Many of us have been following along at home watching developments around illegal NSA spying the US government has been doing on citizens since 9/11. This week, ABC splashed a feature they called an “exclusive” where two NSA whistleblowers, Adrienne Kinne and David Murfee Faulk, were interviewed by ABC News’ Brian Ross — and the interviews are shocking and compelling. You’ll be seeing this re-reported in many places, but over at Salon Glenn Greenwald picked up the story, wrote a brilliant editorial around it, and is doggedly updating the piece with new information as it comes it. It’s an exciting read, and a new update now shows that Kinne actually went public in May on Democracy Now (so it was in no way an exclusive), and an ABC update has chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) acting all shocked about the “news” — when in fact, Rockefeller has known since at least 2003 that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. However, this should in no way diminish what the whisteblowers have to say — because it is indeed truly shocking. You’ve *got* to read the whole piece as it blows open…
In the most unsurprising revelation imaginable, two former Army Reserve Arab linguists for the National Security Agency have said that they routinely eavesdropped on — “and recorded and transcribed” — the private telephone calls of American citizens who had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. The two former NSA employees, who came forward as part of journalist James Bamford’s forthcoming book on the NSA, intercepted calls as part of the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” whereby George Bush ordered the NSA in 2001 to eavesdrop on Americans’ calls in secret, without first obtaining judicial approval as required by the law (FISA). That illegal eavesdropping continued for at least six years — through 2007.
The two NSA whistleblowers, Adrienne Kinne and David Murfee Faulk, were interviewed by ABC News’ Brian Ross. Kinne said that “US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and ‘collected on’ as they called their offices or homes in the United States.” He also said his co-workers “were ordered to transcribe these calls.” Faulk told Ross: ”when one of my co-workers went to a supervisor and said: ’but sir, there are personal calls,’ the supervisor said: ‘my orders were to transcribe everything’.” He said that the intercepted calls included highly personal and intimate conversations and even phone sex.
When Ross showed Kinne a video excerpt of George Bush insisting to the nation that only those with links to Al Qaeda were eavesdropped on as part of his illegal spying program, the following exchange occurred:
ROSS: Kinne says she listened to hundreds of Americans simply calling their families …
KINNE: Personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything having anything to do with terrorism. It was just personal conversations that nobody else should have been listening to.
ROSS: President Bush has reassured Americans again and again:
GEORGE BUSH: It’s phone calls of known Al Qaeda suspects making a phone call into the United States.
KINNE: I would say that that is completely a lie — I would call it a lie — because we were definitely listening to Americans who had nothing to do with terrorism…
ROSS: Kinne says she intercepted, recorded, and transcribed conversations with the military, journalists, and Red Cross and aid workers.
There are, for now, several points worth noting here:
(1) There is one reason and one reason only these abuses occurred: because George Bush broke the law — committed felonies — by ordering the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants.
(2) While the extent of the abuses disclosed here is substantial — “hundreds of Americans”; journalists, Red Cross and aid workers; military officers speaking to their friends and families — these disclosures are from only two relatively low-level individual NSA linguists at one NSA facility in Georgia. (…read more!)