We have been told repeatedly that we have to give up privacy of our phone and Internet records – our Fourth Amendment – in order to be protected from terrorists. Governor Christie and Sen. Rubio have called for the program allowing the NSA to collect phone records to be reinstated.
On Morning Joe, Scarborough asked Rand Paul about the NSA’s access of phone records.
“[We just showed an AP story that said that the United States can’t access the phone record, NSA phone record in the California terror case because of course that law was changed. Would you be willing to seek a middle ground? We have governor Huckabee on earlier today saying that the government can collect the data but you can’t access it unless there is probable cause. Is that middle ground?”
Rand Paul said, “The fourth amendment is pretty clear. For people to say you can’t access the record is just wrong. Once you get a warrant or have probable cause, it’s wrong. The Boston bombing happened while we had the bulk data collection, the Paris tragedy happened while we have it and also in France they have the bulk collection but on steroids. They have a program a thousand times more invasive. Is there any limit to how much authoritarians like Christie is willing to give up. They’ll come back next week and say give us more of your freedom, we’ll protect you. Will it have been worth it if we no longer who we were and what’s so special about America in the process of defending the country.”
I went to the Sacramento Bee and the story is that they can’t get five years of records but they were able to get two years worth under the new USA Freedom Act. Phone companies don’t keep the records for five years.
FBI Director James Comey declined to say Friday whether the NSA program’s shutdown affected the government’s terrorism investigation in California.
“I won’t answer, because we don’t talk about the investigative techniques we use,” Comey said. “I’m not going to characterize it.”
The NSA had secretly collected the daily calling records — but allegedly not the contents of conversations — for most Americans, including those never suspected of any crime, since at least 2006. Investigators could see who suspected terrorists might be dialing, who else those people might be calling and so on. The government kept five years’ worth of each person’s phone records, deleting older ones on a rolling basis. NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the program’s existence in summer 2013.
“After November 28, 2015, no access to the BR (business record) metadata (phone records) will be permitted for intelligence analysis purposes,” U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman of Portland ruled. “Hence, queries of the BR metadata for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information will no longer be permitted.”
Under the new law, passed in June, investigators still can look for links in phone records, but they must obtain a targeted warrant to get them directly from phone companies. The phone companies generally keep customer records for 18 months to two years, although some keep them longer.
The phone program certainly didn’t stop the attack. They do have records for the entire time the wife was here and before.