Your Call May Be Monitored

The USA Today is reporting that the NSA has been studying private records of telephone calls placed in the US by American citizens:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

The White House gave this statement through deputy press secretary Dana Perino: "The intelligence activities undertaken by the United States government are lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks."

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was shocked when he heard the report.  ''Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaeda.  These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything ... Where does it stop?  Shame on us for being so far behind and being so willing to rubber stamp anything this administration does. We ought to fold our tents.''

Comments

  • (Show?)

    You left out a semi-local angle: the only company not to acede to NSA's request was Qwest. They actually asked NSA to take the request to FISA, but according to sources NSA refused on the grounds that FISA might say no. ??!!!

    To protect my conversations, I have recently switched my phone services to smoke signals and semaphore. The connections are slower, but at least now if I ever get lost in the woods, I know how to build a fire and have a bright light to shine.

  • Aaron V. (unverified)
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    If this isn't an impeachable offense, I don't know what is. This is straight out of 1984.

    And I would suggest people punish AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth for acquiescing in this madness. To Qwest's credit, they asked the NSA for a FISA warrant.

  • (Show?)

    Robert Cringely predicted this in his column back in January: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20060126.html

    Note that the White House has volunteered this new information. They're looking to regain the advantage on this issue.

    Here's what I think their overall PR strategy has been with the NSA taps:

    (1) reveal that lots of surveillance has been going on, but don't go into detail about the nature of it.

    (2) let their opponents go far out on a limb criticizing it.

    (3) later (now) reveal that they are not actually collecting the call data (as most of the criticism has presumed.) Rather, they are collecting the calling patterns.

    I'm not sure what the legal difference is between collecting the content of a call vs. the data "about" a call. But I'll bet the public is much more inclined to allow data collecting than content collecting. And the White House is making that same bet.

    -Pete

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)
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    I think it's ridiculous that the same administration that is reclassifying government documents thinks it's totally okay to spy on their own citizens. I've totally had it with these guys! And though I'm more conservative than not, I hope the Republicans get their asses handed to them in November, because they totally deserve it at this point. I also hope that as soon as the Democrats retake Congress, they work on impeaching Bush, who is the WORST PRESIDENT EVER! You guys have my full support on that. This can even be tied in to the immigration issue. I say let the Mexicans stay and deport the entire Bush family. They seem to like Afghanistan and Iraq; let them have their pick of the two.

  • Christy (unverified)
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    You should read this Village Voice article.

    I am embarrassed at my own surprise. From a discussion here at work a few cubicles down from someone much more knowledgeable than I, it seems that the text of every conversation is recorded, but that they have not yet figured out the best way to sift through the content. I have always resented the argument that if you aren't saying anything illegal then you have nothing to worry about... My phone conversations are pretty mundane, but I feel violated.

    And I have a sinking feeling that it does not matter who is in charge... I will be listened to. Makes me care quite a bit about who is listening.

  • (Show?)

    Christy: I agree, the "I don't care, I have nothing to hide" argument is a terrible one.

    The big danger is not to the individual, it is to our society as a whole. You and I might not be saying anything questionable, but defending our own right to privacy is also a way to defend that of people who might be less popular with the present administration.

    These people have no credibility with regard to distinguishing a "political adversary" from an "enemy of the state." We shouldn't give them a blank check to listen in, for instance, on Democratic strategists.

    -Pete

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Here is an excerpt an email I sent today to Commissioner Leonard and Commissioner Saltzman with an idea for how Portland may react in a proactive way on issues of customer privacy:

    Dear Mr. Leonard and Mr. Saltzman:

    I am writing to you today because I believe your respective bureau assignments (Bureau of Emergency Communications, Office of Cable Communications and Franchise Management) may be present an opportunity to positively impact both local and national policy.

    As you may be aware, recent news coverage has shown that a number of telephone service providers have been surreptitiously, and without court order, handing over the complete calling records of their customers to the federal government. (Source: USA Today, Link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm )

    One notable thing that came out of the article is that the company Qwest was not among those handing over private customer information. In fact, it is reported that Qwest has been under much pressure from the federal government and has thus-far resisted.

    ...

    It occurred to me that the City of Portland in its procurement practices could formally take into account the privacy history of a contractor. Contractors with a well-known history of not disclosing customer records to the government without a court order would receive extra points or extra consideration in contracting decisions.

