Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Thursday, September 29, 2016

It will not be with guns.

If ever tyranny overtakes this land of the sometimes free and home of the intermittently brave, it probably won’t, contrary to the fever dreams of gun rights extremists, involve jack-booted government thugs rappelling down from black helicopters. Rather, it will involve changes to words on paper many have forgotten or never knew, changes that chip away until they strip away precious American freedoms.

It will involve a trade of sorts, an inducement to give up the reality of freedom for the illusion of security. Indeed, the bargain has already been struck.

That is the takeaway from the latest controversy to embroil the Obama administration. Yes, it is troubling to learn the National Security Agency has been running a secret program that reputedly gives it access to Americans’ web activity — emails, chats, pictures, video uploads — on such Internet behemoths as Google, Facebook and Apple. Yes, it is troubling to hear that Obama has routinely renewed a Bush-era program allowing the feds to more easily graze the “metadata” of phone activity (time and date, numbers dialed, etc.) of millions of Verizon customers.

But what is most troubling is that Americans are not particularly troubled by any of it. According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post, most of us — 56 percent — are OK with the monitoring of metadata, a process then-Sen. Joe Biden called “very, very intrusive” back in 2006.

According to the same poll, nearly half — 45 percent — also approve of allowing the government to track email content and other online activity. And 62 percent feel it is more important to investigate terrorist threats than to safeguard the right to privacy. That approval is consistent across party lines.

We are at war against terror, the thinking goes, so certain liberties must be sacrificed. It’s the same thing people said when similar issues arose under the Bush regime. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that the “war” is open-ended and mostly metaphorical, meaning that we can anticipate no formal surrender point at which our rights will be restored.

For what it’s worth, we’ve seen similar ambivalence toward the excess of another open-ended metaphorical conflict, the War on Drugs. It has also played havoc with basic civil rights, the courts essentially giving police free rein to stop whomever whenever without needing a warrant or a reason.

  • TZToronto

    I scratch my head when someone says that government snooping is OK if you’ve done nothing wrong. Well, if I’ve done nothing wrong, why does the government want to know what I’m doing? Does the Constitution actually exist? Is it simply a piece of parchment in a glass case in Washington that has no meaning? Sorry, but here’s what it says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
    and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
    violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
    supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
    to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” It looks to me like this surveillance is clearly in violation of the Fourth Amendment (just as it was when Bush II was President). The text says that a warrant, based on probable cause, is required and implies that the search can’t simply be a fishing expedition. Well, that apparently is what the NSA is doing. If there is actually a warrant, it must be based on probable cause. Who swore the required oath? If everyone is subject to the search, then everyone is suspected of being a terrorist. That’s simply tyrannical and must stop. . . . Today would be a good day. (And I’m not laying the blame for this solely on Obama. Congress approved the Patriot Act, and that’s the basis of this whole un-Constitutional mess.)

    • lana ward

      Obama is building a massive apparatus to destroy privacy worldwide, how is that for intrusive

      • Independent1

        Sorry Lana – it was George Bush that built than network!!

        • lana ward

          Sorry Depends, It is being built right now

          • Dominick Vila

            Do you mean to tell us that the most inept President in history was unable to “build” the organizations and accomplish goals critical to our national security from the time he signed some of them (the Patriot Act was signed in October 2001) and the time he left office in January 2009?
            I am not a fan of George W. Bush, but his administration managed to accomplish the implementation goals stipulated in the Patriot Act. Obviously, his efforts did not prevent 12 terrorist attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions, the attacks that took place in Madrid, London, Bali and other places, but the truth is that the consolidation of our intelligence agencies was long overdue, and that it strengthened our ability to minimize the probability of terrorist attacks. The only legitimate claim that can be made against President Obama on this issue, is that he extended the Patriot Act in 2011. I would not be surprised if future U.S. presidents do the same in the future, as better technologies, concepts and processes become available. The goal is not to learn what Lana is talking about, but to learn what potential terrorists in the U.S. and abroad are planning. If you don’t understand that, or have a problem with it, you have a problem!

          • lana ward

            Snoop monkey is snooping on everyones calls for terrorists, but he WON’T snoop in the mosques where the terrorists are. WTF is up with that!!!!!

          • WhutHeSaid

            You will have plenty of opportunity to snoop on terrorists where you’re going. In fact, you will be able to snoop on Osama in person while both of you roast in Hell for your misdeeds on Earth. Get your ya-ya’s out while you can, because your hateful ways have earned you a one-way ticket on the brimstone express.

          • lana ward

            Snoop monkey is snooping on everyone, infringing on our rights. You didn’t answer, WHY won’t he snoop on mosques!!!! That ‘s where the terrorists are!!!!!

      • TZToronto

        Is he doing it in his spare time? I won’t dispute that the network is being used, but to say that Obama is building it is not accurate. It was already there when he took office in 2009.

        • lana ward

          It is the workings inside. He is going to destroy privacy worldwide!! Heil OHitler!!!

