Newt Slams Bush

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, May 12, 2006.

  1. (Bush at 29% in polls, that is before the latest fiasco. Look for a challenge of Nixon lows coming to a opinion poll soon....)

    As I reported last night, Newt came out slamming the administration on the Phone Scam story on H&C.

    COLMES: Then he said when it came out a little while ago that there was some wiretapping he said it only applies to international communications. And now we're finding something else. So it just seems we're not getting a consistent story here, are we?

    GINGRICH: No. You're not.

    COLMES: Why not?

    GINGRICH: Look, I'm not-Alan, I'm not going to defend the indefensible. The Bush administration has an obligation to level with the American people. And I'm prepared to defend a very aggressive anti-terrorist campaign, and I'm prepared to defend the idea that the government ought to know who's making the calls, as long as that information is only used against terrorists, and as long as the Congress knows that it's underway.

    But I don't think the way they've handled this can be defended by reasonable people. It is sloppy. It is contradictory, and frankly for normal Americans, it makes no sense to listen to these three totally different explanations.
  2. [​IMG]
  3. Let's think about what the administration is doing. Apparently, they have convinced several phone companies to let them have access to all the calling and called numbers. They pu tthem in a data base and presumably when they find a hot number, say one identified with an al qaeda cell, they run it through the database and see how many hits they get. They then can generate a list of people or at least numbers that have been communicating with the suspect number. They can also use data mining techniques to uncover apparently random but in fact sinister communications networks.

    Certainly there is an unsettling Big Brother aspect to it. Is it unlawful? Almost certainly not. For one thing, those records are not private. They are business records of the phone companies. From a legal or constitutional law aspect, it is no different from the utility companies alerting the police to suspiciously high electric bills that possibly indicate a weed growing operation. Or pharmacies alerting police to large purchases of ingredients for a meth lab.

    Now we have yet another important tool in the war against terrorism rendered largely useless because of an irresponsible media and politicians who are more interested in scoring cheap political points than protecting the country. As in all these "revelations", truth seems to take a back seat. Thus, we get sensational headlines about "eavesdropping" and domestic spying, when in fact nothing of a private nature has been compromised.

    I am as skeptical of government as anyone. We have to face the fact that ruthless terrorists are targeting us however, and some compromises need to be made.

    Is it a reasonable way to try to track down terrorists? I would think so.
  4. maxpi


    Police use the same tactic in cleaning up a drug ridden neighborhood. They put somebody on observe and report duty at a house that is dealing drugs. They note all the details about everybody that comes and goes for a month, then they bust the drug dealer and they get the visitors on parole violations for associating with a criminal. So many morons think that anybody that is for policing anything is a "fascist" and anybody doing observe and report duty is a "spy". It's a war on terrorism, terrorists are just criminals. People have to watch them to bust them.
  5. I agree that tracking phone calls is a reasonable way to track terrorists. I think the problem is as much with the way the whole thing has been handled and the uncertainty regarding the current administrations boundaries when it comes to eavesdropping on private citizens. Perhaps the tapping you described, where 'hot' numbers are identified and tracked, is what is actually happening; then again, perhaps not - with this administration it's hard to say.

    I would be interested to know - if you don't think a phone call between two private citizens constitutes a private correspondence, what does? I don't think you have a legal basis for saying that since the phone company has a record of a call, it is not private correspondence. However, I'm not a lawyer so I may well be wrong about it.
  6. Thursday, May. 11, 2006
    A Tipping Point on Eavesdropping
    Are the latest NSA spying revelations enough to turn the public against the program?

    Are we at a tipping point yet? What author Malcolm Gladwell described as small things that make a big difference seems like an apt metaphor for the latest developments on civil liberties and the Bush administration. First was Thursday morning's USA Today story, declaring, "NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls." The story dominated the morning news shows and drove the day's events, with the President racing to the microphones in the Diplomatic Room of the White House before departing on a trip to Mississippi. Bush didn't get into the specifics of the USA Today story, but he did defend the program, saying the federal government is not "mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans."

