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AT&T Says Spying Is Too Secret For Courts

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the i-didn't-do-it-nobody-saw-me-you-can't-prove-a-thing dept.

The Courts 312

The Wired blog 26B Stroke 6 reports on the arguments AT&T and the US government made to an appeals court hearing motions in the case the EFF brought against the phone giant for their presumed part in the government's program(s) to spy on Americans. In essence AT&T seems to have argued that the case against the telecom for allegedly helping the government spy on Americans is too secret for any court, despite the Administration's admission it did spy on Americans without warrants.

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Well... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330167)

... you guys sure are in Shit Creek! I guess Europe will follow soon...

Sssssh! (4, Funny)

Tesen (858022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330171)

Ssssh! This is to secret to report on! Ohhhh great! Now the terrorists have won! Thanks alot Slashdot!

Re:Sssssh! (5, Insightful)

frp001 (227227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330189)

>> Now the terrorists have won!
As a matter of fact, they have. It is not about destroying a country, or individuals, it is a about destroying a lifestyle and beliefs (.i.e democracy) AFAIK they have won.

Re:Sssssh! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330341)

it is a about destroying a lifestyle and beliefs (.i.e democracy)

Uhm... No it's not. It's about getting political power.

Re:Sssssh! (2, Interesting)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331715)

Uhm... No it's not. It's about getting political power.

Well then, considering they make Georgie Boy jump whenever they want, maybe they have it after all?

Come to think of it, maybe that's not such a bad idea: Get a few AQ guys some congressional seats. After a month, they'll be so deep in pork, lobbyists and high-class prostitutes that the last thing they'll want to do is blow stuff up.

Re:Sssssh! (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330769)

As a matter of fact, they have. It is not about destroying a country, or individuals, it is a about destroying a lifestyle and beliefs (.i.e democracy) AFAIK they have won.

Nonsense. The Islamist goal is not simple destruction of certain features of Western society, but the replacement of its lifestyle and beliefs with sharia. Islamists could probably care less about the average American's loss of civil liberties--in fact, this change makes life more difficult for some would-be terrorists--while things like tolerance of homosexuality, equality of men and women under the law, and religious diversity continue just as before.

Re:Sssssh! (0)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330895)

... The Islamist goal ... replacement of its lifestyle and beliefs with sharia ...

The Islamist goal? I suspect 99.9% of the Islamic community would disagree with you. I think you mean the Islamic terrorist's goal.

Re:Sssssh! (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331069)

Polls on Muslim diaspora communities in the West regularly show a disturbingly large percentage of Muslims desire the institutionalization of sharia, regard certain terrorists as noble figures, and reject many values of the societies that they have come to live among. Even if it is not a majority, it is much, much greater than the 1% you quite naively assume.

Re:Sssssh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331335)

Technically, he assumed 0.1%. I'm just saying.

Re:Sssssh! (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331437)

... he assumed 0.1% ...

What I meant was the vast majority, as in the vast majority of muslims don't want to take over the west and implement sharia law. Just as the vast majority of christians don't want to implement christian governments in other countries, but a small minority do ...

Re:Sssssh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331625)

Yeah, I know what you meant, bro. And I'm not even sure I disagree with you. I was just correcting grandparent's l33t math skillz. ;)

Re:Sssssh! (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331705)

Yeah, sorry, meant to reply to GP but hit wrong reply button.

Re:Sssssh! (1)

kad77 (805601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331579)

The Islamist goal? I suspect 99.9% of the Islamic community would disagree with you. I think you mean the Islamic terrorist's goal.

Ignorance is bliss to you? What you have stated is about as accurate as saying 50% of people posting on internet forums are using Linux as a desktop. Either might sound good to you, but both figures are off by at least factor of ten. At this point, you might want to look into the variety of web metrics companies that report consistently on this subject... Google W3Counter sometime.

There is so much reporting on Islamic extremism, I've even found Slashdot a Star Wars themed source:

The Jawa Report: http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/ [mypetjawa.mu.nu]

Try reading outside your particular echo chamber, a little DKos with your LGF for example!

Whose the terrorists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331357)

The terrorists I fear are not Islamists. Like all terrorists, my terrorists are home grown.

"If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words." Philip K. Dick (1928-82)

The darkest hour is just before the dawn (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330801)

I think the west has gotten to lax, not enough people remember anymore what freedom and democracy are REALLY about. This will change, it has before and it will again. Dictatorship just don't work, it ain't the natural state of affairs.

