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Friday, December 16, 2005

Spying on Americans

J. Edgar Hoover

I remember Nixon's FBI of the late 60's and early 70's (actually J. Edgar Hover's FBI) spying on Americans who were against the war, or just "different." In fact, after the FOIA Act came along, it was a cool exercise to get one's FBI file to see what kind of outlandish info they kept on you. I thought those days were over.

But not with the most paranoid and secretive administration in history, as Bill Moyers has pointed out. President Bush let loose the NSA snoop dogs himself in a 2002 secret executive order, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

J. Edgar Bush

MSNBC has the story:

NEW YORK - The National Security Agency has eavesdropped, without warrants, on as many 500 people inside the United States at any given time since 2002, The New York Times reported Friday.

That year, following the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people inside the United States, the Times reported.

Before the program began, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations. Overseas, 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time.


But some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said. Questions about the legality of the program led the administration to temporarily suspend it last year and impose new restrictions.

Condi Rice pushed back this morning on the Today show and, shock of shocks, defended the president's secret order.

"I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters,” she told NBC’s “Today” show. But Rice did say that President Bush “has always said he would do everything he can to protect the American people, but within the law, and with due regard for civil liberties because he takes seriously his responsibility.”

"The president acted lawfully in every step that he has taken,” Rice said, “to defend the American people and to defend the people within his constitutional responsibility."

The ACLU has chimed in:

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the group’s initial reaction to the NSA disclosure was “shock that the administration has gone so far in violating American civil liberties to the extent where it seems to be a violation of federal law.”

Asked about the administration’s contention that the eavesdropping has disrupted terrorist attacks, Fredrickson said the ACLU couldn’t comment until it sees some evidence. “They’ve veiled these powers in secrecy so there’s no way for Congress or any independent organizations to exercise any oversight.”

This comes on the heals of last week's revelations that a Pentagon database established to organize information about threats to the military, contained personal data about American citizens who the Pentagon now admits were no threat to the military at all.

I've often wondered if this little blog is on some Bush list somewhere and is catagorized as a "threat to America." If you are reading this, FBI, this blog IS America.

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