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May 13, 2006

Comments

boris

As with the patriot act it's important to distinguist between what the police, the IRS, and the criminal justice system have access to from what the executive branch can do without a warrent.

The executive branch has a greater obligation to protect the citizen. Think about the IRS obligation to protect us to see the point.

"Sorry ma'am, we can't do anything about that individual until he actually does something to you"

pollyusa

How do you get on the "Do Not Wiretap List"?

kim

That's the one you want to stay off of.
=======================

Marianne

The Administration has not told us how the program works, what happens to the phone numbers that are collected, or who has access to the collected data. Reliably pro-Administration commentors are trying to assure us that there is nothing to worry about; they either have more information than we the public, or are blowing smoke.

If past experience holds true, we will gradually learn more details over the next few weeks, and they won't be comforting details.

You can always tell when the facts aren't on the side of the Administration. The pattern is familiar. We have already been told that the leaked information is helping the terrorists, that unnamed leaders of Congress have been briefed, and that Clinton and Roosevelt supposedly did much the same thing.

Next, reporters will come under investigation. Telecom companies will be quietly warned off.

And Monday evening we will be told how the program has already resulted in the identification of terrorist cells, and that thousands of American lives have been saved.

kim

Why aren't you glad it works? Why must you yield to your fears, fears you do not yield to when your merchant tries to rob you? What is it that you are afraid that bush is stealing? Why do you think he'd want it?
====================================

SteveMG

Are we still at war or not?

(1) Had this story been broken or reported on September ~20, 2001, the reporters would have been lynched. (Anyone recall how long Keller withheld publishing the NSA story?)

(2) Had the White House not enacted these measures and a followup attack occurred, they would have been lynched. (Can't connect dots you don't have.)

Time is a fickle thing.

Illustrating, once again, that anyone who wants to be president has to got to be out of their minds.

(2) If one views the president as acting as chief law enforcement officer, then he or she will see these actions far differently than if one sees him wearing his C-in-C hat.

Since the Left (and maybe most not on the Left; although opinion polls seems to indicate otherwise) believes, for the most part, that the chief threat to our liberties comes from the Bush Administration and not from the actions of terrorists, they'll be more critical of policies that even tangentially curtail our rights or our privacy. If you think the threat has been exagerrated ("Bush plays upon out fears"), than this program is clearly not acceptable.

Similarly, since those on the Right view the threat to our liberties as emanating more from Islamic terrorists (war anyone?) than from the actions of the Administration to that threat, this will be viewed less critically.

If we are indeed still at war (and the open-ended nature of the conflict is deeply troubling), then these actions compared to the policies of previous war presidents are extremely minor.

SMG

Marianne

SMG, it just doesn't seem like we are at war. The so-called War is not being funded, unless you count borrowing billions from Asian central banks as funding. There is very little official information coming out of Iraq or Afghanistan, but much criticism of the little reporting that is generated. The President spends very little time dealing with the War, and much time campaiging or on vacations. Unless you have family or friends serving in that region, the War hardly touches anyone's daily life.

kim

Marianne, the MSM has insulated you from the war. Read Iraqi blogs.
======================

SteveMG

SMG, it just doesn't seem like we are at war.

Good point.

If it doesn't "feel" like war, my guess is that one would be more critical of such actions than if one "felt" we were at war.

Don't you think that if the public was told of this NSA surveillance immediately after 9/11 (say in October) that the public would have overwhelmingly supported it?

In defense of the White House, these programs were enacted right after 9/11 when nearly everyone was expecting a follow-up and bigger second attack (indeed, reportedly there was supposed to be one but, again, allegedly the actions by the Administration disrupted the plans).

September 11 seems a long time ago, doesn't it?

Or does it?

SMG

Marianne

Why isn't the Administration doing more to keep us informed? Anything important that they announce is picked up by news channels and newspapers, many of which would like to present a more positive picture. The Iraq blogs report difficulties in forming a government, civil war-like activity,and American deaths, along with occasional success stories.

loki

This is such a joke. The court since Smith V Maryland has said this is okay.

