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July 5-11, 2006

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Letters to the Editor


Defending Wiretaps

Re "The NSA's Political Fiction" (Techsploits, May 24): I am sure Ms. Newitz means well in her column, but in light of her comment about constructing "a coherent argument using evidence," she has failed almost completely. I wonder if she did any research. She uses the term "telephone calls" in several instances, which misleads the uninformed into thinking the NSA is listening in on their private call content. In fact, names, addresses and content are not kept, nor is content being listened to under the "NSA data-mining" program. As President Bush publicly stated, a warrant for a "wiretap" (a "hard wire" device physically placed on a phone line—like the FBI tapping the "mafia") is obtained when a domestic call from a known/suspected terrorist is connected to a foreign contact of the same kind. The "data-mining" project's purpose is to try to match known domestic terrorist phone number "patterns only" to known foreign terrorist numbers.

Ms. Newitz completely ignores the "balance" needed between maintaining personal privacy and the "Constitutional" responsibilities of the "president" and the government to protect the United States from foreign threats, which are obviously real. Her right to speak privately is not threatened unless she is engaged in terrorist activities on the phone with foreign parties.

Ms. Newitz fails to mention at all the case law on the president's authority under Article Two of the "Constitution" and the "Foreign Intelligence Security Act." On May 23, 1979, President Carter issued "Executive Order #12139" which authorized the "attorney general" to "approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order." This was "after" the "FISA court" was set up. Two years before this, in 1977, Carter had his attorney general authorize the "warrant-less" surveillance of two people (Truong and Humphrey) for spying. They were convicted and appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals based on illegal "wiretaps"—their convictions were upheld. The court stated that: "The executive branch had the inherent authority to wiretap enemies, such as spies and terrorist plotters, when surveillance is conducted primarily for foreign intelligence reasons."

In 2002, the "FISA court of review" (the FISA court's "appeals court"), in a case titled "in re: sealed case," upheld the "president's authority" for the same issue.

The ACLU appealed this case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the ACLU's appeal. Thus, the "FISA court of review" ruling stands. This is why the President and his legal staff know that the "data-mining" activity is legal.

It is also why Ms. Newitz is flat wrong when she writes: "You can't remedy poor foreign intel with domestic spying on the telephone network." When domestic phone numbers of known/suspected terrorists are matched to foreign counterparts ("data-mining") and a warrant is obtained to gather more specific information, you most certainly can. Ms. Newitz fails to mention the issue of the "wall" that existed between the FBI and the CIA/NSA, which caused an uproar in the 9/11 hearings. E agrees now that this caused serious intelligence coordination problems.

Ron Brackney, Santa Clara

Soccer's Day Will Come

Mr. Singh, after reading your article on soccer (Silicon Alleys, June 7) the World Cup and San Jose, I have to say: Right On!

Yours is the best, most cohesive assessment of what soccer is and could be in San Jose and indeed, the USA. Please keep writing and maybe some day San Jose's leaders may get the point.

Keep up the good work and thanks for your article.

Oswald Castillo, Berkeley

Talking Mac

Re "Brother From Another Planet" (Cover Story, Bohemian, Dec. 28). Just wanted to send absolute high props on the story about Mac Dre. You don't see a lot of anything on him and it is just nice to read on him. I will be sending this to my younger brother back home in Louisville, Ky., who is on home incarceration, to read about one of his biggest idols. Don't forget about Mac Dre. Thanks. Peace.

Jasmine Talbott, Birmingham, Ala.


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