Lindsey Graham: Hey, I’m “glad” the NSA is collecting Americans’ phone records

posted at 11:21 am on June 6, 2013 by Allahpundit

Actual quote:

“I’m a Verizon customer. I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don’t think you’re talking to the terrorists. I know you’re not. I know I’m not. So we don’t have anything to worry about.”

That’s the eternal rationale for the surveillance state: If you’re not doing anything wrong, you should have no objection. What happens when the definition of “wrong” changes after your information’s been collected? Why would any Republican make this argument right now, when Congress is busy investigating the government’s tax-collection agency for deciding something was “wrong” with the idea of tea partiers applying for nonprofit status?

If you’re going to defend Obama’s phone dragnet — which, incredibly, is even broader than Bush’s — do it at least with due reluctance. Pretend that you care about the privacy interests here, even if you don’t. “With a heavy heart, I must endorse this necessary evil in an age of terror” etc etc. Graham won’t even give the viewer that; he’s perfectly okay with this in the name of jihadi-hunting even though he’s one of the loudest voices in the Senate in accusing the White House of covering up what happened in Benghazi. He doesn’t trust Obama on national security — except when it comes to rounding up millions of innocent people’s phone records, in which case he trusts him absolutely. Between this, his doubts about First Amendment protection for bloggers in publishing leaks, and his militaristic view of whether Koran-burning should be legal, there’s no one worse on civil liberties in either party in Congress. He and McCain are inadvertently doing more to promote Rand Paul than Paul himself is.

The NSA bit starts here at the beginning and runs for around three minutes, at which point they segue with exquisite irony into Graham’s distrust of new National Security Advisor Susan Rice. By the way, am I misunderstanding or does Graham suggest that maybe the phone-records collection isn’t as broad as the FISA warrant revealed last night would suggest? I don’t think he’s saying that; what he’s saying, as a quasi-defense of what the NSA is doing, is that they’re “only” collecting phone records, not tapping people’s phones. Only jihadi suspects identified by the data-mining get the wiretap treatment. Which is great, but it doesn’t answer any of the objections to broad record-collecting in the first place. The Fox hosts seem confused about that at around 2:40, though, apparently thinking that Graham’s saying the NSA’s data net isn’t as wide as people believe. Or maybe I’m confused. Watch and decide.

Update: On second though, was Obama’s dragnet broader than Bush’s? Or was it a continuation of the same order Bush used?


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The new Obama order covers not only phone calls overseas with the specific goal of counterterrorism surveillance, but ALL domestic calls by Verizon customers over at least a three-month period.

Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the order “shockingly broad.”

“Not only are they intercepting call data into and out of the country, but they are intercepting all call data in the United States, which goes far beyond what the FISA Amendments Act allows,” Timm said.

“This is an abuse of the Patriot Act on a massive scale,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Since the law requires that the telephone records sought be relevant to an investigation, it appears that the FBI and the NSA may have launched the broadest investigation in history because everyone’s telephone calls seem to be relevant to it.”

…The “top secret” order issued in April by a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the request of the FBI instructs the telecommunications giant Verizon to provide the NSA with daily reports of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

As usual, Obama was against it before he was for it:

It had not previously been confirmed that the Obama administration was conducting similar broad surveillance of calling patterns. However, in 2008 Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to give explicit legal authority to aspects of the program President George W. Bush initiated without requiring a future blessing from lawmakers.

Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama opposed the legislation during his primary battle with Hillary Clinton. However, he reversed course shortly after clinching the nomination and voted for a modified version of the bill.

Resist We Much on June 6, 2013 at 2:07 PM

I am going to do everything in my power to rid SC of this RHINO next election. He has been in office too long anyway. If the government won’t pass a term limit law on Congress, than the American citizens need to vote them out on their own.

F_This on June 6, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Am I the only one wondering how Obama is going to feel when he finds out about this in today’s paper?

besser tot als rot on June 6, 2013 at 2:01 PM

He “reads” USA Today. It will probably be a while before they have a graphic about “percentage of Americans being spied on” or something.

