The NSA Program

Before I leap to any conclusions, does anyone have the definitive link to what exactly the NSA was doing, what they were tracking, how farreaching it was, etc.

As usual, I am having a hard time getting the vapors about this, even though I instinctively dislike it, because this is what I thought the NSA did all along. At least I have thought this was what they were doing since I read the Puzzle Palace a decade ago.

So if any of you have factual links, and not links to hysterical reactions on both sides of the aisle, it would be much appreciated.

370 replies
  1. 1

    Can’t.

    I’m waiting for Tom Clancy’s new novel to explain to me what the NSA should be doing.

  2. 2
    Ancient Purple says:

    Here is the original article in USAToday that kicked off the news cycle.

    I won’t be hysterical, but just angry. There is absolutely no reason why a list of my or your phone calls (even if just my name and phone numbers and the numbers I called) should be in the hands of the government without either 1) my consent, 2) a warrant, or 3) probable cause.

    There are not 10 million Americans with potential ties to Al Qaeda. Not now. Not ever.

  3. 3
    neil says:

    It’s interesting because the story, as told by USA Today, pretty much makes it explicit that the NSA _wasn’t_ doing this all along. They only started after 9/11.

    Does that make it worse or not? Does the fact that it’s unconstitutional make it worse?

  4. 4
    Tim F. says:

    It is not a very complicated a story. The NSA asked major telecom operators for the complete records of every American’s phone calls, to which all bu one complied. Qwest asked the NSA to check with the FISA court to verify the request’s legality and the NSA refused. Qwest asked the NSA to provide a legal opinion from the DOJ and NSA refused that as well, so Qwest denied the request. Unless you do business with Qwest (which you do not since Qwest does not operate in WV) they have your records as well. Bush hasn’t confirmed or denied the story although Trent Lott has, so we can be fairly confident that it exists as reported. Moving into rumor country, apparently the idea was to use Americans’ calling patterns to guide the “other” program where the NSA would tap phone conversations without court approval. The source of the “hit” would explain why the government had such a hard time meeting the probable cause standard for a wiretapping warrant.

    That’s pretty much it as far as substance goes, the rest is reaction.

  5. 5
    Punchy says:

    The NSA is making sure everyone in America calls their parents at least once a month. Failure to do so leads to an investigation and possible tax audit.

    Dr. Cole, what should enrage you is not so much what the NSA is doing, but that they’re spending ALL this time and money on this “data mining”, while anyone and their Grandma can come across the border almost at will. There is a serious disconnect between Bush telling us that this is vital to security and their refusal to tighten up the borders. Leads me to believe that perhaps this clandestine data mining isn’t so vital to security, and thus is much more nefarious in its purpose and utility…

  6. 6
    searp says:

    Great idea, John. We’d all love to have a more informed opinion on this program. However, this administration classified it precisely so that we wouldn’t know anything about it.

    Programs are supposed to be classified because revelation of the program would harm national security. This obviously applies to much foreign intelligence. Here, we’re talking domestic intelligence. We’re the targets. OK, call records, what have you, but we are, in fact, the targets. The only issue is the depth of our information that is used.

    So suppose you address this: why was this program classified? How is national security compromised if it is known that the gov has all of OUR phone records?

    You have a hard time getting excited? You are in a very distinct minority, presumably because you trust the gov with this sort of data. Well, I work in these areas, and I do not.

  7. 7

    It’s been a long time since I broke open PUZZLE PALACE but as I understand, the NSA used to spy on everyone else’s communications but ours, because of the prohibitions necessitated by the Fourth Amendment. I don’t know if it was in the Puzzle Palace or Secret War Against The Jews, but there was a sleight of hand where the NSA would let the Brits use their technology to spy on Americans since it wasn’t Americans spying on them. Then the Brits would share the information with the NSA.

    This latest is a vacuum-cleaning operation, sucking up information on hundreds of millions of phonecalls made in the U.S. The program supposedly only gets phone numbers, which number called what other number, and from that the NSA can derive information. This sounds like it’s related to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit which became known last month where phone companies cooperated with the NSA so that they could monitor people’s emails.

    It’s illegal spying on everyone, and depending on what they’re looking for, it can be used to destroy political opponents, dissenting citizens. In short, it is trolling through the lives of tens of millions of innocent citizens’ lives, in violation of the law.

  8. 8
    Jim Allen says:

    Can I get on the “Do Not Tap List”?

  9. 9
    Sherard says:

    Welcome back, John. This place could certainly use a more rational approach where just the SIGHT of a republican gives Tim and his minions the vapors – oh and the chance to rant, rant, rant just one more time.

    BTW, an overnight ABC poll found 66% of Americans, get this, approving of this program.

    Probably because many of them have seen the same kind of thing on the CBS show Numb3rs. Where they analyze the call patterns of known terrorists and everyone they call, to look for OTHER terrorists. God forbid.

  10. 10
    Steve says:

    Here is an explanation of why it was illegal to turn over these records.

    Probably because many of them have seen the same kind of thing on the CBS show Numb3rs. Where they analyze the call patterns of known terrorists and everyone they call, to look for OTHER terrorists.

    That’s actually a great point. People probably assume it’s a rational program like they see on TV, where the NSA spies on known terrorists (anyone got a problem with that?) and the people the known terrorists communicate with (anyone got a problem with that?) as opposed to a vacuum-cleaner sweep where they just spy on all Americans, looking for suspicious activity.

    If nobody has a problem with the phone company turning over everyone’s records then why do you suppose there is a statute making it illegal?

  11. 11
    Tom says:

    “it can be used to destroy political opponents, dissenting citizens.”

    Right. Ask Newt Gingrich about the Martin and McDermott’s big ears…

  12. 12
    Marcus Wellby says:

    BTW, an overnight ABC poll found 66% of Americans, get this, approving of this program.

    What I find interesting is that on that same page, the web poll had the following results:

    No, it is not acceptable no matter what the government says. 2,177
    Yes, if the government says it is necessary to fight terrorism. 745
    Total Vote: 2,922

    Now, I know the difference between a scientific poll and an unscientific one. However, such a drastic difference is rather interesting. I would like to see the actual sampling of the ABC poll and the question(s) asked.

  13. 13
    LITBMueller says:

    the NSA used to spy on everyone else’s communications but ours

    That’s absolutely right – from what I understand, the general rule at NSA was “don’t spy on Americans.” That has changed, obviously.

    Now, I can understand the argument that “9/11 changed everything” (although I don’t agree with that), and I can understand “this doesn’t give me the vapors,” but here is the problem: it is becoming more and more clear that this government has decided to fight international terrorists by considering every single person here in the US to be a potential suspect.

    You, me, everyone – any of us can be terrorists, as far as the NSA is concerned, and what they want is as much information as humanly possible to try and find out if we really are. No one is above suspicion.

    THAT is a sea change in the entire concept of American justice, which begins with the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” THAT is why this program is wrong, even if it is (somehow) legal. Hell, we know who the terrorists are: OBL and his minion. Why not concentrate on catching them, instead of treating all Americans as suspects?

    We expect our government to protect us, but we do not assume they will put us in a digital lineup. What’s worse, as searp points out, the details of this digital dragnet are classified – we don’t know what data they have, we don’t know what they are doing with it, we don’t even know if this program has been successful or a collossal waste of money (probably the latter!).

    If this doesn’t give you the vapors, what will? Where does the line stop? How much farther has the government gone, all in the name of protecting us against an unknown, unseen enemy?

  14. 14
    Marcus Wellby says:

    Probably because many of them have seen the same kind of thing on the CBS show Numb3rs. Where they analyze the call patterns of known terrorists and everyone they call, to look for OTHER terrorists. God forbid.

    And who needs the Constitution when we can base our Republic on subpar TV shows? Hell, why not just turn over the Judicial Branch to Judge Judy, the Legislative to Simon Cowell/Randy Jackson/Paula Abdul, and the Executive to Donald Trump?

  15. 15
    Punchy says:

    What I find interesting is that on that same page, the web poll had the following results:

    No, it is not acceptable no matter what the government says. 2,177
    Yes, if the government says it is necessary to fight terrorism. 745
    Total Vote: 2,922

    Or, this poll, via CNN:

    How does the report that the NSA is building a database of Americans’ phone calls make you feel?
    Creepy

    76%

    130306 votes
    More secure

    24%

    41712 votes
    Total: 172018 votes

    Notice the “63%” was from a sample of ~500 people. Note the numbers here. Big diff.
    This one phone poll is at serious odds with every other internet poll. Strange.

  16. 16
    Pooh says:

    I can see John’s point – those of us who ‘have the vapors’ now were simply insufficiently cynical when the original NSA story came out last year.

  17. 17
    Slide. says:

    Judging from the paucity of Cole’s posts I don’t think there is much that gives him the “vapors” anymore, unless of course Cindy Sheehan is in the news or his plagiarizing friends get called on their dishonesty.

  18. 18
    Steve says:

    You know, let’s put aside civil liberties, the Constitution, all that stuff for a minute. I just have my serious doubts that a program like this one actually WORKS – at least for its stated purpose, i.e. catching terrorists. The broader you cast the net, the more false positives you turn up, the more time you waste chasing down loose ends. We’ve already heard stories about FBI agents being sent to investigate Pizza Huts instead of catching real criminals.

    Yes, I know, I’m not very knowledgeable about this stuff, not like the security experts in our government who brought us 9/11. But what I honestly think is that after 9/11 these guys simply panicked. All of a sudden, every possible surveillance technique, no matter how overbroad or ineffective, had to be implemented, because gosh, what if we DIDN’T do it and something bad happened. And now they reflexively cling to it all because, again, no one wants to take the blame because they stopped a program and then something bad happened.

    I still, call it my silly affectation, want to get the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11. But it’s like, because there’s no clear path that ends up with Osama’s head on a pike, we’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to look like we’re doing SOMETHING about it. Hey, let’s start this new surveillance program, that might work! Hey, let’s invade this country over here, that might work! The whole situation calls for some grownups to sit down and calmly assess the threat and what to do about it, but unfortunately, our political system is not really designed to bring grownups to the fore.

  19. 19
    demimondian says:

    It may be that 66% of all voters shrug and walk away, but it is clear that there is a nucleus of dissatisfied voters which is very angry.

    My people have a name for that political scenario. We call it “a disaster for the incumbent party if it occurs in an election year”.

  20. 20
    Jcricket says:

    I suspect, like most of these issues, there’s a large segment of the public that reflexively wants to support the president and assumes he’s telling the truth (even after all this time) that it’s only terrorists who are being surveilled. There’s also a large group of people who “lazily” fall into the “I’ve never done anything wrong so even if it’s illegal, I have nothing to worry about” when confronted with these types of issues These are the people that the ACLU protects our country from :-)

    At any rate, most people are just too busy to really understand the details of these issues, and therefore don’t realize the possible implications of warrant-less spying on all American domestic calls. The very reason FISA was created was in reaction to the abuse and misuse of this type of data in the past. With technological advances in the last 30 years the potential for abuse is far, far worse.

    The “good thing” is that as these issues unfold (like the warrantless wiretapping), public support falls pretty dramatically. The public isn’t stupid, they just presume that people like the president, NSA, CIA and FBI are on the up-and-up until really shown otherwise. The pollsters also do a better job of phrasing neutral questions or asking better follow-ups to see where the true opinion lies about what actually happened (not what the President claims is happening).

    Speaking of polls, as Bush’s approval rating heads to the 20s and disapproval heads well into the high 60s it’s interesting to note that Clinton’s lowest approval was 43 and highest disapproval was somewhere in the 40s, and that wasn’t during Monica/impeachment. His approval during impeachment was in the 60s, and actually increased during and after impeachment (my source) Not saying that makes his actions right, but it’s an interest set of data points to consider when compared to how Bush and the GOP are faring.

  21. 21
    demimondian says:

    Dang it, John, what’s with the blocked popups?

  22. 22

    That’s actually a great point. People probably assume it’s a rational program like they see on TV, where the NSA spies on known terrorists (anyone got a problem with that?) and the people the known terrorists communicate with (anyone got a problem with that?) as opposed to a vacuum-cleaner sweep where they just spy on all Americans, looking for suspicious activity.

    That’s the part I don’t understand.

    See, that makes sense.

    I just don’t see how you can look at calling patterns for the entire population and go. Oh my god, there’s an increase in phone traffic in Boise! What’s that mean! Quick, get the bat signal out.

    Turns out it’s because Susie finally got it on with Tim, and now she’s calling all her friends at school.

    Frankly, this thing sounds like a fuking waste of money, and I’m more dissapointed in the phone companies for gladly handing over their info. (except Al Qwestaeda who loves terrorists)

  23. 23
    neil says:

    In this case the Internet poll might possibly be more valuable than the phone poll, because it selects for people who actually have been following the story. Asking someone’s opinion who hasn’t even heard about the story (I’d guess it would be a majority of a well-selected sample) is like asking me who should win American Idol. I could pick a name out of a list but it would be meaningless.

  24. 24
    Mr Furious says:

    An interesting wrinke on this that I heard on NPR yesterday focused less on the actual activity, than on the manner in which it was done. Rather than ask for those records as a national security-related, court-mandated or -approved matter, the NSA simply bought the lists from the companies as a simple commercial transaction.

    I have a big-ass problem with that. How much did they pay? Why did they handle it this way? Would the phone companies sold this data to anyone else? Cell companies obviously have…

    I also have a problem with the fact that there is no oversight, approval or review on what the Bush Administration wants to do… This is the reason why they bought the information. so they wouldn’t have to answer to anyone.

    Once again we are left relying on the word of the NSA and the Bush Administration and nothing else. The DOJ simply dropped an investigation into the NSA this week, simply because the NSA said it’s too secret. For the FBI.

    What the fuck was John bolton doing with the phone records of Bill richardson—a sitting governor!?!

    Why should I believe that they aren’t monitoing the activity of political opponents?

    What the fuck is going on around here? Can you get some vapors going on that, John?

  25. 25
    Maxwell says:

    The public only knows what USA Today reported, which is the information that one reporter with communications-industry contacts was told by her sources. Her information relates to specific companies and the information that they did or did not provide to NSA.

    Beyond that, we have no idea how many other telecom companies provided data, whether the program extends to e-mail and instant messages, how the collected data has been used (i.e. cross-referenced to other data), the type of actions that have followed analysis of that data, and who has access to the data.

    We can only hope that the data has been used for legitimate anti-terrorism activity.

  26. 26
    Pug says:

    This strikes me as another example of incompetence. Do they really think they will find terrorists by sifting through the phone records of every American? Seems that this is what’s known as too much information. Really just seems like kind of a hare-brained idea.

  27. 27
    neil says:

    The Other Steve, the thing is, you have a few numbers that are known to belong to Bad People. You want to use this information to find other Bad People, so you analyze the network of calls originating from Bad Person #1. In this way you might be able to draw a chain all the way from Bad Person #1 to Big Boss, roping in the Henchmen in between.

    Of course, if Maher Arar accidentally dials a wrong number and gets in the chain, who knows what might happen to him.

  28. 28
    Jcricket says:

    If this doesn’t give you the vapors, what will? Where does the line stop? How much farther has the government gone, all in the name of protecting us against an unknown, unseen enemy?

    Two words. Jose Padilla. The next step has already happened. The administration has declared the right to unilaterally declare American citizens “enemy combatants” in the WOT, stripping them of their rights and protections, and holding them indefinitely in any number of detention facilities. Now I ask. What’s left? Nothing, really? I guess mass arrests of protesters or martial law (neither of which I believe are likely).

    You don’t have to be an alarmist to think that there are already enough facts to doubt any explanation/justification given to you by the Bush administration regarding their actions in the WOT. They simply aren’t credible. Their actions in the Padilla case (hold him indefinitely and then when threatened with losing their case, transfer him to a different prison and change the charges). More importantly, we should vigorously oppose the unwarranted expansion of “presidential powers” they have claimed justification for in the last 5 years. It’s that expansion that’s at the root of all these issues.

  29. 29
    Slide. says:

    I think the concern for those of us that don’t “trust” this administration is how will they use this data. I think they have made it clear that they will do anything, break any law, if they can justify it as related to “fighting terrorism”. So where could this take us? How about the very leaking of this information which the right wingers have said “aided the enemy”? Could finding out who leaked this information be considered fair game? Can they go into their databank and find every phone call made by everyone that was privy to this secret information? To see what journalists may be on that list? And then check those journalist’s phone links to see who they talked to? Why not? Who is to stop them? What judge reviews? What oversight is there? How about those damn Quakers protesting the war, perhaps they are terrorists sympathizers, can we check their calls?

    The potential for abuse is huge and my trust of this adminstrion is deminimus. Here is my test for the conservatives out there, Do you agree that any President should have access to every single phone call made by every single American to do with as he wishes without any oversight whatsover? Is that your position? Is that really what you want? If so then America has really changed into something I no longer recognize.

  30. 30
    Punchy says:

    We’ve already heard stories about FBI agents being sent to investigate Pizza Huts instead of catching real criminals.

    Do you have a link? This promises to be hilarious reading. As long as they stay away from Gumby’s and Papa Johns, I ain’t got no beef with them chasing down PHs….

  31. 31
    D. Mason says:

    Hell, why not just turn over the Judicial Branch to Judge Judy, the Legislative to Simon Cowell/Randy Jackson/Paula Abdul, and the Executive to Donald Trump?

    Yeah! Why the hell don’t we do that? It would be a vast improvement.

  32. 32
    Mr Furious says:

    Speaking of the confluence of this phone data-mining and American Idol, doesn’t FOX know that running “American Idol” makes defending the country against attack more difficult?

    All the terrorists should conduct their phone activity during the two-hours after the show, when the sysrtem is handling an extra sixty million calls…

    Why does Rupert Murdoch love the terrorists?

  33. 33
    Steve says:

    We can break down 9/11 very simply. The CIA generated a document entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the U.S.” A short time thereafter, the FBI generated a document entitled “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” No one put two and two together, and we know what happened. (George Tenet, for what it’s worth, was the highest-ranking official to see both documents.)

    There are a lot of things you could do to try and prevent this sort of thing from happening again. One thing you would NOT do is say “let’s add a zillion more data points!” It’s the sort of thing that a very dysfunctional corporation would come up with – more subcommittees! more meetings! more weekly status reports!

    What kind of resources do you think have been expended on implementing this vacuum-cleaner program? How many success stories have resulted? Some people say “if you catch one terrorist then it’s helped!” which ignores the opportunity cost. It’s really hard for me to believe this is the best way.

  34. 34
    Lee says:

    …subpar TV shows.

    Those are fighting words :)

    Numb3rs is an excellent show. After a screening, we typically watch then show with our kids (girls 9 & 6).

  35. 35
    Maxwell says:

    How many Conservatives would be prepared for a Liberal Democrat President and Vice President exercising the unfettered powers claimed by President Bush and Vice President Cheney? Or will we all call for strict adherence to the Constitution (including the 4th Amendment), FISA laws, etc. when that happens in 2008 or 2012 or whenever?

