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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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Re: NN & Sandy

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

"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..."

I actually agree with you here. We need to do something, but what? And even if we ever come up with a solution most can agree on, it will be almost impossible to get it through both houses of Congress (See Ethics improvement bills, 1978-2006) and even two-thirds of the various statehouses would be difficult.

But there is that third method that might work if enough people were to actually quit bitching and stand up for something.

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It wasn't the media

by NickNielsen In reply to ".....a better quality of ...

Remember Tammany Hall? The Daley machine in Chicago?

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Our "outdated" constitution

by maxwell edison In reply to A third political party?

Julian, with all due respect, I believe I know more about our constitution than you, and that you simply don't know what you're talking about.

You've made several references (in the past) to it being "outdated", but you've not been real specific. Please enlighten us. Specifically, how is our constitution "outdated"? Sure, you might not agree with the gun clause or such, but that's just an opinion; others will surely disagree.

Actually, I disagree that our constitution is outdated. In fact, I vehemently disagree. I don't believe that our constitution should be brought up to current times at all, but rather the current times should be adjusted to reflect our constitution as originally intended.

There are plenty of Americans who share your sentiment, however. They believe that our constitution is a "living and breathing" document that can be changed to reflect "current times". Although that's true to some degree, considering the built-in methods to amend the document, but the original intention should remain intact. I believe our individual rights, as guaranteed by the original constitution, are literally being trampled upon. And those people (people who share your sentiment) only want to bring the constitution "up to date", so to speak, to justify their trampling. That's bass-ackwards, if you ask me!

A related comment regarding your opinion that our "electoral system sucks".

No it doesn't. It works just as it was intended to work as defined in our original constitution. (And remember, I believe that the current times should be adjusted to reflect our constitution as originally intended.)

If we were to do away with our electoral system, we might as well do away with our individual states and state lines.We're almost there right now, considering the federal government has wielded so much power over the states. But it was intended to be the other way around. The states are the entities that were to ensure that the federal government didn't grow too large, especially with all issues domestic. To do away with our electoral system is to concede that argument, and capitulate to a large federal government wielding even more power over the states.

That might be the one thing left (our electoral system) that's the states' "ace in the hole". If we're to change our federal government in a major way, "states' rights" might just be the way to do it. (See note below.) What's the difference between a state and a province? I know the answer (as do you, I'm sure), and that's why we shouldn't do it. (But for those reading this who don't know, do your homework and find out.) We're the USA, not the UPA.

Sorry, but I'm not willing to make such a concession. I don't want to become the UPA, either in name or in practice. I still believe there may be a glimmer of hope to change current times to reflect our constitution as originally intended.

Note: Another way might be a new political party spun-off from one of the major two parties. (Most likely the Republican party to reflect a more libertarian viewpoint, but I'm not holding my breath.) And to address another one of your comments, that's how "third parties" have been formed in the past -- but only to eventually become one of the two major parties. This sentiment is why my libertarian views aren't advanced by way of supporting the Libertarian Party, but rather trying to get the Republican Party to revert to its more Libertarian viewpoints, i.e. the Republican Party of Barry Goldwater.

P.S. And for the record, Julian. I don't "worship" our constitution, nor does (if I may be so bold to attempt to speak for others with a like sentiment) anyone else. What I do "worship", however, is my individual liberty as guaranteed to be protected under our constitution. If you can't see the distinction, then you don't understand me (or us?) at all.

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There could be a new amendment.

by X-MarCap In reply to Our "outdated" constituti ...

If passed by enough states, as the last group of amendments.

And a kudo to the next person who knows the other way and percentage... No fair looking...

I'm certain Sandy, and Max both know this, they are both inelligible for the kudo...

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Sorry, Max, but I have to AGREE with you here.

by deepsand In reply to Our "outdated" constituti ...

Try not to take it too badly.

Have a good weekend.

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On your "FOX News" comment

by maxwell edison In reply to A third political party?

Question: What are the viewership rating numbers for Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and CNN News? And let's throw in PBS for grins?

I didn't think you knew the answer (But I do).

Hint: Your comment was silly.

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Maxwell says: "Blah, blah, blah .... "

by jardinier In reply to A third political party?

After three and a half years at this website I am fully conversant with your views on just about everything which are repeated ad nauseum and never change.

I have reached a stage where I will adopt the attitude which you have adopted towards another peer, and simply not waste my time reading your posts.

So: "Blah, blah, blah .... " I am not interested in being repeatedly reminded of your very narrow and bigoted views.

In case you are not fully conversant with the meaning of the word "bigot" I will help you out:

bigot // n.
an obstinate and intolerant believer in a religion, political theory, etc.

[Oxford dictionary]

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Pop quiz - Julain's message must be because. . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Maxwell says: "Blah, blah ...

A. He didn't like how I correctly pointed out how the media obviously takes pleasure and profit in destroying people's lives, destroying the political process, etc., and since Julian is an admitted "card-carrying" member of the media ....... well, you figure it out.

B. He couldn't answer my questions and rebuttal concerning our constitution, and since he can't win this debate, he runs from it.

C. He realized that the viewership of Fox News is really pretty small, when compared to all the other major networks, thereby making him look rather silly by his repeated Fox News nonsense.

D. He is displaying intolerant behavior towards another's political theory (What is that, he said, being a bigot?).

E. All of the above.

And the correct answer is..........

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Yes and no.

by deepsand In reply to We cannot afford stupidit ...

I wholeheartedly agree that the fault does not rest with Bush alone; both parties in Congress are culpable as well.

However, there are obviously certain functions that are within the purvue of the Executive branch that are not easily moderated by either of the other 2 branches without the co-operation of the Executive.

For example, in addition to the issues of "spying" on citizens, which was supposedly long ago settled, there is now the issue of 750+ Presidential "Signing Statements," which amount to private, non-overridable, line item vetoes. Here the Executive branch is asserting that it is the final arbiter of what is and is not Constitutionally allowable, by virtue of the President also being the Commander-in-Chief, and that Congress has no Constitutional power to challenge such, and that the Executive is therefore not answerable to Congress.

There are many, myself included, who find this to be greatly troubling. We do not accept the premise that we have nothing to fear from our government.

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A committee has a brain?

by NickNielsen In reply to We cannot afford stupidit ...

I had always thought it was a form of life with two or more stomachs and NO brain.

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