Government spying: Nobody Cares About You

I once worked as IT Manager at a sales company whose owner felt instilling paranoia in his sales force contributed to increased productivity (It is possible, however, in my opinion, that he was just a sadistic jerk). To this end he inculcated the belief among his employees that all their email was read by the IT department. My predecessor, being a loyal employee (it is possible, however, in my opinion, that he was just a passive aggressive jerk who hated the sales staff), assured the salespeople that yes, their email was being read.

It took me about a week on the job to figure out that the other employees thought that one of the major duties of my department was reviewing the 2000 or so emails they sent and received each day. After hearing “I know you read all our email, so I wanted to tell you that I had no idea my friend was sending me”¦” for the umpteenth time I pointed out the obvious: It was a physical impossibility for my staff and I to read 2000 emails a day, and, even if we could, the sheer dullness of their content would keep us from doing so. “Look,” I said, “you guys just aren’t very interesting.” I think for some of them the thought that they were uninteresting was worse than the thought that their emails were being read. Their egos could simply not accept their insignificance. I never did convince all of them that their emails were not being read.

The Senate is currently working on a reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In one of the rare instances in which they were not attempting to prove their name oxymoronic the Senate Intelligence Committee 12 -2 passed out a version that included two key components: Protection for communications providers that cooperated with our intelligence services in the form of concealment of their identities and retroactive and future civil and criminal immunity for cooperation with our intelligence and law enforcement services following 9-11 and retroactive civil and criminal immunity for the intelligence and law enforcement services who used the information provided to catch terrorists. The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, always looking for new ways to cripple our intelligence and law enforcement services and to enrich trial lawyers saw a golden opportunity to do both at the same time and removed those provisions from the bill that was sent to the floor. Fortunately this bill failed to pass. Why are these provisions important? Simple — first, if companies are going to get sued for millions of dollars every time they cooperate with the feds, they’re not going to cooperate with the feds. Second, during the legal process there is something known as discovery, in which each side has to provide information to the other side. In the case of a lawsuit against a communications provider or the government by terrorists or terrorist friendly entities like the ACLU, this means the terrorists attorneys can ask for, and the communications company or the government must provide, intimate details of how they obtained the information that led them to the belief that the terrorist was a terrorist including all the human and technological assets and processes used. In other words we’d have to give the terrorists all the information they need to make it infinitely harder for us to catch them in the future. The lunatic fringe, of course, is up in arms over the thought that our intelligence and law enforcement services might actually be able to do their jobs and that patriotic companies will be able to help them without buying some bloodsucking trial lawyer a new vacation home. Their argument is the same old song — these updates to FISA will let government spy on anyone and everyone for no reason – ignoring the fact that there are restrictions built into the bill that put strict limits on how information may be gathered and used. It is here that I will indulge in a little passive aggressive sadism of my own by revealing the bitter truth to all the mentally deficient, underachieving, parents’ basement dwelling public access TV hosts and bloggers and assorted self-described “activists”: Even if the government could read all you emails, listen to all your phone calls and install 17 hidden cameras in your parents’ basement, they wouldn’t. You are unimportant. Nobody cares about you or what you think, say or write, least of all the feds – they’re busy trying to catch bad guys who want to kill all Americans – including you. I realize this may be a tremendous blow for some of you whose only hope for significance is the delusion that there is a government file on you somewhere other than the IRS, the Social Security Administration and the unemployment office, but that’s the way it is.

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  • John Fairplay

    Since its infiltration by Communists in the early part of the last century, the American Left has been paranoid about public scrutiny of their dealings. Normally, when there is public scrutiny, folks in the American Left end up in federal prison, so perhaps their paranoia is justified. It’s hilarious to look at a case like John Lennon – who had an FBI file as thick as a phone book and was a major drug addict but who came and lived freely in the United States for years without being hassled.

    Sitting around with like-minded friends and talking about how much you hate President Bush and how you wish Al-Queda would attack again can be endlessly diverting, but it’s hardly ground for the feds to knock down the door. They save that treatment for the real domestic terrorists in the “environmental” movement.

