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Bush signs spy bill and draws lawsuit


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush signed a law on Thursday overhauling the rules for eavesdropping on terrorism suspects but immediately met a civil liberties challenge calling it a threat to Americans' privacy.

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"This law will protect the liberties of our citizens while maintaining the vital flow of intelligence," Bush said at a White House ceremony to mark a rare legislative victory for the president during his last year in office.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in Manhattan federal court as Bush signed the measure and called for the law to be voided as a violation of constitutional speech and privacy protections.

 

"Spying on Americans without warrants or judicial approval is an abuse of government power, and that's exactly what this law allows," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in announcing the suit.

 

The action was filed on behalf of human-rights groups, journalists, labor organizations and others who say they fear the law will allow the U.S. government to monitor their activities, including compiling of critical reports on the United States.

 

Bush quickly signed the bill a day after Congress gave it final approval, with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama dropping earlier opposition to vote for passage. Obama's Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, has supported the bill but was absent for Wednesday's vote.

 

The bill authorizes U.S. intelligence agencies to eavesdrop without court approval on foreign targets believed to be outside the United States.

 

The administration says the measure will allow it to swiftly track terrorists. But the suit charges the law permits warrantless surveillance of phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens who may have legal and legitimate reasons for contacting people targeted by government spying.

 

The bill seeks to minimize such eavesdropping on Americans, but the suit says the safeguards are inadequate.

 

The law lets government "conduct intrusive surveillance without ever telling a court who it intends to surveil, what phone lines and e-mail addresses it intends to monitor, where its surveillance targets are located, or why it's conducting the surveillance," said ACLU national security director Jameel Jaffer, the lead attorney in the suit.

 

The most contentious issue in negotiations over the bill was a provision that grants liability protection to telecommunication companies that took part in a warrantless domestic spying program Bush began after the September 11 attacks.

 

The law shields those firms from billions of dollars in potential damages from privacy lawsuits.

 

McCain criticized Obama's vote in favor of the law as an inconsistency, and ACLU Legislative Director Caroline Fredrickson called it "very disappointing."

 

The Democrat's campaign had earlier said he would support efforts to block legislation with a telecommunications immunity provision, but Obama voted for the overall bill Bush signed after casting a losing vote to strip the immunity provision.

 

"Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise," Obama said on his campaign Web site.

 

(Additional reporting by Edith Honan in New York; Editing by David Alexander and David Wiessler)

 

(Source: Reuters via Yahoo.com)

 

 

Anyone else think this bill President Bush just signed is a load of crap?

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In response to both of the main Presidential Candidates signing them, I think I'll stick with a message I picked up from The Jungle: Both parties have the same agenda, just disguised under different names and acts.

 

Shame on Barack Obama and John McCain for voting for the bill, which stomps on our right to privacy. What's worse is that people are still willing to flock towards the [two candidates]. Despicable (of course, I understand voting for someone just because you like some of [his] views, and not all of them). :disaprove

 

Personally, this is yet another reason for me to detest our Congress. They work a ridiculously short amount of time (the last I remember was 20% of all work days last year, but I might be a bit off), and still earn upwards of $160,000. A great way to reward the citizens, no?

 

In case you couldn't tell, I'm opposed to such an act.

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The thing we need to be looking at is in their eyes: Why did they pass this bill? I have a hunch that the whole situation with Iran and whatnot has a lot to do with this. I want privacy, of course, but it's also important to have security. And these days, security is getting harder than ever to maintain. As much as I don't want my privacy invaded, we may thank them later for snooping on us to keep us safe. Yeah, I'm paranoid, but I make it my duty to never let down my guard; and for good reason. Which would rather sleep easier without: Your personnal life being private from everyone else, or your safety? This bill admittedly seems overbearing, but I think it's important for everyone's safety that someone keeps an eye on the 'suspicious' people.

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The thing we need to be looking at is in their eyes: Why did they pass this bill? I have a hunch that the whole situation with Iran and whatnot has a lot to do with this. I want privacy, of course, but it's also important to have security. And these days, security is getting harder than ever to maintain. As much as I don't want my privacy invaded, we may thank them later for snooping on us to keep us safe. Yeah, I'm paranoid, but I make it my duty to never let down my guard; and for good reason. Which would rather sleep easier without: Your personnal life being private from everyone else, or your safety? This bill admittedly seems overbearing, but I think it's important for everyone's safety that someone keeps an eye on the 'suspicious' people.

 

There's a difference from a government protecting citizens from a logical threat and taking the necessary precautions, but this seems to have gone too far. I sleep fairly well (my schedule is still off, but I get a good nine to ten hours during the summer :)), and I might sleep even better if I knew that my government wasn't listening into my e-mails and phone conversations, and legally, to boot!

