By Gene Lyons

Fourth Amendment Purists Are Living In A Dream World

June 12, 2013 12:00 am Category: Memo Pad, National News 116 Comments A+ / A-
Fourth Amendment Purists Are Living In A Dream World

Spy work holds deep allure for many people. My own career as a secret agent began as an outgrowth of training beagle hunting dogs. See, I needed new antennas for the little radio transmitters in the animal’s collars—which combined with a directional antenna and multi-channel receiver helped me bring the little rascals home alive at day’s end.

You wouldn’t believe some of the scrapes those dogs could get into. One time, we found three beagles inside a beaver dam fighting a cornered raccoon. Had we not intervened, he’d probably have drowned them.

So anyway, I called customer service at Wildlife Materials, Inc.  to order the antennas. Ever the subversive, I made a joke about buckling a tracking collar to the bumper of my wife’s car.

Long, painful silence.

“Um, air, we’re not supposed to talk about that.”

Oh well.

Of course these days, that technology’s way out of date for marital espionage. You can’t make a beagle carry a cellphone, but most wives cling to theirs 24/7. With the right software and a wi-fi connection, you can track her whereabouts in real time from your friendly neighborhood tavern, and even message her at the No-Tell Motel to say you’re stuck at the office.

Unless she’s also tracking you, in which case all bets are off.

Of course, my own wife’s phone is lost half the time. I sometimes wish the National Security Agency weren’t too busy monitoring guys calling 1-900-HotVirgins over in Yemen to help her find it.

But let’s get halfway serious about this NSA business. First, where has everybody been since 2006, when USA Today first revealed the existence of large scale NSA telephone data mining? That was objectionable in two big ways: the Bush White House acted unilaterally, without the court supervision required by law, and it was also indulging in warrantless wiretaps.

Congress fixed that in 2008, permitting statistical analysis of telephone traffic, but requiring both ongoing FISA Court oversight and search warrants for actual eavesdropping. After his customary tap-dancing, Sen. Barack Obama supported the bill. Hearing no announcement that the Obama White House had canceled the program, a person would have to be awfully naïve to imagine NSA had gone out of business.

The court order produced with a great flourish by Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian mainly confirmed that the system appears to be working as designed. So why the hyperventilating? The way some people are carrying on, you’d think the KGB or East German Stasi had set up shop in the White House—which definitely isn’t how people would act if they really feared tyranny.

Greenwald himself rather specializes in hyperventilation. It’s a rare terrorist attack that isn’t immediately followed by a Greenwald essay pointing out that Norwegian civilians or off-duty British soldiers  are no less legitimate targets than Pakistani children — true enough in an abstract moral sense, but of vanishing political usefulness.

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Fourth Amendment Purists Are Living In A Dream World Reviewed by on . Spy work holds deep allure for many people. My own career as a secret agent began as an outgrowth of training beagle hunting dogs. See, I needed new antennas fo Spy work holds deep allure for many people. My own career as a secret agent began as an outgrowth of training beagle hunting dogs. See, I needed new antennas fo Rating:

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  • dadhoover

    Me-thinks this writer is too close to the subject and has something to lose if it goes down, so he’s thinking he’s justified in apologizing for it. His last statement says it all– “Besides, there are far more efficient ways of targeting enemies of the state than trying to make something of who they’ve talked to on the phone”. So give it up mister, no more wholesale collection of our personal calls and etc. because the traditional ways of finding out who are enemies are then going after those specific peoples records instead of wholesale collections of records produces much better results. END THIS NSA SYSTEM THAT SHOWDON EXPOSED, I DO NOT NEED THE GOVERNMENT COLLECTING AND SAVING MY PHONE CALLS, EMAILS AND ETC. TO BE KEPT SAFE. DO NOT INVADE MY PRIVACY ANY FURTHER, ITS WAY TO MUCH TO TRUST ANY GOVERNMENT OVER AND THAT IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS WROTE THIS SUBJECT INTO THE CONSTITUTION, TO PROTECT US FROM PROBABLE ROGUE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. Develop some spine so you aren’t so readily accepting of giving up rights to be kept safe. rights given away that have been bought and fought for by others before us are very hard to get back.

    • Independent1

      Okay, so when the next 9/11 happens because our intelligence agencies didn’t have a clue what was going on because NSA couldn’t monitor their terrorist phone calls, YOU CAN BE THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE POSSIBLE DEATHS OF THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS!! HOW’S THAT???
      Have you even stopped for a moment to think about how many phone calls are made in America in a day??? Probably over 150 million. Tell me, how do you think maybe 2-300 (or far less) NSA people are going to monitor 150 million phone calls unless they are done SUPER SELECTIVELY???? The chances that NSA would be monitoring your, or mine or any of 99.9999% of other Americans in any given day is next to NIL!!!
      Uness of course, you just happen to be dialing a foreign country where NSA knows terrorists have been working; OR you happen to dial a number that the CIA or FBI got a tip on via some of their intelligence; OR in viewing your calling RECORDS, something very fishy has been spotted. If you think NSA people have nothing better to do than simply tap in nilly-willy into someone’s fone conversation just to hear “Well have have you been doing these days aunt TILLy??” You have to be totally clueless and about as naive as it comes!!!! Wake up!! And I better not end up dead because people like you were dumb enough to see to it that NSA couldn’t do whatever it needs to do TO KEEP ME SAFE!!!!!!

      • dadhoover

        Wake UP BUDDY !!!! NSA CAN THEN GET A WARRANT TO COLLECT THOSE CALLS >>>> GET IT ???? AS IT STANDS NOW THEY ARE COLLECT ALL OF OUR PHONE CALLS WITHOUT A WARRANT WHICH IS AGAINST OUR RIGHTS TO PRIVACY FROM AND INTRUSIVE GOVERNMENT.

        WHERE WAS THIS NSA JUST SEVERAL WEEKS AGO WHEN THE BOSTON BOMBERS PULLED OFF THEIR TERRORISM ? GUESS THEY MISSED THOSE PHONE CALLS DIDN’T THEY, ??? THEY COULD HAVE EASILY GOTTEN A WARRANT TO LISTEN TO THEIR CALLS BECAUSE THEY WERE SUSPISCIONED WEREN’T THEY ???

        POINT IS WEEK SPINED KEEP ME SAFE AT THE EXPENSE OF MY RIGHTS FOOLS >>>>>> NSA CAN A WARRANT TO LISTEN TO REAL PROBLEM CALLS AND NOT YOUR AUNT TILLIE.!!!! >>>>>GET IT !!!! FOLLOW THE CONSTITUTION AND GET A WARRANT FOR REAL PROBLEMATIC CALL’S AND THE NSA DOESN’T NEED TO BE INTRUDING ON EVERYONE TO KEEP YOU PARANOID PEOPLE SAFE

        AGAIN DID NSA WHOLESALE ABUSE OF OUR PRIVACY STOP THE BOSTON BOMBERS ??? HELL NO !!!! AND THOSE TWO WERE SUSPISCIOUS AND THEY NEW IT.

        AS IT STANDS NOW THERE ARE NO SAFEGUARDS TO THIS PROGRAM GIVING ANYONE ABUSED BY A ROGUE GOVERNMENT NSA AGENT WHO MIGHT ABUSE HIS NSA POWERS ALLOWING AN INJURED CITIZEN (you do know I don’t mean physically injured right? lol). NO ONE CAN BRING A SUIT IF INJURED AS THIS STANDS NOW BECAUSE OF THE CATCH 22 THE NSA PROGRAM’S SECRECY CREATES. GET IT ??? SO WHO WILL KEEP YOU SAFE FROM A ROGUE GOVERNMENT AGENT OR PARTY IF THAT WERE TO HAPPEN IN SECRET ?? WHY THE H___ DO YOU THINK THE CONSTITUTION HAS NUMBER FOUR IN IT ??

        WAKE UP—- GET A SPINE AND DO NOT TRUST A GOVERNMENT TO ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN IT’S GIVEN THE RIGHT TRAMPLE OUR RIGHTS TO PRIVACY AND DONE IN SECRET.

        IF YOU DON’T LIKE NSA HAVING TO GO FOR A WARRANT ON INDIVIDUALS OR SUSPISCIONED GROUPS THEN GOT TO SOME COMMUNIST COUNTRY WHERE THEY DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND CAN LISTEN TO ANYTHING THEY WANT AND COME INTO YOUR HOME AND LOOK AT OR TAKE ANYTHING THEY WANT WITHOUT A WARRANT AT ANY TIME>>TO KEEP YOU SAFE !!!!!!

        GET IT ????????

        • Independent1

          Pure hogwash!! The fact that NSA didn’t stop the Boston Bombers proves that NSA isn’t willy nilly listening in on everyone’s calls – the Boston Bombers obviously didn’t call anyone that the FBI or CIA had intelligence on that would have caused NSA to monitor their calls. And what’s this about not getting warrants?? NSA isn’t listening in on calls without a warrant – that’s been stated numerous times – all they’re doing is providing CALL RECORDS which are used to justify the government’s request to a judge FOR A WARRANT.
          You’re nothing more than the typical Paranoid!!!!!!

          • dadhoover

            I DIDN’T SAY THEY WERE LISTENING IN, THE POINT IS THEY ARE COLLECTING COMMUNICATIONS AND DATE BEFORE THE WARRANTS WITH NO PROPER OVERSITE IN CASES THAT THEIR COLLECTING MIGHT BE USED BY A ROGUE AGENT AGAINST OUR RIGHTS, ANY SENSEABLE PERSON KNOWS BETTER THAN TO GIVE AWAY RIGHTS THAT CAN BE ABUSED AND LEAVING THE PUBLIC WITH NO RECOURSE> WHERE HAVE YOU BENN ALL YOUR LIFE, ARE YOU ACTUALLY SO BLINDLY TRUSTING THAT YOU THINK ANY GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENTS DON’T NEED TO BE WATCHED AND LIMITED ?? GOVERNMENT EXISTS FOR US, NOT WE FOR THEM. AGAIN, THAT IS WHY OUR CONSTITUTION WRITERS WROTE IN THE PRIVACY SAFETY SECTIONS. ONLY THOSE SO PARANOID THAT THEY FEAR FOR THEIR SAFETY WOULD GIVE UP THEIR RIGHTS TO PRIVACY.

            WORK INTO THIS PROGRAM OVERSIGHTS AND RECOURSE IN CASE A GOVERNMENT AGENT BECOMES A ROGUE AND ABUSES THE NSA POWERS AND THEN I AM FINE WITH IT.

