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The Sky is Falling Again [NSA Phone Records]
The American Thinker ^ | May 16, 2006 | Bob Wier

Posted on 05/16/2006 5:32:42 AM PDT by Quilla

 

Let me ask you a question: are you making phone calls that you would be ashamed of if the government knew about them? Think about the phone calls you make every day and ask yourself if you really believe someone in the National Security Agency would be able to use those calls against you.

First of all, let’s be clear; they are not listening in on the calls; they are merely collecting data that tells them that calls were made from one number to another. The data will be fed into highly sophisticated computers, and used to establish patterns of communication from suspected terrorist groups to and from their allies and operatives in the US. Prominent media which have deliberately confused this activity with listening in on phone conversations should be ashamed and held to account.

Those who are trying to clobber the president with this latest episode of “Fear Factor,” are the same people who would stop at nothing to get the Democrats back in power. The shame of it is that they don’t mind risking another 9/11 to do it.

USA Today broke the recycled story with another example of liberal scare tactics designed to discredit Bush:

“The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.  Although, undoubtedly intended to cause national alarm, for the overwhelming majority of sensible Americans that should be the biggest “So what?” response of all time. We know we’re being targeted by the most brutal, psychopathic killers on earth; do we really want to handcuff the NSA in its pursuit of those monsters?

As Newt Gingrich said on Meet the Press last Sunday

“Everything that has been done is totally legal. You just look at the specifics of what they’re doing, it is totally legal. The real problem is the Bush administration refuses to come up front and explain it in advance. If you go to the American people and say, ‘We’re in a long war with the irreconcilable wing of Islam, there are people who want to kill millions of us, your government has to have an ability to track these people down, in the electronic age.’ I bet this country’s 90 percent in favor of that, as long as there are protections against you, as an innocent person, having a U.S. attorney use that information for any purpose other than national security.” 

What the former Speaker of the House is saying should go without saying. We have the ability to thwart the attempts by homicidal fanatics to detonate nuclear or biological devices in crowded cities around the country. Should we abandon the ability to defend ourselves because of some irrational fear that the government wants to listen in on our chat with Aunt Tillie in East Cupcake, Nebraska?

Besides, commercial data-mining outfits already sift through data far more personal than this. There is nothing unusual about obtaining these records, and they don’t require a warrant.

It is beyond shameful that so many are making so much of so little. This amount of concern for privacy might have been appropriate 30 or 40 years ago, before we became as vulnerable to attack as we are today.  But in this age of data-mining

But, in the current climate of global terrorism and the inability to secure our borders, to further cripple our defense agencies with alarmist propaganda is more than irresponsible, it is completely out of touch with the dangers of the modern world. The choice is simple: either we allow ourselves to be defended with all means available, or we risk the lives of millions of our fellow citizens. The latter is precisely what’s being done by segments of the media when they set their sights on cultivating fear, rather than on providing facts.

The current cover of Newsweek, which displays a phone receiver cradled on the roof of the White House is an example of how to sell magazines with no regard for the safety of those who read them. We don’t want to wake up one day and find that New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago have suffered nuclear attacks that could have been prevented if we had let the NSA do its job.

Mr. Gingrich is correct when he says the president needs to tell the American people why the data is needed and that it is not invasive of their privacy. Such assurance by Mr. Bush is not because most people don’t already get it, but because so many Bush-haters are still trolling for votes among the gullible. They might be able to fool some of the people all of the time, but they can’t fool Aunt Tillie.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: newtgingrich; nsa; presidentbush; usatoday; wot
USA Today is weakening our defenses with the aid of traitors embedded in Washington.
1 posted on 05/16/2006 5:32:44 AM PDT by Quilla
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: Quilla

It's 900 numbers the libioiots call that they don't want anyone to know about.


3 posted on 05/16/2006 5:45:20 AM PDT by CPOSharky (Go home and fix your own country before you complain about ours.)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: fairweather
The choice is simple: either we allow ourselves to be defended with all means available, or we risk the lives of millions of our fellow citizens.

Welcome to Free Republic.

5 posted on 05/16/2006 5:52:38 AM PDT by Quilla
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To: fairweather

What really bugs me is that the idiots in the NSA, CIA and the NYT that are leaking this stuff to the public are not being held to account...

i.e., wrong is wrong but if our government had covert ops going on that found out beforehand terrorists were prepping to destroy oh lets say NYC with a dirty bomb and our covert types assasinated all of them without trial, miranda or anything I wouldn't mind...

and that doesn't matter if Bill, Hillary or Kerry were president.