BUT neither is freedom. The result is that you have a constant seesaw motion between the two extremes, the best you can hope for is that you happen to live during one of the quiet moments BUT you will only be able to do so thanks to the efforts of people who have come before.

The sad fact is the seventies generation has done shit for freedom, they shouted a lot but haven't actually acomplished a single thing. It was the WW2 generation that has formed what we like to think of as our free society. They had to, WW2 forced change. Equality of the sexes and races is a direct result of the allied efforts to turn the tide of war.

But whatever they achieved the natural state of affairs is to take back every hard won liberty for the practical day to day running of the world. Just as WW2 saw the injust internment of the japanese this war two has its miscarriages of justice.

but it ain't gone over the edge, the proof? We can still report on it, the story of this and other mistakes is getting out and is getting attention. If the dictators had won, you wouldn't even know about it until you were taken off the street and never heard from again.

As much as these stories may shock you they fact that they come out are proof that the system is still working.Not well, but then we get the system we voted for and Bush was re-elected.

Re:The darkest hour is just before the dawn (5, Insightful)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331137)

... Dictatorship just don't work, it ain't the natural state of affairs ...

What is interesting is that, in fact, dictators are only kept in power by the will of the people (or at least the lack of the will to get rid of them). Under Hitler, for instance, the majority of the German population were quite well off and ignored the fact that their wealth came from the belongings stolen from those in concentration camps and alot of the work was done by slave labour (ie those in the concentration camps).

It was only when Germany started loosing the war that Hitler decided to take his own life as he knew it was over and he wouldn't have the support of the people any more.

I was the same with Saddam Hussain. He was in power for so long because the majority were, in fact, ok. They had an excellent education system (the most liberal in the middle east (women were granted an equal education)) and electricity and hospitals.

I'm not condoning either of those rulers, but it is interesting that the main backbone democracy (ie the people choose those in power) is, in fact, the same reason that dictators stay in power.

p.s. don't confuse democracy and freedom.

Democracy is the process of choosing those in power.

Freedom is the ability to say what we want, however truthful, stupid, offensive, funny etc... as long as we don't incite violence or hatred (as in Voltaire's quote "I disagree with everything you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.").

Re:The darkest hour is just before the dawn (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331337)

We can still report on it, the story of this and other mistakes is getting out and is getting attention. If the dictators had won, you wouldn't even know about it until you were taken off the street and never heard from again.

Are you so sure this matters? Even if you can still report about and protest, what difference does it make it if you can't affect government.

In fact, I would argue a dictatorship could use free press and other freedoms to bleed off dissent as long as the government machine is so complex that no one could possibly right injustices.

Think of it as Tyranny of the Majority over those who don't fall in line.

Secondly, I would argue WW2 did not force change as we often think in some areas of the world. Technically Japan was an elected democracy in a sense that had a constitutional monarchy. Contrary to belief, the emperor did not hold the end all be all power and he simply did not appoint or control the elected government directly.

The main issue is with Japan they had elected a hawk group much like our own that got them embroiled in WW2 with the US even with the disagreement of some military officials of a win (notably Admiral Yamamoto)

Even Tojo resigned in 1944 during the wake of the failures of the war much like you would expect in a parliamentary government.

Germany and Italy were a different matter, but I just would like to point out the parallels between wartime Japan and our own. Not to mention Germany had converted from a democracy to a dictatorship in quite a short span... These things can and will happen if they are not guarded against.

We might have not reached that point and may not, but I'm so not as worried as what Bush is doing with special laws and revocations of rights himself as someone else who comes along 20 years down the road who is actually evil and is drawn to politics simply because of the powers of government that we granted now.

Re:The darkest hour is just before the dawn (1)

UltraAyla (828879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331391)

Dictatorship just don't work, it ain't the natural state of affairs
Machiavelli might have a few things to say about that

Re:The darkest hour is just before the dawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331477)

Ah, and the communism was "accomplished" in what war?

Reply:GFR ... BuSsssshit! NFC, Ain't Won Nothing (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331189)

Get Fycking Real, No Ficking Change, all is right with the world of US, EU, and ....

FYI: US, EU ... it is horrible to have our beliefs destroyed by reality, but we all live in totalitarian nations. Fortunately for US, EU and some others it has allowed US and EU to maintain a delusional believe that we have enough cake and can eat cake forever. Let's not blame terrorist for US and EU citizens being fools.

I refer you and all political/religious dogmatist to "http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/P._T._Barnum" for a few appropriate comments on the state of the supposed religion democracies.