            OUR CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN BY WISE MEN IN A TIMELESS WAY SO IT COULD THEN AND DOES NOW APPLY AND WORK WELL UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES REGARDLESS OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES. WAKE UP AND DON’T BE LIKE THE GERMANS WHO GAVE UP ONE SMALL RIGHT AFTER ANOTHER UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. HISTORY REPEATS IF IGNORANT PEOPLE DON’T READ AND REMEMBER. THINK !!!!! JUST BECAUSE THESE ARE OUR LEADERS, DOES NOT MEAN WE DON’T NEED TO KEEP CONTROLS ON THEM SO OUR RIGHTS AREN”T TRAMPLED ON.

          • Independent1

            You should have joined Jefferson and the other nitwit TOTALLY PARANOID colonists during the writing of the Constitution who were so paranoid as to have insisted that if the federal government ever had a standing army that the Feds would usurp the powers of the states and make everyone their slaves. Let’s see, that was almost 250 years ago and it hasn’t happened YET!! And last I looked, many states were snubbing their noses at the federal government and refusing time and time again to even implement laws passed by the Feds which were suppose to become laws of the land. HMMMM!!! and you want to spread more PARANOIA!! What a clown!! Why don’t you move to Russia or some other BETTER GOVERNED COUNTRY (maybe like China or India) IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE SO PARANIOD ABOUT EVERYTHING OUR GOVERNMENT DOES???? Get a life!! You need one!!!!

          • dadhoover

            The paranoia is on the side of those who’d give up their freedoms to by kept safe by a government busy around the world making us the enemies that have become our terrorists. you people see a terrorist around every corner. Stop the madness and most of the reason for terrorism will dry up. But BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE IN SO MUCH DANGER THAT YOU MUST GIVE UP YOUR FREEDOMS TO BE KEPT SAFE ALL YOU WANT, AS FOR ME, I”LL READ HISTORY AND LEARN FROM IT AND THE DANGERS OF GOVERNMENTS BEING GIVEN TOO MUCH POWER, TOO MANY OF OUR FOREFATHERS DIED FOR THESE RIGHTS FOR THE LIKES OF YOU FEAR MONGERS TOGIVEN THOSE HARD FOUGHT FREEDOMES UP TOO KEEP YOU SAFE FROM MOSTLY IMAGINED AND SELF GOVERNMENT MADE ENEMIES. THINK WHAT YOU WANT, BUT MY BET IS THAT WE’LL HAVE BETTER SAFEGUARDS AND RECOURSE PUT IN PLACE BECAUSE THIS PATRIOT SNOWDON EXPOSED THEIR SNEEKING WHOLESALE COMMUNICATIONS WITHOUT A WARRANT. GOD BLESS THAT GUY FOR HIS ‘INDEPENDENT’ CONSIENCE. AT LEAST WE DO HAVE SOME PUBLIC SERVANTS WITH CONSCIENCE AND SPINES STRONG ENOUGH TO DO WHATS RIGHT FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD. NOW GO HIDE FROM YOUR BOOGYMEN, ONE MIGHT BE AROUND THE NEXT CORNER, NEXT TIME YOU GO TO AN AIRPORT SUBMIT YOUR BACKSIDE TO BE CHECKED TO BECAUSE SOME TERRORIST MIGHT HIDE SOMETHING HIS, SO WE ALL GOTTA BE SAFE YOU KNOW SO ALL SHOULD BE CHECKED. LOL YESIREEEEE, BEND OVER FOR YOUR GUBMINT !!! LOL your profile should be “SHEEPLE FOLLOWER”, NOT “independent”, because you are anything but an independent thinker. Lots O’ Luck !!!

          • Independent1

            Really, the paranoia is on the side of those who would give up their freedoms to be safe, huh!! Well, I have lots of evidence that terrorists are out there trying to kills us – if 9/11 didn’t prove that what more do you need? AND YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER TO SUPPORT YOUR PARANOIA OVER YOUR PRIVACY ISSUES!! NONE WHATSOEVER!! State for me one incidence, just one incidence over the last 7 years since NSA has been gathering data where anyone can prove that the information NSA has COLLECTED has affected their privacy. LETS HERE THAT ONE, YES, JUST ONE INCIDENCE!!!
            With todays 24/7 sensationalism seeking media, do you even believe for one moment that the media wouldn’t have pounced on a story where they could prove that NSA’s data gathering had affected the privacy of a law-abiding citizen???? So where’s your evidence??
            I have more than 3,000 people killed in incidences related to 9/11. And more than 70 people killed by terrorists in 14 consulate and embassy attacks during Bush jrs 8 years; and 61 being killed in 12 similar attacks during Bush Sr’s 4 years and 31 people being killed in similar attacks during Reagans 8 years and more than 300 being killed in similar attacks during Clinton’s 8 years to where I can prove that my concern about my safety isn’t PARANOIA!!! IT’S REALISM!!!!

  • John Pigg

    Why not China? One of the larger geo-political opponents of the US would have little incentive to turn him over, especially given our harsh critique of China’s handling of political dissidents. China will refuse to extradite and has the force to back it up.

    You further claim not to trust his intentions because a former CIA agent who is now the lawyer for the NSA told you he is a liar. Gut assumption here, he is probably not authorized to tell the truth.

    As to a right to privacy, the 4th amendment was designed to protect us from the government. Not the public sphere, and not en-masse. I as a consumer am making a conscious choice which data to share on a public forum. Whether it be faceboook, Google, or here.

    This argument and train of logic seems absurd. Well because you have a facebook account that somehow nullifies your expectation of privacy. Consumers opting to provide data to companies of their choosing does not give the government the right to search their phone records.

    The 4th Amendment is not meant to be followed arbitrarily, its a founding piece of our liberal representative republic.

    • charleo1

      I don’t see China getting involved. Could be wrong. But, here’s why.
      If you’ll notice, china’s marked withdrawal from being overtly political. For the past 10/15 years, more or less, after the PR disaster in Tianmen Square. China has been all business. Antagonizing trade partners, may hurt sales. Again, over the past 15 years, or so. They have been securing contracts for oil, and minerals, around the world. Locking in their prices. Instead of inventing a reason to invade a Country for it’s oil supply. They have gone in, and cut deals with Iraq. Forgoing the stupidity of spending 4/5 trillion dollars trying to take Iraqi oil. In less developed Countries, like Nigeria. They are providing the technology to extract the oil, and share the profits with the Nigerian Gov’t. While we bicker, and tie our own hands with the useless Cuban embargo. China will be drilling off the Cuban coast, in the Gulf of Mexico. Without giving so much as a hoot in Hell, what the exiled Cubans
      in Miami think about it. Last week we learned China was able to hack into the Dept. of Defense, and steal the blueprints for our next jet fighter, as well as our next proposed upgrades to protect our aircraft carriers aganist the new generation of air to sea, land to sea, missiles. That theft alone, has the potential of nullifying our ability to project American power anywhere in
      the world it may be necessary. And, they are gaining access to military,
      and security programs through our own military contractors. This Snowden
      turns out to be a high school dropout, working for a private contractor.
      China has one rule it never breaks. You want our cheap labor? We get
      your technology. So, as we wring our hands over scandals. Our
      politics keep us essentially dead in the water. The world is moving along
      quite nicely without the United States. Which is close to developing a
      reputation as being a bit unstable, at best. And, a Country that has shown
      itself to be quite dangerous in just the recent past. The world may start
      looking for another leader, to establish stability, if our dysfunction continues.

      • CPAinNewYork

        Really sensitive data should not be stored on computers that are part of the internet. They should be on closed systems that aren’t accessible to users on the internet.

        Doing that would solve many of our security problems.

        • charleo1

          I am very much less than a novice on these matters.
          But, we must do more. It seems to me, the loss of
          technology that cost us billions to develop, and test.
          China was able to steal, with most likely the help
          of a U.S, government contractor, with limited access.
          And, once in, were able to crack the entire site.
          If the Country wants a debate about 4th Amendment
          Rights, about phone numbers, and e-mails, we can
          do that. But, the issue of cyber theft to China, could
          cost us, all of our Rights, one of these days.

      • John Pigg

        You know way more about China and their economic trade deals than I.

        But my general point is that if I was a dissident I would feel far safer in a geo-political opponent of the US than a typically US ally. I don’t believe that this move shows him to be disingenuous in regards to his intentions.

        I don’t think Snowden went to China to sell secrets. If he did why bother being a whistle blower?

        • charleo1

          No, it seems so far, Snowden’s actions were ideologically
          driven. Exactly what that ideology is, remains to be seen.
          As does, how a high school dropout, managed to go from
          security guard, to access some very classified material.
          This story is a long way from being over. So, we shall see.

          • John Pigg

            Agreed, but I believe his intentions were noble. But you are right a lot of things don’t add up and we have a while to go.

    • Independent1

      Sorry John, I disagree. Your right to privacy does not trump my right to live. And when you suggest that your right to privacy supersedes the ability of our country to keep ME, YOU and the rest of Americans safe from a terrorist threat – we have total disagreement. And if you’re so naive as to believe that by selectively sharing your information on Facebook,Twitter and the such while you update those sites either via a smartphone or computer, you’re also proving just how clueless you and I’m sure millions of Americans are. You suggesting that our government should forego a level of security monitoring that has already been proven to have prevented terrorist actions just so YOU can assume by removing that ability it’s going to give youYOU some worthless level of additional privacy – is totally absurd!!! There is no such thing as total personal privacy in today’s world of instant information anywhere – you and millions of other Americans better wake up to that fact!!!!!!

      • John Pigg

        I believe our judicial system is designed to be “innocent until proven guilty”. I am not advocating complete online privacy. I am advocating that the government not keep and maintain dossiers of all of its citizens.

        I am not suggesting anything absurd except that the government only investigate individuals when it has probable cause to do so. Maintaining records on all Americans online data, fails to meet this standard.

        I do not have a problem with private companies maintaining records of their customers. I do not have a problem with the government asking using websites such as Facebook to help in their investigations of committed crimes.

        I have a problem with a government that maintains immense amount of private data on all citizens without adhering to, due process. I am not suggesting removing the ability of the US to defend America, I am merely demanding they abide by the Bill of Rights to do so.

        • Independent1

          And exactly what do you imagine in your mind that the government does with the information they’re gathering on over 200 million people?? Do they have hoards of thousands that are just pouring over this data that changes by the day/minute?? If you believe that you have to be purely delusional. I’ll pretty much guarantee you that NO ONE sees 99.9999% of the data collected. it’s scanned by programs that are looking for suspicious activity, so unless you’re calling some foreign countries that have high terrorist activity; or you’re calling phone numbers in the US that the CIA or FBI intelligence has picked up as being suspect; or your call patterns show some specifically suspect behavior, NO ONE is viewing data on you, me or 99.9999% of Americans. So to be quite honest, you’re going overboard with concern about NOTHING!! And like I said in the beginning, I’m part of the 56% of Americans who greatly approve of the work that NSA and other govt agencies are doing to KEEP AMERICA SAFE.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Makes you really wonder where these folks are getting the news from.For several years now it has been reported countless times on all the MAJOR news networks how one plot or another has been detected and stopped bysuperior intell gathering techniques.I don’t feel particularly threatened from one side or the other.
            There will always be terrorists both in and out of the U.S.and we simply cannot pursue a constantly running ground war to squash them. I refuse to live in fear.
            Simple fact is that when your time is up,its up.We don’t get to choose how the end comes and it’s not our business to worry about it anyway.

