May 11, 2006 7:50 PM PDT

Anger grows over NSA surveillance report

WASHINGTON--Capitol Hill politicians reacted angrily on Thursday to a new report about how President Bush's eavesdropping program has secretly collected records of telephone calls made by tens of millions of Americans.

In a sign that political opposition to surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency may be growing, a wide range of top Democrats took aim at the program throughout the day and called for immediate hearings to investigate the president's eavesdropping and data-mining efforts.

"We need to know what our government is doing in its activities that spy upon Americans," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. "The Republican-controlled Congress has failed in its oversight responsibilities to the American people."

Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed to force executives from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth to show up at a hearing and answer questions about what data they quietly handed over to the NSA without court approval. USA Today reported on Thursday that those three companies had voluntarily opened their databases to the NSA, while Qwest refused.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, wrote his colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee asking for a parallel set of hearings--in closed session, if necessary--that would require those three chief executives to explain "the role of the phone companies in this program."

During a hastily arranged press conference at the White House this morning, Bush defended the data-mining as perfectly legal and necessary to thwart terrorism. "We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Bush said. "Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates. So far we've been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil."

It wasn't immediately clear how many other GOP members would break ranks and support more hearings. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, warned his colleagues not to rush to judgment on the latest revelations, which said that the three phone companies had divulged records of the calling histories of hundreds of millions of Americans--but not the actual content of the conversations.

One hearing in the House of Representatives, for instance, was supposed to focus on the privacy of Social Security numbers. But Democrats used it as a platform to criticize the president, while the panel's Republican members remained silent.

"We've entered a time where consumers' rights and privacy are for sale, and as it turns out, the government may be the best customer," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat. According to Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, the news represented "another telecom merger between NSA and AT&T."

"We've got a new slogan for the AT&T and NSA: Reach out and tap someone," Markey said, drawing laughter from fellow Democrats and their aides. Markey added, more seriously, that the nation has reached "a point of privacy crisis."

Other House Democrats, including Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, on Thursday introduced what they called the Lawful Intelligence and Surveillance of Terrorists in an Emergency by NSA, or the Listen Act. It specifies that covert attempts to spy on Americans or collect telephone and e-mail records must be approved by a court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Bush's difficult political position
The new revelations could be politically damaging to the Bush administration because the president has repeatedly stressed that the NSA spy program is aimed only at intercepting phone conversations and e-mail messages where one party to the conversation was outside the United States. In January, for instance, Bush assured Americans that "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

A New York Times/CBS News poll published Wednesday put Bush's approval rating at a new low of 31 percent, the third-lowest of any president in the last 50 years.

USA Today reported the three phone companies had divulged "call detail records," which are database entries that record the parties to the conversation, the length of the call, and so on. It wasn't clear whether only names or names and phone numbers were turned over to the NSA.

A CNET News.com survey published in February asked telecommunications carriers whether they "turned over information or opened up their networks to the NSA without being compelled by law." Neither Verizon nor AT&T would answer yes or no to that question.

But BellSouth did answer in the negative at the time. A BellSouth representative on Thursday said he could not explain the discrepancy, and provided News.com with a statement saying: "BellSouth does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any governmental agency without proper legal authority." The statement did not elaborate on what "proper legal authority" might be, and whether it would encompass a mere request from the White House.

Complicating the situation for the White House is the pending Senate confirmation of Michael Hayden, who was at the helm of the NSA when the surveillance program was created and was nominated by Bush last week to be the new CIA head.

Senate Democrats pledged to use those confirmation hearings as a means to get their questions answered. They will be "an opportunity to explore this and other vital issues regarding the effectiveness of our intelligence community," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. "Hayden must demonstrate a willingness to be forthcoming with the Congress and present a strategy to address the systemic problems facing our intelligence community."

CNET News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
NSA, Edward Markey, hearing, Democrat, BellSouth Corp.

105 comments

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Only the Republicans....
.....could have taken themselves out of the upcoming elections so easily and completely.

This smacks of Watergate - except that they are spying on us all.

It's time for a change. And, no, I don't mean Democrats.

We need more fundamental changes. Like 2 term limits on ALL elected officials. If it's good enough for the President, its good enough for all.

This would reduce the ability to create "good ol' boy" networks (no matter which side of the aisle they are built on). And, it would make the lawmakers simplify laws and lawmaking.

But, the lawmakers would have to vote on this, and who really thinks they'll vote themselves out of thier cushy jobs and self-approved raises in the midst of economic recessions?

Aren't you tired of politics as usual? Don't you see what more government gets us? It's less freedom and less money in our own pockets. And wars based on suspicion and hype - not facts and evidence.

