This story from USA Today is shocking, yet it’s not surprising at the same time. Didn’t we know something like this was coming eventually?
Big props to Qwest Communications for not buckling under the pressure from the NSA to hand over the phone records of their customers without a warrant. This section of the story is mind blowing:
Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest’s patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest’s refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.
In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.
Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest’s lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.
The NSA’s explanation did little to satisfy Qwest’s lawyers. “They told (Qwest) they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them,” one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest’s suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general’s office. A second person confirmed this version of events.
So in short, the NSA and the Bush administration think it’s perfectly ok to seek the private phone records of American citizens without a warrant because the court “might not agree” with their reasoning for a warrant. Wow!! It’s granted that some of the details in this story may be inaccurate but the fact that we are seeing our president, who is at a 31% approval rating and not wanting to touch this story with a ten-foot pole, is on t.v. defending this practice of the NSA tells me this story has some serious traction.