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'Beyond Orwellian': Outrage Follows Revelations of Vast Domestic Spying Program

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, americans, congress, cover-up, corruption, dishonesty, ethics, freedoms Govtfearmongering, lies, media, politics, propaganda, Spying )

- 2173 days ago -
FISA court order 'broadest surveillance order ever issued' against private citizens. Americans should be outraged!


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Kit B (276)
Friday June 7, 2013, 5:11 am
Mock NSA logo Common Dreams

As government officials and Verizon itself responded to the Guardian's NSA domestic spying story throughout the day, concern over the program's scope and implications only deepened among its army of critics.

Responding to the news report, Sen. Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, acknowledged that she has been well aware of the NSA's collecting of vast amounts of personal phone record data, but said the practice was totally "legal."

Verizon acknowledged the program as well, but said the order gave it no choice but to comply.

The only thing of concern to Sen. Feinstein, who demanded an investigation into the source of the leak, seemed to be finding the individual who passed the FISA Court order to the Guardian in the first place.

Responding to Feinstein's comments, the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, part of the team who broke the story, tweeted:

**Screen Shot of actual Tweet at VISIT SITE**

Meanwhile, the Obama White House defended the program saying the ability to obtain records of every domestic phone call made in the US was simply "a critical tool" that allows the intelligence community to know when terrorists or suspected terrorists are engaging in dangerous activities.

But civil liberty groups say the program is an example of 'Orwellian' overeach, and the ACLU has started an online petition calling for an end to "the massive spying on the American people."

Within hours of launching the campaign the group had already collected nearly four thousands names and looked poised to quickly capture its five thousand signature target.

In part, the petition reads:

Verizon Business Network Services is one of the nation’s largest telecommunications and internet providers for corporations, so this could apply to the calls of millions of Americans.

What we don't know yet is how many other telecommunications companies have been issued similar orders by the government or what the scope of the government's program is.

In 2012, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote, “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they are going to be stunned and they are going to be angry.”

It's time to get angry. Be part of a strong public outcry against this program by signing the petition immediately and telling your friends so they know what's happening in this country.


Outrage and rebuke are flying after explosive news broke late Wednesday that the National Security Agency, claiming authority under the Patriot Act and using a secret court order, has demanded (and been receiving) millions of phone records from Verizon which include all the company's "telephony metadata" for all its US-based customers over a three month period.

The "metadata" being provided to the NSA does not provide individual names for each record, but is a blanket order that allows the government spy agency access to all call information for any Verizon Business Network Services customer, including the phone dialed from and to, the location from which the call was made, and the duration of the call.

Civil rights groups, privacy advocates, and others expressed shock at the extent of the order signed by the government's secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian newspaper.

Breaking the story, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald said the document shows "for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."

Though the Guardian report contains only one order from the FISA Court covering a set period, most experts agree that the program has likely been going on for years without disclosure.

Articulating the revelations in plain language, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cindy Cohn and Mark Rofuld explain that the "order gave the NSA a record of every Verizon customer’s call history -- every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other 'identifying information' for the phone and call—from April 25, 2013 (the date the order was issued) to July 19, 2013. The order does not require content or the name of any subscriber and is issued under 50 USC sec.1861, also known as section 215 of the Patriot Act."

More worrisome, write the EFF staffers is that no indications exist "that this order to Verizon was unique or novel."

"It is very likely that business records orders like this exist for every major American telecommunication company," they continued. "If you make calls in the United States, the NSA has those records. And this has been going on for at least 7 years, and probably longer."

The reaction was harsh and swift, with the ACLU and others calling for an immediate halt to the program and a large scale investigation.

What follows is a sampling of the responses from those deeply troubled—if not wholly surprised—by the program.

ACLU Calls for End to Program, Disclosure of Program’s Scope, Congressional Investigation:

"From a civil liberties perspective, the program could hardly be any more alarming. It’s a program in which some untold number of innocent people have been put under the constant surveillance of government agents," said Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director. "It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies."

