Thursday, May 11, 2006

Invading Privacy Is The Entire Point

The authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope.

You know, despite Shrub's assurances to the contrary, a database of every domestic phone call ever made does seem unreasonably intrusive - especially after the token attempt at an enquiry was killed off by the very agency that was to be investigated. Worse, it smacks of Government by PHB's - where everyone is presumed guilty of something, and fear keeps all the peon's heads down.

Given a few degrees of seperation, everyone's connected to something hinky. In the absence of any real suspects, criminal investigators like to go fishing. This tool only makes it easier for them.

"Mr. Unpatriotic, government records indicate that last week you phoned your mother, who is in regular contact with her landscaper, who sends money home to his parents in San Salvador. Were you aware that his father's a member of a Communist party, and has a cousin with links to a known terrorist organization?"

This is how fascist societies are run, from governments to Wal-Mart. And the path from democracy to dictatorship is quite clearly laid out. The first step is removing the would-be dictator from any obligation to the law. It's a step Shrub has taken no fewer than 108 times in his first term alone. And dictatorship is, in fact, the point - domestic surveillance is useless for anything but exercising the Will to Control. The sad fact is that the Decider and his controllers possess it in abundance, and we - all of the rest of us - lack it.

A quick update - I see that General Michael Hayden, who's been tapped to lead the CIA after the unreported-upon sex-for-influence scandal, was a key instigator of the administration's wiretapping efforts. The tug-of-war between administration policy wonks and the legitimate intelligence community has been brought to an end.


Blogger Management said...

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
Updated 5/11/2006 10:38 AM ET
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.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: The NSA record collection program

"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.

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.

Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, declined to discuss the agency's operations. "Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operational issues; therefore, we have no information to provide," he said. "However, it is important to note that NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."

The White House would not discuss the domestic call-tracking program. "There is no domestic surveillance without court approval," said Dana Perino, deputy press secretary, referring to actual eavesdropping.

She added that all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government "are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists." All government-sponsored intelligence activities "are carefully reviewed and monitored," Perino said. She also noted that "all appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on the intelligence efforts of the United States."

The government is collecting "external" data on domestic phone calls but is not intercepting "internals," a term for the actual content of the communication, according to a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the program. This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for "social network analysis," the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.

Carriers uniquely positioned

AT&T recently merged with SBC and kept the AT&T name. Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T are the nation's three biggest telecommunications companies; they provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers.

The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans.

Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services — primarily long-distance and wireless — to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.

Created by President Truman in 1952, during the Korean War, the NSA is charged with protecting the United States from foreign security threats. The agency was considered so secret that for years the government refused to even confirm its existence. Government insiders used to joke that NSA stood for "No Such Agency."

In 1975, a congressional investigation revealed that the NSA had been intercepting, without warrants, international communications for more than 20 years at the behest of the CIA and other agencies. The spy campaign, code-named "Shamrock," led to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was designed to protect Americans from illegal eavesdropping.

Enacted in 1978, FISA lays out procedures that the U.S. government must follow to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches of people believed to be engaged in espionage or international terrorism against the United States. A special court, which has 11 members, is responsible for adjudicating requests under FISA.

Over the years, NSA code-cracking techniques have continued to improve along with technology. The agency today is considered expert in the practice of "data mining" — sifting through reams of information in search of patterns. Data mining is just one of many tools NSA analysts and mathematicians use to crack codes and track international communications.

Paul Butler, a former U.S. prosecutor who specialized in terrorism crimes, said FISA approval generally isn't necessary for government data-mining operations. "FISA does not prohibit the government from doing data mining," said Butler, now a partner with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.

The caveat, he said, is that "personal identifiers" — such as names, Social Security numbers and street addresses — can't be included as part of the search. "That requires an additional level of probable cause," he said.

The usefulness of the NSA's domestic phone-call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear. Also unclear is whether the database has been used for other purposes.

