February 14, 2008

Republicans insist on protecting us from certain terror attack, unless giant telecom corporations are not protected from lawsuits... then not so much.

This is truly outrageous.

President Bush comes on yesterday to intone that somewhere terr'ists are planning an attack so devastating that it would make 9-11 "pale by comparison". And... he went on, this will happen unless congress agrees to continue to allow our government to spy on our telephone and internet communications at will, with no court oversight, and no warrents. Just whenever they feel like it.

They've been doing this for a long time, and it's been revealed that giant telecom corporations have illegally allowed them to come into their facilities and essentially reroute all internet and phone traffic onto government computers. Not just communication from known terror suspects to Americans. Not just communications outside the country either inbound or outbound, but ALL communications. The last e-mail you sent likely went to the government, as your phone calls.

Many people don't think this is constitutional, let alone legal, and have filed suit against the telecom giants for illegally assisting the government in illegal spying on U.S. citizens, namely, you and I.

So Bush tells us that the entire country is in peril of a horrendous attack unless congress allows him to continue spying literally without restraint or limit on all Americans.

BUT, unless the bill extending this Orwellian practice includes a provision that makes it impossible to sue the telecom giants for breach of privacy, he'll veto the bill.

So... let's see here... The country is under threat of serious attack, massive and devastating death and destruction. That's why the government must be allowed to spy on Americans without warrent and without judicial approval.

But evidently the threat isn't so bad that they can't allow the bill authorizing the spying to expire if their corporate pals aren't excluded from normal legal proceedures.

Bush tries to suggest that if Dems or anyone else thwarts this bill, we'll all die. But then when they offer to authorize it as it is, he refuses to sign it unless there are protections from any legal action against the telecoms.

Which is it? Is Bush lying his ass off about the threat involved? Or is he putting protecting his corporate buddies ahead of our security?

And now the Republicans in the House are staging some goofy stunt by walking out in protest of the Democrats efforts to stall the spying bill.

What's worse in all this is that it's passed the Senate and has made it through the house only due to many Dems, particularly those from the south, helping Bush in this effort.

But yet they don't think it's important enough to pass unless it sheilds corporations from lawsuits? It's not important enough to accomplish on it's own without this illegal protection for corporations who unquestioningly helped participate in unconstitutional spying on all of our communications?

The whole matter just reeks and is exhibit A of the sort of bull that Americans have simply had enough of from this crowd of idiots, who constantly use the threat of terror in a transparent attempt to sheild corporate interests.

Truly, Bush should be impeached for being willing to do so over and over again with impunity. If he was concerned about our security, he'd simply pass the bill. But unless it helps corporate interests, he won't. What does this tell you?


At 2/15/2008 1:06 AM, Anonymous nooncat said...

It tells me wireless companies will have a lot to worry about when the (un)constitutionality of the law is assessed by the courts. It also tells me Republicans are in for a very rude awakening come November for behaving like spoiled toddlers in an election year.

At 2/15/2008 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If its so bad, why did a Democrat Senate pass the bill?

At 2/16/2008 3:40 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

This is where I get foggy on understanding the complex time line on this thing.

I'd heard that the extention had passed with the help of "yellow dog" Dems, but then heard all over TV that the Dems had effectively averted a vote on the matter and left the measure to expire.

To tell the truth, I'm not sure what the truth is as far as that goes.

But what I do know is that Bush willingly went on TV and lied in his attempt to scare people into thinking that this extention must be passed or we'd all die.

First of all, that's simply false on it's face, secondly, it's a lie because the ability to wiretap any suspected terrorist would still be in place just as it was before their warrentless bill was passed initially.

What's lost in all this political bullshit by Bush and the Republicans is the fact that what they're demanding is the right to eavesdrop on ALL communication, not just that to and from foreign countries, AND that they've always had the ability to eavesdrop on any communication from any suspected terrorist and anyone in this country.

Here's the facts:

Under FISA, the government could eavesdrop or perform surveillance on any communication from anyone remotely suspected of being involved in terror in any communication to or from a foreign country.

The FISA court has approved something like a half million of these requests and has denied about 5 over the years.

Under existing FISA rules, the government could IMMEDIATELY begin surveillance in any situation, provided they applied to the FISA court for retroactive authorization within two days time. (a court which approves 99.9999% of requests)

This entire dishonest and unconstitutional effort by Bush and the Republicans who enable him, is nothing but pure political charades, phoney grandstanding for political gain, and has exactly NOTHING to do with keeping us safe, but everything to do with trying to A. provide imunity to telecom giants from prosecution, and B. positioning McCain to say the Dems are "weak on terror".

The fact is that, unless this extention bill provided such immunity from prosecution for illegal eavesdropping on U.S. citizens for telecom companies, Bush refused to sign it.

So BUSH is willing to let this thing expire if his corporate buddies aren't protected. Just how big a threat are we exposed to when Bush is willing to let it expire to benefit telecom corporations?

He says if Dems don't extend their ability to spy on us WITHOUT WARRENTS OR JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT, that the terrorist will kill us all.

Then rather than sign an extention of this illegal surveillance that doesn't protect telecoms, he refuses to sign the extention unless it shields them.

Clearly Bush is lying both about the threat, and the importance of this measure.

What it's about is providing protection for telecoms. And why do they need protection? Because what they did was ILLEGAL.

