« It's deja vu all over again | Main | Hostages to fate »

In Defense of the NSA's Phone Call Records Program

Updated

Richard Falkenrath has an op/ed in today's Washington Post in which he explains how the NSA's phone call records program is not only necessary for national security but for civil liberties as well.

On Thursday, USA Today reported that three U.S. telecommunications companies have been voluntarily providing the National Security Agency with anonymized domestic telephone records -- that is, records stripped of individually identifiable data, such as names and place of residence. If true, the architect of this program deserves our thanks and probably a medal. That architect was presumably Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and President Bush's nominee to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.


The potential value of such anonymized domestic telephone records is best understood through a hypothetical example. Suppose a telephone associated with Mohamed Atta had called a domestic telephone number A. And then suppose that A had called domestic telephone number B. And then suppose that B had called C. And then suppose that domestic telephone number C had called a telephone number associated with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The most effective way to recognize such patterns is the computerized analysis of billions of phone records. The large-scale analysis of anonymized data can pinpoint individuals -- at home or abroad -- who warrant more intrusive investigative or intelligence techniques, subject to all safeguards normally associated with those techniques.

Read the whole piece.

Hat tip: Andy McCarthy at The Corner

Update: Mark Steyn also has an article today that is spot on accurate about the media:

So there are now two basic templates in terrorism media coverage:


Template A (note to editors: to be used after every terrorist atrocity): "Angry family members, experts and opposition politicians demand to know why complacent government didn't connect the dots."

Template B (note to editors: to be used in the run-up to the next terrorist atrocity): "Shocking new report leaked to New York Times for Pulitzer Prize Leak Of The Year Award nomination reveals that paranoid government officials are trying to connect the dots! See pages 3,4,6,7,8, 13-37."


He also explains that in order to connect the dots, we have to be able to see the dots:

I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Update II: Glenn Reynolds reports that President Bush's approval numbers have jumped six points since the story about the NSA's program was published and the criticism ensued.


TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference In Defense of the NSA's Phone Call Records Program:

» Church and State linked with Above The Law?

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Lawyer: Ex-Qwest exec ignored NSA request

» In Search Of Utopia linked with More Right Wing Logic

Comments (62)

I think Newt just blindside... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

I think Newt just blindsided Russert. Russert was expecting Gingrich to hammer the call collection program. So was I.

There's something I have to... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

There's something I have to get off my chest.

Arlen Specter is a flaming AS***LE. With Republicans like him, who needs Al Qaida?

Thank you.

Unlawful search and seizure... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Unlawful search and seizure in every home in the U.S. would probably yield a gold mine of information.

That doesn't justify violating the law to do it.

While I agree that taken on... (Below threshold)

While I agree that taken on its own, this is not a big deal, it has a lot of potential for abuse. I wonder how many people would support the existance of this system if it gets taken over by a Democrat who uses it against conservative activist groups to find out who their leaders are.

And which law exactly cover... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

And which law exactly covers the contents of my telephone bill, Lee? It's already being sold to marketers who want to sell me on their long distance service.

This is not about the CONVERSATIONS, but the specifications of the calls: from what number, to what number, when, and how long. NOTHING about the content. And it's being used to winnow out details concerning terrorists. 99.999% of the details will go into the big data pool and be left to stagnate -- including all your and my calls, I'm sure.

Intelligence is about separating the wheat from the chaff, then connecting the dots of chaff into something coherent. You and I are chaff, Lee -- as are the vast majority of people. Deal with it.

J.

It's entirely legal, Lee.</... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

It's entirely legal, Lee.

That's the amazing part of this- everyone is exploding in outrage before bothering to check about the legality. But you begin to see what these pathetic news talk shows are about, and that is to say they are about headlines and controversy, and not the truth.

Otherwise they'd seek the truth before recording the program.

And they don't.

In all the discussion about... (Below threshold)
Jeff I:

In all the discussion about legality and illegality, has anyone stopped to consider the effectiveness of this listening program?

