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NSA Domestic Spying confirmation has FOX doing major damage control

Reported by Chrish - May 12, 2006

Now we know why they call them "leaks" - the truth is slowly dripping out. First we learned about Bush authorizing the NSA to eavesdrop without FISA warrants, but we were assured it was only suspected terrorists, at least one of which was in a foreign country. Then we heard that maybe some of the calls were inside the United States but involved at least one suspected terrorist. Then we learned that giant telecom companies were co-operating with this so-called "international terrorist surveillance program." Today's revelation is just the next logical step - giant telecom corporations have been co-operating with the NSA in gathering data on tens of millions of calls between millions of Americans, ostensibly to establish patterns to aid in tracking terrorists.

News Hounds hold periodic conference calls using a variety of phone service providers. At least half of us live in or near cities that would be considered progressive. Nothing that would interest anyone outside our little pack is discussed, but being a FOX-monitoring, truth-seeking, rabble-rousing bunch who hold progressive ideals and vocally oppose some administration policies, there's a credible chance we would be tagged and identified as watch-worthy. That's not ego - that's how widely support of terrorism is being defined these days.

That should scare the crap out of anyone reading this.

Remember "Objecting to the term "domestic spying," Bush said the surveillance he authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks involves communications in which one party is outside the USA." Oops, he did it again.

The Big Story did multiple segments today that pushed the familiar tactics: 1. kill the messenger (by labelling the leaker criminal) and 2. diminish the revelation (by semantic game playing.) A little distraction (1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement required all carriers to have equipment to provide caller ID information) thrown in should completely overwhelm your average Big Story viewer. (Of course, the "Big Story" today began with "The president of Venzuela, 'Ugo Chavez, is hurling outrageous accusations at the US." The next biggest was more on the Duke rape case, and third on The so-called Big Story was the domestic spying revelation. This placement serves to diminish it's importance for BS viewers.)

The intro to the first segment told viewers that Bush assures them that their privacy is being protected even as big phone companies are turning over data on millions of Americans calling habits. The information turned over does not include names or addresses, and we see Bush asserting that they're "not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

Comment: Word game - that can be technically 100% true, as millions of Americans are excluded from the mining. It's the millions of other Americans who are being monitored that we're worried about.

Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN) was interviewed and voiced concern that first we were told the warrantless wiretapping involved international calls and suspected terrorists; now we have confirmed that the eavesdropping is happening on domestic calls all to determine "call patterns". Gibson pounces on the word "eavesdropping" and Ford revises it to "monitoring". Gibson then says, they're monitoring what is said? He heard a complete denial of that today. Ford said he had not heard that; he heard the claim that what has been done was completely within the law.

After Ford passionately states his support for all necessary measures to fight terrorists and his willingness to lead the charge to make any changes necessary to bring the White House under compliance with new laws, Gibson goes back to the talking point, i.e. eavesdropping vs. monitoring vs. data collection.

When he asks Ford is he's certain that domestic eavesdropping is occurring, Ford says emphatically "No. Seven or eight months ago I didn't think the FISA courts were being bypassed. When we learned that was happening, we were assured that no surveillance was taking place unless an international party was involved. We learned today that calls are being monitored and surveillance is being conducted. We can play the name game, but calls are being monitored...we still live in a nation of laws..."

Having gotten what he wanted, Gibson terminated the interview and brought in the infamous Victoria Toensing (who helped draft the unbreakable Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which so far has protected the person(s) who outed Valerie Plame).

She was asked if she knew whether numbers were being compiled, were calling patterns being established, or were calls being listened to? Toensing replies that Congressman Ford is confused, and she's "sorry" that he is misinforming the American people. She claims this has nothing to do with monitoring, or listening, or surveilling; it's merely compiling information about phone numbers; it's a database looking for patterns.

Comment: Databases don't look for patterns; people use databases to look for patterns. Someone analyzing your calls over a year or two is invasive.

She describes the 1994 law, above, which required all telecom corporations to have equipment that would enable the government to access call identification information, "just exactly what we're talking about." She says that we have no expectation of privacy, citing monthly phone bills details, and says DA offices all over the country are right now subpoenaing those records without probable cause, in the course of an investigation. (Comment: The investigation would serve basis for probable cause for a warrant/subpoena for the records - she's a lawyer and knows that so she is being deliberately confusing or disengenuous herself.) It happens every day in the courts. (Yes, with subpoenas. The information is there at the service providers for law enforcement use when needed.)

Gibson asks, before he lets her go, "was the leak of this information to USA Today a criminal act?"

"Oh yes. Oh yes indeed."

Oh brother.

Judge Andrew Napolitano came on later for a segment. No fan of the warrantless wiretapping he, he says that IF Ford is right in his interpretation of the news today and listening is going on, that is unConstitutional and criminal. If on the other hand it is data gathering it is legal under the "Patriot Act", the Constitutionality of which is in question, but the law as stands would protect such data mining. What we need, he says, are the facts. Gibson coyly says, well it was in the newspaper, and JAN replies "The newspaper is just the newspaper reporter's opinion. " Bonus points for throwing an anti-journalism zinger into the mix of talking points!! We've never had someone lose their best in show ribbon and go directly to the doghouse but that last sentence tempts me.

Phrases repeated throughout the show were "privacy being protected (preserved)" , "compiling calling patterns",
and this favorite,

ssBushprotectingyou.jpg

Heaven help us.

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