  36. 36
    Slide. says:

    The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Never has anything our founding fathers said been more prescient.

  37. 37
    Perry Como says:

    And who needs the Constitution when we can base our Republic on subpar TV shows?

    I like the idea of learning graph theory from a TV show!

  38. 38
    Slide. says:

    Do you have a link? This promises to be hilarious reading. As long as they stay away from Gumby’s and Papa Johns, I ain’t got no beef with them chasing down PHs….

    Try this:

    here is a taste:

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

    But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

    F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency, which was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans’ international communications and conducting computer searches of foreign-related phone and Internet traffic, that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans’ privacy.

  39. 39
    Servicetags says:

    The domestic issue is not an issue. The CIA and NSA have always worked in the United States. NSA is all communications. CIA has in it’s mandate to work in the US. They have badges, just like any law enfocement agency. Plame was working on domestic political groups and probably used NSA resouces during the investigation of the 500’s by Congress from ‘Brester’s Millions.’ Funding issues and backgounds.

    DIA and NSA have always monitored communications. The issue is who has access to that information. Most American’s have no problem with the military. However, how about someone from CIA like Plame with a political agenda. How about the Al Quaeda that CIA has admitted is an employee at CIA?

    There is DoDIIS conference going on in PA. Maybe some leaks are coming from there. Anyhow, they have a’new’ platform for intelligence total awareness that is designed to integrate all the CIA analysts no one new were doing to DIA. So, it is a complete, up the second, intelligence information computer. Just like our records, CIA will have access to this. Once again, see above.

    America is following someone else’s agenda and it is not pro American. It is designed to take down the government, not just the administration.

    Puzzle Palace was the NSA. They hire alot of people with language skills. When Bush doubled the number of employees at CIA, there was probably a push to hire people with language skills. This may have been a mistake because the NSA does this work just fine. CIA may have hired others like Plame that will go on for twenty years and retire. The retirement party CIA Operations Officers have tells us what happended to our money. We did not hire the best.

    Fourth amendment? There is none when it is national security and that is all the DIA deals with.

  40. 40
    Steve says:

    Punchy: check here.

    “We’d chase a number, find it’s a school teacher with no indication they’ve ever been involved in international terrorism – case closed,” said one former FBI official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. “After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.”

    Intelligence officials disagree with any characterization of the program’s results as modest, said Judith A. Emmel, a spokeswoman for the director of national intelligence’s office. Ms. Emmel cited a statement at a briefing last month by Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the country’s second-ranking intelligence official and the director of the N.S.A. when the eavesdropping program was started.

    “I can say unequivocally that we have gotten information through this program that would not otherwise have been available,” General Hayden said. The White House and the F.B.I. declined to comment on the program or its results.

    Also note an interesting quote from a gentleman who was cited on BJ’s front page recently.

    “It isn’t at all surprising to me that people not accustomed to doing this would say, ‘Boy, this is an awful lot of work to get a tiny bit of information,’ ” Adm. Bobby R. Inman, a former N.S.A. director. “But the rejoinder to that is: Have you got anything better?”

    Well, good question. I hope we’ve got something better!

  41. 41
    Mona says:

    Jon, as I thought yesterday, and as Orin Kerr has concluded, this program violates the Stored Communications Act. The 3/06 renewal of The Patriot Act adds language that likely is meant to help shield the telcos from civil liability when their customers sue, but I don’t think, as Kerr ultimately concludes, that will work (and that language didn’t obtain until this past March, anyway).

    I’m sure most Americans approve of this program; in theory, so do I. But I want it done legally, and with judicial oversight. Qwest reports that the NSA refused to seek a warrant from either the FISA Court or approval from then-Attorney General Ashcroft, because the NSA didn’t believe it could secure either. That would be because this program is illegal, as implemented.

    The Administration should have sought Patriot Act language that would place this program under FIS Court oversight, and make it legal. It didn’t do that. Bush, of course, believes he may do anything he likes if it at all touches on national security, laws be damned.

  42. 42
    Jack Roy says:

    I’m with searp—why would you expect that any hard evidence would be available? That’s the reason this, like the CIA black sites in Europe, were classified: To make sure Americans didn’t know that the government was willfully doing stuff that might piss off voters Because media coverage of our super-important and super-secret intelligence activities jeopardizes our national security!!!!1!

  43. 43
    Slide. says:

    As long as they stay away from Gumby’s and Papa Johns, I ain’t got no beef with them chasing down PHs….

    Well, perhaps you should since it seems to tie up a lot of limited resources as the NY Times article states:

    Aside from the director, F.B.I. officials did not question the legal status of the tips, assuming that N.S.A. lawyers had approved. They were more concerned about the quality and quantity of the material, which produced “mountains of paperwork” that was often more like raw data than conventional investigative leads.

    “It affected the F.B.I. in the sense that they had to devote so many resources to tracking every single one of these leads, and, in my experience, they were all dry leads,” the former senior prosecutor said. “A trained investigator never would have devoted the resources to take those leads to the next level, but after 9/11, you had to.”

  44. 44
    ppGaz says:

    There are not 10 million Americans with potential ties to Al Qaeda. Not now. Not ever.

    Is that what they are looking for? Because the query they used was based on looking for calls to people named “Al.”

    For example, if you called Al Maviva, that would set a flag.

    As far as NSA is concerned, Al Maviva is a terrorist sleeper cell somewhere in Branson, Missouri.

  45. 45
    Jon H says:

    “Dr. Cole, what should enrage you is not so much what the NSA is doing, but that they’re spending ALL this time and money on this “data mining”, while anyone and their Grandma can come across the border almost at will”

    It’d probably be a whole lot cheaper and far more effective to have the CIA and FBI set up connections among the ‘coyotes’ who bring people across, establishing sizable rewards if they turn in any cash-rich non-Latin American ‘migrants’ seeking to be brought across the border.

  46. 46
    Perry Como says:

    Well, all you whining, hippy, liberals can just go sign up for Qu’est if you have something to hide.

  47. 47
    neil says:

    Well, it seems that no leftists in the comments so far have been rude, uncivil, derogatory, sarcastic or even hysterical, so perhaps John will decide there’s something to this after all.

  48. 48
    Punchy says:

    Well, perhaps you should since it seems to tie up a lot of limited resources

    Of course I’m concerned. I was trying to be snarky.

  49. 49
    Krista says:

    For example, if you called Al Maviva, that would set a flag.

    They tried. Unfortunately, he’s as verbiose on the phone as he is with his posts, and they ran out of tape before he finished his first sentence.

  50. 50
    Krista says:

    Sorry neil, that was definitely rude, uncivil, derogatory, and sarcastic of me. Have I just completely screwed over any argument that anybody on the left might make on this thread?

  51. 51
    Jack Roy says:

    Because the query they used was based on looking for calls to people named “Al.”

    Heh heh. There’s a Dan Bern song about a guy named “Al Kida—K-I-D-A; right now he’s freakin’ out!”

  52. 52
    Tractarian says:

    First of all, Mr. Cole, you shouldn’t keep repeating that you thought all along that the NSA collected intelligence on purely domestic communications. It shows you haven’t got the first clue about what the NSA has historically been about.

    Second, I have no problem with the NSA having a database of all the telephone calls made within the US. They are a spy agency – they are supposed to know things that no one else knows.

    But third, and most importantly, people must recognize what Bush is trying to do here by appointing Hayden – he is trying to conflate the issues of “what the NSA should be doing” with “what the NSA is legally permitted to do.” I think the public would approve of a program like this, but certainly the public would not approve of a government agency violating the laws enacted by their duly elected representatives in Congress!

    I recognize that the question of whether this program is legal or illegal is still an open one. Here’s a good legal analysis. The gist is that we don’t know if the program is illegal – we don’t know because the whole thing is secret!

    The real problem here is not the threat to privacy. The real problem is the threat to separation of powers, to the rule of law, to the concepts of limited government and open democracy.

  53. 53
    Andrew says:

    President Hillary is so going to make every right wing blogger her bitch with this NSA shit. For fun. Brian will beg for mercy and pray for the good old days of the other Clinton administration.

    I don’t like Hillary but she’s my choice because she’ll will smack down the right wingers with a furious anger not possessed by any liberal male.

  54. 54
    DougJ says:

    What stage is John in today? It sounds a little 4ish with a touch of 1 to me

    I’ve revised my 5 stages of Republicans dealing with Bush grief so that it’s more generally applicable:

    Stage 1 — Denial (what about the secret meetings in Prague?)

    Stage 2 — Anger (They put a horse trainer in charge of FEMA?!)

    Stage 3 — Bargaining (If we survive the next 2 years, I’ll never vote for someone this stupid again, I promise)

    Stage 4 — Depression (the only that keeps me going now are my Lee Greenwood records and my “Red Dawn” DVD)

    Stage 5 — Acceptance (the moonbats are right — he really is the worst president ever!)

  55. 55
    ppGaz says:

    Step 6 — Gleeful (my blog traffic is way up)

  56. 56
    Brian says:

    Don’t you love it, John? You ask a direct question, and (with the exception of Mona) you get exactly what you said you didn’t want, even from your own blogging colleague. Fucking pathetic commentariat.

    Anyway, here’s a link. It’s the same source Mona linked to, but a more recent post, and from a strictly legal angle, so there’s lots of legalese. I’ll keep looking for some credible material from the military/spook establishment side of the equation.

  57. 57
    Brian says:

    Gleeful (my blog traffic is way up)

    From what I hear, it’s up 50 percent…..from 2 to 3.

  58. 58
    DougJ says:

    Stage 6—Gleeful (my blog traffic is way up)

    You may be right. Half the email I saw on CNN about the call tracing said some variant of “those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear”. Have I got my finger on the pulse of the wingnuts or what?

  59. 59
    DougJ says:

    From what I hear, it’s up 50 percent…..from 2 to 3.

    Is that page views or unique visitors?

  60. 60

    The Other Steve, the thing is, you have a few numbers that are known to belong to Bad People. You want to use this information to find other Bad People, so you analyze the network of calls originating from Bad Person #1. In this way you might be able to draw a chain all the way from Bad Person #1 to Big Boss, roping in the Henchmen in between.

    I’ve watched Columbo. Back in the 1970’s what they’d do is get a warrant, go to the phone company and say “Give us the phone records for Bad Person #1”

    Then Columbo would get this print out. And he’d show it to the Bad Person, and suddenly they’d confess to killing he heiress and stealing the fortune.

    So are we arguing that this NSA program is simply a way to streamline that? They’ve replicated the data, so they don’t have to go to the phone company every time they find a bad person?

    Why not just have the phone company give them a login ID to their system?

  61. 61
    Pooh says:

    Re: effectiveness

    Yglesias was all over this in December. Also the pros seem to agree.

  62. 62
    ppGaz says:

    Why not just have the phone company give them a login ID to their system?

    Anybody who watches ’24’ knows that they are already logging into the phone providers’ systems.

    C’mon, get real.

  63. 63
    JoeTx says:

    Tim F. Says:

    It is not a very complicated a story. The NSA asked major telecom operators for the complete records of every American’s phone calls, to which all bu one complied. Qwest asked the NSA to check with the FISA court to verify the request’s legality and the NSA refused. Qwest asked the NSA to provide a legal opinion from the DOJ and NSA refused that as well, so Qwest denied the request.

    Is there merit to this program? Maybe. I can see benefits to having call patterns stored in a database. I can see a situation were the NSA/CIA identify a terrorist or cell and have a phone number tied to those individuals and want to know who they have called in the past to try and decern a pattern and who is involved in the cell.

    BUT there is absolutely no checks and balances in place. THE NSA is allowing no oversite, no judicial review, no congressional oversite. IF they want to have this database, ok fine, BUT if they want to do ANY queries to that database, REQUIRE A COURT ORDER, or REQUIRE A FISA REVIEW, some type of check and balance. They WILL NOT DO THAT. Also even if this process was in place, there are NO guarantee’s that this information stays in the “lockbox” so to speak, no guarantee’s that some rogue agent doesn’t use this information for personal or political advantage.

    We can ALL AGREE that we want our government to have ALL the tools necessary to find people that want to do us harm. I think we can ALL AGREE that we want these programs to remain hidden to keep from tipping off those that want to do us harm from knowing how we are looking for them. BUT it is the way that Bush and company that have pursued this task that has caused those involved in the programs to speak out. The way in which these programs were carried out are illegal and unconstitutional. There are people who actually believe the oath they took to uphold the constitution MEANS SOMETHING.

    Whether you believe or not these programs have value is irrevelent, its because Bush refused to follow the laws as written and refused to seek ammendments to the law, and refused oversite from FISA and Congress that is the issue. If he would have done these things, then those that have leak the existence of these programs would not have had to have done so, because they would not have be breaking the law.

  64. 64

    Is that what they are looking for? Because the query they used was based on looking for calls to people named “Al.”

    Actually this reminds me of the story where some guy was asking why they hadn’t caught some crook yet. They’d had a warrant for his arrest for a long time, and when he asked he was told “We got no idea where he is”.

    So the guy goes to the phone book, looks… and there’s his name, number and address.

    This example led to the Federal Marshall round-up program, where’d they would go out and nab a thousand or so of these guys with outstanding warrants who were actually pretty easy to find, just nobody went looking.

    Which begs the question.

    Has anybody looked for ‘Osama Bin Laden’ int he phone book? Maybe call directory assistance?

  65. 65
    DougJ says:

    Is there a way we could send electrical shocks to evil doers’ cell phones to torture them remotely? They do that on “24” sometimes so it must be doable.

  66. 66
    Steve says:

    John: So if any of you have factual links, and not links to hysterical reactions on both sides of the aisle, it would be much appreciated.

    Brian: Don’t you love it, John? You ask a direct question, and (with the exception of Mona) you get exactly what you said you didn’t want, even from your own blogging colleague. Fucking pathetic commentariat.

    Yet there is not a single link, anywhere in this thread, to any kind of partisan reaction, let alone a “hysterical” one.

    Isn’t Brian adorable?

  67. 67
    DougJ says:

    Has anybody looked for ‘Osama Bin Laden’ int he phone book? Maybe call directory assistance?

    Nice going, Steve. You can bet he just changed to an unlisted number now. Way to help help the war on terror.

  68. 68

    Anybody who watches ‘24’ knows that they are already logging into the phone providers’ systems.

    C’mon, get real.

    Have you noticed how quiet the wingnuts got about 24, when the Republican President in the show turned out to be the bad guy?

    :-)

  69. 69
    Brian says:

    I’ve watched Columbo.

    Anybody who watches ‘24’ knows

    waiting for Tom Clancy’s new novel to explain to me

    turn over the Judicial Branch to Judge Judy

    You guys make me weep for this country. Have you been watching your fantasy administrations (“West Wing”) for so long that you now don’t know the difference?

    Thank goodness some of us still have our hand on the stick so we don’t fly this ship into the ground.

  70. 70
    ppGaz says:

    Has anybody looked for ‘Osama Bin Laden’ int he phone book? Maybe call directory assistance?

    I think they at least ought to send him a registered letter, stating that he has won some virgins, and that he needs to present himself to a kiosk in Times Square to pick up his prize.

    They catch deadbeat dads and bail jumpers this way, surely they can catch a fundamentalist raghead this way.

    Okay, for the deadbeat dads they use a $10k Prepaid Master Card as the bait, but it’s the same principle.

  71. 71
    LITBMueller says:

    John, check out William Arken’s latest blog on the NSA program(s):

    …And this NSA dominated program of ingestion, digestion, and distribution of potential intelligence raises profound questions about the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans.

    Although there is no evidence that the harvesting programs have been involved in illegal activity or have been abused to reach into the lives of innocent Americans, their sheer scope, the number of “transactions” being tracked, raises questions as to whether an all-seeing domestic surveillance system isn’t slowly being established, one that in just a few years time will be able to reveal the interactions of any targeted individual in near real time.

  72. 72
    Pooh says:

    JoeTx, precisesly.

    John, enter Marty Lederman. Warning, dense law-like substance behind that link.

  73. 73
    tBone says:

    Nice going, Steve. You can bet he just changed to an unlisted number now. Way to help help the war on terror.

    I’m sure he already had an unlisted number thanks to his friends at Al Q’westa.

  74. 74
    Perry Como says:

    Did anyone else notice yesterday when President Bush said the government doesn’t troll? How does he explain Frist?

  75. 75
    ppGaz says:

    Heh.

    1) Take your hand out of your pocket and let go of that stick, or you’ll go blind. Didn’t your mother warn you?

    2) I guarantee you I have more flying time than you do, unless you’re an airline pilot for ten years or more.

  76. 76
    Punchy says:

    Anybody who watches ‘24’ knows that they are already logging into the phone providers’ systems.

    And anyone that’s seen “Get Smart” knows that shoe phones aren’t traceable. So I’m moving to Nike’s new product, “Air Time”, which should foil the NSA until they bug the laces…

  77. 77
    DougJ says:

    I thought this joke about finding Osama was funny…

    How do you find Osama bin Laden?

    Send a million dollar pledge into the development office at Yale and leave the address blank.

  78. 78
    Brian says:

    Yet there is not a single link, anywhere in this thread, to any kind of partisan reaction, let alone a “hysterical” one.

    Oh really? Not ONE? How about your own comment on this very thread at 9:48am? ThinkProgress is not hysterical? Now THAT’s hysterical.

    Next!

  79. 79
    tBone says:

    Thank goodness some of us still have our hand on the stick so we don’t fly this ship into the ground.

    Yes, thank God. Brian is the Starbuck of Balloon Juice.

  80. 80
    DougJ says:

    Have you guys seen the Usual Suspects? Do you think that Osama might be a Keyser Soze type, just a regular looking guy who walks among us, coming and going as he pleases, toying with dim-witted Chaz Palmiteri-like policemen? Wouldn’t we need an extensive surveillance program to catch a guy like that?

  81. 81
    ppGaz says:

    And anyone that’s seen “Get Smart” knows that shoe phones aren’t traceable.

    Exactly, and do we think that Al Maviva Qaeda doesn’t know how to use the Cone of Silence?

  82. 82
    DougJ says:

    Thank goodness some of us still have our hand on the stick

    I’m pretty sure Brian does have his (cheetoh-stained) hand on the stick.

  83. 83
    Brian says:

    I’m voting for this guy in 2008. He at least has a handle on the energy crisis.

  84. 84
    tBone says:

    Speaking of Battlestar Galactica, I bet Commander Adama has every one of those funky 1970s-era phones bugged. How come I never hear any of you moonbats complaining about that?

  85. 85
    Pooh says:

    You guys make me weep for this country.

    Funny, it’s your boys in charge who have that affect on me.

  86. 86
    ppGaz says:

    I’m pretty sure Brian does have his (cheetoh-stained) hand on the stick.