  • Steve Plunk

    When will people understand it’s not the Feds who are the biggest threat to our civil liberties but our city councils and local police force? Innocent until proven guilty? Get a photo ticket of one sort or another and you will see that’s not true anymore. Search warrants needed to enter property? The Medford water commission instructed meter readers to search home sprinkler systems for back-flow devices without warrants or permission. Recently the Jackson county assessor stated his appraisers could enter backyards without home owner permission. See the pattern?

    Tim Lyman is correct. The Feds don’t have the time or inclination to watch what the average citizen is doing. There are real threats they would much rather work on. The local busy bodies have plenty of time to meddle in the private affairs of citizens and are rarely called on it.

  • Britt Storkson

    The government doesn’t care about you…That is until you don’t pay your taxes.

  • Gullyborg

    You mean they aren’t checking my library records to see why books I checked out last week? Phew! For a second there I thought I’d have to explain why I checked all those Playboys out from the periodicals department.

    • dean

      It remains amazing to me that so called “small government” conservatives fail to see the significance of expanding the federal government’s ability to spy on its citizens without a cnstitutional warrant. And it is equally amazing that the same so-called conservatives complain bitterly about amnesty for undocumented workers yet say nothing about amnesty for telecommunications companies and government officials who knowingly broke laws.

      Yes…not to worry…trust the government. They are only after “terrorists.” So what if they arrest an American citizen, hold him for 2 years incommunicado on a military base without charges, probably torture him, and then convict him for a crime he was not arrested for. No problem. Only the liberals have to worry about it. Unless President Hillary or Barack choose different targets.


      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, a shorter way to say this is to paraphrase John Locke:

        Beware of good princes, for they set bad precedents.

      • Anonymous

        So were you arrested and held for 2 tears incommunicado on a miltary base without charges, tortured and convicted of a crime you weren’t arrested for? I thought not.

        • dean

          Anon…no, fortunately I wasn’t. And neither was I or any member of my family rounded up and placed in a Nazi death camp or Sovet Gulag back in the day. So I suppose had I lived back then and there, I should have expressed no concern about the anti-Jewish laws or Stalin’s purges.

          The point…loss of civil liberties is a slippery slope. By the time the rope is well greased and we are halfway down, climbing back up will be quite a chore.

      • Steve Plunk


        This re-authorization is not much of an expansion. The conservatives you speak of recognize a balance is to be struck and we must be vigilant but we have not crossed the line on the federal level, yet.

        Your statement concerning amnesty for telecommunications companies and executives must be concerning the part of the act that protects them from lawsuits while complying with the government requirements. That’s not amnesty by any reasonable standard.

        As for your example of how we deal with terrorists we could also describe the case differently. An American citizen traveling from abroad was arrested for plotting against the United States. Not knowing the proper way to handle the case the authorities used their best judgement since there are no legal precedents of this kind concerning enemy combatants. After many court rulings clarifying the situation the prosecutors decide it would be best to try the terrorist on a different charge for which he is duly convicted. Allegations of torture are proven to be nothing more than uncomfortable living conditions while in custody, conditions no worse than what our military live in daily.

        So the positions taken by conservatives can be very reasonable and defensible. So instead of throwing in unfounded allegations like torture and misleading terms like amnesty try and debate the issue with facts and logic.

        • dean

          Waterboarding Steve. That is “uncomfortable living conditions.” Conservatives are fine with this as government policy?

          • Chris McMullen

            I see you conveniently dodged defending your “amnesty” position.

            And yes, I’m comfortable with enemy combatants and terrorists being waterboarded in order to save countless lives.

          • dean

            Chris…I wasn’t doging it. What is proposed in the bill is indeed amnesty for illegally allowing the government to use private records. The telecoms should have told the government to come back with a warrant signed by a judge.

            And to Steve above…the re-authorization is precisely the problem, minus the amendments that dial back the government’s authority to wiretap without a warrant.

            Chris..all I can say is that if you are comfortable with your tax dollars paying Americans to torture people they capture, who may or may not be enemy comabants and may or may not be terrorists, then you are also comfortable with other nations torturing Americans they vbelieve may be enemy combatants or terrorists, with or without any proof. And you have surrendered the moral high ground, without which we are basically going to fight this war with a diminishing roster of allies.

