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Clara T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:37 PM
Original message
Watch What You Say
Watch What You Say
By Tim Shorrock, The Nation. Posted March 9, 2006.

How the telephone company listens in on your calls and what they tell the government.

Two months after the New York Times revealed that the Bush Administration ordered the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens, only three corporations--AT&T, Sprint and MCI--have been identified by the media as cooperating. If the reports in the Times and other newspapers are true, these companies have allowed the NSA to intercept thousands of telephone calls, fax messages and e-mails without warrants from a special oversight court established by Congress under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Some companies, according to the same reports, have given the NSA a direct hookup to their huge databases of communications records. The NSA, using the same supercomputers that analyze foreign communications, sifts through this data for key words and phrases that could indicate communication to or from suspected terrorists or terrorist sympathizers and then tracks those individuals and their ever-widening circle of associates. "This is the US version of Echelon," says Albert Gidari, a prominent telecommunications attorney in Seattle, referring to a massive eavesdropping program run by the NSA and its English-speaking counterparts that created a huge controversy in Europe in the late 1990s.

So far, a handful of Democratic lawmakers--Representative John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Senators Edward Kennedy and Russell Feingold--have attempted to obtain information from companies involved in the domestic surveillance program. But they've largely been rebuffed. Further details about the highly classified program are likely to emerge as the Electronic Frontier Foundation pursues a lawsuit, filed January 31, against AT&T for violating privacy laws by giving the NSA direct access to its telephone records database and Internet transaction logs. On February 16 a federal judge gave the Bush Administration until March 8 to turn over a list of internal documents related to two other lawsuits, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, seeking an injunction to end the program.

Despite the President's rigorous defense of the program, no company has dared to admit its cooperation publicly. Their reticence is understandable: The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation of the government officials who leaked the NSA story to the Times, and many constitutional scholars and a few lawmakers believe the program is both illegal and unconstitutional. And the companies may be embarrassed at being caught--particularly AT&T, which spent millions advertising its global services during the Winter Olympics. "It's a huge betrayal of the public trust, and they know it," says Bruce Schneier, the founder and chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security, a California consulting firm. Corporations have been cooperating with the NSA for half a century. What's different now is that they appear to be helping the NSA deploy its awesome computing and data-mining powers inside the United States in direct contravention of US law, which specifically bans the agency from collecting information from US citizens living inside the United States. "They wouldn't touch US persons before unless they had a FISA warrant," says a former national security official who read NSA intercepts as part of his work for the State Department and the Pentagon.

This is happening at a time when both the military and its spy agencies are more dependent on the private sector than ever before, and an increasing number of companies are involved. In the 1970s, when Congress acted to stop domestic spying programs like Operation Shamrock, in which the NSA monitored overseas telegrams and phone calls, the communications industry was in its infancy. "It was basically Western Union for cables, and AT&T for the telephone," says James Bamford, who revealed the existence of the NSA in his famous book The Puzzle Palace and is a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit. "It's much more complicated now." In fact, today's global telecom market includes dozens of companies that compete with AT&T, Sprint and MCI for telephone and mobile services, as well as scores of Internet service providers like Google, Yahoo! and AOL that offer e-mail, Internet and voice connections to customers around the world. They are served by multinational conglomerates like Apollo, Flag Atlantic and Global Crossing, which own and operate the global system of undersea fiber-optic cables that link the United States to the rest of the world. Any one of them could be among the companies contacted by intelligence officials when President Bush issued his 2002 executive order to obtain surveillance without FISA approval.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/33334 /

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gordianot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
1. True enough.
My firewall detects strange activity when I post on DU.
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CrazyOrangeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:55 PM
Response to Original message
2. Conyers, Kennedy and Feingold
Doesn't seem like quite enuf . . . to get to the bottom of this one.

There is so much corruption, so many odd angles . . . the Rethugs may actually be at an advantage because there is SUCH a bewildering array of scandals. Normally, one would think, "They're gonna go down, for all this shit." But . . . their treason is so great, dealing with their actions is like cleaning out a nest of copperheads . . . where do we even start?
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gordianot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. That is how organized crime works.
Create such a tangled web it is hard to find a place to start.
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lutefisk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I like the Armillaria ostoyae metaphor, but copperheads is good
I think of them as a giant fungus (a very evil one) that has spread far wider than most of us understand. We get excited when we pick a few mushrooms, not realizing they are a giant fungus that has infiltrated the ground beneath our whole federal government. They pretty much have sucked the Democracy out of every branch of government with their fascist rhizomorphs.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/fungus1.html
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CrazyOrangeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 05:47 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. fascist rhizomorphs . . .
. . . certainly sums it up . . .
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 10:59 PM
Response to Original message
5. Maybe they can pick up on this
KISS MY F*CK*NG ASS, BOTH SIDES CAN HAVE SPIES! ARE THEY SO SURE WE ARE NOT WATCHING THEM?
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ClayZ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 11:36 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Bwahahhaha!
:rofl:
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Maraya1969 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 01:19 AM
Response to Original message
7. Did * Comply with this and what will happen if he doesn't? Below
"On February 16 a federal judge gave the Bush Administration until March 8 to turn over a list of internal documents related to two other lawsuits, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, seeking an injunction to end the program."
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peanutbrittle Donating Member (605 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
9. Interesting tidbit
Edited on Sat Mar-11-06 10:37 AM by peanutbrittle
I was talking to my partner on my cellphone just before Christmas. A Republican developer owed me some money and I was headed to their office to pick up the check. The office shut down early and I was not able to pick up the money. I was talking to my partner on my cellphone after this and screamed to my partner "Republican as@#%!&! shut down early!" Our phones immediately went dead, the call was cut off.

We called each other back and it discussed how eery it was to the both of us.


Coincidence? I know the area I was in and there was no dead spot there.

It was very weird.
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