?

It's not hard to show that this BS excuse they use could lead to never-ending expansion. That's why we must stop it about 10 years ago.

Re:Shocking (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373341)

"We must give up our freedoms for safety!" -The land of the 'free' and the home of the 'brave'.

Huh. Strangely, I don't see anything in the constitution that allows for this. And strangely, that doesn't sound like something free or brave people would say. Hm...

Re:Shocking (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a month ago | (#47373365)

What exactly was the expected outcome again?

audio quid ueteres olim moneatis amici,
"pone seram, cohibe." sed quis custodiet ipsos
custodes? cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor.

Re:Shocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373581)

i for one demand a recall, i think the oversight board was over-looking something.

Not surprised (4, Interesting)

NormalVisual (565491) | about a month ago | (#47372559)

"Yeah, they broke the law, but they had good reasons!" Another useless government agency.

Re:Not surprised (5, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a month ago | (#47372635)

Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions.

Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that? I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks.

Well, I guess it has to eliminate a significant portion of the "to/from" communications that it seeks, change the manner in which it conducts upstream collection, and develop better technology, then. Right? Or just stay exactly the same and ignore the unconstitutional part of everything?

There's a quote from Benjamin Franklin around here somewhere...

Re:Not surprised (3, Insightful)

hamburger lady (218108) | about a month ago | (#47372689)

Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that?

just around when the ink dried on the constitution. you don't think this country has a long, long history of violating rights in the name of security?

Re:Not surprised (1, Troll)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a month ago | (#47372759)

What I think? I think everyone who has been running this country for the past couple decades has been a cunt and deserves to be thrown out on their ass and locked up. That's what I think.

Or juuuuuuuuust anothaaaaaaaa cuntrie.

Re:Not surprised (1)

russotto (537200) | about a month ago | (#47372761)

I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

Look up the "special needs" exception, used e.g. in the NYC subway search case. It's basically "... but we really, really want to"

Re:Not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372875)

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . ." The operative and contested term being reasonable.

Re:Not surprised (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about a month ago | (#47373329)

The operative and contested term being reasonable.

Which essentially is what the Fourth Amendment defines.

Re:Not surprised (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373401)

Even if it didn't, it's plainly obvious that such surveillance would have been made quite explicitly unconstitutional had it been used against the founders, like what basically happened with other issues.

Re:Not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373503)

A number of the "Founders" voted for the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Re:Not surprised (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373579)

Yes, they were anti-freedom in a number of ways too. What of it?

Re:Not surprised (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372849)

Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that? I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

It has been going on, slowly but surely, bit by bit, for decades. In 1990 the Supreme Court ruled that police sobriety roadblocks obviously violated the Constitution, but that the "safety" they provide overrides that violation.

The excuse Chief Justice Rehnquist gave in his majority opinion was that while being stopped at a checkpoint did count as "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, it is only a "slight" intrusion which must be weighted against the importance of preventing drunk driving and the effectiveness of the roadblocks and therefore not a true violation of our Constitutional rights.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Brennan wrote, "The most disturbing aspect of the Court's decision today is that it appears to give no weight to the citizen's interest in freedom from suspicionless investigatory seizures."

[[http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=496&invol=444]]

Re:Not surprised (5, Funny)

NormalVisual (565491) | about a month ago | (#47373337)

The excuse Chief Justice Rehnquist gave in his majority opinion was that while being stopped at a checkpoint did count as "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, it is only a "slight" intrusion which must be weighted against the importance of preventing drunk driving and the effectiveness of the roadblocks and therefore not a true violation of our Constitutional rights.

"Just the tip, okay baby?" as defined by the Supreme Court.

Re:Not surprised (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a month ago | (#47373713)

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Brennan wrote, "The most disturbing aspect of the Court's decision today is that it appears to give no weight to the citizen's interest in freedom from suspicionless investigatory seizures."

The same can be said of random drug tests.

Re:Not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372913)

I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

Of course they never say that. They simply construct exceptions out of thin air to allow unconstitutional things to happen. There are tons of such examples.

