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May 12, 2006 08:00 AM UTC

Domestic Spying Ignites Passions on Capitol Hill

  • 43 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

Disclosures that the Bush administration has been collecting phone records touched a bit of a nerve on Capitol Hill yesterday. According to the Washington Post, politicians on both sides of the aisle were incensed:?

Fresh disclosures yesterday in USA Today about the scale of domestic surveillance — the most extensive yet known involving ordinary citizens and residents — touched off a bipartisan uproar against a politically weakened President Bush. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) vowed to haul telephone companies before his committee under oath to ferret out details the Bush administration refuses to supply, and more than 50 House Democrats signed a letter demanding a criminal investigation by a special counsel.

Bush made an unscheduled appearance before White House reporters and sought to shape perceptions about the surveillance while declining to acknowledge that it is taking place. He said that “the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful,” but specified no source of statutory or constitutional authority. He denied forcefully that his administration is “mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,” saying, “Our efforts are focused on links to al-Qaeda and their known affiliates.”

Neither Bush nor his subordinates denied any factual statement in the USA Today report, which said AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. have provided customer calling records to the NSA since shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Together those companies serve about 224 million conventional and cellular telephone customers — about four-fifths of the wired market and more than half of the wireless market. According to data provided by the research group TeleGeography, the three companies connected nearly 500 billion telephone calls in 2005 and nearly 2 trillion calls since late 2001.

Comments

43 thoughts on “Domestic Spying Ignites Passions on Capitol Hill

  1. “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.” Admendment 4 to the U.S. Constitution

    And from our Declaration

    “…whenever any forn of government becomes destructive of these ends (i.e. the rights to life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness, and/or which governs without the consent of the governed) it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”

  2. Question-If Prez-Bu”shit is only governing with the approval of 30% (and dropping) of citizens, does it constitute the ‘just consent’ of the governed?

  3. Yesterday, Gecko said:

    I turn 50 this year and remember all the problems the KGB had. But they were communist, not capitalists.

    I just feel compelled to point out that Communism and Capitalism are monetary systems, not Political Systems.

    All the Kool-aide drinkers have been conditioned by the rhetoric to believe that anything attached to the words “free market” and/or “capitalism” is good.  Not withstanding any evidence to the contrary, and notwithstanding the fact that either monetary system can be controlled via a dictatorial regime.

    The question here is, do We The People rise up and tell the President that he shall not dictate to us, and that We The People demand a return to the Political System called Representative Democracy, OR do We The People allow this President and this Administration to Establish and Enforce a Despotic Oligachy in place of our current Political System?

  4. Growing up on military bases during the Cold War, daddy (Viet Nam vet, Naval officer) use to tell me why we are so much better than the Evil Empire-

    a-we don’t encourage citizens to spy on one another;
    b-we have guarantees of liberty ensuing that we are considered innocent until proven guilty, that we have a right to face our accusers in public, that we have right to counsel;
    c-the U.S. government doesn’t randomly spy on its citizens to fish for wrong-doing or without probable cause; and,
    d-we don’t lock people up in secret gulags…

    Now, BushAmerica a-encourages citizens to spy on one another; b-assumes that we are up to something criminal and need to prove our innocence without facing our accusers or having counsel; c-randomly spies on American citizens; and, d-locks people up in secret gulags (ironically enough, former Soviet gulags).

    Bush is a criminal, old-style sovietesque dictator (e.g. ’signing statements’-”I don’t have to obey Congress,” ‘executive privelege’ “I will not tell you whom VP Dick met with as he agreed to sell off America’s resources to the fatcat corporate masters,” etc. etc. ad nauseum).

    Plus Bush no longer has the consent of the governed, as the 70% of polled Americans (and rising with each new poll) agree.

  5. Posted by Voice of Treason
    May 12th, 2006 at 9:40 am

    Like any good soldier in a dictatorship, I implictedly trust whatever my masters in the WH/Rovian Bunker state is true and just for my own well-being. The prez is fiercely guarding my privacy and that’s all I need to know. Like any good citizen in China, Indoneisa, etc. if I have nothing to hide why should I worry about a repressive regime. Remember, citizens the world over have ‘free speech’ as long as it agrees with the Mullahs.

  6. know=no, damn homophones.  we need a new amendemnt to prevent homophones from undermining our traditional language.  theose homophone activists are undermining Lori & my verbosity.  Where will it stop?  Farm animals?

  7. Tom Strickland told me all about ’em.  We’re both Millionaire Lawyer-Lobbyists now!

    I figured that since I sold out the 3rd CD I might as well sell it down the river too!

