Tomorrow is National Call-in to Congress on NSA Warrantless Surveillance Day!! Phone up your homies in Damascus!

ABC News is not happy:

"A senior federal law enforcement official tells us the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources. It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation. We do not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation."

ABC News put out a press release, saying that an anonymous government source had informed them that the government was watching their phone calls specifically, apparently in part to find out who has been leaking about the government watching everyone's phone calls. It's Nixon in the information age (BTW check out this story about Kissinger tapping reporters and NSC staffers).

 Images Tds-Phonescam-FoxThese days the Fourth Amendment is about as valued by our government as the hemp it was written on. It really pisses me off that my calls are being logged in some giant database - as USA Today revealed on my birthday, naturally. Well everyone is supposed to call Congress tomorrow, and despite my cell phone bill I think I'll do it. It's a measure of how far this nation has slid towards totalitarianism that such a wildly paranoid program like this almost totally passes in the media and people's heads don't explode out of sheer anger. Last night on the Daily Show (QT and WMP), Jon Stewart nailed it with a montage of FOX anchors defending the total canvassing of phone records, with "Wow, the entire network of anchors has been hired to be the press secretary..."

(CrooksAndLiars.com is our site of the day for their many handy video clips and good sources)

Fortunately 51% of Americans oppose the NSA database - commentary from Atrios here. Poor National Security Advisor Big Glasses Hadley just can't seem to tell Wolf Blitzer a single damned useful result of the NSA Total PhoneCall Awareness Trolling (QT). Even Joe Scarborough thinks its kind of chilling, since if Nixon had done this, they would have caught Deep Throat before Watergate broke.

Murray Waas, the intrepid National Journal reporter who has been covering the Valerie Plame / Libby case in obscene detail, is himself getting positive coverage from US News. He started by working for Jack Anderson as a teenager. Not bad at all. And his blog.

Frank-Rich-BookNY Times bombthrower Frank Rich has a new book, the Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth. Sounds good to me. More Rich lately (also on RawStory and featured in E&P):

"His mission was not to protect our country but to prevent the airing of administration dirty laundry, including leaks detailing how the White House ignored accurate C.I.A. intelligence on Iraq before the war. Journalists and whistle-blowers who relay such government blunders are easily defended against the charge of treason. It's often those who make the accusations we should be most worried about. Mr. Goss, a particularly vivid example, should not escape into retirement unexamined. He was so inept that an overzealous witch hunter might mistake him for a Qaeda double agent....read on"

Meanwhile Al Gore went on SNL, claiming to have invented an anti-hurricane machine, and I missed it. And the trailer for his new movie about the environment.

Action Alert from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: Wednesday, May 17, National Call-in to Congress on NSA Warrantless Surveillance:

ADC logo

Last December, we learned that, according to some Members of Congress, the President may have violated laws by allowing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans' phone calls.

On Thursday, 5/11, USA Today published a major cover story revealing a National Security Agency (NSA) database of millions of innocent Americans' domestic phone call records, indicating who, when and where we are calling.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm

This database has nothing to do with catching suspected terrorists: It is documenting all our associations in the largest database in history-with a goal of including "every call ever made" within the nation's borders. This program is truly *beyond "Big Brother"!*

*Take Action Now*

It's time for the American people to tell Congress in a clear, loud voice that *we've had enough!*

Join the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and thousands of other Americans by calling Congress on Wednesday, May 17 to demand they investigate this government intrusion immediately. ADC, the BORDC, the ACLU, People For the American Way, and other organizations (see below) have declared the week of May 15 "National Call-in to Congress Week" and are asking their constituents to call their members of Congress on a specific day. Let's keep those phones ringing in the Congressional halls all week long!

*The Message*

Please phone each of your Senators, and your Representative. *Urge them NOT to consider draft legislation that would give the executive branch new surveillance powers that are immune to oversight by the courts and Congress. Call for a full, public investigation of the NSA surveillance program. *

*Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121* (24 hours) and ask the operator to connect you. Or this ADC page to find your legislators' phone numbers.

*Additional sample talking points:*

Here are a few suggestions. Choose one or two:

* The President has broken the law. He must stop warrantless eavesdropping and collecting records on all our phone calls and come clean with the American people about any further secret powers he claims as Commander-in-Chief.

* The administration's claim that it must break the law to protect us from al-Qaeda are just plain false: any communications specifically targeting an al-Qaeda member outside the U.S. doesn't even need a warrant, and FISA judges are ready and waiting to issue warrants to wiretap any suspected al-Qaeda in the U.S.-- even if those calls include U.S. citizens or residents.

* Overburdening the FBI with thousands of false leads makes us less safe because it leaves them less time and fewer resources to find the real terrorists.

* How can Congress even consider passing legislation to make these illegal programs legal, when it can't even find out what they entail? It must investigate. This is no time for new legislation!

* What's needed is an immediate, full and unrestricted public investigation into the NSA spying program, including a probe into the massive database collecting Americans' phone calls.

* The idea that the database of all our calls is permissible as long as it doesn't contain names and addresses is ludicrous. By linking the database of phone calls with all the other government data mining operations, the government can literally follow our every move, every contact, and every transaction. It's "Big Brother" run amok!

* Congress needs to pass whistleblower protections for government employees and safeguards for journalists who provide information to the American public about illegal government acts.

* The Fourth Amendment is clear. Electronic surveillance of this sort requires a warrant. A warrant allows a judge to serve as a check against executive abuse of power. That check keeps our government honest - preventing one branch of government from mischief and errors.

*Organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list)* include the Alliance for Justice, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, First Amendment Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Coalition Against Repressive Legislation, National Lawyers Guild, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, People For the American Way, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and United For Peace and Justice.

More information is available on the BORDC webpage.

Because guess what? Without any probable cause, the government doesn't have any fucking right to your phone logs. Some would say that defending the Constitution is worth fighting for. Or at least calling for.

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