They tax the working people to death and use that tax money to spy on the workers. Just how sick is that?

I'm an independent voter....but I'd have to say I lean more towwards the Libertarian camp.

What have we got to lose by going Libertarian? The Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin.

I, for one, am tired of flipping this coin.
Posted by Jim Hubbard (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Echelon? Carnivore?
Who invented high tech spying on individuals with those two programs? The Clinton Administration.

Know your history before you sanctimoniously pout "only the [insert political party you hate here]..."
Posted by GDuCardelle (4 comments )
Link Flag
Forget two terms
Make it one six year term and save the two years or so they waste running for re-election.

Just think, no more Byrd's, Kennedy's Thurman's.

Heaven.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Its Not About the Parties
Its about WHO is in the parties. The truth is there should be a fundamental requirements for officials being able to be voted into certain positions of office.

Currently, there a lot more un-qualified, under-educated, un-ethical public officials in office. I can't speak as to it being worse than ever, but definitely more than ever if you consider the positions people hold. This situation certainly isn't party specific.

Government officials have to be more than just "honorable". Being honorable, or true to a cause means nothing if your cause, or honor, is unjust, twisted, wrong, or greedy.

Of course, there is not a snowballs chance in Hades that I'd vote Republican now. I have never seen so much corruption before, in my life-time. No separation of church and state? The VPs ex-company receives no bid contracts? The speaker is tied directly to one of the biggest scam artists who relished in stealing millions from innocents? The White House leaks the identity of a CIA agent because the disagreed with the reports of her husband? Their "friends" are appointed into positions of national interests without any qualifications, or the capacity to do the job? They protect the oil industry, and attempt to justify their prices while gouging the public and making record revenues, and call it good business when their are no other alternatives? ... Let's not even get into the level of deceit involving the "war" ... They want to "re-invent" science and propose intelligent design? What was this crap about "ebonics" (its not a language, just a way to separate us further)? They don't believe in global-warming while GreenLand turns green for the first time in history? The list goes on, and on, and on.

But there are a few bright lights out there, its just that you have to be an astronomer to find them because the scumbags keep shining the light of bull-sh-t in our faces.

In truth, the number of right people, has always been in short supply, regardless of the party they are affiliated with. What we need is a means, a way, for us to be able to identify them, without all of the BS. The electoral college needs to be revamped. I know who I would like to vote for, but will they have a chance? Will they be allowed to run?

As far as the two party issue is concerned,that is a legitimate beef. I can't believe, during one election, an official implied that having more than one party was un-american. That statement could not have been further from the truth.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Only the Republicans
Only the Republicans take our national security seriously.
Posted by billn46 (1 comment )
Link Flag
This may be it!
Finally, a horrible mistake that may be enough to really turn public opinion against the Bush administration. Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans not at the end of a constitutionally-dictated 8-year maximum term, have already figured out that turning against the current administration is in their best interest.

The privacy issues here cannot be underestimated. If government agencies can tell who calls whom, how big a stretch is it for this information to be used to determine what a person's political leanings are. Imagine a person that keeps their political feelings close to their chest being denied a job in the government due to their friendships with more vocal individuals, exposed through phone records. This is the tip of the iceberg - financial records, Internet-access histories, travel records, etc.

I hope America still hasn't been so defeated by fear that it can't stand up against this.
Posted by ryan.kimber (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your kidding yourself.
Nobody cares anymore. Not only do the vast
majority not care about being spied on, but I
bet if you asked people today if the government
could search their homes, they'd say "no
problem, just tidy up before you leave, please."

Despite Bush's approval ratings (29% yesterday),
the administration still isn't held accountable
for anything. The president has declared (in
writing, no less) that he's personally exempt
from about 400 laws and has the authority to
exempt other people from laws at his discretion
-- no SUBSTANTIAL challenge there. Domestic
spying is legal, certainly, because the laws
requiring judicial oversight don't apply to the
administration -- again, no challenge. Congress
asks questions, the executive branch tells them
to go home because security clearance won't be
granted to the legislative branch -- legislative
branch says, "OK, we tried".

I mean, really, Bush was once quoted saying "...
when will people stop getting on me about that.
The Constitution is just a G*d-damned piece of
paper!" I don't know if he actually said that,
but even when he's at Nixon-Watergate levels of
disapproval, the public still overwhelmingly
agrees with the general sentiment.

