TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: The Balance Between National Security and Privacy?

Re: The Balance Between National Security and Privacy?

Steven Lichter (
Sun, 14 May 2006 23:47:43 GMT

In article, Linc Madison at wrote on 5/14/06 11:10:

> In article <>,
> <> wrote:

>> I am curious as to what people think of the issue of national security
>> vs. privacy in light of the recent revelations.

> It's very, very simple: the NSA and other arms of the Executive Branch
> should spy on terrorists *within* the laws passed by Congress, and
> *with* judicial oversight. Under the Constitution, the President lacks
> any and all authority to order anything different.

> The NSA program of listening to the content of telephone conversations
> in which at least one party is a "U.S. person" (not necessarily a
> citizen, nor even necessarily a permanent resident) is absolutely and
> unequivocally illegal and unconstitutional. "In time of war" the
> Constitution doesn't cease to exist, nor do its limitations on police
> powers. Neither the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act nor the Authorization to
> Use Military Force (AUMF) gave the Executive any such powers -- nor
> could they, since the powers arrogated by the administration are
> beyond Congress' authority to grant. The administration has even
> admitted that the reason they did not ask Congress to modify the law
> to permit this surveillance program is that they did not believe that
> the Congress would comply. In other words, "We figured you would
> probably say no, so we just did it without asking."

> The other NSA program, of collecting telephone call records, is a bit
> more tricky, since it is (supposedly) not intruding into the content
> of the calls. There is considerable reason to believe that the telcos
> violated their own legal obligations to their customers (the privacy
> clauses in their contracts) by turning over the records without a
> court order, but the violation of the law -- if any -- by the NSA was
> certainly far less egregious than in the wiretap case. The Supreme
> Court has ruled that you do not have a legitimate privacy claim to the
> records of what numbers you called and for how long. Police have often
> sought call records as part of an investigation, although those
> searches were much more limited and much more closely tailored to the
> individual cases.

> Of course, the other element in both schemes is the effectiveness and
> wisdom of the program. I don't know who first said it, but, "We're
> looking for a needle in a haystack, so wantonly piling on more hay
> might not be the best plan." We do need more data about the terrorists
> and their plans, but far more than that, we need more intelligent
> collection of data. There have been published reports that the FBI has
> been really steamed because the vast majority of the leads produced by
> the NSA's illegal espionage program have been wild goose chases -- a
> complete waste of the Bureau's resources without making America the
> slightest bit safer. Simply put, we don't have the resources to make
> use of the data we already have, so going after mountains of unsifted
> raw data isn't the best use of our capabilities.

> But even if the programs produce some results, the question remains,
> at what cost? I'm not at all pleased at the idea of the government
> snooping through my private communications, or even knowing who I
> called and when. Do I have something to hide? Hell yes! Every single
> one of us has something to hide. Just because some activity is legal
> doesn't mean that it's in my interests for the world to know about it,
> and the line between the government's knowing about it and the world's
> knowing about it is altogether too thin.

> Beyond that, our government has a long history of misusing such
> powers. The FBI wiretapped Martin Luther King because he was a
> subversive -- in other words, an "uppity nigger" -- even though he was
> acting completely within the law. President Nixon spied on his
> political enemies for purely partisan reasons. The Fourth Amendment is
> there for good reason, to protect

The only Good Spammer is a dead one!! Have you hunted one down today?
(c) 2006 I Kill Spammers, Inc. A Rot in Hell Company
the lives of innocent, law-abiding

> citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government. To allow
> President Bush to ignore those protections, as he undeniably has, is
> the essence of treason.

> Linc Madison * San Francisco, California *
> <> * primary e-mail: Telecom at LincMad dot com
> Read my political blog, "The Third Path" <>

I can remember many years ago while still working for GTE, I was
helping out in a business office filing bills for UCLA dorms, when a
court order came down to copy a companies bill. We were told to make
copies and send the bills up to the legal department and file the
copies. I had always thought that some sort of order hadto be given
from a court to get information. Just look at the stink that was made
here in the Riverside, Ca. area when Sprint would not give out the
location of a car that had been stolen with a child in it. Sprint
wanted a court order before releasing the data, and finally did give
it to the police after the phone owner give written permission.

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