Now THIS should be a scandal for the Obama WH

If you haven’t read Glenzilla’s scoop on Verizon’s wiretapping/secret data transfer to Big Brother, I’d give it a quick once over. Because this should be a giant scandal, it has everything:

Guardian — The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

We have Big Government, we have an end run on the constitution, we have a secret program run covertly by the NSA practically out of the WH, a program so secret even the reasons it’s secret are secret, a program likely to soon be run or overseen by a traitor to All that is Good and American named Susan Rice, we have big business being strangely cavalier with their customers’ data or ruthlessly intimidated by a rogue administration, all depending on how you feel about Big Biz.

If you’re someone who wishes to hang the WH up on some embarrassing revelations sure to piss off the progressive base, you’re twitching in mid multiple orgasm right now.

But I predict it won’t go anywhere in large part because, when it comes right down to it, the GOP loves them some domestic spying. Not to mention it involves the sacred cow of Defending the Homeland and was set up under the Patriot Act, that indefensible Bush era constitutional abortion which has been endlessly defended by the usual suspects and pearl clutchers. Maybe the fact that the Obama WH has to be directly involved will still prove an impetus to House Repubs and the hearings will roll, but I seriously doubt it.


  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Ah but does it have a stained blue dress and an intern though?

    (meta : do Bill Clintonjoke sever get old? Remembers the good old days when we had lecher in charge of one superpower and a drunkard in charge of the only other – good ole Yeltsin. Nostlagia Sigh.)

  2. dantalion says

    Yeah, if someone wanted to portray Obama as a corrupt politician or the enemy of freedom there are plenty of real examples they could use. The reason that people who are so concerned with portraying him this way do not pounce on any of the real ways he has trampled the constitution, is because they don’t really disagree with his worst actions.

  3. Olav says


    Now THIS should be a scandal for the Obama WH

    The instant I saw this headline on the first page of I knew a. what it was about and b. you are a hopeless optimist.

    You should never change the latter.

  4. Olav says

    Just to be clear: there is not going to be a scandal & your NSA will get what it wants. It always does.

  5. lorn says

    Soooo … I’m going to assume that nobody here has ever heard of a little project goal called “Total Information Awareness” , who proposed it, when, how it was undertaken but then, ostensibly, shut down. Or how the ‘black budget’ grew as TIA was defunded.

    Do as few searches on the terms. Steer clear of the conspiracy sites unless feel you are falling short of your minimum daily requirement for confusion and hyperbole. Dig down a bit to find credible sources, snippets of history and newspaper clippings.

    The assumption, and good money, has been that essentially all forms of electronic communications have been monitored to some extent for several decades. TIA was a goal to monitor all communications world-wide. Setting up the system for the US, and developing it over time, was seen as something of a test.

    This wasn’t just a proposal to monitor e-mails and phone calls. Anything that was transmitted electronically could conceivably be monitored. Every credit card purchase recorded, if you save the rough draft of your mother’s day card on the cloud it is included, the tiny electronic signals between certain running shoes and your exercise monitor gets stuffed into a file, when your On-Star system calls home to check for recalls your driving stats are recorded. There is lots of potential exposure.

    In fact the speculation is that the biggest problem for TIA is analysis. Differentiating between groups conspiring to illegally ship yellow cake uranium and two people commenting on how wonderful the yellow cake you aunt baked is complicated. Particularly if the conversations are in an obscure dialect. The shear volume of data is problematic.

    I suspect that this document was created and made public to cast light on the much larger program. Notice that the request wasn’t for an activity that hadn’t been undertaken before. It simply says this is the “first time that under the Obama administration” such a thing was done. Geee … why would they say it that way? Might have something to do with previous administrations and efforts, some of which may have taken on lives of their own.

    It sounds to me like a back door attempt to put some limits on routine extra-judicial surveillance by dragging the issue into the sunlight. It would also be a fault line to exploit to gain an advantage against the GOP. The right wing both love and fear a surveillance state but the “Freedom”/Libertarian wings and Authoritarians are likely to go different direction on this issue. Look for Obama to be pressing for an in-depth investigation while congress critters seek to focus on this particular instance.

  6. biogeo says

    I can understand political disagreement over the existence of such a program, seeing as what they are collecting is metadata rather than actual communication content. I would still oppose that, but I can understand how its (supposed) value for identifying terrorists’ communications might weigh more strongly in the balance than the loss of privacy, in the minds of some.

    What I don’t understand at all is how anyone can defend having such a broad monitoring program completely in secret. A monitoring program like this is a big deal, and even if we as a nation decide it’s worth it, that obviously has to be a part of our national discussion. Specific, targeted surveillance programs are one thing (obviously the point is defeated if the target knows of its existence, so secrecy makes sense). But this is not that. The “mission” that such a program is intended to achieve is in no way impacted by it being public knowledge. The only thing that secrecy accomplishes is preventing a politcal debate on the issue, and that is fundamentally undemocratic.

    I think it’s important to separate the two issues, since already many of our political leaders are are scrambling to defend the program, but I don’t think that should be the main focus of discussion. They may defend the program if they will, but the secrecy around it is indefensible, and that’s what they should be hammered on.

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