          • John Pigg

            You still completely miss the main point that I am trying to make. I know that nobody is reading my information. My complaint is that they are collecting all this data en-masse. I have no problem with the government collecting my data if I am the suspect of a crime. My problem is that they have no right to collect without probable cause. If we only interpret the Bill of Rights when we want to why bother having one?

            How many drone strikes have created countless enemies of the US? The General’s testimony is only part of the equation. The War on Terror has gone to far. The only way we can win is by remaining a country of strong freedoms and rule of law.

            If our information is so safe in the hands of the government how did a private contractor get access to it? This programs risk of abuse is extremely high, I believe its dangerous, and unconstitutional.

          • plc97477

            I think the paranoids just assume there is a huge file all about them, Maybe even pictures of them take while they were asleep.

    • awakenaustin

      Once you have posted information on Facebook who owns it? Is it in the public realm at that point? Does Facebook own it? Do you retain title even though you have disseminated it?
      File a lawsuit against them for the misuse of your information and take note of the arguments they raise in their defense.
      All these issues are out there being debated and argued.
      Read the terms of service agreement you signed with them.
      If Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin own your data who says they can’t give it away to whomever they wish? If they give to government agencies its a customer relations problem for them nothing more.
      Google mines the data it picks up from your use of it. It uses that data for its benefit.
      The horse may have already left the barn.

      • John Pigg

        Very good points to be sure. But should the government be in the business of keeping a complete record of everyones publicly shared information?

        I have far less qualms with Facebook sharing said information in regards to a specific individual when the government has probable cause and reasonable suspicion.

        I understand that tech companies such as Google and Facebook have an absurd amount of our personal information. But consumers are trusting them with the information. I think it is dangerous for the government to collect data on all of its citizens with no oversight, and questionable constitutionality.

        • awakenaustin

          I don’t wish to overstate this, but you seem to be suggesting that we trust, and should trust, those who have an incentive to exploit information about us for profit, more than we trust elected representatives and government employees (other American citizens) who lack a profit motive to exploit the information, but may have some as of yet not fully identified reason to possibly misuse the information.

          There is government oversight and its Constitutionality can be tested. You may not like the oversight, i.e., Congress and some of the managers of the Executive branch, but that is different than no oversight. Congress set up the entire government intelligence process and they provide for its funding every year. They can end it without the President’s approval. They can refuse to fund it. Big veto proof bi-partisan majority and they can un-legislate it. (Not a real word.)

          File a lawsuit. Get a court or all the courts to rule it unconstitutional.

          Maybe the future you need to fear is the one in “Aliens” where large multi-national/international/interstellar corporations run the show and they are the masters of governments.

          Maybe given the growing power, information control and influence of multinational corporations, maybe government is the only actor strong enough and big enough to prevent the depredations of large multinationals. (Now that is a frightening thought.) At least you have a mechanism, imperfect as it is, for trying to influence government. What mechanism do you have to inluence the decision making process of a large corporation? How far do you think you will get trying to keep Dow Chemical from shitting in your water without the assistance of government? I wil say only two words – British Petroleum. They are still trying to avoid responsibility.
          The problem we have right now is that although you may not like it and maybe I don’t either, what NSA is doing appears to be legal. Lots of folks are opining they are doing things no one has shown them to be doing. It appears they are collecting meta-data and not listening to your phone conversations.

          • John Pigg

            Its not that I trust the private sector more than the government. The government has clear rules and guideline to what it can do and how.

            I am volunteering information to companies. That is quite a different thing than having my information collected without my consent.

            The ACLU was challenging this but their case was thrown out of the Supreme Court because they had no concrete evidence that it was occuring. FISA opperates in secret and have no oversight. You cannot legally challenge something that was secret.

  • Dominick Vila

    There is nothing wrong with idealism and dreaming of Nirvana, as long as those dreams don’t supersede the realities of our circumstances. The fact that terrorism is an integral part of modern day life is undeniable, and so is the fact that potential terrorists live among us. We learned the latter after 9/11, when the identity of the thugs that carried out the attack was revealed, and we learned that some attended some of our most prestigious institutions of learning. The Tsarnaev brothers proved how vulnerable we are, and the high price we pay for the freedoms we enjoy and cherish.
    The NSA is not listening to our conversations, they are keeping tabs on those who they believe are potential threats to our security. Instead of demonizing the people trying to keep us safe, we should thank them for a job well done, and should demonstrate our appreciation by stopping the immature debates that limit their ability to do their jobs effectively.

    • TZToronto

      While I agree with you that tracking the bad guys is a worthwhile enterprise, I disagree that this is the best way to do it. It’s clumsy and lazy and prone to serious errors. I’m no security expert and I don’t know what the alternative might be, but casting a net broadly will inevitably catch things you’re not interested in while entirely missing the big fish you’re looking for. . . . And I thought the eavesdropping was supposed to be only related to communications to the USA from other countries and from the USA to other countries. When did eavesdropping on U.S.-to-U.S. communications suddenly become international and legal?

      • Dominick Vila

        When we realized that enemies of the USA live among us.

        • labrown69

          I have realized that the “enemy of the USA IS us”.

      • Independent1

        It’s been legal to listen to US to US conversations via a court order for years, which is exactly what is still happening. The only thing NSA is doing is providing information that the CIA and FBI can use to convince a judge that he or she should allow them to listen in. What is it about “No one is listening to your phone calls via the NSA initiative” which is basically what President Obama said that you don’t understand??

        And by the way, if doing this is so inefficient, why is it that the information by NSA has already been proven to have interrupted a number of potential terrorist threats???

        • TZToronto

          Which terrorist threats are those? . . . Or are you relying on the NSA to tell you the truth? They seem to have miss the Boston bombing.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Last week on the daily CBS Morning Program,hosted by Charlie Rose and Nora O Donnell,John Miller who is former senior investigator for National Security, revealed how this system was employed to prevent plans by al-qaida operative Nadji Bullah,to plant bombs on American planes and trains.
            I hope that answers your question concerning which threats have been thwarted.There are others but you can do your own research if indeed you are interested in the truth.Then again,perhaps you prefer to merely huff and puff.

          • TZToronto

            The problem is that divulging which threats were thwarted can provide information on how the threats were thwarted, and this by itself can damage national security. So my guess is that we’ll never really know which threats have been discovered and thwarted and which have not. Don’t trust anyone to tell you the truth on this–especially not someone who used to work for the NSA (or the CIA or the FBI or any of the other “spook” services). I’m not saying that some threats won’t be discovered or haven’t been discovered. All I’m saying is that there are probably better ways to find terrorist threats than scanning cell phone communications and email addresses, ways that don’t trash the Constitution.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Former spook or not,I’m inclined to think that John Miller has some credibility.He went into detail to describe how the program in question is used,and how certain anomalies are scoutedfor which then,if further scrutiny is desired,it generates the need for the warrant required for further investigation.
            Surveilance ops have been going on forever and your response to my earlier comment leaves me wondering if you are paranoid.You certainly appear to be going out of your way to be worried while most of us have known that we are being looked at for a very long time.This is very hum drum.

          • TZToronto

            I am definitely not paranoid. It’s just that everyone is out to get me because I know all the secrets!

          • Mark Forsyth

            Well,you know what they say,Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.Hopefully you will not be treated in the same fashion as Snowden.

          • Mark Forsyth

            As far as thwarting the threat goes,there was documentary film footage of the arrest of the potential bomber and his accomplice.Your time would be better spent not looking for or manufacturing problems where none exist.We will have to start calling you Mr.Issa.

          • Independent1

            TZ, In testimony before Congress today, General Alexander said the data gathering had prevented dozens of terrorist plots and that info on them would be devulged over the next couple weeks.

          • Independent1

            Mark, thanks for your update. In testimony before Congress today, General Alexander said the data gathering had prevented dozens of terrorist plots and that info on them would be devulged over the next couple weeks.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Well I’m sure that many people will be watching and listening when that info is made available.What will be interesting is how many people afterwards will still insist that their privacy is violated.
            Frankly,I just have never been worried about it.I know for a fact that I have been looked at since I participated in an anti-war protest in D.C. back in 1969.Three years later I recieved a special government security clearance,at that time all sorts of spooks would contact just about anybody that they thought might know you and ask them all sorts of questions about you.Those folks got more of a third degree than I did.I still carry my card and previously it has gotten me out of the country and back into it without a passport.
            I have been a lifelong and very vocal activist going after politicians and policies for the past four decades.If those guys wanted to pick me up,they could have had me any day.The mooks on this page who are pitching a fit are just scared that someone will find out that they look at internet porn,big deal.
            I’m one of those guys that you’d have to pay to care what the government thinks about me or what Ido or say, because I have NEVER given a fuck and I don’t think the government does either.

          • TZToronto

            I’ll be listening to hear what those plots might have been. The question remains as to whether the Fourth Amendment guarantees have been trashed. Thus far we have only the word of the man behind the curtain that there’s nothing to see here.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Forgive me,but it seems that you will not be satisfied until the proof reveals wrondoing and that you are already convinced that there has been.

          • Independent1

            If our intelligence community outlined what terrorist threats had been thwarted by the data NSA has collected, someone like Darrell Issaa would want more details on just how that was done, just as he’s trying to get the White House to devulge SECRET information related to the Benghazi attack. Release of that information would only provide terrorists with information how to better avoid detection by the NSA data gathering program. But the fact that the NSA data gathering program didn’t queue our intelligence community to the danger the Boston Bombers posed, makes it fairly clear that NSA is not monitoring every American that walks around, as so many of the paranoids posting here seem to think. The call data NSA is gathering is only useful when connected with other intelligence data and it’s amazing to me that there are really people posting here that think our government is WASTING TIME sifting through millions of pieces of data that have absolutely no value unless connecfted with some other intelligence information.
            And I would greatly appreciate if one of the paranoid posters in this thread could outline for me, exactly what the government would do with call data, that would violate the privacy of any American and DO THAT by providing even one shred of evidence that that has already taken place. With today’s 24/7 news media just chomping at the bit to exploit any violation of our constitution, the fact that NSA has been gathering this data for around 7 years, and NOT ONE news event has ever come
            out linking their actions to anything detrimental to an American Citizen – I find it incredulous that we have the level of paranoia among Americans that seems to be the case today.