    The danger with Brain is that he might try to get his hand on your stick.

    If you get my drift, which I am sure that you do.

  87. 87
    DougJ says:

    The danger with Brain is that he might try to get his hand on your stick.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that — unless you don’t want cheetohs-stains down there.

  88. 88
    tBone says:

    The danger with Brain is that he might try to get his hand on your stick.

    No wonder Darrell won’t go camping with Brian.

  89. 89
    Pooh says:

    ppgaz,

    Boo.

  90. 90
    ppGaz says:

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that

    Yeaaaaaah, you might want to go back and review the relevant Seinfeld episodes. See, the “not that there’s anything wrong with that” was always other-directed.

    It wasn’t an invitation to the nearest gay caballero.

    I’m just saying, watch your six.

  91. 91
    ppGaz says:

    Boo.

    You didn’t scare me!

    Try the smashed-paper-bag pop next time.

  92. 92
    Brian says:

    unless you don’t want cheetohs-stains down there.

    I happen to eat Flaming Hot Cheetohs. Provides an extra-special kick, if you know what I mean.

    Fair warning.

  93. 93
    ppGaz says:

    I happen to eat Flaming Hot Cheetohs. Provides an extra-special kick, if you know what I mean.

    Oh no, the Red Hot Chili Pepper Hand Job!

    Zoweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  94. 94
    tBone says:

    No more talk about Brian’s flaming hot cheetoh. It’s close to lunchtime.

  95. 95
    Brian says:

    Red Hot Chili Pepper Hand Job

    Kalifornication

  96. 96
    DougJ says:

    I happen to eat Flaming Hot Cheetohs. Provides an extra-special kick, if you know what I mean.

    Solid reply, Brian. Sometimes it makes me sad that you’re a Republican.

  97. 97
    Brian says:

    Sometimes it makes me sad that you’re a Republican

    Me too.

  98. 98
    ppGaz says:

    Just stay away from Brian when he’s been eating barbecqued ribs.

  99. 99

    You guys make me weep for this country. Have you been watching your fantasy administrations (“West Wing”) for so long that you now don’t know the difference?

    BWAAAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

    It’s incredible how much you complain when we’re pretending to be Republicans.

  100. 100
    Steve says:

    Oh really? Not ONE? How about your own comment on this very thread at 9:48am? ThinkProgress is not hysterical? Now THAT’s hysterical.

    Uh, you’re the one that’s sounding a bit hysterical, friend. ThinkProgress provided an analysis of the exact same statute that every other lawblogger is talking about.

    I’d challenge you to find one false and/or hysterical statement in the ThinkProgress post. It’s a simple statutory analysis.

  101. 101
    Tim F. says:

    You ask a direct question, and (with the exception of Mona) you get exactly what you said you didn’t want, even from your own blogging colleague.

    Moronic. I stated the facts as reported in USA Today and confirmed by Trent Lott and labeled rumor as rumor. Nobody, not you or Glenn Greenwald or Orin Kerr, has more information than that as of right now so that is literally the only suitable answer to his question. Since I and others have already linked to the original article yet another link would be superfluous. This would count as the dumbest ginned-up outrage ever if Darrell hadn’t claimed the prize only yesterday.

  102. 102
    Krista says:

    Sometimes it makes me sad that you’re a Republican

    Me too.

    Damn, Brian. Just when I completely write you off, this sly little sense of humour comes out to play. Is this your Friday gift to us?

  103. 103
    Pharniel says:

    re-24: i thought the same thing
    when it was ‘leaks are bad and evvvvvile’ and ’24 is awesum’ and then..oh look, there’s our belov’d hero doing exactly what they said was always wrong…hah

  104. 104
    Bone-In RibEye says:

    The guys who brought us Watergate (what was that about again?) are now gathering the phone records of every american citizen. I’m sure it will only be used to fight terrorism even though its probably the least efficient or effective way of fighting terrorism.

  105. 105
    Tim F. says:

    Unless somebody wants to call USA Today a hysterical partisan website, here is another answer to John’s question:

    The U.S. government’s secret collection of Americans’ phone records may not breach the Fourth Amendment’s privacy guarantee, legal analysts said Thursday, but it could violate federal surveillance and telecommunication laws.

    More broadly, USA TODAY’s report about the National Security Agency’s deal with three major phone companies fed a debate over whether the Bush administration is going too far — and setting dangerous precedents — in trying to protect the nation from terrorism.

    “This may well be another example where the Bush administration, in secret, decided to bypass the courts and contravene federal law,” said Georgetown University law professor David Cole.

  106. 106
    Tim F. says:

    The link which is broken in my comment above.

  107. 107
    Brian says:

    Is this your Friday gift to us?

    No, just a timely response to Doug’s post. I’m not the flaming hot wingnut you think I am.

    ….said Georgetown University law professor David Cole.

    Conflict of interest, Tim. He’s related to John Cole.

  108. 108
    slickdpdx says:

    For a good analysis of why you would need “non-terrorist” call data for this database see Probabilities and the NSA Call Data Base at OTB.

    Basically, in order to train a spam filter (or in this case a terror filter) you need to be able to create rules ditinguishing “spam” (junk email, terror communications) from “ham” (legitimate email, non terror-communications). For that you need a lot of “ham” data too.

  109. 109
  110. 110
    Mr Furious says:

    Brian: Have you been watching your fantasy administrations (“West Wing”) for so long…

    No, more like living with my nightmare Administration in real life, Bri.

  111. 111
    KC says:

    I think the WPost poll was about as lame as you get, but that’s what people on cable will throw around. I mean, telephone sample of 502 adults with questions worded in who-knows-what-way is not anything to base any great opinions on. I for one believe in privacy and think the government should either have to get my permission or get a warrant before getting my information. It’s that simple.

  112. 112
    Brian says:

    more like living with my nightmare Administration in real life

    Heh

  113. 113
    KC says:

    For the record: I just find it amazing at how much conservatives, the “small government” people, love big government.

  114. 114
    Davebo says:

    Off topic but…

    Feds raid Foggo’s house… Conflict with Negroponte my ass…

  115. 115
    searp says:

    Only government weenies would decide that the most important pool of potential bad guys are… the people they are sworn to protect! Why do things this way? It is easy. First, we classify it so that nobody knows about it. Then we get to spend a kajillion dollars having fun with phone records. Best of all, we get to pretend that we’re Defending America!

    Shit, we don’t have, say, Syrian phone records, so we will just make do with the ones we get from AT&T. We’re pretty sure, based on our super-secret sources, that there may be up to 50 bad guys in the country somewhere. They are hard to find, because to find them we’d have to think, and investigate, and do all that crap that police have to do. Better just have phone record fun and then send the crap to the police. We get the money, we get the computers, and the police get to visit Pizza Huts! Perfect.

  116. 116
    VidaLoca says:

    Davebo,

    From the article you linked:

    The agents refused to answer other questions about the raid, including what agencies were involved.

    What “agents”? Were they there for the purposes of advancing the criminal investigation — or were they there to get the evidence out of the place before the investigation could get to it?

    [/tinfoil hat]

  117. 117
    Andrew says:

    Look, it’s just laws that were broken, right? The Constitution clearly gives the President Constitutional retroactive signing statement authority to ignore laws that conflict with the Constitution.

  118. 118
    Davebo says:

    Vida,

    This offers more details. Not only his home but his office at Langley. Also lists FBI, CIA Inspector General, IRS and Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

    Seems everybody is picking on poor Dusty.

  119. 119
    Perry Como says:

    Seems everybody is picking on poor Dusty.

    It’s just another partisan withchunt. Besides, it’s all inside the beltway stuff. No one really cares if the #3 guy at the CIA was taking bribers.

  120. 120
    neil says:

    You guys make me weep for this country. Have you been watching your fantasy administrations (“West Wing”) for so long that you now don’t know the difference?

    I thought they were all making fun of Sherard, who explained to us that Americans approve of this program because it reminds them of Numb3rs. (Except The Other Steve, who was making fun of Tom Clancy.)

  121. 121
    Krista says:

    I’m not the flaming hot wingnut you think I am.

    Au contraire, not once have I thought you were flaming or hot. :)

  122. 122
    PeterJ says:

    Shepard said:

    BTW, an overnight ABC poll found 66% of Americans, get this, approving of this program.

    From ABC:

    METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone May 11, 2006, among a random national sample of 502 adults.

    A poll by phone asking people what they think about the government collecting information about who they are talking with over the phone…

    Probably time to end every phone call with the Pledge of Allegiance, you never know who is listening…

    Oh, and the EU is giving access to their phone logs to US authorities.

    http://euobserver.com/9/21580

    I wonder what they got in return…

  123. 123
    chopper says:

    Thank goodness some of us still have our hand on the stick so we don’t fly this ship into the ground.

    that’s the funniest thing i’ve read all day. it’s like some unholy combination of naive denial and projection.

  124. 124

    You know I was thinking. What’s the big deal anyhow with all these criminal charges and indictments?

    Bush is just going to pardon all of them anyhow when he leaves office, just like his pappy did.

  125. 125
    Unersee says:

    The issue is not whether it is leagal or not. The issue is who had access. CIA and who else? Plame and Al Quaeda?

    I think electrical shocks are doable, but there are two things you should know: 1-your phone can be in it’s cradle and they can hear everything at the phone company 2-Use a paper clip on the pay phone transmitter(the bottom part of the handle) and the place where they put the key to access the coins on the phone. The paper clip sends an electrical current and you should get a dial tone. Yes, they started putting plastic over the transmitter, but it may still work.

    A wingnut is someone from the seventies who turned into a conservative person as they got older.

  126. 126
    Brian says:

    Au contraire, not once have I thought you were flaming or hot.

    If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that from a lady.

  127. 127
    Tim F. says:

    Conflict of interest, Tim. He’s related to John Cole.

    If he’s also related to John Cole this entire site may disappear into a vortex of conflicted interest. Then again he might be related to the battleship Cole in which case he would really hate terrorists. Or he could be related to Cole slaw and go really well with grilled kielbasa. You never know about these things.

  128. 128
    Darrell says:

    KC Says:

    For the record: I just find it amazing at how much conservatives, the “small government” people, love big government.

    KC, we don’t think govt should be handing out billions in agricultural subsidies nor should it be permitting people to stay on welfare for years on end.. but we do believe that one of the few things the govt should do is to protect us from foreign enemies, including the control of our borders. Reasonable expenses in those areas do not make one a “big government” lover.

    I hope this clears things up for you, as you’re undoubtedly congratulating yourself on pointing out this glaring example of conservative ‘hypocrisy’

  129. 129
    neil says:

    there are two things you should know: 1-your phone can be in it’s cradle and they can hear everything at the phone company

    Hah! I’m surprised I never heard this before, it sounds so plausible. Sounds, but isn’t.

    Much more plausible: Everyone’s refrigerator has a hidden mike in it. The data is sent back over the power lines.

  130. 130
    Mr Furious says:

    Flaming, maybe…

    :-)

  131. 131
    Brian says:

    Or he could be related to Cole slaw and go really well with grilled kielbasa. You never know about these things.

    I wonder if he’s related to Cole-Haan. I’d like to get a discount on some shoes.

  132. 132
    Darrell says:

    I stated the facts as reported in USA Today and confirmed by Trent Lott

    What important ‘facts’ did Lott “confirm”? According to the Bloomberg article, all he did was make a couple of very general, non-specific comments that the NSA program was legal

  133. 133
    Pb says:

    Pooh,

    Yep, that’s the angle the media hasn’t quite seemed to grasp yet–what’s the false positive rate? Add that into the survey questions, and see how Americans respond; I suggest asking them this question:

    Would you support this program if, for every potential terrorist found, 499 other regular Americans were also investigated (if not incarcerated) as suspected terrorists, potentially having their civil liberties suspended for the duration, which could take years?

  134. 134
    Pooh says:

    Darrell Says:

    [Something or other]

    The Senator’s fax-machine has spoken, step right up and get your talking points here, kids!

  135. 135
    Krista says:

    I wonder if he’s related to Cole-Haan. I’d like to get a discount on some shoes.

    Or King Cole, maybe? That’d be nice, to have royal connections AND free tea.

  136. 136
    JoeTx says:

    nor should it be permitting people to stay on welfare for years on end..

    If I had a choice, I’d rather spend millions on welfare for the poor, than billions on corporate and defence contractors welfare. Honestly Darrell, what is the difference?

    Darrell, why don’t you tell us about the conservative principle of “States Rights”, Bush has pretty much gutted that one too.

    It is painfully obvious that the current crop of republicans do not govern for the good of the nation. They only govern for the power and enrichment that comes from holding office. Its not about what is in the best interests of the Country, its about what is in the best interest of their “party”.

    Here is a recent quote about Bob Ney that sums up their mindset.

    “If the Democrats are going to use the indictment against him, and his polling numbers plummet, and we’re in danger of losing the seat, then he should absolutely step down for the good of the party,” said a Republican leadership aide

    Its not about whats good for the country, only whats best for the party. Hiel Hitler!

  137. 137
    Pooh says:

    PB,

    It’s interesting how these things track across issues – pick a WoT issue and you can make a compelling ‘not only is it wrong/illegal, but it’s also tactically/strategically stupid’

    Torture? Check
    Wiretapping? Check
    Bombing Iran? Check
    Plame? Check
    Pick an aspect of the handling of Iraq? Check

    and so it goes.

  138. 138
    Pooh says:

    erm, ‘argument’ you can make a compelling argument for such things.

  139. 139
    chopper says:

    If I had a choice, I’d rather spend millions on welfare for the poor, than billions on corporate and defence contractors welfare. Honestly Darrell, what is the difference?

    remember, the right wing couldn’t care less about american citizens. iraqis, on the other hand, they just adore them. half a trillion dollars for a war that might in the long run make iraqi’s lives better (who knows), that’s way cool; tens of billions to keep the elderly from eating cat food or hobos from starving in the street, that’s communism.

    tax money to shore up schools and improve the lives of kids in the US? preposterous. that money could be far better spent on iraqis, the people that really matter.

  140. 140
    ppGaz says:

    Reasonable expenses in those areas do not make one a “big government” lover.

    How about having government try to co-opt the definition of marriage, taking it away from the churches, where it came from, and trying to write sexual preference discrimination into the Constitution?

    Is that an example of “big government?”

    How about blurring the distinctions between church and state? “Faith-based” public programs? Big government?

    How about midnight Sunday sessions of Congress to interfere with tragic medical cases? Big government?

    Circumvention of laws designed to prevent abuse of surveillance, instead of working with Congress to reform the laws if necessary …. consolidation of executive power. Big government?

    Refusal to veto a spending bill in over 5 years, and raising spending at the greatest rate since the 1960’s …. big government?

    Slashing taxes while winking at profligate spending and earmarks, and saddling Americans with mountains of new federal debt … big government?

    Arranging for more and more K-Street government, intrusion by moneyed and corporate interests …. big government?

    Conservatives are now the demographic abandoning this president with their approval at the fastest rate. Why? Are they tired of more and more lip service to conservative principles while pumping up an already too-big government?

    Don’t answer, Darrell. Everybody knows the answers, and nobody cares about yours anyway.

  141. 141
    Steve says:

    Yes, because when Bush supporters say they care about the welfare of Iraqis, they really mean it, of course. It couldn’t just be a rhetorical club to whack the Left with, like “you wish Saddam and his rape rooms were still around, you must hate Iraqis!”

    For some reason, these guys are so compassionate and caring that they will spend billions to liberate Iraqis and build them a peaceful society… yet, for some reason, it’s not worth a few thousand bucks to send a Mexican’s kid to school. Why is that? I thought they CARED about making people’s lives better.

  142. 142
    Darrell says:

    JoeTx wrote:

    Its not about whats good for the country, only whats best for the party. Hiel Hitler!

    yeah, yeah, every good lefty knows “Bush=Hitler”. We saw all the signs at your protest marches

  143. 143
    Darrell says:

    Yes, because when Bush supporters say they care about the welfare of Iraqis, they really mean it, of course. It couldn’t just be a rhetorical club to whack the Left with, like “you wish Saddam and his rape rooms were still around, you must hate Iraqis!”

    Kind of like when the left runs around screaming that our troops are using “chemical weapons” to undermine the war effort, when they ‘discover’ our troops have been using White Phosphorous

  144. 144
    Brian says:

    Or King Cole, maybe?

    Cole Porter? Nah.

    Kenneth Cole? Krista can get a new handbag.

  145. 145
    Pooh says:

    Damnit Joe, all you do when you say crap like this is give the Senator a hole to weasel out of making a cogent defense (not that he would mount such a defense based on extant evidence, but why sprinkle the ground with the Godwin pellets that Jackalopes find so irresitable?)

  146. 146
    Steve says:

    Kind of like when the left runs around screaming that our troops are using “chemical weapons” to undermine the war effort, when they ‘discover’ our troops have been using White Phosphorous

    Kinda like when the right runs around screaming that al-Qerry wants to be more sensitive to the terrorists, and that liberals should all be stuffed and mounted in museums… I’m sorry, your point was?

  147. 147
    Pb says:

    chopper,

    remember, the right wing couldn’t care less about american citizens. iraqis, on the other hand, they just adore them. half a trillion dollars for a war that might in the long run make iraqi’s lives better

    Don’t tell Bill Frist, but half a trillion dollars is more than Americans spend on gas in an entire year, period, even now–instead of jacking up the price of oil by ruining Iraq, we all could have had free gas for a year, worth way more than some lame-ass $100 ‘rebate’! (~43x more)

  148. 148
    Perry Como says:

    $10 trillion, bitches. Small government Republicans in action.

  149. 149
    Darrell says:

    Circumvention of laws designed to prevent abuse of surveillance, instead of working with Congress to reform the laws if necessary

    It hasn’t been demonstrated that the Bush administration was “circumventing” the law with the NSA program.. As for working with Congress to reform the laws, if your side was serious about such abuse of surveillance, they would have reacted initially something like this: “Mr. President, we’re all for giving you the tools you need to hunt terrorists, but we’re concerned about potential abuses, and we want to work on increasing oversight to help prevent any such abuses”

    Of course that’s not what happened. Right out of the gate, Dems started screaming how Bush was ‘shredding’ the constitution with his ‘illegal’ program, etc, etc. Dems cannot be trusted with national security. Their initial reactions to the leaked details of the NSA program demonstrates why

  150. 150
    slickdpdx says:

    Someone expressed a concern about “false positives”: setting aside the debate about lawfulness and public policy, that concern is addressed by collecting as much data as possible so that your screen is as finely tuned and trained as it can be. So while more data means more information that receives the next level of attention in the continuum, whatever that might be, more data also means higher accuracy in what information receives that next level of attention.

