Friday, April 10, 2015

US Government Has Spied On Your Phone Calls For Longer Than Anyone Knew

Every time we think we've seen it all, reached the limit, learned all the bad stuff there is to learn about US government agencies engaged in illicit surveillance of American citizens, we are disabused of that comfortable notion with a metaphorical slap upside the head. This time it's Peter van Buren at FDL who administers the slap, and we should be grateful to him for doing so:
DEA Secretly Tracked Billions of Americans’ Calls a Decade Before 9/11

While the Snowden-NSA revelations continue to shock Americans on a daily basis, and illustrate how intrusive the government is in our lives, and how casually it violates our Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted searches, it just got worse.

It turns out the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was spying on Americans, gathering metadata on our phone calls, almost a decade before 9/11, and right up to 2013. With help from the U.S. military.


In an exclusive report, USA Today learned the U.S. government started keeping secret records of Americans’ international telephone calls nearly a decade before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed. The DEA spying only stopped, supposedly, in 2013, no longer needed due to the NSA.

For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the DEA amassed databases of virtually all telephone calls from the U.S. to as many as 116 countries “linked to drug trafficking.” ...

(or substitute GeeDubya Bush)
I seldom talk on the phone with my American friends in Europe; international phone calls (apart from emergencies) are not in my budget. But you may be comforted to know that on the rare occasions I've spoken to them in earlier years, the DEA was on the "wire" assuring that we were not talking about drugs. Not that we talked about drugs when we were face-to-face decades ago in the US... you may be comforted, but I sure as fuck am not.

The notion that any government action is justifiable if it leads to the capture and trial of someone engaged in a criminal act is one that our nation's founders were familiar with: when enough acts are criminalized that government must eliminate all citizens' privacy to enforce the laws, the essence of America's Bill of Rights (especially the Fourth Amendment) is destroyed. And that's where we are today. Privacy is gone, and has been gone for at least two decades.

In my youth I was convinced of the superiority of America's form of government. Why do I now think that that "superiority" is a pile of rank, steaming bullshit?

If there is a god, and if that god can damn, then god damn the people who did this and continue to do this... god damn them.

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