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House of Representatives To Discuss Wiretapping In Closed Session

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the maybe-they-are-trying-to-be-ironic dept.

Government 264

Nimey brings word that for the first time in 25 years, the US House of Representatives will use a closed-door session to discuss proposed wiretapping legislation. The old legislation expired last month when government officials could not agree on retroactive immunity for the telecommunications providers who assisted with the wiretaps. The most recent version of the bill, proposed by House democrats, does not include telecom immunity. Because of that, President Bush has stated his willingness to veto the bill. The Yahoo article notes, "The closed-door debate was scheduled for late Thursday night, after the House chamber could be cleared and swept by security personnel to make sure there are no listening devices."

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Grant No Immunity. Get Info to ACLU. (4, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747468)

They are also going to decide to prosecute or not [truthout.org] . This is not nearly good enough and it stinks of cover up. Check out what the Wall Street Journal and ACLU have to say about this [slashdot.org] .

I wonder if they consider cell phones a listening device [slashdot.org] .

Re:Grant No Immunity. Get Info to ACLU. (3, Insightful)

dpninerSLASH (969464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748222)

Good the The House Democrats. Like many other U.S. citizens I've had it up to my chin with Bush's arrogant, irresponsible, and unintelligent deconstruction of our country. I hope they give him the fight of a lifetime on this that keeps him awake at night.

To argue that Bush has done anything whatsoever to fend off terrorism is a joke. I couldn't care less about the immigration system, but his blatant failings to secure our southern borders stands in direct conflict with the GOP's assertions that we are better off today than we were a few years ago is fodder for comedians. If the terrorists decide they want to get us, they'll find a away. The only thing (thank God) that is keeping the U.S. safe today was the worldwide embrace of the U.S. after 9/11, which hurt the terrorists from an ideological point of view.

Re:Grant No Immunity. Get Info to ACLU. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22748344)

Sorry, only counts if it's up to your eyeballs. Chin ain't high enough.

Interesting proposition (5, Funny)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747470)

They wouldn't possibly oppose someone bugging the session room while they discuss, would they?

Re:Interesting proposition (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747644)

They wouldn't possibly oppose someone bugging the session room while they discuss, would they?
Someone should tell Alanis she can add another verse to her song.

Re:Interesting proposition (4, Funny)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747816)

Someone should tell Alanis she can add another verse to her song.
Someone should tell Alanis what the word ironic actually means. Oh wait, someone has -- comedian Ed Byrne:

        "There's nothing ironic about being stuck in a traffic jam when you're late for something. Unless you're a town planner. If you were a town planner and you were on your way to a seminar of town planners at which you were giving a talk on how you solved the problem of traffic congestion in your area, couldn't get to it because you were stuck in a traffic jam, that'd be well ironic."

        "Rain on your wedding day is ironic only if marrying a weatherman and he set the date."

        "A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break, that's inconsiderate office management. A no-smoking sign in a cigarette factory - irony."

        "Ten thousand spoons? How big is your sink, Alanis? What do you need this knife for - to stab the bloke who keeps leaving spoons all over your house?"

[Thanks to wikipedia for the quotes.]

Re:Interesting proposition (4, Funny)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747916)

Aha, but a song about Irony with no irony in it- now that's ironic.

Re:Interesting proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747922)

Someone should tell Alanis what the word ironic actually means

Ironic: relating to, containing, or constituting irony
Irony: incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result

Normally, the streets are not jammed with traffic. Today they are. That's a "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal ... result".

Normally, people expect it to be nice for their weddind day. If the weather is nasty, that's "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the ...expected result"

If you're takign a cigarette break, you expect to be able to smoke. If you cannot, due to a no-smokign sign, then that's "
incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result"

Need I continue??

/Non-pedantry in a slashdotter- now that's ironic.

Re:Interesting proposition (5, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748280)

Irony: incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result

How ironic that a dictionary would fail to define irony properly. :)

Seriously? Incongruity between the actual and the normal/expected result?

That is NOT really irony. For something to be ironic there has to significant force behind the expectation, and the result can't merely be incongrouous it has to be more a contradiction.

If I say 'its a beautiful day' and its actually 'partly cloudy and may be even just a touch chilly' that is not ironic. If it were pouring rain and the floods were rising, that would be ironic.

If I pick up a pen I expect it to work not be dried out, but if its dried out that's not irony. If I specifically chose to pick up the pen with the sticker 'gauranteed never to dry up' and carried it around precisely to avoid the hassle of a dried up pen ... and then it was dried up... that would be irony.

Dictionaries often fail to accurately capture the complete meaning of a word, because words are inherently difficult to concisely define with other words. That's no surprise -- the entire point of adding a word to a language is often that other words fail to accurately capture its meaning.