          • Elisabeth Gordon

            NOBODY wants to hear you anymore Lana….are you in fact Eva Braun? – because you sure seem to miss Hitler…

        • Dominick Vila

          TZ, people like Lana will criticize their own values and undermine their own policies if doing so helps them score a few political points among the naïve. I doubt he/she will get too many converts in this forum, but there are rather successful when they use the use cacophony of unsubstantiated and distortions of fact among the uninformed, and among those who are vulnerable for a variety of reasons.
          Lana also likes to provoke a reaction, for self-aggrandizement, and as a distraction to divert our attention from the pathetic record of the Grand Old Party.

          • TZToronto

            I know, I know. . . . Sometimes I can’t help myself. . . . A few years back, I got into a message board that was populated by people like Lana. Everything they said was fueled by their desire to see the world taken over by a true conservative leader, someone like George W. Bush. Arrrrgggghhh!!! So I happily departed, and I was never happier.

      • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

        Lana, must you continuously repeat your previous posts when you reply to other posters? Your evidence of lacking a semblance of a clue does not favor people taking anything you post with any level of seriousness. At least you have stopped with your mildly self-censured vulgarity (for now), but the foaming at your mouth whenever you describe President Obama alternately as a Socialist/Communist, then as a Fascist does offer the rest of us great amusement.

        • lana ward

          Heil OHitler!!!

          • WhutHeSaid

            You’ll have plenty of opportunity to heil Hitler in person when you arrive in Hell, so be careful what you wish for. Both of you will be able to heil each other to your black little hearts’ content while Satan jabs both your asses with a red-hot pitchfork. How’s that for privacy?

          • lana ward

            Snoop monkey is snooping on everyones calls looking for terrorists but WON’T snoop on mosques where the terrorists are!!! WTF is up with that!!!!

          • WhutHeSaid

            Obama has been scanning your brain, so that’s why you’ve been acting so loopy. You need to fashion yourself a tin-foil helmet so that you can continue Satan’s work unhindered. If you don’t do this, soon you will join the NAACP and start marching with the Rainbow Coalition. Hurry, you don’t have that many brain cells left!

          • lana ward

            Can’t answer? I can

          • lana ward

            Obama has his sweeping surveillance of our most private communications but it excludes the jihad factories where the terrorists are–mosques. Islamic groups complained about FBI stings at mosques so Obama placed them off limits. They had dozens of successful sting operations against homegrown jihadists inside mosques and disrupted dozens of plots against our country SO WHY WOULD OBAMA EXCLUDE THEM from the snooping????????

        • lana ward

          OHitler is taking a 100 million dollar to Africa but can’t afford to open the WH for our kids to visit.–WTF is up with that????

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      I question the validity of the entire Constitution.

      In reality, it never meant a dam thing to the average person on the street. It was designed by the Elite to keep the Elite in power and divide us as a people from the first day it was thought of.

      • ObozoMustGo

        You are free to leave, Mikey! Do you need money for a one-way ticket to whatever socialist paradise you wish? I’ll take up a collection for you.

        Have a nice trip!

        “We can state with conviction, therefore, that a man’s support for absolute government is in direct proportion to the contempt he feels for his country.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    • ObozoMustGo

      TZToronto, you’re assesment and interpretation of the 4th Amendment is right on. Every administration, R or D, takes the prior advances made in pushing the envelope, and tries to push it some more. Laws transcend politicians. Unfortunately, some people in here cannot get their minds out of the gutter of the R vs. D wars to see this truth.

      Have a nice day!

      “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben Franklin

      • WhutHeSaid

        Yes, why some people even go so far as to invent slanderous and demeaning screen names to leave their bigoted imprint while trying to claim that they are arguing substance. We aren’t fooled — are you?

  • Independent1

    What a garbage article!! Leonard Pitts SPENDS an entire article demonizing NSA’s and our government’s data gathering and did not identify ONE, not ONE REASON why anyone should be up in arms about it – other than from the standpoint of PARANOIA!!!!
    I’m sure had he been able to site even when event in which the data gathering had had a negative impact on even ONE law-abiding citizen, Mr. Pitts would have sited it – BUT THERE ARE NONE!!! Which is why I am one of the 56% who are OK with the data gathering – because over 7 years there have been absolutely no accounts recorded of the data gathering impacting EVEN ONE law-abiding American. And in a just published news article – a general testified before Congress that – The Patriot Act provision that allowed the National Security Agency to collect phone records has helped thwart “dozens” of terror events, Gen. Keith Alexander said Wednesday at a congressional hearing on cybersecurity. Alexander promised that records showing the secret surveillance program was critical to disrupting terrorist plots will be made public within a week. Next time Mr. Pitts chooses to demonize something our government is doing it would be well if he could identify even ONE downside to what the government is doing – other than affecting his paranoia about his nonexistent privacy..

    • lana ward

      Obama is building a massive apparatus to destroy privacy worldwide!! How is this for the snoop monkey dictator

      • Independent1

        Sorry Lana – It was George Bush that built that network.

