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By now you've been alerted to news of another scandal breaking in the Obama Administration. The National Security Agency has been collecting the metadata of Verizon customers in the USA and abroad since April of this year. Glenn Greenwald The Guardian broke the story on June 5th propelling the twitter hashtag NSA to trend:
The original story, published by The Guardian, had more than 10,200 shares on Twitter and 69,000 shares on Facebook before 10 a.m. By 1:30 p.m., the Facebook shares exceeded 103,000.
The hashtag #NSA was trending for hours on Twitter and continued into the afternoon, with anger, confusion and plenty of jokes – especially around Verizon's "share everything plan" and their catch phrase "Can you hear me now?"
Nearly 24 hours later, questions have been raised, yet complete answers have not yet been forthcoming from the NSA, Verizon or the Obama Administration. Verizon EVP Ryan Milch took the time to issue a very brief non-admission, non-statement on the controversy. Milch confirmed the contents of the court order without admitting that if an order such as the one provided by The Guardian existed, they would be forced to comply.
Consequently, the details of the court order are under scrutiny. Yet it remains unclear why the NSA would need all of the cellular telephone data of customers both inside and outside the U.S. regardless of any wrongdoing. Yet that is exactly what the court order, which Verizon was ordered to keep secret, compelled them to do on a daily basis.
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 order specifically requests data on the number called, number calling, duration of the call and location data on both parties; the calls themselves were not recorded. This information is called metadata and while not as ominous as the recording of actual calls, it is equally concerning since location data can be used to track the movements of individuals.
In light of the gestapo tactics employed by the IRS against people of opposing political viewpoints, the secret collection of cell phone data on Americans that are under no suspicion of any wrongdoing is an extraordinary expansion of the widely accepted practices employed under the application of the Patriot Act, and a clear violation of CISPA
Let's not forget President Obama's stance on secret surveillance. Back in 2006 Senator Obama was quite critical of a National Security Agency program for wiretapping; stating that "No president is above the law." Watch his interestingly prescient comments in the video courtesy of The Washington Examiner:
So many of the Obama Administration's current policies are under scrutiny right now, but can the American people connect the dots? Why should every Verizon cellular subscriber have their privacy rights infringed upon in the interests of the war on terror, (which President Obama said was over) when a tighter more nimble immigration policy would go considerably farther in preventing terrorists from gaining access and operating on our soil? The American people deserve answers. Now.