Another example is "underwhelm"; which is defined in one dictionary at least as: "To fail to excite, stimulate, or impress." Again, that doesn't really capture it quite right. If one eats a bagel for breakfast and is not excited stimulated or impressed that doesn't mean one was underwhelmed by it. Its a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one.

To be underwhelmed is not merely to fail to be impressed, but to becognizant of the fact that you have failed to have been impressed. If you ate a bagel and it made no impression on you, if someone asked you about your breakfast, you'd absently say 'it was fine' without 2nd thought; you haven't been underwhelmed. But if you'd sat there eating your bagel and came to the realization that it really wasn't particularly good, that its taste and texture really did nothing for you, then you might come to say that you found it underwhelming.

Re:Interesting proposition (1)

AshenFalls (1249010) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748208)

As someone else already pointed out, it's ironic because it isn't ironic. Now whether that was her intention or not is entirely up for debate, but as far as I'm concerned it's pretty much genius.

Re:Interesting proposition (2, Funny)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748220)

Ten thousand spoons
Steel *is* around 70% ironic you know....

Cheers!
--
Vig

Re:Interesting proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747684)

ixnay on the iretapway, migoay

Re:Interesting proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747836)

They wouldn't possibly oppose someone bugging the session room while they discuss, would they?
People trying to listen to their conversations without permission? What indignity! Perhaps they should build a Faraday cage around the chamber (similar things have been done in secure rooms in various embassies).

Re:Interesting proposition (2, Insightful)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748042)

Like any other proposed violation of people's rights -- this is only a good idea when it's somebody else who's affected. That's exactly why racism and prejudice is able to take hold... It's really easy to verify that you're not a member of the 'them' that is being negatively impacted by it.

Let Freedom Reign (3, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747482)

It's time to drop the idea of the government being somehow separate from the people and grant all citizens access to all governmental information. We do not need big brother operating with rules and laws that are in any way different than they are for any citizen. Nothing is more basic than the right to know.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747550)

I totally agree with you. I used to think of the government as people just like you and I, but time and time again they have demonstrated they are in fact not 'for the people, by the people'. It seems to me connections and money pull far to much weight in higher elected offices. No simple solutions, but I think something needs to be done to remind them they are in fact citizens/people just like the rest of us. And just be held to the same standards and ideals as anyone else.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (4, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747688)

While I agree that there is way too much secrecy and that it is used far too often to protect wrongdoing by government officials, eliminating secret government information would be a disaster. Do you really want every hostile government and terrorist to know the locations, travel schedules, and arming codes for all US nuclear weapons? What do you think will happen if the names of undercover agents in foreign countries are publicized? How about the impact on fighting organized crime and terrorism of eliminating the Witness Protection program? If you make use of government health care, do you really want everyone to be able to read your medical records?

Re: Let Freedom Reign (4, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747728)

do you really want everyone to be able to read your medical records

No, he just wants to be able to read your medical records, and any related to his political opponents. His are off limits, since that's part of his freedom, you know.

mod parent up (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747886)

There's not a high enough /. score to do that one justice.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747990)

No, he just wants to be able to read your medical records, and any related to his political opponents. His are off limits, since that's part of his freedom, you know.
Actually, many politicians release their medical records. I do agree with you though that mine should remain private. That's one of the reasons I'm against the government paying for my health care. Once they are the ones paying for it, they are the ones controlling it.

OK, now can you answer the rest of the questions? Here they are as the GP stated them:

Do you really want every hostile government and terrorist to know the locations, travel schedules, and arming codes for all US nuclear weapons?
What do you think will happen if the names of undercover agents in foreign countries are publicized?
How about the impact on fighting organized crime and terrorism of eliminating the Witness Protection program?
Should all that stuff be public knowledge as well? Don't get me wrong, I'd love to know all the secrets the government has. Unfortunately, the government can't tell me without telling the people that they are trying to hide the stuff from in the first place, so I accept the fact that government needs secrets.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748028)

Wish I had mod points. :)

Re: Let Freedom Reign (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748048)

Pretty weak examples.

  • Nuclear weapon locations have to be secret, b/c their intended use as weapons would be in danger of being compromised by an enemy.
  • An arming code is a type of digital lock, whose specific purpose is to secure against unauthorized use. A digital lock has no function if you publish its key.
  • Publishing the name of an undercover agent would make them no longer "under cover".
  • Your health care information is related to a service that is personal and private in nature, and noone except you and those involved in administering personal services to you have any business having your information.

    You should have a right to access your own medical records, no? As it stands now, the government could decide something in one of your personal health records is a threat to national security and block you from accessing your own records.

Matters of government action in terms of public policy (decisions that will be made effecting things outside military property, government property, and private personal affais) have no basis for secrecy.