For instance, in an age when people can buy cell phones anonymously right off a Seven-Eleven shelf, use phone cards at a public terminal, or us VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), how effective can listening in really be?

If I were a terrorist, I would simply keep buying disposable cell phones--exchanging phone numbers via another process such as newspaper ads, internet bulletin boards, etc.--all in code, of course.

If these methods are used, then how can phone records help us? They may net a few jihadi fellow travelers, but more likely they will only net the monied and inept dupes who just want to feed Palestinian children, so they will be of little intelligence value.

As Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute said on the Charlie Rose show Wednesday (May 10), we cannot hope to make our intelligence community effective unless we develop intelligence sources outside the umbrella of our diplomatic corps. I think the same thing can be said about this "eavesdropping program." It is simply ineffective in chasing the people we want to capture or kill. We need people on the ground and inside these organizations.

Is it possible this program exists for the sole purpose of making it look like we are doing something against terror--since it probably isn't effective anyway? Is it possible that this story, although a black eye for the Bush administration, actually plays to the far-right base whose sympathies for civil rights disappear when law and order is threatened?

Maybe we shouldn't be arguing about whether the NSA should be listening to us wish our moms a "Happy Mother's Day." Instead, maybe we should be asking how we could be spending $500 billion dollars a year on our military and yet Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still breathing?

"While I agree that taken o... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"While I agree that taken on its own, this is not a big deal, it has a lot of potential for abuse."

So what? You can say that about everything. The feds are in charge of an Army with weapons. That has a lot of potential for abuse. Should we get rid of the Army?

"I wonder how many people would support the existance of this system if it gets taken over by a Democrat .."

Uh, the same people will support it that supported it when Clinton was prez and used it, along with every prez since Truman.

This has been going on for years. Why is it a problem now?

It's a problem because ther... (Below threshold)
Lee:

It's a problem because there are increasing signs that the administration is not acting in the best interests of the American people.

Witness Rove's imminent indictment as yet another example.

It's a problem because t... (Below threshold)
LouDawg:

It's a problem because there are increasing signs that the administration is not acting in the best interests of the American people.

Witness Rove's imminent indictment as yet another example.

In ither words, take something that hasn't happened as an example of how bad the Bush administration is?

Do you Lefties even think clearly anymore? Or has Bush Derangement Syndrome fried all your grey matter?

Now you see, the assumption... (Below threshold)

Now you see, the assumptions made in that editorial make sense. What I dont understand is why this process could not have been done with Congressional oversight and judicial approval.

The other thing that I note... (Below threshold)

The other thing that I note is that you dont mention that the author of the piece is a former member of the Administration, and therefore his objectivity must be questioned.

"And it's being used to win... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"And it's being used to winnow out details concerning terrorists. 99.999% of the details will go into the big data pool and be left to stagnate -- including all your and my calls, I'm sure."

lol

Yeah, I feel better now that Jay Tea has assured us it's fine. Genius.

Wjy, exactly, does somethin... (Below threshold)
LouDawg:

Wjy, exactly, does something like this need "Congressional oversite and judicial approval"? Does the Executive Branch have any power whatsoever, or does it all hinge on what Congress lets them do?

In ither words, take som... (Below threshold)
Lee:

In ither words, take something that hasn't happened as an example of how bad the Bush administration is?

No, take something that is about to happen as yet another example of the way in which the Republican party is not operating in the best interests of the American public.

It's entirely legal, Lee... (Below threshold)
Lee:

It's entirely legal, Lee.

We don't even know what "it" is yet. We've only seen the tip of this iceberg. Thanks to true patriots, the truth is coming out in dribs and drabs. It will take months to discover the full extent of this mess.

The left in this country wi... (Below threshold)
ZZ:

The left in this country will come to regret the stance they are taking now on the NSA. They have NOTHING to recommend in it's place to track down bad guys. In fact they are more concerned about the RIGHTS of the bad guys than the right's of their VICTIMS.

________________________________________
ZZ Bachman / ZardozZ News & Satire Portal

GentlemenHow do th... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Gentlemen

How do think marketing companies obtain your phone number and call you during dinner?

