It seems like I’m the only one who cares about this, but I keep posting it to remind people how much our government has been abusing unnecessary powers granted by a bad law in response the the September 11th attack. As the subject title indicates, I’m talking about PATRIOT act abuse here. In particular, here’s the details on a news program which reviews some specific instances of illegal monitoring, data mining, and spying on American citizens.
“So many people in America think this does not affect them. They’ve been convinced that these programs are only targeted at suspected terrorists. … I think that’s wrong. … Our programs are not perfect, and it is inevitable that totally innocent Americans are going to be affected by these programs,” former CIA senior attorney Suzanne Spaulding tells FRONTLINE correspondent Hedrick Smith in Spying on the Home Front, airing Tuesday, May 15, 2007, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings) and available for viewing after broadcast at www.pbs.org/frontline .
. . .
President Bush described his anti-terrorist measures as narrow and targeted, but a FRONTLINE investigation has found that the National Security Agency (NSA) has engaged in wiretapping and sifting Internet communications of millions of Americans: The FBI conducted a data sweep on 250,000 Las Vegas vacationers, and along with more than 50 other agencies, they are mining commercial-sector data banks to an unprecedented degree, and they have even been assigning suspicion ratings to anyone who travels across a U.S. border.
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Although the president told the nation that his NSA eavesdropping program was limited to known Al Qaeda agents or supporters abroad making calls into the U.S., comments of other administration officials and intelligence veterans indicate that the NSA cast its net far more widely. AT&T technician Mark Klein inadvertently discovered that the whole flow of Internet traffic in several AT&T operations centers was being regularly diverted to the NSA, a charge indirectly substantiated by John Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the official legal memos legitimizing the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. Yoo told FRONTLINE: “The government needs to have access to international communications so that it can try to find communications that are coming into the country where Al Qaeda’s trying to send messages to cell members in the country. In order to do that, it does have to have access to communication networks.”
Spying on the Home Front also looks at a massive FBI data sweep in December 2003. On a tip that Al Qaeda “might have an interest in Las Vegas” around New Year’s 2004, the FBI demanded records from all hotels, airlines, rental car agencies, casinos and other businesses on every person who visited Las Vegas in the run-up to the holiday. Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas of Kansas City, Missouri, object to being caught in the FBI dragnet in Las Vegas just because they happened to get married there at the wrong moment. Says Douglas, “I’m sure that the government does a lot of things that I don’t know about, and I’ve always been OK with that–until I found out that I was included.”
And there is a lot more to the article. I will not be home to watch or record the program (and my wife has filled the DVR with Star Trek episodes…), but thanks to the great wonder that is the Internet, I’ll be downloading it and watching it later. (via Tingilinde)
[tags]Reviewing more PATRIOT act abuse, Looking inside government agency’s abuses of the PATRIOT act[/tags]