Seriously, the only way the rat-eared coward is the smartest guy in the room is if he is sitting in a one-hole outhouse.

Happy Nomad on June 6, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Andrew McCarthy is a fascist.

Anybody who doesn’t believe in the Bill of Rights is not an American.

tetriskid on June 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM

I am not aware of Andrew C. McCarthy stating he “does not believe in the Bill of Rights”, as you put it. I do know he does not think they apply to non-US citizens situated outside US territories; which is not the same thing.

But do you who did not support the creation of a Bills of Rights?
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington

Were they fascists, too?

The fact is that your phone call records sitting with a 3rd party (i.e. do not have a presumption of privacy. Read the article I linked to originally.

You may not like it, but it is true. And the Legislature could change this by statute, but you may not like the results, either.

Droopy on June 6, 2013 at 2:33 PM

What a toolbag.

Bruce MacMahon on June 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Did the NSA listen in on Romney Campaign phone calls? Did they share that info with White House? No? Prove it.

patch on June 6, 2013 at 2:41 PM

If they couldn’t find the Marathon guys when the Rooskies gave them up on a silver platter, why do they need to target us? The govt being afraid to profile has turned us all into suspects.

Kissmygrits on June 6, 2013 at 2:44 PM

what’s wrong with what lindsey’s saying? i can’t think of any possible reason why we should distrust our government. it’s not like there have been any government scandals lately. hey wait…

Sachiko on June 6, 2013 at 2:45 PM

I’m a Verizon customer. I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don’t think you’re talking to the terrorists. I know you’re not. I know I’m not. So we don’t have anything to worry about.”

Seriously? Are you effing kidding me?

This slimy bastard is as dangerous as any Progressive on the Left.

Primary his azz, SC, and get rid of him once & for all.

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on June 6, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Lindsey Graham seems a lot like Christie, in that he just wants to find wherever he can to stick out like a sore thumb in support of Obama or his admin. Not good.

anotherJoe on June 6, 2013 at 2:54 PM

I thought the Bush NSA wanted phone calls between USA and foreign countries…? No?

d1carter on June 6, 2013 at 2:54 PM

I’m a Verizon customer. I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don’t think you’re talking to the terrorists. I know you’re not. I know I’m not. So we don’t have anything to worry about.”

Seriously? Are you effing kidding me?

This slimy bastard is as dangerous as any Progressive on the Left.

Primary his azz, SC, and get rid of him once & for all.

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on June 6, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Well, he is a progressive on the right. What’s the difference?

jimver on June 6, 2013 at 2:57 PM

I thought the Bush NSA wanted phone calls between USA and foreign countries…? No?

d1carter on June 6, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Yep, initially, but then it was ‘expanded’ to apparently include homegrown terrorists too…though I guess we can say in all honesty that this was initiated under Boosh and then perfected under Obama…You can’t argue that Obama is not a perfectionist when it comes to surveillance, be it by drones, monitoring phone calls, and other means :)…but hey, to his defence, he is remorseful about it :)…

jimver on June 6, 2013 at 3:02 PM

But do you who did not support the creation of a Bills of Rights?
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington

That’s misleading; their reservations were based on the fear that enumerated rights would lead to limiting the peoples’ rights, not that they wanted to expand the power of the government.

claudius on June 6, 2013 at 3:02 PM

That’s misleading; their reservations were based on the fear that enumerated rights would lead to limiting the peoples’ rights, not that they wanted to expand the power of the government.

claudius on June 6, 2013 at 3:02 PM

You are correct. It was very much like the person accusing Andrew McCarthy of being a fascist because he does think the Bill of Rights should not be used to protect terrorist.

I was being intentionally provocative.

I apologize.

Droopy on June 6, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Just wait until the big data programs start to match the phone records up with IRS returns. Add to that pair peoples affinity and discount cards used at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores.

Throw into that mix the fact that the government will be waste-deep in our health care.

