Print 50 comment(s) - last by BRB29.. on Jun 10 at 9:59 AM

Meanwhile Verizon Wireless spins its wheels looking to minimize brand damage

The Obama administration, which pens such promises as "Government Should be Transparent", offered nary a hint that up to 121 million Americans (on Verizon's network) could be being spied on a "daily basis" under court order by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).  The revelation of its massive, secret, and utterly non-transparent domestic snooping program leaked via a British newspaper -- The Guardian.

I. Some (D)s and (R)s Have Obama's Back on Spying Issue

In the wake of the administration's latest scandal, some U.S. Senators are defending the program, which allows the NSA to spy on law abiding citizens en masse without obtaining separate warrants.  The ranking Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence both praised the program as "lawful" and said the intelligence agencies had briefed Congress on their actions, which were kept secret from the citizens who voted them into office.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) comments, "As far as I know this is the exact three month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court under the business records section of the Patriot Act.  Therefore it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress.  [Terrorists] will come after us if they can and the only thing that we have to deter this is good intelligence to understand that a plot has been hatched and to get there before they get to us"

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Geor.) comments, "This is nothing new.  It has proved meritorious because we have gathered significant information on bad guys and only on bad guys over the years."

Dianne Feinstein
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D; left) and Saxby Chambliss (R) both endorse the massive spying program. [Image Source: AP]

He dismisses the data collected -- such as locations of citizens and the numbers they call -- as "simply" metadata.

The Senators comments offer a hint of truth -- the program is thought to have been going on since 2006, when it first leaked in a USA Today report.  At the time it was merely a rumor -- no court order had leaked in full.  Some dismissed the report as "paranoia".  Today we know it to be accurate, thanks to more leaks.

II. Others on Both Sides are Outraged

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) have taken a far different view of the program, which they were legally unable to discuss until now under government secrecy laws.  In a 2012 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Sens. Wyden and Udall complain, "We believe that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted [the PATRIOT Act]."

Ron Paul debates Obama
Ron Paul says that the spying was "certainly not patriotic" and was a victory for terrorists.
[Image Source: AP]

Rep. Ron Paul, a long time advocate for Constitutional freedoms, issued a statement condemning the program:

I wish I could say I was shocked at the reports the NSA is secretly spying on the private phone calls of millions of Verizon customers. However, this is a predictable result of a government that continues to erode our liberties while promising some glimmering hope of security.

The Fourth Amendment is clear; it says we should be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, and that all warrants must have probable cause.

I opposed and continue to oppose the Patriot Act because I believe it throws the Fourth Amendment right out the window. It is certainly not patriotic to support warrantless wiretaps, blanket ‘metadata’ collection, and spying on innocent American citizens.

Unfortunately, what is worse than the reports, is knowing that politicians of both parties will continue to defend this practice as necessary to supposedly keep us ‘safe’. We do not have to sacrifice our liberties for security. At times like this, the question must be asked, ‘if we are willing to change our way of life and our very definition of freedom while tolerating the invasive searches at our airports and now of our phone calls, have the terrorists already won?

The seizures were authorized by the Oct. 2001 USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act, and the Bush administration repurposed the NSA to its new role of spying on Americans.  Specifically the "business records" (50 U.S.C. § 1861) section of the PATRIOT Act gave the feds the ammo to seize these records from the private sector.

Experts close to Congress say that hearings on the topic will likely be held, but they are unlikely to dent the steel facade of the PATRIOT Act.  Ultimately, they expect the issue to die down as citizens grow accustomed to the new reality that they are being monitored.

III. Verizon Confirms Snooping Occurred

Another major development was Verizon Wireless -- the joint subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc.'s (LON:VOD) -- issuing an internal statement aimed at damage control.

In a "private" memo to employees, which of course leaked, the Verizon general counsel Randy Milch comments:

You may have seen stories in the news about a top secret order Verizon allegedly received to produce certain calling information to the U.S. Government.

