This is going to be bigger than the original phone-tapping scandal. Not only does Bush & Co. want to give the big phone companies control of the Internet, they have also talked these same big phone companies into handing over your phone records to build the largest database of information EVER. That's despite the fact that it's totally illegal.
I can't help wondering if there is a sweetheart deal here: you give us the phone records, no questions asked, we give you the Internet?
Via Atrios, CNN commenter Jack Cafferty puts it in perspective:
We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans.Here's the White House response, via Aljazeera:
Shortly after 9/11, AT7T, Verizon, and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens, all part of the War on Terror, President Bush says. Why don't you go find Osama bin Laden, and seal the country's borders, and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?
The President rushed out this morning in the wake of this front page story in USA Today and declared the government is doing nothing wrong, and all this is just fine. Is it? Is it legal? Then why did the Justice Department suddenly drop its investigation of the warrantless spying on citizens because the NSA said Justice Department lawyers didn't have the necessary security clearance to do the investigation. Read that sentence again. A secret government agency has told our Justice Department that it's not allowed to investigate it. And the Justice Department just says ok and drops the whole thing. We're in some serious trouble, boys and girls".
Bush said that any intelligence activities he had authorised were legal and that the government was not eavesdropping on phone calls without court approval.UPDATE: Looks like the White House tried to block the USA Today story that blew the lid on this.
"The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities," Bush said at a hastily called press briefing. "We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."
The White House also criticised this latest leak to the media regarding intelligence, suggesting it could hinder the fight against terrorism.