NSA Surveillance Leak CasePolitics

NSA Surveillance Watch: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans’ Phone Calls

Gen. Michael Hayden, nominated by President Bush to become the director of the CIA, headed the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005. In that post, Hayden would have overseen the agency’s domestic phone record collection program.

USA Today: 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. 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.

NOTE WELL: 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.

So, what is the point of another security leak on another “SECRET” government program to combat terrorism?

Answer: Somebody in the CIA or NSA does not want Michael Hayden to be confirmed as Director of the CIA.

The White House Reaction:

The White House defended its overall eavesdropping program and said no domestic surveillance is conducted without court approval.

”The intelligence activities undertaken by the United States government are lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks,” said Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary, who added that appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on intelligence activities.

But, the Lefties in the United States Senate smell blood in the water…..

ASSociated Press:Paper Reports NSA Collecting Phone Records

Leahy sounded incredulous about the latest report and railed against what he called a lack of congressional oversight. He argued that the media was doing the job of Congress.

“Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaida?” Leahy asked. “These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything … Where does it stop?”

The Democrat, who at one point held up a copy of the newspaper, added: “Somebody ought to tell the truth and answer questions. They haven’t. The press has done our work for us and we should be ashamed. Shame on us for being so far behind and being so willing to rubber stamp anything this administration does. We ought to fold our tents.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said bringing the telephone companies before the Judiciary Committee is an important step.

“We need more. We need to take this seriously, more seriously than some other matters that might come before the committee because our privacy as American citizens is at stake,” Durbin said.

But, Democrat Senate leaders have been briefed and the NSA programs are within the law. The Democrat Senators have had ample time to either sponsor legislation outlining a modification to the law or file a lawsuit enjoining the President.

But, what have they done?

NOTHING

Why?

Because these secret NSA programs are necessary to defend America from terrorism.

Do they violate Americans’ civil rights and the rights protected under the United States Constitution?

NOPE

And what happens next?

Michael Hayden will have a rough time at his confirmation hearings and Senate Democrats hoping to score political points in the November 2006 elections will bloviate on the Sunday talk shows.

Will the NSA stop these secret programs that protect every day Americans from terrorism?

No Way!

Discuss this blog post and MORE…. at the FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blogs, My Dental Forum.

The National Security Agency (NSA) logo is shown on a computer screen inside the Threat Operations Center at the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland, January 25, 2006.

From the Blogosphere:

Michelle Malkin: NEWSFLASH: NSA DOING ITS JOB!

Stop the ACLU: New NSA Leaks From USA Today

Outside the Beltway: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans’ Phone Calls

The Volokh Conspiracy: The Other NSA Surveillance Program?

Power Line: NSA Accused of Protecting U.S. From Terrorists 

Previous:

NSA Surveillance Watch: Senate Intelligence Committee Decides NOT to Pursue Investigation

NSA Surveillance Watch: Congressional Probe of NSA Surveilance Is in Doubt

NSA Surveillance Watch: Two Lawsuits Filed Today to Seek End of President Bush’s NSA Electronic Surveillance Program


NSA Surveillance Watch: Specter Skeptical of Domestic Spy Program

NSA Surveillance Leak Case Watch: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Testify


NSA Surveillance Watch: AP Poll- Most Say U.S. Needs Warrant to Snoop? – RECYCLED

NSA Surveillance Leak Case Watch: Vice President Cheney Strongly Defends Eavesdropping Operation

Cox & Forkum: One Man’s Whistleblower

Global War on Terror Watch: Why the NSA Monitors Communications of Al-Qaida


NSA Surveillance Leak Case Watch: President Bush Defends NSA Surveillance

NSA Leak Case Watch: New York Times’ Reporter James Risen


NSA Leak Case Watch: Justice Deptartment Probing Domestic Spying Leak

NSA Surveillance Watch: President Had Legal Authority to OK Taps

NSA Surveillance Watch: Carter and Clinton Executive Orders Authorizing Secret Searches Without a Warrant


NSA Surveillance Watch: Calls for Congressional Hearings

NSA Surveillance Watch: President Bush defends Spying as “A Necessary Part of My Job to Protect” Americans from Attack


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17 thoughts on “NSA Surveillance Watch: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans’ Phone Calls

  1. Dear Flap:

    This is ILLEGAL. From the USA TODAY article: “Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest’s lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused. The NSA’s explanation did little to satisfy Qwest’s lawyers. “They told (Qwest) they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them,” one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest’s suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general’s office. A second person confirmed this version of events.”