We have no comment on the accuracy of The Guardian newspaper story or the documents referenced, but a few items in these stories are important. The alleged court order that The Guardian published on its website contains language that compels Verizon to respond, forbids Verizon from revealing the order’s existence and excludes from production the ‘content of any communication … or the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer.'

But Verizon gives as close as it legally can to a confirmation, writing:

[If we] were to receive such an order, we would be required to comply.

Verizon is reportedly irked at the Obama administration for potentially damaging its business due to the report that singles it out in the spying scandal.  The nation's largest carrier is reportedly circling its wagons, pressuring administration officials to give some sort of a public show of support to the carrier.

Verizon executives
Verizon is pushing the feds to defend its image. [Image Source: Julie Jacobson/AP]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is already examining ways to bring legal actions against the government.  The EFF's Cindy Cohn comments, "Nothing in the PATRIOT Act says that millions of innocent Americans can have their phone records turned over to the government."

Sources: CNN, Ron Paul, EFF

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By StevoLincolnite on 6/7/2013 7:45:28 AM , Rating: 5
The US Government should be ashamed of itself, it really should.

I think I speak for many when I say that it's really not surprising though, doesn't stop it from being wrong.

Now, would you guys vote in Ron Paul? We will have him if you don't want him!

RE: .
By GulWestfale on 6/7/2013 7:52:15 AM , Rating: 5

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

RE: .
By wempa on 6/7/2013 9:42:22 AM , Rating: 5
It's amazing how many people dismiss Ron Paul as being some crazy old man. So many things he has been warning us about for years are happening right before our eyes ...... the Fed and the destruction of the dollar, the government backed mortgages, the Patriot Act just to name a few. Instead of getting somebody in office who actually wants to tackle the real problems, we get to vote for 1 of 2 different clowns based upon who puts on the best show and nothing really changes. It's pathetic.

RE: .
By carigis on 6/7/13, Rating: -1
RE: .
By ClownPuncher on 6/7/2013 11:58:31 AM , Rating: 5
He would not dismantle the military. He would just stop invading and occupying other countries.

RE: .
By wempa on 6/10/2013 9:04:28 AM , Rating: 2

Sure, some of them are pretty radical. However, when you listen to the full explanation, a lot of them don't seem so radical. For example, he would love to completely eliminate the federal income tax. Sounds crazy, right ? However, he points out that all other taxes/fees/tariffs collected by the government are equal to the entire 1997 federal budget. So, we could drop the federal income tax entirely and still have enough money to fund the government from 15 years ago. Obviously, this is still a very radical approach, but it still goes to show you that eliminating federal income tax is not as radical as it seems.

RE: .
By BRB29 on 6/10/2013 9:58:28 AM , Rating: 3
umm.... that's a dream.
1997 federal budget = 1.5 trillion
2013 federal budget = 3.6+ trillion

You also forget the whole macro economics cycle. A very large part of our GDP is government spending, repaying bonds that banks bought, etc...
If you take away federal income tax, you can kiss your money good bye as it will be inflated faster than the Yen. The whole money system and perceived "value" is based on a circular system of debts. There is nothing backing up our currency besides debt.

If you don't believe me then look up the Federal Reserve balance sheet.
Reserve Bank credit 3,349,794
Mortgage-backed securities (4) 1,164,975

that means out of 3.35trillion, 1.165 of it is worthless "securities" from that real estate meltdown. The feds saved the banking systems from going under by buying up all the worthless securities. They will probably never even get 10% of that money back but it saved the economy.

In short, that 3.35trillion is backing up the dollar bill you have in your wallet. 1.165 trillion of it is worthless or next to worthless. So 100% of the value the dollar is debt. ~30% of that debt is not even legit.

The whole global economy is based on debt. That is the value of any currency. What value you think you have is the perceived value of debt and faith in repayment. For the US, the dollar's value is in government bonds or IOUs. Its value holds up as long as the US government has good credit in its ability to pay back the bond purchasers.

