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Media Attacks NSA With Five Month Old Story

From the laughable USA Today:

NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls

By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

"It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency’s goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation’s borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.

The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the NSA program is secret.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, nominated Monday by President Bush to become the director of the CIA, headed the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005. In that post, Hayden would have overseen the agency’s domestic call-tracking program. Hayden declined to comment about the program.

The NSA’s domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA’s efforts to create a national call database." …

Thirty-nine (39) paragraphs later in this risible story, USA Today finally gets around to mentioning:

In December, The New York Times revealed that Bush had authorized the NSA to wiretap, without warrants, international phone calls and e-mails that travel to or from the USA. The following month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T. The lawsuit accuses the company of helping the NSA spy on U.S. phone customers.

This knee-jerk and undoubtedly frivolous lawsuit by EFF (and of course the America-hating ACLU ) is the basis of this USA Today report. One suspects that every one of USA Today’s "sources" is either from the EFF or the ACLU.

But that’s okay. The public doesn’t need to know such minor details. Meanwhile, every other outlet for our one party media is following USA Today’s lead and doing their own variations on this old, non-story.

After all, the DNC says that Michael Hayden must be smeared. And it is job of their hirelings in the media to find a way to do that. Even if it means relying upon some five month old story, which is based on a fishing expedition lawsuit.

Why is it a non-story? Note this minor and soon forgotten concession:

This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

This is what is known as Signals Analysis. It is not Communications Intelligence or COMINT.

COMINT is the interception and analysis of the content of communications. Despite what the New York Times and the other intelligence mavens in the media claim, Signals Analysis is not "eavesdropping."

And yet this is what the New York Times breathlessly reported, six months ago:

Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts

Published: December 16, 2005

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 – Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches…

That New York Times article goes on to mention eavesdropping t wenty two times. But in actuality, Signals Analysis has nothing whatsoever to do with eavesdropping.

Signals Analysis makes no attempt to gain intelligence value via the contents of a message. It looks instead at the volumes and patterns of messages. It is a means of identifying networks of communicants.

But led by their masters at The Times, our America-hating one party media has continued to insist that NSA is eavesdropping on every domestic phone call.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, May 11th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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