    Got that? Qwest asked the NSA to go to FISA or the AG and show us that this is legal. The NSA refused because they know it is NOT legal. Furthermore, “the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.”

    Your administration, in the name of protecting us from terrorists, is destroying our civil liberties, our right to privacy and is trampling the Fourth Amendment. Defend them all you want, but you will see that the American people, on both sides of the political fence, are NOT happy about this at all. 68% and climbing.

  2. Tyler,

    What civil liberties have been violated? Because QWEST attorney’s were not comfortable or because YOU say so?

    Have there been any court findings?

    No.

    What happened to the Senate Hearings on the NSA Surveillance program?

    Abandoned…..

    Where have your friends the Senate Democrats been? What have they done?

    Nada…..

    Where is their corrective legislation? or lawsuit asking to enjoin the Executive Branch?

    Nowhere…..

    This piece in the USA Today was to embarass and sink the CIA nomination of Michael Hayden. But, it won’t!

    And the polls…. Flap is unhappy with Bush at the moment so include me in the 68% disapproval

    Tyler, you are baying at the Moon(bat) again.

    Flap

  3. Hi Flap –

    Thanks for engaging – let’s do this.

    1) What civil liberties have been violated? Because QWEST attorney’s were not comfortable or because YOU say so?

    The NSA has demanded records from the major telcos, but refused to provide any legal justification in doing so. Qwest asked for a legal decision from either the FISA court or the Attorney General. NSA refused to go to that route, because the FISA court and the Attorney General “might not agree with them” in terms of the program’s legality.

    The Fourth Amendment says the following: “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.”

    As far as I’m concerned, having access to my phone records WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE is an ureasonable search and seizure. Clearly, the NSA doesn’t want to be told that, so they refuse to go to the FISA court and the AG.

    2) Have there been any court findings?

    See my point above – the NSA refuses to go to the courts because their expectation is that they would be found in violation of the law.

    3) What happened to the Senate Hearings on the NSA Surveillance program? Abandoned …

    I believe you might be referring to the Justice Department inquiry. Please see the AP article, where “the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.” “Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation,” wrote Jarrett.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12727867/

    4) Where have your friends the Senate Democrats been? What have they done? Nada. Where is their corrective legislation? or lawsuit asking to enjoin the Executive Branch? Nowhere…..

    Following are some court cases in the works. But I’ll preface that with saying that Democrats in both houses have NO POWER to subpoena or call official investigations. Congress’ job IS oversight, and they aren’t doing it. Period. Where are your Senate Republicans in making sure that American civil liberties are protected? And just because Michelle Malkin says that its legal, doesn’t make it so.

    Regarding corrective legislation – that’s Bush’s job. If they wanted to, they could go to Congress and amend or revise FISA such that what they are doing falls underneath its jurisdiction in a legal way. Why have they failed to do so?

    http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/nsaamicumbrief5906.pdf
    May 10 – 72 Democratic Members of Congress filed an amicus brief in two cases challenging the Bush Administration’s illegal warrantless domestic spying.

    http://news.com.com/2061-10789_3-6066688.html
    The Bush administration formally said Friday that it will try to halt a lawsuit that accuses AT&T of helping the National Security Agency spy on Americans illegally.

    http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/index.html
    http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/reports/report.asp?ObjID=IahVzRA3n9&Content=693
    ACLU v. NSA and CCR v. Bush are pending in Detroit and New York, and the plaintiffs are seeking summary judgment and an injunction against the government to stop the program immediately. The government must file its responses by the end of next week in both cases.

    5) Question for Flap: When is it too much? What would it take for the Bush administration to cross the line into unwarranted invasions of our privacy? If it is true that the NSA was merely doing its job by amassing a huge database of caller histories, when would it be that the NSA has stopped doing its job and started to break the law? At what point does that line get crossed?

    You can call me a moonbat, you can even say I’m just an angry liberal from the Kennedy wing of the liberal communist party, whatever. I am a 16-year registered Libertarian and very very concerned about the degradation of our rights in the name of this “War on Terror.” When does it end? Why is that you can be in the 68% of Americans who disapprove of Bush, and still be a Republican, but if I express my concerns, I’m a moonbat?