    If it is within your power to affect bureau policy in this way, I hope you can proceed along these lines. Perhaps it would also be appropriate to introduce as a Council resolution.

    ...

    • Bob R.
  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Let's get one thing straight:

    The greatest threat to the freedom and well-being of Americans is the Bush administration.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    So, if we're listening in on EVERYONE in town, where is Osama Bin Laden anyways?

    The USA has spent almost $1,000,000,000,000, plus 2300 lives, 15,000 arms, legs and faces and Osama is still LAUGHING at his old business partner, George W. Bush, and pumping out more videos than Aerosmith.

    Maybe we should be spying on the enemy, instead.

  • Ingrid (unverified)
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    torrid: "To protect my conversations, I have recently switched my phone services to smoke signals and semaphore."

    Protect your conversations from what? They are not looking into your conversations. Call patterns do NOT equal Call content.

    Aron V: "If this isn't an impeachable offense, I don't know what is."

    Correct. You do not know what an impeachable offense is.

    staffer: "I think it's ridiculous that the same administration that is reclassifying government documents thinks it's totally okay to spy on their own citizens."

    Define 'spy on their own citizens'. Do you mean look into content of phone conversations? ...or are you mad they analyze call patterns?

    Christy sez: "From a discussion here at work a few cubicles down from someone much more knowledgeable than I, it seems that the text of every conversation is recorded, but that they have not yet figured out the best way to sift through the content"

    More knowledgeable than even you are? Wow, must be a very smart person, who says 'the text of each conversation is recorded, but they can't figured out how to sift through the content'? Why doesn't you smart person as a Database Administrator? But before you tell him/her 'bout these new fangled DBAs, why don't you ask him/her where they heard that the 'text' was recorded (and in what format, audio? or text?). Or, Christy, you can just believe whatever the cubicle-dweller next to you spouts of as fact.

    Is the intelligence of this comment site really this bad?

  • (Show?)

    A friend of mine who works for Working Assets Long Distance just told me that they're the only phone company that is actually part of the ACLU lawsuit on this issue.

  • (Show?)

    Per Ingrid's rebuttal, I will say that, her bon mots notwithstanding, there's a question about what should and shouldn't be legal with regard to data mining.

    You think the legislative business is like a sausage factory--you don't even want to know what the spy game is like. But as we worked our way through the cold war, we had debates about spying (at least among our leadership). Data mining needs to be examined.

    The problem is that Bush didn't want to examine it. I assume he was worried about where we might land. And if there's a single group in the US who has proven they aren't to be trusted with secrets and extra-constitutional actions, it's the Bush administration. He's run out of "trust me"'s.

    And Ingrid, my comment notwithstanding, in regard to your question: "Is the intelligence of this comment site really this bad?" I would say that your contribution didn't exactly elevate our batting average.

  • (Show?)

    Ingrid sez: "Protect your conversations from what? They are not looking into your conversations. Call patterns do NOT equal Call content."

    First of all, how the hell do YOU know they're not looking into my conversations? I get that the latest story is not about eavesdropping per se--but that doesn't mean it's not happening. The President has flat out lied on this subject already; what's one more?

    But in any case, my call patterns are PRIVATE. Who I call, when I call, how often I call, how long I talk--that's all my business, not the government's.

    To make something useful out of this post besides toying with a troll, Oregonians--particularly those in the 4th District--should be concerned to note that Darlene Hooley is the only OR Democrat not to sign onto Rep. Conyers' amicus brief challenging the administration on NSA surveillance issues. Where is Darlene? Call her staff and ask.

  • (Show?)

    The split here is not Democratic/Republican. It's totalitarian/libertarian.

    John Poindexter, pardoned for his crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal came up with an idea, Total Information Awareness that has been publicly killed several times. An idea like this will never die in the minds of those who want transparency when looking to citizens, but obscurity when citizens look toward government.

    Example: Bill Clinton thought this was a great idea back in the '90s, but William Safire thought it was a total Big Brother play.

    Today, you still have true conservative Senators and representatives, aligned with progressive civil libertarians that are appalled and calling for investigation into violations of the Bill of Rights, and a lot of so-called moderates that can't figure out what the fuss is about.

    <hr/>

    As I've said before, but it's worth repeating, when the administration can't get it up to meet the pitifully low and non-reviewable threshold of a FISA warrant, they are so far from legal that it can't even be seen from where they are.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Ingrid: Care to put your money where your mouth is?