6 posted on 05/16/2006 6:08:46 AM PDT by tomnbeverly (Steer Clear Of Large Metropolitian Areas Because The Liberals Will Reap What They Sow.)
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To: Quilla
First of all, let’s be clear; they are not listening in on the calls...

Yeah, right! Look up Echelon.

7 posted on 05/16/2006 6:12:00 AM PDT by GingisK
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To: Quilla
But what if they find out that Mandy is cheating on Ryan with Chris since she calls Chris all the time but hardly calls Ryan at all???
Seriously though, people scare me. One of my friends was trying to convince me this was bad because, "Like say if you call the doctor, they know, and then they can like call the doctor's and demand your information and then they'll know things like if you use birth control and they might even find out," (Get ready for this. It made me burst out laughing...) "your social security number or something!"
8 posted on 05/16/2006 6:21:30 AM PDT by Nevernow ("No one has the right to choose to do what is wrong." Abraham Lincoln)
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To: tomnbeverly
Hey, let your blood pressure calm down.

I was livid about Hillary getting 1,000 plus raw FBI files and their contents spread who knows where.

Then I hit the roof when I learned about Clinton's CIA Director, John Deutsch, taking TOP SECRET, CLASSIFIED information home on his lap top, where he admitted his son surfed the 'net.

I was absolutely sure that Sandy Burgler would be sentenced to real time in a Federal Pen over his purloining records from Nat'l Archives, even going so far as to destroying them. I was sure that since Bush was now President and Ashcroft top dog at Justice, finally some Clintonian felonious behavior would at last be punished.

Did it happen - no, and now I'm wondering if there actually isn't some government within a government that exists in this country that I don't know about. All of this doublespeak on Illegal Immigration, really gives me pause that someone else runs this country and it certainly is not "We The People."

9 posted on 05/16/2006 6:23:07 AM PDT by zerosix (Native Sunflower)
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: fairweather
strangers shouldn't be invading my privacy at all, regardless of what I have to hide

So we shouldn't worry about the bomb factory in your basement? You're either a lib or a kid.

11 posted on 05/16/2006 6:36:09 AM PDT by Theo
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To: fairweather

"strangers shouldn't be invading my privacy at all, regardless of what I have to hide".

The problem with this argument is that collecting phone logs is simply not an invasion of privacy.  Phone companies routinely give phone records to law enforcement/government and they don't require a warrant. Why? Because it is not an invasion of privacy or suspension of anyone's rights.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 explicitly permits telecommunications companies to provide customer records to the government if the government asks for them. So it would appear that the companies have been acting not just in the public interest, but also within the law and without encroaching on the privacy of any of their customers.

Now, if the government wanted the content of the discussions of those phone calls, a warrant would be required, but the records alone require no such effort.

The government has much more sensitive data on you than your phone habits, think... IRS.  Credit card companies do too, and they routinely give your information to marketers.

If what was done was illegal, why did three very large corporations knowingly break the law?

 

 

12 posted on 05/16/2006 6:39:13 AM PDT by HawaiianGecko (Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.)
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To: fairweather

Dude, it's not all or nothing. We give up some freedom in order to live in a civilized society. It may be tricky to determine where these boundaries are, but they do exist. Let's have a thoughtful discussion of what these boundaries are.

For example, you are not free to walk around naked at work. You are not allowed to drive on the left side of the freeway. You are not allowed to dump your trash in the middle of the street. You are not allowed to park in handicapped spots (unless you're handicapped). You are not allowed to manufacture bombs or drugs in your basement. You are not allowed to fraternize/collaborate with the enemy.

Lots of rules that infringe on your freedoms.


13 posted on 05/16/2006 6:40:02 AM PDT by Theo
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To: fairweather

I'm sorry, but I don't get the analogy. How is searching for folks who are placing and receiving calls to and from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the like, akin to banning guns? I would think that in a time of war (i.e. War on Terror), every American would want several guns and ample rounds "just in case". At least that's the way we look at it here in LA (Lower Alabama).


14 posted on 05/16/2006 6:43:09 AM PDT by Quilla
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To: zerosix

OK take the tin foil hat off...

besides all this is another ploy to make this president look bad... Bottom line the Liberals have successfully deployed wedge issues as their shock and awe campaign against the president... Granted they ran the Bush lied rhetoric into the ground and managed to hypnotized alot of center voters but now you split the base with immigration reform and DPW.....The Clinton handlers are behind it all and they all graduated from the Karl Rove school of campaign genius.... All that said the GOP needs to figure out how to counter ASAP...