Re:Not surprised (2)

Yakasha (42321) | about a month ago | (#47373003)

Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that? I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

Why do you think it is sudden? Congress, with the courts approval, have been infringing on Constitutional rights since the Constitution was written. They make exceptions all the time: when you can speak (no "fire" in a crowded theater); when you can assemble (Sorry "Occupy", move along... move along...); which guns you're allowed to buy (all without infringing on your right to keep & bear!); and when a warrant is required to execute you (Drone, zooooom, boom!).

The ends justify the means in each of those cases, so it does now too, and will again in the future.

Re:Not surprised (2)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373357)

All that shows is that we're not the 'land of the free and the home of the brave,' and never have been. Of course, things like slavery made that obvious anyway. Our government is and always was full of freedom-hating scumbags.

Re:Not surprised (4, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a month ago | (#47373769)

Why do you think it is sudden? Congress, with the courts approval, have been infringing on Constitutional rights since the Constitution was written. They make exceptions all the time: when you can speak (no "fire" in a crowded theater); when you can assemble (Sorry "Occupy", move along... move along...); which guns you're allowed to buy (all without infringing on your right to keep & bear!); and when a warrant is required to execute you (Drone, zooooom, boom!).

The ends justify the means in each of those cases, so it does now too, and will again in the future.

All that shows is that we're not the 'land of the free and the home of the brave,' and never have been. Of course, things like slavery made that obvious anyway. Our government is and always was full of freedom-hating scumbags.

Nothing is ever perfect. The US Constitution sets the standard, or the bar against which the government must constantly be measured against and corrected when government strays/errs.

Through the history of the US, it has been both closer to that ideal and farther away, and in different areas and in different ways to different people at different times. Since government size has expanded so greatly since the 1920s, likewise so has its' power and control over ever more aspects of our lives and control of ever more US business, health, resource, & economic infrastructure. That expands the severity and scope of such bad government behavior.

We are in yet another moment in US history where we must decide how far we allow government power to reach, how many of our choices it can eliminate/control, and how much monitoring & control over our speech and communications it can be allowed to achieve.

Remember; If the capability exists, it will be misused regardless of any laws or oversight put in place. It's human nature, and especially human political nature.

Strat

Re:Not surprised (1)

dnavid (2842431) | about a month ago | (#47373419)

Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions.

Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that? I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

Ignoring the phrasing, courts have been deciding that since almost while the ink was drying on the Constitution. The problem is that the US Constitution is often ambiguous in its statements, and conflicting (or rather overlapping) in its declarations. For example, the Fourth Amendment states that the right of the people to be secure against *unreasonable* searches shall not be violated, leaving the courts to decide what "unreasonable" means as there is no unambiguous definition of unreasonable in the Constitution. The Supreme Court also ruled that the First Amendment right which prevents Congress from making laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion is not unlimited, even though the text itself contains no exceptions, because to allow otherwise would allow anyone to break any law simply by claiming a religious exception. Courts have also ruled that the right to free speech (or rather the right to be free from governmental restraint on speech) can be balanced against other competing factors, including those that arise from the "necessary and proper" clause of Article 1: Congress can pass laws that abridge speech when it is necessary and proper to their function, such as criminalizing libel, or attempts to incite panic or criminal behavior (the canonical shouting "fire").

It isn't so much that these things are unconstitutional but ok, but rather that no language in the Constitution is interpreted to be absolute and superceding all other statements in the Constitution: courts are required to balance all the rights and responsibilities articulated in the Constitution where their language conflicts. Put simply, there is no Constitutional right to not be monitored that is absolute, that has ever been generally recognized at any time, not even by its framers. Its up to courts to decide when the government can infringe on those rights to exercise their own responsibilities under the Constitution.

If you're looking for an actual case, see Reynolds v United States [wikipedia.org] . On a more related case issue, see Schenck v US [wikipedia.org] where (the) Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that freedom of speech and the press did not automatically protect speech explicitly intended to incite people to draft dodge at a time of war (its the case people often quote with regard to "shouting fire in a theater"). His decision also noted that speech that might be acceptable at some times may be unacceptable under specific circumstances, implying that Constitutional rights can be balanced against government interest in different ways under sufficiently different circumstances.

Alternatively, see Strict Scrutiny [wikipedia.org] which is one of the standards by which the courts have attempted to balance individual Constitutional rights against Constitutional government interests and responsibilities.