    Compile all of your phone records from the past year and post them online. Then tell us all where to go and look at 'em.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Hi Ingrid.

    I believe W allowing the phone companies to blow him, and letting him know who is calling whom, is an impeachable offense.

    Now if W had created 22,000,000 new jobs, like Bubba, instead of a measly 2,000,000 or so, we'd probably let him pass.

    Probably.

  • Aaron V. (unverified)
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    Ingrid - I suggest you follow this link.

    What the NSA did violates the Pen Register Act provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1984, as modified by the so-called "PATRIOT Act" of 2001, prohibiting the use of pen registers or similar devices and programs involving Internet communications without a warrant.

    Qwest refused to divulge this information without a warrant, and the NSA did not ask the FISA Court for a warrant, possibly because they were afraid of them being denied; possibly because of arrogance. "Warrants? We don't need no stinkin' warrants!"

    And also, Ingrid - please spell my name correctly. Two "a"s.

  • (Show?)

    So, when ATT, Comcast, Time/Warner/AOL go after internet regulation, giving them greater ability to drive subscribers to commercial sites and restricting bandwidth elsewhere, do ya think that thre'll be some favors called in?

  • Jennifer (unverified)
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    I have to be honest. For the life of me, I don't understand what topic could be more important for BlueOregon to be covering today... But that said, I just have a simple question for everyone:

    WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO ABOUT IT???????????????

  • (Show?)

    Jennifer,

    You could bookmark this page for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and contact your reps and senators.

    Maybe try for an LTE.

    That's what I'm doing.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    By the way, the MSM is now hyping a 1979 case Smith v. Maryland, which said the government could collect information like addresses on an envelope, and even some phone records, without a warrant. What this current situation points out is that due to both the inability of the court to forsee advances in information science, and even outright technical ignorance, a good argument can now be made that case was poorly and wrongly decided.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Kari -

    I wouldn't sing Working Assets praises just yet. They lease their lines from Sprint. I called them to ask them what Working Assets customer records Sprint may have as a result of this arrangment and whether they know if Sprint has turned over records. Their answers: They "didn't know" to both points. Since they have a contractual arrangement with Sprint, someone at WA certainly could know and get that to their customer service people if they really cared. (Of course I called Sprint and asked them, to which they said "no comment". ) If WA doesn't do their work to find the relevant information out for their customers, I would wonder if their association with the ACLU suit is really just posturing that too frequently progressives substitute for real action.

    Ingrid -

    Frankly, you are too stupid to know that you don't know what you are talking about:

    First, this a search without a warrant. If you doubt that, why don't you ask your phone service if they'll give or sell you all of their customer records? Or ask AT&T and the rest of them (who sold the records to the government, by the way) if they actually received a legal warrant - more on that below.

    Second, the government is searching for "patterns". Simplifying that for someone like you who obviously has no expertise in the field: Even though the records don't contain the contents of conversations, in their relationships they reveal information about private behavior that the government has no right to seek information about without probable cause. Otherwise there would be no purpose in data-mining them.

    Finally, recall this story from a few years ago:

    In First-Ever Ruling, Secret Appeals Court Allows Expanded Government Spying on U.S. Citizens http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/15189prs20021118.html

    At issue is whether the Constitution and the USA PATRIOT Act adopted by Congress after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks permit the government to use looser foreign intelligence standards to conduct criminal investigations in the United States.

    Today's decision comes on the heels of a White House announcement of a new system being developed at the Pentagon that would be able to track every American's activities. The so-called "Total Information Awareness" program will create -- according to Pentagon officials -- the infrastructure for the most extensive electronic surveillance system in history. Conservative New York Times columnist William Safire has dubbed the program "a supersnoop's dream."

    Although the TIA program was officially shutdown, in fact it was actually broken into pieces and those pieces dispersed throughout the host of civilian and military government intelligent agencies. The phone record collection program may nor may not be a piece of this dispersed "total information awareness" activity throughout the government. At a minimum, it definitely is one of the data sources that Poindexter envisioned as an input to the reified software system he called TIA, and to the dispersed program we now have.

