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  #1  
Old 04-06-2009, 07:45 PM
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New Administration defends wire tapping?

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/06/BARP16TJOQ.DTL&tsp=1

Administration defends Bush wire-taps
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, April 6, 2009


(04-06) 15:26 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The Obama administration is again invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration's wiretapping program, this time against a lawsuit by AT&T customers who claim federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records.

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Disclosure of information sought by the customers, "which concerns how the United States seeks to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security," Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed Friday in San Francisco.

Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lawyer for the customers, said Monday the filing was disappointing in light of the Obama presidential campaign's "unceasing criticism of Bush-era secrecy and promise for more transparency."

In a 2006 lawsuit, the AT&T plaintiffs accused the company of allowing the National Security Agency to intercept calls and e-mails and inspect records of millions of customers without warrants or evidence of wrongdoing.

The suit followed President George W. Bush's acknowledgement in 2005 that he had secretly authorized the NSA in 2001 to monitor messages between U.S. residents and suspected foreign terrorists without seeking court approval, as required by a 1978 law.

Congress passed a new law last summer permitting the surveillance after Bush allowed some court supervision, the extent of which has not been made public. The law also sought to grant immunity to AT&T and other telecommunications companies from suits by customers accusing them of helping the government spy on them.

Nearly 40 such suits from around the nation, all filed after Bush's 2005 disclosure, have been transferred to San Francisco and are pending before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. He is now reviewing a constitutional challenge to last year's immunity law, which the Obama administration is defending.

Walker is also considering a challenge to the surveillance program by the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a now-defunct charity, which was inadvertently given a government document in 2004 reportedly showing that its lawyers had been wiretapped during an investigation that landed the group on the government's terrorist list.

The Obama administration is also opposing that suit and has challenged Walker's order to let Al-Haramain's lawyers examine the still-classified surveillance document.

The administration's new filing asks Walker to dismiss a second suit filed by AT&T customers last September that sought to sidestep the telecommunications immunity law by naming only the government, Bush and other top officials as defendants.

Like the earlier suit, the September case relies on a former AT&T technician's declaration that he saw equipment installed at the company's San Francisco office to allow NSA agents to copy all incoming e-mails. The plaintiffs' lawyers say the declaration, and public statements by government officials, revealed a "dragnet" surveillance program that indiscriminately scooped up messages and customer records.

The Justice Department said Friday that government agents monitored only communications in which "a participant was reasonably believed to be associated with al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization." But proving that the surveillance program did not sweep in ordinary phone customers would require "disclosure of highly classified NSA intelligence sources and methods," the department said.

Individual customers cannot show their messages were intercepted, and thus have no right to sue, because all such information is secret, government lawyers said. They also said disclosure of whether AT&T took part in the program would tell the nation's enemies "which channels of communication may or may not be secure."

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  #2  
Old 04-06-2009, 08:21 PM
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It's Bush's fault.
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  #3  
Old 04-06-2009, 08:36 PM
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I don't see anything in that article that constitutes a defense of Bush's wire tapping program. The wire tapping has already happened. Nothing Obama can do can change that. It seems to me that the following is a good reason for the government to resist these lawsuits:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cscmc1 View Post
...But proving that the surveillance program did not sweep in ordinary phone customers would require "disclosure of highly classified NSA intelligence sources and methods," the department said...
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  #4  
Old 04-06-2009, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by dculkin View Post
I don't see anything in that article that constitutes a defense of Bush's wire tapping program. The wire tapping has already happened. Nothing Obama can do can change that. It seems to me that the following is a good reason for the government to resist these lawsuits:
That's one of the primary reasons that Bush & co resisted. Good point.
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:16 PM
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That's one of the primary reasons that Bush & co resisted. Good point.
Yet not any kind of reason for engaging in it in the first place.






Quote:
Originally Posted by dculkin View Post
I don't see anything in that article that constitutes a defense of Bush's wire tapping program.
That's because it's not. The Obama administration is left holding the bag. They must find the most prudent defense while ceasing the practice.
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  #6  
Old 04-07-2009, 07:48 AM
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....

That's because it's not. The Obama administration is left holding the bag. They must find the most prudent defense while ceasing the practice.
Ah, stopping it by defending it. Now we're talkin'.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:22 AM
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Ah, stopping it by defending it...
No. Stopping it by not doing it anymore.
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  #8  
Old 04-07-2009, 09:55 AM
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In any case, kudos to the administration for defending the cases. I suppose the intel gained during these intercepts looks a WHOLE lot different from the oval office than from the student lounge, but regardless... I have to tip my hat to the new guy on this one.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:08 AM
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...I suppose the intel gained during these intercepts looks a WHOLE lot different from the oval office than from the student lounge...
I don't know how you draw that conclusion. You might be correct, but nothing in that article supports your view. A more plausible reading, IMHO, is that they have a bunch of intelligence, the quality of which has not been revealed. Releasing the information sought in those lawsuits will compromise classified intelligence sources and methods (or at least that's what the government tells us). None of that tells me anything about whether the intercepts look different from the oval office than "from the student lounge" as you so disrespectfully put it.
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  #10  
Old 04-07-2009, 10:22 AM
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We'll likely never know what those intercepts look like (which, IMHO, is a good thing). I'm applauding the current administration for apparently deeming it important enough to defend it's secrecy. And I'm willing to bet that it looks a HECK of a lot different from the "hot seat" than here from the peanut gallery (which is several rungs below the student lounge, for what it's worth).
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
It's Bush's fault.
Dick Cheney is still secretly running the gubmint from behind the scenes!
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  #12  
Old 04-07-2009, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
It's Bush's fault.
The ironic thing about your use of that worn out line is that, if there is any fault, this is a case where it really is Bush's fault, or at least the Bush administration's fault. Their actions have placed at risk the confidentiality of classified sources and methods.
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  #13  
Old 04-07-2009, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dculkin View Post
The ironic thing about your use of that worn out line is that, if there is any fault, this is a case where it really is Bush's fault, or at least the Bush administration's fault. Their actions have placed at risk the confidentiality of classified sources and methods.
What's not ironic is your stale attempts to defend Obama solely because its Obama, if this were the Bush administration you would be singing a completely different tune.

And since when did you care about confidentiality and classified sources? Why can Obama have secrecy while Bush cannot?
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:17 AM
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What's not ironic is your stale attempts to defend Obama solely because its Obama, if this were the Bush administration you would be singing a completely different tune.
What a load of crap. If you read the article and my comments you will see that your slur doesn't even make sense.
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And since when did you care about confidentiality and classified sources?
Since I first learned what they were. I don't recall how old I was - six, maybe seven years old. How long has it been for you?
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Why can Obama have secrecy while Bush cannot?
What are you talking about? Can you cite a single thing I've said that even remotely relates to your insulting comments?
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  #15  
Old 04-07-2009, 11:19 AM
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What's not ironic is your stale attempts to defend Obama solely because its Obama...
By the way, do you oppose the Obama administration's efforts to protect what they claim are classified sources and methods?

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