12 May 2006

Close Calls

April 6, 2006: Attorney General Alberto “Abu” Gonzales testifies
before the House Judiciary Committee.

The muckrakers at TPM posted this exchange with Rep. Gerald
Nadler (D-NY):

NADLER: Number two, can you assure us that
there is no warrantless surveillance of calls
between two Americans within the United States?

GONZALES: That is not what the president has

NADLER: Can you assure us that it's not being

GONZALES: As I indicated in response to an
earlier question, no technology is perfect.


GONZALES: We do have minimization procedures
in place...

NADLER: But you're not doing that deliberately?

GONZALES: That is correct.

May 11, 2006: USA Today publishes this article by Leslie Cauley.


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. But the spy agency
is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an
effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in
separate interviews.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the
world," said one person, who, like the others who
agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined
to be identified by name or affiliation. The
agency's goal is "to create a database of every
call ever made" within the nation's borders, this
person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means
that the government has detailed records of calls
they made -- across town or across the country
-- to family members, co-workers, business
contacts and others.

Quite a shocker, huh? Breaking the law and lying to
congress. Would never expect it from this gang -- not to
mention all those big, friendly phone companies.

Go Qwest, young man.

And if all that isn’t enough to get your blood boiling, go
read this post by Glenn Greenwald.

This continuous evasion of judicial review by the
administration is much more serious and
disturbing than has been discussed and realized.
By proclaiming the power to ignore Congressional
law and to do whatever it wants in the area of
national security, it is seizing the powers of the
legislative branch. But by blocking courts from
ruling on the multiple claims of illegality which
have been made against it, the administration is
essentially seizing the judicial power as well. It
becomes the creator, the executor, and the
interpreter of the law. And with that, the powers
of all three branches become consolidated in The
President, the single greatest nightmare of the

Sleep tight.