The program was put in place under the Patriot Act’s Section 215, a controversial provision that authorizes the government to seek secret court orders for the production of "any tangible thing" relevant to a foreign-intelligence or terrorism investigation. Recipients of Section 215 orders, such as telecommunications companies, are prohibited from disclosing that they gave the government their customers’ records.

"Now that this unconstitutional surveillance effort has been revealed, the government should end it and disclose its full scope, and Congress should initiate a full investigation," said Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "This disclosure also highlights the growing gap between the public’s and the government’s understandings of the many sweeping surveillance authorities enacted by Congress. Since 9/11, the government has increasingly classified and concealed not just facts, but the law itself. Such extreme secrecy is inconsistent with our democratic values of open government and accountability."

Center for Constitutional Rights calls it "broadest surveillance order ever issued":

As far as we know this order from the FISA court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon subscribers anywhere in the U.S. It also contains a gag order prohibiting Verizon from disclosing information about the order to anyone other than their counsel.

The Patriot Act’s incredibly broad surveillance provision purportedly authorizes an order of this sort, though its constitutionality is in question and several senators have complained about it. The Patriot Act provision requires the FBI to notify Congress about the number of such warrants, but this single order covering millions of people is a deceptive end-run around that disclosure requirement.

Electronic Frontier Foundation says NSA should "stop hiding behind legal privileges":

This type of untargeted, wholly domestic surveillance is exactly what EFF, and others have been suing about for years. In 2006, USA Today published a story disclosing that the NSA had compiled a massive database of call records from American telecommunications companies. Our case, Jewel v. NSA, challenging the legality of the NSA’s domestic spying program, has been pending since 2008, but it's predecessor, Hepting v. AT&T filed in 2006, alleged the same surveillance. In 2011, on the 10th Anniversary of the Patriot Act, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice for records about the government’s use of Section 215 – the legal authority the government was relying on to perform this type of untargeted surveillance. [...]

The American people have confirmed how the government has secretly interpreted Section 215. And we’re angry. It’s time to stop hiding behind legal privileges and to come clean about Section 215 and FISA. It’s time to start the national dialogue about our rights in the digital age. And it’s time to end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance program.

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), a member of the Senate Intelligence committee who has publicly, though "vaguely," warned about such a program responded to the news by telling CNET:

"While I cannot corroborate the details of this particular report, this sort of widescale surveillance should concern all of us and is the kind of government overreach I've said Americans would find shocking. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, it's why I will keep fighting for transparency and appropriate checks on the surveillance of Americans."

Former US Vice President Al Gore tweeted:
**See screen shot of Tweet at VISIT SITE

Guardian columnist James Ball details what "metadata" is and what authorities can learn about you from accessing such data through phone records:

The primary purpose of large-scale databases such as the NSA's call records is generally said to be data-mining: rather than examining individuals, algorithms are used to find patterns of unusual activity that may mark terrorism or criminal conspiracies.

However, collection and storage of this information gives government a power it's previously lacked: easy and retroactive surveillance.

If authorities become interested in an individual at a later stage, and obtain their number, officials can look back through the data and gather their movements, social network, and more – possibly for several years (although the secret court order only allows for three months of data collection).

In essence, you're being watched; the government just doesn't know your name while it's doing it.

Until now, such actions have been kept a tightly guarded and classified secret, speculated upon, suspected, and occasionally disclosed by sources, but never proven by documents.

Now the confirmation is in the open, the American public have the opportunity to decide which definition of private information they prefer: that of the privacy advocates, or that of the NSA and White House.
*****Current Tweets may be seen at VISIT SITE***

By: Jon Queally, staff writer | Common Dreams Magazine |

pam w (139)
Friday June 7, 2013, 8:47 am
VERY disturbing!

