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FBI Releases Secret Subpoena Information

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-looking-good-there dept.

282

gollum123 writes to mention a CNN article, reporting on an FBI information release. The number of secret subpoenas the Bureau filed last year reached 3,501. These documents allowed access to credit card records, bank statements, telephone records, and internet access logs for thousands of legal citizens without asking for a court's permission. From the article: "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the same panel that signs off on applications for business records warrants, also approved 2,072 special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies. The record number is more than twice as many as were issued in 2000, the last full year before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001."

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282 comments

AC releases secret documents revealing an attempt (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229278)

at FP

How will this affect me? (0, Flamebait)

AK__64 (740022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229280)

How people are there living in the US? The FBI only issued a little over 3,000 subpeonas. What are the odds that I (or any one of us) had our private info examined this year? I don't think they're high enough to worry about. How many arrests did the FBI make as a result of these warrants? That's the significant question here.

Re:How will this affect me? (3, Insightful)

oirtemed (849229) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229304)

What are the odds that there are 3000 invividual situations that legitmately warrant issuing a secret subpeona. That is the REAL question. There should be no such thing. Every order should go through the courts, through a judge. Let it be sealed, let it be 'secret' that way but there needs to be a check to the power of law enforcement.

Re:How will this affect me? (3, Interesting)

OYAHHH (322809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229502)

> What are the odds that there are 3000 invividual situations that legitmately warrant issuing a secret subpeona

A couple of buddies of mine just went through a secret subpeona last weekend and believe me it was no picnic for them.

Basically, they were flying back from a NASCAR race in their little puddle jumper, had to divert away from their flight plan due to a weather situation. The guy flying did everything in the correct manner, notified air traffic control, stayed away from the weather, etc.

Unfortunately, what my pilot buddy didn't know was that he was overflying George Bush who was physically at the military base whose airspace my buddy was traversing (legitimately mind you, they've done it three previous times without incident).

To make a long story short, an F16 was involved (not good), a large irritated rotweiler (not good) was involved, spread-eagled face-down positions were involved (not good), and several loaded, safeties off, pointed at my buddies, shotguns were involved (not good).

During the three hour interrogation, the secret service asked my pilot buddy "So Mr. So and So, just exactly what is up with you exploring the George Bush bobble-head doll website on so and so date". My buddy replied, "Oh, that had to have been my ultra-liberal wife looking at those websites". Which is 100 percent the case given I know what a fan of GWB my friend is and how his wife doesn't particularly care for GWB.

So the duration between the time my buddies were first spotted "off-course" and the interrogation was about 2.5 hours to three hours.

During that three hours they figured out who owned the plane, where they were supposed to land, had police and SS waiting for them there (plus at an alternate airport), and got my buddy's surfing logs out to a field agent.

The secret service guy did tell my buddy that this sort of situation happens all the time in the Washington DC area.

So 3,000 occurances a year nationwide doesn't surprise me a bit given a couple of my bone-headed NASCAR enjoying buddies got caught up in it last weekend.

Was the action warranted? That's debatable, and always will be. My buddies certainly didn't care for it, especially since one of them had been needing to urinate for the 5 hours or so hours prior to landing and the secret service really just didn't care that much about his urinary issues.

One thing it did do was that it got my buddies out the door a lot quicker than if they had been forced to be held overnight in a jail cell (not good) while a judge looked it all over and gave her approval.

What if some aids infected inmate had decided to make one of my buddies his new girlfriend for the night? That would have been a lot worse than having your rights trampled per having a judge issue a subpeona to get your GWB bobblehead dool surfing habits revealed. Or is there someone out there who would rather have had the aids?

Re:How will this affect me? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229606)

During the three hour interrogation, the secret service asked my pilot buddy "So Mr. So and So, just exactly what is up with you exploring the George Bush bobble-head doll website on so and so date". My buddy replied, "Oh, that had to have been my ultra-liberal wife looking at those websites". Which is 100 percent the case given I know what a fan of GWB my friend is and how his wife doesn't particularly care for GWB.

Gee, if the government is afraid of people who look at George Bush Bobble-head dolls, I can imagine the treatment they'll give for people selling them [ebay.com] . I guess its true that people who've abused cocaine for a long time have paranoid delusions over the weirdest things ...

Re:How will this affect me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229643)

Unfortunately, what my pilot buddy didn't know was that he was overflying George Bush who was physically at the military base whose airspace my buddy was traversing (legitimately mind you, they've done it three previous times without incident).

If the overflight was legitimate then there should have been no incident. If it was not, then flight control should have warned your buddy to take another route. This sounds pretty damned unreasonable to me, and your friend should see a lawyer and make somebody's head roll.

Re:How will this affect me? (5, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229307)

You're fogetting a few things ...

If each of the 3000 people who was secretly spied on had contact with only 20 people, that's a pool of 60,000 additional people whose privacy was "incidently" violated.

So now they've got, not 3,000, but 63,000 "names of interest."

Take it one level further for each of the additional 60,000 ... 60,000 x 20 = 1,200,000.

It grows pretty fast. The danger is these secret searches escalating into their version of the Kevin Bacon game.

Re:How will this affect me? (0, Offtopic)

houghi (78078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229486)

This gives me an idea on how to make money.

Re:How will this affect me? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229600)

After one or two degrees of separation, you will have a lot of people, but it is a mistake to assume no overlap. Of course, if that means you were off by a factor of 10 for your two degrees of separation argument, 120,000 is still a lot of innocent people to be spying on.

Re:How will this affect me? (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229615)

Point noted, but I'm sure in the course of a year you come into contact with a lot more than 20 people. 30 years ago, the US was criticizing other governments for wholesale spying on their own people ... now they're killing freedom to preserve it ("We liberated the village by destroying it.")

Higher Number of People (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229703)

Remember they are talking about individuals! So fellow slashdot reader, when they tap you, they tap your mother and father upstairs..
Think about it in terms of households involved; then those people they communicate with.

Re:How will this affect me? (4, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229309)

I think there were less victims of terrorism in the last 50 years in the USA than the number of people wiretapped. What are the odds that I (or any one of us) has to worry about being killed this year? I don't think the odds are high enough to worry about.

On the tangent a bit, according to some results 100k+ people have died in the last few years thanks to the war in Iraq. Oh, but they weren't roman^Wamerican citizens, so we don't talk about them and it makes it all right, right?

My point is, why the craze about terrorism and not about sufferings caused by actions supposedly taken against terrorism? The answer is simple, currently most of the media runs "managed" news. They don't "censor", just set a very low weight to otherwise important news, that is their biggest power not leaning/bending opinions with words.

Re:How will this affect me? (4, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229382)

"What are the odds that I (or any one of us) has to worry about being killed this year? I don't think the odds are high enough to worry about."

outside of 2001, fewer people have died in America from international terrorism than have drowned in toilets. Hell, if you consider how many people die from eating peanuts each year then it really is them that you should be afraid of...

On a slightly different note, one of the main purpose of terrorism is to generate "advertising" in a lot of circumastances, and I do think that the 9/11 attacks were for this end, being afraid of terrorism, changing what you do in you life is letting the terrorist win; it gives them what they want.

Re:How will this affect me? (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229719)

For a good reference for just how "managed" mainstream news networks are, check out Media Matters [mediamatters.org] .

Especially interesting is the false claims [mediamatters.org] made by the administration in the lead up to the Iraq war. They have a great section detailing several media personalities [mediamatters.org] .

Also, most on topic, the search results for their domestic spying [mediamatters.org] topic.

Re:How will this affect me? (2, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229331)

I do normally take the view that if you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to fear, and mostly I think that this is true... or more accurately it would be true if the legal system was 1) simple, 2) easy to access and apply, 3) there were few of them. If you had this then everyone would know what was legal and what was illegal, then if they broke the law then it would be a good thing to catch them and it wouldn't matter about this kind of thing... The problem in the US (and UK too, as well as most other countries I can think of) the law is very complicated, there are many of them which can be applied differently depending on how you are treated or what time it is (that is to say when it goes to the supreme court/ House of Lords) and there are so many of them it would be impossible to know all the laws... So if you were tapped then they could arrest you based on practically anything you said or did, and you might get convicted, even though you don't think you've done anything wrong... this is just too much power for any one group in society to have

As one quick example of how laws might apply to you even if you think that they wouldn't in R v Shivpori (House of Lords) the Ratio stated that you can be guilt of attempting something (illegal) even if what you were attempting was impossible

Re:How will this affect me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229437)

I do normally take the view that if you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to fear

Remember de Menenzes ... doing nothing wrong and look what happened to him.

Thought crime is not what you think, but what they think you are thinking.

Wrong? (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229520)

So, you're Mr. Perfect then? People do things wrong in their own and other's eyes all the time! Then there's being framed, which is a whole 'nother ball of wax, which includes being a convenient object to cast blame on.

Re:How will this affect me? (3, Insightful)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229525)

"I do normally take the view that if you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to fear"

That's a viewpoint I hear all the time, and I must confess that I'm completely mystified by it. Do people who believe this think the government will never abuse it's power? They're abusing their power right now and have many times before -- that's true of almost every government in human hisotry. You'd have nothing to fear when doing nothing wrong only if the government was completely honest. The more power they have the more they'll abuse it, as they keep proving every day. I should think that would be obvious.