You can fool some of the people all of the time;
you can fool all of the people some of the time,
but you can never fool all of the people all of the time.
However, most of the time most of US, EU ... are the
exploitable fools of flag-waving faux-patriots, bible-thumping
pseudo-prophets, history-revisionist plutocrats/corporatist marketeers.

A few more appropriate sayings about fools like US, EU ....
* A fool and his money are soon parted.
* Every crowd has a silver lining.
* No one went broke underestimating public taste.
* I don't care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!
* You'll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.
* There is a sucker born every minute

Just yesterday I heard the USA VP (the P prior too) say "stating a time table or schedule ... tells the terrorist ...." Well folks I can say if we had not been fooled to go there in the first place, then there would be allot less terrorist getting real hands on training killing our Warriors, brothers, sisters, moms and dads ... and the whole region would not be totally destabilized for further emergence of more terrorist [THANKS YOU VERY MUCH P&VP].

All US, EU ... citizens should laugh, because it is far to painful ... if you don't laugh at yourself!

An unsettling perspective/comment on beliefs is not troll/flame ... just reality as I perceive it.
"Reality is self-induced hallucination."

Re:Reply:GFR ... BuSsssshit! NFC, Ain't Won Nothin (1)

kad77 (805601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331683)

Thank God few people like you are ever elected to any positions of influence.

Re:Sssssh! (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331273)

>> Now the terrorists have won!
> As a matter of fact, they have... [terrorism] is a about destroying a lifestyle and beliefs..

No it's not. As far as I can tell, the aims of terrorists are:

a) To change the foreign policy of their target state
b) To take revenge for the previous foreign policy actions of the target state

The whole 'they hate us because of our freedom / they want to destroy our way of life' red herring is just a way of dehumanising them, and an attempt to make their motives seem so alien to us that we fail to object to any methods used to counteract them.

On a related note, the oft-used phrase 'The terroists have already won' is also seldom true. The destruction of a building or an airliner may be a victory for them, but it does not in general get them any closer to their eventual aim: foreign policy change. The destruction of our freedom at home doesn't further their aims in any way, and I doubt that they celebrate it at all.

Re:Sssssh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331511)

destroying a lifestyle and beliefs (.i.e democracy)

Democracy is not a lifestyle OR belief; it is a political process, and as history has shown, it is far from perfect. It is a means, not an end (unless you are part of the ruling class and stand to profit from the political process). You don't "root" for democracy; you root for freedom (or oppression), and you hope that democracy will get you there.

Why do you hate America? (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330733)

I probably shouldn't even be telling you this, but... this is so secret that you shouldn't even scold Slashdot for posting about it!

How's that for logic (5, Insightful)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330173)

So let me get this straight. AT&T says it can't defend itself because it would endanger national security (basically, AT&T is guilty), and because of this, the case should be throw out (a win for AT&T)?

But I guess logic like that is adequate for government work.

Re:How's that for logic (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330203)

Don't forget that the court is part of the government, too.

AT&T is basically asking the court to rule itself incapable of doing its job. There aren't a lot of judges who'll go along with that, and this is precisely why the constitution separates the judiciary from the legislature and the executive.

-jcr

Re:How's that for logic (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331545)

There aren't a lot of judges who'll go along with that, and this is precisely why the constitution separates the judiciary from the legislature and the executive.

IIRC, last time this was tried, the judge did [google.com] go along with that.

Re:How's that for logic (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330385)

Wouldn't a judge make that choice? Otherwise anyone could make that claim in any civil case. Smells like BS to me.

Re:How's that for logic (3, Insightful)

greenguy (162630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330539)

There is only one catch, and that is Catch-22, which specifies that a concern for national security in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was a process that has to be kept secret. AT&T has the public interest in mind, therefore it cannot tell the public what it does. If it told the public what it does, it would no longer be working for the public. If it's good for us, they can't tell us why; if they told us why, it wouldn't be good for us.

Because it does not exist there is no way it can be repealed, undone, overthrown, or denounced.

The person I killed, it was for the Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330705)

That strange looking person I killed, it was for the Government and I am a spy. I can't defend myself in court because that would endanger national security.

All you need to know is that you're safe.

007

Take your pick (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330191)

You either have the rule of law, or you have "national security." They are mutually exclusive. Anything too secret to be brought before the law is too secret to be judged by it. Therefore it is outside the law, making the government a law unto itself, unaccountable to the public.

Funny how that works. It's pretty much always the case that, paraphrasing parts of the Bible here, when men give up obedience to law and order, good rules and the ethic of accountability, that moral decline in the population begins. What? Bush's supporters didn't realize that the rule of law is just about the keystone of public morality?

