Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Are We Sacrificing Privacy for the Illusion of Security??

Hat tip to Midtopia for this one:

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.


And now something for the conspiracy theorist in all of us...

Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.

"I specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations."

Tracking Calls

Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.

"If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."


Doesn't that just make your tinfoil hat tingle?

In Closing

According to a recent poll 51% of Americans disapprove of a massive Pentagon database containing the records of billions of phone calls made by ordinary citizens. I am one of them.

These programs have a huge potential for abuse particularly when it comes to the government whistleblowers and confidential informants. If Nixon had had access to this technology Deepthroat might have never come forward.

How much freedom and privacy are we willing to trade for security? We have this program. We have warrantless wiretaps. Library and Bookstore records were fair game. Do we want UK style video surveilance too? And even if we had all of that would any of it stopped Timothy McVeigh?

The government can't guarantee us total safety. Its an unreasonable expectation. Conversely we shouldn't expect every employee of the government, every government agency, and every administration to always act in the public's best interest. History has proven that to be equally unreasonable.

When is enough enough? Eventually the trade off will come to a point that the freedoms we originally sought to defend no longer exist. And on that day our enemies can safely say,"Mission accomplished!"