Monday :: Feb 6, 2006

AT&T, MCI, And Sprint Allow NSA To Spy On Calls - Based On Verbal Requests Only

by Steve

The USAT runs a story today confirming that AT&T, MCI, and Sprint have all been giving the NSA access to their networks without warrants, based simply on a verbal request from the government. Previously, communication companies required warrants for taps and monitoring like this, but the story indicates that this is no longer the case. The story does say that the NSA uses a 48-point checklist, and if a suspect satisfies the requirements on that checklist, then either of two officials at the NSA then tells the communication companies that the government wants all communications to that phone number monitored. At no time in the process is a warrant pursued, even after the fact and after the person allegedly meets the 48-point criteria.

The NSA claims that the program has allowed them to actively monitor about 600 Americans inside the country, yet the Sunday Washington Post story from unnamed intelligence officials claims that this program has resulted in less than ten real leads a year for the last four years. There is a big difference between 600 and 50. Everyday Americans would have no problem with the government keeping track of the communications of 600 people running around this country, if these suspects meet the criteria on a 48-point checklist. And again, there is no reason why after meeting these criteria the Bush Administration can’t go to the FISA court and get warrants for such monitoring, yet according to the Post story it hasn’t done so.

But if only 50 of these folks who met the criteria from the 48-point checklist actually turned out to be solid leads, then you have to wonder about that checklist, and what the Bush Administration has done with the information on the other 500 or so that were flagged from that list. Again, they haven’t even gotten warrants on those 50 either, not to mention the fact that the Post story says the number flagged for monitoring isn’t 600, but rather more than 5,000. And what is the Bush Administration doing with those intercepts on those 5,000, aside from letting John Bolton have some of them?

And I suspect that AT&T, MCI, and Sprint will be seeing lawsuits now arising from their sharing of this information. But at least these three have gotten favorable treatment from this administration for the last five years, so such lawsuits would be the cost of doing business, right?

Steve :: 6:42 AM :: Comments (23) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!