Credit card companies sell your data all the time.

Why do you think you had best check that box that says "I do not wish to receive" all the marketing junk they want to spring upon you?

Who among you thinks that Bush should sit down and make public the blueprint of all of his efforts to protect this country? That's what that moron Specter seems to want, along with all the liberals.

Give me a damn break.

Not one thing has been done which anyone can say is "illegal" and yet you'd never know it.

What would any of you say were this country attacked successfully again? You'd be the first ones to scream that Bush should have done more. Bernie Keirek warned about this 9/10 mentality and was he ever prescient.

This country has been safe for almost five years, and so many seem to want that to change. Bush is clearly a victim of his own success.

Yeah, I feel better now ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Yeah, I feel better now that Jay Tea has assured us it's fine. Genius.

What exactly is it about you that you think the government want so badly to know?

Now you see, the assumpt... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Now you see, the assumptions made in that editorial make sense. What I dont understand is why this process could not have been done with Congressional oversight and judicial approval.

How about because it was legal to begin with? And in fact, the gang of eight was briefed.

I could, today, if I had th... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

I could, today, if I had the money, go and purchase the exact same data the phone companies handed over and donate it to the NSA.

It wasn't illegal. I think a lot of people are assumming legalities and rights they never had.

Oh, and Mike T. A Democrat did have control over it. The original program was started under Clinton.

Specter needs to have His s... (Below threshold)
Dick Morrass:

Specter needs to have His scrotal area scrutinized and investigated to see when He got his rabies shots? because He is infected with a disease called liberalism.

Go to Whitepages.com and yo... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Go to Whitepages.com and you can get all of this info! dont know what the big deal is?

Where was all of the outrag... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Where was all of the outrage when the former presidents buddies burned people alive at Waco and killed a Man at Ruby Ridge? and Your all concerned about someone looking at Who you talk to? Do You think they may find out Your cheating on Your taxes,spouse or late on Your Hamas payments or what? paranoia will destroya..

Re:Update II: Glenn Rey... (Below threshold)

Re:Update II: Glenn Reynolds reports that President Bush's approval numbers have jumped six points since the story about the NSA's program was published and the criticism ensued.

You might want to check what the polls say. Linked you on this.

Lee, jp, et alDo t... (Below threshold)

Lee, jp, et al

Do the police need a warrant to watch you when you leave your house and go to the market/the mall/a friend's home/school/etc?

No. They don't.

Understand that police work entails a lot of boring information gathering. From a pattern that citizen A has lots of different cars coming and going at all hours of the day/night and with the visitors only staying a few minutes a visit, the police - legally having said house under surveillance (no warrant needed) - THEN develop enough probable cause to seek a search warrant for the inside of the house.

Then consider road traffic studies, or police agencies running matches against your car's license plate when they have only a partial plate number given.

Geez, I'm beginning to think that some people believe suspects are identified by calling the Psychic Hotline.

and let's not foreget ... HEAVENS! Think of how your privacy rights are violated each time you mail a letter...the addresses on the ENVELOPE is seen by untold United States Federal Employees!!!

"What exactly is it about y... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"What exactly is it about you that you think the government want so badly to know?"

Why do I have to fight for your civil rights?

"Do the police need a warrant to watch you when you leave your house and go to the market/the mall/a friend's home/school/etc?"

Starting off - a poor metaphor Darleen. They don't need warrants to watch you, but they do need an investigation opened and approved by authority. Do I fully trust our governments authority? No, and no one should - ever.

Who knows what they are using this list for? It is a very, very real possibility that these records are being used for...anything actually. Like say, spying on political enemies. It wasn't too long ago that a Republican President illegaly used American intelligence agencies to spy on political enemies. Would I put the same thing past this admin? Absolutely not. In fact, you might have read that Cheney sought to track phone calls and emails without warrants.

Plus, the President flat out lied when it came to a point:

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

They have the personal calls of millions of Americans logged. Are we to assume they don't look at them?

Again, why do I have to fight for your civil rights?

