May 11 2006

Another Day, Another National Security Leak

*** Major Update: Mac Ranger has word those who leaked this story are known to authorities and this may be a political hit job ***

*** Major Update at the end – and make sure to check out the comments section for links (simply cursor over the name for the comment to find trackbacks) ***

Is anyone surprised the rogue CIA and their media counterparts are leaking more information and spinning it to sound really, really bad:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations.

Emphasis mine because there are wo things to note. First off most recordings related to a warranted search cover the innocent. Picture yourself as the target of a surveillance warrant (drugs, organized crime, terrorism – pick one) and then realize how many people you contact via phone and compter. You parents, siblings, children, neighbors all get monitored and their phone number and address recorded.

That is why there is a distinction in the law (though I am not sure I am using the exact legal terms here) between the target of a surveillance and the contacts of the target. Everyone gets swept up in a surveillance. That is why judges are the only ones authorized to make a person in America or an American a target of surveillance. That includes FISA and normal courts depending on the suspected crime or activity.

Now the NSA has two roles: one to monitor our enemies overseas (their legitimate, warrentless targets) and one to investigate communications in response to warrants from US courts. What this means is they monitor a lot of targets and sweep up a lot of information regarding innocent contacts with those targets. This role is clearly stated in the NSA response:

The White House would not discuss the domestic call-tracking program. “There is no domestic surveillance without court approval,”

This is the same FISA-leak all dressed up in different spin. This is not news except to those ignorant of how things work in the news corpse. The second item I highlighted is the proof of this point. To note the contact details (Name, number, address) of a legitimate target under surveillance is obvious. There is no listening to the conversation and no records retained on the conversation of innocent discussions. There is more proof later in the article:

The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.

Why else monitor the calls? In fact, the reason to note contacts as innocent or suspicious is to whittle down who targets of surveillance are talking to who may be accomplices. These records are actually a record that these people are INNOCENT of any relationship with a possible crime.

Prior to 9-11 NSA would note who inside the US (or what American citizen) was in contact with our enemies while monitoring our enemies. If your neighbor had called Bin Laden prior to 9-11 the NSA would know (if they were listening in on Bin Laden) and note it. But prior to 9-11 they would retain that information and not distribute it within the government to law enforcement (who must submit permission for warrants to monitor Americans and people in the US). After 9-11 this changed. Now when the NSA gets a contact with one of their targets overseas they pass that to the FBI who investigates and, if concerned, takes a request to the FISA court for a warrant to monitor.

Same old story wrapped up in a different package and for one reason – Gen Hayden’s selection to head the CIA. Personally, I think the rogue CIA agents are fools to continue this game. This just exposes why Hayden must go, and why he should keep his uniform on. While in uniform he must do what the President orders (forget Rumsfeld). This is just a lame attempt to throw up disninformation. Here’s the sentence that pulls the facade off this hit piece:

In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. “In other words,” Bush explained, “one end of the communication must be outside the United States.”

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Who believed this? Anyone who is ignorant or naive I suppose. Are these people saying we don’t record who is in contact with targets and then make sure these contacts are innocent and of no concern? And as I said, each contact gets some designation (probably innocent, not sure, probably a terrorist sympathizer) so these records identify who was deemed to be irrelevant and simply caught up in the monitoring. Like the airline employee who makes the ticket reservations for a terrorists flight.

Take special note of where the words ‘could’ ‘can be’ are used. These are speculations of what is possible – not what the article is claiming is being done. For example:

But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

See how the writer and those ‘sources’ are trying to make it sound like this is being done. That is how they sneak propaganda into these articles. And it takes forethought and careful wording.

UPDATE: And here is why this reporting is dangerous. Of course the leftwing nuts want to point out the brave groups ‘speaking to power’, so they alert the terrorists to shift all their communications over to Qwest because Qwest is not partnering with the NSA to help find potential 9-11 terrorists here in the country:

Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Qwest’s refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest.

USA Today just tipped off the terrorist how to avoid detection and put the people in Qwest’s areas in danger because now it is known those areas have the least protection and should be targeted! What are these people THINKING! Someone needs to go to jail.

Update: Rick Moran has a good round up of the lemmings from the left – responding on cue.

Update: As Druge points out, the liberal fringe forgot to get all upset when their hero Clinton was establishing a much more invasive and legally shakey system during his term. Clinton’s system actually checked CONTENTS, not just who was talking to whom.

Update: Group Intel has a good explanation of how things really work when people are reviewing phone records and searching for terrorists. As much as KoS would wish otherwise, I am afraid he is completely irrelevant to the NSA’s mission to protect America.