Re:Not surprised (3, Informative)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373639)

Except when you start taking into account the spirit of the constitution. Then this NSA nonsense is screwed. Any judge who says otherwise is complicit in the crimes against the American people, and many of them have been exactly that. There are no excuses, including 'ambiguity.'

Courts have also ruled that the right to free speech (or rather the right to be free from governmental restraint on speech) can be balanced against other competing factors, including those that arise from the "necessary and proper" clause of Article 1: Congress can pass laws that abridge speech when it is necessary and proper to their function, such as criminalizing libel, or attempts to incite panic or criminal behavior (the canonical shouting "fire").

Then they're freedom-hating scumbags, to put it simply.

Re:Not surprised (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a month ago | (#47373783)

It's interesting that you bring up Schenck, since in this context it is in fact a stark example of the abuse of constitutional rights in this country - it was a court decision that, using sophistry, managed to argue for a prohibition of the exact kind of speech (political) that the First Amendment was originally designed to protect. It's a good thing that Brandeburg wiped that abomination out.

Re:Not surprised (4, Insightful)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a month ago | (#47372691)

You should blame Google, Facebook and other Big Data companies for making indiscriminate surveillance somewhat palatable to the masses, who'll be thinking, it's okay for Google and Facebook to spy on us merely for profit, so it should be okay for the government to spy on us to prevent (omg) TERRORISM.

Re:Not surprised (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | about a month ago | (#47373187)

Equating those we voluntarily choose to associate with to those who we are forced to associate with is about as close as you can come to equating guns with arguments. If you don't like Google or Facebook, you don't have to use them. If you don't like the government, you can't exactly choose the other government.

Re:Not surprised (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a month ago | (#47372807)

I totally agree. Why are we paying salaries to a rubber stamp board? Useless as tits on a boar they are. It's not like anyone ever doubted the outcome of this. Nothing like having a government agency to oversee the government agency that oversees the government agency that oversees government agencies. No wonder the country is in debt. The only government agency to call out the NSA has been a few various courts. Not much of that either. It's cool as long as they're after terrorists but when they start going after political opposition groups or start redifining who a terrorist is.....oh wait!

Re:Not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373061)

While the findings do seem odd, this is the same group that found the NSA's Section 215 bulk data collection both illegal and unconstitutional, and raised a big stink about it. So they're definitely not a rubber stamp board -- or at least weren't a few months ago.

Anyway, the EFF is chiming in to point out that they didn't start their review process far enough back, and are ignoring the constitutionality of the bulk collection in the first place. I have a feeling this story isn't over yet.

Re:Not surprised (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about a month ago | (#47372909)

Those reasons of course being the information the NSA was able to gather about the board :O.

Re:Not surprised (1)

BoberFett (127537) | about a month ago | (#47373397)

By "good reason" do you suppose they meant "not stopping any attacks on US soil"? Because from where I sit, that seems to be their primary function.

Disgusted but not really surprised (4, Insightful)

bazmail (764941) | about a month ago | (#47372569)

This is absolutely abhorrent. The surveillance is illegal, the NSA even admits they spy on American citizens.

The US government is not "of the people", nor is it "for the people". The intelligence services exist purely to maintain and protect dynastic power for the privileged few.

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month ago | (#47372615)

Obviously, what the world needs is a suite of server-less, p2p communication protocols that would cover our basic communication needs without any centralized points of failure (like NSLable mail server operators) and with all communication encrypted.

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (3, Interesting)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month ago | (#47372769)

right after we convict and behead the traitors, sure

let's handle the primary needs first before getting around to secure comm

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47372787)

I'll take my chances with the traitors, thanks anyway.

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month ago | (#47373735)

last time corporate fascism went *really* crazy they rounded up homos, heebs, and hunkies. what's the ethnic slur for your group? maybe you'll win the lottery and they'll be a target this time around...

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a month ago | (#47373793)

Last time the corporate fascism went really crazy, the meaning of the word "corporate" and "corporation" (at least, in the context of their political platform) was very different from the one that you're imply in your post.