Re:How will this affect me? (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229635)

It's a weird mindset for sure.

How would they feel if we re-framed it like this: "If you're not doing anything wrong in the bathroom, you shouldn't be worried about the government videotaping you there." ... or ... "If you're not doing anything illegal in the bedroom, you shouldn't be worried about the government recording your sex life."

Its the people who see nothing wrong with this (wholesale invasion of privacy) that should be kept an eye on - they're obviously anti-social psycho exhibitionists :-)

Re:How will this affect me? (3, Insightful)

ZoomieDood (778915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229569)

What if you're trying to correct the corrupt practices of a prior group of politicians who have no desire to step down? Sure, you might be honest, upstanding, etc. but you're a person who is doing nothing wrong. Are you still so sure there's not a concern about your eligibility for the free and wholesale monitoring of your communications? Keep in mind that East Germany had an estimated 30% of the country that had ties to the Stasi secret police - informants and the like. It didn't happen overnight, but possibly with incremental (or silent) intrusions into the citizens lives - for the safety of the country.

Re:How will this affect me? (3, Interesting)

calzones (890942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229655)

There are a few problems that come up with this attitude.

First, as people have stated, the government can think you are doing something wrong even if you aren't, or they can claim you are. Or other people who bear you ill will can "out" you.

Second, what if you don't morally agree with the laws? If you are seeking to change the laws that you find offensive, it would make you an instant target: "he doesn't agree with the law, therefore it's obvious he's breaking it."

Next, there are so many little laws that no one follows or everyone bends. It's illegal to spit in some places for instance, or certain sex acts are illegal. If the government has something else against you, they can leverage these little laws against you. Or they can simply try to expose some embarrassing part of your life, cornering you into working for them for something or other.

Finally, take something like the speed limit. Most people can drive by a police officer at +10mph over the speed limit and not worry about being pulled over for a ticket. Most people think this is just a case of the officer being flexible and reasonable. Unfortunately, there is no room for flexibility or reason in law enforcement. If something requires 'flexibility' and 'reasonableness' then it means it's FLAWED. Here's why: if someone in a beat up old car with dreads smoking a hand-rolled cigarette drives by a cop at +10mph over the speed limit, he's gonna get pulled over. Yup, therein lies the problem with 'flexibility' and 'reasonability.' Most people become passive sheep in the face of it, thinking, oh, it's a good thing to have a law that restricts dangerous behavior but the police won't nab me for it because they're understanding that it's rush hour and it requires situational enforcement. In reality, such laws empower the police to arrest at will. Everyone is breaking the law all the time. Now you just pick who you want to spy on or target. Racial profiling or any other excuse you need to pick on someone, don't worry, chances are they're already breaking the law in some capacity.

what's your threshold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229333)

When will the percentage bother you? Maybe you'd like it broken down by race, gender, or socioeconomic group? How about political party? Then you won't have to worry as long as they're only surveilling commies or jews or mexicans. That's right, the best approach is to ignore the whole issue until you personally are affected. Insane.

Re:what's your threshold? (0)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229444)

The percentage will never bother him as long as he is not included in the percentage. Can you say ego?

Re:How will this affect me? (2, Informative)

Bad Boy Marty (15944) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229441)

Do you know if you've had a phone conversation with any of those 3501 people? If you have, you may be a "person of interest", and subject to even more scrutiny. Have you ever bent the rules on your income tax returns? Rolled through a stop sign? Once you become a "person of interest", pretty much everything you do may become evidence of you being a terrorist.

The question I have, though, is: How many terrorists have been apprehended based on these 3501 subpeonas? Any? Any at all? If not, then that is the clearest indication that they probably should not have been granted by FISA in the first place -- because they were probably inappropriate in any event. That is the reason that every US citizen should be demanding their elected representatives cause the NSA to cease and desist this sort of activity.

Re:How will this affect me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229526)

Do you know if you've had a phone conversation with any of those 3501 people? If you have, you may be a "person of interest", and subject to even more scrutiny. Have you ever bent the rules on your income tax returns? Rolled through a stop sign? Once you become a "person of interest", pretty much everything you do may become evidence of you being a terrorist.

What are you trying to say? If those warrants weren't secret, you still wouldn't want the police to be able to follow up on phone records? Or is it just because they are secret? Your reasoning on this issue seems to be a little bizarre to me.

How many terrorists have been apprehended based on these 3501 subpeonas? Any? Any at all? If not, then that is the clearest indication that they probably should not have been granted by FISA in the first place -- because they were probably inappropriate in any event. That is the reason that every US citizen should be demanding their elected representatives cause the NSA to cease and desist this sort of activity.

NSA? Huh?

OK. I concur with you that if the program isn't effective then it should be shut down. But by the same logic do you think that it should continue even if it has a degree of effectiveness? If not, then don't hide behind the effectiveness argument. Is your opinion that subpoenas, warrants, and arrests should never be kept secret? If it is, then say so without the obfuscation.

It seems really devious to base an argument on civil rights on whether or not a government program is effective.

This is insane. (2, Interesting)

oirtemed (849229) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229283)

And yet I'd say 75% don't know enough to care about it and 60% wouldn't care if they did. I made up those numbers but you get the idea.

Re:This is insane. (1)

Toba82 (871257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229301)

Let's just hope that the numbers the FBI released weren't made up too.

I'm only half kidding.

Re:This is insane. (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229392)

"Let's just hope that the numbers the FBI released weren't made up too"

I'd bet my last dollar that they are. What possible motive could they have for telling us - or the rest of the world - everything? It's just a smoke screen to cover up the really secret numbers that they will never tell us about.

Re:This is insane. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229532)

Well, they told us about the ones rated "Secret". What about:
  1. "Top Secret"?
  2. "Privileged"
  3. "Code-Word"
  4. "Black"
  5. "Level 1"
  6. "FOIA-Exempt" (exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests)
  7. "Exempt by order of the CIA Director" http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/u sc_sec_50_00000431----000-.html [cornell.edu]

... and the other levels that we don't even hear about ... because they're secret?

I disagree (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229394)

First, at least we are being told they happen and to what extent. At least our country still has that much going for it.

What is truly insane are all the ignorance many /. posters have. In a perfect world we would not have to worry about who comes here, who they have business with, and what they do. Unfortunately it has come to be that our freedom is easily exploited by those who wish us to do harm. The problem I have is that the very idea of trying to find these people seems to be an affront to the very people the government wants to protect.

You cannot have it both ways. We still have our freedom. We have a legal framework to keep tabs on what the government is doing. I am actually surprised that the number is so low. I look at it this way, the intelligence community is now having to make up for being slack for a very long time. It used to be viewed the our enemy was going to come from outside our borders. Instead we know through some public arrests that they are doing their best to come from within. They just don't sneak someone in and act in weeks, they set up operatives who attempt to blend in and build up a base from which to operate. They don't plan on the short term and neither can we.

People are worried that some government agency is going after bank records and phone records convienently ignore the fact that businesses do it all the time and legally. The government actually has to get permission from the courts. That is our protection. The idea of secret warrants has been around a long time. It is one way that the mobs were brought down. This is just another version of the same idea.

Yeah mistakes are going to be made, some people who have no guilt are going to have their records examined. Thats a small price to pay to at least try and stop another 9-11 from occuring. Yeah I know, its the right wings mantra, hide behind the fear of another 9-11. Too bad its a valid point. It sucks but there are far more loonies out there looking to deprive us of our freedom and lives than there are government workers trying to take your rights.

You freely give up your privacy to any number of corporations, publish your thoughts out in the open on the net, and yet when the government follows the laws established to insure that it operates in the intrest of you and others you cry about it?

Be more worried about the stuff they do we don't know. This at least is something going on that we can track.

As far as a great number not caring or not knowing enough. True on both accounts, and for the many here that fit the first category nothing will stop them from posting.

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229460)

What is truly insane are all the ignorance many /. posters have. In a perfect world we would not have to worry about who comes here, who they have business with, and what they do. Unfortunately it has come to be that our freedom is easily exploited by those who wish us to do harm. The problem I have is that the very idea of trying to find these people seems to be an affront to the very people the government wants to protect.

No; the problem is that when we give up our basic freedoms to catch criminals trying to take away our freedoms, the criminals get what they want. There are plenty of legal criminal-justice procedures that can catch the bad guys without making the United States into a police state.

You cannot have it both ways.

According to whom? Since when did the choice become "give up your freedoms to us or give up your lives to them"? And need I quote Mr. Benjamin Franklin to say that anyone who makes such a demand deserves neither freedom nor security?

People are worried that some government agency is going after bank records and phone records convienently ignore the fact that businesses do it all the time and legally.

Business = private organization with voluntary membership. Government = public organization with compulsory membership. If you can't tell the difference, then go back to high school civics.

The government actually has to get permission from the courts. That is our protection.

Not according to the PATRIOT Act.

Yeah mistakes are going to be made, some people who have no guilt are going to have their records examined. Thats a small price to pay to at least try and stop another 9-11 from occuring. Yeah I know, its the right wings mantra, hide behind the fear of another 9-11. Too bad its a valid point. It sucks but there are far more loonies out there looking to deprive us of our freedom and lives than there are government workers trying to take your rights.