    To date, the Bush Administration has enjoyed public support for a slew of policies — including detentions without trials and new methods of eavesdropping — that critics describe as an encroachment on civil liberties. Last year, the Democrats tried to make renewal of the USA Patriot Act an issue, but in the end they buried their objections and passed a bill that Bush could sign. When the NSA's policy of warrantless eavesdropping on some domestic calls was revealed by The New York Times in December, Democrats along with many Republicans also screamed from the rafters, but the program proved popular with the public. Presidential advisers thought it was such a winner that they put it in Bush's State of the Union address. Despite calls to investigate the program and shut it down, what the White House dubs the "terrorist surveillance program" continued unabated.

    Will the new revelations about the NSA tip the balance? Perhaps. According to the story, the NSA is not actually listening in on the phone calls but monitoring the patterns of calls in a kind of giant Google search, with the hope that their algorithm will detect something untoward and worth investigating. But even if your call to Aunt Sally isn't being listened to by some NSA officer, the program sounds creepy enough that no shortage of senators jumped all over it. The Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, said he'd subpoena the heads of the three telecommunications companies involved — AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth — before hearings to find out what they knew. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, who had kind words about former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden when he was nominated to be the new CIA boss on Monday, talked ominously about a "showdown" over the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unlawful search and seizure.

    At the same time, conservative Judge Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, whom many on the right wanted President Bush to name to the Supreme Court, abruptly resigned yesterday, reportedly in part because of civil liberties issues. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Luttig was shocked back in November when the Bush Justice Department announced that the government would file charges against suspected terrorist Jose Padilla as if he were a regular citizen. Just two months earlier, Luttig had written a seminal opinion saying that the federal government could detain Padilla without a charge, reasoning that the government must have had an extraordinary case against Padilla to justify such an extraordinary imprisonment. When the Bush administration reversed position and in effect acknowledged that the regular old justice system was able to accommodate the case, Luttig was enraged, saying the reversal strained the Bush administration's "credibility before the courts." It was that frustration that helped lead to his resignation, the Journal reported.

    If provoking the anger of a conservative's conservative like Luttig wasn't enough, another development out of the Justice Department was nearly as stunning. On Wednesday, the Justice Department's point man on government accountability, H. Marshall Jarrett, wrote to Congress saying that he was shutting down his review of the NSA spying probe because his staff was denied access to the agency's files and personnel.

    So to review the bidding: Bush's Justice Department is blocked from investigating its own controversial spy program; a leading conservative jurist resigns, reportedly in part over the government's handling of civil liberties; and a big NSA program of eavesdropping on Americans' phone-calling patterns is revealed. Will this be enough to turn public opinion against Bush on civil liberties and terrorism? Given the collapse in public support for the President on so many issues, it wouldn't be surprising.
  7. If the majority of the public is stupid, probably.
  8. If it is so certainly lawful, why would Qwest refuse to cooporate based on the belief that this may be illegal? Do you think that you are smarter than the Qwest lawyers? (I'm sure that you do).
  9. Three other phone companies didn't have a problem with it.

    The basic rule is you don't have an expectation of privacy for information that is routinely seen by others, unless there is some type of legally sanctioned confidential relationship, for example between you and your doctor. Clearly, you have a legitimate expectation of privacy for the contents of your phone calls. I'm not sure that extends to the numbers you called however.
    To me,that seems more like the address on an envelope. Would it be illegal for the postman to report that you were sending letters addressed to Osama bin Laden? I think not.
  10. All I'm saying is that I don't think the fact that you called a certain number is private. The contents of the call are private. The calling records are the phone companies' property and if they choose to turn them over to the government, I don't think there is much you can do about it.

    I think it falls within a gray area of monitoring that is technically legal but has a creepy Big Brother aspect to it. For example, the government could clearly set up cameras and record the license plates of every car as people drove around. with a sufficiently powerful computer, they could data mine a lot of interesting things out of that. Perhaps they already do it. Would it be illegal? I can't see how. Would people have a right to be upset? I think so, unless some stringent controls were in place.
    #10     May 13, 2006