            I think if you all want to know why conservatism is in decline, look no farther than your statements above.

          • Anonymous

            i would be ecstatic if the worse any American detained by a foreign government or military force had to face was waterboarding.

          • David from Eugene

            But are you comfortable with you or a member of your family being water boarded by mistake?

          • Anonymous

            No one in my family is engaged in terrorist activities.

          • David from Eugene

            That’s nice but rather irrelevant as one does not need to be engaged in terrorist activities to be declared as a terrorist. All that is necessary is for someone in authority to declare them as one. And once that declaration has been made, correct or incorrect, the individual has no access to the courts to challenge the accuracy of that determination. Additionally the current government believes that it does not need to release the names or disposition of those it has arrested, so you would not be able to determine if the member of your family had been the victim of some grotesque government error or serial killer. All you would know is that they are gone.

            And before you dismiss this as something that would never happen to you or yours consider what happened recently to the Swedish Businessman denied entry to the US based on an unverified anonymous tip that he was an AQ supporter. The Swedish government traced the tip back to his father-in law who admitted it was a false statement. As to the Businessman, it is reported that his name is still on the no entry list because of “terrorist links”.

            And also consider the revelations that came from an examination of the Eastern European Secret Police files which revealed a surprising large number of denunciations of individuals made by their friends and neighbors.

            And to return to waterboarding, remember that many when subjected to torture tell the interrogators what they want to hear not necessarily the truth. And all they need to do is utter your name……..

          • Anonymous

            Irrelevent? Don’t be riduculous. Whether or not one is plottiing or committing terrorist activities is all that is relevant to their arrest and detainment. Just because you don’t think torching a lot full of SUV’s or spiking trees is a terrorist act, doesn’t make it so.

            I challenge you to name one American citizen who has been detained in such a manner as you describe. Even little Johnny Taliban got due process in American civilian courts.

            Re: sweedish businessman. Wow! One case or a foreign national being mistakenly detained in 6 years. That’s a record any law enforcement agency would envy.

            If you ask any cop you’ll find out that the majority of fugitivies are caught because of a tip from a relative.

          • David from Eugene

            You miss my point, it is not a question as to whether a particular act is considered terrorism but rather that the system being established contains no safeguards against error, abuse or over zealousness. Anyone regardless of whatever they have or have not done could be declared as a terrorist, and once that happens there is no appeal path.

            But this deviates from my primary question, is it acceptable to you that an agent of our government waterboard a member of your family, for unless that is acceptable, it should not be acceptable to waterboard a member of someone else’s family.

            As to burning SUVs, if I am not mistaken the individual was arrested, prosecuted in a public trial, convicted and is currently in jail. Our existing criminal justice system works. It is not perfect, but it generally does a good job both in terms of protecting the innocent and convicting the guilty. Expediency and convenience are not valid reasons to change it.

          • Steve Plunk


            What American citizen has been water boarded? Simple question deserving a simple answer. By the way, Jose Padilla has never claimed to have been water boarded so don’t use him as an example.

          • dean

            Steve….I don’t know if any of my fellow American citizens have been water boarded or not. Its not like President Bush would send me an email bragging about it.

            But if the government can hold an American citizen in solitary confinement for 2 years without charges, and if that same government thinks it is right to torture people it has picked up on a battlefield or who had been handed over by other governments that do torture people, then it is reasonable to conclude our government would torture its own citizens if it thought it had reason to do so, i.e. breaking up a terrorist cell.

            Its a slippery slope that again, I don’t know how small government conservatives could ever go along with.

          • Chris McMullen

            Dean, for a socialist, you sure mistrust the government. I’m sanguine with the fact the Bush administration has taken the steps required to apprehend terror suspects.

            BTW, your buddy Clinton supported warrantless searches. Were you bellyaching about it then?

      • Anonymous

        The telecom companies acted out of patriotic duty. Illegal aliens act for personal financial gain. There’s a hell of a difference.