  8. Don’t sell it down the river too!!! People in Pueblo will think that Colorado Springs has another sewage spill on their hands.  Wonder if the folks in Pueblo noticed a different taste in their drinking water?  Either way its all politics and money.

  9. Homo-phones, homo-phones??? Aren’t those the people making the automated calls to tell us to vote “yes” on the domestic partner rights & responsibilities referendum?  Oh, homophones.  That’s different………………..NEVER MIND!

  10. So I guess you guys didnВґt get the joke yesterday when I asked you what youВґre hiding if youВґre so bent out of shape over this spying thing.

    Well, what are you hiding?  HavenВґt you actually read 1984?  For how often someone brings it up youВґd think itВґd still be a bestseller.  I mean, the guy was totally breaking the law, thatВґs why they tortured him.  Follow the law, you donВґt have to worry.  THATВґS the moral of the story, not some fear of the government thing.

  11. He said that “the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful,” but specified no source of statutory or constitutional authority.

    That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

  12. Government stepped in and severed his head from his body.  You should always be concerned about the heavy hand of government.  Whether its your personal life or your small business.

  13. Wow.  Note to Gecko.  Mike Keefe agrees with me.

    Mike Keefe’s cartoon 5/12

    Reference my posting from yesterday:

      Posted by OldEnoughToRemember
    May 11th, 2006 at 12:16 pm
    Is anybody old enough to remember how egregious the KGB spying on its own people was in the USSR?
    Is no one offended that Amerika now is making us look like Breznev’s wet dream?

  14. To the “what are you hiding crowd:”

    It does not matter what a person is doing, it is wrong to encroach on a person’s privacy without going through the proper channels. This is in fact, a pillar on which our country was built, and I thought a foundation of the conservative ideology.

    Yeah, this is a big deal, and in fact is reprehensible. The empire is crumbling, and not because of pornography, homosexuality, or any other form of “moral decadence” as the right often likes to claim, but because we are compromising on the principles that made this country great, as laid out by our founding fathers in the constitution.

    How dare you trip over yourselves to sell out your/our values in order to apologize for this administration? I’ve watched the Bush apologists as they have slowly sold out our founding principles. First with voter irregularities, then with the silencing of critical media, then with Geneva convention abuses, and now this.

    Unlawful incarceration is wrong, torture is wrong, and spying on Americans is wrong. There is nothing that can justify the these tactics. If this persists we may as well surrender, because Al Queda has already won.

    If Clinton were president you would be singing a different tune. But you keep watching the trains go by, just don’t get upset when the train stops for you.

  15. Here’s a good article:

    By: Michael Hampton Posted: May 12, 2006 2:42 pm  “As a Signals Intelligence officer it is continually drilled into us that the very first law chiseled in the SIGINT equivalent of the Ten Commandments is that thou shall not spy on American persons without a court order from FISA,” said former National Security Agency employee Russell Tice. “The very people that lead the National Security Agency have violated this holy edict of SIGINT.”  “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,” another member of the intelligence community said. “You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don’t fuck with your own people.”

    Please spy on us, say Americans – Homeland Stupidity

  16. CBS News is reporting that the phone companies gave up trillions not millions of phone calls…

    so what’s the big deal?  its only a difference of two letters…

  17. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_nsa_051206.htm

    45. It’s been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

      ——- Acceptable ——  —– Unacceptable ——  No 
      NET Strongly  Somewhat  NET  Somewhat  Strongly  opin.
    5/11/06  63   41   22   35  11   24   2

    46. If you found out that the NSA had a record of phone numbers that you yourself have called, would that bother you, or not? IF YES: Would it bother you a lot, or just somewhat?

      ———–Yes————
      NET A lot  Somewhat  No   No opin.
    5/11/06  34   24   10   66   *

    Seems as though folks ought to worry about what King Soopers, Safeway, Whole Foods and the IRS know about their private lives.

  18. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_nsa_051206.htm

    45. It’s been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
    5/11/06
    ——- Acceptable ——
    NET:  63
    Strongly:  41
    Somewhat:  22

    —Unacceptable
    NET:  35
    Somewhat:  11
    Strongly: 24
    No opinion: 2

    (Reposted so that it’s easier to read)
    46. If you found out that the NSA had a record of phone numbers that you yourself have called, would that bother you, or not? IF YES: Would it bother you a lot, or just somewhat?

    ———–Yes————
    NET A lot Somewhat No No opin.
    5/11/06 34 24 10 66 *

  19. And the IRS?

    Let’s see… they know every dollar of your income, your charitable contributions, your investments, capital gains, losses, home purchases, home value, your medical claims (assuming they are made).

    Of course, this only assumes that you:  (a) file for income taxes and if so, are (b) honest about it (e.g., doing things legally).

