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Old 05-12-2006, 01:59 PM   #1
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Look Everybody We're East Berlin, Pre-Wall Topple!

Do we get to have statues of Dubya to topple later... much later? I bet we will...

Link to article with photos and links

Bush Is Pressed Over New Report on Surveillance
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Gen. Michael V. Hayden speaking to reporters following a meeting with Senater Chuck Hagel, left, on Capitol Hill.

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Published: May 12, 2006
WASHINGTON, May 11 — Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike demanded answers from the Bush administration on Thursday about a report that the National Security Agency had collected records of millions of domestic phone calls, even as President Bush assured Americans that their privacy is "fiercely protected."

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Video: Domestic Spying Controversy

Graphic: Domestic Surveillance Revelations and Responses
With Access Denied, Justice Department Drops Spying Investigation (May 11, 2006)
President Bush's Statement (May 11, 2006)
Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts (Dec. 16, 2005)

The USA Today Article: NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls

Threats & Responses
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Readers’ Opinions
Forum: National Security

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Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Gen. Michael V. Hayden and Senator Mitch McConnell spoke to reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.
"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Mr. Bush said before leaving for a commencement address in Mississippi. "Our efforts are focused on links to Al Qaeda and their known affiliates."

The president sought to defuse a tempest on Capitol Hill over an article in USA Today reporting that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth had turned over tens of millions of customer phone records to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But Mr. Bush's remarks appeared to do little to mollify members of Congress, as several leading lawmakers said they wanted to hear directly from administration officials and telecommunication executives.

The report rekindled the controversy about domestic spying.

Several lawmakers predicted the new disclosures would complicate confirmation hearings next week for Gen. Michael V. Hayden, formerly the head of the N.S.A., as the president's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

One senior government official, who was granted anonymity to speak publicly about the classified program, confirmed that the N.S.A. had access to records of most telephone calls in the United States. But the official said the call records were used for the limited purpose of tracing regular contacts of "known bad guys."

"To perform such traces," the official said, "you'd have to have all the calls or most of them. But you wouldn't be interested in the vast majority of them."

The New York Times first reported in December that the president had authorized the N.S.A. to conduct eavesdropping without warrants.

The Times also reported in December that the agency had gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to get access to records of vast amounts of domestic and international phone calls and e-mail messages.

The agency analyzes communications patterns, the report said, and looks for evidence of terrorist activity at home and abroad.

The USA Today article on Thursday went further, saying that the N.S.A. had created an enormous database of all calls made by customers of the three phone companies in an effort to compile a log of "every call ever made" within this country. The report said one large phone company, Qwest, had refused to cooperate with the N.S.A. because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Some Republicans, including Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, defended the N.S.A.'s activities and denounced the disclosure. Mr. Hoekstra said the report "threatens to undermine our nation's safety."

"Rather than allow our intelligence professionals to maintain a laser focus on the terrorists, we are once again mired in a debate about what our intelligence community may or may not be doing," he said.

But many Democrats and civil liberties advocates said they were disturbed by the report, invoking images of Big Brother and announcing legislation aimed at reining in the N.S.A.'s domestic operations. Fifty-two members of Congress asked the president to name a special counsel to investigate the N.S.A.'s domestic surveillance programs.
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