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month ago | (#47373871)

no, they really did have the strong ties to corporations even while making speeches to imply solidarity with the working man

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | about a month ago | (#47373161)

Persecuting the guilty is not mutually exclusive from securing our comms to block the next group. Securing our communications also blocks the corporations from spying on us, something that mere laws and public resentment won't stop.

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about a month ago | (#47373253)

Obviously, what the world needs is a suite of server-less, p2p communication protocols that would cover our basic communication needs without any centralized points of failure (like NSLable mail server operators) and with all communication encrypted.

We have one, it's called Freenet. The technology exists, but people aren't using it.

Re:Disgusted but not really surprised (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month ago | (#47373555)

I may have been insufficiently explicit in what I had in mind. It's not just the technological foundation, there has to be some practical, user-oriented functionality. For example, collaborative editing and content management is increasingly important today, is there some collaborative document processing system that works on top of the Freenet protocols? So that people could do something new, useful and time-saving in addition to doing it in a secure way?

translating "limits of its current technology" (2)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | about a month ago | (#47372589)

really means "limits of its current supply of fucks to give."

Bullshit. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372601)

Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions

There is absolutely no valid reason to violate citizens' rights. At all. Ever. There is no way to justify it. These people should be out on their asses, but as we all know, corrupt assholes are in high demand for government positions.

Re:Bullshit. (-1)

dunkindave (1801608) | about a month ago | (#47372933)

The summary is deliberately phrased in a biased fashion by presenting the issue as a dichotomy, and preemptively labeling the NSA's actions as violations. All rights have limitations, and it is essentially the legislature and the court's job to weight benefit versus the cost for those rights. For example, as the saying goes, your right to swing your arms stops at my nose. Another example is a person's right to free speech does not include libel and slander. When two or more rights conflict, lawmakers and the courts must sort out who's rights win. So from a purist's point of view, there are valid reasons to "violate" certain rights, since use or protection of one right may violate another.

Does your right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" have more or less weight than your rights under the 4th amendment et.al.? It is an open ended question since the answer may be different for different circumstances. You may feel that your right to privacy from the government is absolute and should always win. That is a valid belief. Other may feel differently given a significant threat from foreign groups hellbent on harming the US, which is also a valid belief. We elect our representatives to make the laws to create the balance resulting from these kinds of conflicts. It is not a black-and-white problem as is often portrayed on Slashdot, such as you have done above. I can see the arguments on the other side as well.

That being said, I do feel this group is probably biased in favor of the government and that the NSA has overstepped their authority.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373041)

The NSA surveillance amounts to a general warrant, which is illegal. Police could also enforce the laws far more effectively if they could search people and their effects without any sort of suspicion or warrant, but the benefits offered by such a scheme are widely recognized to in no way justify the intrusion on people's privacy and liberty. So, no, I don't think it's valid to weigh the 4th amendment against some nightmare scenario where my life and the lives of others can only be preserved by forfeiting our rights.

Re:Bullshit. (3, Insightful)

Yakasha (42321) | about a month ago | (#47373111)

Another example is a person's right to free speech does not include libel and slander. When two or more rights conflict, lawmakers and the courts must sort out who's rights win. So from a purist's point of view, there are valid reasons to "violate" certain rights, since use or protection of one right may violate another.

The problem with that argument is that your right to speak is specifically protected by the Constitution, without caveats. Your right to not be slandered is not. The Constitution grants Congress various powers. None of which include violating the Constitution in any way, shape or form.

So from a true purist's point of view, there is never a valid reason to violate certain rights, because nobody has that right.

Does your right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" have more or less weight than your rights under the 4th amendment et.al.?

That is up to me to decide, not the Federal Government, because nobody ever gave them the right to decide.

It is not a black-and-white problem as is often portrayed on Slashdot, such as you have done above.

I think it is. But I know I'm in the tiny minority that believes if you want an exception to the Constitution, you're supposed to pass an amendment.

Re:Bullshit. (2)

dunkindave (1801608) | about a month ago | (#47373277)

The problem with that argument is that your right to speak is specifically protected by the Constitution, without caveats. Your right to not be slandered is not. The Constitution grants Congress various powers. None of which include violating the Constitution in any way, shape or form.

So from a true purist's point of view, there is never a valid reason to violate certain rights, because nobody has that right.