  151. 151
    Pb says:

    Darrell,

    every good lefty knows “Bush=Hitler”

    Please. Bush and Hitler are totally different. For example, Hitler thought he needed parliamentary approval to seize power, wheareas Bush knows that he can just totally ignore Congress instead. Also, Hitler actually served in the military, and saw combat. Hitler did like dogs, though.

  152. 152
    ppGaz says:

    It hasn’t been demonstrated that the Bush administration was “circumventing” the law with the NSA program

    To whom has it not been demonstrated?

    Are you arguing that FISA has been followed?

  153. 153
    scalefree says:

    John, here’s a good discussion of whether the program is a good idea or not from a technical perspective. Valdis Krebs is definitely one of the top guys in the field & knows what he’s talking about (IMO FWIW).

    http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002399.html

  154. 154
    Darrell says:

    Are you arguing that FISA has been followed?

    No, I’m arguing that FISA doesn’t necessarily have a say in telling Bush how to monitor suspected foreign enemies overseas

  155. 155
    ppGaz says:

    I asked you 8 questions, Darrell. Why did you only respond to one of them?

  156. 156
    Pb says:

    Darrell,

    if your side was serious about such abuse of surveillance, they would have reacted initially something like this: “Mr. President, we’re all for giving you the tools you need to hunt terrorists, but we’re concerned about potential abuses, and we want to work on increasing oversight to help prevent any such abuses”

    Which was, you know, precisely what happened, quite some time ago.

    Right out of the gate, Dems started screaming

    If you were serious, period, maybe you’d get your facts straight once in a while. Or, you know, once. Now I’m not your nana, so I’m not going to be there to go straightening up behind you all the time. Sooner or later you’ll have to learn how to do it all by yourself.

  157. 157
    Darrell says:

    Kinda like when the right runs around screaming that al-Qerry wants to be more sensitive to the terrorists

    Actually, it was Kerry himself who said he wanted to fight a more “sensitive” war on terror. I hope this new information helps

  158. 158
    Perry Como says:

    FISA doesn’t necessarily have a say in telling Bush how to monitor suspected foreign enemies overseas

    What about monitoring domestic communications? You know, like collecting a massive database of when and where all domestic calls went?

  159. 159
    Steve says:

    Darrell Says:

    As for working with Congress to reform the laws, if your side was serious about such abuse of surveillance, they would have reacted initially something like this: “Mr. President, we’re all for giving you the tools you need to hunt terrorists, but we’re concerned about potential abuses, and we want to work on increasing oversight to help prevent any such abuses”

    Of course that’s not what happened. Right out of the gate, Dems started screaming how Bush was ‘shredding’ the constitution with his ‘illegal’ program, etc, etc.

    As always, Darrell manages merely to spoof himself.

    KERRY: [Karl Rove]’s trying to pretend is somehow Democrats don’t want to eavesdrop appropriately to protect the country. That’s a lie.

    We’re prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer. But we put a procedure in place to protect the constitutional rights of Americans. And what I believe, George, and I believe it deeply, is you can protect the United States of America without devoiding, without ignoring the Constitution of the country.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: But intelligence officials, and I’ve spoken to some of them, say it’s just not practical. You can’t run this kind of a detection program through the current FISA court.

    KERRY: Then come to us and tell us how you can do it so that you need some more blanket form of doing it. There is a way to protect the Constitution and not go off on your own and violate it. That’s the simple bottom line here.

    I could find you DOZENS of quotes from elected Democrats just like this. We support the idea of surveillance, but don’t violate the law, come and tell us what tools you need so Congress can give them to you. You can find exceptions, but THIS was the party line.

    Can you find diarists at Daily Kos who said Bush is shredding the Constitution? Absolutely. Did the majority of elected Democrats say exactly what Darrell claims “responsible Democrats” would say? You bet.

  160. 160
    Steve says:

    Actually, it was Kerry himself who said he wanted to fight a more “sensitive” war on terror. I hope this new information helps

    Actually, saying you want to fight a more “sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations” is quite different from saying you want to be “more sensitive to the terrorists.” I hope this new information about the English language helps.

  161. 161
    tBone says:

    Actually, it was Kerry himself who said he wanted to fight a more “sensitive” war on terror. I hope this new information helps

    Yeah, face it, lefties: John Kerry wanted to provide mandatory back rubs, expensive chocolates, roses, and scented candles for terrorists.

    That’s the only fair, honest, accurate, and completely in-context reading of the remarks that Darrell linked to, and you’ll admit it unless you’re a dishonest moonbat.

  162. 162
    tBone says:

    Actually, it was Kerry himself who said he wanted to fight a more “sensitive” war on terror. I hope this new information helps

    Yeah, face it, lefties: John Kerry wanted to provide mandatory back rubs, expensive chocolates, roses, and scented candles for terrorists.

    That’s the only fair, honest, accurate, and completely in-context reading of the remarks that Darrell linked to, and you’ll admit it unless you’re a dishonest moonbat.

  163. 163
    tBone says:

    Sorry for the double post. The site seems to be acting up.

    Also: Steve, why do you hate America and love terrorists?

  164. 164
    Krista says:

    Kenneth Cole? Krista can get a new handbag

    Best idea I’ve heard all day. I wonder if Kenneth Cole has a blog…hmmmm…

  165. 165
    Darrell says:

    Actually, saying you want to fight a more “sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations” is quite different from saying you want to be “more sensitive to the terrorists

    Nothing sends a strong message to Al Queda terrorists that we mean business like announcing that you want to fight a more “thoughtful”, more “sensitive” war on terror.

  166. 166
    ppGaz says:

    Nothing sends a strong message to Al Queda terrorists that we mean business

    We “mean business?” You mean, like attacking a country that had nothing to do with 911 sends a message that we “mean business?”

    You are totally full of shit.

  167. 167
    JoeTx says:

    Bush=Hitler, not exactly, but I’d lean more toward the parallel to Fascism. How many of these 14 points of Fascism are occurring today?

    Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
    — Jose Padilla, Abu Garab, Gitmo, rendition flights?

    Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities ie. Muslims; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists
    — Gays, Al Qaeda, Zarqawi, Bin Ladin, etc.

    Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. 400 Billion a year Military budget, indiference to military contractor fraud.

    Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
    — Anti-gay marriage ballot inititives, stalling on Plan B over the counter availability despite medical recommendations. Plans to overturn Roe v Wade

    Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

    — “Embedded reporters”, and FOX

    Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

    — Homeland security colored warning chart, countless references to 9/11 and using 9/11 for every justification when taking away our liberties..

    Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

    — Bush’s constant religious phrasology, faith-based initiatives

    Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

    — Putting industry heads, industry lawyers in charge of Departments that have oversite over said industries. Examples too numerious to mention

    Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

    — Bush restricts Davis/Bacon act after Katrina, Labor Unions are vilified

    Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

    — Numerous education budget cuts, overrule and sensor scientist regarding energy and environment reports, etc.

    Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

    — Department of Homeland Security, National DCI

    Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

    — It would probably be easier to list current republicans who are NOT being investigated, or under indictment, or in jail..

    Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

    — Supreme Court discision in 2000 Gore v Bush, Diebold Voting Machines (“We’ll deliver votes for Bush”)

  168. 168

    Nothing sends a strong message to Al Queda terrorists that we mean business like announcing that you want to fight a more “thoughtful”, more “sensitive” war on terror.

    Right, because it’s far more effective to fight a half-assed, stupid war on terror.

  169. 169

    We should be doing more of the unexpected, to help keep the Terrorists off guard.

    For instance, they would never expect us to invade Portugal!

    Or Poland. We must not forget Poland!

  170. 170
    Perry Como says:

    Daaaaamn. Scarborough and Gingrich speaking out against the NSA spying. Why do they America and want to give Osama a massage with a happy ending?

  171. 171
    tBone says:

    Nothing sends a strong message to Al Queda terrorists that we mean business like announcing that you want to fight a more “thoughtful”, more “sensitive” war on terror.

    If the Left was in charge, “sending a strong message” would entail flowery greeting cards politely asking Al-Queda not to blow up any more of our buildings. And all of the i’s would be dotted with hearts.

    I heard that John Kerry personally sent a gift basket to Osama when he heard about his kidney troubles.

  172. 172
    Darrell says:

    You can find exceptions, but THIS was the party line.

    I recall a lot of talk demanding Bush’s impeachment over th NSA program.. Ted Kennedy screaming how it was an example of big brother running ‘amok’, Senator Feingold demanding Bush be ‘censured’.. and upping the ante claiming the NSA program was an ‘impeachable offense’.. a sentiment shared by Dick Durbin

    But if you what to claim that one quote by Kerry was THE party line at the time..

  173. 173
    RSA says:

    Someone expressed a concern about “false positives”: setting aside the debate about lawfulness and public policy, that concern is addressed by collecting as much data as possible so that your screen is as finely tuned and trained as it can be. So while more data means more information that receives the next level of attention in the continuum, whatever that might be, more data also means higher accuracy in what information receives that next level of attention.

    Not quite. False positives are commonly discussed in terms of rates; i.e., they’re given independent of the size of the dataset being processed. For example, say I collect around a thousand records, none of which are actual hits, and flag 1000 of them correctly as negatives, and 5 of them incorrectly as hits, for a 0.005 false positive rate. If collecting a hundred thousand records reduces my false positive rate to, say, 0.001, yeah, that’s great, but then we’re talking about a much larger number of false positives in absolute terms. (For statisticians et al., please excuse the sloppy terminology above.)

  174. 174
    Darrell says:

    If the Left was in charge, “sending a strong message” would entail flowery greeting cards politely asking Al-Queda not to blow up any more of our buildings

    Well, you are talking about the same Left which went running around screaming how our troops were ‘violating’ the Geneva convention using ‘chemical weapons’ when they learned that white phosphorous had been used in combat

  175. 175
    Maxwell says:

    Does anyone believe that President Bush had knowledge of this program before yesterday? Probably not, or he wouldn’t have made some of his earlier (now inoperative)statements about NSA telephone monitoring.

  176. 176
    Darrell says:

    JoeTx, thanks for that ever so informative post. If you would have just made your argument just 6 paragraphs longer, you could have convinced me

  177. 177
    tBone says:

    upping the ante claiming the NSA program was an ‘impeachable offense’.. a sentiment shared by Dick Durbin

    Durbin:

    DURBIN: No, sir. What I’m saying is that we need an investigation. We have a responsibility to ask the hard questions, to find out what the nature of the program is and whether the president violated the law.

    You want to move it to some extreme. I can understand that’s what happens on these Sunday morning talk shows. I’m not going there. But I do know that as a member of the Senate, we all have a responsibility to hold every president accountable.

    If this president has broken the law, if he has violated the constitution, that is a very serious charge.

    Do you understand the meaning of the word “if,” Darrell?

  178. 178
    Pooh says:

    Slick, I largely agree with RSA – the increase in data only serves to decrease the false positives IF the increased data coincides with a accuracy-increasing refinement of whatever sorting algorythm is being used.

  179. 179
    Darrell says:

    Do you understand the meaning of the word “if,” Darrell?

    Yes I do. Do you understand the meaning of unhinged Leftists?

    Chris Wallace: “So You’re Saying Impeachment Is A Possibility?”

    Sen. Dick Durbin: “I’m Not Ruling It In Or Out At This Point In Time.”

    Fox News, “Fox News Sunday,” 3/19/06

  180. 180
    Perry Como says:

    Dammit. Now we are going to be invaded by Canadian tourists looking for cheap US goods.

  181. 181

    All I have to say is that the ABC poll is pure bullshit.

  182. 182
    tBone says:

    Christ, Darrell. You said:

    upping the ante claiming the NSA program was an ‘impeachable offense’.. a sentiment shared by Dick Durbin

    How does Durbin saying “I’m not ruling it in or out at this point in time” equate to “Durbin shares the sentiment that the NSA program is an impeachable offense”?

  183. 183
    ppGaz says:

    Is it my imagination, or is this website crashing a lot lately?

    Today has seemed especially bad.

  184. 184
    Pooh says:

    Do you understand the meaning of the word “if,” Darrell?

    Yes I do. Do you understand the meaning of unhinged Leftists?

    ZING! No really, your best effort yet! PoTD (short bus edition)!

  185. 185
    tBone says:

    Dammit. Now we are going to be invaded by Canadian tourists looking for cheap US goods.

    How long until there are massive demonstrations in major US cities where maple leaves outnumber the American flag?

    I fear it’s only a matter of time before they outnumber us and we’re all speaking Canadian.

  186. 186
    Perry Como says:

    I fear it’s only a matter of time before they outnumber us and we’re all speaking Canadian.

    Eh?

  187. 187
    Darrell says:

    ZING! No really, your best effort yet! PoTD (short bus edition)!

    Ouch! Quick, get me some ice to put on my smackdown injuries from Pooh’s clever rejoinder

  188. 188
    tBone says:

    Is it my imagination, or is this website crashing a lot lately?

    Today has seemed especially bad.

    Not just you – it’s been touchy today.

  189. 189
    Darrell says:

    Is it my imagination, or is this website crashing a lot lately?

    I had the same trouble about 20 minutes ago

  190. 190
    tBone says:

    Eh?

    You hoser.

  191. 191
    slickdpdx says:

    I think its the RATE of false positives we should be most concerned with, lawfulness and other policy issues aside, not the absolute number of false positives. Also, you’ve got to put the “false positives” in context. I don’t know what the next level of scrutinty applied to the data or pursued based on the data would even be, but it may be marginal. If we have a process that weeds and weeds and weeds before we get to a noxious level of intrusion, it may be less offensive.

    Anyhow, the bottom line is, the spam filter won’t work effectively without lots of ham.

  192. 192
    ppGaz says:

    I had the same trouble about 20 minutes ago

    It’s those damned gummint snoopers!

  193. 193

    Wow. Holy shit.

    I think I actually like Joe Scarbourgh…

  194. 194
    Pooh says:

    Slick, no it is absolutely the NUMBER of false positives – considering that by any reasonable estimate the number of non-terrorist dwarfs the number of terrorists, any non-negligible rate of false positives is going to turn up a ton of innocents. And adding more data doesn’t help that much.

    Consider as an example:

    Suppose we had a group of 1,000 people we were interested in monitoring and 900 of them are terrorists. The program will correctly itentify 810 terrorists as terrorists. 10 terrorists will evade its clutches. Out of the 100 non-terrorists, 90 will be correctly identified as innocent, and 10 will be wrongly labeled as terrorists. That seems pretty useful.

    But say we have a group of 1,000 suspects and only 100 of them are terrorists. A ten percent shot that a given person is a terrorists doesn’t reach the “probable cause” standard, but seeing as how thousands of lives could easily be on the line, maybe we want to relax the burden of proof and run the 1,000 through the program. Well, we’ll catch 90 terrorists out of the 100, which is good. But out of the 900 non-terrorists, 90 innocent people are going to get labeled terrorists. In other words, out of the 180 people the program will say are terrorists, we can expect half to actually be innocent. Thus, even though the algorithm only has a very small 10 percent error rate, the overall surveillance program makes a lot of mistakes.

    If we expand the program things get worse. Say we want to monitor a group of 10,000 people that includes 200 terrorists. We’re going to catch 180 actual terrorists plus a whopping 980 innocent people. Thus, out of our total pool of 1,160 “terrorists” only 15.5 percent will genuinely be terrorists.

    And I think Yglesias’s example (in the context of the more targeted ‘wiretapping’ story) vastly overstates the ratio of Terrorists to Nots in the nationwide database. Just throwing more ‘data’ at the problem doesn’t help much I fear.

  195. 195
    Krista says:

    You hoser.

    (Shakes head sadly) Sad that the only way that our neighbours learn anything about us is via beer movie.

  196. 196
    tBone says:

    (Shakes head sadly) Sad that the only way that our neighbours learn anything about us is via beer movie.

    Just funnin’ ya, Krista. I do know that Quetico Park is amazing, and it made me eternally fond of Canada. Especially since I didn’t get eaten by a bear.

  197. 197
    Pb says:

    The Disenfranchised Voter,

    Yeah, pretty hard-hitting, although he still somehow managed to both talk about how great he was, and unjustly tar Nancy Pelosi by name, all without mentioning any Congressional Republicans. Still, points for “get a damn search warrant”.

  198. 198
    Perry Como says:

    Tip of the iceberg.

    (these things always are)

  199. 199
    KCinDC says:

    Disenfranchised Voter, it’s not bad, but note this bit:

    But you know what? The villains in this spy program are pretty easy to target, almost as easy as your phone records. First you have the president, who‘s shown that he will break laws if they get in his way of spying. Second, Democratic leaders—they complain now, but where were they? They reviewed the program. Why no protest? Don‘t hold your press conferences now, Nancy Pelosi. Tell us about it when you learn about it!

    And finally, the phone companies, who actually profited from the government reading all of your phone bills. They should be sued and their CEOs fired.

    So it’s the fault of the president, the Democratic leaders, and the phone companies? How did the Republican leaders (who unlike the Democrats actually have power) get off scot-free? Convenient for them, with the election coming up.

  200. 200
    Pb says:

    Perry Como,

    Tice said his information is different from the Terrorist Surveillance Program that Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts this week that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans.

    Dude, how many of these allegedly ‘separate’ secret illegal spying programs do they have (in the NSA alone)? Yeah, I know, that’s allegedly a secret too…

  201. 201
    Krista says:

    tbone, get thyself to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s breathtaking. (Condé Nast named it the most beautiful island in the world, so I’m not being biased just because I live nearby.)

  202. 202
    Perry Como says:

    Dude, how many of these allegedly ‘separate’ secret illegal spying programs do they have (in the NSA alone)?

    TIA had at least a dozen projects, some that might be illegal if they actually used real data (and why wouldn’t they take their shiny new toys for a test drive?). While the tech is cool from the geek side of the aisle, letting a government use it is absolutely frightening.

  203. 203
    Pb says:

    KCinDC,

    In fact, there wasn’t a thing that ‘Congressional leaders’ could legally do about it, period–except perhaps to secretly write a letter to the VP, which Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV), as a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and along with precisely zero Republicans, did in 2003 or to publicly call for investigation, which (only) Democrats later did after this broke:

    “We believe that the President must have the best possible intelligence to protect the American people, but that intelligence must be produced in a manner consistent with our Constitution and our laws, and in a manner that reflects our values as a nation,” the letter says.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; Rep. John Conyers, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking member on the House Committee on Government Reform, signed the letter.

    Emphasis mine–Scarborough is indeed still quite the tool.

  204. 204
    Steve says:

    Democrats were briefed! Democrats were briefed! The administration has repeatedly asserted that Democrats were fully briefed about the NSA surveillance program, so how dare they complain now.

    Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to the National Security Advisor asking for a list of which Senators and Congressmen were briefed about the program. The answer? Sorry, that list of names is classified.

    That’s right, we’ll mount an aggressive public defense by claiming the right people were briefed, but when you actually ask us to identify who was briefed… uh, we’d rather not admit that.