The phone records themselves are useless for the
purpose for which they were ostensibly
collected. Either: no data was collected and
it's a big ruse to hamper illicit communication,
or a lot of other data is being collected (we
know that they also collect credit transactions,
bank transactions, employment and school
enrollment data, travel itineraries and
manifests, e-mail traffic, and supermarket
purchases because non-terrorists have been
flagged/arrested/had accounts suspended because
of activity computers flagged as "unusual"), or
the data is being used for a another activity
entirely (there's precedent for that, J. Edgar
Hoover, Nixon, and most recently John Bolton
have all used similar intelligence to target
critics ["subversives"] and political foes).

Few people care. So long as they progress
slowly, people will accept whatever they get.
The trick is to move forward at a place where
people forget how things are supposed to work.
Temporary things can be made permanent,
intrusive things, status quo, etc.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
No mistake
No conversations among Americans was monitored. Just phone numbers in a database. Ho-hum. No crime, no foul, no news. Only a liberal print media hype on a historical action. The NY Times printed this months ago. The rag should be renamed to "USA Yesterday". or "USA Last Year".
Sort'a proves that the Bush administration is above board if this is the best that the liberal press can come up with, ain't it?
Posted by kquickkquick (21 comments )
Link Flag
Wake-up call!
Finally, a horrible mistake that may be enough to really turn public opinion against the Bush administration. Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans not at the end of a constitutionally-dictated 8-year maximum term, have already figured out that turning against the current administration is in their best interest.

The privacy issues here cannot be underestimated. If government agencies can tell who calls whom, how big a stretch is it for this information to be used to determine what a person's political leanings are. Imagine a person that keeps their political feelings close to their chest being denied a job in the government due to their friendships with more vocal individuals, exposed through phone records. This is the tip of the iceberg - financial records, Internet-access histories, travel records, etc.

I hope America still hasn't been so defeated by fear that it can't stand up against this.
Posted by ryan.kimber (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How Embarassing for You
It is sad to see someone so challenged by their political agenda and so poorly informed that they expose both with comments like yours.

Stop and smell the roses son. On the day following the President's announcement of his selection for the director of the CIA a national newspsper suddenly discovers and headlines the discovery of a "new" intrusion into American privacy. Now it isn't relevent, but this has been going on for decades in one for or another. Telephone people all over the US have known about this type of "AMA" data and it's permutations.

We quickly have the very same politically driven congressional microphone grabbing protesters who continually try to lead and mislead the huddled masses with their spun soundbites. Even high schools teach this level of propaganda in Psychology class.

You don't have to like the President or anyone else, but the effectiveness of a Democracy does presuppose that it's citizens engage some level of intellect. Do you really not want someone in your government identifying the telephone numbers calling and called by known and/or suspected terrorists? Did you lok beyond page one to page five of the USA article where it finally was noted that there is not eavesdropping or call content involved in this program. Are you going to continue to have you opinions and actions motivated by an institution that follows the mantra of "If it bleeds, it leads"? Do you really believe that Americans can be protected from these religious zealots by fighting them the way the British fought the Revolutionary War, that would be Red Uniforms in a Green forest all lined up in a straight line?

Use your God given intellect to think your way through who wins and who loses if these telephone call patterns aren't found and investigated.
Posted by LarryCivic (1 comment )
Link Flag
No mention of Carnivore?
Shame, Declan. Shame.

Your true (partisan) colors are showing... again.
Posted by GDuCardelle (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There's no Carnivore!
Now it's the DCS1000. Apparently that's the kinder, gentler name for domestic spying software.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Carnivore
Ah, I didn't know that I was actually a Democrat. Thanks for guessing (and guessing wrongly).

You can blame the Clinton administration for plenty of things, like CALEA, Clipper, key escrow, and, yes, Carnivore.

But even Carnivore's critics never alleged it was anything but a device used in specific investigations, not wholesale recording of who every American has talked to.

Big difference.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
100,000, or more dead after next Al Kaida attack...
...will make this discussion moot.

God forbid WHEN or if the next Al Kaida attack occurs in the
good old USA with a weapon that will make 9-11 look like a
picnic, we won't be arguing over this unfortunate necessity
(privacy invasion). We'll be demanding the president fight back -
as he is now.

I hate giving up my privacy, but it's the price we all must pay
post 9-11. Al Kaida are brainwashed fanatics and they want to
kill our families, in large numbers. Get it Liberals? Get REAL.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Forget it
they will never understand that these people thrive on this kind of stuff. The love us ripping each other apart because it makes us weaker....and easier to kill.

They have the will but currently not the means to kill us. We have the means to stop them but not the will. Its as simple as that.

