[ExI] The Total State

David C. Harris dharris234 at mindspring.com
Sat Jun 21 07:43:19 UTC 2008

Amara Graps wrote:
> Spike:
>> If this case is allowed to stand (the Texas CPS officers do not face justice
>> for their crimes) it looks to me as if the constitution allows the state
>> governments to become a tyrannical dictatorships, in complete control of the
>> population, perfectly legally.  It allows these governments to control the
>> population by legally abducting their children.
> Didn't the ACLU represent some of the FLDS mothers?
 From http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=28088 :

"Over the past 60 days a large contingent of lawyers, representing 
individual FLDS families and the ACLU have all weighed in on the matter, 
which began with a phone, call from an unidentified caller. CPS 
authorities raided the compound after a young girl called local 
authorities claiming she had been abused."
>> All this time we have been worried about abuse of the war powers act, when
>> the *real* time bomb in the constitution was elsewhere and even more
>> insidious.
> I wonder if you've read the news in the last 24 hours? The telecoms who
> cooperated with the NSA in domestic spying are not legally liable for
> their actions. The House (democrats) not only gave the telecoms
> immunity, but expanded the NSA's spying powers on Americans. So much
> for the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.
> I don't know any more what to think. Governments reflect the people who
> elect them, so this is what the Americans must want. But all I can see
> is a horrendous monster growing more out of control by the day. This
> is not an environment in which I want to raise my child.
> Amara
I've learned in classes and serious discussions that the Bill of Rights 
and American courts generally are supposed to protect people EVEN WHEN 
Rights is a quirky and wonderful (IMHO) part of our system.  The ACLU  
is particularly vigorous in defending the rights of minority groups who 
wouldn't win in a straight democratic vote.

I've been aware of the NSA reading electronic messages since about 1984, 
when on the ARPANet there was a posting by (I think) John Walker, the 
wealthy technoguru who started AutoCad.  He was living in Switzerland 
and posted a message about how he used the UNIX 'traceroute' command to 
see the sequence of nodes his emails went through.  There was one node 
just after the European ones, just inside the US, that didn't have a 
name or identification.  He suggested it was where the NSA listened in 
on all the traffic under the Atlantic.  Made sense to me.

More recently there was a story about a closet in San Francisco in which 
optical fibers encountered a prism that was silvered to split all the 
bits into (a) a stream for NSA recording and reading, and (b) the 
regular stream that we usually think about.   I wonder if there is one 
of those setups in our own Palo Alto Information Xchange (PAIX), where a 
large fraction of the Internet traffic goes between major carriers.  I 
also know of a building where fiber optic bundles apparently get 
diverted, perhaps to serve a community, perhaps to be listened in on.

While I believe Bush should have followed the court approval process in 
FISA, I understand the reluctance to have these awesome eavesdroppings 
revealed in detail.  The 40 lawsuits would have allowed the details to 
be drawn out in open courts.  I think the Bush people who ignored FISA 
should be prosecuted.  And I think an investigation should be done 
leading to a report that describes t he extent of eavesdroping but 
doesn't tell the rest of the world how to do these things to their 
citizens and  how to avoid these technologies.  I know I'm not being 
pure about openness here.

Finally, I think there is a real problem in determining what messages 
are from foreign citizens (legal to listen) and what are from Americans 
(need a FISA approval).  UNTIL  YOU READ AT LEAST THE HEADERS, how do 
you know who a particular message is from?

