May 11 2006
*** Major Update: Mac Ranger has word those who leaked this story are known to authorities and this may be a political hit job ***
*** Major Update at the end – and make sure to check out the comments section for links (simply cursor over the name for the comment to find trackbacks) ***
Is anyone surprised the rogue CIA and their media counterparts are leaking more information and spinning it to sound really, really bad:
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 â€” most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations.
Emphasis mine because there are wo things to note. First off most recordings related to a warranted search cover the innocent. Picture yourself as the target of a surveillance warrant (drugs, organized crime, terrorism – pick one) and then realize how many people you contact via phone and compter. You parents, siblings, children, neighbors all get monitored and their phone number and address recorded.
That is why there is a distinction in the law (though I am not sure I am using the exact legal terms here) between the target of a surveillance and the contacts of the target. Everyone gets swept up in a surveillance. That is why judges are the only ones authorized to make a person in America or an American a target of surveillance. That includes FISA and normal courts depending on the suspected crime or activity.
Now the NSA has two roles: one to monitor our enemies overseas (their legitimate, warrentless targets) and one to investigate communications in response to warrants from US courts. What this means is they monitor a lot of targets and sweep up a lot of information regarding innocent contacts with those targets. This role is clearly stated in the NSA response:
The White House would not discuss the domestic call-tracking program. “There is no domestic surveillance without court approval,”
This is the same FISA-leak all dressed up in different spin. This is not news except to those ignorant of how things work in the news corpse. The second item I highlighted is the proof of this point. To note the contact details (Name, number, address) of a legitimate target under surveillance is obvious. There is no listening to the conversation and no records retained on the conversation of innocent discussions. There is more proof later in the article:
The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.
Why else monitor the calls? In fact, the reason to note contacts as innocent or suspicious is to whittle down who targets of surveillance are talking to who may be accomplices. These records are actually a record that these people are INNOCENT of any relationship with a possible crime.
Prior to 9-11 NSA would note who inside the US (or what American citizen) was in contact with our enemies while monitoring our enemies. If your neighbor had called Bin Laden prior to 9-11 the NSA would know (if they were listening in on Bin Laden) and note it. But prior to 9-11 they would retain that information and not distribute it within the government to law enforcement (who must submit permission for warrants to monitor Americans and people in the US). After 9-11 this changed. Now when the NSA gets a contact with one of their targets overseas they pass that to the FBI who investigates and, if concerned, takes a request to the FISA court for a warrant to monitor.
Same old story wrapped up in a different package and for one reason – Gen Hayden’s selection to head the CIA. Personally, I think the rogue CIA agents are fools to continue this game. This just exposes why Hayden must go, and why he should keep his uniform on. While in uniform he must do what the President orders (forget Rumsfeld). This is just a lame attempt to throw up disninformation. Here’s the sentence that pulls the facade off this hit piece:
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 â€” those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders â€” were believed to be private.
Who believed this? Anyone who is ignorant or naive I suppose. Are these people saying we don’t record who is in contact with targets and then make sure these contacts are innocent and of no concern? And as I said, each contact gets some designation (probably innocent, not sure, probably a terrorist sympathizer) so these records identify who was deemed to be irrelevant and simply caught up in the monitoring. Like the airline employee who makes the ticket reservations for a terrorists flight.
Take special note of where the words ‘could’ ‘can be’ are used. These are speculations of what is possible – not what the article is claiming is being done. For example:
But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.
See how the writer and those ‘sources’ are trying to make it sound like this is being done. That is how they sneak propaganda into these articles. And it takes forethought and careful wording.
UPDATE: And here is why this reporting is dangerous. Of course the leftwing nuts want to point out the brave groups ‘speaking to power’, so they alert the terrorists to shift all their communications over to Qwest because Qwest is not partnering with the NSA to help find potential 9-11 terrorists here in the country:
Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.
Qwest’s refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest.
USA Today just tipped off the terrorist how to avoid detection and put the people in Qwest’s areas in danger because now it is known those areas have the least protection and should be targeted! What are these people THINKING! Someone needs to go to jail.
Update: Rick Moran has a good round up of the lemmings from the left – responding on cue.
Update: As Druge points out, the liberal fringe forgot to get all upset when their hero Clinton was establishing a much more invasive and legally shakey system during his term. Clinton’s system actually checked CONTENTS, not just who was talking to whom.
Update: Group Intel has a good explanation of how things really work when people are reviewing phone records and searching for terrorists. As much as KoS would wish otherwise, I am afraid he is completely irrelevant to the NSA’s mission to protect America.