They don't need warrants... (Below threshold)

They don't need warrants to watch you, but they do need an investigation opened and approved by authority.

And what authority do you think that is, jp2?

It is the higher ups within the pd itself.

You know, kinda like the head of the NSA directing the "what tools do we need to develop suspects" inquiry.

They are looking at raw traffic patterns... like cops on patrol looking for out-of-the-ordinary high traffic on a residential street.

hells bells, that's what a Neighborhood watch is for! Do you think your neighbors are engaging in illegal activity when they see someone they don't recognize climbing through the window of their neighbors across the street?

call the Psychic Hotline and see where the local terrorist cell is, jp2. I'm sure that's more your style.

First, it is doubtful th... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

First, it is doubtful that telephone users in general have any expectation of privacy regarding the numbers they dial, since they typically know that they must convey phone numbers to the telephone company and that the company has facilities for recording this information and does in fact record it for various legitimate business purposes.

U.S. Supreme Court
SMITH v. MARYLAND, 442 U.S. 735 (1979)
442 U.S. 735
SMITH v. MARYLAND.
CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND.

No. 78-5374.

Argued March 28, 1979.
Decided June 20, 1979.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=us&vol=442&invol=735


END OF STORY

jp2since the NSA d... (Below threshold)

jp2

since the NSA data mining is dealing with traffic where numbers are NOT identified and actual conversations are NOT recorded...pray tell how can it be used against "political enemies?"

I mean, this isn't like having actual FBI files - labeled by person - in your office.

"Plus, the President flat o... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

"Plus, the President flat out lied when it came to a point:

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

They have the personal calls of millions of Americans logged. Are we to assume they don't look at them?"


Logging number to number registrations is NOT mining your personal life. You guys throw the word "lie" around so easily it's bizarre.

Then again, maybe you're not one of the innocent. ;-)

You have no expectation of privacy as the number to number interaction once you make the call. For content, yes, for the numbers, no.

It is a decided matter. Stare decisis, as they say.

"since the NSA data mining ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"since the NSA data mining is dealing with traffic where numbers are NOT identified"

Huh? Did you read the article?

From USAT:
"For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made -- across town or across the country -- to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others...But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information..."

Clear that one up for me, k?

"Logging number to number registrations is NOT mining your personal life."

I wish there was a form on your taxes where people like you could check: "OK to Spy on Me" or "I Waive My Fourth Amendment Rights." I on the other hand - well I'm just not into it.

PS - he also lied when he said he a court order was necessary to "chase down terrorists."

jp,jp.jp....It's d... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

jp,jp.jp....

It's decided law. They can do it. I know that must really hurt. I'm sorry.

It's not content.

"PS - he also lied when he ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

"PS - he also lied when he said he a court order was necessary to "chase down terrorists."

No he didn't. No law has been broken. Not one.

Tell us, sir- how would you chase down terrorists? Would you ask the to kindly identify themselves to us? Would you ask nicely? Would you ask them to sit before a Senate commitee of assholes like Arlen Specter and provide all the details of their planned attacks?

Why do you want them to win?

lolSorry, but when... (Below threshold)
jp2:

lol

Sorry, but when you resort to the argument "you want the terrorists to win" - you lose. Also, please cite your sources.

"No he didn't."

Okay.

"By the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order," Bush said. "Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."

Then...

NYTimes:
"Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials."

So here you have Bush saying you have to have a court order for a wiretap. Then, it came out that he had been wiretapping without court orders. Please clarify your indefensible position.

Michael Hayden sought three... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Michael Hayden sought three independent judicial opinions prior to initiating the listening program and all three judge approved. The FISA judges concurred.

I omitted something -these ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

I omitted something -these were considered international since one conversant was not in the US. Lefties keep calling it a "domestic spying program" because it suits the agenda.

Now tell me how you would find these guys without ever having to straddle the law. Remember something- they are willing to die.

That is the dynamic that changes everything.

Faith+1,It's not t... (Below threshold)

Faith+1,

It's not the same program. This is a behavior analysis whereas Echelon is a dragnet. That's like saying that a bomb is basically the same thing as a bullet.

