George Bush has overturned the United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, which prohibits domestic spying by NSA. He has violated the federal act which created the FISA court to oversee covert domestic investigations. He has disregarded the Fourth Amendment guarantee against warrantless searches.
Now, the story continues… Just yesterday, in a galaxy right here, it was reported in USA Today that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth in the largest database ever created. This includes all calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders – except for the lucky customers of Qwest (Qwest said no to the NSA, fearing legal problems if sanity ever returns to this country). For how long? Since at least 2001, under secrecy and then under the lies Bush and others were telling about the extent of the spying.
The NSA’s domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA’s efforts to create a national call database.
In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. “In other words,” Bush explained, “one end of the communication must be outside the United States.”
As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.
Sources, however, say that is not the case.
Lies lies and more lies.
Please join me and call on the House and Senate today to issue subpoenas and expose the extent of this intrusion.
Although Bush said today that our government was “not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,” I’m not sure what else you could possible call a huge secret database of domestic telephone calls, especially when considered along with the “vacuum cleaner surveillance” of e-mail messages and Internet traffic being done by NSA personnel in at least one AT&T building.
(San Francisco – anyone gonna go check? You’d think they’d do it in Texas…)
They’ve also managed to kill the investigation into the illegal spying – smells like coverup to me:
The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.
Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden headed the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005 – yup, he’s the very guy who directed warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Now, he will head the CIA unless some congresspeople actually care about our constitutional rights, not to mention the takeover of a civilian institution by military interests. Block this guy, wouldja? Having himrun the CIA is almost as much of an insult as tolerating “Death-Squad” Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence. I never thought I’d find myself defending the CIA, but they have been trashed by Porter Goss under Bush’s direction. Now we are to approve a military takeover of this civilian institution? When will we stand up for our own freedom, democracy, and civil rights? Who will stand up for the interests of all Americans in these dark days? Here are some of Hayden’s comments on the matter, although he’s dodging the issue as much as he can. (It’ll be a little harder now to dodge, I hope).
It is not a driftnet over Dearborn or Lackawanna or Freemont grabbing conversations that we then sort out by these alleged keyword searches or data-mining tools or other devices that so-called experts keep talking about.
This is targeted and focused. This is not about intercepting conversations between people in the United States. This is hot pursuit of communications entering or leaving America involving someone we believe is associated with al Qaeda. We bring to bear all the technology we can to ensure that this is so. And if there were ever an anomaly, and we discovered that there had been an inadvertent intercept of a domestic-to-domestic call, that intercept would be destroyed and not reported.
So, let’s have it:
The BUSH LIE LINEUP in the “Official Response from the White House” today- all in one place!
First, our intelligence activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans.
Collecting all possible domestic communications with a dragnet is not “targeted” to al Qaeda, nor to their “known affiliates.”
Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.
He has already admitted that if one party is outside the US, there has been no oversight. I would even speculate that with the sound-compression technology available today, all of our conversations could actually be in the process of being stored in their entirety – why else create the largest database in the world? It could be done, and I’ll wager that it is being done. The NSA’s secret domestic eavesdropping program was not reported under the requirements of either Title III or FISA – the agency’s budget is unknown.
Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat.
They are not lawful just because he wants to make us think they are lawful, nor have all appropriate members been briefed. Moreover, Congress needs more than selective “briefing” – they need to vote to approve any such actions because NO domestic surveillance is lawful outside of what Congress has specifically approved.
Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities. We’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates.
Then why do they need a database of DOMESTIC calls? How does that “fiercely protect” our privacy? Their efforts are clearly directed at us, you and me, Americans.
This is not a kindly Empire, this country that was formerly a beacon of freedom and democracy, and we seem to be missing some essential Jedi knights. You laugh at the metaphor, perhaps, but you know what is meant. The metaphor collapses, of course, since there seem to be quite a few Sith roaming about (not just the master and his apprentice). Go back and look at the arguments for the illegal spying – now try to fit in the idea we are all under surveillance by our own government. This is profoundly anti-American.
It is not targeted only for known al Qaeda terrorists and their associates. It is not limited by location. There is no Congressional or Judicial (or even economic?) oversight. There has been no vote by Congress or by the American people to allow this overturning of our system.
The so-called right is so very wrong.
I have some hope that the upcoming elections may put some into the position of actually having to think about what they can say to their constituents. They seem to think we’re very very stupid.
Personally, I’d like to see most of Congress thrown out on their butts. I have confidence in only a handful of them. Any who have allowed these things without public protest need to go, too.
Put the voting apparatus back into the hands of the people.
“If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Senator Frank Church, 1975
Congress needs to investigate this government intrusion — immediately. Please demand that the House and Senate issue subpoenas and expose the full extent of this program against the citizens of the United States of America.