  - David

> ----
> http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/06/house-grants-te.html
> "The bill allows the National Security Agency to order phone companies,
> ISPs and online service providers to turn over all communications that
> have one foreigner as a party to the conversation. If any Americans are
> party to the conversation, the government is supposed to mask their
> names, but these procedures to minimize privacy-invasion are easily
> overridden. The longstanding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
> required specific court orders to wiretap phone and internet lines
> inside the United States, but did not regulate spying conducted on
> non-U.S. soil.
> Under the so-called FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the government would
> need a court order to wiretap an American overseas, regardless of where
> the tap was. Under the current regime, targeted taps aimed at Americans
> overseas requires the sign-off of the attorney general.
> The nation's telecoms will soon be freed from some 40 lawsuits accusing
> them of eavesdropping illegally, if the bill is passed into law as
> expected. The legality of the retroactive amnesty isn't clear, and
> groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier
> Foundation will likely challenge the provision on constitutional
> grounds."
> [...]
> ----
> http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/06/house-falls-down
> House Falls Down on the Job
> The House of Representatives today has fallen down on the job. By
> passing the FISA Amendments Act (293-129, with 105 Democrats in favor),
> they voted to give this lame duck President an undeserved parting gift
> by passing immunity for telecoms that helped the President violate the
> Constitution by participating in the NSA's massive and illegal spying
> program.
> While Speaker Pelosi and President Bush describe it as a "balanced bill"
> with "bipartisan support," the millions of Americans whose privacy
> rights have been violated by the President's illegal spying program seem
> to have been left out of the equation.
> Senator Bond's gloating statement to the New York Times showed the true
> picture: "I think the White House got a better deal than even they had
> hoped to get." The Washington Post wrote that the bill "hands President
> Bush one of the last major legislative victories he is likely to
> achieve." And the San Francisco Chronicle, writing from Speaker Pelosi's
> home district, called the vote "weak, timid, spineless."
> To say that EFF is disappointed in the House Leadership's support for
> this bill is an understatement. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader
> Hoyer, so vocal in their opposition to telecom immunity last March,
> capitulated to a dangerous "compromise" that gives the telecoms and the
> Bush Administration what they have been demanding for over a year:
> Protection from court cases that threaten to uncover the extent of the
> President's illegal spying program.
> Many Democrats stood up for the rule of law, and they deserve our
> thanks. Senators Conyers and Nadler have been consistent and vocal in
> their staunch opposition to immunity. Senator Feingold has spoken out as
> well, saying that the bill "is not a compromise, it is a capitulation."
> Republican Senator Arlen Specter has shown himself more supportive of
> the rule of law than Speaker Pelosi on this issue: "I am opposed to the
> proposed legislation because it does not require a judicial
> determination that what the telephone companies have done in the past is
> constitutional. It is totally insufficient to grant immunity for the
> telephone companies' prior conduct based merely on the written assurance
> from the administration that the spying was legal."
> As the fight moves to the Senate, we now look to Senators Leahy, Dodd
> and Feingold to lead the opposition to the immunity provisions in the
> Senate version of the bill. Contact your Senators now and tell them to
> stand strong.
> ----
> http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/35740prs20080620.html
> House Approves Unconstitutional Surveillance Legislation (6/20/2008)
> Contact: (202) 675-2312 or media at dcaclu.org
> Washington, DC - Following a vote in the House of Representatives
> sanctioning warrantless wiretapping and handing immunity to
> telecommunications companies for their role in domestic spying, the
> American Civil Liberties Union expressed outrage at representatives who
> voted for the unconstitutional legislation. The bill, H.R. 6304, or The
> FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed the chamber by a vote of 293-129,
> and is expected to be voted on in the Senate next week.
> The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the
> ACLU's Washington Legislative Office:
> "It's Christmas morning at the White House thanks to this vote. The
> House just wrapped up some expensive gifts for the administration and
> their buddies at the phone companies. Watching the House fall to scare
> tactics and political maneuvering is especially infuriating given the
> way it stood up to pressure from the president on this same issue just
> months ago. In March we thought the House leadership had finally grown a
> backbone by rejecting the Senate's FISA bill. Now we know they will not
> stand up for the Constitution.
> "No matter how often the opposition calls this bill a 'compromise,' it
> is not a meaningful compromise, except of our constitutional rights. The
> bill allows for mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all
> communications coming in to and out of the United States. The courts'
> role is superficial at best, as the government can continue spying on
> our communications even after the FISA court has objected. Democratic
> leaders turned what should have been an easy FISA fix into the wholesale
> giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights.
> "More than two years after the president's domestic spying was revealed
> in the pages of the New York Times, Congress' fury and shock has
> dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover
> their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost
> there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans'
> chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility
> of learning the extent of the administration's lawless actions. The
> House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is
> now in the Senate's hands. We can only hope senators will show more
> courage than their colleagues in the House."

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