Obama administration defends massive phone record collection


The White House has sought to justify its surveillance of millions of Americans’ phone records as anger grows over revelations that a secret court order gives the National Security Agency blanket authority to collect call data from a major phone carrier.

Politicians and civil liberties campaigners described the disclosures, revealed by the Guardian on Wednesday, as the most sweeping intrusion into private data they had ever seen by the US government.

Obama administration defends massive phone record collection

But the Obama administration, while declining to comment on the specific order, said the practice was “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States”.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure has reignited longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice under President Obama.

The White House stressed that orders such as the one disclosed by the Guardian would only cover data about the calls rather than their content. A senior administration official said: “Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counter-terrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.

“As we have publicly stated before, all three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorising intelligence collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congress passed that act and is regularly and fully briefed on how it is used, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorises such collection. There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”

The administration stressed that the court order obtained by the Guardian relates to call data, and does not allow the government to listen in to anyone’s calls.

However, in 2013, such metadata can provide authorities with vast knowledge about a caller’s identity. Particularly when cross-checked against other public records, the metadata can reveal someone’s name, address, driver’s licence, credit history, social security number and more. Government analysts would be able to work out whether the relationship between two people was ongoing, occasional or a one-off.




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10 Responses

  1. doesntmatter says:

    big brother has been here for a while…he has just finally grown some grown man balls, and is now swinging them around with pride lol. we have been watched, from video game consoles, to on star lol….and we will continue to be watched, and followed, and monitored, and labled, and chastised, and stripped more and more of regular rights as being a human being. only difference now is, YOU KNOW ABOUT IT…lol, sip that koolaid for a moment XD

  2. aj weishar says:

    This started with the Bush administration, and the media is twisting the story to create news. The main purpose of this data dump is to preserve historical phone records of criminals and terrorists. Once identified, law enforcement officials do a retro phone tap, so to speak. For the less tech savvy people, the national security organizations do not have the resources and manpower to review the data of average citizens. They are underfunded and short handed in their mission to deal with terrorists.

  3. SERF says:

    The Obama bin Laden Regime is the BIGGEST TERRORIST ORGANISATION on the face of this earth and they have W.M.D, SO NEXT send some drones to take them all out, if that does not work, a cruise missile will be better,even better use them as live targets like the DHS pictures. Put The mother of frankenstein first in line, and then the other liers and dont forget the members of JOD. Just put IED under obama, because that is what he deserves.

  4. Former Paratrooper says:

    The Congress has failed to live up to their Oaths of Office. They have failed to uphold and defend the constitution, especially as we have seen this week with the Verizon developments. This is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. They justify this as needed to prevent another terrorist attack while they allow thousands of illegals to stream across our southern borders. What liars and hypocrites. Additionally they have failed in their oversight duties concerning the executive branch. I blame both Democrats and Republicans, but especially the Socialist Progressives, who I call NAZIS. In the 40s during WWII our men shot them down in the streets and in the woods and in my opinion that is all that is good for them.

    • Elaine says:

      We ALL know that people who intend to attack the U.S. from within buy “throw away cell phones”. IF they buy too many in one place, the FBI is contacted.

      I have no real proof…only my opinion.
      You know this, and I know this…This has nothing to do with “keeping US safe.”
      I believe he fears that people will fight him; and how do they organize? Through their phones and the internet. That is why he wants control of both.

  5. carl says:

    The right to privacy ,the right to free speech ,the right to a free press,And the government shall NOT make any laws to abridge these rights.A man’s home is his castle the government shall not impinge upon these rights.A supreme court ruling by justice Marshall, rights not privileges we have these rights and no one can either give them or take them away because we are born with them we own them.Its time we act like free people not sheep.

    • doesntmatter says:

      they’ve taken those rights, and it is now too late to act…the only reason they were able to get where they are today is due to the sickness of our ppl, from their mentalities to the physicalities…sickness abounds and has taken over. we need strong minded individuals, with strong will to be able to kick back what has and is being done to us…how many of those individuals do you personally know?? how will you be able to find the others that exist, and bring them together to go against gastapo and co??? usa is the laboratory of lab rats of the world…they test it on us, and spread it like cancer to the rest of the world.

      its bigger than us…so either get/stay in touch with you higher power, or battle it on your own…either way, at the end of the day, your mind will be blown at our inevitable future.

  6. Ltpar says:

    Question is, how are millions of numbers selected and with what criteria. Also keep in mind that the Great Pretender and his radical Administration considers Conservatives and Tea Party Members to be Domestic Terrorists. While I personally have no big secrets that they will learn by monitoring or listening to my phone calls, I am a conservative and object to being on their Terrorist List. You can take it to the bank that if the brown stuff ever hits the fan, Martial Law is declared, we will be the ones they will be coming for first? It can only get worse, not better during the next four years? That said, “Don’t blame me, I voted for the American.

    • doesntmatter says:

      next four YEARS?? o_o…yea, lots of wishful thinking going on these days…how bout 4 MONTHS. hell, I already have whiplash from 6 months ago, smh…this ish is zoom zooming man, and unfortunately its not gonna slow down for wishful thinking 🙁

  7. Elaine says:

    I am a little slow on the up-take here….took me a bit to figure it out.
    No, I got the first part.
    They aren’t doing this to catch phone chatter about a possible “foreign attempt” for another 9/11, Boston, etc. It is commonly known that they buy “throw away cell phones; and have been keeping tabs on people who purchased “too many” at one time.

    This is for Americans. They want to know everything.
    The part I mentioned about being “slow on the up-take”?
    He is aware Americans are preparing for Civil War in Our Own Country.
    Verizon and the large phone companies have the most customers that would be getting in touch with each other.

    This is a tragic time in our history.

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