 

I do understand the need for security, but not at such a rate that the very rights of our citizens are violated! It's like the movie I, Robot, with the Robots taking control of Humanity to protect it (which did have a rather good point, if I may add. I would entrust most humans with my longevity), except it's humans dominating humans.

 

But this might just be me going on a tirade. The point remains, however, that the President and the Senate believes that our security trumps our right to privacy. And, to me, there's something inherently wrong with that.

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Please don't tackle me mercilessly like a football pileup on this, but;

 

I seriously value my life (IE, living) more than my privacy. Who cares if some random FBI people or whatever read our emails and listen in on our phone calls? Does it really matter than much in comparison to being safe and happy? I beleive that there are times that extreme measures must be taken in order to preserve security. The world is so F***ed up right now that I would rather be safe than sorry. So what if someone gets to snoop on me? It's not really going to hurt anything, if proper regulations and laws about this are made. I've got nothing to hide. I'm perfectly fine with the idea of a Federal agent spying on me. I can still just as easily live my life and not worry about it, whilst the 'bad guys' get caught.

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I understand wanting protection-- that's the agenda on most stable governments, isn't it (keeping the citizens content and safe)? However, when [the] government has the ability to read my personal information about things, it's an invasion of privacy.

 

Please don't misconstrue my feelings on this, however. If a case is presented before a judge, with reasonable evidence, a wire-tap should be granted, and the government gets their information from there. Don't invade my privacy because you want your citizens to be 'safe.'

 

So, to clarify, a wire-tap by a judge is alright to me (although, it would make sense for more than one judge to have to sign it. That way, you would prevent getting one hard-liner to sign off on everything...). But when the government makes wire-taps legal, that bothers me.

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Please don't get me wrong. I think that it is an invasion of privacy. I know that I want my personal information safe. Even out of the hands of a Federal Agent, to some extent, because who know what they are doing. They too are human and abuse their power sometimes. That matters to me a lot. Who knows what could happen. I do agree with Arcesious, to some extent, though. I guess that I don't really quite know what to think about this. This is something that is very important. I just don't know what the future holds. There will be attacks on America on in the future though. I think that it inevitable. Whether or not this could make us safer, I don't know...

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Ah all that precious American data to sift through. Might be more cost effective to contract that out to a private corporation or two, don't you think? I mean it worked to cut costs in our War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq didn't it?

 

What? It's legal right?

 

(The above is just encourage forethought before letting a genie like this out of the bottle.)

 

* * * *

 

Actually from what I've understood the new law will protect the telecoms from civil suits but would not provide immunity to criminal cases for past acts of eavesdropping. In addition, it does not provide immunity to public officials. In theory the next president could encourage his Attorney General to take aim at the current administration officials who authorized the warrantless wiretapping for the past 3 years.

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20080702.html

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I want privacy, of course, but it's also important to have security.
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

 

And these days, security is getting harder than ever to maintain.
Really? Why is that?

 

As much as I don't want my privacy invaded, we may thank them later for snooping on us to keep us safe. Yeah, I'm paranoid, but I make it my duty to never let down my guard; and for good reason. Which would rather sleep easier without: Your personnal life being private from everyone else, or your safety?
And who will keep us safe from our government?

 

This bill admittedly seems overbearing, but I think it's important for everyone's safety that someone keeps an eye on the 'suspicious' people.
That's fine. There's been a process for that for years. The President finds someone suspicious? He goes to a FISA court, shows that he has probable cause, and gets a warrant. Then he goes the phone company, shows them the warrant and gets the phone tap. All secret-like.

 

Except Bush doesn't want to have to go to a FISA court and show probable cause. He wants to be able to tap anyone, anytime without oversight. And now he can do that legally. So I'll repeat my earlier question: without any kind of oversight whatsoever, who will protect us from our government? Think about it.

 

It's not really going to hurt anything, if proper regulations and laws about this are made.
You miss the point: the proper laws and regulations are what they voted to get rid of.

 

I've got nothing to hide.
Neither do I, but I still want to know that someone has to show probable cause before they are allowed to spy on me.

 

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Ah, congress, you prove once again that you are not worth the money we pay you. Given we could make our own laws without you, I would be first to propose that you are paid nothing.

 

In any case, the passing of this was expected, and I am glad the ACLU jumped on it. Security can bite me, I can secure myself. I would rather have my freedoms than know that I'm safe from some guy in a cave who thinks up an evil plot once every 10 years. I've got a greater chance to die in a car accident than from a terrorist attack.