    To all -

    Finally, remember this guy from just a month ago:

    Whistle-Blower Outs Spy Room http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70619-0.html?tw=wn_index_1

    Former AT&T technician Mark Klein has come forward to support the EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged complicity in electronic surveillance. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70621-0.html

    Government Moves to Intervene in AT&T Surveillance Case http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_04.php#004613

    Remember how the administration tried to spin this guy as being mentally ill? One key detail of that story is that he blew the whistle on the government sucking up internet traffic. And almost all internet traffic in the U.S. goes through AT&T services. Still think he's nuts? Or maybe this bears serious investigation and that this surveillance net might include both voice and internet traffic?

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Jennifer, Do about it? Um, run for Congress... Chuck

    (so what are you doing?)

  • Libery and Justice (unverified)
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    Liberty and Justice TrackBack

    "In a Constitutional Democracy citizens have, in some ways, more rights than the government. The reason for that is, of course, to protect that same Constitution and thus the individual freedom of its citizens. That is how it is and that is how it should be."

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Big deal. How could this information possibly be used against an ordinary citizen?

    They have a massive list of which telephone number called which telephone number (and when, and how long the call lasted): a vast treasure trove of data overload unless they focus their attention on those who MAY have a suspected terrorist link.

    If they look at me, they'll see we dialed my parents house or cellphones much more frequently than my spouse's, that we don't order take-out food, and that nobody makes phone calls late at night (or to terrorist cells). Big deal.

    If it helps prevent the next 9/11, would any of you really mind that your precious telephone records were stored on second database (in addition to your telecom provider).

  • Karl (unverified)
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    Hey LMAO,
    Let's just turn that argument around. If they are using the info they get from this mining for legitimate reasons, why do they want to hide what they are doing from the FAISA court, whose security clearance is as good as theirs or better? What evidence do you have that they are using that info to prevent another 911. Because they say so? With their record of continuous lying, why would you believe that?

  • Big Brother (unverified)
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    How could this information possibly be used against an ordinary citizen?

    A geneticist who maps gene networks for sequences posted an interesting response to that question yesterday.

    # Big Brother knows everyone that you care about. Not just your family of birth but your family of choice. # Big Brother knows who all your friends are, and who their friends are, and friends of their friends. He knows when you make a new friend, and he knows when you stop talking to someone. He knows when that friend you haven't heard from in years suddenly turns up in your life. Big Brother knows that after you got that call from that old friend, your social network lit up with calls back and forth to other old friends to exchange hot gossip. # Big Brother knows when you're making personal cell phone calls from work. He knows which way you drive home, if you're making calls from your car on the way. # Big Brother knows that you know a guy who knows a guy. Say, for instance, you call a friend a lot and that friend calls a guy who gets busted for dealing drugs. Big Brother knows that you called your friend and then your friend called his dealer and that this happened to happen in that sequence several Friday nights in a row.

    You could be stripped of your rights as an American faster than you can say Padilla.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    LMAO -- There's a really easy way to prove your point. Either:

    1. Compile your phone records from the past year and e-mail them to me (You can trust me -- I used to work for the federal government!), or...

    2. E-mail me your personal information so I can call your phone company and make inquiries on your account.

    I promise to use the information only to aid freedom.

    According to your argument, a person should only oppose that if they have some big terror-scale operation in the works, which I'm sure you don't. Thanks in advance.

  • Brian (unverified)
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    Is Cingular the same thing as AT&Tf?

  • (Show?)

    The WaPo has a poll out today that found Americans are pretty happy about the secret spying:

    The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it. A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.

    I think it's poppycock, personally. It was poorly worded, focused on the wrong thing (the question isn't the spying--which Americans have known about for 50 years and think is necessary--it's that the spying was conducted illegally), and polled people unfamiliar with the particulars of the program. You can ask people what they think of nuclear physics, too, but it doesn't mean your findings contribute much to the field of nuclear physics. (A slightly longer and more coherent rebuttal is at the Hog.)

  • (Show?)

    Jeff,

    Ain't that the exact point of the Bill of Rights.

    The United States didn't just spring fullblown into existence. These guys knew then, what is obvious to any observer today:

    The People will always be happy to give up their rights, because they make decisions based on short term risk assessment (faulty or otherwise) rather than long term concern over creeping totalitarianism.

    <hr/>

    LMAO and others that share the view should ask themselves how they would feel if........oh, say......Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton, or some other pinko commie librul that hates Murica was all up in their personal bidness.

