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Well, it seems that GWB has been spying on DOMESTIC calls as well!

By deepsand ·
Now, why am I not surprised?


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Firestorm Over NSA Surveillance

Associated Press | May 11, 2006

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans and Democrats demanded answers from the Bush administration Thursday about a government spy agency secretly collecting records of ordinary Americans' phone calls to build a database of every call made within the country.

Facing intense criticism from Congress, President George W. Bush did not confirm the work of the National Security Agency but sought to assure Americans that their privacy is being "fiercely protected."

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Bush said before leaving for a commencement address at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi.

The disclosure, first reported in USA Today, could complicate Bush's bid to win confirmation of former National Security Agency director Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA director. It also reignited concerns about civil liberties and touched off questions about the legal underpinnings for the government's actions and the diligence of the Republican-controlled Congress oversight of a Republican administration.

The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said he was shocked by the revelation about the NSA.

"It is our government, it's not one party's government. It's America's government. Those entrusted with great power have a duty to answer to Americans what they are doing," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., and BellSouth Corp. telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers' phone calls to the NSA program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said USA Today, citing anonymous sources it said had direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, said he would call the phone companies to appear before the panel in pursuit of what had transpired.

"We're really flying blind on the subject and that's not a good way to approach the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional issues involving privacy," Specter said of domestic surveillance in general.

The companies said Thursday that they are protecting customers' privacy but have an obligation to assist law enforcement and government agencies in ensuring the nation's security. "We prize the trust our customers place in us. If and when AT&T is asked to help, we do so strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions," the company said in a statement, echoed by the others.

Bush did not confirm or deny the USA Today report. But he did say that U.S. intelligence targets terrorists and that the government does not listen to domestic telephone calls without court approval and that Congress has been briefed on intelligence programs.

He vowed to do everything in his power to fight terror and "we will do so within the laws of our country."

On Capitol Hill, several lawmakers expressed incredulity about the program, with some Republicans questioning the rationale and several Democrats railing about the lack of congressional oversight.

"I don't know enough about the details except that I am willing to find out because I'm not sure why it would be necessary to keep and have that kind of information," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, a Republican.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News Channel: "The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?"

Democratic Sen. **** Durbin said bringing the telephone companies before the Judiciary Committee is an important step.

"We need more. We need to take this seriously, more seriously than some other matters that might come before the committee because our privacy as American citizens is at stake," Durbin said.

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions argued that the program "is not a warrantless wiretapping of the American people. I don't think this action is nearly as troublesome as being made out here, because they are not tapping our phones."

The program does not involve listening to or taping the calls. Instead it documents who talks to whom in personal and business calls, whether local or long distance, by tracking which numbers are called, the newspaper said.

NSA spokesman Don Weber said in an e-mailed statement that given the nature of the agency's work, it would be "irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operations issues." He added, "the NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."

NSA is the same spy agency that conducts the controversial domestic eavesdropping program that had been acknowledged earlier by Bush. The president said last year that he authorized the NSA to listen, without warrants, to international phone calls involving Americans suspected of terrorist links.

The report came as Hayden - Bush's choice to take over leadership of the CIA - postponed some visits to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Meetings with Republican Sens. Rick Santorum and Lisa Murkowski were delayed at the request of the White House, said congressional aides in the two Senate offices.

The White House offered no reason for the postponement to the lawmakers. Other meetings with lawmakers were still planned.

Hayden already faced criticism because of the NSA's secret domestic eavesdropping program. As head of the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005, Hayden also would have overseen the call-tracking program.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has spoken favorably of the nomination, said the latest revelation "is also going to present a growing impediment to the confirmation of Gen. Hayden."

The NSA wants the database of domestic call records to look for any patterns that might suggest terrorist activity, USA Today said.

Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, told the paper that the agency operates within the law, but would not comment further on its operations.

One big telecommunications company, Qwest Communications International Inc., has refused to turn over records to the program, the newspaper said, because of privacy and legal concerns.

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".....a better quality of candidates....."

by maxwell edison In reply to A third political party?

1. When the news media stops putting people through the mill, forcing them and their families to undergo what's tantamount to a public **** exam for anything and everything in his/her life, regardless of how it pertains to the merits of that person holding office.