        • dean

          Chris…I’m a civil libertarian. In the first weeks and months after 9/11 I could understand a circling of the wagons, including temporarily violating some civil rights or suspending rules on wiretaps. But 2 things soon became apparent. One, that the plane attacks were a one off. Bin laden had used up all his chits that he had stashed here. Second, that defeating him was going to take decades. So should we continue to suspecnd civil liberties for a period of decades to meet a threat that is, interms of domestic danger, apparently not all that serious. The Soviets could have wiped us out in a few hours, yet we managed to retain our civil liberties, and we did not condone or practice torture.

          It is hardly patriotic to assist the government to break the law. What is patriotic is to stand for freedom and liberty, even when others are fearful.

  • David from Eugene


    To start with the Federal Government has access to software and equipment that most IT departments do not. Given the bits of information about this and related programs that have leaked out it is reasonable to conclude that Intelligence Agencies in the Federal Government have been examining most if not all phone and email communications in and out of the country. It is likely that most are just being run through some sort of a key word filter and only those messages that the filter catches are being reviewed by a human. What is currently unknown is what are the words and phrases that are used in the filter and what criteria is used by the computer to determine which messages will be subjected to review by a human.

    Assuming that the system has safeguards, and it is only being used to catch Terrorists your premise that “Government spying: Nobody cares about you” is probably accurate. But that is a series of assumptions I am not willing to accept. Particularly as it appears they want a system where no one watches the watchers.

    Second, the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are not trying to cripple our Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies. What they are doing is trying to craft a functional system that is consistent with the Constitutional Protections we all enjoy.

    As to the question of granting immunity to the telecommunication companies who cooperated with government agencies in their illegal activities, why? If they participated they need have their hands slapped hard. Civil liability is one of the systems safeguards against improper government action. Reducing the level of their voluntary cooperation with the government is a good thing, there is no loss as the government can compel through the use of properly obtained warrants their cooperation. The requirement that the government get a warrant to conduct wiretaps is meaningless if the telecommunications companies provide the information without them. As to the problem with discovery, that is the price the government must pay for engaging in illegal activities.

    In closing a couple of relevant thoughts

    First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Martin Niemoeller

    Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

  • Rupert in Springfield

    It would be nice if we could stop all this talk of concern and worry about loss of civil liberties from the left.

    They have always wanted limitless power for the government, so long as it remains in their hands. How do we know this?

    1) There was no concern over any of this when Clinton was desperately trying to survale the entire internet under the Magic Lantern program.

    2) Excessive government intrusion? Warrants? If you were born post Janet Reno, you are forgiven, if you were around during her tenure, where were you?

    3) It is logically inane to say you would trust the government to run your health care responsibly, but not to look at emails, wiretap etc. responsibly.

    If nothing else that is the consolation the right could take in a Hillary or Obama election. This annoying drone of concern from the left will cease immediately. Government power will rise as civil liberties fall and the left will thankfully be a little less vocal about their morality.

    • dean

      Rupert…if and when the Dems win the White House, that will be the time to see where the ACLU and others stand on civil liberties with respect to the Patriot Act continuation. Yes, in the past both political parties have stomped on civil rights when it suited them, dating at least back to Lincoln, carrying through Wilson, Roosevelt, Nixon, and so forth. My point is and remains, why are so-called SMALL GOVERNMENT CONSERVATIVES so nonchalant about this current administration’s willingness to break the law, wire tap without warrants, torture, and detain citizens without charge indefinitely?

      Turning it around and arguing that big government liberals did not complain in the past is not really an answer. It is avoidance of an answer.

      As for government running health care, that is a red herring. No leading Democrat is proposing that they “run it.” What is being proposed is greater access to private insurance, private doctors, private hospitals, and rational methods of cost containment such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

      Using your argument, we on the left can say it is illogical for you on the right to assume governments can plan and fight wars successfully but can’t run schools. Since examples of good and not so good government run programs abound, where will this sort of argument get anyone?

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Rupert…if and when the Dems win the White House, that will be the time to see where the ACLU and others stand on civil liberties with respect to the Patriot Act continuation.

        Not really. Patriot was first conceived under Clinton as was Bosnia/Kosovo, Magic Lantern etc. Of course the left was quite quiescent then because there was no partisan advantage in bringing up civil liberties, or ill conceived wars at that time. I see nothing wrong at looking at the lefts past record and questioning their sudden adherence to strict civil liberties and morality where there was little before.

