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Surveillance of the people, for the the people?

The discussion on the delicate balance between national security and the protection of civil liberties continues with the JOURNAL interview of Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards. Both Romero and Edwards voiced skepticism towards new legislation President Bush signed amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), citing incidents where the exertion of executive power has taken away civil liberties. Romero recounted the ordeal when UC Santa Cruz student Konstanty Hordynski was targeted through domestic surveillance as a "credible threat to the nation." And, conservative Mickey Edwards considers the rights of citizens whose telephone and email records have become readily avalable to the government, saying:

One of the things that's happened is giving much more leeway to the President - allowing communications companies to be able to cooperate with the President and with the White House in eavesdropping on people and taking away from the American citizens the right to sue, the right to go after these companies for cooperating. So, there have been a lot of new powers that have been given to the executive branch in this revised FISA.

The White House Fact sheet on FISA modernization addresses some specific critiques, including:

What Is Not Acceptable

- Some have proposed that the Government must obtain pre-approval from a court before it conducts critical surveillance of targets located overseas. This is unacceptable. The Government must be able to act immediately, particularly in the case of national security emergencies, to protect the Nation.

- Some have suggested that FISA must be reformed, but only to permit collection against certain overseas threats like al Qaeda terrorists. This is unacceptable. There are many threats that confront our Nation, including military, weapons proliferation, and economic, and we must be able to conduct foreign intelligence effectively on all of them.

- Some have suggested that we must wait to modernize FISA. This is unacceptable. Congress must act now to give our intelligence professionals the tools they need to uncover plots in time to protect our homeland.

- Some have suggested that a court order should be necessary before our intelligence professionals are able to gather any information about a foreign target who happens to contact someone in the United States frequently. This is unacceptable.

After watching the Romero/Edwards interview, check out the White House fact sheet on the Protect America Act of 2007, and tell us what you think below.

Photo: Robin Holland


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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Want to say thank you for the lovely actress who spoke for and as Rachel Carson.It was pure poetry.
The week before showed the data leading up to 9/11 and all the warning the "leaders" in D.C. got. Thanks for that, too.

If you question the right or wrong of The Protect America Act, watch the movie "The Lives Of Others". It tells a story about the monitoring of citizens by the State Secret Police or Stasi prior to the colapse of the Berlin Wall. It will leave you with no doubt.


I have read about the mountain top desecration in West Virginia--it has been going on for a long time. Thank you, Bill Moyers, for urging some action on this. I will look into Coal River Mountain Watch, and also write to my legislators in protest. We could all write to our legislators and those of West Virginia and make these protests more public.

I am appalled that our mountaintops are being blown off for coal and that I and my brothers abd sisters are being poisoned in the process. I offer my help to get gainful employment for the miners in WV. I want to purchase wind electric power from WV. Stop destroying the earth and its inhabitants. If not now when?

Please, fellow bloggers, go to to learn what Anthony Romero and the membership are doing to take back our Constitution. Learn what YOU can do to make your voices heard. You don't need to join or contribute financially. You do need to sign petitions, write to Congresspeople, use our power as citizens. Btw, I am affiliated with the American Civil Liberties Union only as a card-carrying member; I'm not a spokesperson paid or unpaid. It's just that I believe so strongly in the effectiveness of the organization, which is non-partisan and dedicated solely to protecting our Constitutional freedoms. As citizens, we cannot yield to the power-hunger of this Administration!

Yes, technology gives criminals power to thwart surveillance and privacy laws may be difficult to enforce.

Yet, does this negate the need for the rule of Law?

Is this argument not defeatist in nature?

With out the rule of Law, there is no society and the world will return to a state of anarchy.

Is this a good alternative, should we give in because enacting and enforcing Law is too difficult in the complex technological world?

Well we allow the Great American experiment in democracy fail on our watch?

We must not shrink from the challenges ahead of us in this Brave New World we live in. We much keep our fundamental freedoms alive and find workable solutions for applying them to this new world era. We must hold our leader accountable to the high standards set by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Thank you, Bill Moyers for all of the "truths" your program provides. It is my favorite program and the reason I contribute to PBS. My second favorite program is Sesame Street. :)

I have seen, over the years, a bit here and there about my beloved home state of West Virginia being raped by the "high and mighty" but thought there was nothing I can do about it. Well, your program grabbed my heart and soul and I am ready to be counted. I have just joined COAL RIVER MOUNTAIN WATCH and written to Mr. Johnson offering my support. My soul is now on fire to see that this destruction of people and land is stopped.