No, it's not a valid point. It's a demonstration of the logical fallacy of appeal to emotion, much like the "do you want the 'smoking gun' to be a mushroom cloud over Manhattan?" defense of the Iraq war.

As for your second assertion, I'm willing to bet that the government is MUCH better equipped to take away our rights than "the terrorists." The terrorists have a handful of nuts with shoe-bombs and AK-47's. The government has an army numbering in the hundreds of thousands, which, while not directly for the idea of taking away your rights, must follow the commands of the few people who *are* interested in doing so.

You freely give up your privacy to any number of corporations, publish your thoughts out in the open on the net, and yet when the government follows the laws established to insure that it operates in the intrest of you and others you cry about it?

Once again. Business and internet = voluntary. Government = compulsory.

Also, if you are so naive as to believe that every law out there is to "insure (sic) that [the government] operates in the intrest (sic) of you and others," then I can only laugh.

Re:This is insane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229457)

I made up those numbers but you get the idea.

Don't worry. 85% of all statistics are made up.

not very... (3, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229287)

secret Subpoena are they? Still, I am amazed that this information was ever released, I don't know how the US legal system works but in England the Government an stop the release of any information (even under the Freedom of information act) which might affect "national security", it seems strange to me that the US adiminstration has actually let this stuff get out. I also wonder how many of the people were bona fide terrorists...

The difference... (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229315)

England has no constitution and no bill of rights (except, arguably, the 800-year-old Magna Carta). The United States does, despite efforts by the current administration to marginalize them.

Re:The difference... (2, Informative)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229344)

not to be pedantic... but: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Bill_of_Right s_of_1689 [wikipedia.org]

Re:The difference... (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229398)

The difference is the wording, and the force of the document. What you've presented appears to have the force of law, but as such is always going to be subject to the whim of parliament.

In the US, the constitution is ostensibly the final word. It is higher than mere law. It is the contract by which law can be made. It specificaly enumerates the powers the government may have, lists serveral rights which must never be infringed, and finally limites the government to powers explicitly mentioned. The US bill of rights is part of this document.

The only problem with this is that the constitution must still be enforced by men. It is therefore vulnerable to "interpretation" by the men charged with its defence and usurpation by the more powerful men it is intended to regulate.

The constitution states the rights of the government and denies those not mentioned. The english bill of rights states the rights of men and makes no claim on those not mentioned.

Re:The difference... (2, Informative)

ozric99 (162412) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229610)

In the US, the constitution is ostensibly the final word. It is higher than mere law.

This is the same "final word" that has been changed 27 times over the course of its life? 27 times in 219 years - I make that one change every 8 years*. Yeah, that's some set-in-stone document to end all documents.

Before some crazy gets heavy with the mod-stick, understand I'm not knocking the constitution, just those people who hold it up as some kind of divine law. Karma be damned.

*yes, I know ten of those were enacted at the same time.

Re:The difference... (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229400)

The link you provided pretty much agrees with me: The Bill of Rights 1689 is largely not a statement of certain positive rights that citizens and/or residents of a free and democratic society have (or ought to have). Instead it sets out (or in the view of its writers, restates) certain constitutional requirements where the actions of the Crown require the consent of the governed as represented in Parliament. In this respect, it differs from other "bills of rights," including the United States Bill of Rights, though many elements of the first eight amendments to the U.S. Constitution echo its contents. This is in part due to the un-codified constitutional traditions of the UK

Re:The difference... (2, Funny)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229466)

Of course it agrees with you. It's Wikipedia--it'll agree with anyone with the time to edit it.

Re:not very... (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229522)

Well, at least historicly, the US has a very strong tradition of information release from the government. It often takes time, the information needs to be no longer sensitive, but after it's not, the public has access. Many would contend we are moving away from that these days, but that's how it's been in the past. I mean you'll hear about a case with sealed warrants and so on, but after the case is all settled, it's all opened up and made public record.

The idea is that secrets are supposed to be secret only to the extent and for the time they need to be. So while a court might issue secret wiretap warrants for spying on a mob boss, and keep all the records sealed, once the case starts the fact that the warrants were issued can be made public, and once it's over, the actual substance of the warrants can be made public as well.

One would hope that it continues to be that way.

US Government (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229581)

You have to remember, the US Government is completely bogged down with cronyism and the GWB personality cult. Much like the totalitarian states of the 30s and 40s, they have no real idea what's going on -- they're too busy admiring their "grand works", and patting each other on the back.

Re:not very... (0, Flamebait)

j79zlr (930600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229589)

Its simple, the Left in this country cannot win elections. They are willing to put our national security in jeopardy just for some bad press on the current administration. In the same vein, the disclosure of our terrorist prisons in Europe should be treason.

Re:not very... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229675)

Its simple, the Left in this country cannot win elections. They are willing to put our national security in jeopardy just for some bad press on the current administration. In the same vein, the disclosure of our terrorist prisons in Europe should be treason.

Did you ever stop to consider that maybe a large number of people have moral objections to the policies of the Bush administration? You say "national security" and "terrorist prisons", but I hear "destruction of freedom" and "torture camps". The dangerous destruction of essential freedoms in the U.S. goes beyond policy differences, and instead, threatens the very survival of our nation as a free democracy. The presence of torture camps not only compromises the safety of our troops and citizens abroad, tortures the innocent without trial, and damages our respect and economic value on the world stage, but should be opposed on the simple principle that it is torturing people, and even more importantly, torturing people who have not been found guilty and are often later found innocent.

If you want to talk about putting the nation and the world in jeopardy, you need look no further than the immoral den of corruption, torture, abuse, and destruction of freedom located at the center of the Bush administration.

Whatever happened to the good old days with Hoover (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229289)

At least such subpoenas are theoretically legitimate. It's kind of sad that while normally one would be concerned over whether or not this level of secret activity is justified, these days this seems pretty same since at least they're actually going through a legal process at all.

Re:Whatever happened to the good old days with Hoo (1, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229317)

They had a process for putting Jews in camps as well. :-)

Just thought I'd let you know that.

Tom

Re:Whatever happened to the good old days with Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229439)

:-)

Glad you find humor in that. Faggot.

Re:Whatever happened to the good old days with Hoo (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229620)

Why shouldn't I. The americans are so proud about their WW2 victory and now they're essentially in the same path as the Germans were. I personally find it funny that they would sacrifice their dignity for their perceived safety and future.

I don't think the average American gets it. I could go right now, buy a ticket to fly to any state, walk up to a stranger and end their life. How safe are you really? I wouldn't do this for the reason that I respect life as I would hope they respect others [including myself]. Now that I said this I'll probably get an anal probe at the airport next time... oh well.

So the key to "safety" is co-operation. That means no hording the planet for your own use [oil, pollution, etc, etc], that means equal chances to make it in life [e.g. no class system, rich getting richer, etc]. Right now life is so cheap in most countries [including the States]. Of course this means that most Westerners [and I'm a cannuck so I mean myself too] would have to tone down their quality of life. Why should we live like kings while others suffer? What have you done to build your country? Maybe your grand parents grand parents helped to build your nation but that's long since removed from our lives. We just take everything for granted.

If the states could just get along with others instead of trying to impose imperial rule over them they wouldn't have to treat their own citizens as the enemy.

Tom

Legal process? This legal process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229358)

“[The Justice Department’s] definition of torture would have permitted pulling out fingernails and burning with hot irons. And it so overstated the president’s powers that, under its logic, Mr Bush could order genocide without Congress or the courts being able to stop him.”

——
United States / Civil liberties [economist.com]

Just a few bad apples?
Jan 20th 2005
From The Economist print edition

America’s quest to win over hearts and minds in the war on terror has been dogged by human-rights complaints. The first of two pieces looks at its record overseas

IMAGE (Eyevine) [economist.com]

THE United States is a “nation of law”, George Bush insisted after the sickening photographs showing American soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison appeared last spring. The “disgraceful conduct” had been the work of “a few bad apples” who would be brought to justice. He also promised that America’s treatment of terrorist suspects and “unlawful enemy combatants” such as those it has sent to the Guantánamo Bay base in Cuba would conform to both domestic and international laws. The United States, Mr Bush declared, was “committed to the worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example”.

Since then, the administration has suffered a number of reverses. Last summer, it emerged that it had sanctioned two memoranda redefining the concept of torture more narrowly. The Supreme Court has allowed the 550-odd foreigners being held in Guantánamo to challenge their detention in the American courts. Under international pressure, it has had to release ever more detainees. And a ruling by a federal district court judge has put on hold its planned system of special military commissions at Guantánamo.

Mr Bush seems unrepentant, judging at least from this week’s events. As The Economist went to press, it looked certain that Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel who was involved in both torture memos, would be confirmed by the Senate as the new attorney-general—America’s highest law officer. Meanwhile, officials have cited the tough sentence doled out to the chief bad apple at Abu Ghraib as evidence that the problem is being sorted out.

In the first contested court-martial relating to abuse at the prison, the alleged ringleader, Specialist Charles Graner, was sentenced on January 15th to ten years in jail and given a dishonourable discharge; he had been found guilty on all five charges of assault, maltreatment, indecent acts, conspiracy and dereliction of duty. Four other soldiers have entered guilty pleas, including three who have been given custodial sentences, one for eight years.

