The NSA's warrantless wiretapping
Love debating Politics, issues of the day? Join these rousing discussions and learn from the differences that make each of us unique and interesting. Our format encourages tough but civil debate and discussion. Keep up with the latest in local, state and national landscape.
- 3 Post By Getslow
The NSA's warrantless wiretapping
This week, cellphone carriers publicly reported that US law enforcement made an astounding 1.3m demands for customer text messages, caller locations, and other information last year. The disclosure has sparked a flood of press coverage and consumer outrage, given much of the information was obtained without a warrant.
But this is only one way that communications and communications records are being monitored by the government. Since 2006, Americans have known that the National Security Agency (NSA), in league with telecommunications carriers like AT&T, has been engaging in mass warrantless surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. And since shortly thereafter, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been suing to stop it.
The NSA's warrantless wiretapping is a crime, not a state secret | Cindy Cohn and Trevor Timm | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Now, three longtime NSA employees – William E Binney, Thomas A Drake, and J Kirk Wiebe – have come forward and offered additional inside evidence to support the lawsuit, all of which confirms what an increasing mountain of evidence shows: that the US government is engaging in mass dragnet surveillance of innocent, untargeted American people, as well as foreigners whose messages are routed through the US. As Binney states, "the NSA is storing all personal electronic communications."
Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.
The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) | Threat Level | Wired.com
According to Binney, one of the deepest secrets of the Stellar Wind program—again, never confirmed until now—was that the NSA gained warrantless access to AT&T’s vast trove of domestic and international billing records, detailed information about who called whom in the US and around the world. As of 2007, AT&T had more than 2.8 trillion records housed in a database at its Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.
Verizon was also part of the program, Binney says, and that greatly expanded the volume of calls subject to the agency’s domestic eavesdropping. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he says. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” (Spokespeople for Verizon and AT&T said their companies would not comment on matters of national security.)
Nothing to hide, nothing to worry about? or is this a stretch?
The NSA has always been missioned with the task of monitoring (via recording) communications that crossed US borders. They have been recording international phone calls, emails, data transmissions, etc. for decades. The supposed reason they could do this is due to one of the parties being outside the US borders.
Obviously it would not take much to leverage this capability to do the same task for purely domestic communications. After 9/11 there was the push to blur the lines of what is an 'exterior' threat vs. one that is 'internal'. Those who question the Patriot Act would be right to question how the capabilities of NSA could be used on common US citizens. But the NSA is more secretive than any of the other intelligent agencies and what they do is far deeper in the shadows.
They can monitor mine all they want. As long as they catch bad guys it is fine with me.
I think it's a stretch, and a slippery slope...
Originally Posted by Know It All
I was always under the impression that free societies don't monitor their citizens' communications. For a website seemingly full of people who don't trust the government to do anything right, there sure seems to be an awful lot of assent to allowing Uncle Sam the capacity of getting in on a three-way call between you and your wife.
Absurd that they get away with this.