Please keep updating your viewers on this issue.

Hopefully, the people living in these areas will not have to leave their homes but will take advantage of this opportunity to learn new skills and trades and bring
earth-friendly industries into the area.

Thank you, Bill Moyers for all of the "truths" your program provides. It is my favorite program and the reason I contribute to PBS. My second favorite program is Sesame Street. :)

I have seen, over the years, a bit here and there about my beloved home state of West Virginia being raped by the "high and mighty" but thought there was nothing I can do about it. Well, your program grabbed my heart and soul and I am ready to be counted. I have just joined COAL RIVER MOUNTAIN WATCH and written to Mr. Johnson offering my support. My soul is now on fire to see that this destruction of people and land is stopped.

Please keep updating your viewers on this issue.

Hopefully, the people living in these areas will not have to leave their homes but will take advantage of this opportunity to learn new skills and trades and bring
earth-friendly industries into the area.

Do criminals who use modern technology to access publicly available data also know how to send their messages in non-suspicious communications? Might law-abiding Americans unknowingly employ in their communications just one or two words that set off governmental alarms? If so, surveillance may be useless.

Is our government monitoring communications in/to/from some foreign countries without those countries’ consent? Are other countries monitoring communications in the U.S. without U.S. consent? If so, privacy laws may be useless.

The problem is that most of the public has no context to understand the advancement of technology. It has developed very fast.

I have become very concerned over the past seven years. The entire balance of power of the entire world is changing. Not all of this is bad. But the potential to devastate society and culture is enormous.

With all this change, the same forces of human nature that NEVER CHANGE is at play. These forces, the great paradoxes of humanity, are in a free for all right now, and most of the masses are oblivious that the battle is on.

Good vs Evil
Rich vs Poor
Power Corrupts

Greed and
Elitism is rampant.

1. the belief that some people are inherently superior to others and deserve preeminence, preferential treatment, or higher rewards because of their superiority

2. the belief that control should be in the hands of a small group of privileged, wealthy, or intelligent people, or the active promotion of such a system

3. Control by a small, specially qualified or privileged group

This is NOT an American idea where we declare that all are created equal and it is contrary to Democracy.

I am currently reading the book The World is Flat by Thomas L Friedman
It puts the technological revolution in perspective where you can “get” what’s going on and why it has all taken place.

It clearly shows that Global Corporations have become independent of national borders, they have become more powerful that Governments.

Is this a GOOD thing? The Elitism in Corporate America is so ingrained it has become the dominant culture of US Business.

Corporations have NO regard for society, the environment or humanity. They are driven by profit, greed and power, and if you do not play their game their way you are expendable. If you can’t keep up so SORRY it’s the survival of the fittest. Technology companies especially have developed a God Complex.

Quote from The World is Flat”
“Google is like God. God is wireless, God is everywhere, and God sees everything. Any questions in the world, you ask Google.” Alan Choen, VP Airespace

Hum, but God is the ultimate Good. Is this true of Technology?

I believe Elitism is the root of mankind’s original sin. Is not this the great temptation in Genesis? “Hey, you mean I can be as SMART as God, give me that apple.”
All the atrocities in the history of humanity from Cain and Abel to the present can be attributed in some way to Elitism.

We can act now to ensure technology is used for good and the genuine progress of humanity or we can allow it to become a modern day Tower of Babble.

This information is POWER. And, to dismiss it by saying I have nothing to hid is foolhardy. Bits of information can be pieced together to make a case for anyone’s agenda regardless of reality. “Perception is Reality” to quote our current POP belief system.

This information is and will be used for manipulation and discrimination of unimaginable proportions. And, when I say discrimination I am not talking about racism.

We must start by demanding that the Forth Amendment be specifically expanded to apply to the information being gathered by Corporations with specifics of how this information can be used. We must limit the way Government and corporations are allowed to coloborate in the use of this information.

Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Today to be secure in ones “papers” when ones “papers” reside in databases scattered all over the Globe we must find new updated ways to protect our Forth amendment rights.

On this issue we are headed in the WRONG direction.


I agree with David Keith above. At first, I thot, "If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear." However, I think this capability could easily be exploited by either political party in the dirty Rove-type political campaigning that goes on prior to elections. Even innocent things can be spun and by the time the truth comes out, the damage is already done. I feel so helpless to affect government. We are supposed to be democratic but this last president dramatically demonstrates how the will of the people is irrelevant in our country.

it always starts as a small idea !