The NSA's domestic program raises legal questions. Historically, AT&T and the regional phone companies have required law enforcement agencies to present a court order before they would even consider turning over a customer's calling data. Part of that owed to the personality of the old Bell Telephone System, out of which those companies grew.

Ma Bell's bedrock principle — protection of the customer — guided the company for decades, said Gene Kimmelman, senior public policy director of Consumers Union. "No court order, no customer information — period. That's how it was for decades," he said.

The concern for the customer was also based on law: Under Section 222 of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers' calling habits: whom a person calls, how often and what routes those calls take to reach their final destination. Inbound calls, as well as wireless calls, also are covered.

The financial penalties for violating Section 222, one of many privacy reinforcements that have been added to the law over the years, can be stiff. The Federal Communications Commission, the nation's top telecommunications regulatory agency, can levy fines of up to $130,000 per day per violation, with a cap of $1.325 million per violation. The FCC has no hard definition of "violation." In practice, that means a single "violation" could cover one customer or 1 million.

In the case of the NSA's international call-tracking program, Bush signed an executive order allowing the NSA to engage in eavesdropping without a warrant. The president and his representatives have since argued that an executive order was sufficient for the agency to proceed. Some civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, disagree.

Companies approached

The NSA's domestic program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the sources. Right around that time, they said, NSA representatives approached the nation's biggest telecommunications companies. The agency made an urgent pitch: National security is at risk, and we need your help to protect the country from attacks.

The agency told the companies that it wanted them to turn over their "call-detail records," a complete listing of the calling histories of their millions of customers. In addition, the NSA wanted the carriers to provide updates, which would enable the agency to keep tabs on the nation's calling habits.

The sources said the NSA made clear that it was willing to pay for the cooperation. AT&T, which at the time was headed by C. Michael Armstrong, agreed to help the NSA. So did BellSouth, headed by F. Duane Ackerman; SBC, headed by Ed Whitacre; and Verizon, headed by Ivan Seidenberg.

With that, the NSA's domestic program began in earnest.

AT&T, when asked about the program, replied with a comment prepared for USA TODAY: "We do not comment on matters of national security, except to say that we only assist law enforcement and government agencies charged with protecting national security in strict accordance with the law."

In another prepared comment, BellSouth said: "BellSouth does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any governmental agency without proper legal authority."

Verizon, the USA's No. 2 telecommunications company behind AT&T, gave this statement: "We do not comment on national security matters, we act in full compliance with the law and we are committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy."

Qwest spokesman Robert Charlton said: "We can't talk about this. It's a classified situation."

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.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales alluded to that possibility. Appearing at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Gonzales was asked whether he thought the White House has the legal authority to monitor domestic traffic without a warrant. Gonzales' reply: "I wouldn't rule it out." His comment marked the first time a Bush appointee publicly asserted that the White House might have that authority.

Similarities in programs

The domestic and international call-tracking programs have things in common, according to the sources. Both are being conducted without warrants and without the approval of the FISA court. The Bush administration has argued that FISA's procedures are too slow in some cases. Officials, including Gonzales, also make the case that the USA Patriot Act gives them broad authority to protect the safety of the nation's citizens.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would not confirm the existence of the program. In a statement, he said, "I can say generally, however, that our subcommittee has been fully briefed on all aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. ... I remain convinced that the program authorized by the president is lawful and absolutely necessary to protect this nation from future attacks."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., declined to comment.

One company differs

One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest.

According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest's CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA's assertion that Qwest didn't need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers' information and how that information might be used.

Financial implications were also a concern, the sources said. Carriers that illegally divulge calling information can be subjected to heavy fines. The NSA was asking Qwest to turn over millions of records. The fines, in the aggregate, could have been substantial.

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as "product" in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.

The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard.

Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.

In June 2002, Nacchio resigned amid allegations that he had misled investors about Qwest's financial health. But Qwest's legal questions about the NSA request remained.