        >Turning it around and arguing that big government liberals did not complain in the past is not really an answer. It is avoidance of an answer.

        It wasn’t meant to be an answer, I was simply questioning the sincerity of the questioners and thus the relevancy of the question.

        >As for government running health care, that is a red herring. No leading Democrat is proposing that they “run it.” What is being proposed is greater access

        No, its simply questioning why some liberals seem to love big government in most places, except when it comes to defense. Defense has a stronger mandate since its an assigned government duty in the constitution, “access” isn’t.

        >Using your argument, we on the left can say it is illogical for you on the right to assume governments can plan and fight wars successfully but can’t run schools.

        No, because war and defense of the country is specifically assigned to the government as its duty and generally, Vatican City excepted, wars and defense tend to not be private organizations. Schools, pretty much without exception, are run more efficiently privately and with better results than by government.

        • CHris McMullen

          Rupert, unfortunately Dean claims the Constitution was written by “white, slave-owning deists…” and therefore is no longer valid in the modern world.

          Pretty sad that someone who’s lived under the protection of such a world-changing document would have so much animosity toward it.

          The word “ingrate” comes to mind.

    • Anonymous

      On a local note, let’s add Measure 49 and DHS to the list.

  • Anonymous

    “why are so-called SMALL GOVERNMENT CONSERVATIVES so nonchalant…”

    The current administration has not “broken the law.” If they had you can bet the lefties in the Justice Dept would be dropping indictments all over the place.

    Warrentless wiretaps are legal under the circumstances in which they have been used.

    Waterboarding and sleep deprivation are not torture. A couple of idiots making some prisoners form a naked human pyramid is not torture. Pliers or electrocal current to the nuts, shredding of live people in tree chippers, throat slitting, raping children while their parents watch – this is torture.

    The instance of the US citizen “detained without charge” wasn’t so. He was charged, the courts ruled he could not be charged under the original charge because those charges could not be applied to US citizens and he was then charged with a different crime, tried and convicted. You omit, of course, the convennient fact that he was caught red-handed plotting a terrorist act with mountains of evidence which was used not only to convict him, but to find and convict other terrorists.

  • Jerry

    I have to agree with Anonymous. All this stuff is so silly – these people are our sworn enemies and we need to deal with them as such.
    Period. End of report.

    • dean

      Okay all…you have provided your answers to my question. We have enemies, conservatives are in charge, defense is all that matters, and anyway we are not really torturing anyone or detaining them without charge. Plus Clinton did it too, and good people have nothing to hide. Civil rights schmivil rights.

      Thanks. Next time someone here says “small government” I’ll be there to remind you.

      • Chris McMullen

        Dean, Rupert did an eloquent job of explaining to you that national defense is mandated in the Constitution, not public education, welfare, social security or healthcare. Could the military, law enforcement and courts be more efficient? Of course they could, but helping telecoms from getting sued for frivolous reasons isn’t some bloated program like Medicaid nor does it aid in “torturing” U.S. citizens.

        So, drop the “small government” canard.

        • dean

          Yes Chris…I should have added “eloquent.” I forgot all about the constitution for a moment there. Silly me.

          • Anonymous

            Irrelevent? Don’t be riduculous. Whether or not one is plottiing or committing terrorist activities is all that is relevant to their arrest and detainment.

            I challenge you to name one American citizen who has been detained in such a manner as you describe.

          • Anonymous

            Sorry, reply in wrong location. This one should have been:

            Typical lib response, Dean. Resort to sarcasm when out-argued.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Nobody is saying civil rights are unimportant, in fact they are very important. The fact is that the left is quite late in coming to the party on this issue and one has to question why they have such sudden interest in them only when it comes to national security issues when there is a Republican president.

    As for civil right shmivel rights, the left can fully resume this posture when and if Clinton or Obama is elected. Things will be as they were in the past under Bill, with nary a concern in the world over lobbing bombs at civilians or entering into “illegal” wars to deflect from testimony. Zero concerns over shaky search warrants executed with tanks or sniper teams, and full surveillance of the internet as a goal. Judges will be appointed who think its perfectly ok for government to take property from people to give to developers or to silence opposition to incumbents prior to an election and the left will cheer. As in the past, individual rights will be subsumed to the demands of the government and those who raise concern will be dismissed as “black helicopter folk” by the intelligencia left.