  • Larry (unverified)
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    Wait, didn't Hillary already do that? Didn't the Clinton White House have a bunch of files (Resumes? IRS returns? wait, maybe it was phone bills :) of a bunch of Republicans. Spacing the details.

    Come to think of it, they was none to happy. Sorry I can't remember the details, maybe somebody could fill in the blanks here. I seem to remember the other *gates with more details. Healthcaregate, Travelgate, VinceFostergate, JuanitaRapegate, JenniferFlowersgate, WhiteWatergate, Monicagate, ....

    I do wish we had more investigations going on, they were a source of pure entertainment. Is that because we have a more ethical President now, or did they discontinue the Special Prosecutor role?

  • DifferentSalemStaffer (unverified)
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    I can't remember exactly... but I think it's in the Constitution that a President can look at your phone records only if they: 1) are Republican, and 2) really, really want to.

    So... stop the clock. 219 years. That's gotta be some kind of record for maintaining a free country.

  • (Show?)

    Larry,

    My perception is that the Clintons were at worst small time crooks and liars. And yeah, I understand that shoplifters and loan shark enforcers are all criminals.......but, compared to the current administration the Clintonistas clearly lacked "The Vision Thing", as Bush 41 would have called it. Cronyism exists in every administration, but it took the current occupiers to use patronage as a tool to destroy entire agencies that they dislike on principle.

    Justice Department rendered totally irrelevant by Executive Fiat? Check.

    CIA rendered completely useless, with department heads and 30 year professionals leaving enmasse? Check.

    State Department purged of professionals, with Iraq turned over to "dirty tricks stars" from '00 and '04 campaigns, with zero experience? Check.

    EPA filled with industry shills? Check.

    FEMA? Nuff said.

    It's about hubris and scale to me.

  • DAN GRADY (unverified)
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    SAVE DEMOCRACY, VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT!

    "There will be a lot of hearings to talk about that, but that's good for democracy," Mr. Bush said. "Just so long as the hearings, as they explore whether or not I had the prerogative to make the decision I made, doesn't tell the enemy what we're doing. See, that's the danger." By DAVID E. SANGER Published: January 12, 2006

    The question becomes whom did the President authorize to spy on??? Does the list of whom he spied on constitute a threat to the War on Terror??? Was a John Kerry operative during the ’04 election authorized for wire taps?? Did the RNC or Presidential policy opponents qualify as targets of this special program of domestic spying?

    Does the Republican Congress, either Senate or Congress have the courage to defend our democracy from a cabal whom would pervert the separations of powers, the checks and balances that insure our government is servant to it’s citizens, and not a country in servitude to it’s government.

    The events of a wife crying under the lights of a nation’s scrutiny may upset the sensibilities of Katie Couric, but my disdain for the gloss-over of the inquiry into whether this nominee believes the President is without any real restraint by either other branches of the government. We were never informed that the election of ’04 was actually the coronation of our new king, and the passing of our history as a representative democracy.

    Who did the President spy on?? Who did he authorize warrantless searches and spying on?? The argument that the 72 hrs post-dated warrant is not enough speed for the President, why?? When did these searches get any results?

    The Patriot Act, an abomination of policy and Orwellian in its title has done little if anything to assist the government to capture anyone, or prevent anything. When we see a cackle of Justice Department Bush appointees find only a pedophile to point to for its success, why is it not pointed out that the Act is for the War on Terror, not crime fighting?

    Why did we surrender our protections against illegal search and seizures, habeas corpus, and right to legal representation??? What is in the Patriot Act that we need that our laws didn’t already provide for the past century of protecting us against the Kaiser, Hitler, and the Soviets??

    We were doing a very competent job when we had representative government that believed in the role of government, and that believing in its role made for effective and sincere governance. That prevented attacks from the very same Osama Bin Laden, why did we have to surrender to this sickly man in the mountains??

    Why should Americans surrender to the incompetence of a President whom saw no warning in a PDB titled “Osama Bin Laden determined to strike in America”?? He stayed home on vacation, at his horseless-ranch, the Texan afraid of horses decided likewise while a hurricane destroyed one of most important ports, New Orleans. We have now coroneted our own version of Nero.

    Why should a couple of pathetic draft-dodgers be allowed to lie, and distort our very form of government for political fortune, power, and financial benefit with impunity, and those whom would stand for our civil liberties, civil rights, and very survival of our form of government are to be vilified by our public airways, networks that operate at our pleasure. We allowed Mike Powell to deregulate the medias, and the his dad to sell cartoons to the world to justify war?? Where were our Congress, were was our media??? Bribed by power, and influenced by fear???