Oh – you have been buying a case of beer a week, a couple dozen donuts, too much gas and even some cigars and cigarettes? All this can be merged onto one screen. McGee on NCIS!

Need heart surgery… nope.

Need high-end blood pressure medicine- nope.

Did you declare that business trip for 4 days in Vegas? WHy on day 3 was your phone making calls from Vail?

You spend x-amount where and how often?

zdpl0a on June 6, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Our own fault for using the public phone system.

We should switch over to TCP/IP… VOIP. It would be very easy and much cheaper. The existing phone system is a joke. Its overly restrictive, lacking in capability, and is too easily monitored.

A VOIP system could operate Peer-to-Peer without a centralized server thus rendering monitoring and tracking almost impossible. Furthermore, VOIP can use many encryption and obfuscation technics to make it nearly impossible for the NSA to even know its a phone conversation and even if they did nearly impossible to decode… and even if they did nearly impossible to track.

The existing system just makes it too easy for them. Go with a VOIP system and they’d have to work very very hard to track EACH number. It would require MANY man house PER number and even then results would be hit and miss.

Karmashock on June 6, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Sure Lindseybelle and the IRS treats all the nation’s citizens exactly the same. No chance of any ideological shenanigans going on with this!!!!

Cindy Munford on June 6, 2013 at 3:14 PM

The problems that I see with trying to apply the ruling in Smith v Maryland to this situation are several:

1. Unlike the situation in the Verizon matter, a specific crime had been committed before ‘the telephone company, at police request, installed a pen register at its central offices to record the numbers dialed.’ In Smith, that crime was a robbery committed upon the person of Patricia McDonough.

2. Unlike the Verizon situation where the meta-data of tens of millions of Americans is being collected, the police actually had identified a person of interest and he was so named. The Smith case did not involve a sort of electronic dragnet with an unnamed suspect(s).

3. Unlike the meta-data collection in the Verizon case, the pen register installed did NOT collect data on every telephone call handled by the phone company. Following the robbery, Ms McDonough had begun receiving threatening telephone calls from someone purporting to be the person who had robbed her. In that case, the pen register SOLELY collected ‘the numbers dialed from the telephone at [SUSPECT'S] home.’ The data collection was LIMITED to the suspect.

4. Unlike the Verizon data gathering, the Smith case was not one where potential/possible conspirators or future bad actors were under surveillance. In other words, the purpose of the Smith pen register was to locate a specific someone, who had already committed a specified crime. Now, I understand that there may be (and probably are) terrorists and conspirators in the United States, who have committed a crime (even just a conspiracy to commit an act of terror that was not carried out) and have escaped prosecution, but the government’s present position is that ALL AMERICANS ARE POTENTIAL TERRORISTS.

5. As we saw with United States v Jones last year, the government cannot argue that people have no expectation of privacy because, well, it says so. The unanimous Court (on the judgement, but 5/4 on the reasoning) held that people did have expectations of privacy that extended further than just their immediate persons and homes. The government could NOT electronically track – via GPS – the vehicles without a warrant because they were located on public streets. Yes, you do still possess, at least a modicum of, an expectation of privacy even in public.

So, while Smith may have stand for the proposition that telephone records are not ‘private papers’ in a Fourth Amendment sense, I think that there is a critical difference between a situation where meta-data is being gathered from SPECIFIC PEOPLE after a SPECIFIC CRIME has been committed when those SPECIFIC PEOPLE have been NAMED and one where the government is collecting data on tens of millions of UNSPECIFIED PEOPLE, whose information is being collected relative to an UNSPECIFIED CRIME that has been committed or a future SPECIFIC CRIME may be in the planning stages, in a spaghetti-thrown-at-the-wall manner.

While it may be ‘legal’ for the Federal government to collect meta-data because Americans, allegedly, have no expectation of privacy relative to it, it doesn’t mean that this is the type of power that we want it to have or the type of country in which we want to live. It is one thing to use such tools in cases such as Smith and quite another to employ them on much of the American public.