    As for the latest program that was revealed? Once again, the usual suspects all came forward to assert that the Democrats had been briefed all along. We might have even seen that allegation made here on Balloon Juice. Is it true? No idea, but Senator Leahy said yesterday that he had been asking around and he hadn’t been able to find a single person who was briefed.

  205. 205
    KCinDC says:

    Trent Lott says he was briefed, so we can blame him.

  206. 206
    Pb says:

    Heh, this was a good one too:

    Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told a key House Democrat yesterday that the administration is not conducting any warrantless domestic surveillance programs beyond the one that President Bush has acknowledged

    What a shock.

    To date, the administration has given extensive briefings to only eight lawmakers: the House speaker and minority leader, the Senate majority and minority leader, and the top Republican and top Democrat on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

    That’s why Trent Lott would have been briefed, back in 2003 or so… of course, those briefings are highly classified.

  207. 207
    Col. Bat Guano (Ret.) says:

    If your side was serious about such abuse of surveillance, they would have reacted initially something like this: “Mr. President, we’re all for giving you the tools you need to hunt terrorists, but we’re concerned about potential abuses, and we want to work on increasing oversight to help prevent any such abuses” Of course that’s not what happened. Right out of the gate, Dems started screaming how Bush was ‘shredding’ the constitution with his ‘illegal’ program, etc, etc. – Darrell

    Okay, let me get this straight… Bush would have gladly agreed to oversight but his feelings were hurt by those mean democrats. Did he cry in Dick Cheney’s lap as he told him what they said and how unfair it all is? Boo-hoo.

    “The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants beyond everything else is safety.” – H. L. Mencken

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H. L. Mencken

    “And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.” – H. L. Mencken

  208. 208
    KCinDC says:

    Oh, I should have linked to this article instead:

    Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., a member of the intelligence committee who’s been briefed about the secret NSA program, said Specter should back off.

    “Do we want security . . . or do we want to get in a twit about our civil libertarian rights?” he said.

  209. 209
    Mona says:

    Darrell writes:

    Yes I do. Do you understand the meaning of unhinged Leftists?
    Chris Wallace: “So You’re Saying Impeachment Is A Possibility?”

    Sen. Dick Durbin: “I’m Not Ruling It In Or Out At This Point In Time.”

    The first person I know of to publicly propose that Bush should be impeached for his illegal NSA activities was Bruce Fein, a Reagan DoJ veteran and arch-conservative Con Law scholar who, in the pages of The Washington Times, called on Bush to pack the Supreme Court with Scalias and Thomases. Fein has also testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee as to why these programs are illegal.

    Bruce Fein is to the right of Attila the Hun. But by your metrics, he is an “unhinged leftist” merely by virtue of opposing the illegalities of the Leader, and calling for impeachment more strongly than Durbin does.

  210. 210
    Davis says:

    Apparently QWest did not participate in the program. Why weren’t they forced to do so, as a matter of national security? Why haven’t their executives been charged for refusing to help the President win the War on Terror?

  211. 211
    Darrell says:

    Bruce Fein is to the right of Attila the Hun. But by your metrics, he is an “unhinged leftist” merely by virtue of opposing the illegalities of the Leader

    You raise a fair point, that a few on the right were also calling for Bush’s impeachment. However, on the point of Bush’s “illegalities”, could you direct us to any judicial findings which declared Bush’s NSA program to be ‘illegal’ or ‘unconstitutional’?

  212. 212
    capelza says:

    FBI RAIDS CIA! Banner headline on Harball just now. It’s about Twatergate, but who the hell cares anymore. I’m easily amused by this stuff, the outrage meter is long gone.

    I looked to see if this had been posted but didn’t see it.

  213. 213
    Perry Como says:

    However, on the point of Bush’s “illegalities”, could you direct us to any judicial findings which declared Bush’s NSA program to be ‘illegal’ or ‘unconstitutional’?

    The DoJ was going to investigate the first NSA program, but the investigators were denied clearances. Neat how that works.

  214. 214

    You know, there’s lots of other interesting news out in blogoland.

    Rupert Murdoch doing a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.

    Howard Dean making a fool out of himself on the 700 Club.

    Trent “Tort Reform King” Lott sueing State Farm for denying his claim.

    NCLB declaring all of our schools suck. (Watch this one used by the GOP to promote private schools)

    Why spend all this time listening to Darrell defend the NSA spying on your children?

  215. 215
    Perry Como says:

    Congress is taking up a bill to restrict the use of SSNs too.

  216. 216
    Punchy says:

    Uh…a top diary on dKos, cross-referenced with some site called Truthout.org and apparently repeated on Air America (I know, I know….all the most liberal sites…) has announced that Rove is about to be indicted. Like…SOON. And he’s going to resign immeidiately (put that in the “that should be a no-brainer, but in this Admin, not so much” catagory)

    good luck discussing this.

  217. 217
    Slide says:

    Yes I do. Do you understand the meaning of unhinged Leftists?
    Chris Wallace: “So You’re Saying Impeachment Is A Possibility?”

    Sen. Dick Durbin: “I’m Not Ruling It In Or Out At This Point In Time.”

    So let me get this straight, if you are a Dem and you don’t rule out impeachement you are “unhinged” while all the Republicans that actually did vote for impeachement of Clinton are what exactly? hinged?

    I HOPE HOPE HOPE that this ridiculous “strategy” of the Rovester in which the GOP will try to scare Americans into not voting for a Dem congress because they may actully do their constitutional duty of oversight and hold hearings from time and time and that they may consider impeaching the Worst President in History, continues right through November. Please make that your campaign strategy…lol… First question to every Republican encumbent would be, “and how did you vote on the impeachment of Bill Clinton?”

    Dovetails nicely with the poll that came out today saying people think Clinton is more honest than the boy king.

  218. 218
    ppGaz says:

    Yes, Punch, and the Justice Dept shakedowns of CIA officials today has pushed the phone-record story off the front page on Hardball and other MSM cable outlets today.

    It appears that the scandals and the pending legal tangles are going to be the ongoing story of 2006.

    I assume that Decider Darrell is conferring now with top officials to ascertain how to handle this story on the blogs over the weekend.

  219. 219
    Slide says:

    our friend Darrell:

    Yes I do. Do you understand the meaning of unhinged Leftists?
    Chris Wallace: “So You’re Saying Impeachment Is A Possibility?”

    Sen. Dick Durbin: “I’m Not Ruling It In Or Out At This Point In Time.”

    So let me get this straight, if you are a Dem and you don’t rule out impeachement you are “unhinged” while all the Republicans that actually did vote for impeachement of Clinton are what exactly? hinged?

    I HOPE HOPE HOPE that this ridiculous “strategy” of the Rovester in which the GOP will try to scare Americans into not voting for a Dem congress because they may actully do their constitutional duty of oversight and hold hearings from time and time and that they may consider impeaching the Worst President in History, continues right through November. Please make that your campaign strategy…lol… First question to every Republican encumbent would be, “and how did you vote on the impeachment of Bill Clinton?”

    Dovetails nicely with the poll that came out today saying people think Clinton is more honest than the boy king.

  220. 220
    ppGaz says:

    Congress is taking up a bill to restrict the use of SSNs too.

    I assume that OBL is using his SSN appropriately.

  221. 221
    Slide says:

    sorry about the double posting….

  222. 222
    Slide says:

    hey.. punchy may have something:

    Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

    Details of Rove’s discussions with the president and Bolten have spread through the corridors of the White House where low-level staffers and senior officials were trying to determine how the indictment would impact an administration that has been mired in a number of high-profile political scandals for nearly a year, said a half-dozen White House aides and two senior officials who work at the Republican National Committee.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources confirmed Rove’s indictment is imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove’s situation. A spokesman in the White House press office said they would not comment on “wildly speculative rumors.”

    Its beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas…

  223. 223
    tBone says:

    tbone, get thyself to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s breathtaking.

    Krista – that looks gorgeous. Definitely have to put that one on the list.

  224. 224
    Mona says:

    Darrell writes:

    However, on the point of Bush’s “illegalities”, could you direct us to any judicial findings which declared Bush’s NSA program to be ‘illegal’ or ‘unconstitutional’?

    In addition to Mr. Como’s point that the Bush DoJ has denied security clearances to the Office of Professional Responsibility so it can investigate the matter, Bush won’t let the matter come before the federal courts. His DoJ knows they’d lose in the SCOTUS, and so they refuse to appeal any FIS Court decisions that implicate the warrantless surveillance.

    Even an avid Bush supporter like Hugh Hewitt has noted that this refusal to appeal hints at a lack of confidence in their legal position.

  225. 225
    Pooh says:

    It is a neat trick to ask for a judicial determination when the root of the whole scandal is the intentional avoidance of any sort of judicial review. Mr. President, when did you stop violating the Constitution?

  226. 226
    DougJ says:

    Darrell — I know that some Bush supporters say that it would be best for Rove to get indicted since the president’s current political predicament is largely the result of Karl’s ineptitude as a peace time (non-campaign season) consiglieri, as it were. I think they’re probably right. What do you think about this? Wouldn’t getting rid of Rove allow Bush to have a bit of a fresh start. I’m curious to hear what you think.

  227. 227
    Brian says:

    I wonder if Kenneth Cole has a blog…hmmmm…

    The Manolo is the closest thing I know of.

  228. 228
    DougJ says:

    The Manolo is the closest thing I know of.

    Okay, no one with such troglyditic views about politics know what a Manolo is. Are you really ppgaz?

  229. 229
    Punchy says:

    hey.. punchy may have something:

    A bag of seeds, a cold Natty Lite, Simpsons reruns, and unproveable rumors….content.

  230. 230
    KCinDC says:

    Wouldn’t getting rid of Rove allow Bush to have a bit of a fresh start.

    If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, but you’ll then have problems with depth perception. A Roveless start is going to be pretty hard, and it won’t be very fresh as long as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and Rice are still hanging around.

  231. 231
    Pooh says:

    Just a question, but would Rove resigning actually do anything? I mean aside from making my day of course?

  232. 232
    slickdpdx says:

    Regarding “false positives”: like I said context is important, if the increased scrutiny applied to the data that rings the first bell is marginal,you’d actually want to tune your system to err on the side of false positives. As you weeded out you’d want to start erring the other way (toward false negatives) only when you were reaching the point of making a really significant decision like devoting personnel to investigating a lead or eavesdropping or enter a home etc. The stuff we’re really really concerned about.

  233. 233
    Krista says:

    Brian, thanks for the link. I might check it out. I still think I’ll stick around here, though. I can’t see a real opportunity on a shoe blog for the kind of zingers I get to witness here daily.

    tbone – do get there if you can. I went last fall, and was just astonished. If you can get there during the fall colours, it’ll be unforgettable. There’s also a lovely whiskey distillery there, and they give samples. What else does one need? Let me know if you’re planning on it, and I’ll send you some links and give you some recommendations.

  234. 234
    Perry Como says:

    Its beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas…

    It’s just more of the criminalization of politics. No one outside the beltway cares about this kind of stuff.

  235. 235
    Brian says:

    The Manolo and I go way back, DougJ. I’m a GQ kinda guy, not no wingtip wingnut.

    Speaking of shoes, this Adidas short film makes me long for my acid-trippin’ days.

  236. 236
    Pooh says:

    Slick, I’m by no means an expert on this, but there is not neccesarily a direct relationship between false positves and false negatives. It’s not like you just turn a dial.

    At a certain point it becomes an empirical question of whether any additional ‘targeting’ you might be able to get from this program is worth the cost, in terms of both expense/manpower and civil liberties costs (both direct, the gov’t having your info in one place, and the risk of someone getting a bunch of info illicitly. Gov’t systems have been hacked a non-trivial amount.) So the underlying issue isn’t necessarily the program itself (though it is certainly problematic almost per se) but the bypass of legal and legislative process. And these things are starting to add up.

  237. 237
    ppGaz says:

    Just a question, but would Rove resigning actually do anything?

    It would be a just reward for the apologista who spammed us last year with “Her name was in Who’s Who For Christ’s Sake — THERE WAS NO CRIME. You lefties just Hate Bush.”

    And, of course, there is the delightful proposition of the pig of a man actually going to jail.

    Couldn’t happen to a more disgusting asshole … architect of a divided America.

  238. 238
    Steve says:

    Clearly just a fart in a tornado.

  239. 239
    Mr Furious says:

    Working Assets responds to my email…

    Dear Mr. [Furious],

    Thank you for your email concerning your interest in the subject of warrantless monitoring of American citizens’ communications by the National Security Agency.

    Working Assets has taken the following position on this subject:

    Working Assets believes that the warrantless monitoring of phone conversations ordered by the Bush administration is both illegal and alarming.

    We will pursue this issue through our citizen action program, and by supporting organizations committed to preserving civil liberties in America.

    Working Assets has never been approached by any government agency seeking our help in illegally accessing the content of conversations by our customers, and we would refuse any such request.

    We have no information regarding the conduct of our underlying carrier or any major carrier in relation to the warrantless monitoring. Given the secretive nature of the program, we do not expect any such information to be forthcoming. We will remain actively engaged in opposing warrantless monitoring, pushing for full disclosure by the government regarding the scope of the monitoring, and protecting citizens from intrusive and illegal exercises of governmental power.

    You may also be interested in a new book we are publishing, entitled How Would A Patriot Act?, which contains a cohesive analysis of how the NSA’s wiretapping fits into a larger scheme by the Bush Administration to violate Constitutional restrictions on executive authority in an unprecedented manner. Here is a link to that book: [link]

    I hope this letter addresses your query, and I thank you for your long time support of Working Assets.

    Badass. Now that’s a company I am proud to have used for over twelve years.

    They deserve all the new customers they can handle.

  240. 240
    demimondian says:

    Slick, you really ought to go back and read Yglesias’ posting.

    The problem is that if you’ve got 50 positives and 300 million negatives in your database, your algorithm has to have an intrinsic false positive rate of less than one in 600,000 to even get 10% of its hits be real positives. That kind of sensitivity is unheard of in machine learning; most algorithms have sensititivities of many false positives per accurate detect in evenly divided sample populations.

    What that means, functionally, is that if you pick the top fifteen hundred hits, you are overwhelmingly likely to have no accurate hits whatsoever. None — but you’ll have dragged 15000 people’s names through the dirt to no end.

  241. 241
    Perry Como says:

    Clearly just a fart in a tornado.

    Or a tornado sized fart. Something stinks in DC.

  242. 242
    Perry Como says:

    /me looks around for beer blogging

  243. 243
  244. 244
    Pooh says:

    Oh man, Clinton wins for honesty over W, (though within the polling margin, barely) that has to sting…

  245. 245
    KCinDC says:

    slickdpdx, that’s not the way the TSA lists have been run. Lots of false positives (like all people named Dave Nelson) have been subjected to significant hassles. The problem is that the law enforcement folks’ definition of “significant” doesn’t match the innocent victims’.

    Pooh, don’t forget misuse of the data by government employees for their own purposes (identity theft, blackmail, etc.). No hacking is necessary in that case.

  246. 246
    Pooh says:

    Pooh, don’t forget misuse of the data by government employees for their own purposes (identity theft, blackmail, etc.). No hacking is necessary in that case.

    Damn, turn my cynicism about this crowd off for one second…

  247. 247
    Slide says:

    Wouldn’t getting rid of Rove allow Bush to have a bit of a fresh start.

    But Rove is Bush’s “brain”. All he’ll be left with is his DICK cheny.

  248. 248
    Slide says:

    Oh man, Clinton wins for honesty over W, (though within the polling margin, barely) that has to sting…

    that ain’t all

    Poll: Clinton outperformed Bush

    Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush).

    On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton’s favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

    Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.

  249. 249
    demimondian says:

    Nah, Pooh, anyone in information security will tell you that despite the possibility of massive catastrophe due to an exploitable bug in Windows (or Linux, or MacOsX, or… pace infosec types here), the real risk to confidential data is the people who handle that data.

  250. 250
    KCinDC says:

    Pooh, we’re not all spoofs — at least, not always.

    Speaking of which, what do y’all think of this?

    Old news. Nothing to see here. This sort of thing has been going on forever, and we’ve always known it was happening. Anyone with half a brain knew the NSA was doing this. In fact, it’s practically the definition of what they’re supposed to be doing. No one would expect them not to be doing it.

    Oh, and USA Today and the other media outlets reporting the story are traitors. Those so-called journalists should be hanged for endangering the country by revealing important secrets to our enemies — things our enemies had no way of knowing and could never have guessed.

  251. 251
    Perry Como says:

    KCinDC, did you run across DougJ at another blog? There has been alot of speculation over programs like Echelon and what they do. No one has ever confirmed — afaik — that those programs exist and that the NSA is actually trolling through all the communications of US citizens. I’m not even sure the technology was available up until a decade ago or so.

    But the ultimate absurdity in the quote above is that “we’ve always known it was happening” and yet reporters are “revealing important secrets to our enemies.”

    Er, wha? Those two statements are mutually exclusive.

  252. 252
    CaseyL says:

    Before I leap to any conclusions, does anyone have the definitive link to what exactly the NSA was doing, what they were tracking, how farreaching it was, etc.

    There are no definitive links because there has been no investigation.

    There has been no investigation in the Senate because the relevent committee(s) have voted along party lines not to hold one.

    There has been no investigation by the Justice Department because the Office of Professional Responsibility (which tried to learn whether Justice Department lawyers broke any laws or otherwise behaved unethically) was refused the necessary security clearances by the NSA.

    There is, however, one fairly definitive piece of evidence. The definitive piece of evidence is a statement by Bush that his Administration bypassed FISA in ordering the surveillance program to proceed. FISA warrants are necessary to eavesdrop on phone conversations.

    Bush later tried to get around his own admission by insisting that the NSA surveillance program only targeted international calls. However, that statement was contradicted early on by people who were involved in the program.

    Bush supporters, and supporters of the NSA surveillance program, discounted what the NSA people said, on the basis that the NSA people were lying or didn’t know what they were talking about.

    However, the more we learn about the NSA surveillance program, the more it becomes clear that domestic communications were targeted as well. This is also a clear violation of the FISA law.

    Bush and his supporters have tried to get around that by insisting that the domestic calls were by or to suspected terrorists, or people who know suspected terrorists, or people who are acquainted with terrorists, or people who are terrorist sympathizers.

    However, the latest news is that as many as 10,000,000 people have been targeted by the NSA surveillance program. It seems unlikely that there are that many terrorists, friends of terrorists, and/or terrorist sympathizers in the US. (Unless your definition of “terrorist sympathizer” is so flexible as to include anyone who opposes Bush, or any member of the Bush Admin, or any of the Bush Admin’s policies. If that’s the case, though, then apparently 71% of Americans are terrorist sympathizers.)

    So the question is, how specific does the information need to be before you can make any judgments about the program?

    If you’re basing your judgment on what Bush says about the program, then you can rest assured the program is not wide-spread, does not target the wrong people, and isn’t illegal.