54 responses so far

54 Responses to “Another Day, Another National Security Leak”

  1. KC says:

    “Shuster or Raw Story” –

    Ah, so I see how things work here now. Don’t like the story, say something bad about the source. So by that rationale, I can singlehandedly dismiss any link to: Fox News, Washington Times, etc.? Nevermind that. Are you seriously implying that:

    1. Plame was not covert
    2. Plame was not working on Iran
    3. She was not outed by the administration in the form of a leak to the press? This being the “liberal” media who sat on the story until after the election?
    4. Regardless of whether she was working the Iran beat, if she was covert, that whomever leaked her identity from within the administration did not commit a crime?

    Please let me know. But I think I already know the answer.

  2. ReidBlog says:

    Live free or dial…

    The Dear Leader must protect us by monitoring whom we call, just as he must watch us when we gather, to ensure that we are not supporting al-Qaida……

  3. clarice says:

    Plame was NOT covert. The public record is clear on that.
    She wasn’t working on Iran. More horse puckey.
    She was not outed by the Administration and no one has been charged with that probably because the person who did is being protected by Fitz/

  4. KC says:

    Who woulda thunk it, Clarice:

    “Conservative columnist Max Boot calls Joseph Wilson a “liar,” and claims that Plame’s status was not “covert” at the time of her outing in the Novak column because she had been working in Virginia for more than five years.[173] Although he left the CIA in 1993, Larry C. Johnson attempted to clear up the confusion surrounding Plame’s status in a column responding to Max Boot: “The law actually requires that a covered person ‘served’ overseas in the last five years. Served does not mean lived. In the case of Valerie Wilson, energy consultant for Brewster-Jennings, she traveled overseas in 2003, 2002, and 2001, as part of her cover job. She met with folks who worked in the nuclear industry, cultivated sources, and managed spies. She was a national security asset until exposed by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.”[174]”

    Sounds like she was undercover to me. I assume Larry C. Johnson, a registered Republican who voted for Bush is wrong?

    This blog is absent any honest debate.

    Good night, y’all.

  5. MerlinOS2 says:

    All spin and hype here. If you sit down for a rational moment of thought you will conclude that data mining of all phone calls and data calls is done every day. How do you think the phone companies make decisions where to put new switching centers. They don’t just flip a coin or throw darts at the map. When the company offered you flat rate long distance for a fixed fee, they knew how many would benefit from it.
    Just wait and you will hear soon how many calls were made on Mother’s Day.

  6. Roberto says:

    With a warrant.
    With a warrant.
    With a warrant.
    With a warrant.

    Keep repeating it until it gets through your thick skull.

    It’s OK for the government to eavesdrop or track the phone calls of Americans…
    …With a warrant.
    With a warrant.
    With a warrant.
    With a warrant.

    Sorry, I don’t trust the authorities to do what’s right.

    It’s the main reason I’m against gun control.

    BTW, isn’t Rove still on the payroll?

  7. Terrye says:


    They are not listening into conversations and they do not have to have a warrant in all cases.

  8. Lindata says:

    Are you implying that Bush has stopped monitoring international content?

  9. They Have Already Started in on Hayden…

    It didn’t take long for the vultures on the left to start circling CIA Director nominee Hayden after the disgusting leak of MORE NSA intelligence information. One day there is going to be a Congress member “death by trampling” in the rush to get fac…

  10. MerryJ1 says:

    Ooops! Where did all the trolls come from?

    And, golly, Larry Johnson is a Republican who voted for Bush? So, maybe he was the one who sabotaged the Kerry campaign? Heh.

    AJ, looks like you’ve got a whole new bunch of “fans.” I’m fully confident you’ll handle ’em (darn, I forgot to pick up a new popcorn popper).


  11. crosspatch says:

    Come on folks, all they are doing is collecting TELEPHONE NUMBERS. They aren’t collecting names, addresses, monitoring calls, etc. So just calm down. What they appear to be doing is that if a terrorist or terrorists are talking to people in the US, we are looking at who those people are talking to. If, say, 5 of them all appear to talk to a third number, THEN they go get the warrant to get more information on the third number such as name, address, etc.

    At this point they aren’t collecting squat that cound invade anyone’s pivacy. I hereby give my permission for the government to know my phone number. I will go even better and if they want my name too, they can have it.

    Hey people, did you know that there is a vast conspiracy to publically divulge people’s name, address, and phone number to anyone that wants it? You can obtain this listing free of charge. It’s called the white pages.

