Phone Records and Online Data Collection by Feds

Friday, June 07, 2013

Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on National Security Agency wiretapping during the Bush administration talks about the NSA's current collection of Verizon phone records and online data.  


Eric Lichtblau

Comments [46]

amusing, Verizon techs and all the previous BOC starting with New York Tel, and AT&T pre 1983 have been listening in on private phone calls at all locations from the telco switch to the customers end.
As technology increases , it was then possible to listen in on individual phone calls from remote locations, not physically wired to the listening point.
Have these illegal taps/knowledge been used by PI who knew a selection of people that could be easily bought, LEO without warrants but telco friends, wives, husbands,BF,GF checking on their companion.Anyone gaining illegal knowledge to be used for any purpose, from blackmail,alimony, and any host of use , private info is used for.
The same has been happening here for over 20 years, and they didnt stop Sept 11, Boston marathon etc. However what was used illegally will never be known.

Jun. 12 2013 07:59 AM
Chris Coulthrust from democratic peoples republic of brooklyn

Metadata is data that describes data... so the metadata for a phone number would describe the number of digits and the format of the number and the allowed numbers in the phone number. The metadata for a ohine call would be time & duration to and from number formats not the actual numbers, so they are collecting data if they keep the originating phone numbers. Now the government has to find another term and stop miss using the term metadata.

Jun. 09 2013 12:02 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights


If the Boston Marathon terrorists were calling people connected to Chechen terrorists, Muslim Brotherhood friendly terrorists (in and outside of the US) those would show up in their phone records - more Red Flags.

Anyone who phoned the Tsaranev brothers would also warrant a closer look.

RUCB_Alum, your attempts to obfuscate fall flat. Ask Lynn Stewart for advice.

Jun. 08 2013 11:08 AM

This should have been Thursday's conversation (and guest).

Jun. 07 2013 06:37 PM

@Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Sorry, Edward, your conclusions are what is wrong. Neither the Verizon data dumps or PRISM could have picked up on offensive or domestic blog posts.

We may all wish they could but it is not what the system is set up to do.

You are imagining things.

Jun. 07 2013 05:26 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Wrong again RUCB_Alum,

The Tsaranev terrorists Youtube page should have been a BIG Red Flag. Supporting evidence from Verizon and the NSA would convince sane person, you exlcuded ;-), that they Tsaranevs were a Real Danger.

Anyone who "friended", "liked" their Youtube page is due a thorough review too.

Checkpoints at every airport are intrusive and a necessary evil.

Jun. 07 2013 02:44 PM
Bob Abate from Yonkres, NY

I write this as a concerned, loving husband, father and grandfather. Nothing is more important to me than my family and there is virtually nothing I wouldn't do to protect and/or save them.

We live in a most imperfect world where there are very few absolutes - black or white - good or bad. One person's religious belief/dogma is another's heresy. One's patriot is another's terrorist. So it has been for time immorial and so it will continue for time evermore.

The question is "What do we do about it?" There are no absolute answers or solutions. So we do as best we can in whatever way we can. And if that should entail some slight loss of privacy, embarrassment or inconvenience in the process; so be it for the price of our security.

Can the system be mismanaged or misused? - Certainly. Are we, our loved ones and way of life under attack? - ABSOLUTELY! Therein lies the quandry - the Hobson's Choice - damned if we do and damned if we don't.

We live in the most fractured yet technologically sophisticated time in world history - instant information everywhere along with total confusion. So, as flawed and imperfect individuals and government we do the best we know how, fully realizing it won't be enough - not perfect. But in the process, let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Jun. 07 2013 02:02 PM

@Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"I wish the NSA had given the red flags to pick up the Tsaranev brothers of the Boston Marathon bombing."

Sorry, Ed, you are seeing what you want to see. The VeriZon records dump only contains info on when, who and how long the calls were made.

PRISM is following foreign-based blogs.

Neither source is likely to yield any information about the T Brothers imminent attack....though I guess it helps you feel better to imagine that it would have.

A likelier path to preventing the Marathon bombing is a heads up police investigation that scooped up Tamerlan after he offed those drug dealers.

Jun. 07 2013 01:55 PM

@gary from queens

"But of course, the biggest hypocrite and liar is Obama. he demaguoged this very issue to get elected."

You really think that? A politician can speak and vote against something and then, when an executive, use that same power that he voted against. It would be silly and foolish for them not to use every legal tool available to protect the nation. And certainly, it would be ruinous if an attack on the homeland succeeds because the President did not use every tool available to him/her and would result in impeachment.

You don't like the President "in yo' bidness"? Then why in hell did you let Congress vote that kind of authority to the executive?

Hate the policy, not the politician.

Jun. 07 2013 01:47 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

GARY FROM QUEENS - great to see you back.

Jun. 07 2013 12:34 PM

Not sure why but knock yourself out.

Jun. 07 2013 12:17 PM


I am going to submit those two sentences to the Oxford English Dictionary as an example of Cognitive Dissonance.