    Given the likelihood of a Clinton or Obama victory, I should think you would be in good cheer. The heavy burden of concern for civil rights will be lifted in short order.

    • dean

      Rupert…yes, I am in good cheer that the right wing appears to be self-destructing over the pending nomination of McCain, hated in part because he was actually tortured and finds the practice unbeffiting to the nation he once fought for. I’ll restrain myself from cheering out loud until we actually have a civil rights oriented Democrat back in the White House. Long row to hoe yet.

      All Presidents are inclined to abuse their authority in their zeal to get things done. The end justifying the means is deep within all of us. And again, this is why so-called small government conservatives, in particular ought to be cautious about granting more power to the state to spy on us, arrest us, hold us incommunicado, or heaven forbid to mistreat of torture us to get information or a confession. Yes, there are some ragtag jihadists out there who want to kill Americans (and Brits, Spaniards, Germans, Austrailians, and many others). And yes, it could be easier to defend ourselves against them if we suspended our civil rights, allowed the government to wiretap without warrants, torture suspects, and so forth. But we have had enemies many times in the past who wanted to kill us. And these enemies were way more of a threat than what we face today. We stood down the Soviets for 40 years and never sanctioned the sorts of things we are now sanctioning. Rights given up are difficult to get back.

      The ACLU has been a consistent voice on the left for protecting civil rights, even to the extent of representing Nazis who wanted a permit to march through a largely Jewish community in suburban Chicago. I would say that was walking their talk. I would also say there was a lot of concern on the left when the Branch Davidians were attacked. Though clearly they brought the force of the government on themselves through their armed camp paranoia, the whole thing was badly mishandled by the Justice Department and FBI, and many “on the left” said so at the time.

      Wasn’t it a right wing neo-nazi who destroyed a Federal building in Oaklahoma and killed well over a hundred innocent people? One of your black helicopter folks no?

      Yes…local governments using their condemnation powers for urban renewal is problematic, but at least the government does pay for the property…they don’t just “take” it. And last I looked 3 of the 5 affirmative votes in Keilo were Republican appointees.

    • David from Eugene


      The problem is the belief that national security trumps civil rights in all cases and that the determination as to what is a national security matter not subject to review.

      As to Waco, while the method of service is indefensible and the supporting documentation questionable, the fact remains that there was a Warrant issued by a Judge which is a matter of public record and available for pubic review, which is more than can be said for the proposed changes to the FISA process.

      My concerns regarding much of the anti-terrorism legislation will not go away should a Democrat be elected president. As a student of history I am fully aware that there have been leftist police states as well as right wing ones and that a nation needs to have equal concern for a quasi-legal takeover as it does for a violent one. My concern is not linked to the known individuals who are or may soon be president but rather to the unknown individual who sometime in the future may gain control of the “legal” ability to establish a police state. Remember the legal foundation that permitted Hitler’s takeover in Germany was established before he started his rise to power and was not created by him or his supporters. The best way to prevent this is to make sure the apparatus is not created in the first place.

      To expand on Franklin’s 1759 observation, not only will people who trade liberty for security not deserve liberty or security they will likely not get either.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Warrant for the raid on WACO -> Obtained by unauthorized military over flights in direct violation of the law.

        How did the government get away with it? Well, they lied. They simply claimed they thought there were drugs involved.

        How do we know this? ATF admitted it during the WACO hearings. Chuck Schumer was perfectly ok with this.

        What to make of it? Well, the WACO hearings took place during Clinton. The government admitted they lied, used the military to enforce civilian law and the left did nothing.

        Conclusion? The left doesn’t give a rip about civil or individual rights, so long as they are in charge.

        If you doubt this, please list the leftist groups that called for Clintons impeachment at the time over this matter.

        Failing that please try and convince me that had John Ashcroft incinerated 70 environmentalists, who he claimed, based on no evidence, were evil, you guys would have been ok with it because of a warrant that he later admitted he lied to obtain.

