Monday, May 15, 2006

Lawsuit To Help Terrorists

"America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique in the world, is now the last best hope for the world." ~ Dinesh D'Souza

I really haven't been able to come up with anything interesting to comment about this morning. I went to The Drudge Report website to see if anything jumps out at me, and I went to Fox News' website, too.

Nothing that other bloggers aren't covering as well, or mostly, better than I would. If I'm going to blog about the most talked about issues in the news, I want to come up with a perspective that no one else has.

I can't see the current crop of news stories from any other perspectives than anyone else. Tug, over at Trucker Philosophy, came up with a different perspective about the big non-scandal over the collecting of phone records. I wish I'd thought of it that way first. He equates the collection of phone records with the intrusiveness of the IRS, in the collection of intimate personal data every April.

I suppose the reason he came up with that is because he pays taxes. I don't.

I did receive this e-mail from Shaun Mullen, which I found so insulting, that I almost sent him a reply suggesting he buy a Communist flag instead:

Good morning.

Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth, the telecom giants that were paid off by the National Security Agency to help it spy on Americans, face billions of dollars in damages from their customers now that the full extent of the program has been revealed.

A federal lawsuit filed in Manhattan against Verizon seeks $50 billion in civil damages on behalf of its customers, who happen to include Yours Truly, and more litigation is sure to come.

I already know what I'm going to buy when Verizon gets around to paying me and its other aggrieved customers: An American flag.

How about you?

I'm guessing that it will be a very long time before he sees any money from that lawsuit. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the Judge doesn't throw it out of court. There is no law being broken here. There is no spying on Americans. It has been established conclusively that no law has been broken.

What really surprises me most is how gleeful the Bush haters are about this non-story. One would think they would want the NSA to know if terrorists are planning another attack on our country. Apparently not.


Liam said...

Mark, can you post a link to the conclusive evidence that no law has been broken please?

Thanks, Liam.

ELAshley said...

A 1979 Supreme Court ruling found that the acquisition of basic phone records was not a "search" under the Fourth Amendment and that individuals did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy about such data.

It's a long slog of a read, but it's enlightening. Check out the comments as well... they're equally illuminating.

Smith v Maryland - US Supreme Court Case 1979 - Phone Records belong to phone company, no privacy

Amazing what a Google search will turn up. You'd think the Media Elites would exercise as much diligence. But, no... Who would dare question their professionalism?

eh, hem....

Liam said...

Wow. Once again I am surprised by the protections that American Law doesn’t provide. In the UK we have Data Protection legislation which prevents anyone with data which could identify you from using that data for a purpose other than the one for which it was collected (unless you agree to it in advance.) Since I could be identified from both of my phone numbers, I would have the expectation that my calling data would not be given to the government without a warrant.

Still, maybe that’s something I should double-check given the current climate…

Lone Ranger said...

I once opened my mail and discovered that I'd been part of a class action suit (can't remember against whom or about what). Along with the letter was a hefty settlement check for 27 cents. I wonder how many millions the lawyers made from it. I would guess that the vast majority of class action suits filed in this country are filed not because a business did wrong, but because lawyers want a bigger house.

Jim said...

It's OK liam. These folks are mis-reading the law. One's phone records are the property of the phone company and may be used for marketing or other commercial purposes.

However, the phone companies may not share those records with the government unless one of five conditions exist according to the Stored Communications Act:

The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customer’s consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by “administrative subpoena.” The first four clearly don’t apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer – the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.

Therefore, Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth broke the law by releasing those records to the government.

Why do you think Qwest told the feds to shove it up their a**es?

Poison Pero said...

"One would think they would want the NSA to know if terrorists are planning another attack on our country." (they = Democrats)

Are you kidding me? "They" would love to see another attack....It would be the perfect platform to disprove Bush's ideas.
Hey Liam, it's a good thing we weren't data mining phone logs before 9/11/01, aye?

Oh I forgot, we were but weren't allowed to act on the data we'd found.....Wouldn't want to trample on the rights of any innocent Americans.

It's much better to take hits instead.

Liam said...

Cheap shot, Pero. The logical conclusion of your argument is that the best way to protect America is to turn it into a Police State. Insofar as doing so would certainly reduce terrorist attacks, you are right – but would it still be America? I don’t think so.

And don’t forget that all of this wiretapping and phone-record research only combats the symptoms of terrorism, not the cause. Until the USA can improve its reputation in the rest of the world, the terrorists are going to keep on coming, no matter how many rights get trampled.

Liam said...

Jim, at first sight you would appear to be correct as that Act supersedes the SCOTUS decision. However the Wikipedia article on the subject also refers to 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(a)(ii) which, in cases relating to National Security, allows the Attorney General to negate the need for a warrant or court order to collect such information.

Sheila said...

Pero You say needless slanderish gibberish. Your pretty hateful...

Liam, It's great to have the British persepctive on American problems.

The whole problem lies in how young our country is and how spoiled as a population we are.

President Bush could have avoided so many obsticles if the could have just gone to congress and worked with ALL of them.

The Other side.....US.... progressives.

Noticed the strong arming of Conservatives on the Hill by the Administration early on. Then we got it that the Democrats were totally ignored and then public slandered for innept, unqualified, and just totally "PRE9/11.

Now their upset because the rest of the country is waking up to some realities. Bad Leadership and Management in the White House. Poor Disaster Response. Inability to work with congress.

So, the real reality lost in the debate is this; The President of the United states HAS broken Laws and Stretch them to the breaking point.

I say so what? He "could have and still can" quietly back step and work with congress to amend certain laws so that WE are protected and they New System to fight terrorism works for US. However, Bush wants to make the presidency above the law.

He has started a dangerous trend of sweepingly spying on American Citizens, by any means possible. The loss of the 4th amendment rights will become blaringly real in the years to come.

From what I can see of last nights speech. The Bill passed in Congress to fix the Borders five years ago was presented again last night.

The only diferances was the requirement to speak English and the National guard. The only two points that are feel good issues with the Republican base.

So, Pero and all the rest who are happy to become robots for the cause.

Don't exercise your American Citizenship by standing up and speaking your mind. Don't play watch dog to keep your rights.

Just sit there in your arrogance believing that all Liberals are non-christian and that all Liberals are unpatriotic fools.

ELAshley said...

Well, it's nice to see everyone actually doing research, rather than blowing a lot of hot air. Wikipedia is far from perfect, but I like seeing folks actually looking for answers.

I would not say, however, that the Stored Communications Act "supercedes" the SCOTUS ruling, but rather builds upon/places conditions upon the SCOTUS ruling. The ruling in Smith v Maryland is not negated by the Stored Communications Act.