Syl

The critics problem is that they believe they are unique. Little miss muffet believes the patterns of her phone calls are so unique that they will cause raised eyebrows and a knock at the door.

Even people engaged in politics and calling contacts follow UN-unique patterns.

The concern over this is just plain stupid.

Numbers are fed into a computer. Nobody sees them. Nobody CARES. It's the patterns that matter.

Everyone thinks they themselves are so special that's why, of course, all politicos share mainly two different sets of talking points. Unique, HAH!

cathyf
Why isn't the Administration doing more to keep us informed? Anything important that they announce is picked up by news channels and newspapers, many of which would like to present a more positive picture.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *gasp* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *can't breathe* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA *gasp*

Well that laugh made my week!

cathy :-)

ed

Hmmmm.

Why isn't the Administration doing more to keep us informed?

Because it's fucking SECRET!

Why was it a secret that the NSA was tracking phone calls to/from known or suspected terrorists and people inside the US? Because that way the fucking terrorists and their sleeper agents wouldn't change their goddamn habits and thereby nullify the goddamn technique!

Why was this NSA program of accumulating phone call records a SECRET?

So the goddamn terrorists wouldn't change their fucking habits and thereby nullify the goddamn technique!

...

Jesus Fucking Christ! I wish to God you fucking liberals had done what you threatened to do and move to goddamn Canada.

How fucking stupid do you have to fucking well be??!!

...

God I'm going to stop reading blogs for a week or so. The rampant idiotic nature of liberals on blogs lately is frankly pissing me off.

[Ed - when you write "fucking" I read "Ed is an inarticulate, unimaginative ass-clown". Just one of my quirks, sorry]

Syl

Amen!

JJ

There is an interesting article from the Times of March 12.

The title:"Can Network Theory Thwart Terrorists?" (I am not computer-proficient enough to do the linky thing.)

It mentions that the NSA "intercepts 650 million communications every day."

And it adds that "the N.S.A. is at risk of being drowned in information."

Gad, multiply 650 mil times 30 days!

The conclusion of the article, in the lede, is this:

"Could it be that both the administration and its critics are right?"

I think that the Times is right -- up to a point.

Both the administration and civil liberties groups are right.

Why? --

"One way to reconcile these divergent accounts [accounts by administration of a carefully aimed terrorist surveillance program vs claims by civil liberties groups of privacy violations] — and explain the administration's decision not to seek warrants for the surveillance — is to examine a new conceptual paradigm that is changing how America's spies pursue terrorists: network theory."

The executive branch is using the latest technology to track terrorists.

However, the government does not have a bad track record of abusing authority and arming blundering agencies, like the FBI of the 60s.

My conclusion is that this is *really* a new technological frontier in government policy and privacy laws. It does not need politicizing but good policy-making.

So, I salute someone for opening a thread like this. There is a lot to consider.

Personally, I think the Bush administration is going to have to do more than a radio address to defend/explain the program. FISA is going to have to expand its oversight. The current legislation was passed when there were only 6 cables across the Atlantic. Communication has come a long way, baby.

On a very basic level, I get really nervous when I see people driving while talking on their cell phones. What can we do about that first?



Specter

Marianne,

Your post is being met with such amusement because there is plenty of good news out there - just not in the press. All we read about there is the latest bomb and how many people were killed. What you need to do is to explore beyond MSM to see if there is other data you may have missed. Whether or not the press is deliberately trying to lower Bush's ratings (which is my belief) or they are simply trying to seel more papers by publishing only bad news (see how fast their stock values and readership is declining using these outdated methods) the fact is that no good news gets pointed to.

Someone above suggested seeking out blogs from Iraq or from journalists embedded there - not the ones hanging out on a hotel balcony in the green zone either - actual reporters that are out with the troops.

But if you want a real eyefull check out this site:

Specter

The site did not come through. Here it is: Central Command Press Releases.

This site is updated daily with many, many releases. Yet you never see this in the MSM. Even if you cast a jaundiced eye on the source, you must admit the government is trying to get the news out. And it is being ignored. You need to ask yourself why.

