LJWorld.com weblogs Congressional Briefing

Roberts won't confirm NSA surveillance program; won't meet with "secret prison" investigators


Another day, another National Security Agency program pushed into public view.[USA Today][1] reports: "The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY."The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans - most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews."The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would not confirm the existence of the program. In a statement, he said, 'I can say generally, however, that our subcommittee has been fully briefed on all aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. ... I remain convinced that the program authorized by the president is lawful and absolutely necessary to protect this nation from future attacks.'"Roberts, of course, will begin hearings next week on CIA director-nominee Gen. Michael Hayden, who ran the NSA when the program was launched. Expect the topic to come up .Today's news comes on the heels of a [Reuters][2] report on another topic under Roberts' purview."Members of the European Parliament, in Washington to investigate reports of secret CIA prisons in Europe, complained on Wednesday they had not been granted meetings with any Republican members of Congress."The delegation, whose members are on a committee probing allegations the CIA had been running an illegal detention system in Europe for al Qaeda suspects and transporting suspects through Europe, arranged four days of meetings with lawmakers, rights advocates and experts on international law."The delegates said they were turned down by eight other Republicans, including Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Sen. John McCain of Arizona; and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee."Other links today:Sam Brownback links[(AP)More North Korean Refugees May Come to U.S.:][3] Six North Koreans granted refugee status in the United States last week could be the first of many more to arrive on American shores, a lawmaker said Wednesday. "This is, I hope, just the beginning," said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who spoke by telephone Wednesday with some of the refugees. "In a few years, or even less, you will find these six free refugees leading free and productive lives in the United States." It was the first time since the end of the Korean War a half century ago that the United States has admitted North Koreans as refugees.[(LA Times) Vote on Indecency Bill Likely in Senate:][4] Long-stalled legislation to dramatically increase fines for broadcast indecency appears set for a vote in a Senate committee next week, a major development that could make each violation a six-figure headache for broadcasters by the end of the year. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), would increase the maximum fines levied by the Federal Communications Commission from $32,500 per violation to $325,000. Support for the tenfold increase has been growing since singer Janet Jackson's breast was briefly exposed during the halftime show at the 2004 Super Bowl.Jim Ryun links[(The Washington Times) Inside the Beltway:][5] Days after the national anthem was translated loosely into Spanish on a widely released album, we see where Rep. Jim Ryun, Kansas Republican, is seeking co-sponsors to legislation affirming that the musical composition be sung only in English. As far as the congressman is concerned, there are a "few things specific to our nation that should not be recited or sung in another language."[(49 ABC News) National legislation makes funeral protesting crime:][6] Members of the Patriot Guard Riders rumbled into Washington this week to show support for House legislation banning protestors at military funerals. Congressman Jim Ryun supported the legislation and said in a statement that funerals are not an appropriate forum to make a political statement. The Patriot Guard Riders agree and say even with legislation, they will continue their patrols to support military families.Jerry Moran links[(Delta Farm Press commentary) Moran, Emerson ruffle EU negotiator's feathers:][7] Many Americans went to Disney World (I know, I was one of them) or some other resort location during spring break. Reps. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., spent theirs annoying the WTO. Moran is chairman of the House Agriculture General Commodities Subcommittee, which means he will get first shot at re-writing the commodity title of the 2007 farm bill. Emerson is a member of the Appropriations Committee. Moran was one of the first to report WTO negotiators were likely to miss the April 30 deadline for reaching an agreement on modalities in the Doha Round following meetings with the U.S. Trade Representative's staff in Geneva.Todd Tiahrt links[(AP) Gun-rights forces seethe over New York firearms lawsuit:][8] Like some sort of mythical creature, New York City's lawsuit against the gun industry has seemed bulletproof in recent months. The case took a direct hit in October, when President Bush signed a law offering firearms manufacturers immunity to many types of liability lawsuits. Yet, each seemingly fatal shot has been deflected by the man overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein. "He's an activist judge," said Chuck Knapp, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican who was one of the original proponents of the restrictions. "Congress has made it very clear what its intent was, and he has repeatedly gone in and basically thwarted the will of Congress."How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][9] [1]: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [2]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/10/AR2006051001608.html [3]: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/politics/3854452.html [4]: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-indecency11may11,1,2051245.story?coll=la-headlines-business [5]: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060510-122139-7196r.htm [6]: http://www.49abcnews.com/news/2006/may/10/national_legislation_makes_funeral_protesting_crim/ [7]: http://deltafarmpress.com/news/060509-Moran-Emerson/ [8]: http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny--gunlawsuits0510may10,0,7404727.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork [9]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed


drewdun 11 years, 10 months ago

I wonder what all of our right-wing friends who believe in 'small government' will have to say about this.

Could it be "If you don't have anything to hide, don't worry."

I agree. We also should, at the same time as fighting the terrorists, end the war on drugs and immorality by placing two-way televisions (which both receive and broadcast transmissions) in all of the rooms of our homes, so that our warm loving big bro the govt can make sure we're being good little boys and girls. After all, if you have nothing to hide, why should it matter if the govt has an eye on you at all times?

Maybe it will be "We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Oops. Maybe we ARE fighting them (all citizens of the United States=potential 'terrists') not just over there but over here. After all, this IS a global war, dontchaknow? We can't let little things like the Constitution and laws passed by Congress get in the way of our defeating the terrists in WWIII, as Bush now calls it.

Or maybe we're doing this because "They hate us for our freedom." I know how we can solve this: subtract the freedom and the result is no more hate from the Islamocommunosatanohomoliberalofascists. You see, with the new "Terrorist Surveillance Program," we've already won the war on terror, or at least to the right wing. Spying on other citizens has been a right-wing wet dream since at least Nixon. I just wonder how the climax feels when you know it could be YOUR conversation being spied on by Big Bro. Oh, that's right, you have nothing to hide. Please let me know when I can deliver and install your complete set of government issued two-way TVs.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 years, 10 months ago

Great post Drewdun. I would also like to add that all of the people who support Big Bro for "security" are cowards in the fight against terrorism. The terrorists want to destroy our way of life. I would rather die a free person, than submit to this anti-constitution and American abuse of power. This country is becoming a nation of robots, that will gladly allow themselves to be plugged into the matrix, as long as they don't have to feel any pain. Just give me my Fox, my ESPN, my bible, and my beer.

rhd99 11 years, 10 months ago

Well, REPUBLICANS, you all think we Americans have something to hide, THINK AGAIN! Our privacy is NOT for sale, SBC, VERIZON, or AT&T! The public policy makers & enforcers need to be wiretapped more than Joe or Jane America on Main Street. Senator Roberts, YOUR TIME IS UP! Put up or SHUT UP! You make me sick! Put your money where your MOUTH IS!

james bush 11 years, 10 months ago

So Bush and Roberts are the bad guys?? You idiots who think so should find yourselves a good iman/cleric/whatever and protest muslim treatment of women and westerners. I hope Bush is watching you today.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

Jim- Yes.

If this had happened under the Clinton administration, you would be calling for him to step down.

gphawk89 11 years, 10 months ago

As loud as most people yak while on their cellphones, who cares is someone is listening in on the line? The entire restaurant/store/bus/office you are yakking in can hear your conversation anyway. And if someone screening calls for terrorist converstions overhears me telling Grandma what I did last weekend, so what? If someone screening calls for terrorist converstaions overhears me ordering a Pizza or calling the shop to see if my car's fixed or finding out what the showtimes are at the local theater, so *&^#ing what??? Who's hurt by that? No one!

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

gphawk, perhaps you can leave your doors unlocked too... why should you care if anyone walks in and has a seat on your sofa. What is wrong with people. This isnt' about hiding anything, this is about a government abusing power. Our government SHOULD only have as many "rights" as we, the people give them.

I guess data collection doesn't matter to you. Perhaps when your insurance company gains access to the data and decides that you don't urinate enough each day and decide to raise your rates... perhaps when it hits you in the pocketbook, then you will speak up. You are probably one of those people who demands that government stops spending your hard earned dollar.... I suppose the NSA works for free.