Unable to reach agreement, Nacchio's successor, Richard Notebaert, finally pulled the plug on the NSA talks in late 2004, the sources said.

Contributing: John Diamond

10:20 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Bush Says Spying Programs Don't Infringe on Privacy (Update3)

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said the government isn't ``trolling'' the private lives of Americans, as members of Congress demanded answers about a report that a U.S. intelligence agency is collecting millions of telephone records.

``The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities,'' Bush said today of operations to gather information about terrorists. ``We're not mining or trolling though the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.''

Bush made the unscheduled remarks after USA Today reported that AT&T Inc., BellSouth Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. secretly provided the phone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency. The agency, which collects and interprets electronic intelligence, has compiled a massive database with the information to detect patterns related to terrorist activity, the newspaper reported.

Bush didn't directly address the phone record collections, saying there are ``new claims about other ways we are tracking down al-Qaeda.'' He said NSA programs are ``lawful'' and that members of Congress have been briefed on the program.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said later the president ``is not confirming or denying'' the report by USA Today, which cited unnamed people familiar with the program.

U.S. intelligence agencies ``strictly target al-Qaeda and their known affiliates,'' Bush said, and the government ``does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.''


He criticized those who provided the news media with information about the NSA program.

``As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy,'' Bush said.

Before Bush's statement, the disclosure of the database drew a demand for an explanation from the Republican senator who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Arlen Specter said he would call executives from the telephone companies to testify before Congress about the relationship with the NSA and what sort of data was provided.

``I am determined to get to the bottom of this,'' Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said at the beginning of a committee hearing at the Capitol. Specter said he would subpoena the companies if they decline to appear before the committee voluntarily.

Representatives of the companies declined to comment except to say they acted in accordance with the law.

Hayden's Confirmation

The data collection may complicate Senate confirmation of Bush's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Air Force General Michael Hayden. Hayden already was facing scrutiny in Congress for his role in creating a surveillance program that involved NSA eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mails from within the U.S. to suspected terrorists overseas.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement that he hoped Hayden's confirmation hearings may be used to ``rebuild the public trust that America's security depends on.''

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, a member of the Judiciary panel, said Hayden ``has an obligation to let people know the outlines of the program and he will be asked that.''

Perino said Hayden's nomination ``has had a really good start'' and the response from senators has been ``positive.'' Confirmation hearings before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are scheduled to start next week.


The data collection is aimed at analyzing calling patterns to identify terrorist activity, USA Today reported. Like the eavesdropping, the so-called data mining was initiated after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks under Hayden's leadership at the NSA, the newspaper reported.

In testimony before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in October 2002, Hayden told lawmakers the NSA was creating partnerships with U.S. corporations ``to jointly develop a system to mine data that helps us learn about our targets.''

Martin Flaherty, a constitutional law expert at the Fordham University School of Law in New York, said that Bush may be pushing his constitutional limits.

``The Constitution does not provide the president with independent authority to take such action,'' Flaherty said in an emailed statement. ``The issues here are parallel to the all other NSA surveillance revelations and push the bounds of constitutionality.''

Bush's approval rating plunged to 31 percent of respondents approve in a New York Time CBS News poll yesterday, a record low, while 63 percent disapprove. The survey May 4-8 of 1,241 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Roger Runningen in Washington at;
Brendan Murray in Washington at

Last Updated: May 11, 2006 15:03 EDT

10:21 PM  
Blogger Management said...

NSA Sweep "Waste of Time," Analyst Says

It'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But what if it's not working at all? A leading practitioner of the kind of analysis the NSA is supposedly performing in this surveillance program says that "it's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free."

Re-reading the USA Today piece, one paragraph jumped out:

This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for 'social network analysis,' the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.

So I called Valdis Krebs, who's considered by many to be the leading authority on social network analysis -- the art and science of finding the important connections in a seemingly-impenetrable mass of data. His analysis of the social network surrounding the 9/11 hijackers is a classic in the field.