    • labrown69

      No, they are “keeping tabs” on EVERYBODY and therein lies the problem

      • Independent1

        Not true!! They’re only providing records that people can use to scan through for suspect activity. They’re not keeping “tabs” on 99.9999% of Americans – only those with suspect activity or intelligence information that should require them to “keep tabs”. How in the heck would you expect that a few hundred people in NSA would keep tabs on more than 200 million Americans and detail monitor more than 150 million phone calls/day. When are people going to start being realistic?????

        • labrown69

          It is more realistic that you are apparently able to comprehend. They are gathering and keeping data on everyone and have access to every email and conversation. NOW you can add to that lying again through their teeth saying that this gross violation of the 4th Amendment enabled them to prevent the NY Subway bombing. It now appears that was a false statement and that they were tracking these suspects years before and that the plot was actually revealed by British intelligence. Try not to get so comfortable being lied to and stolen from. Stockholm Syndrome is not healthy.

          • Independent1

            So what? And do they have hoards of thousands to pour over the detailed information supposedly gathered on over 200 million people?? If you think so, you’re delusional. No one sees the data being collected on 99.9999% of Americans. People are identified only if programs pick them out for suspicious activity – like calling a country with heavy terrorist activity; or calling a domestic phone number that the CIA or FBI has gotten intelligence may be a lead, or just the call patterns suggest something is up.
            The fact that our intelligence didn’t have anything on the Boston Marathon Bombers who had been doing some pretty suspicious stuff but apparently not something their programs were looking for, which makes it pretty clear that they’re not keeping track on every Tom, Dick and Harry in America. You have to be doing some pretty suspicious stuff to be brought into the data mix.

          • labrown69

            You are a very trusting guy. We have seen every government agency known abused lately and used as a political club. Snowden has told us that any of their analysts can tap lines at any time and there is no oversight. Maybe you don’t understand what data mining is but certain words trigger investigation and you might just be telling a joke but the computer does not know that. People have been wrongfully kidnapped by the CIA and at the end of the day what they are doing IS ILLEGAL.

          • Independent1

            I’m not as much trusting as I an a realist. Your problem is that your gullible: Snowden is lying through his teeth. Analyst CANNOT do what Snowden is saying. You really believe that the government has enough computer power to be tracking tens of thousands of calls simultaneously across the country – boy are you gullible!!!! Use some common sense: there are easily 150 million calls/day – just what information do you really think could be gathered from that at the push of button??? Try being realistic for a moment!!!!

          • labrown69

            I didn’t like it when Bush did it and I don’t like it when Obama does it. Let’s be honest. Those who write for this site are apologists and propagandists for Obama and are totally incapable of being objective and so are many of the people who frequent this freak show. I do not like violating the Bill of Rights no matter who does it and I am not going to reserve my indignation until we get a Republican President as a direct result of the duplicitous and devious nature of our current one.

        • labrown69

          Independent – you better go back and read up on this. It is not as you “wish it was” but as it is and as it is means they were spying on ALL phone calls and emails and keeping them recorded electronically. Believe me, they have data bases that can do that now easily. Further this from the NY Times: “There are bulk taps in switches at ATT and Verizon making the need for as many national security letters unnecessary.” OR IN OTHER WORDS they were easily able to bypass any FISA court or request for warrant. Obama has broken the law. I hope he did not find out about this from watching the nightly news.

          • Independent1

            Sure, and they’re keeping such close tabs that they weren’t one iota aware of the impending danger being posed by the Boston Bombers. You keep believing your stuff and I’ve got this bridge in Brooklyn that’s for sale. I’m not saying they’re not keeping track of some people, but it’s not willy nilly and it’s not everyone that is walking around – that’s total nonsense!! If they’re keeping trck of people, it’s either because they’ve called overseas numbers that are to countries with terrorists actively working; or they’re people that they have gotten active intelligence on, or their call records are very suspicious. To believe that they’re just arbitrarily tracking everyone is pure nonsense!!! Now if you said businesses were doing that via the internet – I’d go for that – hey when I go on a website and check out some merchandise – for days later I’m getting ads from the website I was checking out the merchandise from on almost every other website I visit – so retail businesses are actually keeping better track of you than NSA is. WHY AREN’T YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!

          • labrown69

            I am not going to have this argument. Read up on what actually took place and then get back to me. They are collecting and digitally storing ALL communications and then if something raises a red flag they go further. We still have laws requiring probable cause. If you don’t like them change them but not ignore them.

          • Germansmith

            Be patriotic and trust our esteemed President.
            They are storing your phone calls, who you called, and emails to avoid terrorists attacks and improve safety. Imagine what could had happen in Benghazi if our NSA was not on top of it?
            What about attacks from radicalized amateurs using pressure cookers after the Russians had warn us about them?…wow some people in Boston could have been really hurt!!!
            Please save your complains about privacy until we have a Republican President about…..

          • labrown69

            Bingo and now they are lying to cover up their other lies and charging anyone who tells the truth with treason – Obama has the worst civil rights record of any president in the modern era

          • Mark Forsyth

            The move to brand Snowden as a traitor actually has bipartisan support.

          • labrown69

            Yea, Hitler was very popular in Nazi Germany too. Actually the move to brand Obama as a traitor has a lot of popular support too. “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot”. – Mark Twain (you Mark are one of the aforementioned schmucks who has yet to get with the program)

          • Mark Forsyth

            And what program would that be you scum sucking degenerate asswipe,willful ignorance? You wouldn’t know a patriot if one kicked you in the teeth.Furthermore I wasn’t promoting the governments attitude towards Snowden,but rather the fact that prosecuting him has bipartisan support which you seem to ignore in favor of bashing Obama.
            Jerkoffs like yourself should stay off the internet until such time that you are relieved of your stupidity and your comprehension abilities improve.In your case that is a very long shot and not at all probable.

          • labrown69

            But if I stayed off the internet I would miss out on all those entertaining photos of your mother being sodomized by a Great Dane!

          • Sand_Cat

            Now that’s REALLY clever.

          • Sand_Cat

            I think if you knew anything at all about Mark Twain, you would know that for every one of his sayings that you can twist to support your ridiculous contention, there are ten more that put ignorant and bigoted people like you in their place.

          • Sand_Cat

            Don’t you think that’s just a tiny, tiny exaggeration? Would you like to revise that last part before too many people read it and realize what a fool you sound like?

          • labrown69

            Maybe you should address that question to Bradley Manning and Snowden and then take a look at Eric Holder and ask youself “does this guy have a video of Obama getting shafted by a Great Dane to still have his job”?

          • Sand_Cat

            I hate to burst your bubble, but Bush and Cheney violated the constitution far, far more than Obama, and all the deaths during the latter’s administration put together don’t add up to more than a tiny fraction of those killed in Bush’s crowning achievement. And for that title, we have not one, but two contenders (at least): the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the war against the wrong guys in Iraq.

          • Germansmith

            Not my bubble to be burst. I am perfectly aware that neither are good examples of Presidents. I’ll be the last person in the world to justify Bush or Cheney.
            It is obvious that you are missing the point I am making while trying, maybe unsuccessfully to be funny.
            The point I am trying to make was, that in an strange parallel to right wing web sites, National Memo will never question any of Obama’s administrations actions just as a right wing web site will never acknowledge any good from the same.
            Same as most bloggers here. There is, in most cases a total inability to say ” Wait, I am a Democrat, but this happening is just not right”. It is a failure to understand that for the sake of partisanship….you become no better than the fire breathing Republicans.
            As far as I am concerned, I question EVERYTHING

        • labrown69

          People do not keep tabs … servers do!

    • Sand_Cat

      Before throwing out everything that should make this country great, perhaps you should consider the odds that you or anyone else will be killed by terrorism. I haven’t checked lately, but I think at one point after 9/11, someone figured you were more likely to be struck by lightning 2 or 3 times while standing in the same spot. I don’t want to trivialize the trauma and loss of life, but the American Chemical, Energy, and Food “industries” – among others – are probably a far greater danger to all of us and already kill more people, than terrorism, which seems likely to increase, and not very many people are really seriously calling for anything that would violate their “rights.”
      If you don’t like the Fourth Amendment, then try repealing it, but don’t try to tell me that my rights are worth sacrificing for YOUR safety. By now I think we all know what Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said about that, and if the current state of the US isn’t proof he was right, I don’t know what would be.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Someone out there is aware that people are reading this article. Someone out there knows we are posting on this article. Someone else will figure out the ISP origin of where I am posting from and will check against other posts to determine if I pose a threat or not. They will find the political musings of a white guy in his late 50s who has a regular job, is divorced and remarried, is a veteran and has a kid in elementary school. Nothing to hide, nothing to see. Let’s check on the next guy.

    • Mark Forsyth

      In other words,if they want you,they’ve already got you.We are all already in the system.If one is seriously worried about this,then they should close all accounts,terminate all utilities phone,cable,internet etc.and go live in the woods.Even then,if they still want you,no problem for them.

  • rustacus21

    As Dominick V. notes, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong w/utopia, which was very nearly achieved by the end of the Clinton administration. We had, for the 1st time in the nation’s existence, reached the milestone of a ‘polyarchal’ Democracy. Almost… The fact that we were so close was frightening to some & the reasons aren’t always clear (see http://people.brandeis.edu/~woll/krousedahl.pdf), but all of this connects back to the 12/11/00 SCT re-set of precedence in halting a comprehensive, state-wide FL recount which, by EVERY measure observable, was won by V.P. (at the time) Al Gore. The rest, as they say, is history. THE question worthy of note here is where, in fact, were American’s in ’06 when this all was exposed? Only Liberal/Progressives were alarmed to the point of action, but nothing significant occurred b/c we were still under the manufactured ‘threat’ created by the 2001-2009 administration, in standing down the Clinton administration “EXPERTS” & professionals who demanded the ’01-’09 administration move on intelligence that something was in the ‘cooker’ over the summer of ’01 – but were ignored & removed from their posts, as a result. It’s too lengthy to d’bate here, but a friend & I were discussing this & my conflicts were evident, when my friend peeled away all the layers & asked the question, ‘… how will they know whose dangerous to ‘US’ if they don’t spy on us?…’ I was left speechless & even more dejected, b/c like it or not, this is the hell of which is a culmination of the PEOPLE fearing success. Fearing progress. Fearing that we, in fact, could achieve utopia in our lifetimes & by example, imagine what sort of world we’d now have, had we continued bldg & nurturing peace, fellowship, prosperity, expanding Democracy to even more places, reducing the necessity of war, opting instead of the initiatives to help more nations to become more economically, environmentally (i.e., China DEFINITELY coming to mind IMMEDIATELY!!!), politically, civically, again, by any measure chosen, as the Clinton administration had endeavored? Now, we regressive backwards, w/cohesive Democracy getting further away, as this article & THESE times articulate…

    • dadhoover

      THANK YOU AND VERY INTELLIGENTLY PUT !!! ITIOTS CAUSED OUR PROBLEMS THAT CAME INTO OFFICE AND THE AVERAGE CITIZEN ACTUALLY BOUGHT INTO THAT DUBYA AND CHENEY’S NEW INTRUTIONS OF OUR RIGHTS>>>>UNDER THEIR PATRIOT ACT<<<<KEPT US SAFE. WHAT BS THE AVERAGE SHEEPLE WILL ACCEPT TO BE KEPT SAFE IS AN AMAZEMENT TO ME, AND NOW THOSE SAME WEAK SPINED PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO ACCEPT INTRUTIONS OF THEIR PRIVACY UNCHECKED AND DONE IN SECRET WITH NO CITIZEN RECOURSE IF THE SECRET CATCH 22 NSA SYSTEM IS ABUSED WHATSOEVER.