        • R. DuFresne

          LOL are you seriously trying to educate lana, who obviously is only here to spout Obamahate. If uneducated enough to continually repeat something so obviously wrong and easy to “Google” to correct-not worth wasting your time. Good try though 🙂 None of the Bushites acknowledge his intent to rape this country through war/Patriotic Act. Too late now to whine and blame it on PBO.

          • Independent1

            No! I gave up trying to reason with Lana months ago – I was only trying to give her back some of her own medicine by refuting her nonsense posts by copying the same post into different responses to her/it. (Remember, we’re not certain Lana is a she – it’s really my sense that Lana is an IT. I think Lana is a group of nitwit conservatives that take turns spouting nonsense posts just to harrass posters in the National Memo comment threads.)

      • Dominick Vila

        Snoop monkey? Hopefully you are a foreigner, because any American born citizen that refers to an elected President in that manner deserves to be stripped of his/her citizenship. Oh. don’t forget to send your white robes to the dry cleaners so that you can get them back on time for the weekend rallies.

        • Dalcb09

          “because any American born citizen that refers to an elected President in that manner deserves to be stripped of his/her citizenship.”

          Are you a freaking idiot? IT’S CALLED THE 1st AMENDMENT. People can say whatever they want about any elected official, whether you/the government/or Santa Claus agrees with it. Go suck off Obama, because for some reason you can’t fathom that our glorious king president is exactly like his predecessor.

          • Dominick Vila

            There is a difference between freedom of speech and respecting the Office of the Presidency, regardless of how much you may dislike the current occupant. There is nothing wrong with voicing disagreement, there is something very wrong when childish insults replace decorum.

          • Charles Edwin Langford Jr.

            Uneducated fool you are!

          • Pat Brown

            It’s ignorant and very revealing that someone calls the first black President a monkey. That is not sucking anyone off. Lana has shown she’s a bigot by her choice of words on a public forum. It’s not like uttering something you immediately regret. She said what she meant to say for a reason.

        • Elisabeth Gordon

          In my opinion, the Secret Service needs to have a little chat with Lana….the sooner the better.

      • Charles Edwin Langford Jr.

        Really stupid thing to say – if you have problem go to congress and the over-site committee.

        • lana ward

          Your leader is a dictator. Heil OHitler!!!

          • Charles Edwin Langford Jr.

            You don’t know anything about hitler!

          • FT66

            Lana ward, I would like to know how old you are. I have been reading all your comments most of time and found you either are not matured yet, or there is something wrong in your way of thinking, hence your expression by writing. Can you run for the Pres. of US and expect to gather even 10 votes if not only from your own family? You need to grow up, be civilised and respect your leaders. The President won by majority. Do you think you are smarter than they are? Even if it is all about 1st Amendment. BUT this doesn’t allow that you shouldn’t be respectful and talk like a crazy individual.

          • lana ward

            OHitler stole the election with the help of the IRS, the FBI, the DOJ, the NSA and others. That is the only way dems can win–cheat!!!!

          • FT66

            Lana you are sick in your head. So all these needlings is all about bitterness of losing election? Go to court or better hang yourself.

          • lana ward

            Watch the hearings, OHitler stole the election. Heil OHitler!!!

          • lana ward

            OHitler said the other day, our phone calls are not being listened to. The NSA says our phone calls are being listened to. So just who is telling the truth?? When Senator, OHitler condemned Bush for far less, so what does he think of himself??? Can you name ONE time this dictator OHitler has ever told the truth?? Just one

    • tdm3624

      But there is a downside; millions of Americans are having their privacy violated for an illusion of safety, mostly without their knowledge or consent. Tax dollars are being wasted on this as well.

      • Independent1

        Utter nonsense!! The only people who may be having their privacy pried into are people who are calling foreign numbers to places with very active terrorist activies or where NSA knows there are terrorists working; or people who are dialing domestic numbers that have become suspect because of intelligence that has been gathered, or people who have some very suspicious call patterns. It’s pretty obvious since our intelligence community was totally caught off guard by the Boston Bombers that NSA IS NOT TRACKING EVERYONE!!! WAKE UP!!!
        There are 500 million to a billion phone calls made every day – how in creation do people like you think that a handful of people in NSA can
        be monitoring all those calls – when are you people going to GET REAL!!!

        • WhutHeSaid

          They don’t use people for monitoring calls — this is 2013. Computers are more than capable of searching through billions of calls for many things, and they don’t care whether it’s terrorism-related or not.

          Protection against unreasonable (warrantless) searches and seizures wasn’t put into the US Constitution because people were terrorists in the 18th century — it was put in because people were wise enough even then to know that any power the government has can — and eventually will — be misused.

          I for one agree with the old-timers who knew tyranny first-hand and were determined to erect safeguards against it. Just because you’ve enjoyed the results of their wisdom for all of your life doesn’t mean that now we can all afford to be fools. People are willing to fight and die to protect basic human dignity and freedoms. Did you ever pay attention in history class?