I have been working in the telecommunications industry for 20 years. I fully understand the method and intention of the surveillance program. At the current level of technology it seems to me the telecom hardware and software that will be installed will have the abilty to gather "all" "data" that flows through these telecom offices.
That means we have to trust the telecom Co.'s and the government to only capture certain overseas data,.. ;)
By the way "data" means internet and Email traffic.
My real point -
In our society these technologies evolve very fast.
Now, with government approval and money these telecom companies will be looking for and finding better ways to see everything you do
all you have to be is attached to their lines. I don't mean just Emails and internet ,..mouse movements and keyboard stokes as well will me monitored, and so on,...and so on

Beware of the technology -
We don't need to spy on everyone,.. do we ?

G.W.Bush, et al, have/are creating a presidency out of balance with the 2 other branches of government as set out so wisely in our Constitution. I support Impeachment of Mr. Bush and Mr. Chaney. As a citizen of this beautiful country, I was shocked to learn of the wanton destruction and pollution resulting from mountain top coal mining in W. Virginia. This administration continues to destroy that which is good, honorable, and beautiful about America.

After watching the coal mining story tonight I was appalled by Bill Moyer's last comment before the program ended. He said Bush has given the go ahead for the mining industry to more easily plunder the earth. Why doesn't somebody stop this man? To think we Americans have to endure another two years of his blantant idiocy in all things.

Our Democracy is lost because we have elected those who will not stand. I am not advocating a third party which I think still would be good, but if there is a choice between a Dem and a Repug many democrats feel they are obligated to vote for a Dem. As we have seen recently there is no difference between the two. Hold your friends close and your enemies closer. I think that is the mantra of the dance the Dem and Repug are participating in. I for one will not vote for a Dem because they have not stood up for our constitution. They calculated politics into the blood shed by our young men and women and upwards of a million Irag's.

There is a solution in my mind. Turn off the drug. Yes the TV. It is being used to psychologly control us. A better solution is to fight fire with fire. Fire fighters when fighting forrest fires often set fires to take away the fuel from the raging large inferno. We could do the same with the TV media. Take away the fuel of profits. If there were to be a non-profit company whose sole purpose is to buy stock in a one of the nations media outlets. Reinvest the dividends and in ten years you would have the control to get the word out. The hard part is getting a management who would not be compromised. We have seen many of our elected officials fall victim to this. I also think the decisions should be by group consensus and that 51% of the voter should have IRS tax returns that show the make median national income or less. No one is payed because purchase of the stock is automatic. My personal preference would be to former leaders of the ACLU or someone like Cindy Sheehan directors. Imagine a news service that reports the news instead of the next wayward bride, car crash or man bites dog story.

Just a thought. I get so tired of complaining against the mass media we should just take away their fuel.

Geo. Bush's green light for coal miners to blast the tops off Appalachian mountains must reach the tip of immorality. Infecting the lives of people living in Appalachia with illness and taking away the beauty of their land which can never again be restored to its pristine condition let alone polluting the streams with land-and-people poisoning chemicals surely cannot be tolerated. Americans must rise up to oppose this destructive administration that seems intent on supporting industry at the expense of the nature and individuals of the United States.

The destruction of West Virginia by coal miners with money clout in Washington should elucidate for Christian peole there why so many of my generation fought the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, this second failed war and many other such fights. It is the same empire, the same deadly attitudes toward life, people and anything sacred that happens to be in the way of money and empire. I hope Christian people can now begin to see the connections that so easily may be made to good people of all stripes within this country to fight the good fights.

For me this is the number ONE issue that concerns me the most. I do not understand why there is so much complacency over this issue.

The covert gathering of information by corporations and the government is so pervasive in this country and people do not seem to even be aware of the dangers.

I grew up with a mentally ill family member who thought the electric company was listening and tracking her every move. Now her worst paranoia seem to be reality.

The power grab and insatiable thirst for information on private citizens is truly insane.

TiVO tracks your every click of the remote control and reports it back to Neilson, OnStar constantly tracks your every move in your car, CVS now tracks every purchase of Claritin D and reports anyone who buys more than 28 tablets to the local police department. Cameras photograph red light runners and speeders on the highway, parents hide cameras in their children’s rooms, Retailers and RFID technology keeps track of your every purchase, Children voluntarily up load their most private thoughts on YouTube. Now ALL of this information is available to the Executive Branch with no judicial over site and no recourse for citizens. Even participating in this Blog is possibly under scrutiny.