Billie C (2)
Friday June 7, 2013, 11:06 am
that so called court they use is nothing more than i sign it and go they have not denied any requests.
everyday more of our rights disappear. time to stop it.
i don't have a cell phone but they are also tapping into the wired phone systems. if you use a phone or the internet they are tracking you.

Darren Woolsey (218)
Friday June 7, 2013, 12:36 pm
...and of course the control and distribution of data is the key here, regardless of whether the U.S. authorities are able to extract information that they require for security and/or intelligence gathering with terrorism being the excuse.


Kit B (276)
Friday June 7, 2013, 12:42 pm

I tend to believe that this does not apply generally to American citizens. The government still does not have the ability to manage that much information. BUT - Most of us on Care2 do have friends that are outside the US and with little attention to detail, that part of this story seems to get over looked.


Jamie Clemons (282)
Friday June 7, 2013, 1:50 pm
Finally outraged after all this time? End the patriot act. End indefinite detention. Bring the troops home and close quantanamo.

Gloria H (88)
Friday June 7, 2013, 2:46 pm
Amerika. sigh. Maybe there will be hope when China makes the final land purchase and owns all of the states, sending her people to colonize like the great land grabs of the west. Most of us don't own the mineral rights or land that our houses, condos, apartments, mobile homes and tents are on.
We are squatters but important as long as we continue to buy, buy, buy!

JL A (281)
Friday June 7, 2013, 2:56 pm
Di Fi's biggest weakness is her law enforcement, tough on crime at virtually all costs mentality.

Angelika R (143)
Friday June 7, 2013, 3:09 pm
..not to forget her love of money, JL !
3 cheers and kudos to Greenwald (he was in live interview on CNN last night) and one must agree with Al Gore : OBSCENELY OUTRAGEOUS !
The PRISM scandal is more worrysome to me as it applies to all non-Americans. Our govt has raised severe concerns and will do an investigation. If it's proven true as it appears to be there's trouble ahead. It would be definitely against our data protection law.
Thx Kit.

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday June 7, 2013, 3:36 pm
Adding my thanks, Kit. I've posted some comments on other similar articles here on Care2 today, but will add here that those who truly wish to cause violence and harm to others are going to buy those disposable phones and keep themselves mostly off social media. The Patriot Act and NDAA are just excuses to monitor Americans who protest our gov't. Remember what they did to Occupy? Meanwhile, the Boston bombing happened.....

Marty Powell (151)
Friday June 7, 2013, 3:42 pm
ok just a comment. This has been happening since the bush period. data is collected on all americans. The way that its handled requires very little human input. Its a giant database that collects aggregated data, kind of like the way back machine. data mining bots or reports run all the time looking for key words. if those words, phrases, numbers show up then its kicked ot for humans to look at. it doesnt collect 'personal data' per say, unless key phrases are found. then watch out. the govt isnt the only one that collects data about us and they wont be the last. look at walmart. they collect every activity everyone has with them and has from the start. data is power and will be collected and used and no, I;m not in support of it I justed wanted to note that it was BUSH not OBAMA that started this.

Marc P (50)
Friday June 7, 2013, 3:49 pm
Obama and the ilk that are defending this spying are selling us a bushel of snake oil. What they are DEFENDING is blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution. Nothing less. Those that buy into this line of bull will be assisting in the destruction of our freedom. And it does not matter who started this, or who is doing it now. We need to stop blaming and pointing fingers and TAKE ACTION to retain our freedom and privacy!

Birgit W (160)
Friday June 7, 2013, 3:49 pm

Madeleine watt (243)
Friday June 7, 2013, 4:08 pm
an abomination. the world has gone crazy and Orwellian.

Rose Becke (141)
Friday June 7, 2013, 4:21 pm

Mitchell D (82)
Friday June 7, 2013, 4:52 pm
Remember, this came in under Bush and the damned Patriot Act!
He and Cheney did more to destroy the constitution than any foreign agent might ever have dreamed of doing.

Ravenna C (20)
Friday June 7, 2013, 5:25 pm
Big Brother is Watching....Always. And they use our tax dollars to do it.

. (0)
Friday June 7, 2013, 6:44 pm
I'd be outraged, too. I wouldn't want the government spying on me at all.

Kit B (276)
Friday June 7, 2013, 7:13 pm

Exactly, this is the logical extension of the Patriot Act. Sacrifice privacy for the illusion of safety.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

paul m (93)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 5:27 am

Kit .....They know everything about everyone,,,,

jeanne schreurs (205)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 6:33 am
Bye, bye freedom and democracy. The money could be spend to much urgent matters.

Lloyd H (46)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 8:10 am
I really hate liars regardless of their political stripe. And lets cut the hyperbolic, the sky is falling run around like a chickens with their heads cut off, It Is In Fact A Lie to say, 'obtained records of every domestic phone call made'. It is deceptive bordering on fraudulent using the 'Verizon being the largest' which does not in fact reflect the fact that Verizon only has 31.1% of the market AND the FACT is the court order is only for 'Verizon Business Network Services Customers' so it less than 31% of Verizon customers AND THAT IS SURE AS HELL NOT EVERY AMERICAN DOMESTIC PHONE CALL MADE IN THE USA.
Then there is the pure blind ego-centric hypocrisy of people who use cell/smart phones and credit cards and in doing so knowingly, or at least they should know, allow For Profit Corporations to gather, with no legal over sight what so ever, to gather far larger amounts of personal and personally identifiable as they see fit. This does include exactly where you are at any time, exactly what you buy, where you buy and when you buy,where you eat what and often with whom. And they can use this to target you with personalized ads sent directly to you where ever you. And without your knowledge they can lease, rent and/or sell any or all of this gathered personal and personally identifiable information to any one that they want.
I dare say that far too many of those bitching the loudest have already surrendered your right to privacy for convienience and connectivity.

Alfonso Lopez (343)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 9:02 am
wow, what the heck

Laura H (950)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 1:28 pm
I can't help but to many people who are upset by this are also on facebook? Facebook tracks every move and sells personal information to companies.
Look at the history of facebook and how many times they lied about what they were doing with information.
Now Zuckerberg is getting political; he is a radical right winger who is hell bent on destroying the environment. Just so he can make MORE money.
If you want to protect your privacy; get the hell off of facebook!!

As for this latest 'scandal'; it's been going on for a long time. Please read Marty Powell's comment above!

lee e (114)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 1:40 pm
I've said this before, but I believe it's time to have a rewritten Constitution to update it. There are too many ways that the laws can be abused by the government and the laws, if found to be against the purpose of the government seem to be easily re-structured to suit any fool's requests. We need a non-partisan think tank to rewrite this antiquated document to reign in the powers of the government, to take corporate power away, and to assert the rights and freedoms of all people created equal - no more 3/4 this or that - these need to be changed so that it becomes not a matter of "translation", but a matter of law!

M B (62)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 2:50 pm
I've read all about it in a European magazine. The fact that I'm no American citizen means that I'm a potencial terrorist.
That's outrageous !! It seems there's no more privacy, no matter where you live. All our comments are "public"; they are read by a programma called "Prism" , and Obama is defending it. America interferes worldwide; but other countries seem not to complain...even the European banks report to USA, and since 9/11 it got even worse.

Past Member (0)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 3:57 pm
monka, other countries are also faced with dealing with terrorist activity in their countries...France, England, Germany,'s out there. Personally, I believe The Patriot Act was a quick remedy to urgent issues namely terrorists boarding our airplanes and sleeper cell terrorists who came into our country BEFORE 9/11 who were buying homemade bomb ingredients through beauty supply businesses, include money laundering through our brokerage houses (Morgan Stanley, etc.) where these companies HAD to report to the government that certain activities/buying of supplies was taking place. Yes, GWB put this in place but today it isn't is archaic. So, what is this administration trying to do? Create a heightened Patriot Act? Well, I've got news for didn't stop the Boston Marathon bombing and it won't stop the sleeper cell terrorists from achieving their dream to kill millions of Americans and that is....they want to set off bombs on the west coast, middle America and the east coast all at the same time...that's their goal.....bring America to her knees. Is it no wonder that Americans are outraged at this administration for not calling the Fort Hood murdering of 13 innocent Americans an act of terror? So, please...don't go there reading our emails and preferred can't even call a terrorist a terrorist even when they scream "Allah."