2. When people get over their strange obsession to love seeing others succeed in a rags to riches story (both literally and figuratively), only to then love to see them torn down. (This is also advanced by the media.)

3. There are a lot of good people who could hold any public office effectively. But a drunk driving arrest in the past as a college student, having smoked pot in the 60s and 70s, past family issues, getting fired from a job, a visit to a psychologist, or any number of "skeletons" that a person would prefer stay in the closet will prevent those people from entering the arena. (A favorite of the news media.) People can overcome past mistakes, and can actually use them as a way to better themselves.

4. When political mudslinging, usually carried out in the media, is either eliminated or exposed for what it really is.

5. When the news media begins to understand it's their function to simply report the news, not create the news. I believe the news media actually took-on a new "perceived" role after our Watergate scandal, and today, they actually see themselves as a fourth branch of government -- the accountability branch.

It might sound as though I'm "blaming the media", and I suppose I am to some degree. But they're the vehicle for all those things to be brought to the public, so in the very least, they act as co-conspirators, so to speak.

Okay, and here's one that doesn't really involve the media.

When people get over their stupid notion that the role of government is NOT to provide an answer for every problem in their lives from the time they're born to the time they die. Oh, but wait a minute. People didn't think those things until that "stupid notion" was advance to them through the media.

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Let's get Better Candidates, and better Voters.

by X-MarCap In reply to ".....a better quality of ...

Solve a Quadratic equation, and you may vote. Solve a more complex derivative you get 3 votes, 10 votes for a tensor... Integration in hyperspace, Vote until your fingers give up...

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I like Heinlein's idea

by NickNielsen In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

Serve in the military and you may vote.

Edit: Besides, what makes you think that an accomplished mathematician is more politically aware than, say, an accomplished mechanic? How about you have to pass the citizenship exam before you can vote? As native-born Americans, we should already know this information anyway. Sample questions:

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An eminently good idea born of science fiction

by deepsand In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

This, from a story whose title and author I no longer recall:

1) People cast votes for policy proposals, not candidates for office.
2) All voters must record both the premises that they considered and their reasoning which led them to conclude to support or oppose a proposal, as well as the consequences that they foresaw of both its passage and defeat.
3) All voting records are public.
4) Governmental positions are filled by those whose predicted outcomes best match the realized ones.
5) The highest office is called the "Prime Predictor."

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Heinlein also reccomended the quadratic equation...

by X-MarCap In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

The math would show you can perform higher mental functions...

I think it would be be interesting to combine both ideas... The military service shows your care and responsibility, and willingness to do the difficult the Math the weighting of your vote...

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Re. military service.

by deepsand In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

Please see my post at below, and then give me your honest assessment of the correlation between military service and being an informed and thoughtful voter.

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Re: Military Service

by NickNielsen In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

I've seen it too, including some letters signed by senior officers that would have made a teacher shriek. The American military is a microcosm of American society: therefore, the ignorance and laziness of the general public is reproduced on a smaller scale. The only difference is the neat toys.

As far as testing voters, in my experience, solving quadratic equations might be too complex for most Americans today. How about finding their rear ends with their hands tied behind their backs? We could get at least a 25% success rate with that one.

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NN - I would'nt bet on that.

by deepsand In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

I'd say 21.428571%, tops.

Query: What's so perfect about this number?

We could give them bonus points for the correct answer.

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To NN and Sandy.

by X-MarCap In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

The one thing that Heinlein asserted was that if you put your keister on the line for the body politic, you should have the stake in it. I know of only a few who have served who don't vote.

There are exceptions, of course, but then we would have less stupidity if the Math suggestion was implemented. Rarely is someone who can prove they can do that level of Math going to vote for the Bread and Circusses that we now have coming out of Congress.

If we recognize that it is a conflict of interest for a lawyer to be in Congress, or prevented them from returning to law practice, or ban them from being a lobbyist, we'd eliminate much of the corruption, and the old boy network...

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tjsanko - Unanswered question.

by deepsand In reply to Let's get Better Candidat ...

How do you reconcile your position here with the fact that ex-servicemen are no more informed and well reasoned than others, as witnessed by the perviously mention posts on boards such as

And, how many ex-servicemen truly put their live on the line. In fact, I would suggest that firemen consistently put themselves at greater risk than does the average serviceman.

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