      ONLY FOOL'S WILL READILY GIVE UP THEIR RIGHTS TO BE KEPT SAFE

  • charleo1

    I can respect that a person would naturally be concerned about their privacy.
    I also believe the majority of Americans realize, we live in a new world today.
    A world where radicalized madmen are willing to sacrifice their own lives, if
    need be. To inflict as much harm, and to kill as many Americans as possible.
    If what Americans truly want, is for the government to track only those we
    know are trying to do us harm, we must be prepared to be blindsided.
    And, content with acting after the fact. If Americans judge, that to have the
    government log our phone numbers, and use a computer program, to look for commonalities, that match the type of calling we’ve learned often precedes an
    attack. Or may indicate a group, or cell, here in America, communicating with
    others in places we know to be hotbeds of terrorist activity. If we believe that’s
    too intrusive. Just too much information for the government to have. We are
    ultimately in charge. And we can stop that. But, here’s my concern. First, I
    do not believe this is how the Americans views this issue. And it seems this
    topic has once again brought out the slippery slopers. The one’s who
    believe by arming ourselves, we keep an otherwise tyrannous government
    at bay. Those that believe that anytime we relinquish any part of any of our
    Rights, even for overall good. It will start a process that will inevitably unravel
    all of our Rights. This is not sound thinking. And, has no basis in fact. The vocal,
    and strident, anti government groups. Who have only one note, they sing at
    the top of their lungs, without regard to issue. No government, no how, no way,
    They are ideologues, without perspective. Perhaps this Snowden guy is one of
    them. They cannot be trusted. And, certainly not, with our security.

    • labrown69

      If “we live in a new world” then they better pass some “new laws” with regard to the Constitution because they are currently VIOLATING the old laws. As far as I know the 4th Amendment has not legally been repealed and is still in effect.

      • charleo1

        Of course, we live in a world that is very much different than the
        world, before 9/11. I think our reluctance to acknowledge that,
        probably contributed to the total sucker punch we took that day.
        And, we haven’t done the necessary work on protecting our
        privacy Rights from from being abused. While dealing with the
        fast pace of technology. Our wiretap statutes haven’t changed,
        since the rotary telephone. To be fair, we have been distracted
        by war, and economic crisis. Leading to a political crisis of sorts.
        And while there is no doubt your concerns are valid. We need
        to keep in mind the attacks on 9/11, bad as they were. Come
        nowhere close to the potential harm, if bio-chemical, or radio-
        active, devises are used. So, as we have the debate on privacy.
        We should also keep these two truths in mind. First, the terrorist
        will never stop in his goal to harm us. His plan could be years in
        the making. But, somewhere in the world, there is a plan aganist
        us, being made. And secondly. We are going to need to trust our
        government, a lot more than some think we should. But, there is
        no alternative, but to do so. We may not tie their hands, and
        cover the eyes of our government, because we don’t trust it.
        Then, looking out over a sea of destruction, and ask our
        government why it was not able to better protect it’s citizens.

        • labrown69

          ALL these same arguments were used by Bush and Alberto Gonzalez to justify torture. The reality is this spying has almost no application for fighting terrorism and has not foiled any terrorist plots but is an absolute violation of law and Constitution and has massive potential to allow Obama to realize becoming the banana republic despot that I now see he dreams of being despite having voted for him twice. This guy is a real Hugo Chavez type in the name of idealism. As far as war and economic crisis Obama has perpetuated the war and become grossly complicit in the economic crisis. This putz has had 6 years to insist that his DOJ bring charges against a bank but is too busy charging whistle blowers who reveal his lies with treason. Obama and Holder have emboldened banks to violate sanctions, launder money for drug cartels and even launder money for Al Qaeda affiliates while simultaneously putting troops in harms way.

          They even got the Atty. Gen. of the state of New York to back off of a lawsuit that was eventually filed only against HSBC.
          I’ll simply quote the following from an affidavit of a supposedly
          senior person at BOA filed in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

          “Using the Bank of America computer systems I saw that hundreds of customers had made their required trial payments, sent the documents requested of them, but had not received permanent modifications. I also saw records showing that Bank of America employees have told people
          that documents had not been received when, in fact, the computer system showed that Bank of America had received the documents. This was consistent with the instructions my colleagues and I were given. We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested, and that it had not received trial
          payments (when in fact it had). We were told that admitting that the bank received documents would “open a can of worms” since the bank was required to underwrite a loan modification within 30 days of receiving those documents and it did not have sufficient underwriting staff to complete the underwriting in that time…. Site leaders regularly told
          us that the more we delayed the HAMP modification process, the more fees Bank of America would collect. We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the bank by fostering and extending the lay of the … modification process by any means we could — this included lying to customers. For example, we were instructed by our supervisors at Bank of America to delay modifications by telling homeowners who called in at their documents were “under review,” when, in fact, there had been no review or any other work done on the file.

          Employees who were caught admitting that Bank of America had received financial documents or that the borrower was actually entitled to a permanent loan modification where discipline and often terminated without warning.

          THIS SYCOPHANTS IS THE REAL OBAMA LEGACY – LIES, LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES AND CHARGES OF TREASON FOR ANYONE WHO TELLS THE TRUTH!

          • charleo1

            It’s fairly apparent you are going to believe what you want to, And discount, or ignore, those things that you don’t. But this
            business of saying you voted for Obama twice. But now,
            just 6 months later, you believe he is trying to set himself up Hugo Chavez style, as dictator for life. And I say, one simply
            cannot go from point A, to point B, without some kind of
            mental breakdown, or multiple personality disorder.

          • labrown69

            After 40+ years as a registered Democrat I resigned the party and re registered independent in 09 in disgust at Obama’s flaccid refusal to address bank fraud so this is nothing new. If NOT BEING MITT ROMNEY makes you think this scum bag is some kind of hero that have at it. I think he has revealed himself in the last couple of months through his arrogance in addressing multiple issues all of which he has some responsibility for and I think the cover ups are unforgivable. If the NSA wants to data mine in this manner that is one thing but we have a right to know they are doing it. The 4th Amendment is still in effect and it requires “probably cause”.

          • charleo1

            I think you seriously need to check yourself, and get a grip.

          • 4sanity4all

            You have several unrelated things mixed up here. Obama is not authorizing torture, and as far as I know, it has stopped. Yes the banks lied and did not do what they were supposed to, but the President is not in charge of their lies and deceptions. He should have Congress make them do the right thing, but have you noticed, the Republicans are trying to block everything he asks for. And who, exactly was charged with treason lately?

          • labrown69

            Obama is a liar and employs weasely semantics.

            “Torture’s Loopholes” (New York Times, Jan. 20) is by
            Matthew Alexander, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves. In 2006, he led the U.S. interrogation team that tracked and found Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the insatiable killer who commanded al-Qaida
            in Iraq and was then terminated by coalition forces. Alexander went on to write a book that was not endorsed by Dick Cheney: How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq.

            This is what Alexander, who describes himself as “an investigator turned interrogator,” has to say about Obama allegedly banning torture —and the accompanying decision last August by Attorney General Eric Holder to remove responsibility for interrogating detainees to a new
            FBI-directed High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group that will constrainitself to use only “noncoercive” methods or those approved by the Army Field Manual.Unequivocally, Alexander states: “If I were to return to one of the
            war zones today…I would still be allowed to abuse prisoners.”

            ON TOP OF THAT the Congress has nothing to do with prosecuting banks for crimes that were already committed and there were millions of them. That is the responsibility of Holder’s DOJ who obviously have not lifted a finger.

            TILA, (Truth in Lending Act) states “loan docs must be accurate and reflect all parties, rates etc”. What ALL of the banks were doing was “table funding loans”, funneling money directly from Wall Street investors to borrowers without putting a penny into the deal and were thus only brokers, not the real lenders and in doing so falsified information on loan docs. Violation of TILA under existing law carries the right of rescission, the right to renegotiate and to sue for damages in excess of the loan amount. The phony note reflecting the fraudulent transaction was converted into a “security” which can not be used to foreclose and that is why banks/servicers, forged “notes” using false dates and non existent names alleged to be bank officers and had them notarized in blank .. notes that did not exist to claim ownership of homes they did not have a penny in and no legal claim to.

            Lenders blackballed appraisers who did not “inflate” and bring in the numbers they were asking for. You can find lists of thousands of independent appraisers on line who can not work because they did not play ball and refused to artificially inflate prices to justify commissions.

            Now, the so called “review process” is being done by the crooked banks themselves and it’s a joke,
            not a funny one at that now that they have reneged on their pledge to modify loans after agreeing to that as a term of the bail out.

            I’ll simply quote the following from an affidavit of a supposedly
            senior person at BOA filed in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.:

            Using the Bank of America computer systems I saw that hundreds of customers had made their required trial payments, sent the documents requested of them, but had not received permanent modifications. I also
            saw records showing that Bank of America employees have told people that documents had not been received when, in fact, the computer system showed that Bank of America had received the documents. This was consistent with the instructions my colleagues and I were given. We were
            told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested, and that it had not received trial payments (when in fact it had). We were told that admitting that the bank received documents would “open a can of worms” since the bank was required to underwrite a loan modification within 30 days of receiving those documents and it did not have sufficient underwriting staff to complete the underwriting in that time…. Site leaders regularly told us that the more we delayed the HAMP modification process, the more fees Bank of America would collect. We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the bank by fostering and extending the layof the … modification process by any means we could — this included lying to customers. For example, we were instructed by our supervisors at Bank of America to delay modifications by telling homeowners who called in at their documents were “under review,” when, in fact, there had been no review or any other work done on the file.