    The NSA is collecting less information about you than one could obtain from directory assistance in the majority of cases.\

    This is such a non-issue it isn’t even funny. What chaps my ass the most, though, is that the same people that would obstruct this collection are the same ones that would criticize a failure to connect the dots in case of a future attack.

    They are playing a game of “Let’s see if you can still connect the dots after we hide all the dots from you”. What absolute myopic morons the left is on this issue. How many people have to die? Wasn’t 3000 in NY enough? We aren’t talking about government listening to peoples phones here, we are talking about them building a database of numbers.

    Oh, and a database of hundreds of millions of names, addresses, and phone numbers is available for free from phone companies. They aren’t even linking these numbers to white pages entries. Give it a break. Anyone that comes out against this runs the risk of looking like a complete and total moron who is interested only in political activism but hasn’t bothered to give the issue a moment of thought.

    This just goes to prove that 50% of the population is below the median intelligence level. This story is designed to push emotional buttons and that is it. There is a word for it. It’s called agitprop.

  12. Roberto says:

    Crosspatch sets everyone straight.
    Because he knows exactly what’s going on.
    Because he is privvy to the inside dope.
    Because he lives in America, not the old Soviet Union.
    And in America, we have open government.
    Where we can be sure the government is on the “up and up”.

    Except when we don’t force them to be on the “up and up”.

  13. crosspatch says:

    Roberto, it isn’t a political issue for me. It is an issue of right and wrong. The choice is very clear.

    The people they are monitoring are people in this country that are talking to known terrorists overseas. The question of “so who else are they talking to?” is one that comes quite naturally and not answering that question is irresponsible. In this case, NSA isn’t even looking at who, they are looking only at telephone numbers that were dialed. So they have a list of phone numbers dialed by someone in this country that also talks to known terrorists. I have not one iota of issue with that. In fact, if something were to happen down the line and I found out they COULD have had that information and didn’t get it, I would be livid because it would have been irresponsible for them NOT to get that information.

    For the life of me I can not see why this is even being debated. The collection of phone numbers by someone who is dialing known terrorists does not infringe a bit. Someone had better be finding out who the terrorists are in this country and who they are talking to. If fact, Iran has said in the open that they have terrorist cells in this country that they could activate. Those cells need to be found and eliminated.

    I am getting quite tired of hearing patsies for the left who would thow away the lives of their fellow Americans to make a political point. It is sick. It is insane. This has nothing to do with whether or not someone supports the President or the Republicans or a nominee for DCI, it is about the security of this country and that includes people of ALL political stripes. Democrats were killed in the twin towers, in the Pentagon, and in those planes. I don’t want to see any more Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, whatever, get killed.

    Al Qaeda isn’t going to stop attacking us if a Democrat is elected. They tried to blow up one of the twin towers while a Democrat was in office. 9/11 was planned, staffed, and trained for while a Democrat was in office and long before anyone knew who the next president was going to be. In fact, the polls at the time suggested it would be another Democrat. They don’t care! It is time people got it through their heads that this is not a domestic political issue. They don’t care who is in office. They are going to kill as many of us as they can as often as they can. Interfering with investigations like this has the potential to get many more people killed.

    Those sources and methods are used by all presidents regardless of party. To expose them takes them out of the hands of the next president. These kinds of exposures can not be undone later when the next guy takes office, they are permanent damage. They educate the enemy and cause them to take countermeasures that make gathering information on their activities more difficult. The people that leaked this information are not patriots in any sense of the word. They are selfish criminals that don’t care if their fellow citizens die as long as they get to push their agenda. And make no mistake, these are the kinds of loose lips that do indeed get people killed by allowing an enemy to be a little more successful, allowing to evade detection, alowing them to remain in the woodwork.

    This is NOT a political matter for me. It is a security matter that might result in my loved ones, neighbors, neighbors’ loved ones, or God forbid, yours being killed because we weren’t able to detect and stop an attack before it happens.

    To put this in a political perspective is to expose one’s total lack of understanding of how important even a small piece of information can be. Again, we are not talking about monitoring people’s calls here. We are not talking about wiretaps. What we are talking about basically is a look at someone’s phone bill who happens to be in contact with known terrorists so that maybe we can place some other terrorists into the “known” column. Again, it is not a pro or anti Bush administration issue, it is a pro or anti United States of America issue and the security of our community in the face of people who would wish to kill us and have not only said so repeatedly, they have DONE it.

  14. ordi says:



    *Reverend* Martin Luther King was wiretapped by Bobby Kennedy when he was John F Kennedy’s Attoney General.

    They were both Democrats.