Lawmakers have been hinting at it for years – the Federal Government’s widespread and consistent surveillance of US citizens conducted officially in the interest of national security.
A secretive federal agency was really after Will Smith’s character in the movie “Enemy of the State”.
And it turns out the real National Security Agency – the NSA — so secretive it’s often called “No Such Agency”, has reportedly been building a massive database of landline phone records from Verizon Customers, among other sources.
The British newspaper “The Guardian” reports Verizon did not have a choice and was ordered to hand over “all call detail records . . . for communications between the United States and abroad; or wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls on an ongoing basis.”
The surveillance appears to be a continuation of the same kind of monitoring conducted under the Bush Administration, except with authorization by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The FISC was created in 1978, on the heels of Watergate and other scandals involving secret wiretaps – to deter the government from abusing its surveillance authority.
Senate Intelligence Committee Member Diane Feinstein attempted to assure the public the NSA does not collect the actual content of those Verizon calls – yet.
“This is just metadata. There is no content involved. In other words, no content of a communication. The records can only be accessed under heightened standards. The information goes into a database – the metadata – that cannot be accessed, without what’s called, and I quote, reasonable, articulable, suspicious that the records are relevant and related to terrorist activity,” said Feinstein.