In a hastily arranged appearance before reporters at the White House, Bush reacted to a USA Today report that says the National Security Agency has been secretly using records provided by the three largest American telephone companies to build a massive database of foreign and domestic phone calls. The program was launched shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the aim of analyzing calling patterns to detect terrorist activity, the paper reported. The effort involves collecting phone numbers but does not entail recording or eavesdropping on phone conversations, it said.
The NSA declined comment, saying only that it "operates within the law."
In his statement, Bush denied that the government listens to domestic phone calls without court approval and maintained that "the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities."
"We are not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Bush said. "Our efforts are focused on links to al-Qaeda and their known affiliates."
Is that supposed to make me feel better? Bush says you don’t have anything to worry about unless you are a terrorist or maybe a terrorist sympathizer (i.e. anyone opposed to the Bush administration’s so called “War on Terror”).
I like the lead from this story from Forbes.com:
The allegations that the federal government has been secretly tracking the calls of millions of Americans, aided by three major telephone companies, will doubtless inflame privacy advocates and Democrats.
Got that? Privacy advocates and Democrats will be upset. Republicans are apparently OK with this. The phone companies turn over all your personal phone records to the feds and the Republicans don’t even bat an eye. Amazing!
Well, some Republicans are batting their eyes like Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who says he will call executives of AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon "to see if we can learn some of the underlying facts."
But it remains to be seen if he will follow through with anything other than a whitewash investigation.