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Wide Spy Powers Set To Pass In Senate

Wide Spy Powers Set To Pass In Senate

Wired
December 17, 2007

The Senate voted by a margin of 76 to 10 to limit debate on a new wiretapping bill Monday, all but ensuring that the Senate will approve amnesty for telecoms that helped the government spy on Americans without court orders and greatly expand the government’s ability to spy using American telecom facilities and communication services.

After the cloture vote, any amendment to the bill will require 60 votes due to rules set by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

The bill under debate is the Senate Intelligence version, which grants immunity to telecoms and wide spying powers to the Administration. A competing bill from the Senate Judiciary omitted immunity and included more oversight over new spying powers.

Though Majority Leader Reid said he opposed immunity, he chose to override a hold on the Senate Intelligence bill and to virtually guarantee its success by choosing it over the Judiciary bill as the base bill.

Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) is trying to object, but Reid counters that the Republicans will filibuster, thus the 60 vote limit is necessary to prevent a filibuster of the whole bill if an amendment was passed with fewer than 60 votes.

Though the Senate set aside 30 hours for debate, Reid wants the bill to be passed Monday, so the Senate can move to take up a massive spending bill on Tuesday.

 

AT&T: Within Two Weeks of Taking Office, Bush Planned Domestic Spying

John Byrne
Raw Story
December 17, 2007

Nearly 1,300 words into Sunday’s New York Times article revealing new details of the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, the lawyer for an AT&T engineer alleges that “within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.”

In a New Jersey federal court case, the engineer claims that AT&T sought to create a phone center that would give the NSA access to “all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through” a New Jersey network hub.

The former AT&T employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Times said he took part in several discussions with agency officials about the plan.

“The officials, he said, discussed ways to duplicate the Bedminster system in Maryland so the agency “could listen in” with unfettered access to communications that it believed had intelligence value and store them for later review,” Times reporters Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane wrote. “There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications, he said.”

“At some point,” he told the paper, “I started feeling something isn’t right.”


“Two other AT&T employees who worked on the proposal discounted his claims, saying in interviews that the project had simply sought to improve the N.S.A.’s internal communications systems and was never designed to allow the agency access to outside communications.”

AT&T’s spokesman said they didn’t comment on national security matters, as did a spokesman for Qwest, which was also approached but apparently rebuffed the plan. The lawyer for the engineer and others in the New Jersey case says AT&T’s internal documents would vindicate his clients.

“What he saw,” Bruce Afran, a New Jersey lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Times, “was decisive evidence that within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.”

The full Times article is here.

Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/1….r+RtvY2Tj5lvUOqA

Chris Dodd Begins Filibuster Of Telecom Immunity
http://www.theseminal.com/2…ibuster-for-the-constitution/

Despite the fact that Obama, Clinton, and Biden said they would support Dodd’s FISA filibuster – these supposed “leaders” skip the wiretap vote
http://rawstory.com/news/2007….ount_filibuster_to_1217.html

 


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