    If you’re basing your judgment on your dislike of Bush’s opponents, or anti-Bush bloggers, or Cindy Sheehan, then you can again rest assured that there’s nothing wrong with the program.

    But if you’re basing your judgment on statements by members of Congress, lawyers, judges, oversight agencies, NSA personnel, and telecom companies, then the only conclusion you can reasonably readch is that the NSA surveillance program is widespread, indiscriminate, carried out without warrants, carried out without considerations of probable cause, and in violation of the FISA law specifically and the 4th Amendment generally.

    Which would mean it’s illegal.

  253. 253
    Perry Como says:

    First lawsuit filed against Verizon. This should get interesting.

  254. 254
    tBone says:

    Let me know if you’re planning on it, and I’ll send you some links and give you some recommendations.

    Krista – I should have said “I’ll put it on the list of places to go . . . when my kids are old enough to take a cross-country trip without making my head explode.” A two-week vacation last year with lots of air travel and kids under 5 was enough to convince me that closer-to-home vacations are the rule for the next few years. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for the future though. Always wanted to see Maine during the fall, might as well hit Nova Scotia too.

  255. 255
    tBone says:

    When did Al Maviva change his username to CaseyL?

  256. 256
    ppGaz says:

    Those so-called journalists should be hanged for endangering the country

    Who said it? Tony Snow? Scrutator?

    Bob Woodward?

    John Kyl?

  257. 257
    KCinDC says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t caught the two inconsistent Bush defenses together in the wild, so I had to write them myself. But maybe Scrutator will pick up the idea, or DougJ.

  258. 258
    ppGaz says:

    But maybe Scrutator will pick up the idea, or DougJ.

    When I first saw it I thought GOP4me had written it.

    It’s her style of over-the-top trollapalooza.

  259. 259

    Dave Nelson? Rick’s older brother.

  260. 260

    Dave Nelson? Rick’s older brother.

  261. 261
    Brian says:

    Clearly just a fart in a tornado.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  262. 262
    Ancient Purple says:

    First lawsuit filed against Verizon. This should get interesting.

    Thanks for the link, Perry. I heard that on the radio a few minutes ago.

    Ah, can’t wait for the next Verizon shareholders meeting. Can’t wait for the Board of Trustees, the CEO, the CIO and the COO all try to explain the number of lost contracts, plus the cost of litigation in a $50 Billion suit, and just an explanation of how Verizon thought it should give the info to the NSA.

    Damn, I should buy 100 shares of stock just so I can attend.

  263. 263
    Steve says:

    Shareholders have other remedies besides showing up at a meeting and bitching, you know. When the officers of a public corporation have engaged in illegal activity and exposed the company to crippling civil liability, that’s a very strong shareholder lawsuit.

  264. 264
    JoeTx says:

    for the Board of Trustees, the CEO, the CIO and the COO all try to explain the number of lost contracts, plus the cost of litigation in a $50 Billion suit,

    So how is Bush gonna weasel out of this one? Can they claim “National Security” in a civil class action, and have the case dropped? Can Verizon turn around and sue the government?

    Bush cannot afford to have these programs in the courts, they KNOW they are not legal, what can they do to short circuit the process?

  265. 265
  266. 266
    Steve says:

    Can they claim “National Security” in a civil class action, and have the case dropped?

    Well, that’s what they’ve tried to do in the EFF class action against AT&T. There’s not a lot of precedent for this so it’s pretty unclear what the courts will do. My sense is that the more they try to play this card, the greater the likelihood that a court will cry foul.

    Can Verizon turn around and sue the government?

    That’s a very good question. If I’m Verizon, having presumably received an opinion from my legal department that turning over the records would be pretty frickin’ illegal, I’m going to be like “Gee, government guys, I sure do want to help you catch the terrorists, but there’s no way we can expose our company to that kind of liability.” At which point the government does… what? Promises to invoke the state secret doctrine if a case gets filed? Promises to indemnify Verizon if they get sued? (You can’t typically indemnify illegal conduct… but presumably Uncle Sam will make good on the promise, even if it’s technically unenforceable.)

    I think it will be very, very interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. There are a lot of new issues here… and perhaps some that are not so new.

  267. 267

    Oh man, Clinton wins for honesty over W, (though within the polling margin, barely) that has to sting…

    Heh. Yea I noticed that too.

    I mean whatever you think of Clinton, the guy did lie under oath. That is a proven fact. And even knowing that people still think Clinton is more honest and trustworthy than Bush.

    Ouch, indeed. :)

  268. 268
    Krista says:

    A two-week vacation last year with lots of air travel and kids under 5

    (Shudder) You brave soul.

  269. 269
    John S. says:

    I mean whatever you think of Clinton, the guy did lie under oath.

    Well, if Bush had EVER been put under oath, we can rest assured he’d be lying about more than a blowjob. If you recall, he deftly avoided being questioned under oath by the 9/11 commission – as well as answering any questions without a puppeteer Cheney along for the ride.

    Besides, I don’t think questioning Bush under oath would yield any real answers. I think the best we could hope for is, “I can’t answer that question because it will reveal secrets to al Quaeda and then the terrorists win.”

    If you think about it, that response has a double meaning. After all, if Bush did answer for what the government has been doing in the name of the War on Terra, that would provide clear evidence that they have trampled upon our liberties – in which case, the terrorists certainly have won.

  270. 270
    Gray says:

    “Before I leap to any conclusions, does anyone have the definitive link to what exactly the NSA was doing, what they were tracking, how farreaching it was, etc.”

    For god’s sake, John, you’re talking about the NSA, the most secretive agency of all. They even blocked the DoJ from investigating their operations. We can be happy that at least some infos about this Big Brother Inc. made it into the public.You really seem to be living in dreamland sometimes.

  271. 271
    Parahalo says:

    Who accessed the database. Plame or maybe anAl Quaeda?

  272. 272
    Davebo says:

    Shorter Perfessor Cole

    I realize Tim has basically laid out all the facts right here on my own blog but… Before I leapfrog to any silly conclusion I should probably grade these papers, pull my head out of my ass, and stick my thumb in my ear.

    Monitoring every freaking call in the country and those fucktards at the NSA couldn’t track down Cindy Sheehan!

    Don’t they know she’s the only thing keeping me strapped to the freaking GOP???

  273. 273
    Davebo says:

    Via Jim Henley.. this is just too sad..

    The U.S. military and Iraqi police provided differing accounts of the incident, which began with a roadside bombing near Duluiyah, about 45 miles north of Baghdad.

    The Americans said one soldier from the Iraqi army’s 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Division was killed and 12 were wounded in the attack.

    But Iraqi police 1st Lt. Ali Ibrahim said four were killed and three others wounded. He identified the soldiers as Kurdish but did not specify their unit.

    According to both accounts, the wounded were rushed to the U.S. military hospital in Balad. Police said that when the Kurdish soldiers drove up to the hospital, they began firing weapons to clear the way, and one Iraqi Shiite civilian was killed.

    When security rushed to the scene, the Kurds decided to take their wounded elsewhere, Iraqi police said. Iraqi troops from a separate Shiite unit tried to stop them and shots were fired, Iraqi police said.

    The U.S. account said that an Iraqi soldier from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade was killed in a “confrontation” as the other Iraqi troops were trying to remove their wounded. Iraqi police identified the dead soldier as a Shiite. But the U.S. statement did not say what prompted the soldiers to try to take wounded comrades away from a hospital – the best equipped American medical facility in the country.

    Just clap louder..

  274. 274
    Slide. says:

    Well so much for that bogus Washington Post poll on the NSA data mining program, Newsweek just came out with a poll that has quite some different results:

    May 13, 2006 – Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism? Yes, say a majority of Americans, following this week’s revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens since the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.

    Americans think the White House has overstepped its bounds: 57 percent said that in light of the NSA data-mining news and other executive actions, the Bush-Cheney Administration has “gone too far in expanding presidential power.” That compares to 38 percent who think the Administration’s actions are appropriate.

  275. 275
    Slide. says:

    oh… and lets not leave out this juicy nugget in the Newdweek poll:

    more than half—52 percent—say they would like the Democrats to win enough seats to take over Congress this November (only 35 percen.t want the Republicans to keep control). Looking ahead to the presidential race in 2008, more Americans said they would like to see a Democrat elected than a Republican—50 percent versus 31 percent

  276. 276
    Darrell says:

    The government is requesting phone call records without names associated to those numbers, and without listening in to the conversation. Presumably, these call records will be fed into some sort of pattern recognition software to help identify possible terrorist activity. At that point, unless someone has different info, the govt would be required to convince a judge that a warrant is justified if they wanted to actually wiretap a phone call. This is the J. Edgar Hoover/Watergate-like shredding of our rights that the left is screaming about? Please

    On a related issue, I would like to hear the opinion of lawyers on this – I read that the Supreme Court has already found that the govt can collect such phone #’s in Smith vs. Maryland, 1979, on the basis that callers who know they will be billed by the phone co. have no reasonable expectatation of privacy regarding those phone records. Is that a reasonable legal interpretation of that Supreme court case? I’m asking, not stating. And do police need a warrant to obtain phone records in a criminal investigation?

  277. 277
    ppGaz says:

    But Slide … Darrell is our Decider. It doesn’t matter what the people think or say, they are just hapless dupes, slaves to the radical left and its stranglehold on Fox News, the leader in able news ratings.

    if Darrell says it’s okay, then it’s okay. Why do we keep missing this essential point? You can be banned, and I can be slapped by Tim and John, but Darrell can do no wrong here. He’s the Decider in Chief.

    Let it go, man. Just let it go.

  278. 278
    Perry Como says:

    The government is requesting phone call records without names associated to those numbers, and without listening in to the conversation.

    I don’t believe that. Every step of the way we’ve found out that the government has been getting more and more information. First it was on calls that were wholly overseas. Then it was on calls that had one party overseas. Then it accidently may have caught some wholly domestic calls. Now it’s targetting wholly domestic calls. And one of the NSA whistle blowers from the NSA is now saying that what we’ve heard so far is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Besides, having access to the numbers only is useless. Sure, you can datamine for patterns, but those patterns have no meaning without context. And a SELECT * FROM us_citizen WHERE phone_number = 12345678 is way too easy to do.

    The fucks you voted for have presided over the greatest expansion of federal government since FDR. The debt ceiling has doubled under their watch. While you hide under the bed, frightened that al Qaeda may come and get you, make sure you clap louder Darrell. You’re an enabler to an administration drunk on power.

  279. 279
    ppGaz says:

    Now, now, Vic Damone …. I mean, Perry … that’s no way to talk to your Decider in Chief.

    You are taking a tone.

  280. 280
    Darrell says:

    First it was on calls that were wholly overseas. Then it was on calls that had one party overseas. Then it accidently may have caught some wholly domestic calls. Now it’s targetting wholly domestic calls.

    Uh no, Bush made it clear that the overseas calls could be subject to warrantless monitoring of the actual conversation. He explicity stated that the govt does not listen to strictly domestic calls without court approval.

    And one of the NSA whistle blowers from the NSA is now saying that what we’ve heard so far is only the tip of the iceberg

    Yes, vague allegations with details or specifics whatsoever. Well then, that certainly settles that. But you “feel” it must be true, right? that’s all that matters

    make sure you clap louder

    You know what I like? How you lefties think of yourselves as such ‘independent’ thinkers, yet so many of you mindlesslessly recite leftwing talking points like “clap louder” over and over and over again. Before that, it was “Dear leader”, and “party before country”. Hilarious

  281. 281

    Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.

    I’m glad they asked that question about Mr. “I’m a Uniter, not a Divider”

    Man, Republicans are fucked. The public has found them out to be a bunch of con artists.

  282. 282
    ppGaz says:

    You know what I like? How you lefties think of yourselves as such ‘independent’ thinkers, yet so many of you mindlesslessly recite leftwing talking points like “clap louder” over and over and over again. Before that, it was “Dear leader”, and “party before country”. Hilarious

    And thus what’s left of Balloon-Juice’s righty representation makes his ding in the door for today.

    “You lefties.”

    That’s it, every fucking day. “You lefties.”

    SEVENTY PERCENT OF AMERICANS think that the country’s government is doing a lousy job, but around here, it’s “you lefties.”

    Someday when people ask whatever happened to this blog, remember Darrell. He will be your answer.

    “YOU LEFTIES.”

  283. 283
    Darrell says:

    If there are no lawyers reading who want to answer my question above, how about law enforcement officials here? Does law enforcement have to obtain a warrant in order to check phone records as part of an investigation?

  284. 284
    Otto Man says:

    Uh no, Bush made it clear that the overseas calls could be subject to warrantless monitoring of the actual conversation. He explicity stated that the govt does not listen to strictly domestic calls without court approval.

    Bush gave his word? Well, golly, we all know he’s a straight-shooter and would never ever lie to us. Good enough for Darrell, at least.

    Yes, vague allegations with details or specifics whatsoever. Well then, that certainly settles that. But you “feel” it must be true, right? that’s all that matters

    But enough about the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq…

    You know what I like? How you lefties think of yourselves as such ‘independent’ thinkers, yet so many of you mindlesslessly recite leftwing talking points like “clap louder” over and over and over again. Before that, it was “Dear leader”, and “party before country”.

    If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of? If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?

  285. 285
    Perry Como says:

    You are taking a tone.

    I’m in a mood. As the administration scandals balloon exponentially, it tends to happen. Now we have yet another foreign intelligence gathering program focusing on the US. Government *will* abuse the tools it has. History has proven this.

    I think it was summed up best over on the Mises.org blog in the comments:

    One comment states: “What if NSA intercepted a terrorist call and saved some lives; is there anything more valuable than human life?”

    I agree that saving human life is of supreme importance. Professor R. J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii is the world’s foremost expert on the issue of democide and genocide killing by government. He has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize for his research on government killing. I corresponded with him, and asked him how many people have been killed by terrorists. He replied that the estimate would be “around 12,000” since 1972. In comparision to that, his research shows that about 212,000,000 unarmed civilians were killed by their own govenments during the last century (and that number does NOT include combat deaths). That number is more than SIX TIMES the number of all combat deaths from all wars from (which was 34,021,000). Compare 212,000,000 unarmed civilians killed by government last century to 12,000 killed terrorists since 1972. WHAT IS MORE DANGEROUS TO HUMAN LIFE? Rummel says, the pattern of government killing was power. The more police power the government had, the more it killed it’s own citizens. The PATRIOT ACT and domestic spying on citizens is a major step toward the kind of police state that is far more dangerous than anything terrorists can do. It is not even a worthy comparison!

    So yes, let’s save lives: ABOLISH THE PATRIOT ACT, stop domestic spying, and give us a small government that obeys (rather than shreds) the constitution!

    Here is the URL/link to Dr. R. J. Rummel’s data:

    http://freedomspeace.blogspot......to-be.html

  286. 286
    ppGaz says:

    If there are no lawyers reading who want to answer my question above

    You arrogant fuck. You ingore simple, straightforward questions put you every day here.

    Why should anyone be obligated to answer your goddam questions?

  287. 287
    John S. says:

    Does law enforcement have to obtain a warrant in order to check phone records as part of an investigation?

    Federal law enforcement officials may tap telephone lines only after showing “probable cause” of unlawful activity and obtaining a court order. This unlawful activity must involve certain specified felony violations. The court order must limit the surveillance to communications related to the unlawful activity and to a specific period of time, usually 30 days. (Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 USC 2516)

  288. 288
    Perry Como says:

    You know what I like? How you lefties think of yourselves as such ‘independent’ thinkers, yet so many of you mindlesslessly recite leftwing talking points like “clap louder” over and over and over again. Before that, it was “Dear leader”, and “party before country”. Hilarious

    I actually deleted a bit in my last post about the “Brian’s of the Right calling me an Angry Lefty”. Of course you have to bring up that tired old meme because it’s difficult to justify the statist fucks you support. Here’s a hint Darrell — I’m not a lefty. I’m a person who despises a $10 trillion deficit. Someone that loves guns and hates government intrusion into our private lives.

    So go shove your left/right bullshit squarely up your ass (which is perfectly fine with me if it’s in your bedroom and consensual). There are alot of people out there that are sick and tired of this administration for perfectly rational reasons.

  289. 289
    Darrell says:

    You arrogant fuck. You ingore simple, straightforward questions put you every day here.

    Why should anyone be obligated to answer your goddam questions?

    Thank you for your thoughtful insights to the discussion ppg. You always elevate the conversation.

  290. 290
    Darrell says:

    Federal law enforcement officials may tap telephone lines only after showing “probable cause” of unlawful activity

    I didn’t ask whether they could “tap” telephone lines. I asked if they could obtain phone records of calls made without a warrant.

  291. 291
    ppGaz says:

    You always elevate the conversation.

    You lying sack. You don’t engage in conversation, you engage in “you lefties are poopyheads” and then you run away when challenged.

    Don’t fucking lecture me about conversation.

  292. 292
    Steve says:

    I think the answer, Darrell, is that the Patriot Act lets them do it with a National Security Letter, without going to court first. That’s one of the enumerated exceptions to the Stored Communications Act.

  293. 293
    Darrell says:

    Steve Says:

    I think the answer, Darrell, is that the Patriot Act lets them do it with a National Security Letter, without going to court first

    thanks, but does the Patriot act supercede Smith v. Maryland? and was the legal opinion summary of that case that I wrote above accurate?

    Also, I’m still curious whether law enforcement, even before the Patriot act, could obtain phone records, like those requested by the NSA, without a warrant?

  294. 294
    ppGaz says:

    does the Patriot act supercede Smith v. Maryland? and was the legal opinion summary of that case that I wrote above accurate?

    Why do you only post factiness when the factiness supports your dubious claims, but stonewall factual inquiries when they are embarassing to your dubious claims?

  295. 295
    Perry Como says:

    thanks, but does the Patriot act supercede Smith v. Maryland?

    The talking points have been released. Which legal scholars did you get this from? Was it Powerline? I haven’t been lately, so maybe you can save my eyeballs the trouble.

  296. 296
    PeterJ says:

    Do phone companies give away phone records to anyone who says that they are cops and need them for an investigation?

    Does the Global War on Terror include a major investigation where everyone living in the US (and soon the EU) is a suspect?

  297. 297
    Perry Como says:

    Checking over at Volokh, expect the government to say the NSA was searching phone records for telemarketing scams.

  298. 298
    Perry Como says:

    Since I’m in a mood, another thing that bugs the hell out of me about President Bush is his constant yammering about his top priority is to protect the people in the US. For fuck’s sake, he’s taken the oath twice. His top priority is to protect the Constituion of the United States. People die in the US every day. The misguided notion that government can solve every problem is the exact type of nannystatism that I despise.