So if a person gives aid and comfort to the enemy (Article Three, Section 3) by revealing state secrets, let's say in print in a paper, during a war as declared by Congress (Article One, Section 8), which right wins: the constitutional definition of treason, or the right to free speech contained in the First Amendment? Remember, you said "your right to speak is specifically protected by the Constitution, without caveats".

In my previous post I was trying to point out that there are exceptions to rights since rights can be in conflict, including the right to free speech. Your concern however demonstrates a fear the founding fathers had in creating the Bill of Rights, namely that a person could construe the listed rights as a definitive list, or as a list of rights that are more important than those not listed, such as the pursuit of happiness including life without being slandered. The "right to privacy" suffers from this since privacy isn't mentioned anywhere in the constitution. I am not a constitutional scholar so I am sure there are many such examples of conflicts in rights, but I can only list those I can readily see.

As I said, I do not have access to all the information the Board did, but based on what I know I disagree with the Board's conclusion, as I believe you do. It's just that I can see that the world is in color, not just black and white.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373367)

So if a person gives aid and comfort to the enemy (Article Three, Section 3) by revealing state secrets, let's say in print in a paper, during a war as declared by Congress (Article One, Section 8), which right wins: the constitutional definition of treason, or the right to free speech contained in the First Amendment?

The first amendment is an amendment to the constitution, and it comes after article three, section 3. Remember how constitutional amendments are supposed to work...? Apparently, no one does.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

dunkindave (1801608) | about a month ago | (#47373411)

So if a person gives aid and comfort to the enemy (Article Three, Section 3) by revealing state secrets, let's say in print in a paper, during a war as declared by Congress (Article One, Section 8), which right wins: the constitutional definition of treason, or the right to free speech contained in the First Amendment?

The first amendment is an amendment to the constitution, and it comes after article three, section 3. Remember how constitutional amendments are supposed to work...? Apparently, no one does.

I do not believe that the Constitution is interpreted as what comes first overrides everything that comes later. Also, I was specifically giving a counter example to the claim "your right to speak is specifically protected by the Constitution, without caveats". The clause about Treason in the Constitution sounded like a caveat to his interpretation that the right to speak was absolute; was I wrong that it is a caveat, or can a person never commit treason through speech, including through print?

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373569)

I do not believe that the Constitution is interpreted as what comes first overrides everything that comes later.

What? That's not what I said at all. Look, the amendment that created prohibition was later overridden by the one that canceled it out. That's kind of the point of an amendment to the constitution; it amends the constitution, thereby changing it. Since the first amendment came later, it overrides everything that came before it in the relevant areas.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

dunkindave (1801608) | about a month ago | (#47373813)

I do not believe that the Constitution is interpreted as what comes first overrides everything that comes later.

What? That's not what I said at all.

Then I misunderstood. You said "The first amendment is an amendment to the constitution, and it comes after article three, section 3" with the implication being the order mattered. I interpreted your statement as a rational for why the first amendment did NOT nullify the constitutional definition of treason (treason was defined first). Did you instead mean you feel the First Amendment comes later so makes meaningless the definition of treason in Article Three, Section 3 as it relates to something a person says or prints? I think the courts have never seen it that way, nor the founding fathers who passed both within a few years of each other.

Look, the amendment that created prohibition was later overridden by the one that canceled it out. That's kind of the point of an amendment to the constitution; it amends the constitution, thereby changing it. Since the first amendment came later, it overrides everything that came before it in the relevant areas.

Of course, the first line of the 21st Amendment which abolished prohibition is "The Eighteenth Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed". Kind of makes clear that it intended to remove enforcement of the earlier amendment. If an amendment and an earlier section of the Constitution were to conflict in a manner that was not intended by the framers, I believe you would see a court challenge to establish which conflicting law would prevail. It is this need to evaluate and decide such conflicts that I brought up in my original post, including many of those rights that are implied but not explicitly spelled out, such as the right to privacy. Or do you think it should be constitutionally protected to walk down main street with sarin gas grenades strapped to my chest (2nd Amendment) shouting that I will go to the local school and throw them at kids (1st Amendment)? If the 1sth Amendment is absolute then verbal threats, like threatening to kill someone, can never be illegal. Where is the line? Of course, saying there is a line means there are caveats to the amendments.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373825)

Of course, the first line of the 21st Amendment which abolished prohibition is "The Eighteenth Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed". Kind of makes clear that it intended to remove enforcement of the earlier amendment.