          • Independent1

            Where are you people getting this notion that NSA is monitoring billions of phone calls?? Nothing could be more stupid. Do you have any idea how big of a waste of time and resources that would be given all the short term, nitwit calls that people make? I was in the Air Force Security Service for 9 years – more than 8 of it supporting NSA and I can guarantee you that what you posted is a pipedream!!! NSA is not that stupid – they’re focusing their efforts on VALID SUSPECT PHONE CALLS THAT FIT A PATTERN OR ARE TO SPECIFIC COUNTRIES OR TO SUSPECT PHONE NUMBERS – They are not blindly scanning billions of phone calls – how stupid can some of you posters get!!!!!

          • WhutHeSaid

            Judging by your post, pretty damn foolish.

            Just because you spent some time interacting with a small part of the NSA doesn’t mean that you are privy to everything they are doing. I’ve worked with elements of the national defense and security apparatus for this country too, but that doesn’t mean that I know everything they are doing or are going to do. What I did see was worrisome enough, believe me.

            You need to grow up and understand the bigger picture here. Giving any part of the government free access to citizen’s private phone records is like giving them permission to come in your house and snoop around, and your argument would be the same: “Do you think the government has time to search everyone’s house? They are going to focus on specific houses that look like they harbor terrorists.” Bullshit — somebody will eventually get around to abusing the access, you can bet your ass on it.

            With government, trust works better when it’s enforceable. People always have a tendency to do what they believe they can get away with, and the government is made up of people.You are trying to force your very parochial view upon people who may have very different experiences than you.

            Safeguards against government overreach are part of the fabric of this country. If you believe that they are no longer important or that they were a waste of time to begin with then you don’t know very much about the real world.

        • S.J. Jolly

          Look up how J. Edgar Hoover’s used his control over the FBI to collect secret information on public figures and politicians, to keep himself in office long after he should have been replaced.

        • tdm3624

          They may not be tracking everyone; the point is that right now they can, whenever they want, track anyone, without much evidence.

    • ObozoMustGo

      Dependent1… if gathering the records of ALL Americans was supposed to work, why did it not get the Boston Bombers? Damit dude, they frigging knew about them in advance. They interviewed the older brother. The boys used cell phones and emails. How in the hell did that get through the cracks? Crap, they did everything but put up a billboard or an advert in the Boston Herald. The monitoring of every American’s records OBVIOUSLY does NOT make us any safer.

      Have a nice day!

      “This Administration [the Bush Admin.] also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

      “That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

      “This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.” – Barack Hussein Obozo, August2007

      • jnap

        Your Fucing nuts Ob. Please go away.

        • ObozoMustGo

          Nappy… Is that you hiding behind the jnap alias? I suppose this side of you is your “Mr. Hyde” side, eh.

          Have a nice day!

          “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it’s thinking that makes what we read ours.” ― John Locke

      • Independent1

        They didn’t identify the bombers because AS I SAID, the NSA IS NOT TRACKING EVERYONE!! When are nitwit Americans going to realize that!!! NSA is only tracking callers who call foreign numbers in places where terrorists are active; or making domestic calls to numbers that are suspect because of intelligence that has been gathered; or callers with really fishy call patterns. But despite that – General Alexander, head of NSA, said in testimony to Congress yesterday that the NSA call monitoring program has prevented DOZENS of terriorist attacks and that information on those attacks would be made public over the next couple of weeks.
        There is NO illegal wire-tapping going on – only in the minds of demented folks such as yourself.

        • ObozoMustGo

          Stupid moron, Dependent1… you’ve just placed your status of Low Information Voter in cement. The truth is that they were NOT tracking everyone under Bush, but only foreign communications of known or suspected terrorist. You’re so stupid.

          What this article is about is the NSA collection of ALL AMERICANS PHONE RECORDS. What Obozo calls so nonchalantly now “meta data” as if it that means nothing. So, when you call a doctor and within an hour call and AIDS clinic, they don’t know what your conversation is about? Of course they do you moron. Meta data can provide huge amounts of insight on your personal habits and beliefs. And the NSA has been collecting it. It’s all over the news and has been for over a week when a copy of the FISA “warrant” granting them authority to spy on ALL Americans who were Verizon customers was released. It is now known that they are doing it on all carriers, not just Verizon.

          And now they tell us they are doing it “for your safety”… Yeah, right. Sure, sure. It’s their statement that prompts me to prove their lies are wrong. If it was for our safety, how come they could not stop the Boston bombing by 2 kids that all but advertised on a billboard? Whom the FBI interviewed a year earlier. Whom the Russians warned us in advance the older one was radicalized in Chechnya. So if colllecting phone records of people we KNOW are possible terrorists, how is collecting EVERYONE’S phone records going to make us safe? IT’S NOT! That’s the point. Only a drone and moron like you believes every word that comes from your messiah’s pie hole.