All this information is power. Power to deny, discriminate, manipulate and control the individual. My Credit worthiness is now determined based on the probability of the masses instead of my personal history of taking-out and paying off-loans.

When will we the public to wake up? I have become to believe that we are very close to living in the Capitalist equivalent of The former Soviet Union.

Where are the statesmen to eloquently rally us with words like “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” No we have an administration that resorts to fear mongering to consolidate executive power.

The terrorists have won, they aresitting back and watching us destroy America from with in.

I have a family history in Matewan, West Virginia, Mingo county. My father was born and raised there. I spent a lot of my life in West Virginia, and I can't bear to see what is happening to the mountains. Pres. Bush claims to be so religious, and guided by God..but he thinks nothing of making it easier for big corporations to destroy the earth that God made, and we lose forever some animals and plants due to mountaintop removal. Not to mention the health of the people who live in West Virginia and the dangers they face with this environmental nightmare...I support COAL RIVER MOUNTAIN WATCH, and I will support the Christian groups who are struggling to bring this to an end. I urge everyone to support organizations that fight the coal industry and let this President and Congress know where you stand!!

Corporate greed has been vastly emboldened by the Bush administration's secret givernment and its denial of regulatory protections for the American public. In West Virginia, the result is stripped mountains and poisoned land, water and air. In the Midwest it is the accelerated poisoning and exploitation of the Great Lakes. Across the nation the bottom line is illness, premature death and disability, and a much-lowered quality of life. Every American has a stake in West Virginia and the Great Lakes. As they go, so go the plains, the marshes, the farm fields - everything we depend on for life. Christian churches seem to be awakening to the fact that you can not poison Earth without affronting God and destroying people. What will it take for the rest of America to wake up?

The "Protect America" Act does a disservice to legitimate intelligence gathering in that the rule of law is all but circumvented. FISA as it stands is more than adequate to enable survelliance of foreign sources and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans to engage in international commerce without undue sacrifice of privacy. We don't need it!

The mountaintop removal going on in West Virginia is a tragedy for the people who live there and the environment. It must be stopped! I am outraged and will do what I can to help put a halt to this practice - starting with prayers.

It's is unthinkable that the U.S. government and President Bush are causing the further destruction of W. Virgina by allowing mountain top removal for mining coal. Where are the elected representatives of the people of W. Va? How can they allow this to happen to the land and to the people? Why haven't President Bush and his environmental advisors visited this area to see first hand how their mining policy has caused destruction of the land and water. Whatever happened to America the Beautiful?

Mr. Moyers,

I think "privacy" is an inadequate word. It too easily implies that personal information can only damage those with something to hide.

The story a Romanian woman under Ceausescu's dictatorship illustrates the power of innocent information (NPR's "The World," heard 9/28/06). She wanted to take a job in Britain with the BBC. While trying to get permission to leave the country, secret police in Romania asked if she would just check in now and then on some other Romanians living in Britain.

She said no. They mentioned that it was too bad her father had cancer. It could be so hard to get the chemotherapy drugs he needed. They knew these things. Basically, they gave her the choice of destroying any hope for her father's survival or complying with their request. (Her father insisted she reject the offer.)

Information is the power to coerce. The issue of "privacy" is an issue of power.

Thank you for such a strong look at the erosion of our rights.

If we can't do better than black, poisonous water for our own citizens here at home, what does it say about our 'spreading of democracy and freedom' around the globe? The poorest always seem to be asked to give the most in this country in terms of hard lives spent in coal mines and the like and soldiers for the armed forces. And the rich seek to get richer off of them still.

Mountain top removal to retrieve coal or any other mineral is an environmental tragedgy. What is this new regulation that the President is supporting that will make this mining method easier? What a sad legacy!

We just want to go on record to speak out as one voice in the cry to save our environment and stop the desecration of our mountains as in the mountaintop mining of coal. There are better & safer ways to stop our dependence on foreign oil. Isn't it odd how money talks as in big business to the politicians!!! Kay and Graham Curtis

We're destroying our country
as evidenced by the disregard
for the land in mountaintop
mining. If churches and Christians can stop it, more power to them, but I think their chances are nil with the present administration.

I don't see the cogency of what Micky Edwards said at the end, i.e. that our nation was more vulnerable at the beginning when we could have been totally destroyed by the Brisih and French. He didn't explain that. Why didn't you ask him about that, Bill?

I wish that Mickey would have explained why he thinks that we were more vulnerable at the beginning of our nation, that the British and French could have totally destroyed us. That is not apparent to me. Why didn't you ask him about that, Bill?

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