We should be really scared about the investigation into the NSA and how they decided that they weren't going to allow Justice Department attorneys to have access to their "sensitive" data; result? the justice department drops its case.

Nice, I hope if I ever get investigated for anything... that I can simply refuse to give them access to anything of mine period. I will cite my "safety and security" as an excuse.

Give me a break!

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

Now we know where Phill Kline got the idea that he could order up every abortion clinic medical record without the slightest basis for suspicion just so he could "go fishing" -- directly from his pals in the federal government.

Here, the executive branch, in a single act has now both (a) repealed the Bill of Rights and (b) acquired for itself all legislative and judical powers.

If Clinton had done such a thing, people wouldn't have complained but rather engaged in a Waco-like uprising with their NRA firepower.


This during the same week that its been revealed that the Office of Professional Responsibility in the U.S. Department of Justice has shelved an internal investigation into Justice's role in warrantless wiretapping because the National Security Agency won't give the Justice personnel security clearance to examine evidence. The same security clearance, I note, that is given to employees of AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth so that they can work with the NSA.

When you can't trust the ethics people in the Justice Department like the Senior Counsel to the Attorney General of the United States but you can trust Vijay Singh Kurudamannil at the phone company, you know something's wrong.

james bush 11 years, 10 months ago

I hope the leaker and USA Today's informant are identified and sufficiently investigated as to their political propagandism. Democrat and republican politicians both need to put this country's well-being ahead of their own re-election needs. The Congress needs replacing!

gphawk89 11 years, 10 months ago

jayhawks71 - I DO care if ANYONE "walks in and has a seat on my sofa", just as I DO care if ANYONE listens in on my phone conversations. "Anyone" could be one of millions of people in this country trying to steal my personal information and use it illegally. But I DON'T care if the NSA is listening because that's not why they're listening. If I thought they were going to collect (and use information against) the general public, instead of using the information in the fight against terrorism, then I'd be as upset as everyone else here is - I just don't believe they're going to do that. They have more important things to worry about than my urinary habits.

MyName 11 years, 10 months ago

Hey Jimmy boy! Are you some kind of moron? I mean, first, it's not "political propagandism [sic]" if it's true! It's the truth if it's true! And second it's not the Congress that's doing this! Heck, most of them didn't even know about it (willful ignorance?), but they sure didn't voice their approval of the matter. If they did, than this NSA crap might at least have an appearance of being legal. If anything, it's the administration that needs replacing!

And, please, explain to me exactly how letting the NSA know who I'm talking to is in this country's well being! I'm waiting for your answer 'cause I could use a good laugh right now.

gphawk: I'm sure there are lots of reasons why we shouldn't be afraid of the government, but the bottom line is we shouldn't have to trust the government with our personal lives just to get a little security.

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

gphawk, give me a break! Good to know you have your finger on the pulse of what the government is or is not going to do with your information. You have a friend within the NSA I suppose?

Let's put this into perspective. The goal of a terrorist is not to kill but to change one's way of life and instill fear in people. Killing people is a means to an end, not the end. Let's see.... which part has our own government successfully implemented on behalf of terrorists...... hmmm..... Security by systematic elimination of freedoms for the world's self-proclaimed den of freedom? We have a freedom to move about unfettered by our government provided we are not infringing on the rights of others. I WANT my freedom to post on here and communicate my opinions to those who care to read them. Should I worry that I typed the word "terrorist" here and that I will have a knock on my door?

Everything is now done in the name of terrorism. We must do this that and the other to "fight the war on terror!" We must eliminate your freedoms, listen in on your phone conversations and yes, soon the urine leaving your home might be tested for bomb materials absorbed through your skin... or better yet, for drugs that the government has now told us are going to fund terrorism. Scare tactics all around. Frighten the everyman in the name of security! Oh wait, I thought the government was fighting terrorism.... sounds like they are the one's scaring everyone.

Thanks, but no thanks. I will speak out against this administration's systematic end-around the laws of this nation.