Re:Take your pick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330277)

You're all looking at this the wrong way. If the evidence is too secret to show in court, then yes, we can't have a trial. So instead, we just go ahead and declare AT&T guilty by divination ... proceed directly to the penalty phase, and break 'em up yet again into little pieces. After all, if the evidence is too secret, clearly it's evidence of spying on Americans!

Re:Take your pick (3, Insightful)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330543)

You are forgetting, of course, that in America everybody is innocent until proven guilty -- except in the cases that either they're a terrorist or they're not a citizen. Being that AT&T's execs are all "patriotic" citizens, there is no question that they were "helping" the government fight freedo--i mean terrorism.

I think Picard said it best (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330395)

A matter of internal security: the age-old cry of the oppressor.

Re:Take your pick (3, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330441)

National Security is the antithesis of rule of law. National security, when overdone, bears a scary resemblance to say, North Korea. I believe Thomas Jefferson was well ahead of his time when he stated, "Those that would give a little liberty for security get none and deserve neither." It is very sobering to consider the wisdom and insight his words offered over two centuries ago. Even more sobering is that his imparted wisdom falls on deaf and ignorant ears.

Re:Take your pick (2, Insightful)

wframe9109 (899486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330465)

I'm pretty sure that was Ben Franklin :) But still, a very valid quote in todays world.

Re:Take your pick (1)

26199 (577806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330497)

Maybe they both said it :p

Re:Take your pick (3, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330507)

No, Jefferson was just as good as misquoting Franklin as any idiot on Slashdot today, thank you very much. I believe it was George Washington who said "a penny saved is a penny you can spend later."

Re:Take your pick (3, Informative)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331265)

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

        * Benjamin Franklin, "Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor", November 11, 1755; as cited in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 6, p. 242, Leonard W. Labaree, ed. (1963)

Yup.

Re:Take your pick (1, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331453)

It was indeed Ben Franklin, and for all his usual wisdom, he was full of crap when he said that. We trade freedom for safety every day. Traffic regulations make it safer to be on the roads, but we have to stay below the speed limit and stop at all those pesky traffic lights. We go through security at airports to detect all those bombs that none of us are carrying, in the hopes that nobody will carry a bomb onto a plane. We limit the firearms we can use and the situations we can use them in, in hopes that it will protect us from shooting ourselves in self-defense. Municipalities can search your home as part of a building safety inspection, and they can get a search warrant if you bar them entry, even lacking probable cause. And don't forget to buckle up. It's the law.

Now, that's the state we were in before the Patriot Act, and you didn't hear a massive outcry then. That's 300 million people who apparently deserve neither freedom nor safety.

Re:Take your pick (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331739)

I think the key is that the quote references "essential" liberty. Is it essential liberty to drive around at 80 mph and to honk at slow drivers because I should not use the brakes on my sports car? Is it an essential liberty to run a restauraunt and secretly feed people unsafe food? Is it an essential liberty to carry a wide array of bombs and bomb accessories on an airplane? Obviously a civil society would have laws to keep at least some semblance of order.

Brevity is the soul of wit, and Ben Franklin certainly was witty. But I think he compressed his words a little too much leading to being "full of crap" on this one. At least we was smart enough not to become President.

Re:Take your pick (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331817)

It was indeed Ben Franklin, and for all his usual wisdom, he was full of crap when he said that.

Somebody is full of crap here, but it's not Ben. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you have the liberty to hurt others and put them in danger. For example, driving while drunk or bringing bombs onto planes. As opposed to having your bank records searched or your telephone calls taped without a warrant.

Re:Take your pick (2, Interesting)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330521)

Bush's supporters didn't realize that the rule of law is just about the keystone of public morality?

Their not ignorant of that, just hypocritical. They still want to hold "rule of law" over our heads.

Seems to me it's about time that individual citizens start exempting themselves from laws they don't care to follow. Just declare that it's our constitutional right. There's precedent for that now.

If I ever get called to jury duty, I know I'll vote to acquit. Anything. The president doesn't follow the law, so what does it matter if a shoplifter does?

Re:Take your pick (1)

HUADPE (903765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330661)

If I ever get called to jury duty, I know I'll vote to acquit. Anything. The president doesn't follow the law, so what does it matter if a shoplifter does?

Knowing several lawyers, that would be the kind of statement that would keep you off any criminal jury. Wait! *scribbles down statement* Now what about civil cases, got anything for me there?

