"Tools of mass communication that were once the province of governments and corporations now fit in your pocket. Cell phones can capture video and send it wirelessly to the Internet. People can send eyewitness accounts, photos and videos, with a few keystrokes, to thousands or even millions via social networking sites. As these technologies have developed, so too has the ability to monitor, filter, censor and block them....
Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a media policy group, says the actions of Iran and China should alert us to domestic surveillance issues in the U.S. He told me: “This technology that monitors everything that goes through the Internet is something that works, it’s readily available, and there’s no legislation in the United States that prevents the U.S. government from employing it. ... It’s widely known that the major carriers, particularly AT&T and Verizon, were being asked by the NSA [National Security Agency], by the Bush administration ... to deploy off-the-shelf technology made by some of these companies like Cisco.” The equipment formed the backbone of the “warrantless wiretapping” program.
Thomas Tamm was the Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on that program. In 2004, he called The New York Times from a subway pay phone and told reporter Eric Lichtblau about the existence of a secret domestic surveillance program. In 2007, the FBI raided his home and seized three computers and personal files. He still faces possible prosecution. Tamm told me: “I think I put my country first ... our government is still violating the law. I’m convinced ... that a lot more Americans have been illegally wiretapped than we know.”
The warrantless wiretapping program was widely considered illegal. After abruptly switching his position in midcampaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama voted along with most in Congress to grant telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon retroactive immunity from prosecution. The New York Times recently reported that the NSA maintains a database called Pinwale, with millions of intercepted e-mail, including some from former President Bill Clinton.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was recently asked by Sen. Russ Feingold if he felt that the original warrantless wiretap program was illegal:
Feingold: “[I]s there any doubt in your mind that the warrantless wiretapping program was illegal?”
Holder: “Well, I think that the warrantless wiretapping program, as it existed at that point, was certainly unwise, in that it was put together without the approval of Congress.”
Feingold: “But I asked you, Mr. Attorney General, not whether it was unwise, but whether you consider it to have been illegal.”
Holder: “The policy was an unwise one.”
So Holder is leaving the way open to do just what the Left condemned GWB for doing. So if Obama wants to eavesdrop on the conversations of HIS version of "terrorists" -- such as ordinary American gun owners -- he can do so. Rather chilling to free speech!
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here