Would you believe this blockbuster story was broken in a British newspaper, The Guardian? Of course you would because the US media is too lame to break stories like this.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice cast a wide net in his search of AP phone logs, was the picture of intrusiveness in the James Rosen case, and now NSA is targeting millions of Americans for daily data collection?
Glenn Greenwald reports on secret court order, issued in April, which compelled one of the nation’s largest telecom providers to hand over daily call logs to the federal government. The information did not include actual content of conversations, but it included everything but:
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
We will probably soon be finding out that such “daily data collections” are not limited to just Verison.
I can’t wait to see the responses of Obama and Holder, tomorrow after they read all about this bombshell in the newspaper.
The video report below about the massive NSA spy center in Utah, is from a year ago and there were already concerns that colossal facility would be used to spy on Americans. Security expert Mark Baker seemed pretty sure that the facility wouldn’t be used to target ordinary Americans. But, as we know from recent events, this particular government will do whatever it darn well feels like doing.
Fox did another report recently about the completed center, but I couldn’t find that on Youtube.
Holder is springing into action – will “very likely” be investigating who leaked the information to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian.
On Thursday’s “Morning Joe,” New York City Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson asked if Greenwald would be investigated and suggested the White House would face many questions about the Guardian story.
“They may not be prepared to answer that question,” Wolfson said. “But given what happened with Fox, given what happened with AP, that will be a very hot topic today.”
Williams, a well-sourced reporter who just interviewed Attorney General Eric Holderlast night about the leak investigations, jumped in with an answer.
“I was told last night: definitely there will be a leak investigation,” he said.
However, a senior administration official told The Huffington Post Thursday morning that it’s premature to suggest an investigation is certain to take place.
“There’s been no referral yet from the intelligence community,” the official said.
Meanwhile, at NRO, Andrew McCarthy is saying that this story is being overblown, but the concerns people have about this particular administration are certainly valid (elections have consequences):
Here is what they don’t tell you. Telephone record information (e.g., the numbers dialed and duration of calls) is not and has never been protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court held as much in its 1979 Smith v. Maryland decision. Understand: the phone record information at issue here is very different from the content of telephone conversations. Because the latter involve higher privacy expectations, they are heavily regulated under not only the Fourth Amendment but both Title III of the federal penal code and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under these laws, the government is not permitted to access communications content absent court authorization based on probable cause either that a crime has been committed or that the surveillance target is an agent of a foreign power (such as a terrorist organization or a hostile government).
(Because the Post’s report relates to information the government is gathering pursuant to court order, I am not going to rehash the vigorous debate we had circa 2004-2006 over the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping and the president’s authority to seize information without judicial authorization. There is no reason to believe that is going on.)
Unlike the content of your communications, you have no expectation of privacy in your telephone activity records. If you think about it for a second, you know you don’t. If there were a mistake on your phone bill – for example, if you were charged for a long-distance call you didn’t make — you would expect to be able to call your phone company and have the problem addressed. That is because you understand that, when you make a call, this information is not secret: your phone company keeps records of whom you called and how long the call lasted. A phone record is, by nature, a record of information shared with third-parties. It is not like personal papers and other personal items you keep in your home – items the government may not search without a judicial warrant (except in certain circumstances not relevant to this discussion).
By gathering massive amounts of telephone traffic information, the government is able to establish phone call patterns, which is vital for mapping terrorist organizations. Without this, you cannot have preventive, intelligence-based counterterrorism – i.e., counterterrorism whose goals are to identify terror cells before they strike and to stop atrocities from happening. To be sure, Congress could deny the government this kind of information by statute. If lawmakers did that, however, we would be in a September 10 counterterrorism paradigm – i.e., rather than prioritize prevention, we would be contenting ourselves to investigate and prosecute only after attacks have occurred and Americans have been killed.
Can the kind of information gathering the government is doing – and has been doing in this fashion since 2006 – be abused? Could the Obama administration use its national-security authorities as a pretext for spying on Americans? Of course it could. All information collecting can be abused. It may sound trite to point out that elections have consequences, but it really matters who we elect to run the executive branch.
Linked by Maggie’s Farm, thanks!