Here's what Krebs had to say about the newly-revealed NSA program that aims to track "every call ever made": "If you're looking for a needle, making the haystack bigger is counterintuitive. It just doesn't make sense."

"Certain people are more suspicious than others," he adds. They make frequent trips back-and-forth to Afghanistan, for instance. "So you start with them. And you work two steps out. If none of those people are connected, you don't have a cell. Because if one was there, you'd find some clustering. You don't have to collect all the data in the world to do that."

The right thing to do is to look for the best haystack, not the biggest haystack. We knew exactly which haystack to look at in the year 2000 [before the 9/11 attacks]. We just didn't do it...

The worst part -- the thing that's most disappointing to me -- is that this is not the right way to do this. It's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free.

UPDATE 2:30 PM: Shane Harris broke this story, in broad strokes, back in March, Patrick reminds us. Harris also offers a possible explanation for some of the NSA program's massive size:

To find meaningful patterns in transactional data, analysts need a lot of it. They must set baselines about what constitutes "normal" behavior versus "suspicious" activity. Administration officials have said that the NSA doesn't intercept the contents of a communication unless officials have a "reasonable" basis to conclude that at least one party is linked to a terrorist organization.

To make any reasonable determination like that, the agency needs hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of call records, preferably as soon as they are created, said a senior person in the defense industry who is familiar with the NSA program and is an expert in the analytical tools used to find patterns and connections. Asked if this means that the NSA program is much broader and less targeted than administration officials have described, the expert replied, "I think that's correct."

Harris also fingers a likely program set of research efforts to help the NSA better comb through all this data: "Novel Intelligence from Massive Data," or NIMD. Its goal is to develop "techniques and tools that assist analysts not only in dealing with massive data, but also in interactively making explicit - and modifying and updating - their current analytic (cognitive) state, which includes not only their hypotheses, but also their knowledge, interests, and biases."

You'll be shocked to hear that NIMD's website has been taken offline. But you can find Goggle caches about the program here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE 5:19 PM: "To me, it's pretty clear that the people working on this program aren't as smart as they think they are," says former Air Force counter-terrorist specialist John Robb. "Some top level thinking indicates that this will quickly become a rat hole for federal funds (due to wasted effort) and a major source of infringement of personal freedom." John gives a bunch of reasons why. Here's just one:

It will generate oodles of false positives. Al Qaeda is now in a phase where most domestic attacks will be generated by people not currently connected to the movement (like we saw in the London bombings). This means that in many respects they will look like you and me until they act. The large volume of false positives generated will not be hugely inefficient, it will be a major infringement on US liberties. For example, a false positive will likely get you automatically added to a no-fly list, your boss may be visited (which will cause you to lose your job), etc.

UPDATE 6:23 PM: And now, the rebuttal. I just got off the phone with a source who has extensive experience in these matters. And he disagrees, strongly, with Krebs and Robb.

Really, the source said, there are two approaches to whittling down massive amounts of information: limiting what you search from the beginning -- or taking absolutely everything in, and sifting through it afterwards. In his experience, the source said, the approach of using "brute force... not optimally, not smartly" on the front end, and "cleaning [the data] up later" worked the best. Often times, other people don't know what you're searching for (or they don't have the same super-slick data-mining algorithms you've got). Better just to get it all.

In everything from speech analysis to sensor fusion, he argued, when you've got a weak signal masked by a lot of noise, "more data seems to be the answer... More data is what's going to allow you to get to ground truth."

Of course, there's a price to pay with this approach: a ton of false alarms. Several stages of filtering should fix that, he argued. Besides, "it's not like you call the FBI every time you get a hit."

Think of it as the Google approach. Wouldn't you rather have everything available on the search engine, and then do queries yourself?

10:27 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Alito Once Made Case For Presidential Power

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 2, 2006; A11

As a young Justice Department lawyer, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. tried to help tip the balance of power between Congress and the White House a little more in favor of the executive branch.