Syl

JJ

FISA is the conduit for taking information from the NSA programs into prosecutorial territory. It is not required that FISA should have anything to do with how the NSA conducts its business.

FISA should be amended, however, to simplify the process of getting warrants when a warrant is justified for looking into suspicious patterns discovered through networking theory.

Niether the NSA nor the FBI can bring charges against any entity for anything discovered without going through FISA.

The NSA is just collecting dots. The dots themselves don't step on our civil rights. Only using the dots in order to prosecute a criminal matter would.

cathyf
Only using the dots in order to prosecute a criminal matter would.
I think you overstate things, here, Syl. Certainly using the dots to blackmail people, or embarass them politically, would be an infringement on people's rights. Not that we've heard a hint that any of that happened, of course, but when constructing hypotheticals you need to include them. As opposed to taking the left's "don't worry be happy" line like they did with the Clintons grabbing the FBI files on political opponents.

cathy :-)

woof

Why isn't the Administration doing more to keep us informed? Anything important that they announce is picked up by news channels and newspapers, many of which would like to present a more positive picture.

Marianne, you simply can't be serious that the media wants to report good news. Just not serious!

Centcom briefings are on line, they speak of major operations and tactical success THE MEDIA REFUSES TO TELL US ABOUT IT. We have heros awarded the Medal of Honor and there isn't a peep in the media. Last week the new Prime Minister of Iraq announced that he is in talks with 7 insurgency groups. This is the way insurgencies end, the insurgents laying down their arms.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200605/s1627179.htm

You didn't hear that in the media. Also last week almost all the tribal chiefs in Iraq came together in an inspiring renounciation of terror. I didn't hear that in the mainstream media.
http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-good-news-iraqi-tribal-leaders.html

I didn't read far enough, CathyF said it more succintly.

Specter

Over at Confederate Yankee there is a commenter named Retired Spy who worked for the NSA for several decades. His take is that the people who work there are too busy to worry about individuals. Just a take...

Syl

Cathy

You're missing the point. Political things would only show up if there was an odd pattern. Political things are NORMAL and wouldn't hit the radar.

Pofarmer

Don't know if any of you have heard of Kim Du Toit. He has the most cogent take on what the program probably is about as anyone I've read.

http://www.theothersideofkim.com/index.php/tos/single/9332/

Worth a read

Syl

Why do people always think THEIR concerns are unique?

windansea

WAPO puff piece on McCarthy

Fired Officer Believed CIA Lied to Congress

Friends Say McCarthy Learned of Denials About Detainees' Treatment

A senior CIA official, meeting with Senate staff in a secure room of the Capitol last June, promised repeatedly that the agency did not violate or seek to violate an international treaty that bars cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees, during interrogations it conducted in the Middle East and elsewhere.

But another CIA officer -- the agency's deputy inspector general, who for the previous year had been probing allegations of criminal mistreatment by the CIA and its contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- was startled to hear what she considered an outright falsehood, according to people familiar with her account. It came during the discussion of legislation that would constrain the CIA's interrogations.


That CIA officer was Mary O. McCarthy, 61, who was fired on April 20 for allegedly sharing classified information with journalists, including Washington Post journalist Dana Priest. A CIA employee of two decades, McCarthy became convinced that "CIA people had lied" in that briefing, as one of her friends said later, not only because the agency had conducted abusive interrogations but also because its policies authorized treatment that she considered cruel, inhumane or degrading.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/13/AR2006051301311.html

windansea

more...hello VIPies

McCarthy was not an ideologue, her friends say, but at some point fell into a camp of CIA officers who felt that the Bush administration's venture into Iraq had dangerously diverted U.S. counterterrorism policy. After seeing -- in e-mails, cable traffic, interview transcripts and field reports -- some of the secret fruits of the Iraq intervention, McCarthy became disenchanted, three of her friends say.

Syl

authorized treatment that she considered cruel, inhumane or degrading.

Says it all.

And is no excuse to go crying to the WaPo.

venture into Iraq had dangerously diverted U.S. counterterrorism policy

How does one divert policy?