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh and one more thing gphawk, you objected to my use of "anyone." How about we station an FBI or NSA person in your living room, just to keep an eye on you...to make sure you don't get any wacky ideas... afterall, you aren't going to get any, right.... so there's nothing to worry about.

NSA, you already know where gphawk lives so, stop in, grab a seat, you might even get a cup of coffee out of the deal; you can keep an eye on gphawk.... just in case he gets a crazy idea!

monkeyspunk 11 years, 10 months ago

Whoa whoa. All of you, take a seat and read the article. You guys are talking about them 'listening' to phone calls. They aren't. They are "using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity" (see above) Kind of hard to listen to a phone call already made.

Patterns, if they don't see a pattern they move on. At most they are using a computer program to scan a sampling of records, no way they are doing it manually.

This is very different from listening to the phone calls, as we have with the 'warrantless wire tapping' program (which I feel is totally unacceptable if not a tad bit ILLEGAL)

MyName: could we cut out the ad hominem please, doesn't add any credibility to your argument. And about the congress people not all knowing about it? Why should they? Its supposed to be secret. Only certain members need to know about certain things. Leaks are rampant in Washington, letting more than a handful of peeps in on something is just irresponsible.

jayhawks: One quick reminder, the government has many more rights than we do as normal citizens. Thats why they are there. We give them a monopoly on certain things, such as violence and incarceration, that can't be given to ordinary people. Its the nature of the beast. The beast here in the US, is a pup compared to the monster in other countries.

drewdun 11 years, 10 months ago

jimincountry: when can I come to deliver your two-way TV? I need a reply, as business is going badly. I expected orders to be heavy here in the 'heartland' with all of its super-patriots like yourself (who think it a good idea for our kind and benevolent government to know exactly who we're calling), but for some reason, these good, red-blooded Americans here in the 'Heartland' of the 'Homeland' just don't want government monitors in their bedrooms. Why not? Do you have something to hide? You're not one of those insidious queers of the hate-America gay menace, are you? Or could it be that you are just a typical right-wing hypocrite who thinks it okay for the govt to spy on others, but you, oh, wait a minute, not so fast there buddy. Sort of like friends dad who is an extreme right-winger who rails against lazy blacks and welfare mamas being on the dole, but by God, when he was out of work for over a year, he sure didn't hesitate to cash those government unemployment checks! TYPICAL F'ING REPUBLICAN

drewdun 11 years, 10 months ago

"the government has many more rights than we do as normal citizens"

you've obviously never read the Constitution of the United States. Check out Amendments Four, Nine and Ten, and get back to me, douchebag.

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

monkey, ultimately WE HAVE THE ULTIMATE RIGHT because WE THE PEOPLE give government its power. The government doesn't "let us" do things. WE let the government do things. THAT is what people need to remember.

As for misreading the article. No, I know that what has been REPORTED has been that they are not listening to phonecalls. It seems to be nearly 5 years after they started "keeping a log" of phonecalls that we are hearing about it in the popular media (as opposed to conspiracy theorists).... and in 5 years might we hear about the calls that were recorded (both purposefully and "at random"---- to address the claim that "they can't record them all"---no, they can't but if they are recording them at random (i.e., fishing... THAT is a violation of our rights).

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

and monkeyspunk, relativism is a weak argument. To make a claim that what is going on here is a "pup" relative to other places in the world.... is an empty "well it could be worse" statement. Yep, it could be worse... and if we don't take up a stance against this, it WILL be worse. The problem in the other parts of the world is the dictatorial force used to beat down the people and the learned helplessness associated with it. Shall we let ourselves get to that point? Or perhaps we already have.... we have plenty of posts (and people in our population) who are willing to concede that we have to give up our rights to be protected from terrorism. Do people see that THIS IS the outcome of the terrorism. If we go around saying, well we have to give up our way of life to protect ourselves from the threat of crazy suicide bombers.... they have acheived their goal! Learn what terrorism is about. It isn't about bombing and killing people. Those are means to an end.... they scare people... they instill terror in people... that's the weapon they are using... not the killing.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.