  4. Well, you just repeated yourself.

    This whole Flap today is just a rehash of the same tempest in a teapot when the NSA Surveillance program first was leaked.

    Since the NSA Surveillance program is classified on what basis do you make the claims that the program is illegal? Because USA Today says so? Or you? Because of QWEST lawyers? Because the procedures (which by the way are secret)you desired were not followed? You make assumptions and then baseless conclusions on a program that is secret with details remaining classified.

    With regards to the court cases, I covered them here on this blog. But, what has become of them?

    NOTHING!

    What have your friends, the Senate Democrats do beside wear tin foil hats and bay at the moon?

    NOTHING!

    Why, because the NSA Surveillance protects Americans from TERRORISTS. And deep down even Dick Durbin knows this.

    Tyler, you know Flap’s calling you a Moonbat was an affectionate jab……..Libertarian indeed. LOL…..

  5. Dear Flap –

    You asked me specific questions, and I gave detailed replies with links to stories, court cases, amicus briefs and more. Many of which are underway or have otherwise been stonewalled by the NSA and the administration. You simply dismissed it, rather than respond to it. My personal opinion is that having access to my phone records WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE is an ureasonable search and seizure and thus a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    You failed to answer any part of my question, When is it too much? What would it take for the Bush administration to cross the line into unwarranted invasions of our privacy? If it is true that the NSA was merely doing its job by amassing a huge database of caller histories, when would it be that the NSA has stopped doing its job and started to break the law? At what point does that line get crossed?

    If you feel this is so critical to fighting terrorists – a database of every single American’s phone call records – then I respect your opinion. Perhaps then, you can offer an opinion on other matters of national security that this administration has failed us on: port security (

  6. ah shoot, your site cut off my post. well, anyway, we can certainly agree to disagree. I have to get back to working for a living. Hope you’re having a nice day.

  7. Dear Flap –

    one last thought for the day – from the AP today
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060511/ap_on_go_pr_wh/nsa_phone_records_22

    “I don’t know enough about the details except that I am willing to find out because I’m not sure why it would be necessary to keep and have that kind of information,” said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News Channel: “The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?”

    “We’re really flying blind on the subject and that’s not a good way to approach the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional issues involving privacy,” Republican Sen. Arlen Specter said of domestic surveillance in general.

  8. Tyler,

    I have responded to much of what you mentioned in earlier blog posts many months ago when these issues first were leaked about the NSA Surveillance program.

    You cite your personal opinion about access to your phone records and this being an unreasonable search and seizure. Although the NSA Surveillance program is classified and we do not know much about the program I doubt if your phone records would be of much interest to anyone unless you are making calls to terrorist organizations outside the United States.

    This entire “revelation” today is just a rehash of last December’s “leak” by the New York Times in order to poison the nomination of Michael Hayen as DCIA.

    Remember: 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.

    Sorry if your post got cut off. I have been trying to post an update to this post and sometimes the traffic makes the site quirky.

    Flap

  9. Tyler,

    And what did these GOP pols really say?

    “We do not know much about the program, but we better cover our asses and say something for the voters back home.”

    Sad, but true….

    Flap

  10. Hi Flap –

    On December 21, 2005, in your post (p=1599), you said to me:
    “Remember this NSA surveillance was against suspected foreign terrorists – Al Qaeda. It was against the bad guys who want to destroy our country. It is not spying domesticlly like you imply (albiet there may be a few errant intercepts). Flap feels safer with the President and the NSA scanning the foreign chatter and preventing another 911 or other terrorist act. Flap does not fear this type of surveillance since it is limited to foreign intelligence. The Fourth Amendment is not under attack here. Can you see the distinction?”

    But may I point out that scooping up the phone records of tens of millions of Americans, where perhaps 2% may be international calls does not exactly qualify as “errant intercepts”?

    Now I realize that you will argue that “This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations,” but how do you know? To quote you, “You make assumptions and then baseless conclusions on a program that is secret with details remaining classified”.

    And may I offer the following for consideration from USA Today, which neither of us can confirm nor deny: “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.

    If this is true, my understanding is that call logs alone would not nearly approach being the largest database ever. And thus there is a hidden component to this database that we are not aware of – as a speculation, that could be recordings of every call.