So every victim must suffer because of Bush? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330787)

I have always said that extreme examples provide some of the clearest examples [codemonkeyramblings.com] , so here's one for you. Let's say that President Bush got away with raping and murdering a teenage girl in the oval office. Then President Hillary Clinton in 2008 did the same thing with a teenage male staffer. Should we not still try to prosecute President Clinton out of the principle that "a crime, is a crime, and all violent crime should be prosecuted?" By your standards, no we shouldn't. In fact by your standards all crime should go unprosecuted, all victims left to suffer, all because some jackass on the top of the totem pole got away with shenanigans. Dear God, do you realize what you are advocating by saying that you would automatically vote to acquit? You would allow a serial child molester go to make a statement against Bush. That is, pardon my French, fucking sick.

Re:So every victim must suffer because of Bush? (5, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330879)

Dear God, do you realize what you are advocating by saying that you would automatically vote to acquit? You would allow a serial child molester go to make a statement against Bush. That is, pardon my French, fucking sick.

Let me get this straight. The President declares himself above the law. Government agencies routinely violate the constitution in the name of national security. Habeus Corpus is effectively suspended (just by saying "he's a terrorist"). AT&T won't resists testifying in spy cases because its info is too secret for courts. Our citizens and treasure are squandered in an unprovoked war of adventurism. And the thing that really gets your panties in a bunch is that some guy calls for a jury revolt? Think of the children!!!!1!

Re:So every victim must suffer because of Bush? (1)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331743)

I also have a serious problem with the grandparent's philosophy. I have a major problem with the current administration's ways. I also have a small daughter. If she were to be molested and the GP aquitted the attacker to make a political statement, I'd be forced to commit TWO murders afterwards.

Re:So every victim must suffer because of Bush? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331301)

The emphasis of the GP post was the importance of legal authority of law in the country to be able to rule on even the highest levels of Corporate/Government crime. Your George W Bush rape scenario is extreme, but falls short of being realistic. What is actually happening to corrupt the moral fiber is dishonsty (Bush tells lies to provoke war / Secret wiretaps that are illegal). The GP states that if the government doesn't need to worry about being honest, why should he? By your logic, you seem to say that you have tolerance for lies from Bush, but that you would not tolerate lies from Clinton. Frankly, lies from either politician should be met with harsh criticism.

Re:So every victim must suffer because of Bush? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331751)

Maybe making things get worse faster is the quickest, best way to blow it all up and get a clean start?

Re:Take your pick (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330921)

I'm glad you put the phrase "national security" in quotes.

Political equality of citizens cannot exist outside a framework of laws superior to the will of any powerful individual or group. Otherwise power belongs to those who can sieze it and exercise it. In a system where "national security" is outside the rule of law, then "national security" is no longer the security of the people of the nation; it is merely the security of the state apparatus. In terms of cybernetics, law provies the feedback which keeps intelligence agencies working on behalf of the people.

Contrary to the theories of the conservative supporters of the current Administration, the founders clearly understood that the Executive Branch must be constrained by laws -- laws passed by the legislative branch. They'd experienced an executive whose powers were unrestraind by the Continental Congress, and didn't like it. They'd tried doing without a strong executive, and found it didn't work. So they settled for a middle way: a strong executive bound by laws and obligated to confer with the legislature on many matters.

It follows that "too secret for the courts" is not a matter for the Executive Branch to decide; nor is it a matter for the Judicial Branch. It is a matter for the Legislative Branch, to decide by their power to pass laws and by their power to constitute inferior tribunals. If the law says that a matter must come to court, it must. If there is a security risk to bringing a matter to an ordinary court, Congress has the power "To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;" by which sensitive matters could be tried.

Re:Take your pick (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331351)

You either have the rule of law, or you have "national security." They are mutually exclusive.

Actually without rule of law your nation is unlikely to be that secure in the first place.

All too often "national security" is code for "CYA for someone associated with government". Most of the time actual "national security" would require showing him or her for the fool that they are.

Such exclusion should be restricted (3, Insightful)

UnixSphere (820423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330197)

They're hiding behind "national security" for an excuse not to go forward with the case, the Supreme Court needs to step in and do its job.

It's mind boggling how just about anything that the Federal Government Agencies don't want the public to see, hide behind this excuse and usually get their way..

The ability to call upon such protection should be regulated and restricted, but when's the last time Congress did anything positive for us citizens?

Re:Such exclusion should be restricted (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330231)

when's the last time Congress did anything positive for us citizens?

Let's see... There was the Voting Rights Act in 1964. I would like to give them credit for various tax cuts that happened during and since the Reagan administration, but since the congress also enacted those taxes in the first place, it's a wash.

