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The National Security Agency Has Been Granted the Right to Collect Phone Records for Millions of Verizon Customers

Electronic Surveillance
Scott Barbour, Getty Images

I first read this story this morning and became extremely alarmed because I am a Verizon customer. On April 25, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) authorized the FBI and the Federal Government to obtain the phone records of millions, if not all Verizon customers for a three-month period ending on July 19. Am I just being paranoid or does that sound really, really scary? What was even more surprising were the number of lawmakers who came out in defense of the order, mainly those on the intelligence committee like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Feinstein by the way, is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and she says we all just need to calm down. What…really?

What was not surprising however, was the number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, on both sides of the aisle, that were extremely alarmed that the FISA court granted such a request. While some say this is really nothing new, others are raising some serious questions about privacy rights of the American people and most important, why on earth are they going to this extreme to gather information…what do they know that we don’t?

This type of surveillance is legal under the U.S. Patriot Act, which was brought to light when President George W. Bush authorized unlimited wiretapping under the umbrella of National Security. Oh, incidentally, this information is being gathered on a daily basis under the order. What’s disturbing here is is the unlimited nature of the records being turned over to the NSA.

It appears the actual content of the calls are not necessarily monitored and the NSA only gets the numbers of both parties on the call, the location of both parties and the duration of the call. Basically all calls in the Verizon system both in the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.

Verizon for it’s part, has declined to make any comment and the order actually prohibits them from acknowledging the FBI’s request for records and even the order itself. What is going on here…why all the secrecy? The Feds have done for this for years by targeting groups that potentially pose a threat, and I think we can all understand that, but why do they seem to want to target ALL Verizon customers?

Another question I have that nobody knows the answer to, is whether other cell providers are subject to the same order or is it just Verizon…and if it is only Verizon, why?

The ‘big brother’ concept is something that American citizens have been worried about for decades, but lately, it seems the efforts to monitor what we do and how we do it has been severely ramped up, especially since 9/11.

Right now, all anybody really wants is an explanation from the White House, which isn’t likely to come anytime soon according to sources. I know this kind of thing has gone on forever, but this really feels different and seems very extreme.

Whatever has happened that prompted this order, is anybody’s guess, but I do believe that we are entitled to an explanation. I know there are bad people among us who should be watched, but most of us hard working, law abiding citizens who are just trying to make our way through this world the best way we can…we don’t deserve to be watched, monitored and probed like lab rats every minute of every day.

I do want to repeat one very important point. If you think all members of Congress and the Senate are supporting this, you would be dead wrong. Many law makers on both sides of the aisle are very nervous about this and some in the president’s own party are demanding an explanation from the White House.

In no way am I a conspiracy theorist, but I am fascinated by some of the theories as crazy as some of them are. At the very least, they are very creative, but this is different and just since this morning has created a very uneasy feeling around the country. Why are you and I suddenly so interesting that this action was necessary?

I have joked on air many times about maybe getting rid of my cell phone, computer and social media profiles and adopting an electronic free lifestyle. I’m not joking anymore. What about you?

 

[The Guardian]

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