Another three soldiers are awaiting military trials, though in view of Mr Graner’s sentence they may now be tempted to plea-bargain. They include Private Lynndie England, Mr Graner’s former lover, who was pictured holding a prostrate naked prisoner on a leash.

The sentences, if completed, are certainly tough by historical standards. After the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968, when some 500 civilians were slaughtered, 25 American soldiers were charged. But only a few were tried and just one, Lieutenant William Calley, found guilty. He was sentenced to life but, after less than four years’ house arrest, he was released.

Has Mr Graner been made a scapegoat? All along, he—and most of the others involved—have claimed that they were simply following orders to “soften up” the detainees before interrogation. Strangely, at his court-martial his defence counsel called no senior officers or officials who might have been able to corroborate this, and Mr Graner himself declined to take the witness stand.

Eleven inquiries have been set up by the Pentagon into the maltreatment of detainees. All eight so far completed have confirmed shockingly sadistic practices. The Red Cross thought what went on at Abu Ghraib was “in some cases tantamount to torture”. But not one of the Pentagon inquiries has found evidence of any policy that officially sanctioned the abuse. Instead, most have vaguely blamed a lack of supervision and a “failure of leadership”. So far, all those charged have been low-ranking soldiers.

According to the Pentagon’s own figures, more than 130 members of the American armed forces have already been disciplined or convicted in connection with the unlawful killing or maltreatment of detainees and/or civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay. Many more cases are still pending, including 13 for unlawful killings. The toughest sentence to date was the 25 years handed down to a soldier last September for murdering a member of the Iraqi National Guard.

The Pentagon says that these figures should be seen in context. Since September 11th 2001, some 500,000 American troops have been deployed (some for more than one tour of duty) in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo, and some 50,000 foreigners detained. Many of the incidents of alleged abuse were minor ones, such as turning a hose on an unruly prisoner.

On the other hand, recently released army and FBI documents suggest that there was a pattern of abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantánamo that was (at the least) not taken seriously by those higher up. A report by Major-General Antonio Taguba spoke of “systemic” problems at Abu Ghraib. The Red Cross described the abuse as “systematic”.

The “torture memos” do not help the government’s case. In the first, written in January 2002, Mr Gonzales advised Mr Bush that in the new war on terror the Geneva Convention protections for prisoners had, in his view, become “obsolete”. The second, produced by a Justice Department official in August 2002 for Mr Gonzales, suggested that Mr Bush’s wartime powers allowed him to disregard congressional restraints on interrogation methods. It also narrowed the definition of torture to acts equivalent to “serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death”. (A third Pentagon memo in 2003 said a torturer could escape criminal liability if he believed that his act was both “necessary and designed to avoid greater harm”.)

At his confirmation hearings, Mr Gonzales expressed his “outrage” at the Abu Ghraib photos and his repudiation of torture. Although he declined to disavow the memos outright, he said that as attorney-general he would no longer be representing the White House but the whole American people, adding that he understood “the differences between the two roles”.

Is that good enough? Harold Hongju Koh, a former official in Bill Clinton’s State Department and now dean of Yale Law School, described the Justice Department memo as “perhaps the most clearly legally erroneous opinion I have ever read”. Its definition of torture would have permitted pulling out fingernails and burning with hot irons. And it so overstated the president’s powers that, under its logic, Mr Bush could order genocide without Congress or the courts being able to stop him.

The administration says the memos were just “a scholarly effort to define the perimeters of the law”. But the Justice Department did not officially rescind its torture memo until last month, replacing it with a broader definition. No mention was made of the president’s wartime powers because, officials explained, this was not necessary: Mr Bush had always made clear his unequivocal opposition to torture.

International condemnation does not seem to have pushed Mr Bush far. One factor that may change his mind is public opinion at home. A Gallup poll last week showed strong disapproval of harsh interrogation techniques, such as making prisoners think they were drowning. Although most Americans still believe the Abu Ghraib abuse was only a few isolated cases, two-thirds admit it has damaged America’s reputation as a protector of civil liberties. They also think it has made it more likely that captured American soldiers will be tortured.
 
::: yfnET

Re:Whatever happened to the good old days with Hoo (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229504)

It's kind of sad that while normally one would be concerned over whether or not this level of secret activity is justified

Sad?

Consider that, if you strolled around Rome in the time of Marcus Aurelius, (when Russel Crowe was doin' his thang) and posed the question: "Was Rome better under the Republic, or the Empire?", you'd get a lot of confused expressions. Why?

There was no overt break between the eras. They still had a Senate, Tribunes, and all. The circuses, in fact, were better.

Bureaucracy corrupts, and absolute bureacracy expands to meet the needs of an absolutely corrupt bureaucracy[1]

This one is worth panicking about in a calm, persistent manner, lest we go the route of Rome. The government may need some extra tools in the information age, but it, too, needs to justify those requirements and be subject to its own level of scrutiny.

[1]Paraphrase of CivIV. Anyone with a better ref?

and nobody really cares (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229295)


At the end of the day Bush and his gang will ride off into the sunset with their bags laden with gold and you will be paying for it with blood and sweat for the next decade or two

what does this regime exactly have to do to end up in prison ?

Re:and nobody really cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229661)

allow a real election, which is not stolen. I would say that means open voting rather than the new diebold closed voting.

Rolling Stone said it best... (5, Insightful)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229298)

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all. For years, these perennial debates have largely focused on the same handful of chief executives whom national polls of historians, from across the ideological and political spectrum, routinely cite as the bottom of the presidential barrel. Was the lousiest James Buchanan, who, confronted with Southern secession in 1860, dithered to a degree that, as his most recent biographer has said, probably amounted to disloyalty -- and who handed to his successor, Abraham Lincoln, a nation already torn asunder? Was it Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, who actively sided with former Confederates and undermined Reconstruction? What about the amiably incompetent Warren G. Harding, whose administration was fabulously corrupt? Or, though he has his defenders, Herbert Hoover, who tried some reforms but remained imprisoned in his own outmoded individualist ethic and collapsed under the weight of the stock-market crash of 1929 and the Depression's onset? The younger historians always put in a word for Richard M. Nixon, the only American president forced to resign from office.

Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant.

The lopsided decision of historians should give everyone pause. Contrary to popular stereotypes, historians are generally a cautious bunch. We assess the past from widely divergent points of view and are deeply concerned about being viewed as fair and accurate by our colleagues. When we make historical judgments, we are acting not as voters or even pundits, but as scholars who must evaluate all the evidence, good, bad or indifferent. Separate surveys, conducted by those perceived as conservatives as well as liberals, show remarkable unanimity about who the best and worst presidents have been.

Historians do tend, as a group, to be far more liberal than the citizenry as a whole -- a fact the president's admirers have seized on to dismiss the poll results as transparently biased. One pro-Bush historian said the survey revealed more about "the current crop of history professors" than about Bush or about Bush's eventual standing. But if historians were simply motivated by a strong collective liberal bias, they might be expected to call Bush the worst president since his father, or Ronald Reagan, or Nixon. Instead, more than half of those polled -- and nearly three-fourths of those who gave Bush a negative rating -- reached back before Nixon to find a president they considered as miserable as Bush. The presidents most commonly linked with Bush included Hoover, Andrew Johnson and Buchanan. Twelve percent of the historians polled -- nearly as many as those who rated Bush a success -- flatly called Bush the worst president in American history. And these figures were gathered before the debacles over Hurricane Katrina, Bush's role in the Valerie Plame leak affair and the deterioration of the situation in Iraq. Were the historians polled today, that figure would certainly be higher.

Even worse for the president, the general public, having once given Bush the highest approval ratings ever recorded, now appears to be coming around to the dismal view held by most historians. To be sure, the president retains a considerable base of supporters who believe in and adore him, and who reject all criticism with a mixture of disbelief and fierce contempt -- about one-third of the electorate. (When the columnist Richard Reeves publicized the historians' poll last year and suggested it might have merit, he drew thousands of abusive replies that called him an idiot and that praised Bush as, in one writer's words, "a Christian who actually acts on his deeply held beliefs.") Yet the ranks of the true believers have thinned dramatically. A majority of voters in forty-three states now disapprove of Bush's handling of his job. Since the commencement of reliable polling in the 1940s, only one twice-elected president has seen his ratings fall as low as Bush's in his second term: Richard Nixon, during the months preceding his resignation in 1974. No two-term president since polling began has fallen from such a height of popularity as Bush's (in the neighborhood of ninety percent, during the patriotic upswell following the 2001 attacks) to such a low (now in the midthirties). No president, including Harry Truman (whose ratings sometimes dipped below Nixonian levels), has experienced such a virtually unrelieved decline as Bush has since his high point. Apart from sharp but temporary upticks that followed the commencement of the Iraq war and the capture of Saddam Hussein, and a recovery during the weeks just before and after his re-election, the Bush trend has been a profile in fairly steady disillusionment.

* * * *

How does any president's reputation sink so low? The reasons are best understood as the reverse of those that produce presidential greatness. In almost every survey of historians dating back to the 1940s, three presidents have emerged as supreme successes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These were the men who guided the nation through what historians consider its greatest crises: the founding era after the ratification of the Constitution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and Second World War. Presented with arduous, at times seemingly impossible circumstances, they rallied the nation, governed brilliantly and left the republic more secure than when they entered office.

Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties -- Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush -- have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.

* * * *

THE CREDIBILITY GAP

No previous president appears to have squandered the public's trust more than Bush has. In the 1840s, President James Polk gained a reputation for deviousness over his alleged manufacturing of the war with Mexico and his supposedly covert pro-slavery views. Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois congressman, virtually labeled Polk a liar when he called him, from the floor of the House, "a bewildered, confounded and miserably perplexed man" and denounced the war as "from beginning to end, the sheerest deception." But the swift American victory in the war, Polk's decision to stick by his pledge to serve only one term and his sudden death shortly after leaving office spared him the ignominy over slavery that befell his successors in the 1850s. With more than two years to go in Bush's second term and no swift victory in sight, Bush's reputation will probably have no such reprieve.

The problems besetting Bush are of a more modern kind than Polk's, suited to the television age -- a crisis both in confidence and credibility. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam travails gave birth to the phrase "credibility gap," meaning the distance between a president's professions and the public's perceptions of reality. It took more than two years for Johnson's disapproval rating in the Gallup Poll to reach fifty-two percent in March 1968 -- a figure Bush long ago surpassed, but that was sufficient to persuade the proud LBJ not to seek re-election. Yet recently, just short of three years after Bush buoyantly declared "mission accomplished" in Iraq, his disapproval ratings have been running considerably higher than Johnson's, at about sixty percent. More than half the country now considers Bush dishonest and untrustworthy, and a decisive plurality consider him less trustworthy than his predecessor, Bill Clinton -- a figure still attacked by conservative zealots as "Slick Willie."

Previous modern presidents, including Truman, Reagan and Clinton, managed to reverse plummeting ratings and regain the public's trust by shifting attention away from political and policy setbacks, and by overhauling the White House's inner circles. But Bush's publicly expressed view that he has made no major mistakes, coupled with what even the conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. calls his "high-flown pronouncements" about failed policies, seems to foreclose the first option. Upping the ante in the Middle East and bombing Iranian nuclear sites, a strategy reportedly favored by some in the White House, could distract the public and gain Bush immediate political capital in advance of the 2006 midterm elections -- but in the long term might severely worsen the already dire situation in Iraq, especially among Shiite Muslims linked to the Iranians. And given Bush's ardent attachment to loyal aides, no matter how discredited, a major personnel shake-up is improbable, short of indictments. Replacing Andrew Card with Joshua Bolten as chief of staff -- a move announced by the president in March in a tone that sounded more like defiance than contrition -- represents a rededication to current policies and personnel, not a serious change. (Card, an old Bush family retainer, was widely considered more moderate than most of the men around the president and had little involvement in policy-making.) The power of Vice President Dick Cheney, meanwhile, remains uncurbed. Were Cheney to announce he is stepping down due to health problems, normally a polite pretext for a political removal, one can be reasonably certain it would be because Cheney actually did have grave health problems.

* * * *

BUSH AT WAR

Until the twentieth century, American presidents managed foreign wars well -- including those presidents who prosecuted unpopular wars. James Madison had no support from Federalist New England at the outset of the War of 1812, and the discontent grew amid mounting military setbacks in 1813. But Federalist political overreaching, combined with a reversal of America's military fortunes and the negotiation of a peace with Britain, made Madison something of a hero again and ushered in a brief so-called Era of Good Feelings in which his Jeffersonian Republican Party coalition ruled virtually unopposed. The Mexican War under Polk was even more unpopular, but its quick and victorious conclusion redounded to Polk's favor -- much as the rapid American victory in the Spanish-American War helped William McKinley overcome anti-imperialist dissent.

The twentieth century was crueler to wartime presidents. After winning re-election in 1916 with the slogan "He Kept Us Out of War," Woodrow Wilson oversaw American entry into the First World War. Yet while the doughboys returned home triumphant, Wilson's idealistic and politically disastrous campaign for American entry into the League of Nations presaged a resurgence of the opposition Republican Party along with a redoubling of American isolationism that lasted until Pearl Harbor.

Bush has more in common with post-1945 Democratic presidents Truman and Johnson, who both became bogged down in overseas military conflicts with no end, let alone victory, in sight. But Bush has become bogged down in a singularly crippling way. On September 10th, 2001, he held among the lowest ratings of any modern president for that point in a first term. (Only Gerald Ford, his popularity reeling after his pardon of Nixon, had comparable numbers.) The attacks the following day transformed Bush's presidency, giving him an extraordinary opportunity to achieve greatness. Some of the early signs were encouraging. Bush's simple, unflinching eloquence and his quick toppling of the Taliban government in Afghanistan rallied the nation. Yet even then, Bush wasted his chance by quickly choosing partisanship over leadership.

No other president -- Lincoln in the Civil War, FDR in World War II, John F. Kennedy at critical moments of the Cold War -- faced with such a monumental set of military and political circumstances failed to embrace the opposing political party to help wage a truly national struggle. But Bush shut out and even demonized the Democrats. Top military advisers and even members of the president's own Cabinet who expressed any reservations or criticisms of his policies -- including retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- suffered either dismissal, smear attacks from the president's supporters or investigations into their alleged breaches of national security. The wise men who counseled Bush's father, including James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, found their entreaties brusquely ignored by his son. When asked if he ever sought advice from the elder Bush, the president responded, "There is a higher Father that I appeal to."

All the while, Bush and the most powerful figures in the administration, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were planting the seeds for the crises to come by diverting the struggle against Al Qaeda toward an all-out effort to topple their pre-existing target, Saddam Hussein. In a deliberate political decision, the administration stampeded the Congress and a traumatized citizenry into the Iraq invasion on the basis of what has now been demonstrated to be tendentious and perhaps fabricated evidence of an imminent Iraqi threat to American security, one that the White House suggested included nuclear weapons. Instead of emphasizing any political, diplomatic or humanitarian aspects of a war on Iraq -- an appeal that would have sounded too "sensitive," as Cheney once sneered -- the administration built a "Bush Doctrine" of unprovoked, preventive warfare, based on speculative threats and embracing principles previously abjured by every previous generation of U.S. foreign policy-makers, even at the height of the Cold War. The president did so with premises founded, in the case of Iraq, on wishful thinking. He did so while proclaiming an expansive Wilsonian rhetoric of making the world safe for democracy -- yet discarding the multilateralism and systems of international law (including the Geneva Conventions) that emanated from Wilson's idealism. He did so while dismissing intelligence that an American invasion could spark a long and bloody civil war among Iraq's fierce religious and ethnic rivals, reports that have since proved true. And he did so after repeated warnings by military officials such as Gen. Eric Shinseki that pacifying postwar Iraq would require hundreds of thousands of American troops -- accurate estimates that Paul Wolfowitz and other Bush policy gurus ridiculed as "wildly off the mark."

When William F. Buckley, the man whom many credit as the founder of the modern conservative movement, writes categorically, as he did in February, that "one can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed," then something terrible has happened. Even as a brash young iconoclast, Buckley always took the long view. The Bush White House seems incapable of doing so, except insofar as a tiny trusted circle around the president constantly reassures him that he is a messianic liberator and profound freedom fighter, on a par with FDR and Lincoln, and that history will vindicate his every act and utterance.

* * * *

BUSH AT HOME

Bush came to office in 2001 pledging to govern as a "compassionate conservative," more moderate on domestic policy than the dominant right wing of his party. The pledge proved hollow, as Bush tacked immediately to the hard right. Previous presidents and their parties have suffered when their actions have belied their campaign promises. Lyndon Johnson is the most conspicuous recent example, having declared in his 1964 run against the hawkish Republican Barry Goldwater that "we are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves." But no president has surpassed Bush in departing so thoroughly from his original campaign persona.

The heart of Bush's domestic policy has turned out to be nothing more than a series of massively regressive tax cuts -- a return, with a vengeance, to the discredited Reagan-era supply-side faith that Bush's father once ridiculed as "voodoo economics." Bush crowed in triumph in February 2004, "We cut taxes, which basically meant people had more money in their pocket." The claim is bogus for the majority of Americans, as are claims that tax cuts have led to impressive new private investment and job growth. While wiping out the solid Clinton-era federal surplus and raising federal deficits to staggering record levels, Bush's tax policies have necessitated hikes in federal fees, state and local taxes, and co-payment charges to needy veterans and families who rely on Medicaid, along with cuts in loan programs to small businesses and college students, and in a wide range of state services. The lion's share of benefits from the tax cuts has gone to the very richest Americans, while new business investment has increased at a historically sluggish rate since the peak of the last business cycle five years ago. Private-sector job growth since 2001 has been anemic compared to the Bush administration's original forecasts and is chiefly attributable not to the tax cuts but to increased federal spending, especially on defense. Real wages for middle-income Americans have been dropping since the end of 2003: Last year, on average, nominal wages grew by only 2.4 percent, a meager gain that was completely erased by an average inflation rate of 3.4 percent.