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration, like other White Houses before and after, chafed at the reality that Congress's reach on the meaning of laws extends beyond the words of statutes passed on Capitol Hill. Judges may turn to the trail of statements lawmakers left behind in the Congressional Record when trying to glean the intent behind a law. The White House left no comparable record.

In a Feb. 5, 1986, draft memo, Alito, then deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, outlined a strategy for changing that. It laid out a case for having the president routinely issue statements about the meaning of statutes when he signs them into law.

Such "interpretive signing statements" would be a significant departure from run-of-the-mill bill signing pronouncements, which are "often little more than a press release," Alito wrote. The idea was to flag constitutional concerns and get courts to pay as much attention to the president's take on a law as to "legislative intent."

"Since the president's approval is just as important as that of the House or Senate, it seems to follow that the president's understanding of the bill should be just as important as that of Congress," Alito wrote. He later added that "by forcing some rethinking by courts, scholars, and litigants, it may help to curb some of the prevalent abuses of legislative history."

The Reagan administration popularized the use of such statements and subsequent administrations continued the practice. (The courts have yet to give them much weight, though.)

President Bush has been especially fond of them, issuing at least 108 in his first term, according to presidential scholar Phillip J. Cooper of Portland State University in Oregon. Many of Bush's statements rejected provisions in bills that the White House regarded as interfering with its powers in national security, intelligence policy and law enforcement, Cooper wrote recently in the academic journal Presidential Studies Quarterly.

The Bush administration "has very effectively expanded the scope and character of the signing statement not only to address specific provisions of legislation that the White House wishes to nullify, but also in an effort to significantly reposition and strengthen the powers of the presidency relative to the Congress," Cooper wrote in the September issue. "This tour d' force has been carried out in such a systematic and careful fashion that few in Congress, the media, or the scholarly community are aware that anything has happened at all."

Bush may be acting without fanfare for a reason. As Alito noted in his memo, the statements "will not be warmly welcomed" on Capitol Hill.

"The novelty of the procedure and the potential increase of presidential power are two factors that may account for this anticipated reaction," he wrote. "In addition, and perhaps most important, Congress is likely to resent the fact that the president will get in the last word on questions of interpretation."

10:28 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Hayden Nomination Raises Serious Civil Liberties Concerns (5/8/2006)


Senate Must Ask Tough Questions of Controversial Nominee

WASHINGTON -- Following the announcement that President Bush will nominate General Michael V. Hayden to be the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union urged the Senate to vigorously question the nominee on his involvement with the warrantless program to spy on Americans. Hayden was the director of the National Security Agency when this illegal program was launched in 2001 and has been one the chief defenders of these actions in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Foriegn Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The ACLU is a non-partisan organization, and takes no official position on the nomination of any cabinet-level appointees.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:

"The appointment of General Hayden is the latest example of President Bush giving promotions to those who have led the greatest attacks on our Constitution and fundamental freedoms. This administration continues to demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law and our core civil liberties and civil rights. We hope that the Senate will use this opportunity to break through the administration's stonewalling about the illegal program to spy on Americans without any check. Lawmakers and the American people have a right to know how many people have had their private conversations monitored.

"Hayden's approval of warrantless surveillance on Americans raises serious questions about whether the CIA would be further unleashed on the American public. It was under General Hayden's watch that the NSA started to wiretap Americans, without court or Congress' approval, even though the FISA Court acts quickly to review requests for intelligence investigations. Those who oversee our nation's intelligence agencies must have the highest respect and regard for our Constitution -- not the blatant disregard that individuals like General Hayden have shown. This is also an opportunity for Senators to demand the CIA to disclose its operations that may have run afoul of the Constitution and other federal laws - the practice of extraordinary rendition, the torture and abuse of prisoners and the use of 'black sites,' or secret prisons operated overseas. We encourage the Senate to fully investigate this nominee."

For more on the ACLU's concerns with the warrantless NSA spying program, go to:

10:33 PM  

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