Les,

It's part of a general process to tear down the public's willingness to "live free or die." Most Americans today are cowards if you use our founders' generation or the civil war generation as a guide. They don't have it in them to sacrifice material pleasure for liberty. Today they'd gladly genuflect before King George. Our society has become so thoroughly feminized that most men crave security and stability and would gladly give it all up to have that. That's not noble, that's worthy of being spat on.

"Michael Hayden sought thre... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"Michael Hayden sought three independent judicial opinions prior to initiating the listening program and all three judge approved. The FISA judges concurred."

It will not stand in independent judiciary review. Hence the many blocks put in the way to block independent judiciary review. The EFF is the latest victim.

Also, if you can, cite things and respond to points.

We'll see. I am speaking of... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

We'll see. I am speaking of the actual terrorist listening program- not the data collection. I do not want it to stop. I don't want either to end. I like being alive.

Have kids, Mike?... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Have kids, Mike?

And how do you people know ... (Below threshold)

And how do you people know that the government doesn't have access to a database that matches your phone numbers to your name? If they used proper primary and foreign keys, it'd be trivial for them to find out what you're doing. Even if they don't have this information, who says that the companies won't give it to them?

I can give y'all a scenario on how the behavior analysis algorithm might find out local leaders. Local leaders (official and unofficial) of groups like the NRA would probably have slightly more connections between the rest of the group or discrete sections of the graph than regular members. They'd probably have more connections and the connections in the graph would be made slightly more frequently than by non-leaders, not to mention at certain times of the year, during major events, a leader would have a greater frequency of creating connections in the graph than a non-leader. Y'all also underestimate how much headway is being made on statistical software learning. Google has done a fine job with their new translation software.

Sorry, I used to work for a team that developed social network modeling software.

And.....?When will... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

And.....?

When will they begin the krystallnacht?

He can launch a nuclear att... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

He can launch a nuclear attack when he wants and there's all this kerfuffle about lame phone calls.

Good grief.

I recently received from th... (Below threshold)
diffus:

I recently received from the U.S. Department of Commerce a brochure entitled "The American Community Survey" that I'm supposed to fill out and return A note I received a few days earlier advised me that my "response is required by law." Among the items the Commerce Department wants to know in this 24-page survey are the names, ages, jobs, employers, ethnicities, education levels, total income, sources of income of everyone in my household, as well as the amounts of my mortgage payment, utility bills, water and sewer bills, property taxes, and insurance. Much more is requested, but the list above will give you an idea of just how inquisitive the Commerce Department is.

This is in addition to the 1040 I recently filed with the IRS, which tells the government, among other things, how much I make, whom I work for, what I have invested in, from whom I have borrowed money, and my bank account numbers.

I submit that the acquisition and retention by the government of the information requested via the income tax and the American Community Survey represent a far greater intrusion into my life and privacy than my phone number in a database being used to identify terrorist suspects -- if for no other reason than the fact that the IRS has investigative and enforcement power and the NSA does not.

I wholeheartedly agree.... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

I wholeheartedly agree.

No, and it doesn't matter. ... (Below threshold)

No, and it doesn't matter. That's like saying that since I'm not black my opinion on racism in America is invalid.

I don't particularly care much about this program, but I am being realistic here, something that most of you aren't. I doubt that most conservatives out there keep up with advances in Computer Science research. If they did, they might realize that this program may already have the capabilities needed to allow a president like Clinton to sidestep the private thugs to find out who to go after in local, pesky groups.

In the end, the government is always the one that has the power to take away your liberty. We aren't fighting for freedom, if we were we'd be fighting our own elected government which has done more to take away our liberty than every terrorist group on Earth combined. The only right a suicide bomber can take from you is life. That's a pretty limited range of options. Your legislature can take anything from you from the shirt on your back, to your children, to your life.