The monster deficits, caused by increased federal spending combined with the reduction of revenue resulting from the tax cuts, have also placed Bush's administration in a historic class of its own with respect to government borrowing. According to the Treasury Department, the forty-two presidents who held office between 1789 and 2000 borrowed a combined total of $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions. But between 2001 and 2005 alone, the Bush White House borrowed $1.05 trillion, more than all of the previous presidencies combined. Having inherited the largest federal surplus in American history in 2001, he has turned it into the largest deficit ever -- with an even higher deficit, $423 billion, forecast for fiscal year 2006. Yet Bush -- sounding much like Herbert Hoover in 1930 predicting that "prosperity is just around the corner" -- insists that he will cut federal deficits in half by 2009, and that the best way to guarantee this would be to make permanent his tax cuts, which helped cause the deficit in the first place!

The rest of what remains of Bush's skimpy domestic agenda is either failed or failing -- a record unmatched since the presidency of Herbert Hoover. The No Child Left Behind educational-reform act has proved so unwieldy, draconian and poorly funded that several states -- including Utah, one of Bush's last remaining political strongholds -- have fought to opt out of it entirely. White House proposals for immigration reform and a guest-worker program have succeeded mainly in dividing pro-business Republicans (who want more low-wage immigrant workers) from paleo-conservatives fearful that hordes of Spanish-speaking newcomers will destroy American culture. The paleos' call for tougher anti-immigrant laws -- a return to the punitive spirit of exclusion that led to the notorious Immigration Act of 1924 that shut the door to immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe -- has in turn deeply alienated Hispanic voters from the Republican Party, badly undermining the GOP's hopes of using them to build a permanent national electoral majority. The recent pro-immigrant demonstrations, which drew millions of marchers nationwide, indicate how costly the Republican divide may prove.

The one noncorporate constituency to which Bush has consistently deferred is the Christian right, both in his selections for the federal bench and in his implications that he bases his policies on premillennialist, prophetic Christian doctrine. Previous presidents have regularly invoked the Almighty. McKinley is supposed to have fallen to his knees, seeking divine guidance about whether to take control of the Philippines in 1898, although the story may be apocryphal. But no president before Bush has allowed the press to disclose, through a close friend, his startling belief that he was ordained by God to lead the country. The White House's sectarian positions -- over stem-cell research, the teaching of pseudoscientific "intelligent design," global population control, the Terri Schiavo spectacle and more -- have led some to conclude that Bush has promoted the transformation of the GOP into what former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips calls "the first religious party in U.S. history."

Bush's faith-based conception of his mission, which stands above and beyond reasoned inquiry, jibes well with his administration's pro-business dogma on global warming and other urgent environmental issues. While forcing federally funded agencies to remove from their Web sites scientific information about reproductive health and the effectiveness of condoms in combating HIV/AIDS, and while peremptorily overruling staff scientists at the Food and Drug Administration on making emergency contraception available over the counter, Bush officials have censored and suppressed research findings they don't like by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture. Far from being the conservative he said he was, Bush has blazed a radical new path as the first American president in history who is outwardly hostile to science -- dedicated, as a distinguished, bipartisan panel of educators and scientists (including forty-nine Nobel laureates) has declared, to "the distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends."

The Bush White House's indifference to domestic problems and science alike culminated in the catastrophic responses to Hurricane Katrina. Scientists had long warned that global warming was intensifying hurricanes, but Bush ignored them -- much as he and his administration sloughed off warnings from the director of the National Hurricane Center before Katrina hit. Reorganized under the Department of Homeland Security, the once efficient Federal Emergency Management Agency turned out, under Bush, to have become a nest of cronyism and incompetence. During the months immediately after the storm, Bush traveled to New Orleans eight times to promise massive rebuilding aid from the federal government. On March 30th, however, Bush's Gulf Coast recovery coordinator admitted that it could take as long as twenty-five years for the city to recover.

Karl Rove has sometimes likened Bush to the imposing, no-nonsense President Andrew Jackson. Yet Jackson took measures to prevent those he called "the rich and powerful" from bending "the acts of government to their selfish purposes." Jackson also gained eternal renown by saving New Orleans from British invasion against terrible odds. Generations of Americans sang of Jackson's famous victory. In 1959, Johnny Horton's version of "The Battle of New Orleans" won the Grammy for best country & western performance. If anyone sings about George W. Bush and New Orleans, it will be a blues number.

* * * *

PRESIDENTIAL MISCONDUCT

Virtually every presidential administration dating back to George Washington's has faced charges of misconduct and threats of impeachment against the president or his civil officers. The alleged offenses have usually involved matters of personal misbehavior and corruption, notably the payoff scandals that plagued Cabinet officials who served presidents Harding and Ulysses S. Grant. But the charges have also included alleged usurpation of power by the president and serious criminal conduct that threatens constitutional government and the rule of law -- most notoriously, the charges that led to the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and to Richard Nixon's resignation.

Historians remain divided over the actual grievousness of many of these allegations and crimes. Scholars reasonably describe the graft and corruption around the Grant administration, for example, as gargantuan, including a kickback scandal that led to the resignation of Grant's secretary of war under the shadow of impeachment. Yet the scandals produced no indictments of Cabinet secretaries and only one of a White House aide, who was acquitted. By contrast, the most scandal-ridden administration in the modern era, apart from Nixon's, was Ronald Reagan's, now widely remembered through a haze of nostalgia as a paragon of virtue. A total of twenty-nine Reagan officials, including White House national security adviser Robert McFarlane and deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver, were convicted on charges stemming from the Iran-Contra affair, illegal lobbying and a looting scandal inside the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Three Cabinet officers -- HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce, Attorney General Edwin Meese and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger -- left their posts under clouds of scandal. In contrast, not a single official in the Clinton administration was even indicted over his or her White House duties, despite repeated high-profile investigations and a successful, highly partisan impeachment drive.

The full report, of course, has yet to come on the Bush administration. Because Bush, unlike Reagan or Clinton, enjoys a fiercely partisan and loyal majority in Congress, his administration has been spared scrutiny. Yet that mighty advantage has not prevented the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges stemming from an alleged major security breach in the Valerie Plame matter. (The last White House official of comparable standing to be indicted while still in office was Grant's personal secretary, in 1875.) It has not headed off the unprecedented scandal involving Larry Franklin, a high-ranking Defense Department official, who has pleaded guilty to divulging classified information to a foreign power while working at the Pentagon -- a crime against national security. It has not forestalled the arrest and indictment of Bush's top federal procurement official, David Safavian, and the continuing investigations into Safavian's intrigues with the disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, recently sentenced to nearly six years in prison -- investigations in which some prominent Republicans, including former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed (and current GOP aspirant for lieutenant governor of Georgia) have already been implicated, and could well produce the largest congressional corruption scandal in American history. It has not dispelled the cloud of possible indictment that hangs over others of Bush's closest advisers.

History may ultimately hold Bush in the greatest contempt for expanding the powers of the presidency beyond the limits laid down by the U.S. Constitution. There has always been a tension over the constitutional roles of the three branches of the federal government. The Framers intended as much, as part of the system of checks and balances they expected would minimize tyranny. When Andrew Jackson took drastic measures against the nation's banking system, the Whig Senate censured him for conduct "dangerous to the liberties of the people." During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's emergency decisions to suspend habeas corpus while Congress was out of session in 1861 and 1862 has led some Americans, to this day, to regard him as a despot. Richard Nixon's conduct of the war in Southeast Asia and his covert domestic-surveillance programs prompted Congress to pass new statutes regulating executive power.

By contrast, the Bush administration -- in seeking to restore what Cheney, a Nixon administration veteran, has called "the legitimate authority of the presidency" -- threatens to overturn the Framers' healthy tension in favor of presidential absolutism. Armed with legal findings by his attorney general (and personal lawyer) Alberto Gonzales, the Bush White House has declared that the president's powers as commander in chief in wartime are limitless. No previous wartime president has come close to making so grandiose a claim. More specifically, this administration has asserted that the president is perfectly free to violate federal laws on such matters as domestic surveillance and the torture of detainees. When Congress has passed legislation to limit those assertions, Bush has resorted to issuing constitutionally dubious "signing statements," which declare, by fiat, how he will interpret and execute the law in question, even when that interpretation flagrantly violates the will of Congress. Earlier presidents, including Jackson, raised hackles by offering their own view of the Constitution in order to justify vetoing congressional acts. Bush doesn't bother with that: He signs the legislation (eliminating any risk that Congress will overturn a veto), and then governs how he pleases -- using the signing statements as if they were line-item vetoes. In those instances when Bush's violations of federal law have come to light, as over domestic surveillance, the White House has devised a novel solution: Stonewall any investigation into the violations and bid a compliant Congress simply to rewrite the laws.

Bush's alarmingly aberrant take on the Constitution is ironic. One need go back in the record less than a decade to find prominent Republicans railing against far more minor presidential legal infractions as precursors to all-out totalitarianism. "I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the president," Sen. Bill Frist declared of Bill Clinton's efforts to conceal an illicit sexual liaison. "No man is above the law, and no man is below the law -- that's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country," Rep. Tom DeLay asserted. "The rule of law protects you and it protects me from the midnight fire on our roof or the 3 a.m. knock on our door," warned Rep. Henry Hyde, one of Clinton's chief accusers. In the face of Bush's more definitive dismissal of federal law, the silence from these quarters is deafening.