        Frankly, I am amazed that you have any faith in a warrant issued by a judge, when a government agency can admit they lied to obtain it, and you guys didn’t care a whit at the time.

        • David from Eugene

          My faith is not with the warrant but rather with the system of which it is part. I am fully aware that law enforcement officials have on occasion stretched the truth or even lied on the affidavits supporting a request for a warrant. I am also aware that on occasion Courts have suppressed evidence obtained through the use warrants that were improperly issued. That possibility is the safeguard against the improper issue of warrants.

          But this part of our check and balance system only works if the affidavit is a matter of reviewable public record and there is a trial. One of the problems with FISA is that both the affidavit and the warrant are secret. And the revision to it does away with the warrant and through other legislation the public trial.

          The other problem is also secrecy. Because the methods used to do the intercepts and the results of the interception are secret we do not know if the system is being used improperly and if so by whom.

  • Anonymous

    The legal foundation that permitted Hitler’s takeover exists in almost all representative republics.

    Hitler was legally elected along with droves of his supporters. Once elected, Hitler’s supporters in the German parliment voted to vest almost all government powers in him and the populace ratified it. Given sufficient single party control of congress and two thirds of the state legislatures, the same could happen here.

    • David from Eugene

      Hitler, while he was elected as a member of the Reichstag, he was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg and through the exercise of emergency powers ran the German Government. The system of emergency powers he used so effectively were established with the formation of the Weimar Republic, and had been used by a number of Chancellors before him. The need to use these powers was caused by a break down in the parliamentary system caused by a willingness for the Nazi’s and the Communist’s to cooperate in votes of no confidence but not in the formation of a new government.

      Under our current Constitution, a system of emergency powers like those used by Hitler does not exist. And while to date the Courts have reversed attempts by past Presidents to establish them it is much better to stop them from being enacted in the first place, then it is to rely on a court system to over turn them afterwards.

      • dean

        Rupert…you are drifting into black helicopter territory. Its many years since the Branch Davidians, but are you saying that the Clinton Administration deliberately “incinerated” those poor people?

        I would imagine that police and prosecutors lie or at least exaggerate threats to get warrants with great frequency. And how do you know what “we guys” thought about all this at the time? This particular guy thought it a badly botched operation that ended in tragedy. It had nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with poor leadership and decisions in the field. Why would we want impeach a President for this? What does it have to do with the topic at hand…i.e. FISA reauthorization and amnesty for telecoms?

        • Rupert in Springfield

          “Rupert…you are drifting into black helicopter territory.”

          EXACTLY. This is exactly the term that was used by the left, when Clinton was in charge, towards anyone who questioned his administrations disregard for civil liberties and individual rights. Its astonishing to me that people could watch tanks being used against civilians and ridicule those who question it and then expect their concerns over esoteric FISA warrants to be taken seriously at all.

          >I would imagine that police and prosecutors lie or at least exaggerate threats to get warrants with great frequency. And how do you know what “we guys” thought about all this at the time?

          How do I know what the left thought? Simple, you had 70 people incinerated, and the left did nothing but cheer Janet Reno on for her courage in “taking responsibility”. There simply wasn’t near the outrage anywhere on the left over the incident. However, one weird report of a Koran being flushed in GITMO and the ACLU goes wild.

          Wouldn’t it have been neat if the ACLU and other legal groups had flown as many lawyers to Waco to assure rights were upheld for Americans as they do to Gitmo?

          >It had nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with poor leadership and decisions in the field. Why would we want impeach a President for this?

          So you are seriously telling me, that had John Ashcroft done the same actions, you wouldn’t have been screaming for at least his resignation if not the presidents? Come on. I really don’t think you believe that do you?

          Look the point is very simple, Waco was simply one of the more egregious incidents of the Clinton administration running rough shod over civil and individual rights. You guys did nothing nearly on the scale of what you do now when criticizing Bush.

          Who knows though, the Kelo decision and McCain Feingold both happened under Bush, and both eroded peoples rights far more substantially than any sort of FISA nonsense. Where was the left then?

          Look, the point is, and everyone knows, this isn’t about rights of any kind for the left. Its about trying to ensure a loss in Iraq, and thus a favorable election outcome for Democrats. There simply is no other logical conclusion one can draw and quite frankly it is looking to be quite a successful strategy.

