Archive for the ‘Warrantless Wiretaps’ Category

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Saying older surveillance laws were “dangerously out of date,” President Bush pressed anew Wednesday for Congress to pass permanent legislation that allows intelligence agencies to carry out warrantless surveillance on all communications of a foreign terror suspect.

Legislation passed by Congress last month “has helped close a critical intelligence gap, allowing us to collect important foreign intelligence and information about terrorist plots,” Bush said after he was briefed at the National Security Agency.

“The problem is the law expires on February 1 — that’s 135 days from today. The threat from al-Qaeda is not going to expire in 135 days,” Bush said.

Bush’s comments come one day after the nation’s intelligence chief told Congress that fewer than 100 Americans have become surveillance targets because they were initially overheard communicating with foreign terror suspects.

“How many Americans’ phones have been tapped without a court order? The answer is none,” Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told the House Judiciary Committee.

The law that expires in February allows intelligence agencies to carry out warrantless surveillance on all communications of a foreign terror suspect, even if a U.S.-based person is on one end of the call.

Congressional Democrats say the new law’s wording could promote warrantless spying on Americans. The law is written “so broadly and loosely that it permits the government to intercept … anyone even thought to be abroad,” Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan said at Tuesday’s hearing.

The House Intelligence Committee is expected to begin considering changes to the warrantless wiretapping law next month.

McConnell and the Bush administration also want the law expanded to include immunity from lawsuits for telecom companies that helped intelligence agencies carry out spying.

Democrats, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, want stricter rules covering surveillance of Americans.

“These restrictions would impede the flow of information that helps us protect our people,” Bush said Wednesday. “These restrictions would reopen gaps in our intelligence that we had just closed.”

At NSA, Bush received private briefings from intelligence officials and mingled with employees in the National Threat Operations Center. While cameras and reporters were in the room, the large video screens that lined the walls displayed unclassified information on computer crime and signal intelligence.

Along one wall at NSA is a sign that says, “We won’t back down. We never have. We never will.”

From USA Today

We will not be posting Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. We are participating in the STRIKE FOR PEACE.

If you’ve had enough, you need to say “When.” Say-when.org

Those who hoped that – with the victory of the antiwar party in 2006, the departure of Rumsfeld and the neocons from the Pentagon, the rise of Condi and the eclipse of Cheney – America was headed out of Iraq got a rude awakening. They are about to get another.

Today, the United States has 30,000 more troops in Iraq than on the day America repudiated the Bush war policy and voted the GOP out of power. And President Bush, self-confidence surging, is now employing against Iran a bellicosity redolent of the days just prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

What gives Bush his new cockiness? The total collapse of the antiwar coalition on Capitol Hill and the breaking of the Congress.

Last spring, Bush vetoed the congressional deadlines for troop withdrawals, then rubbed Congress’ nose in its defeat by demanding and getting $100 billion to support the surge and continue the war.

Before the August recess, Democrats broke again and voted to give Bush the warrantless wiretap authority many among them had said was an unconstitutional and impeachable usurpation of power. They are a broken and frightened lot.

Comes now evidence congressional Democrats have not only lost the pro-victory vote, but forfeited the peace vote, as well.

According to a Zogby poll the last week in August, just two weeks before Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker report, Americans, by 45 percent to 20 percent, give this Democratic Congress lower grades on handling the war than the Republican Congress it replaced.

Fifty-four percent of the nation believes, contra Harry Reid, the war is not lost. That is twice the support that Bush enjoys for his war leadership, a paltry 27 percent. But, by nine to one, Bush’s leadership on the war is preferred to that of the Congress of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Incredibly, only 3 percent of the nation gives Congress a positive rating on its handling of the war. Congress has lost the hawks, and the owls, and the doves. No one trusts its leadership on the war.

And George W. smells it. He no longer fears the power of Congress, and his rhetoric suggests he is contemptuous of it. He is brimming with self-assurance that he can break any Democratic attempt to impose deadlines for troop withdrawal and force Congress to cough up all the funds he demands.

Confident of victory this fall on the Hill, Bush is now moving into Phase III in his War on Terror: First, Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iran.

Do not take this writer’s word for it. Hearken to the astonishing rhetoric Bush used at the American Legion Convention in Las Vegas against Tehran:

“Iran … is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. … Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent and target Israel. … Iran is sending arms to the Taliban. … Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes. … Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

“Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. … We will confront this danger before it is too late.”