          Have a nice day, dope!

          • Independent1

            And t hat’s exactly where you’re showing your total stupidity!!! NSA IS NOT COLLECTING ALL OF AMERICANS PHONE RECORDS IDIOT!!!! HOW IN THE HELL COULD NSA BE COLLECTING 2.4 BILLION PHONE CALLS PER DAY!!! WAKE UP AND USE YOUR STUPID HEAD!!! THAT IS NOT HAPPENING!!!!! YOUR SO STUPID YOU HAVE NO CLUE AS TO HOW MUCH RECORDING SPACE AND COMPUTER TIME IT WOULD TAKE TO RECORD 2.4 BILLION PHONE CALLS SOME OF THEM TAKING HOURS!!!! IT’S A PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY!!!!!! WHEN ARE YOU AND OTHER POSTERS HERE GOING TO WAKE UP TO THE FACT THAT NSA IS ONLY MONITORY TRUE SUSPECT PHONE CALLS??????????? GO JUMP IN THE LAKE YOU NITWIT!!!!

          • ObozoMustGo

            Hey idiot…. do you live under a rock? The NSA is absolutely collecting the phone records of ALL Americans every day. They, and even Obozo, have admitted it on TV. Maybe not on MSLSD or TMZ or Comedy Channel where low information voters like you get your “news”, but it’s true. Even the author of this article above knows it. And they are NOT recording the content of calls, the are collecting the meta data. Did you read my last response, you idiot? Meta data is who you call, when you call, and how long it lasts. ALL OF THEM! Meta data can tell a huge amount about you. They don’t need to record your calls, you dope. And they are violating the 4th Amendment BIG TIME!!! A warrant is required WITH reasonalbe suspicion of having committed or planned to commit a crime. That does not apply to ALL Americans. Regarding the amount of space to store information, that’s no problem. They have a MASSIVE data center repository built in Utah that does this. Look it up.

            Everyone reading your posts is getting a perfectly accurate picture of what an ignorant moron you are. Everyone but you seems to know about the NSA’s collection of phone records of ALL Americans.

            Go back to your crack pipe now, boy. It’s calling you. Can you hear it?

            Have a nice day, and remain oblivious!

            “The difference between being stupid and being a fool: A stupid person at least has an idea about their own inadequacies. The fool is oblivious to them, and is more inclined to believe their own fantasies and lies as truth.” – ObozoMustGo

          • Pat Brown

            It’s incredibly easy to track every thing that travels over a fibre line. You simply put traps in place. You set them up in no time and just let them run. And computer storage is dirt cheap these days and getting cheaper, just like technology is growing exponentially–in months now, not years. What anyone will be able to do in 5 years is beyond our comprehension.

            Are you prepared to give up your right to protest? If you have an opinion that strongly differs from the current administration–and remember this stuff will still be there when the next government takes office–they might well take a close look at your activities. All you have to do is look at the abuses of the FBI in the 50s and 60s to know where the government can go when it thinks it’s right and doesn’t care that people don’t like it.

            And why are you shouting, Independent1? Calling people names does not win arguments or impress anyone with your logical thoughts. And really, all those explanation marks? Isn’t one enough?

      • rustacus21

        Hahahaha!!! DUDE!!! There U are & back for more!!! Glad 2 see U’r still in the game! Lets get it on!!!!!!

        • ObozoMustGo

          Hey rusty! How have you been? To respond to you, if you criticize Bush for something, and then Obozo does what Bush did, but worse, how is it that you cannot criticize Obozo? I put his quote up there to prove to you and all what an absolute hypocrite and liar that he is. Here it is again.

          Have a nice day!

          “This Administration [the Bush Admin.] also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

          “That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

          “This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.” – Barack Hussein Obozo, Hypocrite-in-Chief, August2007

    • rustacus21

      … but the underlying premise is no less accurate. This is where the focus should be, afterall…

      • Independent1

        Sorry, not the premise that Pitts article suggests – that every American is having their phone calls monitored and therefore sacrificing their privacy – sorry I don’t buy that. If the NSA is monitoring people’s phone calls it is a select group of people who are being montored – those who call overseas to areas that harbor terrorists and NSA has a list of those; or people who are calling specific phone numbers or domestic localtions that NSA has intelligence saying there is suspect activity there; or people who are doing something wacky with their call patterns. The NSA may be maintaining call pattern records but these would be scanned electronically and only those that had some kind of suspect activity would be further monittored – IT WOULD NOT BE ALL AMERICANS WHO ARE SACRIFICING THEIR CIVIL LIBERTIES AS PITTS TRIES TO IMPLY!!!!

        • Brian Hall

          Why then has verizion given all americans’ phone records to the govenment? Why have so many companies like google and microsoft handed over our data with out informing us? Is the govenment a third party? Did they just hand them over or did they sell the data? Do you think a person or group of people are looking over that data line by line? You get the data put it on a super computer and then it is as simple as:

          Enter SSN:###-##-####

          Enter Key words for case: blah blah

          Sure they say they are using it to stop harm to the country but there has and there always will be people out to harm America. It is the job of the government to protect us and keep us free. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. “VIGILANCE” look it up. My god, you say you were in the service…I would think you would know that line. When they have all your information they have all the power, how then can you protect yourself from anything?

