Friday, May 12, 2006

What else don't we know?

WaPo OpEd and Blog Opinion Round Up

More Domestic Spying
Now we learn that the NSA sought records of every phone call in the country.
What else don't we know?

Friday, May 12, 2006; Page A20

WHEN THE New York Times revealed the National Security Agency's domestic wiretapping program late last year, President Bush assured the country that the operation was carefully limited to international calls, targeted only al-Qaeda suspects and did not involve snooping on law-abiding Americans. That turns out to be far from the whole truth. In addition to intercepting certain international calls, USA Today reported yesterday, the NSA after Sept. 11, 2001, began assembling a database of records of domestic calls. It attempted to keep track of all phone calls made in the United States and use them in an elaborate data-mining operation. The agency did not go to any court for approval. Rather, it simply asked several major telecommunications companies to turn over huge volumes of call data. With the exception of Qwest, which balked for legal reasons, the companies did so.


Congress urgently needs to examine the full range of NSA domestic surveillance. These latest revelations show the error of well-meaning attempts to legislate concerning the NSA's wiretapping program by senators lacking a comprehensive sense of what it is and how it fits into the agency's larger domestic activities. The goal must be to modernize the rules of anti-terrorism surveillance within the United States, allowing for the uses of new technologies unimagined when Congress wrote current law but insisting on proper limits and systemic judicial and legislative oversight. This cannot begin to happen without a sustained congressional effort to find out what the NSA is doing.

Full Article

I don't mind them having the info what I do mind is that W and the NSA just did it. Didn't ask, didn't let anyone else know. Period. I mean how much trouble is it for W to send a memo to the Senate Intelligence Comittee? Its this easy:

Dear Senate Intelligence Comittee,

I have allowed the NSA to request the phone records of everyone from the telephone companies. No names or addresses will be included. This data will be used to study the social networking of terror suspects. Have a nice day.


The Decider

Would that have been so painful? Our government is set up so that each branch watches the other for a reason. And the war time powers line of reasoning is wearing thin. This isn't a traditional war. The traditional war time powers shouldn't apply in every case. This non-traditional war may last for 15 to 20 years. And eventually the shoe is going to be on the other foot and it'll be a Democrat in office making an end run around the constitution and then the right will be the ones howling. No one person should have that much authority in America's govenment. This should be investigated, people should cry foul, and W should be reined in.

Other Opinions:

Maverick Views
Why We Must Draw Lines

As expected, the amateur spindoctors of the right (aka rightwing partisan bloggers) are pretending like the news that the NSA is collecting our phone records is no big deal. The always well-written yet routinely vapid Power Line even entitled their post "NSA Accused of Protecting Americans from Terrorists". As far as Power Line is concerned, those who are complaining are just whining liberals who hate America.

Well I’m not a liberal and I love this nation and I am disturbed that the NSA is collecting data about my calling habits. And you know why? Because we are a nation of lines drawn to ensure the few who run our government can never overpower the many who make up our nation. The entire Constitution was designed to dilute power and ensure that the people have ultimate control. That model breaks down when we allow government agencies to watch us without any oversight or any congressionally-provided authority.


Blogs for Bush
Majority of Americans Support NSA Efforts To Fight Terrorism

I have to say I'm not surprised. Democrats in Congress may not want to fight terrorism, but Americans want to be protected. After intial reactions to the USA Today story on the NSA, I began to think about the issue of privacy, and realized quite a few things, especially on my way to work.

In the course of my typical commute, I hear people openly discuss in graphic detail various aspect of their personal lives on their cell phones for anyone in earshot to listen in. Anything from family problems, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, even explicit details of medical problems are broadcast in this public manner. I see people reading and writing emails on their laptops in a variety of public places, showing no concern about passersby gazing upon their screens. This paranoia about "domestic spying" is merely the results of politics. While Democrats have jumped at every chance to accused President Bush of spying, none (or extremely few) have said they'd end the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program if they had the power to do so.


The Left End of the Dial
On Opposite Day Junior Caligula Said

Domestic spying is not widespread. Given this regime's history of lying while trashing whatever might have been left of the Bill of Rights, while selling the US public a bill of goods, I wouldn't trust that bunch of jackals any further than I could spit against the wind (which out in the high plains is truly saying something).