            Employees who were caught admitting that Bank of America had received financial documents or that the borrower was actually entitled to a permanent loan modification where discipline and often terminated without warning.

            Since then we know that banks have laundered money for Al Qaeda affiliates and drug cartels and violated sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Libya and many others.

            ALL OF THAT IS FRAUD – and this SCUM BAG Holder can’t find ONE SINGLE BANKER TO PROSECUTE? Even Reagan found 1200 bankers to indict. YOU CAN NOT blame this on Congress no matter how bad they are. This is Obama corruption. Holder must have a video of Obama getting screwed by a Cocker Spaniel to have kept his job.

  • Allan Richardson

    At last, people are actually HAVING the debate instead of DENYING THAT THERE IS ONE. We do need to balance respect for individual privacy against homeland security. I am beginning to come to the conclusion that the Patriot Act should be repealed, and a stripped down, controllable replacement enacted (just like some people want to do with health care reform). The person who said “my right to live trumps your right to privacy” will find his right to live MORE threatened, if he does the math, by secret ingredients in the food, drink and other cosmetics whose manufacturers do not have to divulge on their labels; by madmen and idiots (and, by the way, terrorists also) able to get guns and ammo with no questions asked; by mercury in the water and ozone in the air (at the ground; there is no mechanism to get THAT ozone up to where it would do some good); and by getting sick while uninsured; than by a few guys hijacking a plane or planting a bomb on the street (as bad as those actions are). But I give him credit for explicitly stating that reasoning. Most people on his side of the debate DENY that there is any potential for abuse.

    As for abuses, think of this: the Watergate burglary was carried out by amateurs and reported by a security guard, leading to the downfall of a President because of public outrage at the abuse of power. With some of the provisions of the Patriot Act, had Nixon had such a law, the burglary would have been done PROFESSIONALLY, the security guard would have been illegally arrested and detained, and rotted away in Gitmo, or in some third world prison, never to be seen again, and the burglary itself, and other abuses, would never have been reported.

    Reagan and Bush actually GOT AWAY with the PREQUEL to the Iran/Contra scandal, when Bush and his CIA friends had a secret meeting with the Ayatollah, and PROMISED the arms to Iran if Iran would agree NOT to release the hostages on Carter’s watch, making it easier to defeat him. So Carter was not “effective” in negotiating a release? That’s because his political opponent ILLEGALLY got a foreign government to sabotage him! And just as a new sheriff NEVER investigates the crimes HE committed before putting on the star, the Reagan administration got those facts so well covered up that the actual proof is deeply classified. The subsequent illegal arms sales only came out a week after Reagan was RE-ELECTED, four years later, by voters who surely would have voted the other way, had they known the truth.

    Has Obama abused the Patriot Act power against Republicans? I doubt it, but he should no longer be tempted by it … and especially, given their record of dirty tricks in both campaigning and governing, a future Republican President should not be tempted by it either (or, for you conservatives who are dreading the thought, neither should Hillary Clinton).

  • awakenaustin

    The Fourth Amendment is not a “you have a right to privacy” amendment, it is a “you have a right not to be subject to unreasonable search and seizures” amendment.

    The text of the Fourth Amendment,

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    It is currently (and has been) a subject of constitutional debate as to whether the U.S. Constitution provides for a general right of privacy. Clearly the Constitution does not overty and specifically set out a general right to privacy. Most who assert the Constitution provides a general right to privacy argue it comes out of the different parts of the document and is implied by or inferred from those various parts or rights. (E.g., see the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments.)

    There are of course lots of people, writers, philosophers, and theorists (political, social and economic) who postulate or argue that there is an inherent natural human right to privacy which other people, organizations and governments ought to recognize, protect and defend. No major religious group, I am aware of, (correct me if you see it set out in some group’s scripture somewhere) recognizes a right to privacy.

    I couldn’t refer you to a precise or specific source but the idea of a right to privacy seems closely associated with the development of the idea that humans have individual rights. The idea that humans have inherent individual rights (rights they have as humans and not rights conferred upon them by the King, Prince, Emperor or a contract, etc. with some group or religious doctrine is probably of pretty recent development. (Recent as in the last 4 or 5 hundred years.) Anyone or any group or any organization with the ability to exert power over you usually isn’t totally on board with the idea you have inherent rights they must abide by or at least recognize.I am going sideways a little here.

    The point is that the idea of a right to privacy is a concept humans created. (or maybe it existed out there and we simply became aware of it.) I believe that the idea we created it makes more sense. It exists to the extent it exists because we recognize it, think it important and or willing to accept it. We define its boundaries. (E.g., some people think contraception is a right – a privacy right – a decision made in private and left to those who wish to exercise it. They believe society should accept their right to make this decision. Others don’t.) Many trace the U.S. Supreme Court’s first recognition of a general right to privacy to Griswold v. Connecticut – a contraception case not a search case.

    The NSA and the Fourth Amendment. As you can see by a simple straightforward reading of the Fourth Amendment it leaves a lot undiefined. E.g., what is an unreasonable search and what does probable cause mean? Over the years the courts and most espcially the Supreme Court have sought to give meaning, difine, interpret and/or explain the meaning of the Fourth. The idea of people having a “reasonable expectation of privacy that society is willing to recognize” has been an important aspect of recent interpretations. Most courts would recognize in most circumstances that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your phone calls and who you are calling that society is willing to recognize.

    However, and it is a BIG however, warrants trump all that. If a court with appropriate jurisdiction issues a warrant based on probable cause then they get to search whatever the warrant allows them to search. After the search of course you get to test whether probable cause existed to support the issuance of the warrant. You should not expect to be successful in a lot of these challenges. Ask any criminal defense attorney.

    NSA appears to be doing this legally with warrants from a FISA Court. If you don’t like it, get Congress to change the law. Have the debate. Have we gone too far? Should we limit the currently legal mining of this data by NSA and other government agencies? You might consider while you are at it where they are getting all this data. Much (all) of it is coming from private companies who collect it from you with or without your permission. Sometimes they use it, sometimes they sell it, and sometimes they give it away.
    The debate may come down to what you are willing to accept or give up to protect your privacy, to the extent such a right exists. It is not an insubstantial calculation.

    • Germansmith

      I love the acrobatics
      The fourth amendment is clear to me
      Government does not get to store my emails or my actual phone conversations or data UNLESS I am under investigation. FISA court is a rubber stamp court that supposedly have not denied any requests for wiretapping or investigation.
      Let us say our government have the purest intention for this data……
      We suspect the Chinese and Russians hackers have breach our most secure systems . Imagine what they can do with that data when they determine we are a thorn on their side.
      I think is time that Congress do their job and set strict guidelines of what information government or private companies can get from us without our permission.

      • awakenaustin

        Wake up and smell the coffee. The Russians and Chinese can already get your data. Of course, it would be more convenient for them if they could get it all in one place through the NSA. In even the most modest of meanings, they already think of us as a thorn in their side.

        I am happy the Fourth is clear to you. This makes all that conversation by all those scholars, Judges and attorneys about the meaning of the Fourth unnecessary and a waste of time. I bet they wish you had said something sooner.

        Just for educational purposes, would you point me to the place in the Consitution where it mentions the right to privacy and phone conversations and e-mails. If there isn’t one, then it must be inferred or derived from the meanings of things in the Constitution or provided for by some statute or you don’t have any legally cognizable right to privacy. It isn’t acrobatics or semantics, it is just reality.

        Maybe you should write Congress about the unreasonableness of this incursion into your zone of privacy.

        • Germansmith

          If you are awake and cognizant I assume you are pretty much aware that our Founding Fathers had no AOL or phones.

          Scholars, Lawyers and Judges get pay to engage in a circle jerk off to argue about the meaning of the word “is” I just do not have that luxury of wasting my time.

          Gee, I am nothing but a simple taxpaying businessman, but as far as I am concern “papers and effects” does it for me as far as indicating that my own private stuff or effects that I take time and effort to keep private, should remain private.
          I just find it amusing that probably the same people that would argue against this policy if there was a Republican President are now defending it. On the record, I was ALWAYS against the Patriot Act and the intrusions on our privacy….and so was Senator Obama back in 2007 when he was running for president.

          • awakenaustin

            Next time I find myself stuck or hemmed in I will have to try the “I just do not have the luxury of wasting my time” argument. How often does it work for you?

            Beware of folks who start off their statements “I am just a simple… (fill in the blank). A tactic made famous by Marc Antony in that well known play by that well-known playwright. It is of course, a false humility designed to tell everyone that you are not really “just a simple…(fill in the blank).

            Of course they don’t mention AOL or phones, which is the point. (“Papers and effects” – Papers are papers. Effects – contextually – means the things you own or possess, your belongings. Since they did not have phone conversations, Twitter accounts and Facebook postings or e-mails etc., then effects would not have included those. Someone at some point would have had to argue that it did or find protection for them somewhere else in the Constitution and brought them under the auspices of the Fourth.
            The point which seems to elude you is – Who says you have a right to privacy? It isn’t in the Fourth Amendment. Certainly not per se or specifically. A straight forward command of the English language (even without the legal mumbo-jumbo) ought to get you at least that far. It says you have a right to not be unreasonably searched or seized. Even without a warrant if the court decides it is a “reasonable” search, then you lose.

            As a point of reference for you Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito are not inclined to see the Constitution as providing anything like a general right to privacy.

            I find it mildly amusing that this always circles back around to a criticism of President Obama. Refer me back to the place where I mentioned something about ex-Pres. Bush, Republicans or the Patriot Act. (I am not terribly fond of the Patriot act either. And so?)
            I was thinking we were discussing the issue of privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

          • Germansmith

            Friends, Romans, Texans, countrymen, lend me your ears !!!!
            I am not hemmed or stuck, just convinced

            If you feel better dwelling in doubt about this issue, be my guest.

            The judges you mentioned also believe that corporations are people and therefore we now live with the best congress money can buy…why should I respect their point of view?

            But forget about the judges and the Constitution for a sec.

            Is it OK that your next door neighbor listen to your conversations because he suspects you are having an affair with his wife or stealing his cable? Right or Wrong?