          We will see, post election, if the left can walk the walk as well as they talk the talk. I doubt it though. Hillary is currently calling for forcing people to buy insurance. I am waiting in rapt attention to see the throngs of the “rights concerned” left protesting in the streets. One would think that government compulsion to buy anything from greedy evil insurance companies would raise their hackles.

          • dean

            Rupert….where to begin. The Branch Davidians had armed themselves to the teeth and barricaded themselves in. I’ve yet to see any leftist group since the Weathermen or SLA go that route, and when they did they were dealt with in similar fashion no?

            So your initial analogy with respect to Ashcroft is off base.

            This liberal supported McCain-Feingold and still does. Its a better approach than what Tom Delay was up to with K street. As for Kelo, many on the left have been as critical as those on the right.

            Iraq was a lost cause from the beginning. Whatever we Democrats do or don’t do while Bush is in office does not matter. It is up to the Iraqis, not any of us or you.

            On insurance, the Dem strategy is to open up more choices, bring costs down, and provide subsidies for those who can’t afford it. Within that framework Clinton supports mandates and Obama does not. Why would a health insurance mandate be any more onerous than a car insurance mandate rupert? Why is it more onerous than pollution control? Why more than any tax that we have to pay? It simply recognizes that everyone who goes to an emergency room is entitled to care, so it says everyone needs to chip into the pot. Something for something instead of something for nothing.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >The Branch Davidians had armed themselves to the teeth

            No – The Davidians had no more weapons than anyone else in the area on a per person basis. Machine guns (Texas does not allow civilian ownership of machine guns) that were claimed to have been there, were never produced. Oddly they had all been destroyed.

            Hmm, the left went nuts over the CIA destroying some tapes about a month ago, don’t remember them going nuts over that one at the hearings.

            >and barricaded themselves in.

            No, the raid was initiated with a helicopter SWAT landing on the roof, and ATF shooting through the door (another item that somehow just disappeared at the hearings guess they learned from Randy Weaver where hanging on to that front door resulted in a pretty big settlement). Having your door closed is hardly barricaded.

            >any leftist group since the Weathermen or SLA go that route, and when they did they were dealt with in similar fashion no?

            Not really, I lived seven blocks away from the Weathermen HQ in NYC when it blew up. Never saw tanks there staging an assault. Generally the left is pretty soft on leftist terrorists. Look at how Clinton pardoned the FALN terrorists when Hil was running for Senate.

            >Iraq was a lost cause from the beginning.

            Hmm, seems as I recall this was also said about Desert Storm.

            >On insurance, the Dem strategy is to open up more choices, bring costs down,

            Poppycock – The Dem strategy has constantly been to restrict choice. I don’t want acupuncture coverage, they mandate my insurance cover it. Id like to buy my insurance from a company in a sate that doesn’t have those mandates, the Dems have constantly opposed that. I would like full deductibility of health insurance for self employed people, the Dems fought that tooth and nail until Republicans got control of the house in 1994.

            Guess what? All those mandates make insurance cost more and restrict choice.

            >Why would a health insurance mandate be any more onerous than a car insurance mandate rupert?

            Obviously you don’t pay for your own health insurance. There is quite a cost difference between health insurance and car insurance.

            >Why is it more onerous than pollution control? Why more than any tax that we have to pay?

            It isn’t, that wasn’t my point. My point was that Democrats love government coercion, so long as they are the ones in charge of it.

            The real question is – why is it so onerous for the left to let citizens make their own choices in life?

          • dean

            Rupert…I do pay my own health insurance. And you are dead wrong on the Current Dem proposals on health care. They expand the range of choices and hold down costs. Look them up for yourself.

            We are all citizens Rupert, left, right and middle. We all attempt to impose things on others. Terry Schiavo was not that long ago after all. Choices in life are fine until they affect others in negative ways, i.e. pollution, driving too fast for safety, shouting fire in a crowded theatre, and so forth. We have a bill of rights to prevent majorities from overstepping, and we have elections to determine who gets to set the rules in the interim. Its a good system all in all.

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