New York Times: Telecoms Play Bigger Role In NSA Surveillance Than Previously Known

Via The New York Times:

For months, the Bush administration has waged a high-profile campaign, including personal lobbying by President Bush and closed-door briefings by top officials, to persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting companies from lawsuits for aiding the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime.

The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.

To detect narcotics trafficking, for example, the government has been collecting the phone records of thousands of Americans and others inside the United States who call people in Latin America, according to several government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. But in 2004, one major phone carrier balked at turning over its customers’ records. Worried about possible privacy violations or public relations problems, company executives declined to help the operation, which has not been previously disclosed. Read on...

This article has exposed even more Bush administration lies and confirmed what many of us have suspected for some time. It's not all about international terrorism. It appears the programs are being used for domestic crime fighting and there are more companies involved with the programs than previously revealed -- and the programs include capturing data that is strictly domestic. In other words, the very core of our judicial system appears to have been thrown out the window and we still have no idea how bad things really are.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is poised to roll over for President Bush and give telecommunications companies amnesty in the latest FISA legislation, but luckily, Senator Chris Dodd is ready to filibuster. In light of this newly revealed program, and the likelihood that they may run even deeper, amnesty should be completely out of the question. Write to Harry Reid or your Senator and tell them that telecom amnesty is not an option and that further oversight and investigation into these programs is needed before any FISA laws are passed.


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