            As far as criticism for Obama…well sorry, I would (and did) criticized Bush when it was relevant…but that is no more, he is gone.
            Obama is top cheese now and last time I looked the IRS, the DOJ , VA , State Dept. and the NSA were part of the executive branch and unless I dreamed all this, he argued against this intrusion of privacy when running in 2007

          • awakenaustin

            Let us take your neighbor question first. The correct answer is MAYBE. If you mean phone conversations, it is wrong because it is against the law. If you mean a conversation in some place where he can overhear, then it may be rude but it isn’t wrong or unlawful. There is no right to keep others ignorant and if it is said loud enough to hear with the plain old ear, then it is speaker’s problem. (Eavesdropping is not per se evil, like theft or murder, it is mostly just bad manners. Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail kind of thing.)
            Is it okay for him to read the e-mails I send his wife on her computer?
            It isn’t a matter of dwelling in doubt, it is a matter of accuracy, truth and informed dialogue. You are familiar no doubt with the Dunning Krueger Effect. I would also refer you to Betrand Russell, Charles Darwin, and Shakespeare on the issue of certainty, absolutes and competency.
            So let us talk about top cheeses. I believe, and I think the evidence will support me, that the idea of executive responsibility and accountability is a convenience like a jacket that we put on when we are cold and take off when we are warm. If it suits our purposes then we argue it is the standard. If it doesn’t then we say well it isn’t rational to hold the boss responsible for the misdeeds of his subordinates.
            You are a businessman. People work for you? How many times have you gone to jail for the criminal acts of your employees? How many times have you gone to jail for the legal actions of your employees? How many times have one of your emplyee’s actions irritated a customer that you have apologized for? Every time? Was the customer sometimes right? Was the employee sometimes right? Was a valued employee sometimes having a bad day?
            How many Generals, Colonels, Majors, Captains are you aware of who were courtmartialled or removed from their positions because their troops were accused of the abuse, maltreatment and murder of civilians?
            Sometimes it is appropriate to hold the big cheese responsible and sometimes it isn’t.
            If you don’t like what the NSA has apparently done legally then I think you should seek redress in Congress. They after all passed the law under which these actions are now being carried out. Maybe President Obama changed his mind? Maybe the issue looks different when you are the Prez than when you are a Senator? I, as with you I am sure, have always been right and have never changed my mind about anything after further consideration or changing circumstances. (Yeah, that is sarcasm.)
            I can’t forget about the Constitution, because different from others, when I argue something is unConstitutional, I find it helpful to know whether the Constitution actually addresses the issue or doesn’t.

          • CooofNJ

            I agree that one issue that seems to be conveniently shoved under the rug by this whole discussion is the culpability of Congress. Whether you think this is horrible or ho-hum, your Congressperson had the opportunity to voice his/her opinion at the time that these acts were being re-authorized (to their credit, some did, but very few people paid attention). A quote (I forget the source) the other day was from someone from Congress who said, that well, yes, he was given the opportunity to be briefed fully on the program but honestly, most of Congress “didn’t avail” themselves to attending the briefings (WTF?!). And now we have an uproar, and Congress demanding answers. Well, seems a little like Casablanca: “Round up the usual suspects!”. If I decided to “not avail” myself of some briefing/training program/meeting etc. on an important topic at work and then it turned out to bite me in the butt, well, that’s my problem. And I would probably be fired.

            The other point that I don’t see mentioned anywhere though is that you are much more likely to have your privacy protected by the blanket sweeping up of all data, as opposed to the targeting of specific data, as your information will be quickly dropped out of the data set during any evaluation. I honestly don’t know how these algorithms work but I would be mapping the network of data, then eliminating all the data that is well within say 3 standard deviations of the norm (say, on the issue of number of connections to Pakistan for example). That would significantly reduce the amount of information that I have to look at, and improve my chances of finding something out of the ordinary. Everyone else’s data is of no interest to me at all, in fact it slows me down and I delete it (at least figuratively from my mind) quickly. If I don’t get a blanket sweep of data I can’t eliminate anything easily and I have to spend a lot more time and resources drilling into the details of each individual, looking for suspicious things.

            Anyway, just saying that I don’t know how its done but it logically seems to me that the best way to protect your privacy is to be one of a crowd, not standing alone on a football field.

          • Germansmith

            Well, the very rare circumstance one of my employees have done injustice to one of my clients, I am usually the one they call and complain to…so yeah, I am fully accountable for my employees actions. I also set an environment that makes our objectives and processes very clear and an open door policy for them to address with me issues they are unclear or have problems with.
            I am kind of old fashion. Unless you are my declared enemy or rival I will not spy on you.
            Yes, I have changed my positions and opinions thru my life (I was a bleeding heart liberal at my younger days, then I met some of the poor, unfortunate dispossessed our tax money was helping) and I moved to the center.
            But so is my luck that my opinions are not recorded anywhere, so now I can sit here and denied to my Republican clients that I ever worked for the Jimmy Carter’s campaign.
            Let us at this point agree that we are not going to change each others point of view in this issue and save our fingers for the next one…Good Luck to you

          • Sand_Cat

            I see you’re another of those who are unable to distinguish between “right” and “good” and The Law. The fact that something is legal or illegal all too often reflects the selfishness and laziness of the legislature, and the fact that you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong and the legal code shows your own moral laziness and ignorance. Sorry to get personal, but your own high-handedness encourages this.
            You wouldn’t by any chance be a lawyer by profession, would you?

          • awakenaustin

            All ethics and morals are situational. Let us go to the most fundamental of all issues. Let us talk about killing other human beings. Right or wrong? Maybe? In war? In self-defense? In defense of others? In defense of property?
            Tell us the simple straight-forward everyone should know the answer answer!
            If there is only one answer, why do some many disagree about the answer?
            Those who think all answers to all questions are simple and easy are the lazy and the ignorant. I will simply refer you to the Dunning-Krueger Effect and leave the topic there.

          • Sand_Cat

            I agree with your first statement. The rest doesn’t address my post, so I’ll have to stand by what I wrote until you can do better than deliver a lecture on situational ethics. Come to think of it, your little lecture reinforces what I said.

          • awakenaustin

            My reply, not elusive to most, is that right and wrong vary from person to person and situation to situation regardless of what the law is. So the right and wrong of “eavesdropping” is – maybe it is and maybe it isn’t wrong. Using Mr. Smith’s question as a point of departure – My neighbor’s wife and I have a right to carry on our affair in private and plot his murder? We have a right to keep this private and secret? It is “wrong” for him to try to validate or invalidate his (apparently well founded) suspicions by spying on his wife and trying to eavesdrop on our private conversations?
            Tapping phones without warrant is against the law. Maybe that is a good law (and he is doing wrong) if he taps her phone and she is innocent of any wrong doing. Maybe it is not a good law (and he isn’t doing wrong) if he taps her phone and saves his own life by exposing her plot to have him murdered.
            There is nothing in anything I said which would lead you to rationally conclude that I don’t have an opinion of what is right and wrong or good and bad. Just as you have an opinion. And, it is an opinion rather than an ability to distinguish right from wrong. You simply don’t believe that I would agree with you about what is right and wrong and so you assert without cause or basis my inability to know right from wrong.
            All murders are not wrong and all murderers are not bad. The right and wrong of particular actions in any particular situation may reflect the perspectives, biases, associations and beliefs of the observers. There is, of course a enormous area of general agreement about right and wrong dictated by our history, culture and biology.
            Our laws may very well reflect the sensibilities of those who happen to be enacting them on any given day. I guess it is easy enough to always assume malfeasance or nonfeasance on their part, but law(s) may also reflect a rough cut of what they (rightly or wrongly) really believe to be right or wrong at that point in time.
            I try, although it is very hard in some cases, not to assume the ignorance of those who disagree with my opinion of right and wrong. You should try it some time.

    • plc97477

      “If you don’t like it, get congress to change the law.”

      If you do you have lost the right to complain if an attack happens in our country again.

    • 4sanity4all

      thank you for the very specific point by point explanation. I will have this in mind when I will be hearing about the current effort to make this issue into something it is not. If more people understood what you have explained, they would not speak as though our rights were absolutes, and they would also allow that, to keep us safe, sometimes governments have to do things which don’t make us feel comfortable. When I see every president turn grey during his term, I realize that he is privy to a lot more information than I would care to be aware of, and I generally like to be well informed. So, I will try to understand that my rights only extend to the point where they don’t, for reasons of national security.

    • labrown69

      WRONG Austin – The Supreme Court has extrapolated the 4th into a right to privacy.

      • awakenaustin

        Wrong again, as always Mr. Brown. They have not extrapolated the Fourth into a general right of privacy. You should consider reading for understanding. It is an important and not sublte difference. The Fourtth provides for specific privacy in specifc circumstances. But even that privacy, even in those places, may be constitutionality invaded if it is reasonable or if they have a warrant.

        You think that wrong, then cite the case which says so!

        • labrown69

          NO, I am not wrong and the requirement for a warrant for searches is still very much in effect. If you are hell bent on being an Obama apologist I can not stop you but anyone who has not seen the gross hypocrisy from this compulsive liar at this point is not capable. I hope you are happy that in the midst of all this other nonsense he is going to escalate the war in Syria by arming rebels who are effectively Al Qaeda and have no chance whatsoever of prevailing against Assad and the Russians. This Jack Ass Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like Alexander the Great.

          • awakenaustin

            You won’t cite a case because there is no such case, because you are wrong. Your responses are nonsensical in light of anything I have previously written on this matter.
            You simply wish to take the opportunity to launch into a diatribe regarding the President and slander and offer insults to anyone who disagrees with you.
            There is about as much content and substance to your knowledge of the Fourth Amendment and its meaning as there is in the last fart I cut.

          • labrown69

            In 1967 in Katz v. United States, the Supreme Court extended
            Fourth Amendment protections to include some types of electronic
            communications and therefore informational privacy HOWEVER your obsession with SPLITTING HAIRS in order to try and defend your despotic buddy flies in the face of the 4th Amendment which has been extrapolated to a right to privacy in many cases. Wire tapping and other forms of electronic surveillance still require a warrant EVEN under the Patriot Act.

          • awakenaustin

            Katz discusses the idea that the Fourth extents to protect those things in which we have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Had you actually read my original post you would know that I covered that issue and that I stated that the courts have come to agree that you have reasonable expectation of privacy in your phone calls.
            You simply have statements you wish to make and accuracy isn’t an important consideration for you.
            All of this still begs the question of whether or not there has been a Fourth Amendment violation. As I previously mentioned several times (and you apparently missed every time) warrants cure all those issues. Secondly, there is this big area of exceptions called “exigent circumstances” which may make a search legal even without a warrant. There are other exceptions to the need for a warrant. The key word here is “unreasonable.” The government and its agents and law enforcement officers may search anything, anywhere without a warrant if the Big Guys (i.e., the Supreme Court) conclude the search was not “unreasonable.” (On whatever basis they may decide that.)
            You just like to piss in people’s boots. Apparently, screaming at others and a calling them names provides you some ego boost.
            By the way, Katz does not provide for a general right of privacy which is clear from your own statements and which was my point from the beginning.
            I call it a concern for the truth, you call it splitting hairs. Either way I am still correct and you are still incorrect about the point you started out arguing.

