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MACJR

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Obama has made several mistakes and missteps over the course of his campaign for the Presidency, but none as deal killing for me as his vote for the wiretapping bill. I was willing to overlook everything else, but not this.

 

Ironically, Senator Hillary Clinton voted no, which raises my opinion of her, some. I guess it is too late to change my mind now though.

 

Since I will no longer vote for Obama, and McCain is definitely out of the question, I am left without a candidate to vote for this time. Unless someone new and respectable enters the race, it looks like I will be abstaining from voting in the next Presidential election out protest!

 

Give me someone respectable to vote for…PLEASE!!!

 

 

MACJR

 

 

 

 

Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers

 

By ERIC LICHTBLAU

Published: July 10, 2008

The New York Times

 

WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a major expansion of the government’s surveillance powers, handing President Bush one more victory in a series of hard-fought clashes with Democrats over national security issues.

 

The measure, approved by a vote of 69 to 28, is the biggest revamping of federal surveillance law in 30 years. It includes a divisive element that Mr. Bush had deemed essential: legal immunity for the phone companies that cooperated in the National Security Agency wiretapping program he approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.

 

The vote came two and a half years after public disclosure of the wiretapping program set off a fierce national debate over the balance between protecting the country from another terrorist strike and ensuring civil liberties. The final outcome in Congress, which opponents of the surveillance measure had conceded for weeks, seemed almost anticlimactic in contrast.

 

Mr. Bush, appearing in the Rose Garden just after his return from Japan, called the vote “long overdue.” He promised to sign the measure into law quickly, saying it was critical to national security and showed that “even in an election year, we can come together and get important pieces of legislation passed.”

 

Even as his political stature has waned, Mr. Bush has managed to maintain his dominance on national security issues in a Democratic-led Congress. He has beat back efforts to cut troops and financing in Iraq, and he has won important victories on issues like interrogation tactics and military tribunals in the fight against terrorism.

 

Debate over the surveillance law was the one area where Democrats had held firm in opposition. House Democrats went so far as to allow a temporary surveillance measure to expire in February, leading to a five-month impasse and prompting accusations from Mr. Bush that the nation’s defenses against another strike by Al Qaeda had been weakened.

 

But in the end Mr. Bush won out, as administration officials helped forge a deal between Republican and Democratic leaders that included almost all the major elements the White House wanted. The measure gives the executive branch broader latitude in eavesdropping on people abroad and at home who it believes are tied to terrorism, and it reduces the role of a secret intelligence court in overseeing some operations.

 

Supporters maintained that the plan includes enough safeguards to protect Americans’ civil liberties, including reviews by several inspectors general. There is nothing to fear in the bill, said Senator Christopher S. Bond, the Missouri Republican who was a lead negotiator, “unless you have Al Qaeda on your speed dial.”

 

But some Democratic opponents saw the deal as “capitulation” to White House pressure by fellow Democrats.

 

“I urge my colleagues to stand up for the rule of law and defeat this bill,” Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said Wednesday as the outcome was all but assured.

 

The final plan, which overhauls the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed by Congress in 1978 in the wake of Watergate, reflected both political reality and legal practicality, supporters said.

 

Wiretapping orders approved by secret orders under the previous version of the surveillance law were set to begin expiring in August unless Congress acted. Heading into their political convention in Denver next month and on to the November Congressional elections, many Democrats were wary of handing the Republicans a potent political weapon.

 

The issue put Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a particularly precarious spot. He had long opposed giving legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in the N.S.A.’s wiretapping program, even threatening a filibuster during his run for the nomination. But on Wednesday, he ended up voting for what he called “an improved but imperfect bill” after backing a failed attempt earlier in the day to strip the immunity provision from the bill through an amendment.

 

Mr. Obama’s decision last month to reverse course angered some ardent supporters, who organized an Internet drive to influence his vote. And his position came to symbolize the continuing difficulties that Democrats have faced in striking a position on national security issues even against a weakened president. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, who had battled Mr. Obama for the nomination, voted against the bill.

 

Senator John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, was campaigning in Ohio and did not vote, though he has consistently supported the immunity plan.

 

Support from key Democrats ensured passage of the measure.

 

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the intelligence committee and helped broker the deal, said modernizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was essential to give intelligence officials the technology tools they need to deter another attack. But he said the plan “was made even more complicated by the president’s decision, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, to go outside of FISA rather than work with Congress to fix it.”

 

He was referring to the secret program approved by Mr. Bush weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks that allowed the N.S.A, in a sharp legal and operational shift, to wiretap the international communications of Americans suspected of links to Al Qaeda without first getting court orders. The program was disclosed in December 2005 by The New York Times.

 

As Congress repeatedly tried to find a legislative solution, the main stumbling block was Mr. Bush’s insistence on legal immunity for the phone companies. The program itself ended in January 2007, when the White House agreed to bring it under the auspices of the FISA court, but more than 40 lawsuits continued churning through federal courts, charging AT&T, Verizon and other major carriers with violating customers’ privacy by conducting wiretaps at the White House’s direction without court orders.