-jcr

Re:Such exclusion should be restricted (2, Insightful)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331621)

I would like to give them credit for various tax cuts that happened during and since the Reagan administration, but since the congress also enacted those taxes in the first place, it's a wash.

Too bad those tax cuts gave us national debt in the trillions, and thus the largest tax increase in history. It's just a matter of when it goes into effect.

also, if you'd give credit for tax cuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331631)

You'd also likely want to consider that the spending done by Congress (with the consent, and
usually at the behest of, the executive branch), has outstripped revenue generated by taxes
and other means.

If you're gonna spend that much money, it's only responsible to pay for it.

Tax cuts are fine, so long as you keep the overall fiscal responsibility in mind. We can argue
over the appropriateness of various programs funded by the federal government, but it's a
no-brainer that if you have a program, you should pay for it with real money, not with ever
expanding debt.

Re:Such exclusion should be restricted (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331841)

The ability to call upon such protection should be regulated and restricted

No, that ability should be abolished entirely because it is fundamentally incompatible with a free society. I don't care it it's spying, military strategy, or even Roswell aliens, nothing the government does should be secret!

AT&T's argument: (5, Funny)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330213)

"Spying is such a harsh word...

We like to call it passive call attendance.

Re:AT&T's argument: (1)

warsawpact (1062268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330495)

I'm surprised they don't call it "free three way calling".

I would like to be an early wecomer of.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330225)

.....Censored..Censored..Censored..?

Translation to Daily Speak : (3, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330229)

"We are scared like hell for our butts"

27B Stroke 6 (5, Informative)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330267)

Get it right: the blog name is "27B Stroke 6" which is a beautiful reference to the out-of-control bureaucracy in Terry Gilliam's movie "Brazil" [wikipedia.org] .

Re:27B Stroke 6 (5, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330665)

For those not in the know (as the wiki article doesn't seem to mention it), a "27B stroke 6" is a form that Harry Tuttle says he'd have to fill in before he could do anything to help, even if your apartment is on fire. (I forget the exact quote, but it's something like "I couldn't even give you a glass of water if your apartment was on fire without filling in a 27B/6 first")

Re:27B Stroke 6 (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330735)

Get it right: the blog name is "27B Stroke 6" which is a beautiful reference to the out-of-control bureaucracy in Terry Gilliam's movie "Brazil".

I've always thought "tubes" jokes would be a lot funnier if more people, including a certain senator from Alaska, had seen this movie.

Above the law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330377)

There's no court in the land that has the authority to examine issues that happen to overlap with "national security"?

Too secret to exists (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330409)

The judge should rule that AT&T is too secret to exist... and therefore should be dissolve

It's a secret (1)

shamasi1968 (1075075) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330417)

When are we going to hold the government accountable for its' actions? We, the American people need to stop voting for parties and start voting for the person, hold the government accountable,demand an accounting of the budget that is reviewable by nongovernment accountants, and basically do what the constitution says we can.

Re:It's a secret (2, Funny)

virtualsobriety (1058474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331359)

The US needs to elect a morally corupt President who has an unknown morally sound doppelganger, hope the newly elected President has a heart attack, then insert the doppelganger into power. He can than have his CPA best buddy come in and balance the budget over dinner, as well as reform the whole government over the course of 3 or 4 weeks, until the First Lady realizes he is a different person. All the country's problems would be solved.

*In this instance we ignore the fact that the President doesn't have nearly as much power as all you wonderful posters' think and that congress is responsible for the majority of the problems in this country...

Re:It's a secret (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331565)

As long as the First Lady is Sigourney Weaver, I'm for it.

Re:It's a secret (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331791)

Prima Nocte is what did it for the Scots. I'd say if we got to that point then change would be well on its way.

without oversight or any possibility thereof, (2, Insightful)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330431)

A government that is not accountable to its population is by default invalid and unjust, and needs to be delt with accordingly. Thank God we have the soap box and ballot box in this Great Country and have options to bring about change in a constructive manner. In other places, the ammo box is the only option available.

Re:without oversight or any possibility thereof, (2, Insightful)

Arclight17 (812976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330499)

I agree. But voting hardly seems to be a viable option, as less than half the population could be bothered at the last presidential, let alone senate or house races. Then again, the only candidates who have a decent chance at election are incumbents (already corrupt) or those rich enough to buy the media time to secure a seat.
Is anyone else terrified of their government?
More to the point, is anyone else confused about how their fellow citizens can be so stupid sometimes?

