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Re: How Prosecutors Wiretap Wall Street
From: Rohit Patnaik <quanticle () gmail com>
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 2009 22:10:56 -0600

If it is so clear that a US citizen is involved in terrorism and is
communicating with terrorists beyond our borders, then why is it so hard for
the NSA, CIA, FBI or Homeland Security to get a warrant?  After all, its not
like they can claim that there wasn't time to get a warrant - the
pre-existing law allowed them to put in expedited requests for warrants
after the actual wiretap started, in addition to allowing continued use of
wiretaps while the warrant is being considered by the FISA court.  Secrecy
isn't a concern either - all proceedings of the FISA court are classified.
By what reasoning do these security agencies wish to further expand their
already considerable powers?

It seems to me that it is already far too easy for our national security
apparatus to spy on us without our permission or knowledge. The last thing I
want is to make such spying even easier for them.

--Rohit Patnaik

On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 8:56 PM, Paul Schmehl <pschmehl_lists () tx rr com>wrote:

--On November 6, 2009 6:07:17 PM -0600 Rohit Patnaik <quanticle () gmail com>

You say that claims about the NSA conducting warrantless wiretaps
against US citizens are unsubstantiated.  That is totally and blatantly
false (http://is.gd/4PcWV).

Right.  The New York Times prints an article claiming that a
"whistleblower" has revealed the content of a secret Executive Order.  The
Washington Post then repeats that claim, without any substantiation other
than the supposed statement of an anonymous informant and unnamed
"administration officials" quoting "classified information" without
quoting anyone who can be questioned.  And you call the claim that it's
unsubstantiated "totally and blatantly false".

Produce the Executive Order and we can call it substantiated.  Otherwise
you're doing nothing other than blowing the same smoke that everyone else
is.  The President (who should know) has stated publicly that he
"authorized warrantless surveillance within the United States".  Note that
he did not say "warrantless surveillance ***of US persons*** within the
United States".

Attorney General Gonzales stated that the intelligence program involves
“intercepts of contents of communications where one . . . party to the
communication is outside the United States” and the government has “a
reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication is a
member of al Qaeda, affiliated with al Qaeda, or a member of an
organization affiliated with al Qaeda, or working in support of al
Qaeda.”  (You really should read what you link to before using it as
proof of your claims.)

Neither the President nor the Attorney General stated "we are spying on US
persons without a warrant".  That claim is made by unnamed persons who
cannot be questioned and reporters who repeat the claim without verifying
that it's true.  If you want to believe that reporters never stretch the
truth or make up facts, go ahead.  I know better.  I've been interviewed
numerous times.  What reporters tell the public is a far cry from what
their interviewees tell them.

Now it *is* reasonable to believe that terrorists outside the US might be
talking to persons inside the US who are either involved in terrorism or
considering being involved in terrorism.  It's also reasonable to believe
that some of those persons might be US persons (a legal term meaning they
are citizens or resident aliens), but that is a far cry from "Egads!
They're spying on US citizens without a warrant!  Our rights are in

If a US citizen is communicating with terrorists, then I have no problem
with the NSA intercepting those communications.  Nor should you if you
have a brain in your head.  OTOH, if the *FBI* wants to pursue legal
action against that same person, then they are required to show probable
cause and obtain a warrant.  But they can't get their evidence from the
NSA.  The NSA can only supply the FBI with the information that there is a
person of interest that they might want to open and investigation on.
They cannot give them details and they cannot give them the intercepts.
The FBI must then follow the normal course of law enforcement
investigations, including probably cause, warrants, full protections of
the Constitution, etc., etc.

The linked article clearly states, "Mr.
Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those
inside the United States - including American citizens, permanent legal
residents, tourists and other foreigners - is based on classified legal
opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such
searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional
resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist
groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A.

Yes, and no one has ever seen the source documents.  If you want to take
someone's opinion that it's true, feel free to do so.  I do not.  If the
New York Times want's to publish the Executive Order that they claim they
know the contents of (as they did the Pentagon Papers years ago), then we
can read it and see what it really said as opposed to what people opposed
to the use of any surveillance at all claim to know about it.

And, in case you don't believe the other article, here
(http://is.gd/4Pd1C) is a Congressional Research Service article that
goes into more detail about the legal rationale behind the warrantless
wiretapping program.

As the two links above show, the warrantless wiretapping program is
real, and was at least active throughout the term of the Bush
administration.  Whether it is currently active is a matter that can be
debated, but the fact such a program existed and did spy on American
citizens is well substantiated.

The first part of your statement is true.  The second part is
unsubstantiated.  All we know for certain is that people in a position to
know and willing to be quoted on the record have stated that calls between
persons affiliated with terrorists and other persons were intercepted.  We
don't know the status of those other persons.  We can only presume.

As your own signature states, "It is as useless to argue with those who
have forsaken reason as it is to give medicine to the dead." Part of
using reason is acknowledging when there is substantiated evidence for
the opposing point of view.

Yes, and when there is, I will agree with you.  Opinions and un-attributed
claims are not substantiation.  Reason does not fall prey to opinion, even
when those opinions are shouted loudly and any opposition to them is

Paul Schmehl, If it isn't already
obvious, my opinions are my own
and not those of my employer.
WARNING: Check the headers before replying

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