Friday, May 12, 2006

It's not about spying, it's about trustworthiness.

The Bush administration has defended the latest NSA spying program to make national headlines, the fact that the administration asked, and at least three major long distance companies complied, that the companies turn over copies of the complete list of phone calls made by tens of millions of people. When they made them, how long, to whom--- all in the records. Luckily for me, I have Qwest, which was asked to do the same by the government, but refused, citing the confidentiality of their customers (meaning they come out of this smelling like a rose).

Today the President defended the new program as necessary in the war on terror. However, there are two problems with this answer.

The first one should be obvious, except for knee-jerk neo-cons, for whom GWB can do no wrong. Right now, under legislation passed in the 1990's, the Government already has the right to get a warrant and obtain this information (or for that matter, to go even farther if they want to, like actually listening in on the conversations) of people suspected of terrorist links. All they need is a FISA warrant, and incidentally only four of those have ever been denied during the existance of the FISA court. So if this was really about tracking terrorists, they would only need to get a copy of the known phone records of the known terror suspects (and there must be some, if we believe this government, otherwise what else would they be looking for on everyone else's list?) Perfectly legally. But they did not. Which brings us to my second point:

Everytime something like this leaks out, the White House puts their spin on it. But wasn't it just a few weeks ago when they told us that only phone conversations with one end in a foreign country were even being monitored? There is a basic issue of trust here. The President keeps admitting things, but then saying 'that's all there is,' which lasts until the next big revelation showing that he was lying when he said that what had previously been revealed was 'all there was.'

I have just one question: Are we done yet, Mr. President, or will we see more information come out which directly contradicts what you are saying today?


Eddie81 said...

One report said that they did not have names only numbers. Can anyone confirm or refute that?

shrimplate said...

They're data-mining, plain and simple, and there's no assurance that information will not be used to identify whistle-blowers and critics of the PNAC.

The FISA courts wouldn't give Bush warrants to spy on *everyone,* so he widened his declaration of war to include anybody in the world who has a telephone ot a computer, which of course includes you and me.

I hope things are going well on the homefront, Eli. I'm a little burnt-out so it's time to get out of Dodge for a few days.

Eli Blake said...


the USA Today report said they have 'numbers, times and locations.'

That is good enough to identify any particular individual. I may not know your name, but if I have your address and phone number, it wouldn't be hard to find out what your name is.

Saying they are just providing the numbers and not the names sounds like a not-very-effective smokescreen.

Elizabeth (Lily) Branford said...

No- especially since sometimes even googling a phone number will take you to a person.

I'm not sure what they will do next to contradict what they say today, but rest assured it will something we haven't even thought of!

Anonymous said...

according to something I found at donkey od, there's more to come - LOTS of it. Plus, an indictment against Rove. Next week is gonna be grooooovy.