15 posted on 05/16/2006 6:44:49 AM PDT by tomnbeverly (Steer Clear Of Large Metropolitian Areas Because The Liberals Will Reap What They Sow.)
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: fairweather
How far do you want us to go? Ban guns, ban all travel into the USA, strip search all air passengers and forbid hand luggage? Sure, it's all for the public good, and would make us safer, but it's no way to live.

I don't think the President or Republican members of congress have to worry about the "strawman-American"  vote this November.  Banning guns is unconstitutional, obtaining their phone records is not.

 

 

17 posted on 05/16/2006 6:49:34 AM PDT by HawaiianGecko (Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.)
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To: fairweather

Intelligence gathering operations are only effective as long as the targets don't know they are giving away information and how they are being monitored.

Sometimes you have dumb terrorists who are easily tracked down. Thanks to the New York Times, USA Today and other liberal (and even some conservative) media outlets, the dumb terrorists are getting huge billboard-sized signs warning them what not to do.


18 posted on 05/16/2006 6:55:40 AM PDT by Bryan24 (When in doubt, move to the right....)
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To: fairweather
Good - the NSA tapping calls to the number of Mr.Jihad,

Our relatively open and free society allows people like your "Mr. Jihad" to use resources like our phone and Internet networks to plan attacks against our country. How are we supposed to tap only Mr. Jihad? How do we distinguish Mr. Jihad from Mr. Jones, without a little screening?

Let's see: Mr. Jones calls a mix of residential and business in a "normal" day, and rarely makes any calls after 9:00pm local time. Mr. Jihad rarely uses his phone, but every now and then makes a flurry of calls to Pakistan, Iran, and Indonesia at all hours of the day. How do you compare the two without at least a small screen?

19 posted on 05/16/2006 6:58:42 AM PDT by Lou L
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To: fairweather
Bad - the NSA tapping communications at will.
Good - the NSA tapping calls to the number of Mr.Jihad, with appropriate oversight and accountability to prevent abuse (no government has ever abused its power, no).

Again you are setting up an argument you can win with one exception. It's not the argument on the table. USA Today's article about three phone companies turning over phone numbers to the NSA is not the same thing as tapping communications at will.

You are entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts. Another liberal said that.

 

 

20 posted on 05/16/2006 6:59:25 AM PDT by HawaiianGecko (Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.)
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To: fairweather

You're right, of course.

We shouldn't be using our high tech advantage to fight this war, we should just turn the ME into a parking lot.

A solution that becomes ever more likely/popular with the left's insistence on not using said high tech advantage.


21 posted on 05/16/2006 6:59:35 AM PDT by Let's Roll ( "Congressmen who ... undermine the military ... should be arrested, exiled or hanged" - A. Lincoln)
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To: Quilla
US government kept records of addresses of citizenry and opened mail during WWII:
Consequently, [A.S. Hudson -- administrator of the Fort Lincoln Detention Station] sought authorization to bring in a full-time German-speaking intelligence officer to eavesdrop on the detainees and to gather information on the nearby populace.

Some of the citizenry, he feared, might assist in escape attempts. Intelligence work, he argued, should also include examination of the detainees' incoming and outgoing mail in order to determine their attitudes.

On the basis of this opinion, Hudson and his staff set up index cards for each detainee, recording on them the names and addresses on all outgoing mail and the writers' names, addresses, and dates of arrival on all incoming mail. This practice would soon become standard procedure at all the INS camps.

A sampling of mail was to be opened and read. In addition, the chief patrol inspector ordered incoming packages inspected for unspecified contraband prior to delivery to the Germans.


22 posted on 05/16/2006 7:15:22 AM PDT by syriacus (In WWII , INS "data mined" addresses + opened mail of citizens who communicated with detainees)
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To: Quilla
Bellsouth is flat-out denying they ever gave any phone records to the NSA. I know some high level people at one of the three companies mentioned and they too are denying they ever gave any phone records to the NSA but were only confirming through their statement that they always comply within normal lawful request nothing more, nothing less. I have heard 2 high level people at this company speaking of a extremely major lawsuit against the media. USA Today is now claiming that non-acknowledgment of the program was confirmation of the program and that's why they ran the story.
23 posted on 05/16/2006 8:11:44 AM PDT by tobyhill (The War on Terrorism is not for the weak.)
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