And it's yet another personal opinion (non-elected) that the policy formerly in place was perfectly adequate and should never be changed.

That policy brought us 9/11.

'nuf said.

Syl

Do we outlaw hammers because someone used one once to bash someone's head?

Syl

TM

Now, perhaps they could get all that with a warrant, but the current situation may make it too easy.

The warrant is the thing. How easy it is to break down the door is immaterial.

JJ

@ syl

"FISA is the conduit for taking information from the NSA programs into prosecutorial territory."

My conclusion was that FISA and FISC would need to expand oversight to "network theory" applications. Sealed "warrants" are issued now for actual wiretapping -- which is NOT being done by the administration now.

This expansion of FISC would be along the same vein as those disclaimers that all of us get in the mail that assure us that our personal information will not be sold to third-party information gathers for marketing purposes.

As Kim Du Toit points out, lots of information is gathered by many organizations these days. (That was a decent read, pofarmer.)

In the practical world, how FISC would do that is another, more complicated question.

@ the thread topic

However...I note from red blogs right now that this question is being moved out of realm of technological considerations -- even legal considerations -- into a purely political game of shock and ah-ha.

The temptation is to let this discussion go by the board while the executive branch's authority to conduct surveillance is defended to offset the Left, which really has no interest in understanding the issues or providing solutions at the moment.

Pofarmer

"The temptation is to let this discussion go by the board while the executive branch's authority to conduct surveillance is defended to offset the Left, which really has no interest in understanding the issues or providing solutions at the moment."

Personally, on this issue, I don't care if this program is under Bush, or Clinton, or Gore, or Kerry, as long as it isn't being abused. First sign it's being abused, it should be either out or under some kind of oversight. The problem with oversight(especially the Congressional kind) is that it encourages leaks. I have an aversion to leaks at the moment. I also see no sign that this program was abused. I do see signs that Able Danger wasn't used effectively, probably because of fear of accusations of misuse. I hope the NSA has learned from that, and this.

As far as a solution, noone has really even stated they think the program is illegal, although we get some specious arguments that the FBI maybe might have tried to do some nefarious things. It's hard to have a solution for something that's not a problem. The solution, to me, seems to be to tell the left to shove it.

Syl

JJ

Yeah. Let's get sealed warrants for 300 million phone numbers.

I'm with Pofarmer, we don't a solution for something that isn't a problem.

Bill


Did Rove set up the Democrats with this new story?

Let me get this straight. Usama bin Laden could purchase phone records and do whatever NSA is doing but do it to the plan another attack and it would be legal but it is illegal for the NSA to do it to Usama bin Laden et al.?

Oh, and democrats.com has offered to repay anyone who finds dirt on certain Republicans through the purchse of phone records, my, my.


Bob

ed... I was reading these responses to, I assume Ms. Marianne, and saying very similar things to my monitor. I owe you a beer!

The problem with the left, liberals, moonbats, etc. is they have the notion that "we" are the only bad guys out there.

Watch this video if you want to laugh...

http://sugiero.blogspot.com/2006/05/phil-hendrie-ways-to-solve-grievances.html

It's very funny and sad at the same time. The Cindy Shehan Moonbats are living in a different world.

noah

Marianne, we are not "borrowing" from China or anybody else to pay for the war. We are running a deficit (which is declining BTW) which has been pretty much the norm unfortunately for about the past 50 years. Anybody with dollars can buy our debt securities or buy dollar denominated products such as crude oil, Boeing airplanes, or farmland in North Carolina...their choice.

kim

They can even overpay for golf courses and Rockefeller Centers, too, if they like. Ain't America jes wunnerful?
==========================================

kim

Hey, Marianne, don't look now, but somebody may be buying a bunch of worthless paper with the blood, sweat, and tears of a billion or so Chinese. Where's the outrage?
================================

kim

Political discourse these days is not very sporting. It is like shooting fish in a barrel, or birds in the hand. The love affair of the left with political correctedness has gone precious. 'Reality-based' is such a lovely irony.
=======================================

Marianne

Thank you to those who have pointed out where to find out what is really happening in Iraq. I would have thought that more of these stories would have appeared on Fox News and my hometown Republican-supporting newspaper.

kim

Only in America do we invent stuff like Velveeta, infinitely permutatable culinistically, and a dual use WMD. It is child's play for the tyro to cold-cock someone with a Velveeta stick, and the adept can break necks.