The president's defenders stoutly contend that war-time conditions fully justify Bush's actions. And as Lincoln showed during the Civil War, there may be times of military emergency where the executive believes it imperative to take immediate, highly irregular, even unconstitutional steps. "I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful," Lincoln wrote in 1864, "by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the preservation of the nation." Bush seems to think that, since 9/11, he has been placed, by the grace of God, in the same kind of situation Lincoln faced. But Lincoln, under pressure of daily combat on American soil against fellow Americans, did not operate in secret, as Bush has. He did not claim, as Bush has, that his emergency actions were wholly regular and constitutional as well as necessary; Lincoln sought and received Congressional authorization for his suspension of habeas corpus in 1863. Nor did Lincoln act under the amorphous cover of a "war on terror" -- a war against a tactic, not a specific nation or political entity, which could last as long as any president deems the tactic a threat to national security. Lincoln's exceptional measures were intended to survive only as long as the Confederacy was in rebellion. Bush's could be extended indefinitely, as the president sees fit, permanently endangering rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution to the citizenry.

* * * *

Much as Bush still enjoys support from those who believe he can do no wrong, he now suffers opposition from liberals who believe he can do no right. Many of these liberals are in the awkward position of having supported Bush in the past, while offering little coherent as an alternative to Bush's policies now. Yet it is difficult to see how this will benefit Bush's reputation in history.

The president came to office calling himself "a uniter, not a divider" and promising to soften the acrimonious tone in Washington. He has had two enormous opportunities to fulfill those pledges: first, in the noisy aftermath of his controversial election in 2000, and, even more, after the attacks of September 11th, when the nation pulled behind him as it has supported no other president in living memory. Yet under both sets of historically unprecedented circumstances, Bush has chosen to act in ways that have left the country less united and more divided, less conciliatory and more acrimonious -- much like James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Herbert Hoover before him. And, like those three predecessors, Bush has done so in the service of a rigid ideology that permits no deviation and refuses to adjust to changing realities. Buchanan failed the test of Southern secession, Johnson failed in the face of Reconstruction, and Hoover failed in the face of the Great Depression. Bush has failed to confront his own failures in both domestic and international affairs, above all in his ill-conceived responses to radical Islamic terrorism. Having confused steely resolve with what Ralph Waldo Emerson called "a foolish consistency . . . adored by little statesmen," Bush has become entangled in tragedies of his own making, compounding those visited upon the country by outside forces.

No historian can responsibly predict the future with absolute certainty. There are too many imponderables still to come in the two and a half years left in Bush's presidency to know exactly how it will look in 2009, let alone in 2059. There have been presidents -- Harry Truman was one -- who have left office in seeming disgrace, only to rebound in the estimates of later scholars. But so far the facts are not shaping up propitiously for George W. Bush. He still does his best to deny it. Having waved away the lessons of history in the making of his decisions, the present-minded Bush doesn't seem to be concerned about his place in history. "History. We won't know," he told the journalist Bob Woodward in 2003. "We'll all be dead."

Another president once explained that the judgments of history cannot be defied or dismissed, even by a president. "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history," said Abraham Lincoln. "We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation."

One of America's Leading Historians said (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229350)

it, not Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone just published it.

Link : One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush [rollingstone.com]

Re:One of America's Leading Historians said (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229508)

This being the Web, parent could have saved a bunch of my bandwidth and mouse-scrolling time by doing what you just did. Interesting article, but a link and maybe a short summary is just fine, thanks.

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (5, Funny)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229380)

Dear sir, you hugely overestimate the average slashdotter's attention span.

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229417)

omg ponies!! !! omg ponies!! !!! ... omg ponies!!!!!!!!!

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229613)

Hey, don't knock it. Of all the sites on the web, OMG Ponies was one of the most noted. From "irina"'s blog [columbia.edu] : "This has been a particularly fun April Fool's... My favorite this year was Slashdot [slashdot.org] , with their 'OMG! Ponies!' theme. A close runner up was Poisson d'Avril's Theorem on Metamath [metamath.org] ."

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229423)

Dear sir, you hugely overestimate the average slashdotter's attention span.

You take that back! I'll have you know...

OOH SHINY!

PARENT plagiarized from 'rolling stone' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229412)

Re:PARENT plagiarized from 'rolling stone' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229452)

It's hardly plagarized if it says in it's subject:

Rolling Stone said it best...

Maybe not the greatest citation in history, but they were hardly trying to take credit...

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (1)

minitual (966089) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229447)

"From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all."
Wow...sounds like a party.

Actually, it is: (1)

Upaut (670171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229539)

"From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all."
Wow...sounds like a party.


Name a President, and his worst policy, take a shot. Do this cronologically... First person to make it to Taft, and still standing, wins...

Recomended Prizes: A liver

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229451)

Long and interesting read. Care to give some sources, though? I really liked it and would like to read more things from this (or similar) authors.

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (1)

slashflood (697891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229564)

Rolling Stone [rollingstone.com]

A link would've been enough.

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (1)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229570)

The article is in a newer rolling stone magazine and can be found here [rollingstone.com] . The author is Sean Wilentz, a Princeton professor of American studies, and his bio (and list of writings) is found here. [princeton.edu]

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229473)

Of course. You and your elistist buddies go right ahead. How about actually coming up with some ideas that work, instead of criticizing? Oh, wait. You're an Academic. The real world's got nothing on you pal.

Re:Rolling Stone said it best... (1)

Therilon (961887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229547)

Awesome that you can quote a magazine. I'm impressed. It truly takes eloquence and conviction to plagarize others. That said, while I certainly am not a fan of Bush, I would question the wisdom of taking judgement on his administration so quickly and suddenly.

The article talks about the triumphs of Lincoln. While, Lincoln certainly is considered one of the greatest presidents in history now, but back in the civil war, he wasn't considered good at all. He was considered to be a miserable speaker, and had almost no influence. He was widely regarded as a joke. However, with the passage of time, you get one of the greatest presidents. Other examples, you ask? Well, I'll mention James Madison, another president. He dragged America into a widely unpopular war that cost the lives of 20 000 Americans that lasted for 3 years and ended in a stalemate. There was massive public opposition to the war, and many States refused to send troops at all for the first few years, and some states even kept trading with Great Britian while the war was going on. Despite the massively unpopular war that was badly mismanaged, bungled, and ended without any benefit to the USA, he's not regarded as a failure.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. I guess I'm just trying to say that it's very difficult to judge how a figure will be looked upon in a hundred years. Who knows, people will probably forget the wiretapping incidents, the supoenas, the Valerie Plume leak, the WMDs in Iraq, and Guatamino Bay. They might fondly remember the president that gave the impromptu speech at the site of the WTC. Schoolteachers might tell kids about overthrowing Saddam Hussien, liberating Iraq, bringing freedom to Afghanistan, and maybe even the enviroment. Who knows?

Or I could be completely wrong. Who knows how the future will judge George W. Bush?

My question is (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229553)

what exactly was it that Nixon did, and of that what has Bush not done?

Sean Wilentz wrote this piece. Credit him. (1)

jabbo (860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229691)

Why did you fail to include the name of the author of this piece? He is Sean Wilentz, and his name is RIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE YOU CUT-AND-PASTED. If you are Sean Wilentz, then I admire your humility and deference to the matter at hand. But I kind of doubt that this is the case.

If you are not Sean Wilentz, then plagiarizing his work to fluff up your karma on Slashdot, and failing lazily to even credit him for the words he wrote, means that you are a disgracefully lazy person.

The lemmings that reward this sort of behavior are the dregs of society, and are at least partly to blame. But you chose an excellent article, presented it as your own, and unless you are in fact the author of the article, you ought to be ashamed of your behavior.

It's such a tiny (but significant) thing to credit the author of a piece of writing -- why not do so?

Wow! (5, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229303)

The number of secret subpoenas the Bureau filed last year reached 3,501.

Wow! I bet they have a lot of terrorists to show for all that work. Right...?

::crickets chirping::

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229416)

Wow! I bet they have a lot of terrorists to show for all that work. Right...?

Well, this guy was found in Pakistan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_Sheik_Mohammed [wikipedia.org]

The "Forest Gump" or "Ron Jeremy" of terrorism.

Others were caught [wikipedia.org] in US states such as Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Re:Wow! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229642)

Wow! I bet they have a lot of terrorists to show for all that work. Right...?

Well, this guy was found in Pakistan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_Sheik_Mohammed [wikipedia.org]


Or was he [cooperativeresearch.net] ? He has not been produced for trial, and may be dead, alive and hiding, or captured elsewhere. In addition, there is no evidence, and not even any prominent claim made, that wiretapping US Citizens led to the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Others were caught in US states such as Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The list of people you provided were indicted, not captured. They are "most wanted" precisely because they have not been captured. You might have noticed this by the fact that a man named "Bin Laden" is at the top of the list. Wiretapping U.S. citizens has not led to the capture of any of these men, because these men and their associates almost certainly EXPECT that their phones are being tapped whether or not they are, and react accordingly.

Break out the lube and tissues (-1, Troll)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229313)

It's an old fashion /. wankfest.

Do your worst, mods. Take out all your petty frustrations on my little harmless (and accurate!) post.

Re:Break out the lube and tissues (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229413)

Nobody cares about you.

Remember... (0, Troll)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229325)

The only ones who need to fear are those with something to hide.

Better keep on your toes...

I wonder (1, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229327)


Do they secretly subpoena slashdot posts? Maybe it's the Feds that keep modding me down...