That's utterly irrelevant. If an amendment says, "Congress shall make no law that does X" or anything similar, then that is also quite clear. It doesn't need to be explicitly said that it overrides a previous part of the constitution.

Or do you think it should be constitutionally protected to walk down main street with sarin gas grenades strapped to my chest (2nd Amendment) shouting that I will go to the local school and throw them at kids (1st Amendment)?

Yep, I do. Until you people amend the constitution, all you're doing is ignoring it for your own convenience.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373837)

I think the courts have never seen it that way, nor the founding fathers who passed both within a few years of each other.

Then that just means they were violating the constitution from the beginning, not that such a thing is okay. Remember when the US had slavery from the very beginning, and that was seen as okay by many people? Well, that doesn't make it okay just because they were there from the start.

Re: Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373627)

... that is precisely the reason they are AMENDMENTS. The Articles of the Constitution define the structure, duties, and legal authority of the 3 branches of the federal government and the framework for the states. The amendments explicitly state the limitations of those powers as applied to citizens and the states.

Re: Bullshit. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a month ago | (#47373809)

They are amendments because they amend the text of the Constitution. That is all. There's no magical effect associated with the word "amendment" otherwise. They override the previous meaning if their text says that they do.

An amendment that would say "Articles of Amendment 1 through 27 to the Constitution of the United States are hereby repealed" is perfectly valid, for example (provided that you can pass it, that is...).

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373377)

Other may feel differently given a significant threat from foreign groups hellbent on harming the US, which is also a valid belief.

Nope. That's not a valid belief. We're supposed to be 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'; free and brave people would never sacrifice their fundamental liberties for such things. Anyone who says otherwise should move to North Korea.

Re:Bullshit. (2)

dunkindave (1801608) | about a month ago | (#47373449)

Anyone who says otherwise should move to North Korea.

Really? Tell me, is it therefore OK if they have an opinion that differs from yours to believe YOU should move to a hostile country? Or does this philosophy only work in your favor?

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about a month ago | (#47373577)

It only works in my favor, because I'm pro-freedom. Since we're supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave," there is no room for debate as to what kind of country this is supposed to be. If they want their police state, then they can move to one. It's quicker and more rational that way, you know?

Re:Bullshit. (2)

dunkindave (1801608) | about a month ago | (#47373835)

It only works in my favor, because I'm pro-freedom.

That statement speaks for reems.

Since we're supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave," there is no room for debate as to what kind of country this is supposed to be.

You do realize that there is no firm consensus of what "free" and "brave" mean in that statement, so it seems there is room for debate, though I am sure you will state your interpretation and say it is the correct one. Some people have a different view of the meaning and how we achieve them, and you feel people with a different view from you "who says otherwise should move to North Korea". Nice argument style.

Nobody votes for true statesmen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373537)

Americans hate honest politicians. We say we want them, and we lament all the dishonest ones, but whenever an honest one runs, he is voted down immediately.

Honest politicians say things Americans don't want to hear. They alienate most of their potential voter base by standing up for what is right. For example:

"In a free country, people should be free to marry regardless of gender identity." This is a right-as-rain truth that will alienate most of the conservative voters. Then a statement like "In a free country, people should be free to own firearms for personal defense", equally right-as-rain and true, and sufficient to alienate most of the liberal voters.

Those are two examples that popped into my head. But the list is enormous. The reason all politicians are liars is because only liars say what voters want to hear.

Justice (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372605)

Executive branch investigates executive branch actions and finds no wrongdoing.

Re:Justice (1)

RabidTimmy (1415817) | about a month ago | (#47373425)

That's why it's called Justice, because it's Just Us.

In violation of many Data Treaties (4, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a month ago | (#47372609)

Not only is it in violation of the US Constitution, but also the Canadian Constitution, and the EU-US Data Treaty that the Senate affirmed, making it more Law than Laws of Congress.

But, hey, keep up this stuff and don't be surprised when the Guillotines start working non-stop.