So we have: The Ironic Fisk in the Velveeta Club.
==============================

kim

For all you mothers out there, defending yourself from and with Velveeta.
====================================

kim

Just watch out for Riverbend, a Sunni Princess. Hey, maybe I should check in with her; Daddy may have switched strategy.
===================================

Semanticleo

It seems it boils down to two scenarios.

A) The Government is duly diligent in
protecting the privacy of individuals
in the process of providing security for
the Nation.

B)The Government is placing low, or no priority on individual privacy because
they don't have to.

All the other discussions seem, to me,
like window dressing. The fundamental
question is; does this Administration
have enough credibility to fly kite A.)?

kim

Maybe B doesn't need to worry about individual privacy because their searching engines don't look at that.
=========================

Charlie (Colorado)

Why isn't the Administration doing more to keep us informed? Anything important that they announce is picked up by news channels and newspapers, many of which would like to present a more positive picture

Marianne, this just isn't true. Go back to Chernikoff's (spelling may be wrong) "Good News from Iraq" series. Look at the more recent information from Iraq. Look at the placement of good news stories versus bad news stories --- and look at CENTCOM's ewb site, and compare the good news that is announced with what's reported.

Pofarmer

"Maybe B doesn't need to worry about individual privacy because their searching engines don't look at that."

Yep

Pofarmer

And to expand a bit. If the Gummint wants to see individual info THEN they need a warrant. Then the FISA court and that whole apparatus comes into play, at least that's the way I understand it.

kim

Some people fear the cop on the beat.
=====================

Specter

Marianne,

I don't know why the good news is not spread. But I have had this discussion with a lot of people and unfortunately they all believe that things there are terrible and that Iraq is on the verge of civil war (but not Palestine for some reason). Why is that? The answer is simple: the only place these people get their news is MSM. I too have wondered about FNC, but at least there we see a variety of stories.

I think what upsets me the most is that when our troops over there see the stories coming out of home, and compare it to their own experiences, they can't understand. The feeling is growing there that people here don't support the troops - and that is not good.

Pofarmer

"The feeling is growing there that people here don't support the troops"

The MSM doesn't support the troops. I beleive the people overwhelmingly do.

Specter

I agree Pofarmer - I'm just stating what is getting back to the troops via MSM.

Paul in AZ

Marianne ought to think through the necessary steps involved to be sifting through the millions of pieces of communications presumably "collected" by this program.

In a heartbeat you'll begin to realize that doing anything other than collecting the numbers and doing some simple analyses to detect calling patterns would be a job so monumentally huge that it would take a mammoth effort. One far too big to conceal.

Additionally, the fact that the Government might have my number and know a dozen others that I call semi-regularly mean nothing without a reason for them to be interested in any of them.

MarkD

Trot over to powerlineblog, and read the text of Title 18, Chapter 121, Section 2709 of the U.S. Code. IANAL, but it seems definitive to me that he government does have to rights to these sorts of records for counterintelligence purposes.

Some day there may actually be some sort of scandal with this administration, but I believe most sane people have tuned out already.

RWMuckraker

First off, there are a number of falsehoods being promoted in this debate, some which I tackle at my blog here: http://rwmuckrakers.eponym.com/blog/_archives/2006/5/12/1953453.html

Elsewhere, the case law seems to me, and I'm being objective, seems to indicate that the court would rule in favor of this program. Also think basic logic: These phone service providers are private enterprises. They aren't owned by the gov. They can do what they want with what their customers are giving them unless there are contractual agreements withstanding. And that would be a violation of a contractual agreement on the part of the company, not the gov. I have the right to turn over my house to the gov. I have the right to turn over my business to the gov. As is obvious due to Qwest not turning over records, the gov. did not FORCE the telecommunications companies to turn over records.