The problem from where I sit is that Obama is basically anti-American. As a young lad, shuttled from Hawaii living with communist leaning grandparents (and his own mother) to Indonesia, becoming an Indonesian citizen while losing his status as an Ameican, was taught the "hard" Koran and dropped to his knees multiply times a day for three years and then...boom....he was whisked away again back to America....a country he had learned to hate and now had to be a part of??? What did the voters expect? Obama is not a true American. He is at best a conflicted observer in America and he happens to be residing in our White House....thanks to the liberals. Now the liberals are pulling back on Obama.....all I can say is that we deserve exactly what we get from Obama. Don't like it? Oh voted for him. Obama was always going to be anti-American by his experience as a young man. Once in the US in Hawaii, he identified with black radicals. Now, of course, he is sitting in Washington DC trying to cover his lies. What a mess......for the US....and Obama's handpicked appointees.....going down.. Benghazi, the IRS the lies the weakened foreign affairs goes on and on and on ..and the $860 billion stimulus and every single handpicked green company gone bankrupt....what in the world were the liberals thinking? A community organizer with a radical background/affiliation...a young senator who voted over 100 times "present?" What were you thinking? Then to vote for him for a second term.....breathtaking.

Claudia O (73)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 4:11 pm
Has anyone even read the 4th amendment of the Constitution?????

Birgit W (160)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 4:43 pm

Aurea Aurea Walker (226)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 5:35 pm
What was George Orwell smoking when he wrote 1984, boy was he truly a visionary. Folks if you think it is bad now, tighten your seat belts the ride is going to get a hell of lot worse. I read 1984 in my teens in the 60's and thought nah, never going to happen. Re-read 1984 in 1984 and thought gee some of this is happening now can't get worse right. Will re-read it 2014 and am sure my thoughts will be "oh damn Orwell's prediction/writing were not only 100% correct and will only get worse.

Charlene Rush (79)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 9:59 pm
This is a very 'sticky' situation. j
We want less oversight; yet, the instant there is another serious attack, we will be calling for more protection from our enemies. It's easy to go over the line.

I truly believe, that President Obama is doing the best he can, under the circumstances. No doubt, he inherited a huge mess, which the GOP had every intention of handing him.

At this point, we have a great number of terrorists, living within our country; many are racists, who would love to see our administration 'go down'. Certainly, they have no love for our country, no respect for the office of the President, and no care for our citizens. I'm speaking about _white_ Americans, who are psychopaths/sociopaths, whose constant anti-social behavior is their own 'hell'.
When HATE engulfs your being, your rational thinking goes out the window.

Although, socialism is not my first choice, it beats the 'heck' out of fascism.


Past Member (0)
Saturday June 8, 2013, 10:14 pm
The entrenchment of the police state and the expansion of domestic surveillance is only possible due to bipartisan collaboration. It's a two-party system united in the politics of endless war. Believing the best and wishing the best is no longer enough. We need more than belief in change and talk of change; we need change we can see: we need system change. Live Green. Vote Green.

Gloria H (88)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 7:45 pm
Now I feel really safe. Who needs the "help I've fallen and can't get up " devices when big brother is already watching us take a bath, shuffle out to the kitchen to make coffee, following us in the grocery store as we ponder which box of Depends is a bargain.
Maybe the next thing is a web cam in the womb during our births and one fastened to the casket lid to make sure we are really goners. Cradle to grave national security.
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