Hey, everyone! Our tax dollars paid for National Security Agency employees to listen to phone sex and other private conversations between U.S. military personnel in the Middle East and their families.
Plus, the NSA continued to eavesdrop on American citizens they knew to be working for the Red Cross and other aid organizations.
NSA employees also routinely listened to American journalists working in Baghdad’s Green Zone as they called their homes and offices in the U.S.
Key comment from one of the whistleblowers:
Kinne says the success stories underscored for her the waste of time spent listening to innocent Americans, instead of looking for the terrorist needle in the haystack.
“By casting the net so wide and continuing to collect on Americans and aid organizations, it’s almost like they’re making the haystack bigger and it’s harder to find that piece of information that might actually be useful to somebody,” she said. “You’re actually hurting our ability to effectively protect our national security.”
By the way, you know who never met a Bush administration wiretapping program he didn’t like? My own Congressman Leonard Boswell, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. In case you forgot, he was one of 41 House Democrats who voted with most House Republicans to expand the executive branch’s eavesdropping power, as outlined by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Maybe these whistleblowers can come explain to Congress that massively expanding government surveillance doesn’t just undermine civil liberties, it also makes it “harder to find that piece of information that might actually be useful to somebody.”