That's my two cents. Now get some from actual experts here:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/hottopic/?id=110008376

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MDZjMDllOTRlYmFlMmQ3ZGEzNDJjNzExYjZiNGMxZWM=

Neo

I started here and ended up here.

I sure looks like anyone with someone's phone number and a few hundred bucks could sure fill in a few blanks, and it's legal.

The idea that the NSA can't have these records, but everybody else can just buy them is silly.

Neo

I wonder if James Risen, Eric Lichtblau, Dana Priest, Susan Schmidt, and Joe Wilson know about it.

Has anyone got their phone numbers ?

kim

These fools would fearlessly give up their privacy to those seeking to rob them, yet refuse to yield it to those defending them.
====================================

RWMuckraker

That's the problem kim: deep down, they don't think there seeking to defend us. The far-left is convinced that we are teetering on the brink of Nazi-style fascism in this country; that we are all suspects; that 9/11 was a Reichsteg fire type situation (see Alex Jones' wildly popular documentary 9/11 the road to tyranny for example). When asked why they think the NSA would wiretap the international communications of "just anyone" as opposed to real possible terrorists, they don't give an answer because they don't need one. They feel that they truly know that Bush is a fascist and wants total control and wants to monitor everything we do and blah blah blah blah blah. The left, in their seething hatred of President Bush, has, I regret to say, lost their will to survive.

clarice

Tonight I watched "war stories" and it was something to see how hard Hollywood pitched in for the war effort. Some contrast. Andthen I remembered that was only AFTER the Hitler-Stalin Pact was over.

Perhaps if we could get some left wing thugs to back us, the left would give up on these non-stop lies about the war.

eric

Is it possible that the brouhaha indicates that if in fact the NSA programs are legal, that there are a great many citizens who would rather they not be? Whether or not you agree or support the legality, is this not a valid state of affairs?

Pofarmer

It's valid eric, just troubling. It's amazing that some folks can se conspiracy theories everywhere, yet fail to see the ones that actually are. Wilson/Plame?

Ronnie Earle? Now there's a successful conspiracy. Got the leader of the House on charges that will most likely be dropped, or beaten, and got him clear out of the house. But, nobody on the left seems to be afraid of the power of the judiciary in that one.

Bruce Hayden

Actually, all indications so far are that the American public are not worried by this NSA program. After all, if all these businesses are data mining, and harassing us with the results, then the government should be able to do the same in order to protect us from another 9/11 type attack.

Let me reiterate what Kim Du Toit is saying in his blog about this program. The NSA data mining of telephone records is extremely data intensive. Massively so. We are talking trillions of records. Carrying identifying information along throughout the process would make it 3-5 times worse, at no benefit. He suggested that their database records contain the two phone numbers as well as the call start day and time. I would suggest that the call duration is probably also included, whereas he questioned that. Since this is all numerical data, I would expect it to be BCD encoded (yes, they could also use binary, but BCD is more useful), which effectively cuts record size in half. This still translates into 20-30 gigabytes a day, or 10 terabytes a year. (You would probably double this with overhead data). With identifying information, this would balloon to 40-50 terabytes a year.

But that really only assumes that the U.S. records are being mined. My guess is that that they are only a small part of the mining activity. Rather, I would expect that they are also picking up call information for most calls in and through all the ECHELON countries - and remember, the NSA had convinced some of the international carriers to route as much of their purely foreign traffic through our domestic switches. This later got lost in the debate on the first NSA program, because it is clearly outside FISA.

Bruce Hayden

Let me add to the above, that the NSA being the NSA, I would also expect that they are also merging in much of what they can collect from the ether, and they are by far the best in the business for that. This includes some cell traffic, as well as all satellite traffic, and at least some microwave. This is the sort of thing that they have been doing for years.

I am not sure how much of the cell traffic they can pick up from orbit. But I do know that they have been picking up satellite and microwave communications from orbit for a long time now. If they can't pick up that much cell traffic from orbit, I would expect arial surveilance over at a minimum Iraq and Afganistan, and would not be surprised if it extended throughout much of the Middle East. Most likely, they could do this without violating much airspace.