Mod Parent Down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229403)

I was never here.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? (0, Troll)

elkyle (875715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229366)

While I agree that citizens' privacy needs to be protected, obviously there is a much greater focus on terrorism since the September 11 attacks, and the US has engaged in conflicts in two countries. It seems only natural that more activities of a secret nature would be taking place, now that we have clearly been made aware that there are people out there that actually would launch an attack on the United States, instead of substance-free posturing.

However, since we cannot really know what the secret requests were for, we cannot simply acquiesce to the potential eroding of our civil liberties. I just think that secrecy (at least not necessarily) == (evil|bigbrother|invasionofprivacy), which is the inevitable conclusion some here will reach.

Re:Is this necessarily a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229397)

Its a bad thing when government gets an unchecked expansion on its police powers.

Clinton was bombing them for years. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229527)

While I agree that citizens' privacy needs to be protected, obviously there is a much greater focus on terrorism since the September 11 attacks, and the US has engaged in conflicts in two countries.
And you think that those two are somehow related?

Newsflash: They aren't.
It seems only natural that more activities of a secret nature would be taking place, now that we have clearly been made aware that there are people out there that actually would launch an attack on the United States, instead of substance-free posturing.
Did you miss the first attack on the World Trade Center?

That certainly wasn't "substance-free posturing".
I just think that secrecy (at least not necessarily) == (evil|bigbrother|invasionofprivacy), which is the inevitable conclusion some here will reach.
So, we managed to catch terrorists in this country before, without all these secret requests ... yet there haven't been many recent captures even with these secret requests.

There are instances where secrecy is necessary. But those instance need to be linked to results.

If we aren't capturing terrorists with these secret requests, then we need to get back to protecting the civil rights of our people. And that means checking the validity of those requests more closely.

credit card history (5, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229402)

Last year, when trying to kill time in DC (I'm from Ohio), I decided to head out to a bar. I noticed a bachaelorette party going into a particular bar and decided that's wehre I'd spend my evening (seemed like an easy decision). I handed over my credit card and opened a tab.

I kept trying to get the attention of some of those girls, but none of them so much as returned my glances. So I struck up a conversation with the friendly guy next to me.

Turns out the girls were ignoring me because it was a gay bar!

Now, if someone looks through my credit card history, they're going to think I'm into men.

So all I can say is, these secret warrants suck! And if you're FBI and monitoring my internet use and credit card history--I'm not gay! Really! I just hope your software is good enough to corelate this post with that Visa log.

Re:credit card history (1)

fbartho (840012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229483)

Hey! just post the number here, so we can make that link in our database, and everyone will be happy. -FBI agent in charge of web confirmation processes.

Re:credit card history (4, Funny)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229573)

>Now, if someone looks through my credit card history, they're going to think I'm into men.

Not that there's anything wrong with it... :)

Re:credit card history (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229604)

Why would they be interested in your sexual preferences? And if they are, why would the police look in any other way at you. If that is the case, there is much more to worry about.

Replace the sexual preference by race, religion or political preference and try not to get trapped into Godwins law.

Re:credit card history (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229668)

Suppose I hold a public office? Or work in a school?

That's serious blackmail material.

Re:credit card history (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229681)

It could affect his chance at getting security clearance if he files his sexual orientation as heterosexual. I don't know about the US, but in the UK, you can get security clearance if you are gay and admit it, but if you claim not to be and their background check indicates that you are then it can be denied. This has nothing at all to do with prejudice or discrimination, it comes down to the simple fact that if there is anything in your private life that you could be blackmailed about then you are a potential security risk.

Having said that, I suspect that visiting a single gay bar probably would not flag him as a closet homosexual. After all, who hasn't been to the odd gay bar or two? If he visited the same gay bar every week or two though, then that might raise some red flags (assuming that the NSA has a database of all drinking establishments with a 'sexual orientation of majority of patrons' field. If they do, then they could probably make a fair amount selling it in guidebook form...)

Re:credit card history (2)

darjen (879890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229640)

One time while going to a concert in Detroit, myself and a group of friends decided to stop at a bar downtown before hand. Things seemed kind of different in there for a moment, and when we looked around we started to notice some guys talking to each other and a few rainbows posted around the place. Since none of us are gay, it was fun laughing about how none of us noticed the type of place we were going into.

And that's just the legal ones ! (3, Insightful)

The Famous Druid (89404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229420)

These figures don't count George Bush's "we don't need no steenkin' paperwork" illegal wiretaps.

Experience with Secret Subpoenas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229427)

An employee suggested to me that we use secret subpoenas on a few people here as an evaluation of the current Department of Justice bureaucracy [house.gov] . I was skeptical at first but he explained the benefits of using it for our employee's day-to-day operations. So I decided to let him file secret subpoenas on 5 of our fellow employees to see how much information. Besides, our Human Resources manager had been doing it for some time and it seemed to work fine, why not try it ourselves?

Once he'd got the employees' information we let other employees file secret subpoenas on random people. It all seemed fine to start with: secret subpoenas were a pretty good replacement for slow police investigations and the users could still do their work as normal.

Alas it did not stay that way. After a few days, I had lost count of the number of complaints received from users who couldn't find information they were used to or tasks they could not perform that they previously could with ordinary police investigations. The final straw came when one employee lost several hours work when a secret subpoena suddenly came under question by some liberal lawyer.

Needless to say, the United States Department of Justice offered no support whatsoever. I made the employees destroy all subpoenas and lets just say we're not doing that anymore.

Seán's lame post (0, Offtopic)

TheToast (878627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229445)

Seán always uses the same lame post to try to prove his argument. He should probably stop linking to an antiquated score 1 post!

Republicans bring us smaller Government (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229446)

NOT.

So much for that whole limited government thing.

Instead of Clinton using the FBI to investigate his political enemies, we now have the FBI investigating 3000 people without court approval or even accountability (until they're pressured).

Exactly how does this qualify as 'limited Government' again?

Re:Republicans bring us smaller Government (1)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229590)

Exactly how does this qualify as 'limited Government' again?

Dude, get with the times. Limited government was killed in 1933 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Every president since FDR has expanded federal power (even Reagan, although he stemmed much of the tide). The only presidents that I can think of in the 20th century who did believe in limited government were Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

There is no such thing as limited government anymore, sadly.

Re:Republicans bring us smaller Government (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229712)

But Republicans keep touting limited Government. Limited Government this, limited Government that. Yet the Republicans have grown the concept of Government intrusion into our private lives faster than Michael Moore has grown his waistline.

What are we getting in return? (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229496)

One of many problems with secret searches is understanding what we're getting in exchange? Are we really any safer? Cheney likes to point to the fact that we haven't been attacked since 9-11 as proof the administration is effective, conveniently overlooking that it was almost ten years between attacks on the trade center when we didn't do much of anything. It proves nothing.

Judging by the war in Iraq, bungled response to Katrina, the military wholesale spying on US citizens, the Justice Dept. all but admitting AT&T is helping them monitor communications in America, bankrupting the budget and the endless lies how are we supposed to trust that the government is doing the right thing? Just because Gonzales says this conduct is constitutional doesn't make it so.

I think it's pretty safe to assume this expansion of police powers does not make us any safer. It's a waste of resources, it's intrusive, and further undermines the pitiful remnants of our civil rights. Another failed policy from a failed administration. If it wasn't so dangerous and being wielded by corrupt, incompetent people it would be laughable.

Re:What are we getting in return? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229597)

>>Cheney likes to point to the fact that we haven't been attacked since 9-11 as proof the administration is effective

We WERE attacked after 9/11. Am I the only person who remembers the Anthrax attacks on Congress?

o.b. simpsons (2, Funny)

Karhgath (312043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229612)

About what Chenney is saying... this reminds me of the Simpsons.

Homer: Well, there's not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol is sure doing its job.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, sweetie.
Lisa: Dad, what if I were to tell you that this rock keeps away tigers.
Homer: Uh-huh, and how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work. It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: I see.
Lisa: But you don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: (Looks around) Lisa, I'd like to buy your rock.

Me??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229531)

I wanna know if my name's on that list...O:-)

Brownshirts are Back (2, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229540)

I suspect 50 years from now historians will mark the fall of the Soviet Union as also the beginning of the the end for the US.

They causes will be blatant corruption and incompetence of the federal government, elections processes that clearly favor those with money, the federal power grab of all decision making, the lack of decision making on important issues, the transition to a surveillance culture, the ability of big business and other special interests to buy legislation, the rube goldberg tax system, the unaccountability of those in power and the abuse of the court system.

As an IT guy there comes a point where a system is too antiquated and been kludged too much to continue throwing money at it. You have to start from scratch and use lessons learned to build a new system. Or move to another job.

Heartwarming none the less ... (2, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229567)

is the fact that we are actually seeing this info. I am not a big fan of this administration or the tactics it is using but I do have faith in the foundations of our federal government and the infallibility of karma.

Expecting the neo-con mod down in 3..2..1....

Why bother.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15229616)

Slashdot should just put a big banner at the top....everything that George Bush does is evil, the republicans are evil, the United States is evil, capitalism is evil, other peoples' freedom is evil and I want everything done to protect my IT job in the US - the rest of the world be damned - because I'm a shining light of purity and correct on all of my non-fact based, illogical opinions.

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  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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