Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use.
Bush has recently described the warrantless operation as “terrorist surveillance” and summed it up by declaring that “if you’re talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.” But officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no.
Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls, as well. That step still requires a warrant from a federal judge, for which the government must supply evidence of probable cause.
The point people seem to be overlooking — who is actually looking at this data? There are thousands of people in the NSA and Bush White House who have been looking at this data gathered — data about you! Make no mistake, even if you’re not on the list of suspects, your data has been gathered up and looked at in the course of this investigation. How do you know they people looking at your data are honest? How do you know they’re not selling your credit card number? Who’s watching the watchers?
UPDATE: Don’t believe your data is caught up in the NSA dragnet?