The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
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.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
~ from NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Americans Daily - Revealed by Glenn Greenwald ~
Want to bet they are collecting the contents of those conversations too?
While this information really isn't all that shocking, it remains incredible. It goes a long way toward underscoring how far off the rails America has gone. It used to be that constitutional safeguards meant something. Yes, they have never been perfect and our government tends to abuse them, but NOT at this scale. What we basically have here is clear evidence that the Obama administration has unilaterally rescinded the 4th Amendment!
For those of you who might not remember what the 4th Amendment entails, here it is.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It is NOT reasonable to collect and catalog everybody's telephone calls. There is no probable cause for this. There is NO rationale for this kind of action in a democratic republic.
This is the behavior of a police state. In such states, there is no pretense of privacy and there are no inalienable rights of citizens.
Republicans keep trying to manufacture outlandish reasons to impeach President Obama. Here they have a clear legal reason to do so, but don't hold your breath in expectation that they will seize upon this golden opportunity. Why? Because Republicans don't give a crap about the US Bill of Rights except, of course, for the 2nd Amendment. Suggest minimal legislation about guns and they are ready to storm the Bastille. Point out that the Democratic President is violating the rights of Americans against unreasonable search and seizures and all you will hear from them is a collective yawn because this is one policy in which they and the President actually agree on.
Who says bipartisanship is dead in Washington!