Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yet Another Secret Spying Program Revelation

Via AMERICAblog, which did some key early reporting on this issue, the AP is reporting:
Numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered Americans' personal telephone records from private-sector data brokers.

These brokers, many of whom advertise aggressively on the Internet, have gotten into customer accounts online, tricked phone companies into revealing information and even acknowledged that their practices violate laws, according to documents gathered by congressional investigators and provided to The Associated Press.

The law enforcement agencies include offices in the Homeland Security Department and Justice Department — including the FBI and U.S. Marshal's Service — and municipal police departments in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia and Utah. Experts believe hundreds of other departments frequently use such services.

John in DC notes that after AMERICAblog obtained Gen. Wes Clark's cell phone records on the internet to demonstrate the ease of obtaining anyone's private records,
As a result, there was a big media uproar, the US House passed legislation unanimously, 409-0, to fix the problem, and the Senate was even considering legislation.

. . .

Now, this gets even more interesting. While the House passed one bill that would address this issue, a second piece of legislation was due to be debated on the House floor on the same day that US[A] Today revealed that Bush was using AT&T and other phone companies to spy on you. That day the House legislation suddenly disappeared and never was to be seen again. No one knows how it disappeared or who pulled it (though it had to be a Republican, like Denny Hastert, since they control the House). And even more interesting, for some unexplained reason the Senate legislation has gone nowhere. Bill Frist just won't move it.

So, let's get this straight: the cell phone records on the internet scandal and the NSA spying scandal suddenly appear closely connected, and the Congress suddenly changes course and decides that its none of their business.

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