Thursday, May 11, 2006

NSA Leaks - Again

More leaks, and more politics as usual.
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.

I'm going to go out on a limb and state that USAToday is trying to throw fuel on a very small fire by phrasing the second paragraph as they did. In fact, they openly state that there is no actual wiretaps. How does that reach into homes?

I'll go even further. Best of my understanding, this is completely allowed by CALEA. That's the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 for the general public. Here are the words in some really bad legalese:


(a) CAPABILITY REQUIREMENTS- Except as provided in subsections (b), (c), and (d) of this section and sections 108(a) and 109(b) and (d), a telecommunications carrier shall ensure that its equipment, facilities, or services that provide a customer or subscriber with the ability to originate, terminate, or direct communications are capable of--

(1) expeditiously isolating and enabling the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to intercept, to the exclusion of any other communications, all wire and electronic communications carried by the carrier within a service area to or from equipment, facilities, or services of a subscriber of such carrier concurrently with their transmission to or from the subscriber's equipment, facility, or service, or at such later time as may be acceptable to the government;

(2) expeditiously isolating and enabling the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to access call-identifying information that is reasonably available to the carrier--

(A) before, during, or immediately after the transmission of a wire or electronic communication (or at such later time as may be acceptable to the government); and
(B) in a manner that allows it to be associated with the communication to which it pertains, except that, with regard to information acquired solely pursuant to the authority for pen registers and trap and trace devices (as defined in section 3127 of title 18, United States Code), such call-identifying information shall not include any information that may disclose the physical location of the subscriber (except to the extent that the location may be determined from the telephone number);

(3) delivering intercepted communications and call-identifying information to the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, in a format such that they may be transmitted by means of equipment, facilities, or services procured by the government to a location other than the premises of the carrier; and

(4) facilitating authorized communications interceptions and access to call-identifying information unobtrusively and with a minimum of interference with any subscriber's telecommunications service and in a manner that protects--

(A) the privacy and security of communications and call-identifying information not authorized to be intercepted; and
(B) information regarding the government's interception of communications and access to call-identifying information.

No mention of warrants in there is there? Read the whole thing if you can stomach it.

As to the politics, who would the leak of this information affect? Oh let's guess. Hayden maybe. Take a look at this article at CBSNews The Nation:
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, nominated by President Bush to head the CIA, is the man responsible for the most extensive attack ever on the privacy of U.S. citizens.

As USA Today reveals, it was during the six years that Hayden ran the ultra-secret National Security Agency that the Feds gained access to the phone calling records of most Americans. By cross-checking those phone record against other readily available databases, the Feds are now in a position to profile the intimate daily lives of the citizenry - providing a tool that no Big Brother could ever have dreamed of obtaining before the advent of modern telecommunications technology.

Yet this assault on our freedom was never disclosed to the public, debated by our elected representatives or tested by the courts. Most disturbing is the revelation by USA Today that leading members of Congress - Democrats as well as Republicans - had been told of this ghastly assault on our freedom but did nothing to thwart it. They must now be held accountable.
Attack? Assault on our freedom? Please. This isn't supported by the facts at all. As to profiling the daily activities of the citizen, the phone companies have had this ability for a long time. In fact there have been two Supreme Court findings that stated that there is no assumed privacy for your phone records. But I won't let the facts get in the way of Robert Scheer's irrational tirade.

The point is that the leak was clearly intended to attempt to sink another one of Bush's nominees for an important position. Another highly illegal leak, but I'm certain they fever-swamp left will be forgiving them as whistleblowers again.

And why is this so important if those in congress, who were informed of the NSA spying project, didn't find any issues with this?

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