    So I would posit and ask you to consider that this program is much much bigger than you originally anticipated, and potentially could entail significant concerns about the violation of our civil liberties.

    Regarding the GOP politicians, what about it is sad? Is it sad that they are expressing reservations about the program, because they know their constituents may have reservations about their civil liberties being violated? Or is it sad that they don’t unilaterallu support the president? Please explain.

  11. Tyler,

    We are at war against Islamic Jihadists, Islamofascists, or just plain terrorists whichever you prefer to call them.

    The NSA Surveillance Program is designed to protect Americans against terrorist plots by intercepting foreign originated tele-communications and runnign other secret program protocols including a pin index on tele-communications databases.

    This is not a new revelation but was leaked by the New York Times in December 2005.
    Link: Excavating For Bones of a Scandal

    So, Tyler, where is your beef with the program? The only complaint I could forsee would be if you regularly contact terrorist colleagues for planning Jihadist attacks on the United States.

    Where are your facts that the NSA violates Americans’ civil/constitutional rights? Even Michael Hayden today stated that the NSA Surveillance programs were run under strict protocols with oversight (presumably court and justice department).

    Tyler, you can speculate all you want and float stawman hypotheticals but in the end there are no facts to support your arguments.

    And the pols are pols – generally a pathetic lot who CYA rather than lead – sad.

    Flap

  12. Dear Flap –

    You pointed to an interesting blog post. He makes some good arguments for proper intelligence gathering. He also says this: “There are some civil-liberties concerns; with all those numbers at their fingerends, it’s possible the NSA might go romping through them, just “for the heck of it” (Leahy’s words), including numbers that show no unusual traffic. But why? Why would they waste their time and resources? In any event, without showing some rational reason for having done so, they certainly couldn’t produce any such findings in court.”

    Flap, I don’t care why they would waste their time. I don’t care about what their motivation may be. Because when you have that kind of power, without any oversight whatsoever, there is the possibility of abuse. Without probable cause it is illegal, and I refuse to have my civil liberties chipped away.

    Regarding Michael Hayden, while he has a lot of intelligence experience, and would probably be a competent leader in that position, he sent up a big red flag earlier this year regarding Americans’ civil liberties. I refer you to this Editor & Publisher article, where he demonstrated a “shaky grip on the fourth amendment” at a National Press Club appearance in January:
    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002463957

    “Hayden repeatedly referred to the Fourth Amendment’s search standard of “reasonableness” without mentioning that it also demands “probable cause.” Hayden seemed to deny that the amendment included any such thing, or simply ignored it. He directly said “no” it did not include “probable cause.”

    In regards to my “beef with the program. The only complaint I could forsee would be if you regularly contact terrorist colleagues for planning Jihadist attacks on the United States.”

    Just because I am not doing anything wrong does not mean I want the government, with no Congressional or judicial oversight, given the ability to peruse my phone records, listen in on my calls, see what websites I go to or see my purchasing habits. Any of it. I value my civil liberties and my privacy. I don’t see how you can make a powerful argument out of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, don’t worry about it.” The administration may be fighting the terrorists, but they are not protecting our freedoms.

    Again, you refuse to answer the question: When is it too much? What would it take for the Bush administration to cross the line into unwarranted invasions of our privacy?

    To me, that line has been crossed, but I would like to know where that line is for you.

    Regarding the pols – they are sad, agreed. They are not doing their job of oversight. That is their job – making sure that the executive branch conducts itself within the law. They are not doing it. To do their job would be a demonstration of leadership.

  13. Tyler,

    You stated:”Just because I am not doing anything wrong does not mean I want the government, with no Congressional or judicial oversight, given the ability to peruse my phone records, listen in on my calls, see what websites I go to or see my purchasing habits. Any of it. I value my civil liberties and my privacy. I don’t see how you can make a powerful argument out of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, don’t worry about it.” The administration may be fighting the terrorists, but they are not protecting our freedoms.

    Again, you refuse to answer the question: When is it too much? What would it take for the Bush administration to cross the line into unwarranted invasions of our privacy?”

    But, the federal government is NOT doing that.

    You are setting up a strawman hypothetical and then trying to knock it down.

    What freedoms are being abridged? NONE.

    There is no line to cross because the federal government is not making any invasion on my or your privacy – only that of suspected terrorists and with judicial and justice department oversight.

    Flap

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