NSA Verizon Surveillance

I suppose I should react to this, but my response is likely to be “Duh” followed by slapping any conservative that starts wailing like a banshee now about civil liberties with fish.

The White House on Thursday did not confirm a newspaper report that the National Security Agency is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon under a secret court order issued in April, but defended the practice.

“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” a senior administration official said. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.”

The order, first reported by the Guardian newspaper, requires a Verizon subsidiary to provide the NSA with daily information on calls by its customers in the United States and from foreign locations into the United States.

“Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” the official said.

The order was signed by a judge from the secret court that oversees domestic surveillance. The official said those orders are classified.

You helped build this system. The Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, all of it. You helped in a bipartisan fashion to construct the legal grounds for this to happen, and when the previous administration did this when it wasn’t legal, you overwhelmingly supported changing the law and passing retroactive immunity for criminal and civil liabilities so government and telecomm agencies couldn’t be held liable for breaking the law.

Instead of being shocked (shocked!) and outraged that the NSA and FBI used the powers you gave them to cast a wide net, maybe you should give your representatives a call and demand that they change the laws to prevent it from happening.

But, we know they won’t. Because no politician wants to be held responsible for weakening anti-crime or anti-terrorism laws in the event another attack happens. Politicians avoid responsibility like normal people avoid eating rancid meat.

So keep that in mind as we see, no doubt, months of talking heads complaining about ‘broad overreach of government’ and ‘abuse’, is that, one, this is all perfectly legal thanks to the laws Congress passed; and two, Congress could change these laws to make all of this illegal today if they chose to do so, but they won’t because they’re bloody cowards.


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