RE: .
By BRB29 on 6/7/13, Rating: 0
RE: .
By espaghetti on 6/8/2013 10:01:06 PM , Rating: 4
What conspiracy? If you are missing what is going on when it's in black and white, right in front of your eyes, then what will it take?
ring ring....wake up.

RE: .
By Chaser on 6/7/13, Rating: -1
RE: .
By BansheeX on 6/9/2013 1:11:21 AM , Rating: 3
Earmarking money AFTER voting against the appropriation of it isn't hypocritical. If he doesn't earmark after losing said vote, the money will simply go to another district and not his. Why would he do that?

This is the type of deeper thinking that libertarians exhibit and average people simply cannot grasp. It's the same in economics when people blame banks and wall street, but not the original sin of the federal reserve that enables it. If I'm a business competing with other businesses, I could be opposed to stimulus. But if I don't take gambles with cheap money on projects the government wants stimulated, my competitors surely will. Businesses are there to follow signals in the market as affected by government, not crush their shareholders in noble defiance of financial engineering. Hell, as long as you get big enough, the better more risk becomes. That's the precedent now.

RE: .
By wempa on 6/10/2013 8:55:59 AM , Rating: 3

^^^ This

Ron Paul clearly explains this in his books.

RE: .
By Samus on 6/7/2013 2:33:49 PM , Rating: 1
Ron Paul brings to the table what most politicians don't. Experience. I like Obama, but he doesn't have the experience to run the world. And that is exactly what the United States President's responsibility has been since World War 2.

Gary Johnson was the only other person I considered as an alternative to Ron Paul for President. In a perfect society, it would have been one of them, but it came down to McCain and Obama, and McCain screwed up at every corner. Then it came down to (somehow) Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Given the choices, I see how Obama won (because the alternatives were so bad.) Put Obama up directly against Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, and things would work themselves out if Americans would just listen.

RE: .
By BRB29 on 6/7/2013 2:47:33 PM , Rating: 3
Ron Paul would still lose hands down because he is terrible at public speaking. People find him boring and uninspiring. he gives off no energy. He looks like he's about to die.

RE: .
By ebakke on 6/7/2013 3:00:23 PM , Rating: 3
I'm confused. You think Paul and Johnson are qualified to be President, and Obama is not. Yet you like Obama. Ok, cool.

But like him in what context? Clearly not as a President. Do you like him in the sense that he seems like a "nice guy" to you? Do you like his policies? You listed 3 people where Obama is clearly the odd man out in terms of political ideologies. Curious what it is about him that you like.

RE: .
By rountad on 6/7/2013 5:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe it's because he looks like he knows how to handle one of those shovel-ready jobs.

RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2013 6:53:39 PM , Rating: 1
Given the choices, I see how Obama won (because the alternatives were so bad.) Put Obama up directly against Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, and things would work themselves out if Americans would just listen.


Obama's first-term record was about as bad as you can get. You're joking if you don't think Romney was a valid alternative to Obama. Come on.

I remember when I used to think this way. Then I saw the light. The problem isn't the candidates, the problem IS the voters. It doesn't matter who you throw in the mix, the low-information voter is now the majority.

The first time around, okay fine, I can see why so many were drawn to Obama. But to reelect him? Nah, that's not on Romney or anyone else. That's all on the people.

To believe Gary Johnson or Ron Paul wouldn't get buried in a landslide against Obama with the quality of voter we have today? Just..lawl.

RE: .
By BRB29 on 6/10/2013 9:59:18 AM , Rating: 3
Voters can't blame themselves lol. That's like fat girls looking in the mirror telling themselves the truth.

RE: .
By Ammohunt on 6/8/2013 9:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
Now, would you guys vote in Ron Paul?

Never! The libertarian platform is dangerous! as a conservative I would never vote for anarchy.

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