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Bringing Back Some Checks and Balances


I'm glad to see the Democratic-led House of Representatives finally stand up to the Bush Administration as they continue to trample on some of our freedoms.  The House has refused to send to President Bush a bill which extends a temporary electronic surveilance act that circumvents the FISA process and adds immunity for telecom companies that helped the Administration get around existing laws.  If you look into the FISA process, you'd see that it is nowhere near as onerous as the administration claims for them to get a FISA warrant to wiretap a suspected terrorist.  And, I am all in favor of a very flexible FISA court that aids the administration's ability to monitor terrorist communication.

But, according to people like this guy, the administration is fighting terror with a machine gun rather than a laser-guided missle.  This is why the administration needs immunity for the telecom companies for past activities.  According to this story, AT&T aided the administration monitor all Internet traffic from a large peering point and probably did the same elsewhere. 

"That was my 'aha!' moment," Klein said. "They're sending the entire Internet to the secret room."

The diagram showed splitters, glass prisms that split signals from each network into two identical copies. One fed into the secret room, the other proceeded to its destination, he said.

"This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style," he said. "The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T's customers but everybody's."

One of Klein's documents listed links to 16 entities, including Global Crossing, a large provider of voice and data services in the United States and abroad; UUNet, a large Internet provider in Northern Virginia now owned by Verizon; Level 3 Communications, which provides local, long-distance and data transmission in the United States and overseas; and more familiar names such as Sprint and Qwest. It also included data exchanges MAE-West and PAIX, or Palo Alto Internet Exchange, facilities where telecom carriers hand off Internet traffic to each other.

"I flipped out," he said. "They're copying the whole Internet. There's no selection going on here. Maybe they select out later, but at the point of handoff to the government, they get everything."

So, all of our privacy has been violated, not just that of suspected terrorists.  This is clearly a violation of our rights and an example of real abuse of power.

Since our next President is probably going to be a Senator (Clinton, McCain, or Obama), hopefully they'll have much more respect for the checks and balance system which makes our country great and helps preserve our freedoms.  I'd rather have freedom and some more bureaucracy than give anyone in the government the broad ability to do whatever they want.


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