This would include things like general policy on whether wiretaps are allowed or not.

If the very existence of a wiretapping program were to be secret, then of _course_ it's illegal! After all, if the program were perfectly legitimate, then they'd have nothing to hide. You don't hide information, unless you're doing something illegal, right!?

A legal wiretapping program of any sort would have details published the fact that a program was operating by special rules (though of course, not the very personal details about exactly which specific individuals were being targeted for tapping).

Re: Let Freedom Reign (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748120)

You don't hide information, unless you're doing something illegal, right!?

Maybe that's why YOU hide things you do. But a technology or method used to intercept communications between people planning your death or the ruin of the economy in which you live, or looking to do another London or a Madrid in San Fransisco or Seattle do NOT need to know the nature of - or the policy particulars surrounding - the means by which we'd stop them. Not if we intend to actually stop them.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748194)

Wait, are you for or against the illegal spying on US citizens for unspecified purposes, with the cover of ZOM!! Terrorism!

Re: Let Freedom Reign (1)

dedalus2000 (704571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748262)

Tom Clancy is not used as the FBI training manual for a reason.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747712)

grant all citizens access to all governmental information

Oh, well, as long as you're only going to make it available to citizens. There shouldn't be any problem at all with foreign hackers, people who want to blow up one of our ambassadors, or anyone who might want to know when President Obama will be crossing a certain intersection at a certain time of day on his way to attending some event. As long as it's only citizens with access to all government information, we should be fine. There aren't any citizens that would make inappropriate use of police communications, or air traffic systems, or anything like that.

Or is it possible that your comment being modded as 'insightful' is perhaps a big ol' troll, just like your comment?

Re: Let Freedom Reign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747878)

Except that all of our governments actions can't be freely available and at the same time maintain national security.

Re: Let Freedom Reign (1)

jonberling (1256136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748128)

Good point. We have the technology now to have every government meeting that contains non-sensitive information open for anyone to view online. I also think that discussions about legislation can never be considered sensitive information. Otherwise there's too much room for abuse.

Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (5, Insightful)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747486)

Yep that's right. America needs a second party.

I will not be voting for Obama, Hillary, or McCain. We will get the SAME THING with all of the above. Instead I'm voting for none of the above; either the Libertarian Party candidate, the Constitution Party candidate, or I'll write in US Congressman Dr Ron Paul.

If more people would refuse to vote for more of the same, then we might actually get politicians with integrity that follow and uphold the rule of law.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747512)

That's a pretty simple view on the matter. Turns out, there are 3 branches of government, so anybody in The White House is going to run into the same walls. I don't know if electing a racist (Paul) is the right thing to do, either.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (0, Redundant)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747648)

Ron Paul is not a racist. I don't know why you think he is. That has been refuted MANY times over. Do some research.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747734)

Whether or not he's a racist, I don't know. But regardless of that, he's an idiot with some very bad ideas on how to run the country.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747770)

Yes, because following the Constitution is SUCH a bad idea?!?!? *rolling eyes*

Would you care to elaborate on your point?

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747976)

Yes, because following the Constitution is SUCH a bad idea?!?!? *rolling eyes*

Where did you get the idea that the constitution is so fantastic? The founders didn't intend for it to last. And it hasn't lasted - you do understand what amendments are, right?

Stop holding the constitution up as unassailable perfection and a goal that eclipses all else. I know Americans have this weird quasi-religion when it comes to the founding fathers and the constitution, but please try to snap out of it and judge it on its own terms and in perspective.

Quite frankly, I don't know how you've managed to keep this fiction going for so long. The "living document" died years ago. The politicians started ignoring it. The judges reinterpreted it. The people let them get away with it. What the constitution says no longer applies and nobody really cares. And Ron Paul can't change that.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22748184)

I am going to go ahead and disagree with you.

The constitution is as relevant today as it was at the Constitutional Convention.

I agree that it is far from perfect. Amendments can be a good idea to deal with issues not dealt with at its writing. Amendments should be congruent with the spirit of the document.

I am not a Ron Paul supporter. I will be voting for Hillary Clinton and I am a Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer.

However, I would vote for Ronald Reagan if he were to run again.

Countries like the UK I understand do not have a constitution. Instead, guidelines are established from tradition. The Queen has some executive-like powers but she isn't likely to ever use them. The Queen's job is to encourage democracy in the Commonwealth Realm.

I feel that the executive branch has been given too much power because checks and balances (such as a constitutional war requiring Congress approval). This is why the Constitution should not be ignored.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22748000)

Frankly, I do think some bits of the US Constitution are bad ideas, but that's a separate argument and not what I'm referring to here. And I will be fair, I do have a respect for some of his policies.

But I'm referring to him wanting to put the US dollar back on the gold standard. It's nothing but a horrible idea which will bugger up the US economy. Do you need me to elaborate that point?