I've got this funny feeling that Bush is going to end up expanding the operations into Iran and then we're going to find that the Cold War isn't really over when the Chinese invade Taiwan and all hell breaks loose on the Korean border. There is nothing new under the sun. We like to think that we're in a new era of war, but we aren't. The Muslim terrorists are no proportionally worse than the barbarian tribes, whereas China is to us what Carthage was to Rome. In fact, the Romans would envy us that we had such a weak enemy that we could keep away by simply arming our borders and stopping immigration.

If Bush ordered a nuclear s... (Below threshold)

If Bush ordered a nuclear strike without a legitimate war need, he'd be lucky if the only thing that happened to him was the military refusing to follow the order. I seriously doubt that the military would follow his orders from that point on.

Look- it's time to be sangu... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Look- it's time to be sanguine about this. Your phone records have been for sale for years. It's nothing new. They are in the public domain. To ne honest, I do not like my phone records to be so easily available. That requires a change in the law. But it is legal right now, and I do not wish that this administration be without this tool. If it comes to needing a court order in the future, so be it. Your arguments make me believe even more in the value of this kind of program. If more oversight would sooth you, that's OK with me too. But again, it is legal right now.

"I don't want either to end... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"I don't want either to end. I like being alive."

I think that's just the issue here - you nailed it. You're scared and you want the government to protect you. You are willing to give up some of your liberties.

I think the left, in this case, isn't as scared and isn't willing to give up so many liberties.

"But again, it is legal right now."

After independent judicial review, I do not think it will stand. Neither do most legal experts. (Because bypassing FISA is illegal) However, we may never see it actually challenged due to the administrations efforts into blocking any investigation/oversite. (Because they know it's illegal - otherwise, it would proceed)

Ooh, I found a case from 28... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Ooh, I found a case from 28 years ago at Findlaw that proves me right! (or rather saw it linked by another blog). Law never changes!

Sorry, drjohn, your ruling from '79 doesn't mean squat since pen registers were dealt with in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1984. To use or obtain information from a pen register, law enforcement must obtain a court order showing that the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation.

Since this is apparently ne... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Since this is apparently news to the left, I'll let you in on a secret:

The government does not, in fact, have an infinite number of people with an infinite amount of time to try and track the people involved with somewhere in the neighborhood of SEVERAL TRILLION CALLS A MONTH. If the gov't spent one second trying to trace every single call, they'd only be busy for the next couple of decades for one month of calls. And imagine the hell on Earth if there is an unusually busy month. Wow! How many employees do you think the NSA has?

There is no crime committed here (you see, if there WAS a crime committed here, those of you convinced this is probably illegal would likely be able to point to a statute that this violated). This is no invasion of privacy as it is so absurdly large with no identifying names or the like attached that it is meaningless. This is all fed into a computer.

I heard the left bitch, incessantly, that "why didn't the administration connect the dots?" The administration then puts things in place that allow it to connect the dots and gets ripped.

The left is nothing if not hypocritical. Clinton IGNORES the UN entirely to deal with Kosovo and he's held up as an examplar of int'l relations (ignoring that his "coalition of the willing" was smaller than Bush's). Bush actually tries to go through the UN and he's "ignoring his allies".

Clinton openly STEALS FBI files OF HIS OPPONENTS and it's not a big deal. Certainly not a "crisis". Bush gathers UNTOLD TRILLIONS OF PHONE NUMBERS AND DATES and he's suddenly trying to nose into peoples' lives?

Clinton eavesdrops on domestic calls for solely political reasons and it's hardly a huge scandal. Bush eavesdrops on international calls involving terrorists and it's suddenly impeachable?

Why not spend more time worrying about an agency that REALLY does have a very personally intensive file of info about you that you are required, by law, to update constantly.

You know, the IRS.

Oh, and MikeT, about the Muslims --- keep in mind it wasn't a massive power than destroyed the Roman Empire. It was a bunch of smaller barbarian tribes that did the trick.
-=Mike

"Sorry, drjohn, your ruling... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

"Sorry, drjohn, your ruling from '79 doesn't mean squat since pen registers were dealt with in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1984. To use or obtain information from a pen register, law enforcement must obtain a court order showing that the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation."

