As public sentiment turns against the recent revelations of intrusive surveillance by the Obama administration, we are hearing even Democrat Congresscritters saying that there are other shoes to drop.
Meanwhile, I want to raise an issue that I just raised in pair of comments: what is the extant evidence that what Obama is doing is different from what Bush did? I compared Bush and Obama to one another in a post this morning, and got some blowback from folks saying that Obama’s actions are unprecedented.
I’d be willing to believe it. But what I want to know is: what is the evidence for that?
After all, the Glenn Greenwald article that broke the phone metadata story said:
The NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by President Bush on 4 October 2001, implemented a bulk collection program of domestic telephone, internet and email records. A furore erupted in 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth” and was “using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity.” Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program.
And that seems to check out. According to this USA Today article from 2006, Bush did have such a 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.
In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. “In other words,” Bush explained, “one end of the communication must be outside the United States.”
As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.
Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers’ names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA’s domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.
Can anyone explain to me if this article was shown to be wrong, or if I am misreading it in some way?
Perhaps you could say the sourcing for the USA Today article was anonymous. Mr. Snowden has a name, but he also appears to have lied about his compensation, made implausible claims about his experience, and made absurd-sounding claims about his access.
The problem with this story is that there seems to be a lot we don’t know.