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A small editorial from your moderator.

Our President has chosen to declare himself above the law, a dangerous precedent that could do great harm to our country. However, without substantial effort on the part of you, and I mean you, every person reading this, nothing much is going to happen. The rule of law will continue to decay in our country. Future Presidents will claim even greater extralegal authority, and our nation will fall into despotism. I mean that sincerely. For the sake of yourself, your children and your children's children, you cannot allow this to stand.
18 December 2005. Thanks to R.

To: cryptography[at]metzdowd.com
Subject: A small editorial about recent events.
From: "Perry E. Metzger" <perry[at]piermont.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 2005 13:58:06 -0500

A small editorial from your moderator. I rarely use this list to express a strong political opinion -- you will forgive me in this instance.

This mailing list is putatively about cryptography and cryptography politics, though we do tend to stray quite a bit into security issues of all sorts, and sometimes into the activities of the agency with the biggest crypto and sigint budget in the world, the NSA.

As you may all be aware, the New York Times has reported, and the administration has admitted, that President of the United States apparently ordered the NSA to conduct surveillance operations against US citizens without prior permission of the secret court known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (the "FISC"). This is in clear contravention of 50 USC 1801 - 50 USC 1811, a portion of the US code that provides for clear criminal penalties for violations. See:

 link to www.law.cornell.edu

The President claims he has the prerogative to order such surveillance. The law unambiguously disagrees with him.

There are minor exceptions in the law, but they clearly do not apply in this case. They cover only the 15 days after a declaration of war by congress, a period of 72 hours prior to seeking court authorization (which was never sought), and similar exceptions that clearly are not germane.

There is no room for doubt or question about whether the President has the prerogative to order surveillance without asking the FISC -- even if the FISC is a toothless organization that never turns down requests, it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, to conduct electronic surveillance against US citizens without court authorization.

The FISC may be worthless at defending civil liberties, but in its arrogant disregard for even the fig leaf of the FISC, the administration has actually crossed the line into a crystal clear felony. The government could have legally conducted such wiretaps at any time, but the President chose not to do it legally.

Ours is a government of laws, not of men. That means if the President disagrees with a law or feels that it is insufficient, he still must obey it. Ignoring the law is illegal, even for the President. The President may ask Congress to change the law, but meanwhile he must follow it.

Our President has chosen to declare himself above the law, a dangerous precedent that could do great harm to our country. However, without substantial effort on the part of you, and I mean you, every person reading this, nothing much is going to happen. The rule of law will continue to decay in our country. Future Presidents will claim even greater extralegal authority, and our nation will fall into despotism. I mean that sincerely. For the sake of yourself, your children and your children's children, you cannot allow this to stand.

Call your Senators and your Congressman. Demand a full investigation, both by Congress and by a special prosecutor, of the actions of the Administration and the NSA. Say that the rule of law is all that stands between us and barbarism. Say that we live in a democracy, not a kingdom, and that our elected officials are not above the law. The President is not a King. Even the President cannot participate in a felony and get away with it. Demand that even the President must obey the law.

Tell your friends to do the same. Tell them to tell their friends to do the same. Then, call back next week and the week after and the week after that until something happens. Mark it in your calendar so you don't forget about it. Politicians have short memories, and Congress is about to recess for Christmas, so you must not allow this to be forgotten. Keep at them until something happens.

Perry

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so many felonies 19.Dec.2005 16:59

so few impeachments

I suppose each group of specialists has to suddenly see fascism for what it is when it happens to slouch through their particular area of expertise.

Felony 19.Dec.2005 19:23

Phil

This "president" is accused of many crimes, the one I hear most is war crimes. While I agree, it is doubtful the president will ever be prosecuted for them. However, here we have an actual crime committed under US law that is defined and carries a definite prison sentance. Even if it is found that the actual people monitoring the devices are guilty, it is a giant blow to the Bush administration and and even larger blow to their growing confidence in their ability to superscede the law.

We need to, as stated, contact our congressmen and tell them that this is not okay, and that there needs to be an investigation. Furthermore, we need to demonstrate to our local governments that further use of this illegal method of observation will not be tollerate- as the president has threatened to do. Bush himself, nor will his administration, listen to your phone calls or observe your demonstrations, yet your mayor can do little to instigate nationwide change. So what can we do? We can use the buracracy to our advantage. If we tell the mayor how feel, using demonstrations, letters, phonecalls, e-mails, and city meetings, we can ask him to come out in favor of an investigation, and to lean on our congressmen to do the same. These officals are suposed to represent what the people want. Let them know what you want!

One small problem 20.Dec.2005 08:03

g.d. dem

The Democrats do not control either house of Congress, so they cannot conduct hearings with power of subpoena, or with the ability to pass something on to the judiciary.

Thus, the thrust of your efforts needs to target Republicans in Congress -- try Gordon Smith.

Failing that, you can try to change the Congress next November. (Hollering at the Mayor of Portland accomplishes nothing.)

Or you can wait it out, pending the Great Revolution.

lite 20.Dec.2005 10:20

bean

"Or you can wait it out, pending the Great Revolution."

That is an ignorant statement. Various people are working on all sorts of fronts. How about we recognize that and stop saying everyone needs to do and think as I do and think. That is the basic characteristic developed in the psyche of the U.S. that allows fascism to take root.

GD DEM 20.Dec.2005 15:29

max

am i the only one tired of GD DEMS reactionary posts? At first I thought of him as only a misled Democrat, but the degree of his pecimissim knows no boundries......... another neo con amongst us?

Building consensus for overthrow 21.Dec.2005 10:38

Drew Hendricks

Yes, we do need to call our Congresscritters - and Senators, even if they ignore us. But we need not stop there. We can withold many federal taxes or take cash jobs which dodge witholding of taxes. We can build the society we want, in our own way (we really do not have much choice but to do so). Many hands will make many mistakes - many opportunities to learn from - on many fronts. This medium of communication is for sharing our experiences, not so much for yelling at others who chose to repeat a mistake you already learned.

Voting will change nothing by itself, and demonstrating will do nothing by itself. They're not meant to be done in a vacuum, and no one should expect that they stand alone, or be judged as if they are isolated and mutually exclusinve. We need general strikes, walkouts, lock-ins, sit-downs, sabotage, and coordination to make broader social change. We need media stunts, too.

If someone tried to put the asshole under citizens arrest every time he appeared in public, and announced what they were doing loudly as they approached him, it would eventually be impossible for the shrub to appear in public at all. I'm not saying they'd let you grab him, I'm saying they would have to explain to a judge why they resisted a lawful arrest for an admitted felony. A media outlet or two might even let some footage slip through to the air.

Your pirate TV station could then rebroadcast the clip over and over and over and over and over again.
You have a pirate TV station in your town, right? Or at least a Pirate radio station? No? Get on it!

A few stunts like this can have a polarizing effect... but we will need to be our own media.