 

And that is exactly what people who value security over liberty fail to understand. The world is a dangerous place, disease, murder, natural disasters, and a whole variety of things that are likly to blindside you when you aren't looking. And that's when something bad will ALWAYS happen, without exception, without regard to security, something bad will happen when you least expect it. No amount of security will protect you from it or change the outcome.

 

More TSA agents on planes will only add more casualties to the plane when it crashes. Warrantless wiretapping will only make our agencies hands full with the mind-numbing garbage the average american sends every day than focus on the important stuff.

 

Studies had shown that only 2% of the requests for warranted wiretapping ever get turned down, I believe 2% was around 10,000 requests. That's some 490,000 warrants for wiretapping that were approved annually. I think that's a pretty good approval rate if you ask me. I highly doubt that those 2% unapproved seriously hampered investigations. It's not like anything is stopping them from asking for it again anyway.

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Ah, congress, you prove once again that you are not worth the money we pay you.
QFT

Given we could make our own laws without you, I would be first to propose that you are paid nothing.
I say we could go farther than that. We now possess the technology to make direct democracy a reality and render Congress obsolete. Think of the tax dollars it would save. Of course the common people would have become better informed which would require an impartial news source, but then their vote would actually count for something.

 

And, of course, here in reality, I know that this will never happen. :(

Edited by Q
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I say we could go farther than that. We now possess the technology to make direct democracy a reality and render Congress obsolete.
I'll take a pass on mob rule, but thanks for the offer.

 

Of course the common people would have become better informed which would require an impartial news source, but then their vote would actually count for something.
The votes of common people would mean something now if we had a well-informed citizenry that actually cared enough about their fate to vote in the first place.

 

And an impartial news source isn't even necessary; all we need is an open forum and our ability to reason. Blaming the media for our situation is like blaming McDonald's for making us fat.

 

And, of course, here in reality, I know that this will never happen. :(
Unfortunately, I suspect that you are right.
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I'll take a pass on mob rule, but thanks for the offer.
And I prefer the mob, especially a well-informed mob, to the elite, even if said elite is elected. IMO, we're not given much of a choice at election time anymore, as the candidates always seem to end up serving the government's interests instead of the people's. ;)

The votes of common people would mean something now if we had a well-informed citizenry that actually cared enough about their fate to vote in the first place.
Agreed. That and honest politicians (snicker) who'll actually do while they're in office what they say they're going to do while they're running for office.

And an impartial news source isn't even necessary; all we need is an open forum and our ability to reason.
Perhaps not, but it would be nice to be able to watch or read the news without first having to run it through primary, secondary and tertiary political BS filters to make it safe to consume. Your forum would have to get it's information from somewhere, wouldn't it?
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I seriously value my life (IE, living) more than my privacy.

 

That's understandable...

 

Who cares if some random FBI people or whatever read our emails and listen in on our phone calls? Does it really matter than much in comparison to being safe and happy?

 

It really depends on two specific factors: race/ethnicity and citizenship status. For a normal American citizen who was born and raised here, being monitored by the government would probably not be a big deal.

However, in the case of my neighbors who are muslim immigrants from India who run the local mosque, it would be percieved as a case of racism. When they are singled out in an entire community, they feel that they are being targeted for no reason other than the simple fact that they are muslims.

 

I beleive that there are times that extreme measures must be taken in order to preserve security. The world is so F***ed up right now that I would rather be safe than sorry. So what if someone gets to snoop on me? It's not really going to hurt anything, if proper regulations and laws about this are made. I've got nothing to hide. I'm perfectly fine with the idea of a Federal agent spying on me. I can still just as easily live my life and not worry about it, whilst the 'bad guys' get caught.

 

Normally, I'd agree with you, but the problem is that the government hardly ever spies on the right people. They usually spy on a large group of people knowing very well that most of them aren't terrorists. In the end, they arrest maybe 5% of that large group. Although they have caught the terrorists, the other 95% have been wronged for no reason.

 

Hence, I support Achilles in his view that the president should have probable cause before he wiretaps a person's home.

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By reporting the facts without attaching the politically slanted editorial commentary. Professional journalists are not supposed to show bias.

 

Yet they do anyway, which is why I prefer them to state their bias rather than pretending they aren't. I'm not saying you can't have more neutral news sources than those we allready have, but a news source is only as unbiased as its journalists.

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Yet they do anyway' date=' which is why I prefer them to state their bias rather than pretending they aren't.[/quote']Yet when they do so it ceases to be news and becomes propaganda, and the journalists become about as credible Joseph Goebbels. When one can no longer be certain if they're being told facts or lies, the news becomes worthless.
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As far as I'm concerned, slanted facts are the same thing as lies. In my experience the most skillful of liars are the ones who learn how to slant the truth to their advantage.

 

Sorry I wasn't more clear on that. :)

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