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748098)

I don't pretend to be an economist so I honestly don't understand all of the ramifications of the gold standard. However one thing it WILL do is to help keep the inflation tax under control.

And yes there are some parts of the Constitution that should be changed I agree. But that's what the amendment process is for.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22748298)

To quote what someone I know said on the matter:

The specific problems with the gold standard are that
a: It's expensive to run, requiring that gold be dug up and that nothing be done with this gold except leave it in bank vaults where people can steal it [a bit of a problem for those people who want to use gold, for you know jewelery or dental work or electronics]
b: The supply of gold is pretty much fixed, or at least growing slower than the value of the world; this means that as time goes on the supply of circulating money will shrink relative to the demand for circulating money, which means the price of money will rise; thus, the gold standard is strongly deflationary and deflation is bad.
c: if you have actual circulating gold, or easilly-convertable notes backed by gold, the cheapest/easiest way to get your hands on gold for non-monetary purposes would be to take some of the monetary gold and use that; thus your supply of monetary gold will be ever-shrinking exacerbating point b: above. You could "fix" this by either making the conversion process difficult

The key problem is point b: above, though. It's worth observing how world economic growth prior to the abandonment of the gold standard is strongly tied to the amount of monetary gold [or silver] circulating; the australian/californian/south african gold rushes, the spanish looting of the americas, the discovery of vast new silver mines in the hapsburg dominions, all of these sparked rather large economic booms despite the falling real worth of the circulating gold/silver [ie, inflation]. Or, quite quite possibly, because, both through the easing of liquidity and urging investmen; the problem with zero-inflation is that zero-inflation makes "shoving your money in a mattress" or equivalents attractive options, and money-in-a-mattress is the least effective investment possible, on a global scale. And actual deflation, such as the gold standard would engender, is worse, of course -- just ask the japanese.

Inflation is a good thing because it forces people to think about what they're doing with their money and acts as a tax on non-remunerative investments.


A bit of a read, but the smallest wall of text that gets enough important points from a thread on the matter on a forum I frequent.

Nader\Paul 2008 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747850)

Windmills 'R Us.

Can we stop kicking this dead horse now? I got blood and guts all over my shoes.

Re:Nader\Paul 2008 (0)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747986)

I am not saying Ron Paul will win. In fact I know he won't.

My point is that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting a different result. There is barely any difference between the Demirubs and Republicrats.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747930)

or I'll write in US Congressman Dr Ron Paul.

Ron Paul the Republican? Yeah, great way to oppose the Republican/Democrat duopoly. What's next on your agenda, fucking for virginity?

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748014)

Ron Paul is a DIFFERENT kind of Republican. If you had ever researched anything he had to say you would quickly realize there. Here is a good starting point: http://ronpaullibrary.org/ [ronpaullibrary.org]

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (2, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748168)

Ron Paul is a DIFFERENT kind of Republican.

You are correct! We would have also accepted:
  • The check is in the mail
  • I won't come in your mouth

Bob, tell him what's he won!

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748234)

Obviously you are an ignorant troll and have NOT research Ron Paul's position or voting record. See my signature for a start.

Re:Republicans and Democrats will do NOTHING. (1, Insightful)

Oddster (628633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748250)

If more people would refuse to vote for more of the same, then we might actually get politicians with integrity that follow and uphold the rule of law.
You cannot get politicians, third party or not, with "integrity" as long as there are silly criminal laws on the books. And by silly, I mean laws that may evoke some sense of morality or social norm emotionally, but that really should not be codified in the legal system (the American one, anyway). Gambling, drugs, and prostitution come immediately to mind - threatening people with jail is not a significant deterrent to these vices, so it ends up just making a whole lot of people so-far-uncaught criminals - including way more politicians than have been caught.

No, you'll never get a politician with integrity as long as you have silly laws, because making laws that man can not and will not obey serves to bring all laws into contempt [elizabeth cady stanton]. Once consenting adults can do as they wish in their own privacy without fear of breaking the law, then we will all get quite a bit of integrity back, and so will our politicians.

I'm so proud to be an American when... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747492)

the future of our nation's policy on personal privacy is determined by a 500p3r-53kr!+ panel of crooked politicians.

Systems Normal, All Fscked Up!

-AC

*sig removed by NSA content filter*

Hoax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747542)

Interestingly, could this be a PR effort on the part of the Democrats, as a reason to change their minds?

Pre-emptive strike on anti-American posts (0, Troll)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747548)

Before we get too many more posts with the basic idea of "I'm going to enact change by not voting/voting for Ron Paul", involving the words "big" and "brother", or just having some kind of sentiment about our rights being tampled on, let me give you this little gem.