Resist We Much on June 6, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Lindsay Graham is a member of the government. How can we expect that he will protect us from the government?

Tom C on June 6, 2013 at 3:40 PM

I used to like Lindsey Graham, until I learned to hate him!!

Deano1952 on June 6, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Question for Sen. Graham. Does he have an issue with the AP phone records case? Well, I work for a media company, and we use Verizon. If Fox News uses Verizon, you think DoJ might be looking at who they’re speaking to?

hawksruleva on June 6, 2013 at 3:54 PM

It is one thing to use such tools in cases such as Smith and quite another to employ them on much of the American public.

Resist We Much on June 6, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Well said. It’s worth remembering that once the government takes away a bit of freedom, it’s very hard to ever regain that lost freedom.

hawksruleva on June 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I hope we’re all libertarians now. This has got to stop. We’re forsaking everything to feel safe from random lightning strikes.

John the Libertarian on June 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Well said. It’s worth remembering that once the government takes away a bit of freedom, it’s very hard to ever regain that lost freedom.

hawksruleva on June 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Yeppers. I made that same argument earlier this week after the Court’s decision in Maryland v King was published…

Why Maryland v King Is Yet Another Disastrous Decision For Civil Liberties And A Further Erosion Of The Constitutional Rights That Protect The American People From An Abusive, Over-Wielding, Intrusive Big Government

Resist We Much on June 6, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Droopy on June 6, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Are you serious?

I mean, I know you are trolling.

Andrew C. McCarthy just wrote an article stating that government isn’t the problem. It’s the people we have in charge at the moment.

I guess some people believe that James Madison wrote “Some men are angels”.

tetriskid on June 6, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Seriously, is there ANY dictatorial action this federal government could take that Graham would object to? If the government started relocating people en masse into FEMA camps, would Graham be thankful for that too???

People wonder how a civilized country like Germany could succumb willingly to Nazi rule. Tools like Graham offer us a clue.

Aitch748 on June 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM

If the government started relocating people en masse into FEMA camps, would Graham be thankful for that too???

Aitch748 on June 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM

As long as the government limited it to ‘whackobirds,’ Senator Scarlett would have no problem with it.

Resist We Much on June 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Dear Senator,

Two questions:

What do the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment say?
Where in the Constitution does it give Congress or the Executive Branch the power to ignore them?

EB

EdmundBurke247 on June 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Seriously, is there ANY dictatorial action this federal government could take that Graham would object to?

Aitch748

Border security.

xblade on June 6, 2013 at 5:23 PM

If the government started relocating people en masse into FEMA camps, would Graham be thankful for that too???

Aitch748

As long as those people aren’t illegals, he would be fine with it.

xblade on June 6, 2013 at 5:26 PM

A question I’ve been asking often today – isn’t it likely that the phone logs of some media companies are included in this? I’m sure the DoJ wouldn’t look in that database to see what government phone numbers were being called by reporters.

Right?

So why would Graham be OK with this, but upset over the AP phone records scandal? Wouldn’t Uncle Sam get the same info either way?

hawksruleva on June 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

I’d bet right now that Mr. Graham, his Mother, his Father, his Brothers or Sisters telephony/technology is being bugged and has been. Good Gawd Lindsey, are you this naïve? Go home dude, you’ve lost it.

Tangerinesong on June 6, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Well if the Palmetto Princess has no qualms about the gov getting his verizon phone records, why doesn’t he release just the records of his office phones and staff cell phones to the public? Anything paid for with tax dollars is fair game. FOIA. I mean, if you have nothing to hide senator…

oryguncon on June 6, 2013 at 5:38 PM

I waiting for some demagogue to say “We can put a man on the moon…” to justify some scary and expensive dream he has…

WE, the people, can’t deport 11 million, or is it 21 million, illegals and we can’t secure the border or scare a bunch of people on foot in Mexico into staying home. In addition we are doing great with the drug war, too.

The woman who has been playing phone games with me for decades has a phone tech helping her do it.

