The British newspaper, “The Guardian” is reporting that the federal government is currently collecting the Verizon phone records of millions of US customers under the authority granted by the Patriot Act. The secret order was granted by the FISA court on April 25 and is good until July 19. The order requires Verizon “on an ongoing daily basis” to provide the government with information on all telephone calls in its system both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The scope of this order is startling and raises a number of questions.
Under this court order, the government is not targeting specific individuals who they may suspect of nefarious activity. This is a mammoth information dump that involves millions of Americans. Why?
The reporting only mentions Verizon customers. Have other telecommunications providers also been similarly served? Why?
This report focuses on telephone records. The broad scope of the surveillance raises the obvious question…what other personal records are being targeted? Is the government indiscrimanently watching our emails, twitter accounts, credit cards, electronic banking activity…all under the guise of national security?
We don’t mean to sound shocked and appalled because we are not. We predicted this government over reach would happen when congress passed the Patriot Act without reading it. You may recall that the Bush administration was conducting warrantless wiretaps until caught red handed by the press. The super secret FISA court was suppose to add a sense of legal propriety to the matter. But anyone who believed that a government caught with its pants down on 9/11 was going to back off was clearly naive.
We are not blaming the Bush administration. By all accounts the Obama administration has either continued or amped up virtually all of the Bush national security efforts that candidate Obama campaigned against.
Candidate Obama would be outraged over the activities of President Obama’s administration…seizing reporters’ phone records… IRS targeting conservative organizations…secret drone strikes which recently leaked classified reports show are carried out based on circumstantial evidence at best…and now the secret, indiscriminate seizure of millions of US citizens’ phone records.
Candidate Obama promised to return transparency, trust and accountability to the federal government.
Candidate Obama would say that President Obama has failed to keep his campaign promises.