Thursday, May 11, 2006

What The Fuck, Fox?

We learned today that every telephone call made by the vast majority of Americans for the past four and a half years (Quest customers are the lucky exceptions) has been logged into government computers. The government now knows who we called or were called by, when we called and how long we talked. If we talked on a cell phone they probably have a record of our travels as we talked.

We are told that the call tracking doesn't really impact our privacy because our names aren't in the records only our phone numbers are. As if matching a phone number to a name isn't child's play in this Googlized world.

Civil libertarians, constitutional scholars and many others are in meltdown over this revelation.

Newspapers across the land are predicting that the nomination of General Hayden, who headed the NSA as this program was implimented and who gave what turned out to be extremely inaccurate testimony to Congress on the subject earlier, could very well be upset by this latest disclosure.

So imagine my suprise when I found that Fox News was bucking the trend

(From Fox News)

Hayden Nomination Unlikely to Be Sidelined by NSA Reports

According to Fox, the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. They say that it is just a bunch of computer geeks doing some outrageous far out thing with phone numbers that none of us regular people would be able to make heads or tails from.

(A) key congressional aide familiar with algorithmic programming told FOX News that the NSA program sounds like a lot of mathematical analyses.

"It's your number-crunching geeks that put this together," the aide said.

While the aide said he had no knowledge of this particular NSA program, based on the reporting, the NSA plan allows phone number groups to be connected to other phone number groups to create a web of numbers.

Over top of that web, analysts can lay known information on Al Qaeda and other terror organizations and quickly find relationships among number groups.

Law enforcement agencies use similar types of activities, he said, adding that something similar to the NSA program is currently being used to ferret out conspiracies in the drug trade.

The aide pointed out that based on the reports, it is not a data-mining program because no content comes out of the phone numbers. He added that phone numbers are not inherently private.

"There's no constitutional protection to your phone number," he said.

Yes, But there are laws protecting the privacy of our phone records.

Fox claims that even key Democrats aren't upset:

As one lawmaker who has previously been briefed on the various NSA programs, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she the program does not sound intrusive.

"I think it's fair to say that what was in the newspaper this morning is not content collection," she said.

That sounded pretty lame, coming from DiFi, so I checked Google News to see what she really had said:

"Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had praised Hayden earlier in the week. But she said Thursday that the new disclosures of a more expansive NSA role under his command could harm his nomination.

"I believe we are on our way to a major constitutional confrontation on Fourth Amendment guarantees of unreasonable search and seizure," Feinstein said. "I think this is also going to present a growing impediment to the confirmation of General Hayden. And that is very regretted."


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