Bush has repeatedly warned Iran to cease supplying Iraqi insurgents with arms and enhanced IEDs for attacks on our troops in Iraq.

How has Tehran responded to Bush’s virtual ultimatums?

“The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months – despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq. …

“Iran’s leaders cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis.”

This is a case for war. Indeed, it’s an assertion by President Bush that Iran is colluding in acts of war against the soldiers and Marines and allies of the United States. What does he intend to do?

“I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities. … We’ve conducted operations against Iranian agents supplying lethal munitions to extremist groups.”

This suggests that U.S. forces may already be engaged in combat operations against Iranians.

Who or what can stop this drive to war?

Last spring, Nancy Pelosi herself, after a call from the Israeli lobby, pulled an amendment that would have forced Bush to come to Congress for specific authorization before attacking Iran. Before the August recess, the Senate voted 97 to zero for a resolution sponsored by Joe Lieberman to censure Iran for complicity in the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The resolution explicitly rejected authorization for immediate military action, but the gist of it declared that Iran is participating in acts of war against the United States, laying the foundation for a confrontation.

What is to prevent Bush from attacking Iran and widening the war, at a time and place of his choosing, and sooner than we think?

Nothing and no one.

Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail] is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books, including Where the Right Went Wrong, and A Republic Not An Empire.

As we mentioned in a comment to our post about the draft, there is a formula to get you to think a certain way. It is “Problem – Reaction – Solution” (usually all supplied by the same group).

The formula as put forth by Aristotle:

Exordium – A shocking statement or story to get attention

Narratio –  You pose the problem the reader/listener is having

Confirmatio – You offer a solution to the problem

Peroratio – You state the benefits of action on the solution

Watch what’s going on around you and if/how it fits the formula. You are being sold.

By: Nicole Belle on Saturday, August 11th, 2007 at 10:03 AM – PDT

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday signed into law the controversial Interception of Communications Bill, which gives his government the authority to eavesdrop on phone and Internet communications and read physical mail.

The legislation has drawn outspoken opposition from the political opposition and civil society organizations as trampling on the civil rights of Zimbabweans.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai called it an addition to “the dictator’s tool kit.”[..]

Human rights lawyer Otto Saki told VOA that the law interferes and undermines the enjoyment of rights enshrined in the constitution and is a sign Mr. Mugabe wants to consolidate his power by “any means necessary or unnecessary.”

But Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe said Zimbabwe is not unique in the world in passing such legislation, citing electronic eavesdropping programs in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa, among other countries.

Did you find yourself being horrified and angry at Mugabe for doing that to his people?  Look around – we have now become the example, the inspiration, and the justification for the loss of civil liberties throughout the world.  Our Founding Fathers would be so proud at the shining beacon the United States of America has become.  Thanks W!

A new law expanding the government’s spying powers gives the Bush Administration a six-month window to install possibly permanent back doors in the nation’s communication networks.  The legislation was passed hurriedly by Congress over the weekend and signed into law Sunday by President Bush.The bill, known as the Protect America Act, removes the prohibition on warrantless spying on Americans abroad and gives the government wide powers to order communication service providers such as cell phone companies and ISPs to make their networks available to government eavesdroppers.

The Administration pushed for passage of the changes to close what it called a “surveillance gap,” referring to a long-standing feature of the nation’s surveillance laws that required the government to get court approval to capture communications inside the United States.

While the nation’s spy laws have been continually loosened since 9/11, the Administration never pushed for the right to tap the nation’s domestic communication networks until a secret court recently struck down a key pillar of the government’s secret spying program.

The Administration argues that the world’s communication networks now route many foreign to foreign calls and emails through switches in the United States.

Prior to the law’s passage, the nation’s spy agencies, such as the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, didn’t need any court approval to spy on foreigners so long as the wiretaps were outside the United States.

Now, those agencies are free to order services like Skype, cell phone companies and arguably even search engines to comply with secret spy orders to create back doors in domestic communication networks for the nation’s spooks.  While it’s unclear whether the wiretapping can be used for domestic purposes, the law only requires that the programs that give rise to  such orders have a “significant purpose” of foreign intelligence gathering.

The law:

Read it at Threat Level – Wired Blogs