Cite the statute, please.

"I don't want either to end... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

"I don't want either to end. I like being alive."

I think that's just the issue here - you nailed it. You're scared and you want the government to protect you. You are willing to give up some of your liberties.

>> What liberties would those be? Companies RIGHT NOW and for the last few years have been selling your phone records to marketers. WHY is it any different for the government to have them? Your argument is simply not tenable.

I think the left, in this case, isn't as scared and isn't willing to give up so many liberties.

>> Nah. The left wants Bush to be harmed more than they want citizens to be safe.

"But again, it is legal right now."

After independent judicial review, I do not think it will stand. Neither do most legal experts. (Because bypassing FISA is illegal) However, we may never see it actually challenged due to the administrations efforts into blocking any investigation/oversite. (Because they know it's illegal - otherwise, it would proceed)

>> Then how is it phone records are FOR SALE RIGHT NOW?

mantisTry checking... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

mantis

Try checking US code section 2709.

"Most legal experts seemed ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

"Most legal experts seemed to agree that the government could collect a huge database of phone records without violating the Constitution's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures."

Hosenball and Thomas, Newsweek

"What I dont understand is ... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

"What I dont understand is why this process could not have been done with Congressional oversight and judicial approval."

Uh, because it isn't the job of Congress to protect the country? Is there a Democratic Senator-in-Chief I don't know about?

Uh, didn't Congress pass the original law funding NSA, and isn't a Congressional committee briefed on this subject on a regular basis? How much of this story is really news to our bloviating liberal friends in the Senate?

Sorry, folks. What really stands out, if we stick our fingers in our ears long enough to block out the indidnant sputtering from the left for a few seconds, is that USNews conveniently broke yet another unsourced story just before a confirmation process, this time for Michael Hayden. I keep hearing liberals go all a-twitter about "transparency". What's transparent is the timing of this "breaking news story". This is about stopping Hayden's confirmation.

If this isn't yet another staged controversy from the left, I'll eat my hat. The timing of this story tells it all -- it's just a little too delicious. Once again, a whining liberal beaureaucrat committed treason and passed secret information to a willing Press, all too eager to inflate the story beyond any pretense of common sense. I've seen way too many instances of this kind of manufactured "news" to give it any credence at all, and most of the grownups have figured it out.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn once.

I'm just floored that the l... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

I'm just floored that the left has no problem with leaking info such as this.

I mean, considering how upset they were over Plame and all.

Clinton didn't get this kind of irrational bashing.

"And how do you people know... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

"And how do you people know that the government doesn't have access to a database that matches your phone numbers to your name?"

I would assume the government would have such a thing. After all the phone company delivers a book to everyone that does exactly that...you know, the phonebook with everyone's phone number and address in it?

Oh, and before the "unlisted" argument comes up get ready for a shock....if you are a telemarketer you can purchase unlisted and unregistered numbers from the phone company...they just cost more and if you aren't on the No Call List they can call you. Ditto if you ever did business with them in some fashion.

Oh, and for a free online d... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Oh, and for a free online database matching names to phone numbers and addresses...

http://www.411.com

To think this is suddenly new or Big Brotherish you just haven't been paying attention to what personal info has been available for years...legally.

They have the personal c... (Below threshold)
Lee:

They have the personal calls of millions of Americans logged. Are we to assume they don't look at them?"

Logging number to number registrations is NOT mining your personal life. You guys throw the word "lie" around so easily it's bizarre.

The reply dodged the question. Yes, they have number to number registrations, but that also have the telephone conversations and email traffic as well.

Are we to assume they aren't scanning those calls and emails for terrorist traffic as well? The government thinks they don't have to reveal the answer to that question because it's a secret.

We must compel the government to answer that question.

Lee, they don't have the au... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Lee, they don't have the audio of the calls because it is impossible to listen to several trillion calls a month.
-=Mike




Advertisements









rightads.gif

beltwaybloggers.gif

insiderslogo.jpg

mba_blue.gif

Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile

Contact

Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links

Credits

Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login



Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy