Category Archives: NSA

What the NSA has access to about you and me..without a FISA warrant


Surely it won’t be a surprise to most folks that follow what is going on, it wasn’t to me. The TPM muckraker has a WSJ piece up this morning that they explain well enough that it opened my eyes pretty wide before I even had a cuppa coffee. Just the opening salvo from the WSJ piece:

Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans’ privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the data-sifting effort didn’t disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.

The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people’s communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

See, silly me, I thought those assholes needed at least a friggin FISA warrant for all that information. Here is what Paul Kiel surmised over at TPM:

Gorman describes the NSA’s effort (elements of which have been reported before) as basically a resurrection of the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program, which of course was de-funded by Congress once the details became public. This time around, of course, the details have remained secret. Although the budget for the NSA’s driftnet is classified, Gorman cites one official as estimating it at $1 billion.

Ah yes..the TIA program. I remember hearing Gonzo talk about that when he was being grilled by the folks in the Congressional hearing many moons ago. The ability to know all things about all Americans..and so cheaply too! Only a billion? Hell, with the war costing millions a day..what’s another billion?

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Avoid Bush’s Executive Privilege Claim By Investigating NSA Program As A Crime

From ThinkProgress: (video on their site as well)

Yesterday, after years of White House stonewalling, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to the Bush administration for documents related to the warrantless domestic surveillance program.

Today, during a background discussion with reporters, senior Bush administration officials indicated that they would invoke executive privilege in order to deny the NSA documents to Congress, just as they did this morning concerning subpoenas related to the U.S. attorney scandal. “Our response to [the NSA] subpoenas will be the same as our response was before,” said an anonymous official.

But last night on MSNBC’s Countdown, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley claimed that Congress may be able to “get around the executive privilege in court” by saying “we are investigating a potential crime.” Turley said this was possible because warrantless wiretapping is “a federal crime” that “the president has ordered hundreds of people do.”

As Columbia University law professor Michael Dorf points out, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon that, “where the President asserts only a generalized need for confidentiality, [executive privilege] must yield to the interests of the government and defendants in a criminal prosecution.”

Bush is invoking such “a generalized need for confidentiality,” according to a senior administration official this morning:

“This is not a mere exercise relating to a particular event. This is an exercise in an attempt to protect the prerogatives of the president for this president and for future presidents.”

When I saw this on Countdown the other night I thought it was a simply wonderful idea. I am glad that TP posted on it for those that might of missed the show and interview w/Professor Turley.

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