Re:without oversight or any possibility thereof, (1)

dido (9125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330795)

I hope that remains true. The sobering reality is that these two cherished boxes are gradually diminishing in their effectiveness with what's going on these days. These warrantless wiretaps and other infringements of Constitutional guarantees, unreliable electronic voting machines, and so forth are all conspiring to weaken the effectiveness of the soap and ballot boxes in your great country... Soon enough, only the ammo box will help, and God help us all if it ever comes to that.

Re:without oversight or any possibility thereof, (1)

incabulos (55835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330967)

Dont forget the Jury Box - one thats increasingly getting utilised what with DeLay, and now Libby being sent where they can do no further harm to the country and its citizens.

Re:without oversight or any possibility thereof, (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331627)

DeLay and Libby are small fry in the context of Washington misbehavior, and I personally believe that Libby is just a sacrificial lamb. The jury box doesn't help a lot when the *real* problems in question never see the inside of a courtroom.

Re:without oversight or any possibility thereof, (1)

DustyDervish (1043314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331855)

It would be nice if someone just stepped up to the plate and pressed charges. They broke the law. Arrest them and place them in front of a judge and jury.

What has been left to hide? (1)

anfi (707720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330443)

The most obvious suspicions is that full extent of mass invasion on privacy has not been revealed so far. Irony: Trust your telco to protect you from info harmful to feds ;-)

Rock and a hard place (2, Insightful)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330445)

AT&T is between a rock and a hard place. If they continue to say the case should be thrown out, the public will ridicule them. If they actually present evidence in their defense, the government can prosecute them for divulging state secrets. (Anyone who has a security clearance can testify to the penalties for the unauthorized release of classified information.) There really are no good options for AT&T.

Re:Rock and a hard place (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330513)

I would be very surprised if you could be prosecuted for a necessary action taken to comply with a court order. (The court order in this case being, 'answer the question'). Mostly because it would be the same courts who would have to convict you. On the other hand, it wouldn't stop you being disappeared to gitmo.

Re:Rock and a hard place (3, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330595)

Well, I've never heard of a court ordering someone to provide evidence that they're not guilty, but it's unbelievable to me that there are state secrets that can be trusted to AT&T that can't be trusted to a federal judge. Surely they could have a closed trial before one of the FISA Court judges? Oh wait, I forgot... the whole reason they're under investigation is that the FISA court judges' security clearances weren't good enough to let them oversee this perfectly legal but so supersecret we can't tell the judges about it program. Clearly the FISA judges aren't vetted well enough for us to be absolutely sure they're not working for al Qaeda.

Re:Rock and a hard place (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331051)

>>> "..the FISA court judges' security clearances weren't good enough to let them oversee this perfectly legal but so supersecret we can't tell the judges about it program...

It seems all too obvious that the judges just need to have their clearances increased to the level that does allow them to hear the case. If they're a FISA judge they'll already have some reasonable clearance so it shouldn't be 'impossible' like some would try to have us believe. And it also shouldn't take forever. If they've managed to clear some 20 YO Johhny analyst, surely they can clear a FISA judge.

Re:Rock and a hard place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331277)

The decision that NSA (and AT&T, who must fear prosecution if they do not cooperate) is asking for would allow the following scenario: if there were a program that was both illegal and secret, no court could ever rule that it was illegal. That cannot be correct. Where is the check or balance if the legislature's laws concerning executive activities are ignored and the courts may not enforce them?

Re:Rock and a hard place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331385)

Unfortunately, whoever works for that administration cannot be sure he never actually worked for al Qaeda.

Re:Rock and a hard place (1)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331129)

I think rather than prosecute, he should have said persecute.

Findings are also to secret too right? (1)

Soothh (473349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330503)

So if their doings are to secret for a court, then anything they "find" should also be to secret for a court.... right?

wasnt is some great leader in the past said there should be a revolution every 200 years to keep the government from doing bad things? we are over due.

Re:Findings are also to secret too right? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330569)

So if their doings are to secret for a court, then anything they "find" should also be to secret for a court.... right?

I that it's understood that any actions taken on this information will be "extra-legal". As in whisked away to an undisclosed location for an undetermined length of time.

Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330615)

All them murders I done are too secret for any court.

In that case (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330617)

My money's too secret for AT&T, then.

All kidding aside: the next two years will suck (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18330637)

Between Bush's Crusade and the Democrats needing to do their pimps' bidding the next two years are going to suck more than the last six. Yeah, lots of war, the US become more of a police state, DRM for everything digital and a sickening over regulation of the [US side of the] Internet to protect the children* from those dangerous "tubes".

*Real children by age and all those that can't deal with the 21st Century.