  299. 299
    Darrell says:

    Why do you only post factiness when the factiness supports your dubious claims

    Well if the facts support my claims, those claims wouldn’t be “dubious”, would they? And I honestly don’t know to what extent that Smith v. Maryland supreme court case supports the right of the govt to obtain phone records without warrant, as that case talks about ‘pen registers’ and other terms and definitions I’m not familiar with. That’s why asked about whether my summary was more or less accurate.

    Also, IF (key word) law enforcement has been accessing phone records without warrant for some time now as part of their routine investigative process, then it stands to reason that the NSA’s request for phone records was really no big deal at all.. another leftist fueled ‘controversy’ without basis, like with white phosphorous being a ‘chemical weapon’. However, if it turns out law enforcement has to first get a warrant before obtaining phone records… that would be another kettle of fish.

  300. 300
    Steve says:

    I think that’s an accurate summary of Smith v. Maryland. However, after that case was decided, Congress statutorily overruled it by passing the two statutes Orin Kerr has been talking about – the pen register statute and the Stored Communications Act.

    But as far as I can tell, there’s no violation of your constitutional rights because the government has this information. The phone companies, on the other hand, seem to have violated the Stored Communications Act by turning it over.

    The FBI is allowed to make a formal request for records if it needs them for counterterrorism purposes, without getting a court order – 18 USC 2709 is the statutory section that applies. This was part of FISA, and modified by the Patriot Act, but I’m not sure exactly how it looked before the Patriot Act came along.

  301. 301
    Darrell says:

    Steve, that findlaw link is good. I found a section on pen registers which lays out a procedure for when one can be used, but it says phone companies are exempt from those requirements, presumably because they need that data for billing.

    The question then, is to what extent the phone companies are obligated to turn that phone record info over to the federal or local law enforcement, and whether or not such disclosure has been routinely provided in the past. Maybe Kerr has covered that territory already

    I read your counterterrorism justification for the FBI requesting phone records.. but I wonder about how it typically works in cases involving local law enforcement investigating crimes

  302. 302
    Steve says:

    To break it down, the pen register statute covers real-time tracking of phone calls, and the Stored Communications Act covers turning over records of phone calls after they’ve already happened. We don’t know the details of the NSA program but it seems more likely that the latter was involved.

  303. 303
    Slide says:

    I think we are overlooking what NSA may be doing here. We have two aspects (so far) that we know of:

    1. the huge database of phone records of tens of millions of Americans for “pattern recognition”

    2. the “monitoring of the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants” – NY Times

    Now lets try to make sense of this. Ok, let say we get a known Al Qaeda bad guy in Whateverfuckistan calling someguy in Brooklyn NY. Maybe purely innocent or maybe not. Now with the NSA database they run the guy in Brooklyn’s calls (outgoing and incoming) to see if his “pattern” matches what the computer believes is supicious. (frquent out of country calls? perhaps calls to and from someone else on a watch list? who knows what the criteria is).

    Ok, good work so far. Now what does the NSA do? Do they “listen in” on Mr. Brooklyns calls? Do they go to FISA to get a warrant? Do they run his number and those of his contacts through other databases to get the names and addresses of everyone he has contact with?

    None of us know enough about this progam to know for sure but unfortunately the President finds himself in a position where only the only people that still trust him are, what I have to call, delusional.

    As a law enforcement officer, a lot of what I described above I can approve of.. with one provision. Judicial oversight. I want someone other than the Executive Branch looking at what we are doing and agreeing. The potential for abuse is huge and again this Administration doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to governmental ethics. The US Constitution calls for checks and balances and for good reason. We currently have a President that doesn’t think that applies to him. Neither Congress or the Judicial Branch can get any information about what he is doing in our name. Conservatives should be very very afraid of such Imperial Power.

  304. 304
    Slide says:

    Do we really want to trust these people?

    WASHINGTON, May 13 — In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

    why does Cheney hate what America stands for.

  305. 305
    Perry Como says:

    I wonder what the implications are if Congress denied funding for this NSA program? TIA funding was yanked by both sides of the aisle:

    In this section, the term “Terrorism Information Awareness Program” means the program known either as Terrorism Information Awareness or Total Information Awareness, or any successor program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or any other Department or element of the Federal Government, including the individual components of such Program developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

    Data mining domestic calls is not foreign intelligence gathering. And the program is most assuredly a successor of the TIA “Human network analysis and behavior model building engines” program. So what happens when Congress shuts off the funding for a program and the Executive decides to divert funds to execute the program? Congress controls the purse strings and made its intent well known. But the Decider told Congress to fuck off.

    This is turning into a Constitutional crisis. And that’s not hyperbole. So what’s the next set of talking points from the Defenders[0]?

    [0] – my new term for Bush sycophants. Bush is the Decider, the snivelling, staist pillow biters are the Defenders.

  306. 306
    ppGaz says:

    Well if the facts support my claims, those claims wouldn’t be “dubious”, would they?

    Whoosh.

  307. 307
    Darrell says:

    [0] – my new term for Bush sycophants.

    Please make sure to scream your ass off at anyone, even those who don’t usually agree with Bush, that they are ‘sycophants’ if they support ANY of Bush’s initiatives. It will remind then what they can look forward to if the left gains control

  308. 308
    Darrell says:

    As a law enforcement officer, a lot of what I described above I can approve of.. with one provision. Judicial oversight

    As a law enforcement officer, can you tell us whether you and your fellow officers have Judicial oversight whenever you obtain phone records during the course of an investigation? If not, isn’t it extremely hypocritical to criticize Bush for doing the same, or less, since names are not associated with tel numbers in the NSA program unlike with police investigations?

  309. 309
    Otto Man says:

    Please make sure to scream your ass off at anyone, even those who don’t usually agree with Bush, that they are ‘sycophants’ if they support ANY of Bush’s initiatives.

    Heh. This from a guy who sees disagreement with ANY of Bush’s initiatives as sign that you’re a deranged “lefty.” Priceless.

  310. 310
    Slide says:

    Please make sure to scream your ass off at anyone, even those who don’t usually agree with Bush, that they are ‘sycophants’ if they support ANY of Bush’s initiatives. It will remind then what they can look forward to if the left gains control

    This coming from the “side” of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Mike Savage et al. Yeah, the left is so mean and nasty heh Darrell? wahhhhhhhh wahhhhhhhhh… lol.. you gotta love these little pant wetting tough guys don’t you. They’ve attacked liberals for years and year with the most vile and vicious attacks, traitors… treason…. etc. and they get their panties all in a buch if they are called sycophants and they warn the world of what the LEFT will do when they get into power…lol.. fucking hysterical. Absolutely fucking hysterical

  311. 311
    Slide says:

    As a law enforcement officer, can you tell us whether you and your fellow officers have Judicial oversight whenever you obtain phone records during the course of an investigation?

    Yes, we have to get a subpoena to get phone records.

  312. 312
    Darrell says:

    Yes, we have to get a subpoena to get phone records.

    Not according to this

  313. 313
    Perry Como says:

    It will remind then what they can look forward to if the left gains control

    Darrell, when the left gains control and starts abusing power, I will stand right next to you and criticize them. I will also mercilessly mock any lefty sycophants that will go any lengths to defend the unconstitutional (in spirit, if not in letter) actions of whomever the power monger may be. I did it during Clinton’s administration and I’ll do it again (“assault weapons” ban anyone?).

    The fact that you will go to any length to justify the expansion of Federal power does not make me a lefty. My political positions haven’t changed.

  314. 314
    Slide says:

    TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 121 > § 2703 Prev | Next

    § 2703. Required disclosure of customer communications or records

    (c) Records Concerning Electronic Communication Service or Remote Computing Service.—

    (1) A governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications) only when the governmental entity—

    (A) obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by a court with jurisdiction over the offense under investigation or equivalent State warrant;

    (B) obtains a court order for such disclosure under subsection (d) of this section;

    (C) has the consent of the subscriber or customer to such disclosure; or [1]

    (D) submits a formal written request relevant to a law enforcement investigation concerning telemarketing fraud for the name, address, and place of business of a subscriber or customer of such provider, which subscriber or customer is engaged in telemarketing (as such term is defined in section 2325 of this title);

    or

    (E) seeks information under paragraph (2).

    (2) A provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service shall disclose to a governmental entity the—

    (A) name;

    (B) address;

    (C) local and long distance telephone connection records, or records of session times and durations;

    (D) length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;

    (E) telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and

    (F) means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number),
    of a subscriber to or customer of such service when the governmental entity uses an administrative subpoena authorized by a Federal or State statute or a Federal or State grand jury or trial subpoena or any means available under paragraph (1).

    (3) A governmental entity receiving records or information under this subsection is not required to provide notice to a subscriber or customer.

    ..

  315. 315
    Perry Como says:

    Darrell Says:

    Not according to this

    The government was doing an end run around subpoenas. You remain the Defender.

  316. 316
    Darrell says:

    The fact that you will go to any length to justify the expansion of Federal power does not make me a lefty.

    I don’t see think it’s reasonable to characterize the NSA program which is the topic of this thread as an extreme overreach/expansion of Federal power for reasons already stated.

  317. 317
    Slide says:

    Not according to this

    the article refers to getting the information on cell phones from brokers, not Communication Servics like Verizon which is the point of the whole article. As a matter of fact the very article you linked to said this:

    Kolko stressed the FBI does not use such information to cut corners around legal requirements to obtain records through subpoenas or warrants.

    . You really should read a bit more carefully.

  318. 318
    Perry Como says:

    Of course you don’t, Darrell. You are the Defender. Prior to the year 2000 the NSA was not tracking the phone call activity of the vast majority of Americans. Post year 2000 the NSA is tracking the phone call activity of the vast majority of Americans. No expansion there.

    And my grandkids would like to thank you for the crippling debt that makes it all possible.

  319. 319
    Pooh says:

    Darrell all the lawyers here have explained this to you IN DETAIL about a dozen times. Frankly, I don’t feel like going through it again, and I doubt Steve does either, since you are Memento-like in your ability to ignoreforget as soon as a new thread is started.

  320. 320
    Darrell says:

    Slide, your citation does not pertain to phone records, but “Contents of Wire or Electronic Communications in a Remote Computing Service”

    Talk about not reading more carefully. Did you intentionally deceive?

  321. 321
    Slide says:

    I don’t see think it’s reasonable to characterize the NSA program which is the topic of this thread as an extreme overreach/expansion of Federal power for reasons already stated

    So let me get this straight. For the government to have a database of EVERY phone call made or received for EVERY American is not an expansion of Federal power. This from the same group that fights tooth and nail to have handguns registered. Why? If you are not doing anything wrong with your handgun why object? Isn’t your argument that that information might be abused by the Government? but the government having the instant ability to check every phone call you made and received for a period of years without judicial authority is just fine and dandy with you? Lol.. you gotta laugh at the contortions the sychophants will put themselve through to march in lock step with the Great Decider

  322. 322
    Darrell says:

    Darrell all the lawyers here have explained this to you IN DETAIL about a dozen times

    Pooh, you are confused. I have never had anyone on any BJ thread explain Smith v. Maryland to me before today. But if it makes you feel better to lie your ass off, blather onward

  323. 323
    Slide says:

    Slide, your citation does not pertain to phone records, but “Contents of Wire or Electronic Communications in a Remote Computing Service”

    Jesus Darrell you really should stick with My Pet Goat.

    c) Records Concerning Electronic Communication Service or Remote Computing Service.—

    (1) A governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications) only when the governmental entity—

    You realy ar a moron aren’t you?

  324. 324
    Pooh says:

    You have asked for explanantion after explanation and ignored them all. You are out of phone a lawyer lifelines.

  325. 325
    Darrell says:

    Slide, where does it say “phone records” on your citation? Hint: Remote computing service does not = phone service.

  326. 326
    Mike says:

    Before I leap to any conclusions, does anyone have the definitive link to what exactly the NSA was doing, what they were tracking, how farreaching it was

    Well, that pretty much defines the problem, doesn’t it? Nobody outside the administration really knows what the NSA is doing. Maybe its on the up and up. But maybe not. That’s why we have checks and balances, oversight, court reviews: to keep the program honest.

    President Bush is making the case that he can do whatever he pleases and that no-one outside his circle is trustworthy. Not the congress, not the courts, certainly not the rest of us peons. I’m amazed the Congress has shrugged off these insults for as long as they have.

    We’ve had enough history in this country of abuses of power. Are you really willing to wait for conclusive evidence before you start worrying?

  327. 327
    Darrell says:

    It’s still not clear when police need subpoenas and when they don’t, in order to access phone records. It may vary from state to state

    The bill only seeks access to subscriber information and not content of conversations. The bill corrects an unintended consequence of phone industry deregulation and advances in technology, notably cell phones and multiple service providers. Previously police would simply ask Southern New England Telephone (SNET) for the information on where a land-line number went back to, they would then received the information and then followed up with a letter. Now when the police call an out-of-state company requesting help with a cell phone number they say that they need a subpoena or a court order. There is currently no provision for a subpoena in CT

    Source

  328. 328
    Slide says:

    Darrell, obviously you have no experience reading law statutes do you? There are several sections to the law. One involves the content:

    (a) Contents of Wire or Electronic Communications in Electronic Storage.— A governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication

    but another section deals with records:

    (C)Records Concerning Electronic Communication Service or Remote Computing Service.—
    (1) A governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications)

    hint hint provider of electronic communication service = phone company.

    I don’t know how much clearer it could possibly be. Aren’t you even a little bit embarassed to be so dense Darrell?

  329. 329
    Slide says:

    Darrell what you cited talks about getting information as to who a phone number belongs to. Yes, no subpoena is necessary. I’ve done it dozens of times to get an unlisted number from the phone company. All the phone company needs to know is that you are indeed a law enforcement officer and that their is a reasonable need for the information. But getting the phone RECORDS (phone numbers called) of that subscriber requires a subpoena.

  330. 330
    Slide says:

    While Darrell is furiously googling to find some arcane tangential rebuttal that will be rebutted moments after he hits the Submit Comment button, I will again ask, why can’t we have a review of what they are doing by the FISA court. The FISA court are judges that are, unlike Darrell and myself, the experts in this field of law. They are also top secret and I have not seen one reference that showed they have EVER violated that secrecy. They are on our side aren’t they? Good Americans I would presume? As interested in keeping us safe as anyone? So, let the President run his whole program before the entire FISA panel and lets get a ruling on this. What is the objection to that?

  331. 331
    Darrell says:

    Slide, given that police commissioners and other non-judicial authorities have subpoena powers, how does that fit with your “Judicial oversight” is required comment above?

  332. 332
    Steve says:

    There’s some confusion here between (1) the situation where law enforcement is investigating a specific crime and needs records from a specific phone number or numbers; and (2) the situation where law enforcement wants records from millions of numbers, in case they turn out to be relevant to an investigation someday, or in case they provide the basis for starting an investigation.

    When a statute authorizes the police to get phone records without a warrant, there is a statutory limit on which records they may request – for example, a statute may provide that the police can get records “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” But the fact that the police could get Slide’s phone records without a warrant, if they were deemed relevant to some specific investigation, doesn’t mean the police can just get Slide’s records because they feel like it.

    Section 2709 of the Stored Communications Act, which I linked above, describes when the FBI can get phone records for counterterrorism investigations and when they can disseminate them to other agencies. Since there’s been no indication so far that the NSA got the records by using the FBI as an intermediary, I don’t think that section applies to the program we’re talking about – although it does relate to Darrell’s question of when law enforcement can get your phone records.

    I frankly haven’t seen a good argument yet as to how it could be legal for the phone companies to turn over the records they did; it seems like a clear violation of the Stored Communications Act. I’m keeping my eyes open because frankly, these are huge companies with lots of good lawyers, and I find it hard to believe all of them would voluntarily expose themselves to millions or billions of dollars in potential liability unless they felt they had some sort of legal defense.

  333. 333
    Darrell says:

    As Steve pointed out, the FBI doesn’t always need ‘judicial oversight’ either before getting access to phone records:

    The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or his designee in a position not lower than Deputy Assistant Director at Bureau headquarters or a Special Agent in Charge in a Bureau field office designated by the Director, may—
    (1) request the name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records of a person or entity if the Director (or his designee) certifies in writing to the wire or electronic communication service provider to which the request is made that the name, address, length of service, and toll billing records sought are relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities

  334. 334
    KCinDC says:

    Darrell, do you think there could possibly be a difference between getting the phone records of a few specific people connected with a particular case for a limited time and getting the phone records of every single customer (with no names or specificity) over a period of years, with no suggestion that any of them are connected to what you’re investigating at all?

    Also, if all of this is normal and legal, why on earth would the NSA not have just given Qwest the legal justification it requested so that it could turn the records over? Rather than let the courts hear about it, the NSA (after a few threats) said “never mind” and decided this essential investigation to save us all from nuclear annihilation could get along without having Qwest’s records after all.

  335. 335
    Darrell says:

    Sorry Steve, I posted that before reading your post above. I agree that the FBI example appears to be so-so justification, as most people are not suspected terrorist collaborators.

    It doesn’t help though, when Slide furiously copies and pastes to ‘prove’ that judicial oversight is always required to obtain telephone records when that is not the case. The question is, what are the standards?

  336. 336
    Darrell says:

    Darrell, do you think there could possibly be a difference between getting the phone records of a few specific people connected with a particular case for a limited time and getting the phone records of every single customer (with no names or specificity) over a period of years, with no suggestion that any of them are connected to what you’re investigating at all?

    Yes, there is a difference, as what the NSA wants to do is datamining. I am not entirely comfortable with datamining, but in this case, they are doing so based on telephone records not associated with any names, and without listening to any telephone conversations unless they can convince a judge to get a warrant on a case-by-case basis. Given the potential benefits in breaking up terrorist plots, I see this as a miniscule intrusion which does not appear unreasonable.

  337. 337
    Perry Como says:

    The Defender is working up to some sort of justification of statism. It just takes a little time.

    Police officers may not need a warrant to enter private property if there is an exigent circumstance. Therefore police officers can enter the homes of every American without a warrant, every day for years if it may help fight terrorism. So goes the logic of the nannystatist “conservatives”.

  338. 338
    Darrell says:

    So goes the logic of the nannystatist “conservatives”.

    You think the police need a warrant to put you under surveillance? No?

    I blame Bush

  339. 339
    Perry Como says:

    You think the police need a warrant to put you under surveillance? No?

    Does a nannystatist need a better monitor so he can read?

    Therefore police officers can enter the homes of every American without a warrant

    But keep justifying the expansion of government power and scope. When the Democrats gain control and pull the same shit you can join me in criticizing them. I’ll be standing in the same place.

  340. 340
    Darrell says:

    But keep justifying the expansion of government power and scope

    Well, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, as I don’t see how what the NSA is doing, from information available so far, qualifies as some big overreach/expansion. And as John C has posted, I thought the NSA had been doing this sort of thing for years anyway.

