From Defensetech.org, "Every Call Ever Made" in NSA Database
We've known for years that the NSA sits on Himayalan storehouses of information – untold millions of phone calls and e-mails, both inside the United States and out.
But, until recently, those databases didn't seem particularly intimidating, because NSA snoops were sworn to purge the identities of American citizens, as soon as they got caught in the surveillance net. As one former signal intelligence specialist told me a few months back:
"It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."
Now we know different. And that's one major reason why this USA Today revelation so unnerving.
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, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. [Qwest turned 'em down, Glenn Greenwald notes.]
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added…
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.
No wonder former NSA chief Bobby Ray Inman says the program was "not authorized."
Now, some people might find some small measure of comfort in the fact that this particular NSA effort is only looking at calling patterns — not the contents of the calls themselves. Don't be. Back in January, we learned that this data-mining is directly leading to a "flood" of tips, given to the FBI, virtually all of which have led "to dead ends or innocent Americans."
Other patriots have covered this story in depth, like Glenn Greenwald – No need for Congress, no need for courts in which Glenn makes the eloquent and obvious case that both Congress and the courts have become superfluous. Which when one stops for even a second to think about that is the definition of dictatorship, Bush has become the first and last word on how our government is run, we are no longer a nation of laws, we are a regime of and by one man with a generally cowed Congress playing dutiful lap dog. Some ideological skeletons have leaped from the closet, some true colors are flying; conservatism has once again shown its odious secret love of big government and authority over the rule of law and this nation's founding principles. Fear is the new law of the land. There is an implied if not explicit threat in everything this president says and the right-wing noise machine echoes; let them do whatever they want to do or you'll die.
Some reaction from the people that have honed fake patriotism into an art (italics are quotes)
The unhinged right-wing Media Research Center healine :Networks Hyperventilate Over "Big Brother"
NewsBusters.org can always be found on its knees with regards to anything the Bush administration:
Hyping USA Today's "Big Brother" Bombshell: TV Jumps on Stale NSA Database Story — Seismic! Shocking! Startling! A bombshell!! That's how the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows described a front-page story in today's (Thursday's) USA Today that breathlessly touted how "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls."
Uboat Captain Ed assures everyone that this is nothing new and it is all legal, while the program does not violate the law like the media and some Democratic politicians fairly seethed today, the building of these records does create a further intrusion into private behavior that should concern libertarians. The question we have to answer is whether that intrusion is limited and reasonable given the circumstances.
Uboat Ed does links to The Volokh Conspiracy which says everthing is probably OK except for violating a few statues. Neither of these conservatives mentions the need for judicial or congressional oversight. They are both liars. Not all, but most of the fringe right has, as usual sacificed honor and integirty on the altar the Bush Cult whose loyal followers will be rewarded with the illusion of ever lasting security. Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records
It violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customer’s consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by “administrative subpoena.” The first four clearly don’t apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer – the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.
Not to mention that the NSA at the Bush administrations direction bypassed FISA law,
3. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act doesn’t get the telcos off the hook. According to USA Today, the NSA did not go to the FISA court to get a court order. And Qwest is quoted as saying that the Attorney General would not certify that the request was lawful under FISA. So FISA provides no defense for the phone companies, either.
Bush's Comments on NSA Activities
First, our international activities strictly target al-Qaida and their known affiliates. Al-Qaida is our enemy, and we want to know their plans. Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat. 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-Qaida and their known affiliates. So far we've been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.
Geoprge W. Bush is a liar. But, but, but will be the reply. Doesn't matter. George W. Bush is a liar. George W. Bush lies all the time about everything. NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
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, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime.
Again we're back to the same old issues, this program is not legal and it is a waste of time, tax dollars, and national security resources, NSA Sweep "Waste of Time," Analyst Says
It'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But what if it's not working at all? A leading practitioner of the kind of analysis the NSA is supposedly performing in this surveillance program says that "it's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free."
Maybe there is some useful procedures at the heart of this program and maybe the law needs to be changed to accomodate those parts of the NSA program that have genuine merit, but we, the nation, our courts and our elected representatives will never have a chance to make that final determination, Bush is the decider and he's decided. How can a man and his supporters claim to be spreading democracy when they have such contempt for the democratic framework of this democracy.
I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People, animals half wrought into the outward image of human souls, and that they would presently begin to revert,—to show first this bestial mark and then that. But I have confided my case to a strangely able man,—a man who had known Moreau, and seemed half to credit my story; a mental specialist,—and he has helped me mightily, though I do not expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me. At most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory, and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at my fellow-men; and I go in fear. I see faces, keen and bright; others dull or dangerous; others, unsteady, insincere,—none that have the calm authority of a reasonable soul. I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale. I know this is an illusion; that these seeming men and women about me are indeed men and women,—men and women for ever, perfectly reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude, emancipated from instinct and the slaves of no fantastic Law,—beings altogether different from the Beast Folk.
from The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells