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The Collective
Thursday, October 9, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via ABC News: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Gee, who could have predicted that? Oh, that’s right: lots of people predicted this.

First, despite a cavalcade of assurances that these programs only target “the bad guys” it is quite clear that many innocent American citizens were the ones being listened in upon. Second, not only were innocent citizens listened to and recorded, but they were made the subject of amusement for the eavesdroppers:

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.

“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy’,” Faulk told ABC News.

Well, that certainly sounds like the government making us all safer. Note, to, it wasn’t just that these calls were intercepted, but that the only way to share them with co-workers would be for them to be recorded. What possible justification would there be for the NSA to record the intimate conversations between two American citizens?

Further, international aid organizations were likewise recorded:

“We knew they were working for these aid organizations,” Kinne told ABC News. “They were identified in our systems as ‘belongs to the International Red Cross’ and all these other organizations. And yet, instead of blocking these phone numbers we continued to collect on them,” she told ABC News.

It is axiomatic that as government power expands, so too will abuse of that power expand. And yet, this administration has maintained that not only are such programs necessary, but oversight of such programs isn’t necessary because only the guilty would be targeted. Shockingly, that isn’t how things have worked out.

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Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror | |

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