  341. 341
    John S. says:

    And as John C has posted, I thought the NSA had been doing this sort of thing for years anyway.

    You know, I thought bribes, payola and pay-to-play wrere always the sort of things that went on in politics.

    But when Duke Cunningham actually got ‘caught’ doing it, that didn’t seem to make it legal.

  342. 342
    Slide says:

    Darrell:

    It doesn’t help though, when Slide furiously copies and pastes to ‘prove’ that judicial oversight is always required to obtain telephone records when that is not the case

    Please show me where I said that judicial oversight is always required to obtain telephone records. An administrative subpoena does not necessarily require a judge but it does require a reason as to why the records are necessary. It has to state what the purpose the records will have. The blanket collection of EVERYONE’s records is quite another thing.

    Darrell:

    but in this case, they are doing so based on telephone records not associated with any names

    what a ridiculous distinction when the names are available in other databases the government has access to.

    Darrell:

    and without listening to any telephone conversations unless they can convince a judge to get a warrant on a case-by-case basis.

    huh? wrong again Darrell, we know that they have been monitoring calls of Americans WITHOUT going to the FISA court and getting a warrant. Thats what started this whole NSA scandal. They claim they don’t have to when one party is International. The law says otherwise.

    Darrell:

    Given the potential benefits in breaking up terrorist plots, I see this as a miniscule intrusion which does not appear unreasonable

    I’m not so sure of the potential benefits and I sure as hell won’t call this a miniscule intrustion to have the records of every American’s associates. Just think about that. You are willing to let the President, ANY President, know of all of your associates. Who you talk to. How often. Miniscule intrusion? lol

  343. 343
    Darrell says:

    You know, I thought bribes, payola and pay-to-play wrere always the sort of things that went on in politics.

    But when Duke Cunningham actually got ‘caught’ doing it, that didn’t seem to make it legal

    Any evidence that what the NSA is doing is “illegal”?

  344. 344
    Perry Como says:

    Any evidence that what the NSA is doing is “illegal”?

    Well, the DoJ is looking into it…oh wait. They can’t get the security clearances to look into it. But don’t worry, it’s the government, they’re here to help. Out of curiousity, at what point did you decide to blindly trust the government? Have you always put your faith in the government doing the right thing? Or is this a recent conversion to nannystatism?

  345. 345
    Darrell says:

    Please show me where I said that judicial oversight is always required to obtain telephone records.

    I wrote:

    As a law enforcement officer, can you tell us whether you and your fellow officers have Judicial oversight whenever you obtain phone records during the course of an investigation?

    To which you responded:

    Yes, we have to get a subpoena to get phone records.

    May 13th, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    I asked for examples of judicial oversight in obtaining phone records, and you responded that a supoena was your example of such judicial oversight

    what a ridiculous distinction when the names are available in other databases the government has access to.

    you posted earlier, that as a government law enforment officer, you had to go to the phone company to get the names associated with telephone numbers, as this infor. was not available otherwise.

    Is there potential for abuses? Sure, as with just about every other govt program. If and when such abuses occur, I’m prepared to reconsider my position. As of now, I see a lot of irrational Bush hatred boiling to the surface over this issue. Bush has f*cked up plenty, but not over the NSA programs from what I’ve seen. Which apparently makes me a Bushbot sycophant

  346. 346
    Slide says:

    Apparently a lot of the individuals approving of the NSA program take for granted that we have a benign governement. Our forefathers were a lot smarter than that, and they wrote the constitution fearing the worst, a potential despot, another King George. Now, I am not saying that Bush personally would use this data for the wrong reasons but that is a very shortsighted way of looking at things. If this is allowed every future President would have this data on its citizens. Every call they make. Every call they receive. Everyone that they associate with. Every organization that they belong to. What potential for abuse. What a weapon to have againt any and all opponents. You REALLY want to trust all future Presidents with that power? Without the ability of either Congress or the Judiciary to have any say or even knowledge of what is going on? I find that both incredible and sad at the same time.

    Time for my Ben Franklin quote:

    people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both

    .

  347. 347
    Darrell says:

    Time for my Ben Franklin quote:

    people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both

    Is it “trading freedom” for temporary security, allowing our bags to be searched before boarding aircraft, or having to carry a passport to travel overseas?

  348. 348
    Slide says:

    I feel sorry for people like Darrell that are so scared, so afraid, that they will let the daddy government do anything to protect them. Every dictator uses fear to impose their “security laws” because they know there are the Darrells of the world so afraid of the Jews or the commies or the capitalists or the terrorists that will let them do anything in the name of security. We lost our heads in the McCarthy days out of fear of communism. We interned Japanese Americans out of fear. I’m sure Darrell would be right there as one of the staunchest supporters of Joe McCarthy. He would be the first to argue to put the Japs in concentration camps. There will always be Darrells to comfort those that are anxious to take our rights away.

  349. 349
    Slide says:

    Is it “trading freedom” for temporary security, allowing our bags to be searched before boarding aircraft, or having to carry a passport to travel overseas?

    No. And if you don’t see the difference of allowing your bags to be searched getting on a plane with 300 other people than the blanket collection of every American’s phone records, then I don’t know what to say to you.

    I’m a cop. I could go down every street in America and search through every house. I’m sure I will find some pretty bad people. Wanted felons. Confiscate tons of drugs. It would undoubtably save lives to be able to do that. But we don’t do that. We believe in basic privacy rights of Americans. Privacy in their homes. And I would argue, privacy in their phone calls. That is what America is all about and supposedly what we are fighting for in Iraq.

  350. 350
    Darrell says:

    I feel sorry for people like Darrell that are so scared, so afraid, that they will let the daddy government do anything to protect them.

    C’mon, what we’re talking about are tradeoffs. You and others on your side don’t seem to want to admit that we as a society have made, and are making all the time, tradeoffs between privacy and security. That’s why most people don’t go into hysterics when having their bags X-rayed at the airport, or if they’re asked to show a driver’s license or passport, or willingly submit to a credit background check in order to buy a house

    That doesn’t mean that those who disagree with your absolutist worldview are heading towards concentration camps or dictatorships. Get a grip man

  351. 351
    Perry Como says:

    allowing our bags to be searched before boarding aircraft

    If I want to fly out of a major airport, then I’m agreeing to let the government search my bags at the behest of the airline. If I want to pony up the extra cash I can fly out of a private airport and not have my bags searched.

    or having to carry a passport to travel overseas

    Other countries require the passport. Take it up with the governments there.

    Not once have I ever said it’s okay for the NSA to track my phone calls. I was never asked and I never gave them permission. If you want to give the NSA your phone records, feel free. You can give the NSA your day planner for all I care. But you have no right to make that decision for me.

    Of course, Bush the Decider said the NSA can datamine all the calls that law abiding Americans make, and Darrell the Defender comes up with some form of rationalization. Bush the Decider increase the size and scope of the Federal government and Darrell the Defender says it’s okay.

    Up is down, black is white, and “conservatives” are a bunch of scared nannystatists.

  352. 352
    Perry Como says:

    That’s why most people don’t go into hysterics when having their bags X-rayed at the airport

    Voluntary.

    or if they’re asked to show a driver’s license or passport

    That shouldn’t be required without wrong doing, but unfortunately your fellow nannystatists are winning that battle.

    or willingly submit to a credit background check in order to buy a house

    Private transaction and voluntary.

    The NSA now has a record of my phone calls. I never volunteered that information to them. Verizon violated the law by providing it to them. But it’s for the children, so I guess it’s okay.

  353. 353
    Darrell says:

    This is interesting. From Powerline, according to Title 18, Chapter 121, Section 2702(c)(6) :

    Exceptions for Disclosure of Customer Records.— A provider described in subsection (a) may divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications covered by subsection (a)(1) or (a)(2)

    (6) to any person other than a governmental entity

    To any person or company at their discretion. Anyone. But Bush is shredding the constitution by using that same info to hunt terrorists, right?

  354. 354
    Darrell says:

    I’m a cop. I could go down every street in America and search through every house. I’m sure I will find some pretty bad people. Wanted felons. Confiscate tons of drugs. It would undoubtably save lives to be able to do that. But we don’t do that.

    But you do run speed traps. And I sure as hell don’t consent to those.

  355. 355
    Perry Como says:

    To any person or company at their discretion. Anyone.

    The government has alot of restrictions put on it that businesses and individuals don’t have. That’s because a business can’t put you in jail for the rest of your life or execute you.

    But Bush is shredding the constitution by using that same info to hunt terrorists, right?

    Yep.

    Go back to that comment from mises.org I posted earlier. ~12,000 people have died from terrorism since the 70s. ~200,000,000 civilians have died from government in the last century. But you are scared of the terrorists.

    I know, I know. Conservatives have always trusted the government.

  356. 356
    Slide says:

    To any person or company at their discretion. Anyone. But Bush is shredding the constitution by using that same info to hunt terrorists, right?

    You just don’t get it do you Darrell. You really are very ignorant of the nature of our government. Yes, there are laws that prohibit governmental entities that do not apply to non-governmental organizations. That is because of the potential misuse by the government.

    For example if I arrest someone I can’t question him without his waving his Miranda rights. A security guard can arrest someone and ask him whatever he wants. And they can use that in a court of law Why? because he is not a governmental entity.

    Back to phone records – if AT&T wants to give your records to another commerical enterprise and that did not violate their agreement with you (but all phone companies have agreed not to do so), there is no law against it. The law is against giving it to the government without a warrant. The government has to demonstrate a need to intrude into your privacy. Lots of Federal law is enacted to protect us from the government, something that you don’t seem to understand.

  357. 357
    Slide says:

    But you do run speed traps. And I sure as hell don’t consent to those.

    what a fuckin moron. There is no constitutional right to drive an automobile. The state can do whatever it wishes to regulate driving.

  358. 358
    Darrell says:

    The government has alot of restrictions put on it that businesses and individuals don’t have

    Just to be clear, any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy these ‘secret’ phone records, but if the NSA uses them, they’re abusing their authority. How rational of you

    I know, I know. Conservatives have always trusted the government

    Conservatives have strong national security leanings, and probably recognize this kind of info is probably valuable in hunting terrorists that are already here. This isn’t a wiretapping initiative, and I think the risk of abuse is small. But then again, I’m just a Bushbot Defender of nannystatism

  359. 359
    Slide says:

    ok.. I’m done responding to someone that doesn’t even have a rudimentry knowledge of the Constituion, our legal system or what America means to many of us. They say ignorance is bliss. If that is the case I am jeolous of Darrell as he must be in a state of constant ecstasy.

  360. 360
    Perry Como says:

    But then again, I’m just a Bushbot Defender of nannystatism

    Admiting it is the first step. Now we can move on.

    this kind of info is probably valuable in hunting terrorists that are already here. This isn’t a wiretapping initiative, and I think the risk of abuse is small.

    Those ideas contradict each other. If the program is useful for tracking terrorists, then it is useful in tracking non-terrorists too. When you are doing social network analysis you can set the type of behavior you are looking for to be anything you want. The NSA under Bush may just be using it to map patterns of terrorist activity. The NSA under Hillary Clinton may use it to map patterns of gun owners.

    If the tool is useful, it can be abused. If the tool is not useful, why the hell is the NSA wasting my money on it?

  361. 361
    Darrell says:

    There is no constitutional right to drive an automobile. The state can do whatever it wishes to regulate driving.

    Oh I see, suddenly Mr. Privacy rights champion changes his tune once someone steps into a car. Does that mean you can search my car whenever you want? Because after all, the state can “do whatever it wishes” once I get behind the wheel, right? Actually Slide, I’m jabbing at you a little, as I HATE speed traps, and I don’t see a big difference between speed traps and random searches. Don’t you guys claim authority to run random roadblocks to administer breathalizer checks? Do you honestly see a big difference between those roadblocks and random searches of residences or cars which you say you abhor?

  362. 362
    Darrell says:

    The NSA under Bush may just be using it to map patterns of terrorist activity. The NSA under Hillary Clinton may use it to map patterns of gun owners.

    In case I haven’t made myself clear, I’m very much in favor of Congressional oversight of these programs. There is a risk of abuse, just as some municipalities abuse speed traps as a revenue generator

  363. 363
    Slide says:

    ahhh.. and now I have a big smile on my face

    Huge breaking news from Jason Leopold just now at Truthout — Karl Rove has been indicted.

    Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

    During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning. Robert Luskin, Rove’s attorney, did not return a call for comment.

    Leopold reports the charges include lying to investigators and perjury before the grand jury but it is not yet known if obstruction of justice is one of the charges.

    If obstruction is off the table, there’s still a chance Karl Rove can avoid prison by pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Fitzgerald. Only if prison is unavoidable, do I think Karl Rove will fight.

    Update: Jason said the meeting lasted 15 hours. That tells me they were hammering out a plea deal to the charges. Were they successful in coming to terms? Stay tuned.

    .

  364. 364
    Slide says:

    hmmmmm…. as much as I want to belive the Rove indictment story, the fact that nobody else seems to be reporting this gives me some pause. Oh well, guess we will just have to wait and see, in either case it will induce some pleasant dreams tonight… frog march… frog march…

  365. 365
    Steve says:

    To any person or company at their discretion. Anyone. But Bush is shredding the constitution by using that same info to hunt terrorists, right?

    I seriously don’t understand you, Darrell. You have one style of argument, which is to toss out some over-the-top hyperbole, and then present a binary choice, i.e. is Bush shredding the Constitution or isn’t he.

    What we’ve established is that the phone companies seem to have broken the law by turning over these records to the government. Period. If someone wants to offer a legal argument as to why it wasn’t illegal, I’ll happily offer my take on it, but as of now this is where all the legal experts seem to stand. Millions and millions of violations of the law sounds like a big deal to me. Even if the constitution hasn’t been shredded!

    You seem to think it’s no big deal because, after all, the phone companies can sell your records to whoever they please. Well, with that in mind, let’s think about the reason why they bothered to pass this law in the first place. It’s not that people feel their phone records are super-secret info that no one should ever get to see; it’s that they have a specific concern about what might happen if the government starts going through their phone records. The government has the power to do a lot of bad things to you, like charging you with a crime, auditing your tax returns, conducting surveillance on you. There are good reasons why people fear the government more than they fear eBay purchasing their phone records and sending them some junk mail.

    Now, maybe the new paradigm is that your government is not something to be feared, but it’s now your friend, protecting you from the terrorists. Okay, but let’s keep in mind, this specific statutory section relating to disclosure of phone records has been modified 4 times since 9/11, including once in the Patriot Act and again in the renewal of the Patriot Act that was enacted earlier this year. If enough people really felt that it was important, after 9/11 and all, that the government have unfettered access to everyone’s phone records, they could have changed the law, but they didn’t. In 2001, the Executive Branch, knowing that they wanted to start this program, could have requested a change in the law, but they didn’t. At any time thereafter, including this year, they knew that the program was ongoing and they could have requested a chance in the law, but they didn’t. Nope, they left the law on the books that says you can’t turn these records over to the government, and if you do, you owe the customer $1,000 for each violation of the law.

    You’re right that there’s a balancing act between liberty and security. Normally, the legislative process is how we collectively carry out that balancing act. The balance was adjusted in favor of security over liberty after 9/11, by means of the Patriot Act; this law is something that wasn’t changed, and it doesn’t even seem like the Executive Branch fought very hard to have it changed. It’s not a “shredding of the Constitution,” but it does bother me a bit that the administration said “you know, since nobody knows about this program, it’s not even worth the trouble to try and get it made legal.” That’s not really how I like the government to operate.

  366. 366
    Darrell says:

    You seem to think it’s no big deal because, after all, the phone companies can sell your records to whoever they please

    I think the expectation of privacy regarding phone records is overblown given that anyone or any company can acquire your phone records. Again, these are call records, not wiretaps of phone conversations. As for the $1,000/violation, you already pointed out that it’s highly unlikely the legal depts. of these large telecom companies would have approved turning over phone records to the government if it was in fact illegal. Only scandal-plagued Qwest refused, perhaps holding out for money, or perhaps they had valid legal concerns. We’ll see

    As for my ‘shredding the constitution’ hyperbole, in this case I wasn’t directing it at you, but at those who are reacting completely over the top imo, using this issue as another excuse to Bush bash (you better not disagree with them, or you’ll be a sycophant too)

    I also think you’re guilty of a little hyperbole yourself in characterizing the Bush administration’s attitude as “we’re not going to even try and make it legal”, as if the program has already been demonstrated to be illegal. Also, are you suggesting that there is less Congressional oversight on this program than in the past under similar programs involving national security? as I’ve seen no evidence of that and I don’t think you have either

  367. 367
    Andrew says:

    what a fuckin moron. There is no constitutional right to drive an automobile. The state can do whatever it wishes to regulate driving.

    May I refer you to the 9th and 10th Amendments?

  368. 368
    Remfin says:

    As Steve pointed out, the FBI doesn’t always need ‘judicial oversight’ either before getting access to phone records:

    That’s a subpeona but instead of committing perjury to a judge to get it illegaly, you have to commit perjury by signing an affidavit. It’s the exact same penalty for abuse. It’s also obviously for time-sensitive things

    Any non-judical procedure involves someone having to sign their ass and job onto everything they do. You’ll notice no one has had to sign a damn thing for this giant program you claim can be justified because sometimes non-judical ways exist

    To any person or company at their discretion. Anyone. But Bush is shredding the constitution by using that same info to hunt terrorists, right?

    Well maybe you didn’t read what you pasted…it specifically saying you can NOT give it to the government unless it meets one of the OTHER exceptions…can you not read or what? Or are you confused about the fact that the Constitution is about the government and not private companies?

  369. 369
    Darrell says:

    it specifically saying you can NOT give it to the government unless it meets one of the OTHER exceptions…can you not read or what? Or are you confused about the fact that the Constitution is about the government and not private companies?

    I am confused that
    1) it seems to directly contradict Smith v. Maryland, 1979 which held that govt could collect these phone numbers
    and
    2) if these phone records were considered so private/secret/important, than why, under the Title 18 law you mention, could any person or private company purchase them and/or sell them to government? I read Steve’s explanation, I just don’t find it persuasive in the least.

    Doesn’t seem like anyone treated these records with that much care about privacy concerns in the past. Why suddenly is such a privacy concern ‘crisis’ now that these same records are used to hunt terrorists?

  370. 370
    Slide says:

    If this is true, it will prove exactly my point, that the government can abuse the information it is collecting. This is BIG fucking news if true. Government spying on the news media? Ladies and Gentlemen we are heading towards a totalitarian state. Be scared. Be very scared.

    ABC News’ press office just sent out this release to news organizations, RAW STORY has learned. The story has been posted at the ABC NEWS blog

    ABC’s Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

    A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

    “It’s time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,” the source told us in an in-person conversation.

    We do not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

    Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

    One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

    Our reports on the CIA’s secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials.

    People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

    Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.

    The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.

    A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

    DEVELOPING…

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