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Well, it seems that GWB has been spying on DOMESTIC calls as well!

By deepsand ·
Now, why am I not surprised?

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Firestorm Over NSA Surveillance

Associated Press | May 11, 2006

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans and Democrats demanded answers from the Bush administration Thursday about a government spy agency secretly collecting records of ordinary Americans' phone calls to build a database of every call made within the country.

Facing intense criticism from Congress, President George W. Bush did not confirm the work of the National Security Agency but sought to assure Americans that their privacy is being "fiercely protected."

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Bush said before leaving for a commencement address at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi.

The disclosure, first reported in USA Today, could complicate Bush's bid to win confirmation of former National Security Agency director Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA director. It also reignited concerns about civil liberties and touched off questions about the legal underpinnings for the government's actions and the diligence of the Republican-controlled Congress oversight of a Republican administration.

The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said he was shocked by the revelation about the NSA.

"It is our government, it's not one party's government. It's America's government. Those entrusted with great power have a duty to answer to Americans what they are doing," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., and BellSouth Corp. telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers' phone calls to the NSA program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said USA Today, citing anonymous sources it said had direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, said he would call the phone companies to appear before the panel in pursuit of what had transpired.

"We're really flying blind on the subject and that's not a good way to approach the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional issues involving privacy," Specter said of domestic surveillance in general.

The companies said Thursday that they are protecting customers' privacy but have an obligation to assist law enforcement and government agencies in ensuring the nation's security. "We prize the trust our customers place in us. If and when AT&T is asked to help, we do so strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions," the company said in a statement, echoed by the others.

Bush did not confirm or deny the USA Today report. But he did say that U.S. intelligence targets terrorists and that the government does not listen to domestic telephone calls without court approval and that Congress has been briefed on intelligence programs.

He vowed to do everything in his power to fight terror and "we will do so within the laws of our country."

On Capitol Hill, several lawmakers expressed incredulity about the program, with some Republicans questioning the rationale and several Democrats railing about the lack of congressional oversight.

"I don't know enough about the details except that I am willing to find out because I'm not sure why it would be necessary to keep and have that kind of information," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, a Republican.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News Channel: "The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?"

Democratic Sen. **** Durbin said bringing the telephone companies before the Judiciary Committee is an important step.

"We need more. We need to take this seriously, more seriously than some other matters that might come before the committee because our privacy as American citizens is at stake," Durbin said.

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions argued that the program "is not a warrantless wiretapping of the American people. I don't think this action is nearly as troublesome as being made out here, because they are not tapping our phones."

The program does not involve listening to or taping the calls. Instead it documents who talks to whom in personal and business calls, whether local or long distance, by tracking which numbers are called, the newspaper said.

NSA spokesman Don Weber said in an e-mailed statement that given the nature of the agency's work, it would be "irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operations issues." He added, "the NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."

NSA is the same spy agency that conducts the controversial domestic eavesdropping program that had been acknowledged earlier by Bush. The president said last year that he authorized the NSA to listen, without warrants, to international phone calls involving Americans suspected of terrorist links.

The report came as Hayden - Bush's choice to take over leadership of the CIA - postponed some visits to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Meetings with Republican Sens. Rick Santorum and Lisa Murkowski were delayed at the request of the White House, said congressional aides in the two Senate offices.

The White House offered no reason for the postponement to the lawmakers. Other meetings with lawmakers were still planned.

Hayden already faced criticism because of the NSA's secret domestic eavesdropping program. As head of the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005, Hayden also would have overseen the call-tracking program.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has spoken favorably of the nomination, said the latest revelation "is also going to present a growing impediment to the confirmation of Gen. Hayden."

The NSA wants the database of domestic call records to look for any patterns that might suggest terrorist activity, USA Today said.

Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, told the paper that the agency operates within the law, but would not comment further on its operations.

One big telecommunications company, Qwest Communications International Inc., has refused to turn over records to the program, the newspaper said, because of privacy and legal concerns.

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Don't blame...

by dawgit In reply to A third political party?

The US Constitution for the peoples lazy ignorance. Most can't even read it, little on understand it. It was written by some of the finist minds of the time. That level of thinking no longer exists in the American political sys. ( or the majority of the populace either )

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Okay, so it's the people

by jardinier In reply to Don't blame...