Re:In violation of many Data Treaties (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a month ago | (#47373171)

Exactly whom will you behead, when probably 30%+ of Americans consider the NSA's actions appropriate?

Our country is deeply and closely divided on tons of issues right now. I shudder to think how many of us would sign off on killing everyone in the opposing group.

Re:In violation of many Data Treaties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373247)

No shudder needed. It wouldn't be a fight.

Half the combatants are wielding guns, shouting "LIFE, LIBERTY, HAPPINESS AND GUNS YOU FACIST HIPPY PIGS!"
Half the combatants are wielding anti-gun signs, shouting "THINK OF THE CHILDREN YOU REDNECK COWBOYS!"

Re:In violation of many Data Treaties (1)

BoberFett (127537) | about a month ago | (#47373409)

I wouldn't mind it if both opposing groups simply vanished. The sane people stopped listening to either group of idiots long ago.

Re:In violation of many Data Treaties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373451)

Well start with the 30% then and see what happens to the rest.Though I think a lot of the 30% would change their mind once things start moving.

Re:In violation of many Data Treaties (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about a month ago | (#47373197)

The Canadian government has a loophole, the notwithstanding clause, to allow them to violate your constitutional rights. Sortof like passing the DM treachery notes during a game, and viewed the same way by the general public.

Re:In violation of many Data Treaties (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a month ago | (#47373339)

The Canadian government has a loophole, the notwithstanding clause, to allow them to violate your constitutional rights. Sortof like passing the DM treachery notes during a game, and viewed the same way by the general public.

Not according to the Canadian Supreme Court recent rulings.

unavoidable? (1)

wherrera (235520) | about a month ago | (#47372637)

"The NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

Almost all the US population and much of the rest of the world's people seen as.. just bycatch [wikipedia.org] ?

Another generation with contempt for government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372685)

Yeah, this will end well.

ØØÙSÙ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372705)

Ù

Next Step (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372713)

When they take away any ability for us to feel we are getting redress for our grievances, there is only 1 option left for the citizens.

When we give corporations the same ability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372715)

When we give corporations the same ability to regulate themselves, I'm sure they do just fine too. /s

I'm shocked! (2)

fozzy1015 (264592) | about a month ago | (#47372727)

Just like I was when Chris Christie's own lawyers wrote up with a report exonerating him of Bridgegate.

Re:I'm shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373019)

Jackass.
Once again the Obama administration has trampled on the rights of ALL US citizens and declared itself as being perfectly acceptable and the first thing you do is blame a Republican. Its almost as the worse he gets the more you idiots blame the GOP and encourage him to do worse.

If the rest of you wonder why the president acts the way he does its because idiots like this kiss his ass every time he does something horrible.

Re: I'm shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373113)

Are you slow, or did you not read the post to which you responded?

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a month ago | (#47373175)

I think you're talking about the ~535 traitors who comprise Congress, but refuse to impeach an out-of-control President.

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a month ago | (#47373303)

For what exactly would they impeach him? For following a law that congress itself passed?

Re:I'm shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373591)

get with the program man,
washington is a social club...
when was the last time you were invited to a presidential ball ?

VIVA LOST WAGES!

I guess this is where the people I give Ds end up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372743)

Turning in 20 pages of argument-less incoherent drivel is good preparation for turning in 191 pages of spineless garbage.

An obvious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47372745)

It isn't "the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets" that is the problem. It is their definition of targets and their collection of metadata and communications from anybody and everybody.

We can relax now (1)

nytes (231372) | about a month ago | (#47372791)

Hey, everyone, the government says that what it's doing is OK. At least we got that settled and we can all stop worrying about it.

while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason

Hey, I think I heard of a road that you can pave with those good intentions.

Nothing to see here folks (1)

shuz (706678) | about a month ago | (#47372863)

Please move along.

Hey, it's OK... (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about a month ago | (#47373005)

As long as you have a "good reason" to violate the Constitution, hey, it's OK. Now that's a legal standard I can get behind. "Hey officer, I had a good reason to run that stop sign, I was late for work."

Remind me why we should bother to obey laws again? Lead by example...

