Friday, May 12, 2006

Bush's NSA: Spying. Domestic. Illegal

Daytona Beach News-Journal/May 11, 2006

On Dec. 16, The New York Times broke the story about a secret government program that "monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants." President Bush said the program's scope was limited to terrorism suspects, and that he had the legal authority to conduct it based on his own interpretation of the Constitution.

A week later, the paper reported that "the volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged," and that the government had "gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications."

At the time, it was unclear whether the call patterns being monitored included domestic calls. What's always been clearer, as the follow-up story pointed out, is that monitoring calls within the United States "would, in many circumstances, require a court warrant if the government wanted to trace who calls whom." In other words, it isn't just the content of phone and e-mail conversations that is private, but also the connections between one account and another. Why would an American not feel as if his privacy were being violated if a government agency was tabulating his life patterns based on phone calls and e-mail contacts -- even if it were deemed legal? Read the full editorial...