NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

A federal judge this week described the sweeping National Security Agency program that keeps records of every American’s phone calls as “almost Orwellian,” and ruled that it is most likely unconstitutional. We discuss the NSA program and the role of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in shaping intelligence policy.

Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker

  • I’ll be Frank

    Years ago when the signs that the USA had quietly become a police state were made public, I would tell people this and be called a conspiracy theorist. When governments change laws to brush aside your rights and nullify your freedoms, just because you don’t see tanks rolling in the streets doesn’t mean they aren’t acting on their new power. Clearly the NSA acted. Still I am sure that even today there are people in this anti-intellectual country with their heads in the sand, denying the spooks have done any harm whatsoever, denying there’s any harm with having the military deployed on US soil, deny all evidence that 9/11 was not done by foreigners, denying denying denying. Facts that conflict with what Americans want to believe are often aggressively dismissed by them; they probably imagine themselves to be brave, but intellectually such people are cowards.

    Merkel compares NSA to Stasi:

    Stasi chief Markus Wolfe hired to create Dept. of Homeland Security

    For more information about 9/11, watch any of 10 or so documentaries that examine the evidence, such as 9/11 Mysteries:
    Or visit any of the 9/11 truth websites:

    • William – SF

      Okay, I’ll bite, which domestic group is responsible for 9/11?

      • MattCA12

        Yeah, I’m waiting to hear this one, too. I’ve got my popcorn…

        • I’ll be Frank

          Are you aware that a 3rd building fell down on 9/11?
          Here is a video of it:

          • MattCA12

            Yes. Everyone knows that was caused by escaped aliens from Area 41.

      • Skip Conrad

        Shorestein. He gained the most by it. Follow the money.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    What was the effect of the Mark Klein revelations and subsequent lawsuits following AT&T sending all phone traffic to the NSA – it happened in San Francisco on Folsom Street. The Telcos were forgiven so we assumed that would end it, but how wrong that assumption was. Please comment — how can this still be going on after that??

    “In the lawsuit that in 2002-2003, AT&T permitted and assisted the NSA to install a NarusInsightsystem in its San Francisco switching center (Room 641A), which was capable of monitoring billions of bits of Internet traffic a second, including the playback of telephone calls routed on the Internet, and thus in effect spying upon the entirety of the communication of many or all American citizens and businesses who use the Internet.

    In July 2008, Congress passed, and on July 10, 2008, President George Bush signed, the FISA Amendments Act, which granted retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies for past violations of FISA.”

  • Bob Fry

    Given that all this spying is happening, and likely only token reductions to it will be made (if any): why not get some benefit from it? Why aren’t there busloads of child pornographers, drug smugglers, etc. being arrested every day?

    Instead, it’s like the TV show “Person of Interest”, where a vast snooping system is created and then we get nothing from it.

  • MonaLS

    How can this meta data not be an invasion of our privacy? We carry our phones with us everywhere. Knowing what calls I make, when and where I make them, gives the government a pretty good overview of my life.

  • Ashley

    I hate the ‘argument’ that says, “Well, I have nothing to hide, so its okay if they collect my data.” This argument is based on the premise that all that is private is bad/negative/dangerous etc etc.

    • I’ll be Frank

      If we have nothing to hide, then why not let the NSA put cameras in the shower?
      Why not tattoo our social security numbers to our foreheads?
      It’s an infantile argument.

      Funny video about the NSA:

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Sen Feinstein also defended the airports scanners that began being removed this year due to radiation risks of backscatter x-ray technology. So she rubber stamps every secret spy activity involving search and seizure of Americans. And didn’t we kick the British out and form a Constitution and Bill of Rights to keep the King’s Men from breaking into our homes without warrants? Sen Feinstein and her like-minded ilk have warped “the home is your castle” into your “home-is-a-glass-box-we-can-peer-into-when we-want”!

  • Skip Conrad

    Is the government tracking illegal aliens, and targeting them for deportation? After all, they don’t have any rights, neither the protection of the law in this country.

  • MattCA12

    I love this. People are only too happy to share every detail of their personal lives on Facebook, yet they are worried about supposed “monitoring” by our government? So which is it to be?

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Gee, one is voluntary and the other is compulsory? You dont have to use your real name on facebook anyway, let alone use it at all.

    • Chris OConnell

      Just because SOME people are happy to share every detail of their personal lives on Facebook (that’s obviously a false statement but that’s another issue) doesn’t give the government the right to violate EVERYONE’s privacy. It doesn’t even give them the right to violate a Facebook user’s privacy. The 4th Amendment governs here, not the level of Facebook use.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Also, when the guest said “content” is not collected, only “metadata” – it is metadata that reveals more about us then spying on the content. Metadata reveals what we do and where we are at any given moment and likely where we’ll be tomorrow.

    • Chris OConnell

      Yes, and the first caller minimized metadata as insignificant and just involving to and from information. This was never corrected. Many people in the intelligence community believe that metadata, bulk, massive metadata, is incredibly useful and can tell you pretty much everything about a person.

  • Lisa

    Let us not forget Joseph McCarthy and what can happen when terrible people hold positions of power and use the resources available to them (access to information) to intimidate people. What this government does with your information in this period of time isn’t the only issue. Do we really want to set a precedent like this?

  • Jack

    My understanding is that counter-terrorism operations happen at a larger and higher scale than, say, a murder investigation. In the latter case maybe only a list of numbers called during a period is required. To figure out terrorist organizations it will take figuring out connections among large number of people along a long period of time and possibly with the target people frequently changing numbers or deliberately trying to hide their identity. In the big data age, it takes a much long time to compute the graph and figure things out. It’ll be too little and too late to get a warrant and ask for a few numbers from the phone company. Any software engineers who has worked on making sense of big data is likely to tell you the same.

  • Betty Daren

    NSA is continuously violating privacy laws and this time violation of 14th amendment. This program should declare unconstitutional. Another story which is related to this news is about top technology giants. According to white house some top tech companies sent letter to US president to show their serious concerns about NSA and its recent surveillance program. Technology companies urged to reconsider this policy and make this process more transparent. Catch up this source for more important updates regarding NSA and tech companies.
    Source: http://www.bestvpnservice.com/blog/reform-nsa-or-risk-a-hostile-web-tech-companies-warn-obama/

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