          • Independent1

            “Why then has Verizon given all American’s phone records to the government?” The key word here is RECORDS. So a COMPUTER PROGRAM can review the records to identify suspicious calling patterns – which is why the people posting here that BELIEVE that NSA is listening to and recording every call are delusional. If NSA was listening and recording every call, why would Verizon have to provide NSA with CALL RECORDS????
            So YES, if the computer program NSA is using to identify SUSPICIOUS CALL PATTERNS, identifies YOUR phone as one
            with suspicious activity, they may well monitor your calls. BUT THEY ARE NOT MONITORING EVERY AMERICANS CALLS!!!!
            BOY DO WE HAVE A BUNCH OF PARANOIDS POSTING ON THIS ARTICLE. Many of the posters here are just like the PARANOIDS (one of which was Thomas Jefferson) who were at the writing of the Constitution who were DEAD CERTAIN that if the Federal Government EVER GOT a standing army, it would overtake and enslave all the states. WOW! We can see that those PARANOIDS were right can’t we!!! GET A LIFE!!!

          • WhutHeSaid

            I don’t see people posting that the government (or any part of it) is listening in to every American’s phone records. What I see is people expressing concern that communication companies like Verizon and Internet providers like Google are being forced to turn over personal information without any kind of warrant or judicial oversight.

            There are people on both extremes of this issue:

            1. People who are absolutely paranoid about the government — including black helicopters hovering overhead.
            2. Government boot-lickers who drop their drawers and grab their ankles every time a government employee approaches them.

            Most people, however, appear to be in the middle: Genuinely concerned that growing government powers into the personal business of individual citizens without the appropriate checks and balances will probably lead to some form of abuse. I include myself in this group. Which group would you fall into?

          • Brian Hall

            I just wanted to come back to you now that all the new news has shown that I was right and you are an idiot. Have fun living your life in a fog of stupid bliss.

          • Independent1

            All they’ve proven to me is that in doing their job, the NSA has had to access information on people (maybe sometimes without authority) who they have suspected of being involved in nefarious activity. No one has proven that the NSA has accessed and used personal information on anyone who was not involved in suspicious types of activity like I’ve outlined: calling a suspect number, calling an area out of the country where terrorists are active or have just had suspicious call patterns. Given that the NSA has uncovered and prevented hundreds of potential terrorist threats over the past 6-7 years, anyone who would believe that in doing that they at times may not have to overstep their bounds, is purely delusional. If the ability of the NSA to maintain its surveillance is curtailed very much, it will not be very long before another incident like 9/11 happens.

          • Brian Hall

            “those that give up freedom for security deserve neither” Google it. Every day they are finding out more and more. It seems clear that illegal events will be uncovered. It seems clear that illegal events have already taken place. FISA make laws in a secret court. All laws need to be writen and approved by the senate thus the law has been already broken. There shall be no secret laws in america. America is free because we do not bend to the will of our enemies but they are trying to make people forget what the executive branch is allowed to do. Forget the past and repeat the mistakes of the past. Sad because it is right there for anyone to read. What the governments job is and what it can and can not do is in a simple document online, at schools and in any library in the country. “Sometimes without authority” is what the public knows so how bad is the real problem?

    • S.J. Jolly

      You think that because, as far as we know, the government hasn’t abused it’s authority to mass-wiretap the American public, some future White House administration won’t?

  • lana ward

    Obama is building a massive apparatus to destroy privacy worldwide, how is that for intrusive??? Your traitor, spying, dictator in Chief

    • Independent1

      Sorry Lana – it was George Bush that built that network.

    • Elisabeth Gordon

      Lana – perhaps next time you bash Obama you’ll read the article first – but, I won’t hold my breath—-“Yes, it is troubling to hear that Obama has routinely renewed a Bush-era program allowing the feds to more easily graze the “metadata” of phone activity (time and date, numbers dialed, etc.) of millions of Verizon customers.” that part in quotes is the point I am trying to make.

      • lana ward

        OHitler says Government is not listening in on our phone calls, the NSA says they are–can you tell me just one time OHitler has told the truth to the American people??? And he is taking a trip to Africa that is going to cost 100 million dollars when we are broke and he says there isn’t enough money to keep the WH open for our kids. WTF is up with that!!!!!!

        • Elisabeth Gordon

          Lana – nothing you spout from your ignorant ranting mouth EVER makes any sense – 100 million dollars? you are certifiable…seek help – today if possible…and, also watch your filthy trash mouth.

          • lana ward

            OHitlers little trip to Africa is going to cost 100 million dollars, he doesn’t care it’s OUR money!!! So–you owe me an apology, asswipe!!!!