The Constitution that most of you tout so highly gives you very specific ways to enact change on a government that has become too powerful. Until you are willing to do what it says with that regard, please don't waste the bandwidth.

Re:Pre-emptive strike on anti-American posts (2, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747608)

Yes, you are right. The constitution does give us specific capabilities to deal with a government that has become too big and powerful to be corrected. It involves the right for you and I to have a gun.

However, I would much rather try to swing popular support to someone like Ron Paul, who espouses personal freedom and constitutional values, than begin a second civil war in this country. I mean, at the end of the day, we all live pretty good lives here in the USA -- the battle being fought is for the future. We are trying to reverse a decline, not pull the country out of the gutter.

So, I will continue to support people like Ron Paul who voice a pure and respectable ideology rather than sleezy politicians who are concerned with being caught doing something crooked rather than trying to do The Right Thing.

Re:Pre-emptive strike on anti-American posts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747632)

The constitution does give us specific capabilities to deal with a government that has become too big and powerful to be corrected. It involves the right for you and I to have a gun.

And that only works when the government has weapons that are of equal size to those that the civilians have. Oops.

Re:Pre-emptive strike on anti-American posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747660)

Don't worry, with most of the military in Iraq, it won't matter.

Re:Pre-emptive strike on anti-American posts (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747860)

Yes, you are right. The constitution does give us specific capabilities to deal with a government that has become too big and powerful to be corrected. It involves the right for you and I to have a gun.
That's a trap.

Once people try to use their guns against the government, the Constitution gives the government the right to suspend habeas corpus.

Just one question ... (0, Redundant)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747556)

... will it be bugged?

Result of Hearing Depends on what door is closed (2, Insightful)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747588)

The one to the public, the one to the lobbyists, or the one to the 3 letter agencies.

Re:Result of Hearing Depends on what door is close (2, Insightful)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748268)

or the one to the 3 letter agencies.
Well, I presume it'll be the three-letter agencies sweeping the place for bugs. So I guess that answers that part of your question.

Not sure Bush realizes he's on the losing end here (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747590)

Bush has a lot less leverage than he seems to think. The Democrats are at the very least torn morally about wiretapping, with the more leftward-leaning quite happy not to permit it at all. That's essentially the situation we have right now, with the previous legislation expired and with no immunity for telecoms. Bush can veto any related legislation he wants, but it won't force Congress's hand, because there will always be enough of his opponents willing to just not send anything to his desk.

What will end up happening here (they should put me on the McLaughlin Group!) is that Congress will either sit on its thumbs or send legislation to Bush that he'll just veto again, and January 2009 will roll around. There's a greater than 50% chance that the next President will be a Democrat (to my personal chagrin, but I'm being realistic here), and the telecoms, FBI, CIA, DoJ, etc. will have things much worse when it comes to wiretapping at that point.

But it is a matter of principle (1, Troll)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747690)

Whether or not I agree with the wiretaps, the idea of NOT granting immunity to those who cooperated with the government sets a bad precedent, undermining the credibility of the U.S. government. It doesn't favor any political party or the country in the long run.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (5, Insightful)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747740)

the idea of NOT granting immunity to those who cooperated with the government sets a bad precedent, undermining the credibility of the U.S. government.

They had a choice not to cooperate, Qwest acted in this manner. I can't imagine the legal departments in these companies never mentioned that this possibly an illegal action. As far as undermining the credibility of the U.S. government, it was undermined when Bush Administration authorized this program.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747852)

I believe that most would assume that when the government asks something that isn't obviously illegal, one would reasonably assume that act to be protected. Sort of like the U.S. military - members are expected to follow orders unless obviously unlawful, and in return, are not prosecuted for following orders.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (2, Informative)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747912)

I believe that most would assume that when the government asks something that isn't obviously illegal

Tapping phones without a warrant is obviously illegal (the except is FISA where you can apply for a warrant after the fact up to 72 hours). These companies are subject to these requests all the time, they know what the requirements are for legal wiretapping, do you honestly think they had no idea that a warrantless wiretapping program would be on shaky ground?

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747984)

Tapping phones without a warrant is obviously illegal (the except is FISA where you can apply for a warrant after the fact up to 72 hours). These companies are subject to these requests all the time, they know what the requirements are for legal wiretapping, do you honestly think they had no idea that a warrantless wiretapping program would be on shaky ground?
I don't think the companies equated shaky ground (waiting for the legislation to make it legal,) with nearly illegal. I'm not saying this oversight was a good idea, just that one shouldn't attribute to malice that which would probably be better attributed to ignorance, and if we set a precident for prosecuting ignorance, the courts will be backed up for eons.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748008)

I was SURE I put the end blockquote after the question mark. Bummer on the error.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (5, Interesting)

jonberling (1256136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748202)

I don't think it was ignorance. I use to be an intelligence analyst for the US Army. When I first heard about the wire tapping program (I'd had only been out for about a year) the first thing that came to my mind is "Holy crap, that must have been illegal!" We were clearly briefed about what we could and couldn't listen to. Domestic calls were 100% off limit. US Citizens, in the US, calling someone in a foreign country were also protected. The reason: the US military isn't used against US citizens (unless martial law is declared). We have law enforcement separate from the military for a reason. If it were the FBI instead of the NSA doing the wiretaps, I think it wouldn't have been as big a issue (At lease at the time I though that, I'm not sure if I think that now.)