  20. “The 4th Admendment applies to the State, not Kin Soopers. Try again. “

    Well, it’s the telecomm companies that are collecting this information.

  21. You ever find yourself pining for the good ‘ol days of Republicanism? Like Iran-Contra, ketchup, mustard, and relish are considered vegetables in school lunches, trickle-down economics, etc.? Yeah, it sucked then, too, but at least you kinda saw it coming?  I’ve been meaning to politely ask for opinions from the “other side of the aisle”: In your mind, what SHOULD the Bush administration’s Republican America have looked like by now, had it gone as you hoped? Or was what this has become what you wanted? Expected? I’m curious as to what a conservative eutopia should look like.

  22. Can’t attack the message, attack the messenger.

    Oh, and here’s more good news for you to chew on while you’re unbunching your panties: 

    AFTER the last round of tax cuts, revenue collected by the Fed this past April 15 was the 2nd highest in our country’s history.

    Imagine that.

  23. By the way, the NSA’s data mining program is not surveillance; no one is being listened to or observed.

    The “outraged” Democrats in D.C. need to brush up on their legal doctrine when they scream about the program as a “major constitutional confrontation on Fourth Amendment guarantees of unreasonable search and seizure.” There is no Fourth Amendment protection for information that has been conveyed to a third party.

    Your telecomm company at the very least–if not a score of marketers–knows your calling history; that history is no longer private, therefore, and the government can obtain your phone records without a judicial warrant. Congress has provided statutory protections for certain kinds of telecommunications information, but those statutes allow telephone companies to share their data with the government for emergencies. After 9/11, a phone executive who didn’t believe that the country was in danger of another catastrophic attack was seriously out of touch with reality. And the volume of data requested almost by definition protects the privacy of any individual customer.

    Were you screaming about “Echelon” in 1999?

  24. I heard 63% of Americans polled said they didn’t care if the government collected their phone records.  This is bad news for Dems hoping to score political points. My guess, there won’t be a public outcry until the information collected is used for other purposes unrelated to terrorism.

  25. “Dems hoping to score political points”.

    Says it all.  Dems more concerned about political posturing than national security.

    The USA Today article was based on “unnamed cources”.  It’s well past the time to clean house of these leakers.

  26. Cheney tells Constitution to “Go F*** Yourself!”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/washington/14nsa.html
    WASHINGTON, May 12 — In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

  27. Newsweek Web Exclusive
    Newsweek Poll: Americans Wary of NSA Spying
    Bush’s approval ratings hit new lows as controversy rages.

    By David Jefferson
    Updated: 11:59 a.m. ET May 13, 2006

    May 13, 2006 – Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism? Yes, say a majority of Americans, following this week’s revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens since the September 11 terrorist  attacks. According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41 percent see it  as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/12771821/site/newsweek/

  28. While the records include detailed information about when and where phone calls were made, the government isn’t listening in to the actual conversations, a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the program told the newspaper. The only big telecommunications company that has refused to participate is Denver-based Qwest, which says it was concerned about the legal implications of turning over customer information to the government without warrants.

    Funny stuff about Qwest, the company run by “Honest Joe” Nacchio.  Odd then, that Qwest never had a problem selling names, numbers, addresses, etc. for a profit.  I know my information was sold by the company.

    In the meantime, this bears repeating:

    Your telecomm company at the very least–if not a score of marketers–knows your calling history; that history is no longer private, therefore, and the government can obtain your phone records without a judicial warrant. Congress has provided statutory protections for certain kinds of telecommunications information, but those statutes allow telephone companies to share their data with the government for emergencies. After 9/11, a phone executive who didn’t believe that the country was in danger of another catastrophic attack was seriously out of touch with reality. And the volume of data requested almost by definition protects the privacy of any individual customer.

  29. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has earned it. Where’s Osama? Anyone called him lately from here? National security, my ass.

  30. Yo Lauren Bacall.  How in h…would anyone know if information picked up by the NSA is being used for “unlawful” purposes?  Unexpected audits from the IRS; “discreet” inquires at a job by the police or federal “suits”…needed security clearance denied, jobs lost or never obtained…and the most awful of all; citizens “self censoring” so they won’t appear “suspect”  are all the consequences of government spying on its citizens.  The real lauren bacall was not that dumb, or so I assume.

  31. Remarkable,

    I don’t think the “you hardly have any privacy anyway” argument is going to calm people down about the NSA spying and collecting phone records.  The real issue is that we have the FISA law to approve domestic surveillance, and Bush couldn’t be bothered with it.  He broke the law in order to spy on us.

    What if the reports showed that Bush had ordered an NSA program to collect and mine data for all purchases and sales of handguns, for example?  Would you feel comfortable with that?

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