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Thread: House Approves Wiretap Measure

  1. #1
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Default House Approves Wiretap Measure

    Source: washingtonpost.com - nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines

    washingtonpost.com - nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines


    House Approves Wiretap Measure
    White House Bill Boosts Warrantless Surveillance

    By Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page A01


    The Democratic-controlled House last night approved and sent to President Bush
    for his signature legislation written by his intelligence advisers to enhance their
    ability to intercept the electronic communications of foreigners without a court order.

    The 227 to 183 House vote capped a high-pressure campaign by the White House to
    change the nation's wiretap law, in which the administration capitalized on Democrats'
    fears of being branded weak on terrorism and on a general congressional desire to act
    on the measure before an August recess.

    The Senate had passed the legislation Friday night after House Democrats failed to win
    enough votes to pass a narrower revision of a statute known as the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act. The original statute was enacted after the revelation of CIA abuses in
    the 1970s, and it required judicial oversight for most federal wiretapping conducted in the
    United States.

    Privacy and civil liberties advocates, and many Democratic lawmakers, complained that
    the Bush administration's revisions of the law could breach constitutional protections
    against government intrusion. But the administration, aided by Republican congressional
    leaders, suggested that a failure to approve what intelligence officials sought could expose
    the country to a greater risk of terrorist attacks.

    Democrats facing reelection next year in conservative districts helped propel the bill to
    a quick approval. Adding to the pressures they felt were recent intelligence reports about
    threatening new al-Qaeda activity in Pakistan and the disclosure by House Minority Leader
    John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) of a secret court ruling earlier this year that complicated the
    wiretapping of purely foreign communications that happen to pass through a communications
    node on U.S. soil.

    The bill would give the National Security Agency the right to collect such communications
    in the future without a warrant. But it goes further than that: It also would allow the
    interception and recording of electronic communications involving, at least in part, people
    "reasonably believed to be outside the United States" without a court's order or oversight.

    White House spokesman Tony Fratto emphasized that the bill is not meant to increase
    eavesdropping on Americans or "to affect in any way the legitimate privacy rights" of U.S.
    citizens. Data related to Americans in communications with foreigners who are the targets
    of a U.S. terrorism investigation could be monitored only if intelligence officials have a
    reasonable expectation of learning information relevant to that probe, a senior U.S. official said.

    "There are a lot of people who felt we had to pass something," said one angry Democratic
    lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of caucus discussions.
    "It was tantamount to being railroaded."

    In a sole substantial concession to Democrats, the administration agreed to a provision
    allowing the legislation to be reconsidered in six months.

    Some House Democrats were still upset by what they saw as a deliberate scuttling by the
    White House of negotiations on a compromise bill. On Thursday, Democratic leaders reached
    what they believed was a deal with the government's chief intelligence official, Director of
    National Intelligence Mike McConnell, only to be presented with a new list of conditions at
    the last minute. The White House and McConnell have denied that a deal had been reached.

    "I think the White House didn't want to take 'yes' for an answer from the Democrats," said
    Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), an intelligence committee member.

    The administration said that its bill is aimed at bringing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Act of 1978 into step with advances in technology, primarily by restoring the government's
    power to gather without a warrant foreign intelligence on targets located overseas.

    Because the law has not kept up with advances in telecommunications, McConnell said in
    congressional testimony, the government "is significantly burdened in capturing overseas
    communications of foreign terrorists planning to conduct attacks inside the United States."

    Civil liberties and privacy advocates and a majority of Democrats said the bill could allow
    the monitoring of virtually any calls, e-mails or other communications going overseas that
    originate in the United States, without a court order, if the government deems the recipient
    to be the target of a U.S. probe.

    Last night, several Democrats said the bill would undermine the Fourth Amendment. Rep.
    Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said lawmakers were being "stampeded by fearmongering and
    deception" into voting for the bill. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) warned that the bill would
    lead to "potential unprecedented abuse of innocent Americans' privacy."