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

Stephen Ma (163056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748320)

I'm not saying this oversight was a good idea, just that one shouldn't attribute to malice that which would probably be better attributed to ignorance, ...

As everyone knows, "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

... and if we set a precident for prosecuting ignorance, the courts will be backed up for eons.

So we will have more courts for however long it will take to punish the criminals.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (4, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747742)

Whether or not I agree with the wiretaps, the idea of NOT granting immunity to those who cooperated with the government sets a bad precedent, undermining the credibility of the U.S. government.
Maybe, just maybe, that's because the US Government deserves, in part, loss of credibility.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747974)

and it also shows that the govt is willing to correct past mistakes. it should be obvious that govt is made of people and people can stray from duty knowingly or unknowingly. nothing is worse than not admitting that fault and rationalizing it later instead.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (5, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747814)

Sorry, I'm going to have to pull Godwin's law here. I hope that I will articulate why it is justified.

The Bush administration have operated illegally. They have violated the law not just in spirit, but in word. They have pushed warrantless searches and wiretaps. This is not legal. They have advocated, and used, torture in the interrogation of prisoners. This is not legal. They have lied, and used said lies as an excuse to wage aggressive war. This is not legal. They have conspired to hide their actions behind a cloak of shadows, lies, and secrecy. They have refused to disclose the the extent of their actions to the duly elected agents of the People of The United States of America while under oath. This is not Legal. International Law applies whether one agrees to it or not. As much of the top Nazi brass discovered. The Bush administration have used the same tactics: Brute Force, Fear, and a blatant disregard for law, human rights, and human dignity. Any who aid or abet such actions bears blame. They could have refused. They did not.

No. No Immunity for Traitors. No Immunity for Cowards. No Immunity for those aid the destruction of the rights and liberties of free men.

If there is to be any hope for Freedom, for Democracy, hope for any kind of legacy to leave for future generations, on these things must we stand firm.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748060)

Sorry, I'm going to have to pull Godwin's law here. I hope that I will articulate why it is justified.

Nope, failed miserably. No matter how badly you disagree with Bush's policies and actions, he doesn't compare to the Nazis.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

jonberling (1256136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748238)

I think what he's referring to is the rumors circling the internet stating that several prominent Nazis were charged with war crimes for using waterboarding as as an interrogation technique. Now I have no idea if there were really Nazis charged with war crimes for using waterboarding. But if there were, then in at least that respect, Bush could be compared to Nazis. BTW, if someone knows a reference proving or disproving the war crimes charges, I'd like to know it.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748102)

Befehl ist befehl?

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748228)

Befehl ist befehl?
Aber daß war ein Führerbefehl und Qwest ist ein Verräter! Seriously, though, I think the Bush family is still pissed off that their side lost the Second World War. All this economic destruction of the American economy and destruction of basic civil liberties is simply a bit of revenge for which they have waited so patiently.

Re:But it is a matter of principle (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748116)

the idea of NOT granting immunity to those who cooperated with the government sets a bad precedent
No, it upholds the precident that this is a nation of laws (at least in principle), and that we believe in the principle that not even the government is above following them.

Misattribution (1)

Makaristos (1078951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747596)

This news piece is an Associated Press item posted by Yahoo on their site; it is not by Yahoo.

Re:Misattribution (3, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747726)

Don't blame me; Soulskill edited my submission pretty heavily.

ZOMGBBQ, an editor who edits. Kind of.

Attention: "security personel" (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747598)

We would absolutely love it if you would get a tape and give it to wikileaks. Or Youtube. Or John Stewart.

Re:Attention: "security personel" (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747680)

We would absolutely love it if you would get a tape and give it to wikileaks. Or Youtube. Or John Stewart.
Mod down? No, mod parent up. This would be fucking awesome. Bush did a little song and dance at the Washington Press Whores dinner last week, closed to the public. He was yucking it up about obstructing justice, talking about going back to the ranch and saying hi to Cheney whose standing there with all the documents he's withholding. This is the same asshole who joked about not being able to find WMD's, miming looking under the podium "no wmd's here", the same asshole who said "You are the haves and the have more's; some call you the moneyed elite, I call you my base."