    Happy Thoughts;

    Dan Grady

    01/26/2006

  • Ingrid (unverified)
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    I wrote:

    Posted by: Ingrid | May 11, 2006 12:47:32 PM

    torrid: "To protect my conversations, I have recently switched my phone services to smoke signals and semaphore."

    Protect your conversations from what? They are not looking into your conversations. Call patterns do NOT equal Call content.

    Aron V: "If this isn't an impeachable offense, I don't know what is."

    Correct. You do not know what an impeachable offense is.

    staffer: "I think it's ridiculous that the same administration that is reclassifying government documents thinks it's totally okay to spy on their own citizens."

    Define 'spy on their own citizens'. Do you mean look into content of phone conversations? ...or are you mad they analyze call patterns?

    Christy sez: "From a discussion here at work a few cubicles down from someone much more knowledgeable than I, it seems that the text of every conversation is recorded, but that they have not yet figured out the best way to sift through the content"

    More knowledgeable than even you are? Wow, must be a very smart person, who says 'the text of each conversation is recorded, but they can't figured out how to sift through the content'? Why doesn't you smart person as a Database Administrator? But before you tell him/her 'bout these new fangled DBAs, why don't you ask him/her where they heard that the 'text' was recorded (and in what format, audio? or text?). Or, Christy, you can just believe whatever the cubicle-dweller next to you spouts of as fact.

    <h2>Is the intelligence of this comment site really this bad?</h2>

    After a two days of thought, I wouldn't change a word from above.

    66% of Americans believe that this type of data mining is the right response to mass murder crimes. Only 25% feel strongly that it is the wrong response.

  • Awaiting Call Patterns... (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well then, if you feel there's no privacy issues at stake, post or e-mail us your call patterns -- not the recordings, just a log of every call you made or received in the past year.

    And a word of advice -- don't rely on polling data as an end-all for policy suggestions. I think it's ridiculous when R's rail against the voters' intentions on something like "Death With Dignity" (screw the voters -- they don't know what's best) and then hold up a vote like Measure 37 and say "Oh, it's sacrosanct! The voters know best!"

    Anyways... these are the same 66% of Americans that can't find their home state on a map of the world? There's a reason the Constitution guarantees us a representative government.

  • LT (unverified)
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    In 1974 the House did a very wise thing. They created a group to define the standards of impeachment (unlike the House Managers who decided in 1988 to impeach Clinton and then looked for justification). A bunch of bright young people staffed this group and later went on to other careers (one becoming a Governor, another a US Senator). So when they had the televised hearings and a vote it was on some very tightly worded resolutions with provable specifics.

    IF Democrats regain control of either House or Senate, they'd be wise to take the "where the facts lead" approach instead of talking about impeachment without fact-finding. Talking about impeachment because it sounds good is sinking to the level of the DeLay and the House Managers, and Democrats should be better people than that.

  • LT (unverified)
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    About polls: we don't know how the questions were worded. Some say voters support warrentless wiretapping. Some news stories say the question was "Would you support any form of data collection about phone numbers dialed if it would help defeat terrorism?".

    Those are not the same questions, no matter how many national news people seem to think they are.

  • Karl (unverified)
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    Ingrid,

    What evidence do you have that the data mining is being used to fight terrorism?

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Y'all need a paranoia reality check. George Bush and the NSA don't care if you're cheating on your spouse, calling 976 numbers, or making repeated phone calls to grow light retailers, sex clubs, or congressional offices.

    They DON'T CARE about the ugly underbelly of your personal life unless they suspect you may be a terrorist, may be aiding and abetting a terrorist, or may be (perhaps unknowingly) supporting a "charity" that is fronting for a terrorist organization.

    If you're worried about illegal, embarrasing, or compromising phone calls being used against you, then you should be MUCH MORE concerned with the private investigators and other "data mining" operations that (for a fee) gather telephone and credit card records for suspicious spouses, angry business partners, or employers. Better yet, quit cheating on your spouse, buying grow lights (or illicit drugs), or making 976 phone calls, and then you'll have nothing to worry about.