I pray daily for my three young children and their future.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
Are you serious?
Are you really that much of a coward to give up rights that millions have fought and died for over the past 230 or so years? Is your safety worth your liberty? How far many americans have sunk.

It is cowards like you that have given the victory to the terrorists.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
They don't need it any more
US goverment is doing more damage to themselves and their system, citizen, than Al Quaida can ever accomplish.
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
What I Get ...
What I get is that we have an administration that is lying to the American public. I get that this administration is now in the position of having to argue that when the president said he wasn't monitoring US-to-US calls he didn't mean this type of surveillance. I get that the administration has taken the attitude that there's "no need" to pursue court orders or other legal justification for these surveillance measures (all that said with a straight face because they know that the truth is there isn't a court in the country that would give them this authority). I get that conservatives feel that there is no limit to the amount of constitutional revisionism the president can do in the pursuit of their warped definiton of freedom. I get that in that pursuit they continue to give the rest of the world more than enough reasons to not only detest America, but to attack America. And I get that they can't see that for their own foolish self-interest.

mark d. doiron
CMSgt, USAF, Retired
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Another kool=aid drinker
First of all, 9-11 only happened because BushCo ignored all the
warnings given them by the Clinton administration.

Secondly, if YOU want to "pay the price" then I suggest a move to
Iraq or Iran. Perhaps you'd like Afghanistan. I refuse to
relinquish my rights as a citizen of this country which includes
the right to privacy (i.e., the government works FOR ME and I will
not stand for them spying on my or my neighbors. If you do
then perhaps you'd enjoy communist China.)

Thirdly, grow up and stop using "liberal" as a pejorative. It was
liberals who gave us the minimum wage, safe working
conditions, eliminated child labor (unless, of course, you
approve of forcing 8 year olds to work in the mines), cleaned up
the air and the drinking water, public education (maybe you
missed yours), and all the good things that make life in this
country (or did) the envy of the world.

It is the lying right wing conservatives who are bent on
destroying our way of life. I'd suggest you go rent GANGS OF
NEW YORK if you'd like a little preview of the life they have in
store for the rest of us.

I'd like to leave you with a few pertinent quotes:

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the
bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell
them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for
lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." Herman
Goering, Successor designate No. 1 to Hitler

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip
the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a
double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it
narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a
fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has
closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the
citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by
patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and
gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am
Caesar." Julius Caesar

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." - Benjamin
Franklin

Remember, those that refuse to learn the lessons of history are
doomed to vote Republican.
Posted by DarleenMB (1 comment )
Link Flag
it's spelled Al Queda
no need to even say more
Posted by bemenaker (438 comments )
Link Flag
If you believe that...
... then the war is already won, and we lost.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
100,000 or More Dead ....
That's what Bush and his people are hoping Americans will say/think/feel. We are allowing FEAR to get in the way of common sense. This administration puts their "spin" on whatever it is they want to do, while you're freedom and privacy are going into the sewer. Be careful in giving the stamp of approval on questionable activities by the government - you may be a victim of it one day.
Posted by patsullivan (2 comments )
Link Flag
The Word
If they can take the word "freedom" and make it the opposite then we will be "free" in 30 years and if you dont like it then you never existed.
Posted by cth_2008 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Dumb and Dumber.
Stupid is as stupid does I guess. It appears the only reason you can
justfiy this is you are as dim-witted as GW.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
See more comment replies
You remember Ma Bell?
The phone company has been keeping track of your calls since there have been phones. Back in the punch card days, your originating and destination numbers were difficult to cart around, but they were. Magnetic tape made that easier and flash drives make it a snap. But there are no conversationlogs, no eavesdropping, just originating and calling numbers.

That info is being pattern matched against known suspect numbers. Is that important? Oh biy you betcha.

If you go back and look at how 9-11 was organized, it was done over the phone. Had a system such as this been in place prior to that horrific terrorist attack, it might have been prevented.

But don't let facts color your judgement. If you're angry over this, definitely write your congressperson and demand that the process be stopped at once. Then, after it is, and we experience another 9-11 (and we will), you can write your congressperson again and demand to know why the President didn't connect the dots.
Posted by hardedge (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
sheesh
The cowards have come out of the woodwork.

All the necessary data was known to the government. The problem is that all the agencies that had bits and pieces of it are children that don't want to share. That is why 9/11 was successful.

If you think the illusion of safety is worth your liberty, perhaps you would be happier in China?
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Govt. Protection is a Joke!
Like the govt. will protect you! You are a fool to think they are interested in saving your skin. They are worried about their own skin not yours and in the process you are being stripped of your freedoms!
Posted by jennette0875 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Everybody be afraid and do what we say.
The bottom line is if the White House can make a connection to
"terrorism," they can do whatever they please. The average Joe
will buy into anything that is passed off as a way to "thwart the
bad guys." Bush and company like for the public to fear the
Boogeyman and seek protection behind their skirt.

The subtext of these domestic surveillance programs is this:
"Don't be critical or get in our way. Either you are a patriotic
American and on our side, or you're with the enemy.
Incidentally, we've amassed quite a database about your
personal life and habits. Let's see...in 2003, you phoned an
escort service. And what's this Internet search about how to
avoid taxes?"
Posted by CBSTV (780 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Deep Throat Knew Best
There was good reason why Deep Throat never spoke to Woodward over the phone. They met in the shadows of an underground parking garage, mercifully safe from video cameras. Don't you just long for the simple days of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew again.
Posted by maxwis (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Isn't It Time For An Orange Alert Or Something?
Let's see, if past behavior is any indication there will be some disclosure next week to drive this messy debate off the front pages. We'll probably hear about some new-old plot that was foiled 2 years ago by the good people at the NSA. The good, decent, honest, hardworking, god-fearing people at the NSA. People who drive their kids to soccer games, people who have backyard barbeques in the Summer, just like you and me.

The details of the foiling of the evildoers will not be fully released, because that is classified and would compromise security, but you can be sure it was foiled by increased vigilance.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Orwellian Government
Its a foot in the door as they say. We will always be fighting terrorist because terrorism is an idea and ideas cant be killed (exactly what they want). If you've read 1984 by George Orwell then you can see the similarities to "The Brotherhood". If the current administration needs help out of a debacle, like the one were in, it will be just like Keith J. said and we will be "scared" into forgetting all about it. Think about it, approval ratings at all time lows, all we need to do to get those a 10-15% is "tragecally" have an attack on our soil and our president responds without mercy. Problem solved. All of a sudden new bills are passed to "stop" terrorism by whatever means(and they have public support) and after 20 years of this neverending war we will be commiting "thought crime". And i wouldnt expect our "liberals" up on capital hill to do anything about it because they are spineless (excluding a select few).
Posted by cth_2008 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Poor analysis
You guys should have been good techies and pointed out this USA Today story is simply a anonymously sourced rehash of the original James Risen story that broke in the Times last December.

The irony is techie folks should be the first to discuss the myth of privacy in an electronic world where everything is logged.

Y'all missed it.

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report
NYT December 24, 2005

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/politics/24spy.html?ei=5090&#38;en=016edb46b79bde83&#38;ex=1293080400&#38;pagewanted=print" target="_newWindow">http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/politics/24spy.html?ei=5090&#38;en=016edb46b79bde83&#38;ex=1293080400&#38;pagewanted=print</a>
Posted by smoyerjx (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sure, whatever.
Does anybody really care?

From the common man, doesn't seem like it.

Also, where does the anger come from?

That elite 1% of 1% of 1% of 1%?

Typical Marxist/anti-American CNET slant story.
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
typical hypocrite
If you don't care, then why didn't you include your phone number?

What are you trying to hide?
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Link Flag
Um, yes!
Based on Bush's approval ratings, I'd say that you're "that elite 1% of 1% of 1% of 1%."
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
Time for VOIP
No sweat. This gives me the motivation to switch to VOIP and abandon my old POTS.
Posted by joelr--2008 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't understand
How the heck is VOIP going to help you? I'm no expert on the tap points in use by the NSA, but digitally encoded voice transmissions are likely what is found at the interception point inside the network. They sure aren't tapping your twisted pair to the CO. Whether it started as POTS or VOIP, it's all going to end up hitting a digital trunk somewhere either embedded in an IP packet or another protocol. I think you are fair game for the NSA either way...
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Remember London
One simple link should say enough on the subject:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://powerlineblog.com/archives/014051.php" target="_newWindow">http://powerlineblog.com/archives/014051.php</a>
Posted by Joe Bolt (62 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WRONG!
The information was present BEFORE the attacks. This has been
established, FIRMLY.

What did NOT exist was cooperation between competing
agencies who, at times, act like children when working together.
The other major issue was the complete lapse in recognizing
what they had by the higher level officials. There were PLENTY
people who were aware that something was up, but the only
power they had was to inform.

Tapping phone calls, looking for phone patterns (a trumped up,
theoretical method of setting alarms) from 100 million people is
a complete joke. You mean to tell me that the american public
itself is suspect? In those large numbers? Nixon would have
loved this! This has NOTHING to do with security, and
EVERYTHING to do with control.

Of course, with mental retards, greedy bastards, and power-
hungry freaks in control, this is something they would love to
have, no matter the circumstance. After all, they never did listen
to the intelligence community in the FIRST place. That's why
they created one department to control them ALL. You do not
have to be the smartest person in the world to see what is
happening, but you do have to be BLIND to not see it at all.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Good job
Nice fascist take on the subject. Mussolini would have loved you.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Link Flag
Don't blame Bush., It's not his fault.
Actually, I don't know why our politicians are crying the blues over this. They gave Bush all the power in the world when they signed off on the Patriot Act in 2001.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's like
holding a parent responsible for everything their teenage son does. Sometime the son has to take responsibility for his own actions &#38; BE A MAN.

The idiot-in-chief may be (is a) dimwit - but hell, we execute the mentally incompetant - why should lack of grey cells be an excuse for W to get away with anything ?
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
No You Didn't!!
You're elected (not really, but thats another issue ... I live in Florida by the way), assumed honorable (mistake number one), 9/11 comes around, then the elected official(s) exploit it for their own personal interests, NOT the interests of the country they govern.

If ANYONE else had done this, they would be facing charges of treason.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Government Surveillance
Why should we care about being under surveillance?.....only those that have something to hide, or are doing something wrong should be concerned.....
Lets get out of the way of the very people who are trying to keep us safe

go wash your beamer
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Learn ... Quick
Stop. Learn. Listen.

What is a police state? What does a police state precede? What
happens when the fundamental ideas of a country are changed?
All citizens are suspect? What happens when the goverment no
longer represents its citizens? What happens when public
servants pass laws to protect themselves, and line their pockets?
What happens when a suspect government controls what you
see, and hear?

If you honestly think they are really doing this for your
protection, then you must still think that Hussein had something
to do with 9/11, he had "nukes", and weapons of mass
destruction. In which case, you are simply the mindless idiot
they want to control in the first place.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Yea man
Yea man
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
I don't like this
My family makes a lot of long-distance out-of-the-country phone calls to both the Philippines and Canada - all private convesations with family, to think that this might under any type of surveilance, without any type of warrant or due process of Law, in any way is outrageous.

Bush says it's phone calls to Afganistan or Iraq that are being under surveillence without a warrant but at the same time, at the other side of his mouth, he will not give comprehensive information to either the public or even specific congressional committees is another form of doublespeak.
Leaders in Third World countries use this type of excuse to arrest opposition and innocent people; these leaders too suffer from a form of paranoia - the Philippines had President Marcos and now contend with President Arroyo using these very tactics and excuses to abuse the Law for their own benefit; President Bush is almost a couple of steps away from doing this.

At this point, it's really impossible to believe anything that Bush says regarding this intrusive policy - he has not only lost credible standing within the International Community but with this American Citizen as well.

I have to admit, I am tired to death of hearing politicians use 9/11 as either excuses or their font of inspiration as the reasons for their actions. As someone who had a real live front seat at 9/11 and and was close to five minutes of being flattened by the North Tower - I find it insulting to everyone who had to experience 9/11.

To be quite honest, I don't see how Bush's surveillence of our personal phone calls is going to yield any results unless the NSA is really tapping into our conversations and taking notes.

Warrants are legal means for the government to pursue an investigation - whereby the Judicial branch is given prior notice by the Executive (Law Enforcement) branch that it is committing an act that would require the side-stepping of Contitutional rights; a warrant is proof against corruption - it protects both our Law Enforcement and the subject of the investigation that proper legal pprocedures were followed upon investigation. The laws that allow for a warrant by a Federal Agency is very flexible and accomadating - not like it is portrayed in the movies - there is no excuse for George Bush to do "cowboy justice" except the lame excuse that he is from Texas.

This President is bordering on impeachment; in fact, this action is worse than what was committed by President Nixon decades ago.
Seriously, a congressional act of censure is needed to remind this President his role and limitations within our government as outlined by our Constitution.

My rant,
Ned
Posted by techned (200 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Assuming that all Americans are terrorists
The only logic that can be gained from this administrations apparent desire to spy on the activities of Americans is that this administration believes that all Americans are terrorists in waiting.

I keep hearing we need to do this or that to save our country from TERRORISM.. wooo scary.. TERRORISM.. the boogeyman will get you if we don't spy on everyone.