Re:Hey, it's OK... (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about a month ago | (#47373025)

Oh, that's right, the excuse has to have "terrorism" in it somewhere... "Hey officer, I had a good reason to run that stop sign, I thought the guy behind me might be a terrorist."

Can it be both? (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | about a month ago | (#47373033)

"the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

....Isn't that like saying, "I can't stop being an abusive husband, because if I'm forced to stop beating my kids, I'd also have to stop beating my wife!"

Wow (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | about a month ago | (#47373173)

"Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

It sounds like this board completely fails to understand how oversight of surveillance is supposed to work. To government can *always* defend a dragnet on the grounds that it takes a dragnet to get the information they want. The purpose of oversight is to ensure they *don't* use dragnets, even where it's the only way to get what they want. The prohibition against general warrants is needed precisely because they can be so effective. The role of surveillance oversight is to prevent oppression, not inefficiency.

this board is ridiciously in bed with NSA (1)

strstr (539330) | about a month ago | (#47373217)

they have no power, and they didn't even look at other NSA programs like their electronic warfare system, which gets used to attack people using radar signals and satellite signals. there are DOD/CIA/US DOJ whistleblowers who back this up.

also the idea that there are technical limitations are absurd. anyone can instruct a computer system to filter out data or to intelligently bypass non-targets.

the fact of the matter is NSA doesn't want to do this. and they say that this refusal to do so is a technical limitation.

they can observe our constitutional rights or shutdown their systems. that is the golden rule here. but they don't want to have to observe our constitutional rights. and while observing everyone's constitutional rights they can still do law enforcement work to nab the bad guys in a transparent way. but they don't want to do this either. they want to be able to attack and control people, and spy on journalists, lawyers, judges, and other people. they are corrupt shit. they have the power to rig elections and take out black world abuses. they have interferometry, telemetry, and tomography from space to fucking watch us in our homes, too, and even map out brain activity remotely. this is one of the current projects me and a few others are working on to expose ; basically backed by DOD/CIA/US DOJ whistleblower and system architect, fully patented, they've been doing this kind of crap since 1974 and keeping it all a secret.

http://www.obamasweapon.com/ [obamasweapon.com] has more details.

maybe some day, we will all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373301)

rise up.

"Privacy Board" (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a month ago | (#47373327)

A "Privacy and Civil Liberties" board stacked with members/former members of the DHS, counter terrorism, Justice Department & FTC. Agencies well known for their efforts to EXPAND government authority not limit it. And anyone thinks for a second that their "report" would have ended any other way?

Realistic (2)

jdavidb (449077) | about a month ago | (#47373443)

You don't have to be "cynical" to expect the government to act in the government's own best interest. The idea that one piece of government will keep another piece in check rather than colluding together to expand power is an unrealistic pipe dream. Honestly we've had over two hundred years of real world experimental evidence demonstrating that checks and balances DON'T WORK. They never did, and never will. The only realistic check on government power is secession.

Meanwhile... (1)

bmo (77928) | about a month ago | (#47373545)

On the other side of the pond...

"Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position."

Bollocks.
To both.

--
BMO

Circular reasoning (1)

Atmchicago (555403) | about a month ago | (#47373549)

"Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection"

That's the whole point! You can't say that troublesome methodology is OK because it's the methodology they chose... Circular reasoning at its best.

Way to Miss the Point (1)

organgtool (966989) | about a month ago | (#47373625)

Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks.

I wonder if that would work for me. "Your honor, I had to rob all of those banks because I could not afford the Lambos and prostitutes that I seek."

Of course the government would have to eliminate such a program that gathers what it seeks... because what it seeks is unconstitutional!!! How the fuck did they write a 191-page report and completely miss that point?! I'm sure there would be a ton of people ready to cite Hanlon's Razor, but nobody is that dumb. If you still don't buy into that, then let me introduce Organgtool's Razor: In a world where everyone buys into Hanlon's Razor, all it takes for evil to triumph is for it to wear a veil of stupidity.

mo3 3own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47373653)

during tHis file Dying' crowd - dicks produced take a llok at the

Send the Board Feedback (1)

terbeaux (2579575) | about a month ago | (#47373831)

Tell them what you thing about the report:

Email: info@pclob.gov
Fax: 202.296.4395

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