Despite repeated claims by members of the elected class and government functionaries that the USA Patriot Act was designed to catch “terrorists” and was not being used to spy on Americans, the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon. The records include both local calls and those made to people abroad.
The UK Guardian obtained a copy of an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) requiring Verizon to divulge to the NSA its customer metadata from April 25, 2013 until July 19, 2013. The order directs Verizon to produce on a daily basis information that includes “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.
Of course, this is not new. In 2006 USA Today reported the NSA had been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans using AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth as part of a secret program implemented by President George W. Bush that saw the collection of domestic telephone, Internet and email records. Senator Dian Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says the program has been going on for years and regularly renewed. But Obama has apparently taken it further than Bush ever did.
“Under the Bush administration, the Guardian writes, “officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.
“The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa (sic) court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.”
Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have been issuing cryptic warnings about the regime’s surveillance activities for nearly two years but the classified nature of the information has prohibited them from being specific. In a letter to Attorney Criminal Eric Holder last year, the pair argued that “there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows.”
The practice goes far beyond Orwellian and violates the NSA’s original mandate that its surveillance activities would be focused on foreign threats and it would not turn its surveillance apparatus on U.S. citizens.
Of course, the government knows who the terrorists are because, typically, they are FBI or CIA creations. This unConstitutional breach of trust is another brewing scandal for Barack Obama and his lawless regime that continually doubles down on the very policies of the Bush Administration that Obama condemned as a Senator and a candidate.