Jun. 07 2013 12:09 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I wish the NSA had given the red flags to pick up the Tsaranev brothers of the Boston Marathon bombing.

If they did, four people would still be alive today and the lives of the people who had their legs blown off and their lives shattered would be whole.

Jun. 07 2013 11:49 AM

It's foolish to be a single issue voter.
The GOP will always be worse on any topic.

Jun. 07 2013 11:47 AM

PRISM and the VeriZon records dump were enabled by the Patriot Act and the extension of the FISA Courts authority. The nation collectively decided to give the executive branch the authority to do this. Or do you seriously not remember?

You don't want the executive to actually use the authorities that we grant them then don't grant them. Or repeal them. But don't rail against Obama for using executive authority that were granted...Why should he use anything less than every tool at his (legal) disposal?

Seriously, if you want to express your outrage be outraged at just how afraid we must have been in order to enable (and re-authorize) this sh*t.

But DO NOT pretend that Obama shouldn't use the legal authority that we granted.

Jun. 07 2013 11:43 AM
The Truth from Becky

Jim, don't misquote me, that is not what I said. I stand by my previous comment.

Jun. 07 2013 11:32 AM


Well, if secret briefings are sufficient justification for any action, I expect that you will no longer be challenging the actions of Republicans who are privy to the same information. After all, they know something that we don't.

Jun. 07 2013 11:21 AM

It should be noted that all of the denials from Google. Apple, etc are all worded to be true, but misleading. Apple never heard of "Prism". Maybe so, but does that mean that they never gave data to the NSA. Similarly... "we never gave direct access" does not mean that they did not give indirect access. Etc. Google's response was the most narrowly qualified ("no back-door") and clearly meant to avoid being honest.

Jun. 07 2013 11:06 AM
The Truth from Becky

Jim when you win the presidential election and they debrief you, let's revisit this conversation at that time.

Jun. 07 2013 11:05 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Gary, Obama's hypocrisy or his naivete? A candidate who didn't have a clue how dangerous the world is until he got his first national security briefing?

Either way - Obama lost me when he supported the Patriot Act's renewal two years ago. This is hardly shocking.

Jun. 07 2013 10:58 AM


You said: "Some people are just using this as another let's get Obama campaign."

Come on... Obama's entire campaign was based on him being the ONE President who would finally start putting all of this nonsense right. That is why I voted for him (once). How can you defend him for doing exactly the opposite of what he promised to do?

Jun. 07 2013 10:53 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

So Bill O' Reilly - just two weeks ago, thought Bloomberg was doing the right thing - violating people's 4th amendment rights "to keep us safe" from "terrorism" and lambasted all the "left wing loons" who differed. Now he is "outraged" that the Feds went too far with their snooping "to keep us safe"?

John Boehner is now concerned about people's civil liberties? Even though he voted for the Patriot Act and it's renewal? You really can't make this up.

At least Sen Lindsay is consistent with his support of state tyranny.

Jun. 07 2013 10:52 AM

NSA + Verizon + AT&T + Google + Facebook etc. =

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”
― Benito Mussolini

Jun. 07 2013 10:51 AM
The Truth from Becky

Give up what protections?? Minorities and Foreigners don't know these protections of which you speak Bob.

Jun. 07 2013 10:45 AM

I seldom agree with Gary from Queens, but the rank hypocrisy from both the fourth Estate and ostensible "liberal" Democrats makes me cringe.

Obama has been a terrible president for civil liberties and Constitutional protections.


Jun. 07 2013 10:44 AM

Big Brother was rebranded some time ago.

It's now called The National Security Administration®.

Jun. 07 2013 10:44 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Americans are scared little children willingly giving up all their protections to 'feel' safe. Truly pathetic.

And it's no better that we do it to 'foreigners' either.

Jun. 07 2013 10:42 AM

Theoretical concern about being wiretapped and recorded? Recordings kept for no one knows how long???

Brian, how about Constitutional concern? Seriously!

Jun. 07 2013 10:41 AM
Hugh Sansom

1. Sen. Feinstein has consistently supported _all_ Obama intrusions in recent years. Her claims are suspect.

2. "Metadata" is already being used by private firms to reverse engineer identifications of people. You really don't need all that much information to be able to ID somebody by name. Firms associate phone numbers with buying habits, travel patterns, etc. Just travel and buying is more than enough to identify an individual.

3. Using government data: The government has many years of using the RICO statute (going back to before 9/11) to sweep up people for all kinds of things unrelated to the initially claimed concern.

4. How can anyone ask whether we have evidence of the government overreaching when we now have conclusive proof of state, local, and federal government spying on Muslims _just because_ they are Muslim?

Jun. 07 2013 10:41 AM
The Truth from Becky

Opt out! Cancel your cell service, stay off the internet...this is not new! IF you have a library card, social security number, or home phone you have been tracked for years!!

Some people are just using this as another let's get Obama campaign.