          • lana ward

            I think OHitler could keep the WH open for our kids with some of that 100 million dollars, don’t you?? You really need to pay attention to what’s going on if you’re going to comment on it

  • rustacus21

    Unfortunately, those who ignored the revelation that government spying was going on in 2006 were ok w/it then – even as it was unknown & thus, illegal at the time. Now, as a remnant of the saddest, sorriest chapter in all of American history, those same silent American’s that condoned the ‘illegal’ practice of spying on American’s, have only the mental wards to console them, as they understand the authority of a Black President is identical to that of a White President – & have psychologically unraveled in the same way as happened after the 1954 Brown v. Board SCT decision. American’s have yet to realize that our conflicts are rooted in a paranoid aftermath of the racism that colors nearly every aspect of our dealings w/each other. The wars of ’01 & ’03 were completely unnecessary. But please not who they were against? Look at who became obscenely wealthy during the collapse & eventual economic depression of 2008 & beyond? The poor, women & non-Whites have bourne the brunt of the hell that represents America, in the aftermath of the 2001-2009 Republican administration. This is just one more of more representation of the policy insanity of an administration that should have never been. We must make peace w/ourselves & then w/the world for those sins committed by both the action of ignorant voters & the inaction of the passive who refused to act upon what they saw as completely wrong-headedness, by Americans who, just a few years prior, saw President Clinton induct the entire planet as honorary, devoted Americans…

  • charleo1

    A big part of the problem, to those who see this as a problem, (I don’t) is
    centered around the secrecy involved in it all. And, they believe people like
    me, who are willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt, are fools.
    Even though, the phone companies have always kept a record of their calls.
    But, if it’s the government, and it’s running their number along with millions
    of other numbers, to look for patterns that might lead them to a terrorist cell.
    They are demanding their 4th Amendment Rights be restored. And the govern-
    ment, explain itself. So, very much like those who seen running a criminal back-
    ground check on all gun sales, as abridging their 2nd Amendment Rights.
    Concluding it is better that a criminal have a gun, than to expand gun law.
    Better that their government explain itself to them. Even if it enlightens the
    terrorist at the same time. But, I’m the fool? I would pray, for the Country’s
    sake, that the ratio in the amount of common sense to paranoia. That we
    could get the common sense factor up to at least ,1 part to every 100.

  • tdm3624

    I completely agree with you Mr. Pitts. Wonderful article.

    • Independent1

      Sorry, but you are being misled. Your phone activity is not being monitored unless you’re calling overseas to areas where terrorists are active; or you’re calling domestic numbers or areas where intelligence says some terriorists may be working or you’re really doing something whacky with where/to whome you’re calling. MR. Pitt’s premise that ALL AMERICANS are giving up their civil liberites is bogus!!!

      • tdm3624

        So then the government would have a good case for probable cause that I am engaging in potential terrorist activities if I called in those areas. If so, they shouldn’t have any difficulty getting a warrant.

  • Pat Brown

    Leonard Pitts is right.

    Don’t you realize that this chipping away of rights isn’t going to stop and don’t you also realize that completely innocuous actions or words can be taken the wrong way or even manipulated to appear criminal. This stuff is being stored forever. It means that every single stupid thing you ever did in your life is on file and anyone who thinks they haven’t done some stupid, and probably illegal things are in denial. We all have skeletons in our closets and those skeletons can be blown out of proportion with the right words.

    • ObozoMustGo

      Pat, you are 100% correct. The mistake people make is in not thinking about the consequences of laws when the current political class changes over and power changes hands, especially to a political party they don’t favor. Unfortunately for too long, us Americans have been locked into the old “Repub. vs. Demo. game” all the while the real action has been going on behind our backs by BOTH parties. It doesn’t really matter who is in charge. One Administration pushes the envelope a little further than the last, and the next pushes it yet again a little further. A lot in Obozo’s case. But what’s the next guy going to do? At some point, we Americans MUST stop this insanity and install some common sense and principled people, normal every day Americans, into political power. We can debate social programs and policy etc. etc. Those are legitimate debates. But our God-given rights that are codified in the Constitution and Bill of Rights should NEVER be negotiable. On that matter, I think we are all Americans and we should draw that line in the sand together.

      Have a nice day, Pat!

      “It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

      • jnap

        Quoting other people does not make you smarter it makes you a copier of other people’s thoughts and words.

      • WhutHeSaid

        You don’t fool anyone. If Obama was fighting against NSA snooping you would find a reason to oppose him, most likely by citing the threat of terrorism. With a screen name like yours, and your transparent attacks against anything that Obama does, it’s clear that you just hate seeing a black man in the White House.

        Nobody is ever going to take you seriously, Goober — not even your sister. Why don’t you just come clean and admit that you’re a redneck goober bigot? Everybody already knows. I know it must be painful to be a bigot these last 5 years, but that’s just the way it works — sorry. It must be such a burden being forced to lie about your real beliefs because everyone would shun you. Fess up and free your soul!