          • labrown69

            Talk about “pissing in boots”. I am angry at the totality of what this administration is doing and it can not be parsed to the degree you wish without obfuscation. The ACLU agrees as they are suing the Obama administration for exceeding the scope of existing law on …. “yes, that thing you wish to argue we have no right to” ….”privacy”. On top of that “banking, threatening journalists by basically criminalizing news gathering, charging patriots with treason, using the IRS as a political weapon and now arming Al Qaeda and YOU WANT TO PARSE the specific details of whether what they did? If you wish to engage in mental masturbation be my guest but if you are not sleep walking you have long since realized that the totality of what this administration is doing is totalitarian and that spying on everyone except possibly Mosques is a ridiculous way to try and detect terrorists.

          • Sand_Cat

            Sorry, but if your hairsplitting is intended to help the president, perhaps your best course to achieve that end would be silence. While he has been a huge disappointment to many of us, he still ranks higher than any Republican I know of, and he certainly doesn’t need anyone else pointing out his rather casual attitude towards some of the protections of the Bill of Rights.

          • awakenaustin

            I did not write a sentence here in defence of the President. I thought we were discussing the 4th Amendment. I did not use my discussion of the 4th to segue into a defense of the President. However, you and Mr.Brown have both used it as means of offering your opinions of the President, as if the meaning the 4th Amdendment has any relationship to your opinion of the President.
            If I were an attorney I would expect some slander about attorneys, because that is just the way you roll.

          • Sand_Cat

            Once again, you completely missed the point, which was that pretending the authors of the Bill of Rights intended it to outline the only rights protected and missing the point that they clearly wanted to keep the government out of the lives of law-abiding citizens, i.e., protect their privacy, may be an interesting intellectual exercise and a plausible-sounding way to defend government abuses, but it misses the forest for the trees.

            The fact that you compare me to a lying, delusional right-wing lunatic shows you haven’t a clue what I was talking about. I am not the president’s biggest fan, but I voted for him once, and it was a struggle not to do so in the most recent election.

          • awakenaustin

            I find it incredible that those amazing, all knowing and all seeing superheroes the “Founding Fathers” failed to use the word privacy a single time in the U.S. Constitution. I read the Federalist Papers in the past and am not certain of this, but I do not re-call the protection of privacy being a big concern to them. I do not recall those currently arguing for the general right of privacy in the Constitution using the Federalist Papers as source of evidence or support for such a right.

            The Constitution was written to establish a central authority strong enough to accomplish the tasks of national government with checks and balances designed to both provide various interests influence and prevent them from running roughshod over others.

            The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments were added to the document after it was ratified. It is often suggested that it was part of a deal to gain approval. Does that suggest the guys who wrote the document were more or less concerned with a strong national government than they were in protecting “the people” from the government? Does that suggest that the provisions protecting citizens from the government came as the result of a political compromise between two different views of the role and purpose of the national government? Maybe what the “Founding Fathers” intended isn’t as clear as you think. (I guess it is possible they were just lazy, ignorant hair splitting lawyers, since as a group they couldn’t obvious tell what was right and what was wrong.)
            Just so we don’t run into trouble on this issue – the “Author” of the Bill of Rights was James Madison, who as you recall was one of the primary contributors to the original (pre-Amendment) Constitution and one of the primary authors of the Federalist Papers.
            How do you know what James Madison and the other “Founding Fathers” (a group whose members vary depending on who one likes and who one doesn’t like) intended?
            I have no opinion on whether it is arrogance on your part, but it certainly is presumptuous. You were just as presumptuous in pretending you knew what I was “pretending” (your word) to mean to say about the Bill of Rights since I was only addressing the Fourth Amendment.
            Since I am one of those who believes, in order to survive and meet the needs of an ever changing (hopefully in a positive direction) society, the meaning of the U.S. Constitution should evolve and be interpreted to guarantee and support the liberty of all in our society. I am not bothered by or opposed to the notion that one can infer from or draw out of the Constitution that people have a general right to privacy. It doesn’t mean I am required to ignore the potential problems of trying locate certain protections for people in that view.
            Oh, couple of points you might consider:
            1. When you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas.
            2. When you call people lazy, ignorant hair-splitters they consider that insulting and they insult you back.

    • Sand_Cat

      Sorry, but it’s only those who don’t believe in the Bill of Rights and think whatever administration they’re supporting should have carte blanche to abuse it who dispute whether there is a “right” to privacy. Robert Bork’s infamous claim that only those rights specifically enumerated are protected fulfills the prophecy of those who opposed the first 10 amendments on the grounds that future tyrants would try to claim precisely that. It also conveniently ignores the Tenth Amendment, which was clearly intended to prevent that interpretation and to discourage government intrusion.
      For what reason does the Fourth Amendment prohibit unreasonable searches? Why does the First guarantee freedom of speech and religion? Why does the Tenth leave all unspecified rights to the states (who, after all, had to approve the document) and the people? What is the point of the document at all if not to prevent excessive government intrusion into private lives?

      Certainly some lawyers, and even “scholars” can twist and torture any statement to mean the opposite, given sufficient motivation. So yes, some such people of course split hairs to try to expand government power to meddle in peoples’ lives, but seldom from praiseworthy or worthwhile motivations.

      • awakenaustin

        Sorry just got your post yesterday. Read your post which suggests you did not read mine.

        William O. Douglas gets credit (Griswold) for first articulating a “general right to privacy” located within the penumbra of the other rights set out in the Constitution.
        Griswold (1965) suggests that for the first almost 200 years of our Constitutional existence the US Supreme court failed to find and define a general right to privacy you find to be so obvious in the document. Does that say less about their thinking and more about yours?

  • Germansmith

    I am not so much worry about a low level flunky spying on wife as I am about a high level political appointee using private information in nefarious ways. Or some enterprising employee using somebody’s banking information to steal their life and money and disappearing to another country…let us say China.

    In the long run Snowden is doing us a favor by highlighting to the extreme government gathers phone and email information on us and by also exposing the level of incompetence of the NSA to keep confidential and top secret information really secret.

    Stuff is not secret if hundreds of people can access it.

    I also wonder how would this article read if this was addressed during the Bush administration.

    Senator Barack Obama at the Woodrow Wilson Center on Terrorism, 8/1/07:

    “This Administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide…I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our Freedom”.

    “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more National Security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient

  • Ford Truck

    Edward Snowden is a traitor that has aided and abetted terrorism by revealing secret government information. To afford to go to Hong Kong where he apparently plans on staying, he was clearly paid a lot of money to do what he did. If China won’t extradite him, I would be willing to chip in my part in a fund to hire a mercenary to go to Hong Kong and kill him!!

  • labrown69

    NEW EVIDENCE reveals that this NSA spying had nothing to do with foiling the NY Subway bombers – that was more Obama administration lies

  • Mark Forsyth

    I’m not so sure that this Snowden fellow is the traitorous bad guy that the various government agencies are trying to paint him.While he certainly has pissed off the government by revealing some details about its nefarious practices,I doubt seriously that he has compromised National Security past pointing out that which should have been obvious to Americans even if they were only paying half attention.
    What has he done besides figuratively stating that the government has its pants down.Does anybody here really doubt the already long existence of big brother?

  • Pamby50

    I remember in 2006 when we found out about all the wire tapping going on. I was not a happy person. Then the story went away. The thought that if they said they weren’t going to do that anymore, we would go for it. But they were thinking once this all settles down, we will be back in business. We the people never stayed on top of the situation. Now several years later, we are all upset. We the people need to figure out what we can live with. I am not just talking about the government either. We are handing over our personal information on our own. All the social media outlets. They attach cookies to e-mails. When we swipe the grocery store card, we are giving them our buying habits. Library cards so they can see what kind of books we read. Purchases we make on-line. Games we play on-line. We can track family members with our cell phones. What was even scarier, I saw a news story and they showed how by posting a picture on a social media site, anybody can find out where you live. All of us who have smart phones, has this capacity. The question still remains, What are we willing to live with? If not much, then our laws need to keep up with technology.

  • Sand_Cat

    The people who try to pretend that this is working “as it’s supposed to” are those living a dream. It certainly is true that those who are “shocked” by this revelation are either Republican hypocrites or Democrats who were completely oblivious to the fact that candidate Obama voted for the FISA extension with the amnesty for the perpetrators with hardly a second thought. I missed the part about his doing a “tap dance” as claimed by the writer. Obama also signed the renewal of the Patriot act and all sorts of other unconstitutional legislation demanded by the hysterics who bought the crap the Republicans have been pushing for years.

    The fact is, we don’t know whether any of this, or the torture and other Bush abuses that Obama has allowed to continue or even increased, has saved a single life or prevented a single attack, because – surprise – that’s “classified,” and those protected by the mantle of “national security” from a naive and clueless public know they can lie pretty much with impunity and most will be credulous enough to either believe them or be unsure enough to do nothing.

    So you “realists” go ahead and make fun of those who believe in the Fourth Amendment, and the rest of the protections of the Bill of Rights and watch while your freedom (not the idiotic right-wing “liberty” to own a nuclear arsenal or use the law to promote the dogma of your church into Federal Law wholesale) – or what’s left of it – goes down the toilet to leave you in a Corporate Kleptocracy police state (we’re almost there now, but things can still get much, much worse).

  • Ford Truck

    Get it straight, the 4th amendment is not a definite. The amendment guards against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It is the government, not you, that determines what is reasonable and what is unreasonable.

    Study history, beginning with the Declaration of Independence, the new American government collected information on anyone that was sympathetic with “Kings rule.” President Washington and the first few presidents, the federal government continued collecting information on people they felt were still sympathetic with the British because they feared the British would try to retake the colonies. Guess what happened in 1812 – the British attempted to retake America.

    Under Andrew Jackson the government collected information on those who were sympathetic with Native rights and opposed to forced removal of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw among other tribes from their homelands to the Indian Territories.

    Before the Civil War, under a number of presidents, the government collected information on abolitionists, fearing they would instigate a civil war against slavery. After the Civil War, administrations collected information on people they feared would attempt for initiate a second war of succession and reestablishment of slavery.

    During both world wars, the government collected information on anyone they thought were aiding or sympathetic to the enemy, going as far as putting potential problem populations in concentration camps.

    How about the McCarthy era when the government collected information on everyone to try to root out communists?

    Do you not think the government collected tons of information on antiwar protesters during Vietnam? Collecting the most information on those soldiers returning from Vietnam who dared voice an opposition to the war.

    What the NSA is doing now is little different from what has been going on for 230+ years. Only the volume and methods of information collection has changed.

    If you are not doing anything suspicious or anti-American, you have nothing to fear from the government information collection. If you are doing something suspicious or anti-American I hope the government catches you by whatever means necessary!!

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