"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Tens of Millions" 

Oh, sweet Jesus! It was as bad as we thought:
"The phone call records of tens of millions of Americans" have been secretly collected by the National Security Agency since President Bush authorized the so-called warrantless eavesdropping program after the 9/11 attacks, USA TODAY is reporting.

Citing "people with direct knowledge of the arrangement," the newspaper reports that the program "is far more expansive than what the White House has (previously) acknowledged." It has also been conducted, USA TODAY writes, with cooperation from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth....

On Feb. 6, USA TODAY wrote that "the National Security Agency has secured the cooperation of large telecommunications companies, including AT&T, MCI and Sprint, in its efforts to eavesdrop without warrants on international calls by suspected terrorists, according to seven telecommunications executives."

USA TODAY's new story, however, provides evidence that the program has not been aimed at collecting information just on calls to or from suspected terrorists overseas, as officials have insisted, but also on calls placed "across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others." The NSA, a source told the newspaper, has put together " the largest database ever assembled in the world" in this effort.

Meanwhile, efforts by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to determine whether DoJ attorneys who aided in the administration of the domestic wiretap program acted ethically have been stymied by the NSA's refusal to grant the investigators the necessary security clearance:
The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., on Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers' role in the program.

"We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program," OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey's office shared the letter with The Associated Press.

Jarrett wrote that beginning in January, his office has made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. Those requests were denied Tuesday.

Of course, I don't need to remind you that Michael Hayden, the man largely responsible for this extraconstitutional outrage (and who is utterly unaware of the text of the Fourth Amendment) has recently recieved a nice promotion. It figures - I hear he's doing a heckuva job.

Update: Pretty much as soon as I posted this, the USATodayBlog URL seemed to go dead - so here's the link to the actual story, rather than the blog post. Also, consider this from firedoglake:
It’s right in line with what they did last week — finally agreeing to Nancy Pelosi’s request to draw up a list of the members of Congress who were briefed on the program, and then classifying it so she couldn’t see it. It was the childish move of a petulant, power-mad emotional 8 year-old.

Frankly, I think that comparing this President to a petulant 8-year-old is an insult to 8-year-olds, most of whom would make a better President than the one we have now.




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