    • Independent1

      Utter hogwash- Where are you getting that complete nonsense???? Have you even given one thought to how many phone calls are made in a day?? It’s probably in the neighborhood of 500 million to billion. And nitwits like you think that all these calls are being recorded!!! Get real!! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!!!!!!!!

      • Brian Hall

        funny because I have seen cases where a person’s phone record is subpoenaed years later. The records are there. They never go away because it does not take as much space to store that information as you seem to think it does text and audio can be compressed into bytes of data and if you think this country is short on data storge just think you can buy a terabyte hard drive for about fifity buck and how many call records do you think that will store now lets look at the companies whoes job it is to store your data and tell me it is not being done. I think you should look into taking a couple computer science classes because you are out of touch.

  • m8lsem

    The police cannot stop anyone they wish whenever they wish. There needs first to be some reasonable and articulable suspicion of illegal activity; or a violation plain on the face of it such as burned out lights, expired plates; or a moving violation (red light, speeding, wrong side of road, etc. They cannot stop of vehicle just for the H. of it. [Of course not everyone is aware of that, or willing or personally able to make something out of police misconduct in these regards.]
    Further, I expect that the relevant Court would wish to see some probable cause (or at the least, reasonable and articulable suspicion) to get into one or more calls in depth or initiate a wire tap for national security purposes. A second application to the Court is required for that. Now the government’s own record of such things needs to be secured against illegal activity by hackers.
    I guess that makes me part of the 56%.
    The folks who really get upset are dealing with this as if it meant the government was wiretapping everyone, listening to every word … which is both not the case, and absurd on its face as that would require NSA to have about 3,000,000 employees, assuming every adult in the US makes some number of calls regularly, and require others to have vetted not only all 3,000,000 employees, but also all the applicants turned away.

    • metrognome3830

      With today’s technology, NSA doesn’t need 3,000,000 employees. There are electronics that do it all for them. Your argument is totally without merit.

      • ObozoMustGo

        Not only that, but if he thinks a cop can’t stop you for no reason and harrass you into handcuffs, he’s living in a fantasy world.

        Have a nice night, Metro!

        “There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” — Charles de Montesquieu

  • ObozoMustGo

    Lenny… all I can say is BRAVO!!!!! BRAVO!!!!! You have hit the nail right on the head with this article. We don’t always agree on policy matters… well…. not really ever. But on the issue of liberty and freedom for ALL Americans, there should be no dissent. When one person’s liberties are infringed, all of your liberties are infringed. So many people forget that laws transcend politicians. They are apt to support a law or an action by the politician they support, while at a later date disagreeing with that law or action because it was done by politicians they don’t support. Politicians come and go, but their decisions and laws stick around. And while a law may seem a good idea one day if it is in the control of your favored party, the political winds inevitably shift. And one day, a politician with less than moral intent my use those laws for the abuse of their political opponents, which then may be you!

    I’ve read posts on here comparing Bush’s use of the NSA to spy on potential terrorists overseas as an equivalent to Obozo’s blanket gathering of information on ALL Americans. There is no equivalency. While I am not a defender of Bush, I certainly understand that targeted and warranted actions for observation of known or potential threats is radically different than an intrusion into the lives of ALL Americans through collection of phone records, emails, chats, etc. This is beyond reasonable and borders on downright Soviet-style or Nazi-style tactics for intimidating their people. We cannot be so blind, we cannot be so fearful, we cannot be so disinterested as to grant government the power to spy on all of us, and then accept it like the subjects that we are becoming instead of the citizens we should be….. It’s the classic low information voter: “hey! So long as I get to watch American Idol and TMZ, I don’t care what they do. Who’s the Vice President now?”

    That’s my thoughts on this. Excellent article, Lenny.

    Have a nice day!

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis

    • metrognome3830

      Oh . . . God! Oh . . . this is awful! Almost painful! But I have to agree with you, OMG! Leonard Pitts is right on the money, too.

      • ObozoMustGo

        I have told you before, Metro. I believe that 80% of Americans are live and let live libertarians. Only 20% truly believe in the leftist freak progressive and socialist dream. We don’t recognize our agreement because one of the functions of this site (and my being here) is to disagree on specific topics. Nice to see that we can agree on some things, however.

        Have a great night, Metro!

        “The only defense against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.” ― John Locke

        • WhutHeSaid

          You forgot the neo-fascist right-wing goobers who don tri-cornered hats and dance around in rhetorical dog-shit. What percentage are they? They are most certainly not libertarians.

          • ObozoMustGo

            What’s up whut, you racist pig?

            Have a nice day!

            “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” –Joe “Plugs” Biden on Barack Obama

  • LaRae Bailey

    total control and destruction of this country and the republican party. wake up, it is going to happen if this amnesty bill passes

  • tax payer

    I have an Indian friend that taught me to communicate with Smoke Signals, so I hope they don’t videotape them and if they do than they better be fast or have me watched 24 hours a day.