Jun. 07 2013 10:41 AM

Both the judicial(courts) and legislative (2 committees) sections of the government were aware of what was going on. That's called oversight. Whether or not you trust these members of the govt is another issue. So far, what has been "exposed" has not been illegal. The idea of this situation was discussed when the Patriot Act policies where being put together. That people are now concerned is a "day late and a dollar short."

How about talking about how this Guardian "journalist" is an activist in cahoots w/Julian Assange and his personal agenda?????? He tries to portray himself as a canary in a coal mine. Perhaps he is more like Henny Penny?!

Jun. 07 2013 10:41 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Amy - you poor, misguided woman!

Jun. 07 2013 10:39 AM

Too bad Feinstein (or anyone else in congress) has a clue about computer technology. The NSA only needs to access the "database" once. After that, they have it forever.

Jun. 07 2013 10:39 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Does anyone really believe these people when they say no content is monitored? We know they did this to soldiers overseas, spying on their calls back home -- spies gossiping about soldiers sex lives. It's disgusting.

Jun. 07 2013 10:37 AM
Robert from NYC

As one who voted for Obama in his first term, all enthusiastic over the so-called "Change" we were fed to believe would happen, I would like to see the Nobel Foundation take back his Peace prize. If this is what promotors of peace are all about then what is war! This is more in reference to his killing innocent people with drones.

Jun. 07 2013 10:36 AM


This ain't new!!!

Jun. 07 2013 10:36 AM
Chris from Red Hook

Did the Bush administration actually ever go through the FiSA court, or did that actually begin when Obama took office? That is, after the 2007 law was passed, did Bush actually ever comply with it?

Jun. 07 2013 10:34 AM
gary from queens

On the issue of "trading security for privacy after 911" that HJS mentions, let's recall that CANDIDATE Obama use to day that balancing our security with privacy was a false choice.

And yet just yseterday, I watched on CSPAN Eric Holder testifying before a senate subcommittee saying that we need to find the correct balance between security and privacy.

I did a double take when I heard him say that. I wonder if he's on the same page as President Obama, though obviously he's not, with CANDIDATE Obama

Jun. 07 2013 10:33 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

10 years from now, with the spy grid normalized and widespread tool of law enforcement... Miranda & 4th are completely gutted... anything and everything you have ever said or done will be used against you in a court of law...

We might as well start building more prisons now!

Jun. 07 2013 10:33 AM
Robert from NYC

I think it's a little naive to say that ONLY businesses were watched. Were that the case then how is the "claimed" terrorist plot that one senator claims was prevented due to this sweep, stopped? These folks aren't businesses they are people, plain and simple.

Jun. 07 2013 10:31 AM

As a regular lister to this station i knew that both parties agreed to trade security for privacy after 911 but would it be foolish to point out the "Media " remembered these facts only after they found out their phone log too were being watched. As for our privacy the people gave away their privacy to the global corp for free. Would this be better if the government paid for information kept on us by the corps.

Jun. 07 2013 10:21 AM

Glad this topic, which I unsuccessfully tried yesterday to put in front of your Verizon scoop guest, is being addressed. Now that we know whether/how skype is "tapped", One facet of my inquiry still stands -- the growing area of Internet communication that purports to be beyond the reach of government. The current darling is Dubai funded. Are terrorists using this?

Also -- can/is the IRS using this back door as part of its tax-exempt vetting process?

Jun. 07 2013 10:18 AM
gary from queens

But of course, the biggest hypocrite and liar is Obama. he demaguoged this very issue to get elected.


OBAMA 2007: I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining the Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping 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 but protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. It is not who we are.

OBAMA 2005: If someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document -- through library books they've read and phone calls they've made -- this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.

Jun. 07 2013 10:17 AM
john from office

In the world we live in, it is naive to think this does not go on. Come on, phone tapping has been going on since the phone was invented, now more so with the internet.

I would trust the NSA to protect me, not the ever noble 4th estate, the press. The reporter from the guardian comes across as rather smug in his "uncovering" this "spying"

Jun. 07 2013 10:11 AM
Gary from queens

I've watching the MSM on this issue, and not ONE, not one, has said that Obama is shredding the Constitution, or that he's the evil dictator as they labeled Bush. There can't be a greater example of hypocrisy.

US Press Blames George W. Bush for Obama's Unprecedented Eavesdropping
June 06, 2013

examples in the media:

National Journal: Welcome to the Bush-Obama White House: They're Spying on Us - Ron Fournier

UK Guardian: NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily - Glenn Greenwald

New York Times: The Banality of 'Don't Be Evil' - Julian Assange

Heritage: Obama Reinforces Failure with Susan Rice Nomination

Jun. 07 2013 10:06 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

In your intro you said you would be discussing who should be concerned about NSA tapping/accessing data. I suggest that we ALL should be concerned! Clearly the secrecy surrounding these activities has allowed them to become pervasive and indiscriminant. The usual response of "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about" is unacceptable... who determines what is right and wrong, what you should and should not be looking at online? This would clearly become a moving target...

Jun. 07 2013 10:06 AM

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