We need to damn these fuckers with their own words. People have been deservedly killed for less; I think we can all agree that voting them out of office is a peaceable compromise.

Re:Attention: "security personel" (5, Insightful)

BAM0027 (82813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748188)

Nah, you can't vote them out or impeach them. You have to wait for them to do something _really_ heinous, something that would impact a whole bunch of people.

Something worse than the 4,000 military personnel and the thousands of citizens that've died in Iraq.

Something worse than the civil liberties that've been compromised.

Something worse than the trillions of dollars that've been borrowed against future generations for a baseless war.

Something worse than the loss of funds to pay for education.

Nah, just wait for them to do something _really_ awful, like pay for sex.

Re:Attention: "security personel" (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748258)

We need to damn these fuckers with their own words.

Absolutely. And while I think its unlikely that we'll get a Scooby Do/The Closer confession on video, I'm willing to settle for a macaca moment [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Attention: "security personel" (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748340)

Bush would just use it as an excuse to never tell Congress anything again.

The Facts (5, Informative)

ewhac (5844) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747630)

The law that permits surveillance of foreign communications -- FISA -- did not expire last month, and remains in force. What actually expired was the Orwellian-named "Protect America Act," a temporary amendment to FISA which removed the requirement for any kind of warrant for certain surveillance targets "reasonably believed" to be outside the United States.

Surveillance of foreign targets may still be conducted under the auspices of FISA -- you'll just need to get a warrant. Up to three days after the fact. From the special secret FISA court. Which has never said no. Such hardship.

Schwab

Re:The Facts (1)

ekgringo (693136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747798)

But just think of all that awful paperwork they'd have to fill out. They wouldn't have time to wiretap everyone and the terrists will win. Oh, the humanity!

Re:The Facts (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22748324)

you'll just need to get a warrant. Up to three days after the fact. From the special secret FISA court. Which has never said no.

Dude, they have said no as many as five times [wikipedia.org] ! Four of those had to be resubmitted before they were partially granted. Aside from that nearly 200 applications had to be modified before they were accepted. How can the government be expected to get anything done with these kinds of hardships?

Fear (5, Insightful)

Heshler (1191623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747650)

"Whitehouse said the documents assert that the president has the power to determine what his constitutional powers are, particularly in a time of war." Would the "War on Drugs" in this case be grounds for the President determining his own powers? While I believe that no one such have such uncheck spying powers, I think the real issue is that the Bush administration has proven, in so many cases, to be inept and untrustworthy, especially with Americans' privacy. How can we trust him when he says (or rather, directly implies) that the result of the bill not passing WILL be a terrorist attack on the US? This is a blatant fear mongering technique; he has not clarified how the program helps fight terrorists, yet he expects everyone to be afraid enough to give him anything he wants. Lately, Republicans have made it sound like the House Democrats are responsible for a coming wave of destruction on America. This emotional play is unacceptable: we need evidence that the wiretapping is actually doing some good, not more fear.

Re:Fear (1)

KORfan (524397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747762)

Remember, warrantless wiretapping isn't enough to keep us safe. Only telecom immunity can keep us safe. Warrantless wiretapping without telecom immunity means buildings exploding when the terrorists attack.

It's all good if this gets rejected. (1)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747698)

Oh, wiretapping a phone is immoral and illegal to get information, but waterboarding is ok.

Hillarious (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747756)

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it extremely hillarious to see the comment

The Yahoo article notes, "The closed-door debate was scheduled for late Thursday night, after the House chamber could be cleared and swept by security personnel to make sure there are no listening devices."
related to a debate about how OK it is to spy on people?

I'm sure its standard procedure in stuff like that, but I can't help but LOL

Re:Hillarious (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747796)

related to a debate about how OK it is to spy on people?

It's not ok to spy on people.

However, politicians have their own definition of people. You and I are not in it.

They will come at night (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747780)

Soon, they will discover that all the taps they have
aren't giving them the info they need. There will be
a phase where they come at night and torture. But they
will soon discover that there is still info they can't get.

That's when they will start the killing.

Fear is right. Fear is good. Fear will keep you
awake at your sentry post in the dark, waiting for them.

Remember these days. In the dark, in the future, you will
be able to tell stories of how things were, and how they could
be. Blank eyes will stare at you, not comprehending fully,
but wanting to believe.

But stay alert during the night. It's hardest right before dawn.

Wiretapping immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22747800)

This [doiop.com] and this idea of immunity will not end well.

At least someone... (1)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747804)

...in this country still has privacy! Where do I go to have a secret session room?

