"ALL CAPS IN DEFENSE OF LIBERTY IS NO VICE."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

RISEN & LICHTBLAU: NSA PROGRAM INTERCEPTED INTERNATIONAL CALLS OF AL QAEDA WITH 1.7 TEN-THOUSANDTHS OF A PER CENT OF THE U.S. PUBLIC

David Tell - writing for the editors of THE WEEKLY STANDARD - has penned a DEVASTATING analysis of the NYTIMES NSA LEAK. Here's an excerpt:
[According to the Risewn-Lichtblau NYTIMES article]... beginning in early 2002, the National Security Agency began monitoring telephone numbers and email addresses discovered in the computers, cell phones, and address books of captured al Qaeda operatives, and it has continued to do so, following resultant leads into an expanding, digital network of terrorism suspects. Even by Risen's account, an overwhelming majority of the program's targets are located overseas--currently "about 7,000 people" abroad, along with "about 500" other people they've contacted here in the States.

Just the same, because nowadays "many purely international communications--telephone calls and email messages from the Middle East to Asia, for example--end up going through telecommunications switches that are physically based in the United States," eavesdropping on any call so routed "might be a violation of the regulations and laws restricting the NSA from spying inside the United States."


...
Risen repeatedly calls the program "illegal," but offers not a single word of serious statutory or constitutional analysis to sustain the conclusion. He complains that, "for the first time since the Watergate-era abuses, the NSA is spying on Americans again, and on a large scale"--a reference, once more, to those 500 al Qaeda email buddies he's mentioned, who together represent 1.7 ten-thousandths of one percent of the U.S. population.

Shifting gears, Risen next raises alarm over the possibility that NSA could begin domestic spying on a large scale if it wanted to; "there seems to be no physical or logistical obstacle" preventing it at present. Neither does there seem to be any physical or logistical obstacle preventing NSA from sneaking into James Risen's bathroom and stealing his toothbrush, of course. The question remains: Why on earth would they want to?
RTWT.

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