Indeed, we do know that they are doing something like this in Iraq and Afganistan, because the phone numbers grabbed off of cell phones in raids that net terrorists (dead or alive) are being fed to the NSA in real time, in order to track phone calls made from those numbers. This strongly implies that the NSA has the ability in those countries to track phone calls, and, given the infrastructure, in particular, to track cell phone calls (though, in those countries, right now, they could be taking the lower cost solution of doing what they are apparently doing here - tracking through real time phone records).

Tom Maguire

On the related theme of warrants, ABC has this:

The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations.

"It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration," said a senior federal official.

The acknowledgement followed our blotter item that ABC News reporters had been warned by a federal source that the government knew who we were calling.

The official said our blotter item was wrong to suggest that ABC News phone calls were being "tracked."

"Think of it more as backtracking," said a senior federal official.

But FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA.

In a statement, the FBI press office said its leak investigations begin with the examination of government phone records.

"The FBI will take logical investigative steps to determine if a criminal act was committed by a government employee by the unauthorized release of classified information," the statement said.

Officials say that means that phone records of reporters will be sought if government records are not sufficient.

Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL).

The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.

MayBee

I've got to think about what I think about this abc thing. On the one hand, if there are suspected leakers and their phone numbers are being tracked to reporters in a valid investigation, I don't have a problem with that. On the other hand, I certainly don't agree with the idea of easily getting the records of a reporter and figuring out who he's spoken to.

topsecretk9

Hmm

via BellSouth Says It Gave NSA No Call Records


...BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher said the company's investigation found "no contract with the NSA and we are confident that we have turned over no phone records."Last week, Battcher said the company had "not provided any information we would need a subpoena for." On Monday night, Battcher said "we cannot find anyone within BellSouth who has ever been approached by the NSA."

The USA Today report, which quoted anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the program, followed earlier revelations of wiretapping on overseas calls without a court order and sparked a renewed national debate over government intrusion into Americans' civil liberties in the fight against terrorism...

my counter-spy-dar is up (Clarice?)...So we had NSA melt down in December...then much later MoMcarthy hits the fan and VIPs Bubba's are out in full force, Porter and Dusty and VipsBubbas are out in full force...I am convinced they made mistakes and/or sensed the heat cuz...suddenly the New recycled NSA eruption, and it was that USA today article way down deep in a paragraph --there was "worry" the program might be used to ferret out whistle-blowers leaking to reporters.

So who were those sources who apparently were wrong or deliberately *confirming* disinformation?

This, like Leopold, appears to be a trend.

clarice

Oh, you shrewd cookie! It's exactly what I think.

topsecretk9

--- it would be very good to to revive the NSA flap if you knew your LEGALLY OBTAINED phone calls were being looked at by the FBI, wouldn't it?---

clarice

Yes. But I don't think it will work when they are all lined up with subpoenas in hand.

topsecretk9

Oh, Clarice I don't either, but the only game they got is disinfo and a myriad of dumbass reporters ready to quote them as experts and former senior "insert department here"

clarice

It would be a perfect sting. (a) the leak was out there already.(b) all the baiters had to do was add one new (though false) detail, and (c) watch how it traveled.

Pofarmer

"Yes. But I don't think it will work when they are all lined up with subpoenas in hand."

Exactly, if they are investigating specific calls in specific cases you can bet it's a criminal investigation. If I was investigating the MSM, on this case, you can bet I'd have my t's crossed and my i's dotted, and just watch em squirm about how it just ain't fair, but it would sure be legal. ;0)

kim

In order to distribute unique specific information electronically a record must be kept for its originaton and destination. It is in the nature of the beast.
========================================

Aaron

Qwest customer service, how may I help you?

Yes, I would like to switch from my current phone company to yours.

Okay, Mr. Atta, let's get started.


--Just like when AQ learned about sat phones could be tapped now they now how to protect their operations within the USA - GREAT!

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Wilson/Plame