    More importantly, please give Bush & Company some credit where credit is due: since September 11, 2001 there have been NO FOLLOW-UP ATTACKS<.b> on U.S. soil. The White House deserves at least as much credit as "blind luck" for preventing additional acts of terrorism. Al Qaeda has publicly stated there intentions to hit us again (bigger and better!), but they have been unable to do so thus far. To pretend that Bush did nothing to protect us flies in the face of reality.

  • Ingrid (unverified)
    (Show?)
    <h2>"Well then, if you feel there's no privacy issues at stake, post or e-mail us your call patterns -- not the recordings, just a log of every call you made or received in the past year."</h2>

    Haven't you heard? That info is publically available, just like DMV data is open to the public...for a fee. Help yourself to my phone call pattern data, "where called, when called, how long called, who I called after I called you" data. Just pay the fees, like any Private Investigator checking out potential divorce clients. LMAO at you all.

  • JHL (unverified)
    (Show?)

    LMAO -- The idea that Bush did a good job because there have been no follow-up attacks is not very well thought out. By that logic, Clinton did an AWESOME job after the first car bombing at the WTC. Good to know you support Clinton. Tell me you'd support Bill Clinton getting your data without a warrant.

    Bush reminds me of Zap Branigan from the cartoon Futurama, who described his legendary victory over the killer-robot army:

    "I just sent wave and wave of my own men at them until they reached their kill limits."

    Ingrid... But the phone company can't supply us with that data until we have your full name, phone number, and which phone company you use.

    Since you obviously have nothing to hide, fork it over.

    Also, please call your phone company and authorize me to examine that data without a warrant or fee, like the federal government. (Alternatively, just give me your SSN and date of birth and I can set it up with the phone company without you having to be bothered with it.)

  • LMAO (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Oh yeah, Clinton did a great job on Al Qaeda: those cruise missiles scared the hell out of them... Clinton's handling of Bin Laden was perfect, except for ignoring the State Department's warnings chronicled in the NYT's August 1, 2005 article, State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996...And that part about refusing to extradite him from the Sudan (probably just a bunch of Repuppylican Propaganda)...

    From the New York Times digested below:

    Before 1996, Mr. bin Laden was regarded more as a financier of terrorism than a mastermind. But the State Department assessment, which came a year before he publicly urged Muslims to attack the United States, indicated that officials suspected he was taking a more active role, including in the bombings in June 1996 that killed 19 members American soldiers at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

    Two years after the State Department's warning, with Mr. bin Laden firmly entrenched in Afghanistan and overseeing terrorist training and financing operations, Al Qaeda struck two American embassies in East Africa, leading to failed military attempts by the Clinton administration to capture or kill him in Afghanistan. Three years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an operation overseen from the base in Afghanistan.

    Critics of the Clinton administration have accused it of ignoring the threat posed by Mr. bin Laden in the mid-1990's while he was still in Sudan, and they point to claims by some Sudanese officials that they offered to turn him over to the Americans before ultimately expelling him in 1996 under international pressure. But Clinton administration diplomats have adamantly denied that they received such an offer, and the Sept. 11 commission concluded in one of its staff reports that it had "not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim."

    The newly declassified documents do not directly address the question of whether Sudan ever offered to turn over Mr. bin Laden. But the documents go well beyond previous news and historical accounts in detailing the Clinton administration's active monitoring of Mr. bin Laden's movements and the realization that his move to Afghanistan could make him an even greater national security threat.

    Several former senior officials in the Clinton administration did not return phone calls this week seeking comment on the newly declassified documents.

  • JHL (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well LMAO, by your own criteria, Clinton did fine.

    "...give Bush & Company some credit where credit is due: since September 11, 2001 there have been NO FOLLOW-UP ATTACKS on U.S. soil."

    Way to set a double standard. It's like even to you, Bush is the "special" kid in class that the teacher grades easier than everyone else because he's ... well, special.

    So, lemme get this straight:

    1. Bush & Company (dad, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc) fund and train said terrorists in the 1980s.

    2. Bush & Company fund and supply Saddam.

    3. Said terrorists attack United States, utilizing funding and training.

    4. Saddam, after military buildup with Bush & Company backing, uses said military to kill U.S. troops.

    5. Bush & Company deserve props because only four jet liners smashed into United States soil. (could've been worse.)

    You're a real patriot. That's like punching someone in the face and then expecting a "thank you" for bringing them a band-aid.

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