Naturally we should assume that Al Qaeda has recruited tens of millions of US Citizens for their next attack, because only be analysing their call records, correlating them with their spending habits, income sources, travel itineraries, prescription records, voting habits will we be able to thwart your neighbour from flying airplanes into the London Underground.. wasn't that a flight simulator I saw on his computer last week.. didn't he once say he been to Al Qaeda's closest ally, France? Better watch him and make sure he doesn't commit any acts of subversion against our troubled leaders, such as voting for the wrong person or reading the wrong books.

Shoot remember all those boxes he carried into his house last Christmas.. and then hid surreptitiously under that tree he had growing in his living room. I for one don't believe that sort of tree could have died from natural causes, and yet it's gone. I'll bet it was the biological weapons he had stashed under it, because I'm sure that not a few of those boxes were obtained from.. SHOCK, HORROR, THE INTERNET.. maybe I should phone the NSA to make sure they have his records, just in case..
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Call Centers for US Companies
As shown in the news a lot of large companies are moving their call centers to India and other Foriegn countries due to lower costs. That means millions of US citizens are calling outside the US without even knowing it. They are also receiving solicitations from unknown numbers that could originate anywhere and represent US companies, despite the National Do-Not-Call lists.
These call centers are taking much needed jobs away from Americans and cast suspicion on those that call them.
Thank You
Posted by djensen552 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You really don't know anything about Life over there.
Seriously - where are you going to find people who will work for less than $5/hrs, no health benfits, no sick leave, and are expendable? Where are you going to find a place in this country where you don't have to pay government subsidies, besides taxes, to pay for state sponsored social security and medicare?

This is what the people in these countries are. You think the mexicans have it so bad in Mexico - it's nothing compared to over there.
To those people - these jobs are a "God send" - it allows them to support their families in a place that is near their families or in an environment that is familiar to them.

In this country, we have laws against "sweat shops" and that protect people who work minimum wage - over there those people can work for more than 12 hrs. at the same pay it takes for someone to do 5 hrs. doing the same thing.

Sure it sucks talking to these people, because they have to read a script and they feel more like an obstruction than a solution but they get the "dirty end of the stick" by dealing with irrate people who yell and scream because their lives are a "bit" interupted, and have to work long shifts without a coffe break.

Now that people in this country are b%#@*ing about illegal immigrants coming into this country and taking jobs, be glad that those people in India and other third world countries are given jobs over there by American companies or else they would have to become illegal immigrants and take jobs over hereover here just to feed their families over there.

My Rant,
Ned
Posted by techned (200 comments )
Link Flag
big bussiness
For years big business has done the same thing.
Where was all the uproar by the civil liberty group's then. If all the american people woke up
and realized that in 4 decades our freedom's have been shortened. We must have some belief in our elected officials.
Posted by seabee69m (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree 100%
It is about time we the people returned our gov.
to those it is supposed to serve. all look deeply within and understand what apathy has done to our
country.
Posted by seabee69m (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Clinton had little to do with Echelon
The UKUSA agreement that provides the foundation for cooperative spying by the UK, US, Canada, Australia &#38; NZ was put together back in 1947.

ECHELON has been around since at least 1988, which is Ronald Reagan's era. It is quite probably that it evolved from more primative systems from the 1970s -- when Tricky Dick was CiC.
Posted by chill633 (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
To whom it may apply...
There are those who try to be like self made politicians,when i read this post i sense to some that they (more then one)dont have love for there own people it's ashame! While your enemies are stealling your live you have the gull to blame the president,humm. my question in what mind does it give anybody the insane reason that because you are a democrat gives you the filthy right to bring down good people besides the president to slander,conspire to encourage your enemy to foot more ground in the blessed country of America.Did you enjoy what yousome of you seen in tragedy of 9/11 or are we some of us missing out on something?It seems that for some fanatics like making others feel very uncomfertable;in closing this comment if you were to be victamized by a ruthless satanic religious leader like the theology-liberal so called oriental democratic left,and were a prisoner in your own neighberhood and were given you a deadline to live without a choice would you, 1.kill the son of $%#@ 2.or blame his lust to conquer not only your country that i love so dearly but one by one conquer and track down your racial roots,until "Allah" will be satisfy that his earthly regime is in control. To me blaming the president is much like saying nothing,To show concern and appreciate George W.Bush what he has done to stand up with millions upon millions of good people that the only right is to be alive should stand out firmly and clear ,at the cost of those that want to protect those who are always unsatisfied,eating,and still alive referring to the cowards that should know better.Keep it up Mr.Bush and that God bless America.
Posted by CARIBE49 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yikes
First, put the JD away. Didnt you read the side of your medication vial. It must say something about anti-depressants and alcohol. At the least, that little martini glass with the red line across must be some sort of hint.

And I do appreciate GW.

I appreciate that he has done more to erode the rights of americans that any other president, including real wartime presidents, not just wannabes like himself.

I appreciate that fact that on his resume alone he would never be hired, not even to flip burgers.

I appreciate that he is probably the least intelligent president this country has ever had.

I appreciate the fact that he is responsible by his lies for the untimely deaths of many Americans.

I appreciate that he is a true man of re-action and not capable of any rational forethought.

I appreciate the fact that he can, like a child, blame others for all his problems.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Link Flag
Critical thinking skills in short supply
Based on what I've heard this is like a phone calling credit report. Who did you call &#38; how long did you talk. Everyone seems to have a definite opinion. Has anyone asked more in-depth questions, or are we to rely on the scant info given by the usually scant media services? Example: Have the phone companies violated privacy agreements with their customers? Is there even such an agreement? Is the government performing an illegal act if the companies just hand the info over to them with just a simple request? Does the data have value? Can you really get meaningful intel from scanning numbers called from inside the US? If it is meaningful and not used, will the government be blamed for not doing enough if their is another terrorist attack? Is the info used for any other monitoring activity other than terrorism? Etc.
You have to not just be suspicious of the government monitoring you, but also wonder about the lemming-like politians and agenda-setting media that want to make up our minds for us. Puh-leaze! Take a look at what is going on. Ask the right questions. Objectively assess the operation. Then, make the appropriate decision.
Posted by Fly on the Wall (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're right about that.
Its yours. If you stare closely at an object, you cannot see what is happening around it. This isn't just about them gathering information on its citizens under the pretense they are trying to protect them. I am sure you have heard the phrase, "Can't see the forest because of the trees". That is where you are at right now.

You have to take a step back, and look at ALL of the illegal activities, the denial of responsibility, the cover-ups, the threats, the lies, ... I could make gumbo, and never be able to get as much crap into that these cats have done.

Your argument assumes so much, and discounts just as much. Let's put them to the test, and see if I fail:

#1. Who said it was "scant" information? Do you know that? When this story first broke, the Bush said only oversees calls would be bugged/recorded. Since then, we've found out that 10s of millions of americans in the country are. And that is all they are admitting to.

#2. Yes, the phone companies have violated privacy agreements with the public. The phone companies provide a public service, and in turn have to act accordingly.

#3. Yes, the goverment is acting illegally, because what good is law, if the enforcers won't abide by it themselves. Of course, of you think you are "King" and add a line or two that states "except me, and whomever I choose at a later date". President Bush has actually done this.

#4. Does the data have value. Before I even begin, I have to call you a complete fu-k-ng moron for thinking the data does not have value. I could determine when you were home, how often you called anyone, categorize who you call, when you call. And that is just off the top of my head. Only phone numbers (don't be a complete idiot and think they don't record) you say, my GOD man, people use reverse phone look up tools all day. I built such a database, mostly for addresses, 198+ million.

#5. This data does not serve to prevent a terrorist attact at all. We had that information the first time. We just failed to act on it. So tell me, how would this change that?! By the way, there is nothing illegal about tapping a monitoring an actual suspect, so once again, any argument for what they are doing falls into the category of preposterous. But then again, you probably think this administration is full of geniouses. Trust me, if they can fu-k so much so, so fast already, how can you believe they are even close this time when SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SCREAMING ENOUGH ALREADY! No you can't get meaningful intel on terrorism by monitoring all US citizens! DOH! 200 million plus population folks.

I do apologize, in advance, if your post was simply meant to provoke a response with some thoughtful answers to those questions. However, this is a subject matter that has the blood boiling in most US citizens, and its been building for quite some time.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
OOPS!, some one may have made a big bunder of epic proportions!
Oops!, I was reading the online LA Times may 13th edition, under the title "Phone Firms Questioned" by staff reporter David G Savage.

Now in this article a University Law Professor at George Washington University, Orin S Kerr, pointed out that a federal law "The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, section 2702 states "the providers of "electronic communications & shall not knowingly divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer & to any government entity."

Companies that violate the law are subject to being sued and paying damages of at least $1,000 per violation per customer."

Interestingly , on Friday the 12 of May, legal action invoking that subsection was filed against Verizon, in New Jersey!

Oops!

This is getting very interesting, as to why the Republican Party chooses to self destruct just in time for the mid term elections!

Question is what else are they hiding from us, or do they know something that is coming and are not willing to tell all????

Still it makes the late Richard M Nixon's Watergate scandal cover up attempt, look like a childs toy!

Oh well, let the scandal continue to unfold!!!!, for all to see!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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