Lying Republican Scammers (5, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747908)

This stunt is the first time in 25 years that the House has gone into secret session. John Conyers (D-MI), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, skeptically agreed with the move [wired.com] :

The more my colleagues know, the less they believe this Administration's rhetoric. As someone who has chaired classified hearings and reviewed classified materials on this subject, I believe the more information Members receive about this Administration's actions in the area of warrantless surveillance, the more likely they are to reject the Administration's scare tactics and threats. My colleagues who joined me in the hearings and reviewed the Administration's documents have walked away with an inescapable conclusion: the Administration has not made the case for unprecedented spying powers and blanket retroactive immunity for phone companies.

Whether this is a worthwhile exercise or mere grandstanding depends on whether Republicans have groundbreaking new information that would affect the legislative process. There must be a very high bar to urge the House into a secret session for the first time in 25 years. I eagerly await their presentation to see if it clears this threshold. As someone who has seen and heard an enormous amount of information already, I have my doubts.


Leave it to the Republicans. You have to, because they refused to let Democrats call a secret session last year, when Democrats wanted to review classified FISA evidence [thehill.com] to decide how to revise FISA as Republicans have demanded (but didn't while they owned the majority):

[House Minority Leader] Boehner's spokesman, Kevin Smith, derided the secret session proposal as a stalling tactic.

"There are clear rules and procedures for how Congress handles classified information," Smith said. "This nonsense is nothing more than another stalling tactic from a bunch of liberals who don't want to give our intelligence officials all the tools they need to keep America safe."


That kind of severe contradiction should disqualify anyone from participation in either "Intelligence" or "Judiciary" decisions.

Closed...? (0, Redundant)

Aegis Runestone (1248876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22747940)

What if they're wiretapping the session? ;P

As a voter, citizen, and taxpayer (4, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748088)

I'm furious that Pelosi and the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives would agree to a secret session. The FISA bill represents the greatest threat to our freedom, the rule of law, and the Constitution of the United States, and I demand to know every word that every Congressman says on the subject so we'll know exactly whose ass to kick if they grant immunity to the telcos for committing crimes.

Those fuckers are supposed to work for us, and I for one have lost patience waiting for them to remember that.

A secret session on this topic, especially this topic, is nothing but a big Fuck You to the American public.

Re:As a voter, citizen, and taxpayer (3, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748260)

They could be discussing this behind the scenes instead of in an official session. (This is official, isn't it?) Would you prefer that?

It's a closed session because... (0, Offtopic)

number1scatterbrain (976838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748096)

...they've got Eliot Spitzer's lady friend "Kristen" appearing before a "select" committee. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

WTF? (3, Insightful)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748152)

Let's see now: House of Representatives and secret session. If they have to keep it a secret from us, then who is it they're representing?

Don't answer, the truth of the situation has already become painfully clear. We've got two political parties who offer the candidates that best represent their party values. Those party values include greed, graft, corruption, etc, etc. You can't vote the rascals out of office because the only choices you have to vote on are the ones the parties select for you.

And while we're hyperventilating about our elected representatives, the real dirty work is done by career bureaucrats - you didn't vote for them, you don't know them, they'll be there until they retire and they'll do what they want to regardless of which party is in power.

Here's my bet: the House and the telecom companies will kiss and hold hands and when it's over nothing will be different. Same old stuff.

Re:WTF? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748284)

the House and the telecom companies will kiss and hold hands and when it's over nothing will be different
True. Very true.
As Bush is so fond of saying, if you nothing to hide, then why worry?
Why doesn't the same apply to people who are elected officials swallowing our money and time to elect them.
There should be a law preventing secret sessions.
If the government can't be open to its people, then the people don't have to open to the government.

As you said, i bet a secret bill will be passed bypassing constitution granting immunity, provided the telcos say "sorry" and pay a $500 fine to court.

If democrats agreed to this, then they deserve to lose this november election, and i, surely will vote for McCain.

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9 (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22748218)

"No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

It really doesn't get much clearer than that. "Ex post facto" means "retroactive". It does not say "maybe", or "if...". It says NO.

Bush can bitch all he wants, but he is demanding that the Democrats pass a measure that would be blatantly unconstitutional... as clearly unconstitutional as something can be! "No (whatever) shall be passed" is perfectly clear English, hardly subject to debate. And in this case, "whatever" is retroactive laws.

If the Democrats even considered doing such, they would be traitors to the Constitution, to the same extent as Bush.

Re:U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22748318)

You really need the "IANAL" prefix, because you don't know wtf you are talking about.

Yes, it's illegal for Congress to pass a law today making something illegal, and then busting someone for breaking it yesterday. That is ex post facto.

It is however NOT illegal for them to pass a law pardoning past behaviour that was illegal but not enforced. Understand? This is not ex post facto, this is something else. It's called a pardon, and even governors have the right to do this.

The depths of your ignorance seem to know no bounds. Take a chill pill.

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