I suppose it is only natural to expect our home country media would be sleeping on this story. It’s hard to believe they have just discovered it since I’ve noted earlier a former big chief in the FBI spoke about not only being able to know the metadata of the call but the contents.
On June 5 the Guardian broke this story about the NSA sweeping in every Americans telephone records. The home country newspapers figured since it is out of the bag perhaps we should report about it also. I wonder if their reluctance comes from the fear instilled by the Obama Administration on America’s media.
The Washington Post picked it up as did the NY Times pretending they have just learned about it. I hate to say it but what they are telling us is not really big news. What is being done by the NSA and other intelligence units including the FBI is something that they have been doing since at least the 1960s.
When I was dealing with wiretaps we would routinely get this information from the telephone companies. It just shows a past happening. It is a record of one telephone of a specific number having called another, the date and time the call was made and the length of the call. It does not tell anything about the contents of the conversation.
It was also easy back then for the feds to get what was called a pen register to record that information as it was happening. It was useful when you wanted to show a connection between individuals to add to other facts to support one’s statement of probable cause. Otherwise, it was rather benign information.
What is being done now and has been for years is more of a convenience to and protection of the telephone companies. It also makes the government agencies work a little easier since the information is right at hand and no one has to go to the trouble of writing a letter to get it.
It is not considered a violation of the 4th Amendment because the seizure is not of things that a person should have a reasonable expectation will be kept private according to our courts. I used to get the information by sending a letter. I’m sure the feds got it the same way. They have to get court permission to do a pen register but the showing they had to make was minimal; I could not do a pen register without doing a full-blown affidavit that also allowed me to intercept the contents of the call so I never used them.
So this sweep of information doesn’t surprise me or trouble me because it would have always been available had our government agencies decided to get it. However, if the government is storing the contents of these calls, as retired FBI assistant director Tim Clemens indicated, that is indeed something to worry about. I’d like the national news media to follow-up on that.
Speaking of going overseas to find out what is happening in this country we also saw our members of Congress travel to Russia to see what the FBI knew about our recent terrorist attack? They were led on their Russian trip by one of the top members of our State Department, Steven Seagal. What has become of my country when our elected national representatives need to find a guy who acted in movies to help them out?
The Washington Post to its credit did put the statements by the leader of the delegation, the ever quotable news hound Dana Rohrabacher, in proper perspective. However, I have to admit I was bothered by the juxtapositions in its editorial of these statements. In the beginning it noted that Rohrabacher said “quite reasonably, that the United States and Russia could have done nothing specific to prevent the Boston bombing,” Later it said, “The congressman displayed ignorance and naivete.”
It seems the Post wants the give the same person credit when he says something it likes (like the FBI can’t be faulted) but wants to blast him when he says something disagreeable (the Russians are good guys). But how could Rohracacher’s statement be reasonable when Congressman Keating who was there with him said we could have done something. More so when the Washington Post has no idea what the FBI did after it received the tip from Russia.
The Post should go back a few days and read its editorial about the FBI’s cover-up in the Todashev killling. It is over two weeks since he was killed in a room filled with at least six cops. Incredibly, there is no FBI statement about how it happened. It is still investigating the simplest of all crime scenes. No mainstream media source is bothered by this?
It’s almost two months since the April terrorist attack. The mainstream media is also not bothered that we know so little about what the FBI did after the Russians tipped us off. Something is not right. I get the feeling that all our national media is intimidated by the FBI. That seems to be the big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. We go on playing “let’s pretend.”