Can you offer any explanation as to why the "people" have become lazy and ignorant?

Is the social disease curable?

I hope you can come up with something more original than the oft quoted welfare system.

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Now that sir...

by dawgit In reply to Okay, so it's the people

Is definately a good question. (and perhaps another discussion) No, it's not the welfare sys., in fact, that is only used by the people to remain that way. No, I think the media has a much greater role in this present conundrum. (no, not only TV) There's always the danger when people are kept (or trained to be) dumb. They then can be easily controled. (and we have a flat Earth again)

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There are any number of reasons.

by deepsand In reply to Okay, so it's the people

And, I shall not presume to claim to know all of them; nor do I now have the time to enumerate all of those that immediately come to mind.

I will, however, here mention one that I recognized many years ago, with the result that I was labeled an elitist by some. That is that we have too many ill informed voters.

Now, we have always had, and shall always have, those who are less than adequately able to vote in an informed and intelligent manner. Until fairly recently, though, a substantial portion of such did not vote.

In the past several decades we have seen any number of measures intended to increase participation in elections, with the result that an increasingly large number of votes being cast are of no value other than to those who can sway such their way.

In short, we have too many stupid people voting.

This brings to mind a science fiction story in which:

1) People cast votes for policy proposals, not candidates for office.
2) All voters had to record both the premises that they considered and their reasoning which led them to conclude to support or oppose a proposal, as well as the consequences that they forsaw of both its passage and defeat.
3) All voting records were public.
4) Governmental positions were filled with those whose predicted outcomes best matched the realized ones.
5) The highest office was called the "Prime Predictor."

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"ill informed voters"

by jardinier In reply to Okay, so it's the people

If this is the case, then I feel a sadness for the once great nation of America.

Almost ALL Australians take a serious interest in keeping up with the news. Sometimes I will encounter a female who does not follow the news because "it is too unpleasant."

However for the most part Australians are very aware of events which directly affect our country, which of course includes Iraq. They follow politics very closely and hold strong views.

Once again I must refer to our preferential system of voting. In any given electoral division (known as a "seat") there will be a number of candidates. These will include a candidate from each of the major parties, and any number of representatives of minor parties and independents.

All boxes on the ballot paper must be numbered, in the order of preference of the voter. You may express your dissatisfaction with representatives of the major parties by not listing them first on the ballot paper.

HOWEVER, after minor parties and independents are eliminated because of attracting too few votes, your preferences will then count as your primary vote.

I think Australia has a particularly good electoral system. Voting is "compulsory" but only in the sense that you must register at a polling place. If you don't wish to vote, you simply put a blank ballot paper in the box.

While I may not like the outcome of an election, at least I have the reassurance of knowing that it represents fairly accurately the feelings of the majority of Australians who go to the ballot place quite well informed of the issues presented by the various parties.

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Far too many Americans are willfully stupid.

by deepsand In reply to Okay, so it's the people

Nearly half are unable to locate major world countries on a globe or map; a disturbingly large number cannot even locate the US!

Most have never read the US Constitution; fewer still, that of their respective State.

I would much prefer that these people not vote, but confine their electoral participation to watching the results as reported on tv.

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I believe most Congressmen and lawyers do not read the Constitution.

by X-MarCap In reply to Don't blame...

Therefore their opinions aren't hindered by what they should do Constitutionally.

Law is predominately precedence. I wish that the Federalist papers were recognized as a foundational document by Supreme clowns like Suter, Kennedy, and Brewer. Then the New London decision would have had to have been decided for the property owner...

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They're able to slide by in that regard because ...

by deepsand In reply to I believe most Congressme ...

the vast majority of the populace has'nt read it either.

The frightening aspect of this is that many claim to have not read it becaus they consider it irrelevant by virtue of its being merely a historical document.

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The Constitution should be mandatory reading...

by X-MarCap In reply to I believe most Congressme ...

By the fourth grade...

It should be mandtory as civics classes used to be...

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A sad, but true, observation

by deepsand In reply to I believe most Congressme ...

On the boards at military.com I've actually seen those who proudly proclaim their ignorance of the US Constitution, as if such were some great virtue.

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