How Much Privacy Are We Willing To Give Up?

Discussion in 'The Club House' started by sculker, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. sculker

    sculker New Member

    HOW MUCH PRIVACY ARE WE WILLING TO GIVE UP? They will be on this forum finding your guns and ammo!

    Bush Presses House on Surveillance Bill
    1 hour ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush pressured the House on Wednesday to pass new rules for monitoring terrorists' communications, saying "terrorists are planning new attacks on our country ... that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison."

    Bush said he would not agree to giving the House more time to debate a measure the Senate passed Tuesday governing the government's ability to work with telecommunications companies to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails between suspected terrorists. The bill gives phone companies retroactive protection from lawsuits filed on the basis of cooperation they gave the government without court permission — something Bush insisted was included in the bill.

    About 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecom companies by people alleging violations of wiretapping and privacy laws. The House did not include the immunity provision in a similar bill it passed last year.

    "In order to be able to discover ... the enemy's plans, we need the cooperation of telecommunication companies," Bush said. "If these companies are subjected to lawsuits that could cost them billions of dollars, they won't participate. They won't help us. They won't help protect America."

    The 68-29 Senate vote Tuesday to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act belied the nearly two months of stops and starts and bitter political wrangling that preceded it. The two sides had battled to balance civil liberties with the need to conduct surveillance on potential adversaries.

    Bush said the Senate bill was passed with wide, bipartisan support, and the House should pass it too — before the current law expires at midnight on Saturday.

    "Congress has had over six months to discuss and deliberate," said Bush, who stood alongside Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell. "The time for debate is over. I will not accept any temporary extension. They have already been given a two-week extension."

    Doubtful they can work out the differences in the bills by the time the law expires, Democrats in the Senate and the House prepared short-term extensions that would keep the law in effect for several more weeks. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky blocked an extension attempt Tuesday. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Republicans in the House would fight another extension.

    "The one thing we've learned about Congress is they won't act until forced to," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters after Bush's statement. "We're not going to pass extensions into perpetuity."

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said Tuesday he still opposes retroactive immunity.

    "There is no basis for the broad telecommunications company amnesty provisions advocated by the administration," Conyers wrote in a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding asking for documents about the wiretapping program. The documents have been withheld from Congress.

    While giving the White House what it wanted on immunity, the Senate also expanded the power of the court to oversee government eavesdropping on Americans. The amendment would give the FISA court the authority to monitor whether the government is complying with procedures designed to protect the privacy of innocent Americans whose telephone or computer communications are captured during surveillance of a foreign target.

    The bill would also require FISA court orders to eavesdrop on Americans who are overseas. Under current law, the government can wiretap or search the possessions of anyone outside the United States — even a soldier serving overseas — without court permission if it believes the person may be a foreign agent.
  2. bkt

    bkt New Member

    Project Echelon has been around for decades. This bill Bush is pushing seems superfluous. Does anyone have the real scoop why he's doing this? Is it his idea of PR or partisan maneuvering?

    The idea of my email or comments made by me on forums being scrutinized is not appealing. But the only reasonable expectation of privacy I have is on my home computer. Once I transmit something, I do not own the networks, routers and servers it passes through and all bets are off with regard to privacy.

    Bottom line: don't say anything electronically you wouldn't be willing to put on a billboard.

    (Encryption is another story. That might dissuade casual viewing, but it might invite further scrutiny by others.)

  3. Chuck

    Chuck Guest

    The 4th Amendment is still on the books last time I checked.
  4. ScottG

    ScottG Active Member

    I always wonder why people seem to think these programs are set up to spy on us ordinary folk. These operations are to track and investigate terrorists and their connections here. Why waste time looking at us when our enemies use our own technology to plot their activities?

    There are safeguards in the plan. There are way too many of us for a government agency to spend their time looking where the enemy isn't. But if you're afraid President Bush is listening in to your phone calls to Aunt Mabel, just be more vigilant and vocal to your Congressperson when real abuses happen.

    Remember, no one has a constitutional right to commit crimes. The government has a right and duty to protect us from evildoers both here and abroad.
  5. bkt

    bkt New Member

    Yes, it is. And it seems to be abused with regularity. Echelon should not exist, and this bill championed by Bush shouldn't, either.

    But what other companies or individuals do with your data traveling unencrypted along networks not under your control is largely up to them, not you.
  6. Quasi

    Quasi New Member

    I'm all for surveillance of suspected terrorists, but there needs to be judicial oversight and something resembling probable cause. The potential for abuse is too great. Remember the forefathers' ideas about checks and balances? The current White House wants to sidestep that, neutering the FISA court, and not even allowing the DOJ to investigate alleged abuses. The telecom companies don't need any special legal protection -- if they're responding to a court order then there's no problem.

    bkt, I think there is an expectation of privacy with respect to individual's e-mails, telephone calls, and postal mail. If they are going to share your info without a court order, they need your permission. Check out the Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2008
  7. bkt

    bkt New Member


    The AG is empowered to engage in emergency surveillance provided he gets a warrant within 72 hours from a FISA court judge after the work has begun. As I understand it, the number of requests (more than 1,700 in 2004 alone) caused a backlog and the Court was unable to provide warrants in a timely fashion thus leading to the friction.

    This puts the WH in a tight spot. It has been raked over the coals for failing to "connect the dots" leading up to 9/11, and now it is being told it is doing too much. This all smells of partisan politics as much or more than actual security.

    Right, but as I understand it, the problem comes in getting a court order in a timely fashion.

    You are right that these provisions are in place. However, I personally don't regard anything I put in email as private.
  8. pioneer461

    pioneer461 New Member

    It's called National Security and the War on Terror. In this case, I want to know what our enemies, both foreign and domestic, are plotting. :cool: I share the concerns of those who fear abuse of this power, and agree that we need to keep an eye on "them."

    Never again...
  9. bkt

    bkt New Member

    You won't get any argument from me that we are at war and that we must take sane steps to ensure we don't suffer another 9/11 or something significantly worse.

    Echelon intercepts virtually all communications and can search them (near?) real-time for keywords, written or spoken. What I was asking is why do we need something else when we already have that?