    Republicans and administration officials argued to the contrary that the distinctions in the
    present law -- between calls inside and outside the country -- are outmoded in an age of
    cellphones that work on multiple continents. What intelligence officials seek, a White House
    official said in an interview yesterday, is the ability to "surveil a target wherever the call
    [or other communication involving that target] comes from," and that the new legislation
    would provide that.

    In place of a court's approval -- which intelligence officials worried might come too slowly
    -- the NSA would institute a system of internal bureaucratic controls.

    A senior intelligence official said that in cases in which an overseas target is communicating
    with people in the United States not relevant to an investigation, their names are "minimized,"
    or stripped from the transcript, before it is disseminated. "You won't see data mining in there,"
    the official said. "You won't see vast drift net surveillance of Americans. . . . What we do not
    do is target people in the United States without a warrant."

    Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that the
    Democrats would introduce legislation on surveillance in the fall and would conduct oversight
    of the administration's surveillance program.

    A narrower Democratic alternative, which Democrats said they crafted partly in response to
    McConnell's concerns, won majority support but nonetheless failed because it did not collect
    the necessary two-thirds vote Friday night in the House. It failed after an emotional debate
    in which Republicans charged Democrats with being soft on terrorism and House Speaker
    Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Republicans of not caring "about the truth."

    Under the administration's version of the bill, the director of national intelligence and the
    attorney general can authorize the surveillance of all communications involving foreign
    targets. Oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, composed of federal judges
    whose deliberations are secret, would be limited to examining whether the government's
    guidelines for targeting overseas suspects are appropriate. The court would not authorize
    the surveillance.

    The bill's six-month sunset clause did not assuage some critics.

    "I'm not comfortable suspending the constitution even temporarily," said Rep. Rush D.
    Holt (D-N.J.), a member of the House intelligence committee. "The countries we detest
    around the world are the ones that spy on their own people. Usually they say they do it
    for the sake of public safety and security."


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  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    ... because, as we know, actually enshrining in law what Bush has been doing illegaly, without opposition, FOR YEARS anyway really makes all the difference.

    So your entire constitution is suspended. Doesn't it just make you feel proud to be an american?

    *eyeroll*
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    ^^^
    Stop. It's like putting salt in the wounds. It hurts, really it does. I have no fuckin' clue why Americans are not impeaching this administration now. Maybe we should start speaking in code to protect ourselves. Hmmmmmmmmm...

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    It's real upsetting. This bozo should have been impeached a long long time ago. It's all so sad.

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    Fuck Canada.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I could only hope they would wire tap me-they would be bored senseless!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
    Fuck Canada.
    Sorry, what? I can't hear you over the massive amount of personal privacy I have
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  8. #8
    Elite Member darksithbunny's Avatar
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    And now we know that not only will big brother be watching, but he will be hearing every little dirty word you say.

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    Elite Member crackho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Sorry, what? I can't hear you over the massive amount of personal privacy I have
    Thanks to the US fighting all your wars

  10. #10
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Our wars? Sorry, we don't start quagmire wars that continue forever and end in ignominious defeat.

    In fact, while the US was sitting on its rear we were tossing the Germans back across the Somme in world war 1, tossing them back across Italy and France in WW2, and we're presently cleaning up your mess in Afghanistan after ya'll took off for Iraq
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  11. #11
    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I know,I know-something,something rabid badgers!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

  12. #12
    Elite Member crackho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Our wars? Sorry, we don't start quagmire wars that continue forever and end in ignominious defeat.

    In fact, while the US was sitting on its rear we were tossing the Germans back across the Somme in world war 1, tossing them back across Italy and France in WW2, and we're presently cleaning up your mess in Afghanistan after ya'll took off for Iraq

    Well, yeah, if you want to get technical, there is that, that and that.... Now, would you PLEASE do something about Iraq?

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