Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dramatic Revelations in The New York Times

New revelations in The New York Times make it even more unforgivable that so many senators are prepared to vote “Yes” on FISA legislation that permits continued unconstitutional invasions of our privacy.

Call your senators now.

Can we trust what the Bush administration has been telling us about the NSA spying program?

Obviously not. As this past weekend’s revelations in the New York Times(1) make clear, Bush and company haven’t been telling us the truth. And that makes it even harder to understand why the United States Senate seems so eager to pass legislation that gives President Bush virtually everything he wants when it comes to continued out-of-control government spying.

Tell your senators to put the brakes and stop the Senate from approving reckless FISA legislation.

The Bush administration has hidden the facts time and again on NSA spying:

1. They told us it was all about stopping terrorism. But now, we’ve learned that the NSA’s massive wiretapping and data collection program started long before 9/11 -- in fact, it started in the 90s -- and was ramped up by this administration immediately after Bush took office. The NSA is also routinely collecting phone records for run-of-the-mill drug cases that have nothing to do with terrorism.

2. They told us it’s not about gathering domestic information. But now, the New York Times reveals that part of what made Qwest balk at a request for data in early 2001 was that the program was designed to pick up significant amounts of purely domestic communications by granting the NSA access "to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls" and that only "limited international traffic also passes through the switches." In fact, one anonymous engineer confirmed that in creating the program to copy all the calls coming across one company's wires, "There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications."

3. They told us they were gathering just the data they absolutely needed to fight terrorism. But now we know that their assurances that the government doesn’t conduct -- and doesn’t want to conduct -- vast dragnet operations just aren't true. As the New York Times reports, "The N.S.A. met with AT&T officials to discuss replicating a network center in Bedminster, N.J., to give the agency access to all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through it."

How much more evidence do leaders in the Senate need before they get that this is a program that needs to be investigated and stopped, not given a reckless stamp of approval?

Tell your senators to put on the brakes and stop the Senate from approving reckless FISA legislation.

Then, ask your friends to take action.

Enough is enough. Join the ACLU in doing everything we can to stop this dangerous Senate legislation that gives NSA spying a stamp of approval. We’re fighting as hard as we can in Congress and if the Bush administration gets its way from a spineless Senate, we’ll keep fighting this unconstitutional program in the courts.

We need you to fight with us. Please contact your senators now. The Senate could act at any time.

Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
© ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10004