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October 16, 2008

Where Does the NSA Get Off?

Quotes of the Day:
I tried phone sex once, but the holes were too small.
– Unknown

I sleep with my phone. We have that good of a relationship.
– Anonymous

Subject: NSA listens to soldier’s pillow-talk

You may remember we opposed warrantless surveillance of phones and emails by the federal government. We said it was unnecessary and un-Constitutional. We predicted it would lead to abuses — like virtually every other government program designed to “protect us.”

Of course, the people pushing for this program said we didn’t understand the danger. They said they were too busy tracking various plots to screw around. Actually, the Intelligence Czar put it this way: “It’s not for the heck of it. We are narrowly focused and drilled on protecting the nation against al Qaeda and those organizations who are affiliated with it.”

They’re all business. But even a conservative Republican Senator still wondered if they just weren’t looking to pry into people’s personal lives. The Intelligence Czar replied, “No sir.”

Now, ABC reports that two whistleblowers have undressed the true behavior of the National Security Agency. Both of these people are Arab linguists. They said that the agency was listening to the truly personal conversations of people with absolutely zero connection to terrorism, like aid workers, journalists, and soldiers.

Don’t our soldiers, who are fighting for democracy or something, deserve a little privacy when they’re separated from their spouses for a year at a time?

Alas, no. It’s an issue of national sexuality… er, security.

One former NSA employee reports that her colleagues stayed on the lines and listened into calls that were about “personal, private things [involving] Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”

The other whistleblower says they’d open up the speakers so that others in the rooms could listen to “good phone sex or… some pillow talk… It would be some colonel making pillow talk,” with a girlfriend or a spouse. 

No matter what the anti-privacy politicians and bureaucrats say, this swap of civil liberty for security is un-Constitutional.

So just where does the NSA get-off with this spying?

Now we know.

The good news is this is an election year. The two main candidates for President have real differences between them on warrantless surveillance. Barack Obama voted in support of it back in July. But John McCain didn’t think a Congressional vote was required for the NSA to listen to these calls.

Thank God for two parties and representative democracy (sarcasm intended).

We can’t rely on the results of the upcoming election. The truth is, we never can. That’s why we must act, through direct pressure, and we must act relentlessly and decisively.

We need to reclaim ALL of the civil liberties ground we’ve lost in the last seven years. And one bill would do exactly that. The lead sponsor is Congressman Ron Paul, and it’s titled, “The American Freedom Agenda Act.” 

In addition to restoring the ”Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlawing warrantless spying on American citizens by the Executive Branch, it would also . . .

* Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2006” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents

* Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President’s use of “signing statements” as a means to avoid executing the nation’s laws

* Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments

* Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government

* Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

Please, right now, use our Educate the Powerful System to send a message urging your Representative to co-sponsor, and your Senators to sponsor, The American Freedom Agenda Act.

Finally, we may be in the midst of our own Black October. To keep your Downsize DC Army going, three types of supporters are needed right now:

1) A donor who is doing well in these uncertain times that would give us $1,000 or $2,000 or more right now.
2) New pledgers. In August we lost our second largest pledger at $235 per month. Our pledges have been down the last two months, and it appears, as of now, that we still going to come in below July.
3) More donors of all sizes, because every dollar helps. 
Do you value our work? Please be heard. Make a generous contribution now.

A tip of the hat to Jacob Sullum who inspired the insights in this message.

Thank you for being part of the Downsize DC Army,

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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