 

The final deal, which passed the House on June 20, effectively ends those lawsuits. It includes a narrow review by a district court to determine whether the companies being sued received formal requests or directives from the administration to take part in the program. The administration has already acknowledged those directives exist. Once such a finding is made, the lawsuits “shall be promptly dismissed,” the bill says. Republican leaders say they regard the process as a mere formality to protect the phone carriers from liability.

 

Lawyers involved in the suits against the phone companies promised to challenge the immunity provision in federal court.

 

“The law itself is a massive intrusion into the due process rights of all of the phone subscribers who would be a part of the suit,” said Bruce Afran, a New Jersey lawyer representing several hundred plaintiffs suing Verizon and other companies. “It is a violation of the separation of powers. It’s presidential election-year cowardice. The Democrats are afraid of looking weak on national security.”

 

The legislation also expands the government’s power to invoke emergency wiretapping procedures. While the N.S.A. would be allowed to seek court orders for broad groups of foreign targets, the law creates a new seven-day period for directing wiretaps at foreigners without a court order in “exigent” circumstances if government officials assert that important national security information would be lost. The law also expands to seven days, from three, the period for emergency wiretaps on Americans without a court order if the attorney general certifies there is probable cause to believe the target is linked to terrorism.

 

Democrats pointed to some concessions they had won. The final bill includes a reaffirmation that the FISA law is the “exclusive” means of conducting intelligence wiretaps — a provision that Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House speaker, and other Democrats insisted would prevent Mr. Bush or any future president from evading court scrutiny in the way they say that the N.S.A. program did.

 

David Stout contributed reporting.

 

The New York Times


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waltcesca

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Ron Paul??? Or write yourself in!!!! I would vote for YOU MAC!!!!

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Ariane

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Reply with quote  #3 
Michael (Hello !), sometimes (and unfortunately), one has to vote not for the best candidate but for the less bad one...
waltcesca

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Ariane!!!! Nice to see you!!!! How've you been?

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MACJR

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Quote:
Originally Posted by waltcesca
Ron Paul??? Or write yourself in!!!! I would vote for YOU MAC!!!!

Heck, I wouldn't even vote for me, I sure doubt that I would have a serious chance of becoming the next President of these United States... even if I wanted that job... and I do not! 

 

 

MACJR


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MACJR

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariane
Michael (Hello !), sometimes (and unfortunately), one has to vote not for the best candidate but for the less bad one...

Maybe so, but I think I will abstain unless, and only if, it looks like McCain may actually win.

 

And I second what Walt said. Nice to see you around, Ariane. 

 

 

MACJR


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Ariane

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Lol I am fine... but extremly busy as usual with work. I will go on vacation for August but it's not holidays at all... it's for working on my Phd thesis ! I hope I could take holidays again in december (one of my cousins is going to marry somewhere in Asia and would like me to be there)... hey hey
 
Since this morning, I have been thinking of one another project :working in a court as a "Legal Assistant"... It's a part time job perfectly adapted for Phd Students... Not really well paid (500 euros for 70 hours per month) but trully interesting because the Legal Assistants work with judges, make legal researches and write up the court decisions by following the orders of the judges. I still have to think about it because it's really a good experience to work in a Court with judges, to learn procedures, develop reflexs which will be useful for a future lawyer/attorney ... Why not trying for 6 months ?
 
I have this week-end to see if it's good for me or not but if it's "yes" the decision won't be easy to announce to my boss and the firm... lol For them, it means that I will be in the firm only part-time (I actually work minimum 50 hours...) And for me, it means that I will have two part time jobs : one in the law firm and the second one in the Court lol ! (+of course the Phd that I MUST finish in november 2009) 
 
Well well well... Any suggestions for this Legal Assistant job ? I know I like to take risks and put myself in difficult situations...

waltcesca

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hmmm, well stay away from stay awake pills!!!! You NEED your sleep!!!!

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Ariane

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LOL I don't take pills at all because I know it can make one dependent...But the truth is that I surely need sleeping pills more than pills to stay awake !


MACJR

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Yes, stay away from the pills if you can, Ariane. Even the pills the doctors give out have their drawbacks.  :\

 

You may need an anti-burnout pill or something if you keep up at this pace though. Too bad they don't make those yet. There are times I sure could use an anti-burnout pill.

 

As for advice about what part time jobs to do, or not do, I think I will pass and leave that all up to you. 

 

 

MACJR


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Ariane

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MACJR
 

 

As for advice about what part time jobs to do, or not do, I think I will pass and leave that all up to you. 

 

 

MACJR


Ouch !
waltcesca

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariane
Quote:
Originally Posted by MACJR

As for advice about what part time jobs to do, or not do, I think I will pass and leave that all up to you.

MACJR


Ouch !


Hate to sound like a psychologist, but, Ariana, what do YOU think you should do?  Therein lies your answer and the path that you should walk. (Hmmm, now I am sounding slightly Yoda-ish, huh?)

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