This is Richard Dicter’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:
Last Tuesday, with relatively little notice from the public, two arguments were taking place in the San Francisco US District courtroom of Judge Vaughn Walker The arguments generated little scarcely any buzz last week, but OS X 10.5.6, a possible new Apple netbook, Snow Leopard, the vision of a sugarplum of a $99 iPhone, Vista SP2, and leaked Windows 7 Build 6956 did. At stake was whether the Telcom and Comcom companies, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Comcast and others, whose past employees have verified have been warrantlessly wiretapping your phones and email for the U.S. government, could be sued – and two major lawsuits against them could go forward, or whether a bill passed recently by Congress could confer immunity on them.
The Bush administration – and a number of your Senators, as well as the respective companies – reasoned that they have broken no laws. If this were the case, there wouldn’t have been such a monumental fight in Congress to grant them immunity. When these companies wiretapped you and collected your email, they were hardly naïve. Their corporate counsel were very seasoned litigators who came from the ranks of a little known division of the DOJ called the National Security Division, or NSD. They wrote the laws on wiretapping that have been passed in the past 20 plus years.
Immunity is not really about protecting these large companies from suits. It was specifically designed to cover the backside of the administration who trampled over the laws to protect you from being spied upon by your government for the last eight years. The Bush administration has insisted for the past several years that no innocent Americans were being wiretapped. Nothing could be further from the actual truth. A recent book written by an attorney who was a former ABC News producer, naval intelligence officer, and former CIA employee James Bamford called The Shadow Factory details how every word you speak or write electronically is being listened to and catalogued in stunning detail.
This book analyzes the enormous tentacles of the National Security Agency and CIA, including billion dollar satellites that can hear your whispers on a cell phone, dishes that pull in millions of phone calls, emails, and FAXes an hour, and the largest collection of super-computers on Earth. Few people realize that the NSA also has its own secret military force called the Central Security Service – with a massive fleet of ships, submarines, and aircraft that cover the globe (soaking up your messages, and those in other countries, like a sponge).
This intelligence-gathering eavesdropping force is composed of tens of thousands of people, and occupies fifty large buildings. It occupies an actual city (Fort Meade, Maryland) with 37,000 cars in its parking lot and 70,000 pieces of mail per day. Its police force has 700 uniformed officers.
Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who won the prize for a book he wrote on Al Qaeda. He was wiretapped after he interviewed Intelligence Chief Michael McConnell and confronted him over wiretapping and waterboarding, then wrote about it in a 15,000 word article in the the January 21, 2008 issue of The New Yorker. Every other major media outlet refused to print the story – including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Wright confronted McConnell in his interview with the fact that he had been wiretapped, and McConnell insisted that if this were true, Wright must have received a call from "some known outfit associated with terrorism." In fact, though, Wright had originated the call, FBI counter-terrorism agents visited him, and accused his daughter of calling terrorists when she was off at college and not even home at the time.
You’re being wiretapped – every phone call and email – and you’re doing nothing about it.