Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby draque » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:01 am

One of the biggest reasons I voted for Obama was his promise to protect civil liberties, but he seems to be reneging on that without hesitation...

We had hoped this would go differently.

Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration's made two deeply troubling arguments.

First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue "would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security." As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.

It's an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration "invoked a legal tool known as the 'state secrets' privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court." He was right then, and we're dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.

Sad as that is, it's the Department Of Justice's second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one — not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration — has ever interpreted the law this way.

Previously, the Bush Administration has argued that the U.S. possesses "sovereign immunity" from suit for conducting electronic surveillance that violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, FISA is only one of several laws that restrict the government's ability to wiretap. The Obama Administration goes two steps further than Bush did, and claims that the US PATRIOT Act also renders the U.S. immune from suit under the two remaining key federal surveillance laws: the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act. Essentially, the Obama Adminstration has claimed that the government cannot be held accountable for illegal surveillance under any federal statutes.

Again, the gulf between Candidate Obama and President Obama is striking. As a candidate, Obama ran promising a new era of government transparency and accountability, an end to the Bush DOJ's radical theories of executive power, and reform of the PATRIOT Act. But, this week, Obama's own Department Of Justice has argued that, under the PATRIOT Act, the government shall be entirely unaccountable for surveilling Americans in violation of its own laws.

This isn't change we can believe in. This is change for the worse.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby strange_person » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:51 am

Okay, so the PATRIOT act is even worse than we thought.

Let's F! or repeal it.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby draque » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:37 pm

While I hope that it is repealed, I don't think you can simply pile all blame for this on the act itself. To use and further the power of the act on the part of the Obama administration is a clear endorsement of it. That's the issue that stings.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Shackler » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:16 pm

Telling your enemies how you try to locate them is a terrible idea. Such knowledge should remain hidden.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Skatche » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:32 pm

Shackler wrote:Telling your enemies how you try to locate them is a terrible idea. Such knowledge should remain hidden.


The government is constrained by the constitution not to infringe on the privacy of citizens. Certain intelligence agencies contained within the government infringed on the privacy of citizens. Therefore, said intelligence agencies must be processed like any other criminals.

It doesn't mean there can't be a sensible compromise between security and justice. For example: "In three years time, we will investigate allegations of wrongdoing by these intelligence agencies, and bring them to justice if they are found guilty." Has to be a definite timeframe, mind you: "after the war on terror is over" isn't acceptable, because the war on terror can extend indefinitely. There would also have to be some way of ensuring that records and humans relevant to the investigation are not "disappeared" in that time, but these are quite tractable, practical considerations (one easy approach: hold the intelligence agencies criminally accountable for each "lost" piece of evidence). Point is, indefinite government immunity is what really rankles here.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Shackler » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:30 pm

Skatche wrote:It doesn't mean there can't be a sensible compromise between security and justice. For example: "In three years time, we will investigate allegations of wrongdoing by these intelligence agencies, and bring them to justice if they are found guilty."


That's a good idea.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:03 pm

Intelligence agencies functioned perfectly fine before the introduction of blatant violation of both individual privacy and Constitutional law.

There is no valid argument that the government needs to wiretap and spy on its own citizens without accountability and without legal constraint. There is no valid argument that the government should ever be able to use such information to disappear people, put them in concentration/torture camps, and otherwise emulate Nazi Germany mixed with Orwell's 1984.

Waving the 'war on terror' around won't cut it. Neither will invoking the empty words that 'things are different now'; no they are not.

The reason the Founding Fathers expressly forbid governmental invasion of privacy was to eliminate the possibility of things like the Patriot Act; this was exactly what they were rebelling against with regard to England.

Let me repeat this, because it needs to be understood:
The reason America was formed was because of a rebellion against a 1700's English form of the Patriot Acts, Guantanamo, imprisonment without trial, being spied on, having property seized, and all the other invasive, covert, dominating crap we are currently talking about.

That is what the government of King George did to people, regularly. That is why the Founding Fathers wanted to break away. It wasn't just because of a stupid tax on tea, folks.

To argue for these things, and to support them, is -literally- to commit treason. Literally.

I leave you to decide what this implies about Obama, our congress, and those that keep them in power.

There is only one reason to wiretap and spy on citizens; to control them, to silence dissent, intimidate people and to eliminate freedom, and through this to ultimately consolidate power in the hands of a small elite, utterly removed from the populace.

The only real value of the Patriot Act is to disassemble any pretense of democracy, and replace it with totalitarianism.

There are countless ways to gain intelligence, and all can be done effectively, as they always have been, under strict legal limits and controls to prevent tyranny.

I become acrimonious when I even smell the faintest whiff of any person being brainwashed by the corrupt notion that imagined 'safety' is ever a valid argument to lose liberty. That is the argument of the black sheep, leading the herd to the slaughterhouse, it is cowardice and ignorance, and it cannot be tolerated; it must be challenged at every turn, and fought at every mention.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Shackler » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:32 pm

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:To argue for these things, and to support them, is -literally- to commit treason. Literally.


Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sun May 31, 2009 3:50 am


Whether it was to end spying
on US citizens, provide true
equal rights to Queer folk,
to close US torture prisons,
or to restore the lost,
basic Constitutional rights
to Americans, Obama has
consistently refused to undo
the legacy of George Bush.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby draque » Sun May 31, 2009 7:38 am

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:
Whether it was to end spying
on US citizens, provide true
equal rights to Queer folk,
to close US torture prisons,
or to restore the lost,
basic Constitutional rights
to Americans, Obama has
consistently refused to undo
the legacy of George Bush.


What's bizarre is that he's acting like a fiscal-liberal social-conservative for the most part. That makes me tear my hair out.
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Re: Obama and Wire Tapping...

Postby Coda » Sun May 31, 2009 9:14 am

Which is sort of the opposite of what I was voting for... I wanted a fiscal-conservative (though not TOO conservative) and socially-liberal (though not TOO liberal) leader.

That said, better than the alternative.
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