From Frank Zappa:


You say yer life's a bum deal
'N yer up against the wall . . .
Well, people, you ain't even got no kinda
Deal at all
'Cause what they do
In Washington
They just takes care of NUMBER ONE
An' NUMBER ONE ain't YOU
You ain't even NUMBER TWO

State Secrets vs Breaking the Law? (2, Interesting)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330659)

If what they were doing is both legal and a State Secret, they should be able to at least prove this to a Judge "in camera" (?). Otherwise is it not possible that what is it being allegged the government requested and what they carried out are illegal acts for which both AT&T and the government should be held accountable?

a case for End-to-End telephone crypto (2, Interesting)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330663)

We need a good end-to-end hardware crypto solution for voice traffic, 100% open-source and published and buildable on cheap commodity hardware. (I'm thinking PIC processors and FPGA's). We basically need a hardware-based telephone equivilent to PGP that everyone could afford, that doesn't require me to use a PC as a telephone. Phil Zimmerman's PGPhone is pretty cool and a step in the right direction. It just needs to shrink ;-)

The government should fear its population, its creator.

So does this mean (1)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330669)

that AT&T is on double super secret probation?

Who would have thunk? (1)

NineSprings (1060260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330677)

That the new AT&T is behaving like... well... the old AT&T.

I wonder... (1)

cmdrpaddy (955593) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330695)

If anyone gets prosecuted for any of this who the first person they call will be?

To protect democracy and freedom, sentence AT& (2, Insightful)

tfg004 (974156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330719)

A court should always, in any case, be able to get all information from any company. If a company is not willing to provide data to a court, they should be prosecuted for obstruction. Especially in cases concerning the common good, like in this case.

If this case is really too secret for a court, it proves that the government is commiting illegal activities, which puts them on the same line with terrorists regarding being a threat to the society.

In a democracy, people always have the right to know what their government is doing. It seems democarcy died in the US and has been replaced by a more totalitarian government, surrounded by some large allied corporations, which tries to rule everything and anyone under the false pretext of protecting democracy and freedom.
Which freedom? No privacy is no freedom!

The only way to restore democracy and freedom in the US is to prosecute and sentence the corporations, like AT&T, that are helping the current government remove democracy and the freedom from it's citizens.

If the court cannot sentence AT&T, the general public can. Just drop all your business with AT&T, cancel your contracts, let them feel they went too far this time.

My Favorite Part (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330919)

From the AT&T brief:

Moreover, as this Court has explained, although a dismissal in contexts like this one may appear "harsh" for the individual plaintiffs, the "greater public good," and "ultimately the less harsh remedy," is the protection of military and intelligence secrets the release of which could harm the public's safety.
My favorite part is that AT&T's lawyers feel that the terms "harsh," "greater public good," and "ultimately the less harsh remedy" all need to be put in quotes, as though they are abstract concepts that need an "ad hoc" definition. I think I'll just turn my cynicism engine on full blast and crawl into a corner somewhere.

It makes me feel like I'm getting a patronizing lecture on law and freedom from Bill Lumbergh [imdb.com] from Office Space [imdb.com] . Or getting hand-parentheses from the finger quotes lady [theonion.com] .

It comes down to who has more authority (1)

Tiber (613512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331059)

The article as it is written wants to say, "AT&T tapped people without judicial oversight". This is not the case. The case is that FISA, which is a court, asked AT&T to tap people.

Since FISA is a secret (a better word would probably be "confidential") court, but a court none-the-less, the real case is if the venues that the EFF seeks to sue AT&T in are higher powers than FISA.

Re:It comes down to who has more authority (1)

faraway (174370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331677)

I can't tell whether you're being sarcastic or not. But if you aren't you really need to stop bending over, make sure to clean up any of Dubya's stains off your nice pants and proceed to stop spreading lies. That is not how it went and we all know that already - don't treat us like children either. I've run into useless govspeaks like you before - in Communist Romania. You & your cronies won't get away, the unfortunate thing is that none of you will get a proper treatment like Ceausescu did for violating the trust of the people, the rights of the people, and everything that is good and decent and human that the US was supposed to stand for. Fuck you @ the executive branch and and its doublespeak.

James Madison quote might be apt (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331245)

If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

Secret is as secret does.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331809)

Sorry, the case of us spying on you is far too secret for us to defend against, because the secret is we now know your secrets. And it's no secret that your secrets should remain secret. So lets just keep this a secret OK? You know, pretend this never happened!

Isn't that kind of like kicking someone in the nuts, then saying: Just kidding!!
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