If it wasn't, why would they be holding this bill hostage unless they were protected from all lawsuits?

Bush says that they shouldn't be punished for "helping" the government fight terror.

Yet not all of them went along with this. At least on telecom giant's lawyers flatly refused to let them spy on their customers without a valid warrent.

Only companies like Verizon and AT&T willingly allowed the government to spy on the communications of their customers without any court order whatsoever.

Does this concern you?

It should.

The definition of facism is when government and corporate power merge. When we have the president himself saying we need this ability to spy or our lives are at risk, and then he places the protection of corporations above supposedly keeping us safe, what does that mean?

And when the congress of the United States starts asking corporations to engage in illegal and unconstitutional actions, then shields them from the law, completely shutting out any citizen from having any means to hold them accountible, then that's pretty damn close to fascism.

At 2/16/2008 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may concern me, it may not - what does concern me is the fact that we have terrorists out there that are smart and we need EVERY tool to use against them.

Sure, two days does not seem like a lot, but in todays world of technology, it is.

The fact is that the bill makes enough sense that it passed the Senate, RATHER EASILY, and with considerable Democrat support!

The Administration is doing what is necessary to protect the US and its citizens and the Dem's fight every step (at least not the intelligent (or political) one's).

At 2/16/2008 8:48 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 7:29.

We need all the CONSTITUTIONAL tools to fight terror, and we already have more than enough. How's that?

Do we REALLY need to get scared into stupidly being stampeded into relenquishing our right to privacy to a government that insists on spying on it's own citizens WITH NO OVERSIGHT WHATSOEVER??

And you're still not getting the facts of this situation.

Before all this phoney Patriot Act or whatever BS name they've given it now, if any government agency wanted to spy on communications either to or from a foreign country, they had to apply for a warrent and show cause to the FISA court. Are you with me?

This FISA court over the years has granted literally hundreds and thousands of such warrents, IN FACT, out of those hundreds of thousands, they've turned down less than 5. OK? Still with me?

Now Bush decides he can spy on anyone, at any time, for any reason, including U.S. citizens and communications WITHIN the U.S.

He begins doing this secretly. This is flatly illegal and unconstitutional, but Dems and Repbublicans don't have the guts to say so or stand up to him.

When he's exposed, he admits it and demands that congress pass some rigged up bill to make it legal, which Dems and Republians gladly do out of fear of being labeled soft on terror.

The argument used by Bush for demanding that he be allowed to spy on anyone without court approval is that he needed the ability to do so at a moment's notice.

Stay with me here.

But that argument was pure BULLSHIT, and this is why.

FISA had already been ammended to allow IMMEDIATE wiretaps or surveilance.

Any agency, if it felt time was of the essence, could begin surveilance IMMEDIATELY. The law as it stood BEFORE 9-11 allowed for this, with the requirement that they then apply for a warrent within TWO DAYS AFTER beginning the spying.

Are you with me?

They already HAD the ability to start wiretaps any time they felt like it, at the drop of a hat! But they had to then go to the FISA court, a court that approves 99.9999999% of all warrent requests, within 48 hours after beginning the surveilance to get their near certain approval.

Is THAT such an impediment to our ability to monitor suspected terrorists that it justified Bush saying that unless he got what he wanted, we'd all die?

This situation wasn't good enough for Bush, who wanted to be able to monitor communications to or from anyone or anywhere WITHOUT any sort of court approval or warrents or oversight whatsoever.

YOUR government is insisting on being able to spy on it's own citizens AT WILL.

What is it about this that people simply don't get? They should be up in arms!!

It was revealed that the telecoms had provided the government with rooms where they installed sophistated "splitters" which took ALL phone and internet transmissions and split it routing one stream to the government and sending the rest on their way.

In other words, the government wasn't selecting just communication to or from those suspected of terrorist ties, it was monitoring ALL COMMUNICATION in the country!

What websites you visited, what you bought on ebay, the text message you sent your girlfriend, your comments here, EVERYTHING that was sent by phone or over the net was routed through their equipment.

And your friendly telecom corporation was doing this without your knowledge, handing over your private communications to the government without so much as a legal warrent at all. Just because they were asked to.

(not all did, I believe Quest to their credit refused to do so without a warrent.)

So all this BULLSHIT lately from Bush and the Republicans with their little stunts, etc. are all done for two purposes, neither of which has anything to do with keeping us safe. Don't make that mistake!

It's to try to portray Dems with the ludicrous charge of somehow not wanting to protect us from terrorists, and mainly, to grant immunity to telecom corporations who illegally allowed their customers communications to be spied on.

They say they did nothing wrong, of course, and Republicans laud them as being fine patriotic corporate citizens.

Funny that they insist on being held above the law then, isn't it? Kind of odd that they'd feel it was THAT important to shield them from lawsuits.

And again, Bush could have pushed for an extention of this phony act, and act that doesn't affect our ability to spy on terrorists ONE BIT other than to allow him to do so in secret with no one allowed to even know whats going on.

He could have tried to get an extention passed, and likely would have, as you noted, since many Dems are stupid enough to go along.

But no. Despite it being HIM who said this would expose us all to near certain death, he choose to threaten to veto any bill which didn't include amnesty for telecom corporations.

I hope this clears things up for you. Feel free to ask any more questions you may have on the issue.


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