Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another Leak Aimed At Hurting The Bush Administration - NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

Today's USA Today carries a story entitled "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls". If you just read the headline it appears that the NSA is listening to the domestic calls made by American citizens. A vast expansion on the politically turbulent "Domestic Wiretapping" program revealed in December.

Actually reading the article reveals that what the NSA is doing is getting call logs from the phone companies and building social network patterns trying to establish patterns that will lead to potential terrorist networks.

Normally I would agree this is news, although potentially damaging to National Security if released. In this case however I disagree. First this was already revealed in December 2005 in this NY Times article. This article was picked up by the Tribune company and used as the basis for December 25 articles in the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune. Amazingly the NY Times, and LA Times are reporting this like it is a brand new story. The other reason I think this is a tempest in a teapot is even simpler, these records are available for purchase, as shown by the Qwest Privacy Statement.

We also compile lists of customer names, addresses and telephone numbers of the type printed in the White Pages directories and provide these lists to qualified companies that are conducting product promotions. Non-published and non-listed numbers are not included in these lists and we remove other customers from these lists by request.

via Powerlineblog

So why do I say this is aimed at hurting the Bush administration? One reason, General Michael Hayden. Since his nomination Democrats and some Republicans (I'm looking at you Specter you giant turd). Have been promising to hold his feet to the fire regarding the NSA "Domestic Wiretapping" program (I hate that term but if I call it the Terrorist Surveillance program no one will know what I am talking about). Other Republicans with something resembling a spine have said that they welcome that debate. Now an old story is recycled as new.

If this was presented as concerns that have been raised about General Hayden's nomination that would be one thing but this is being presented as an entirely new allegation. Hopefully the Bush admin will catch on and call the press on this.

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