In case you thought the guys are doing nothing for their parasitic federal check every month.

IlikedAUH2O on June 6, 2013 at 5:55 PM

That’s the eternal rationale for the surveillance state: If you’re not doing anything wrong, you should have no objection.

I like how Doug Wead put it:

“Your innocence doesn’t have anything to do with it. Jesus was innocent. Gandhi was innocent.”

Rae on June 6, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Stinking little fascist faggot. Ernst Rohm reincarnated.

LCT688 on June 6, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Seriously, the only way the rat-eared coward is the smartest guy in the room is if he is sitting in a one-hole outhouse.

Happy Nomad on June 6, 2013 at 2:18 PM

You’re wrong. Sh!t has more brains. He would still be the dumbest.

air_up_there on June 6, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Dear Lindsey,
Eat my shorts, you un-american anti-constitutional Fascist bastard.
You need to look up tyranny in the dictionary….if you don’t know how to operate a dictionary, get one of your Fascist staffers to do it for you.

dirtengineer on June 6, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Too funny!

Republicans voted overwhelmingly to give the President this power.

Suck it up.

bileduct on June 6, 2013 at 10:57 PM

Yeah. I’m a Verizon customer and you can…..wait….Lindsey would like that. Forget it.

This Democrat Police State needs to end.

Now.

98ZJUSMC on June 6, 2013 at 11:00 PM

We see a pattern now with Graham. Occasional flashes of brilliance against a background of unprincipled adherence to power. It’s an ugly and confusing mixture.

This statement is one of the most foolish things said by any republican. We expect Rand Paul and Ted Cruz to now put the case for his removal from positions of influence.

virgo on June 7, 2013 at 12:54 AM

Two moron’s blew up pressure cookers in Boston killing three including a child. I’m wondering why, with all the data mining the NSA/FBI/Obama administration was collecting, they missed it?

TulsAmerican on June 7, 2013 at 1:31 AM

Graham becomes an “Independent” in 3… 2… 1…

Theophile on June 7, 2013 at 4:07 AM

It is a puzzle how this guy remains in office in a state like South Carolina.

pgrossjr on June 7, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Now that Lindsey Graham knows, like the rest of us, that our phone records, text messages, e-mails, YouTube videos, pictures, & even our credit cards are being collected and tracked…now that Graham knows that HE & his fellow members of the Senate are having all of THEIR personal information tracked by Obama & Holder (which means all that personal data can now possibly be used against them in future elections)…let’s see if Graham feels the same way about it!

easyt65 on June 7, 2013 at 8:44 AM

It appears that Graham is more interested in protecting his insignificant butt than he is in protecting the Constitution. It’s time to send this jerk hiking, South Carolina.

rplat on June 7, 2013 at 9:08 AM

It appears that Graham is more interested in protecting his insignificant butt than he is in protecting the Constitution. It’s time to send this jerk hiking, South Carolina.

rplat on June 7, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Don’t jerks from South Carolina go hiking the Appalachian Trail?

EdmundBurke247 on June 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Graham like his friend McCain is somewhat constitutionally challenged.

Nomas on June 7, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Don’t jerks from South Carolina go hiking the Appalachian Trail?

EdmundBurke247 on June 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM

If the Appalachian Trail takes Graham to Argentina, then he should start hiking immediately. We don’t need him here.

backwoods conservative on June 7, 2013 at 9:54 AM

It is a shame that a U. S. Senator has no respect for the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution.

MTinMN on June 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

South Carolina must be hard up for good Republicans for this Bozo to keep being re-elected!!!

Artie on June 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Hey – Lindsey, Tell that to Gen. David Petraeus!

Pole-Cat on June 9, 2013 at 12:32 AM

Lindsay! RINO in perfection. At least LG is honest about what he thinks…bette than TRYING HARD RUBIO.

TheAlamos on June 9, 2013 at 4:42 AM

I suspect Lindsey Graham has known about this for a while. In fact, it takes very little imagination to consider that the captured phone data was used by this administration against members of congress to make them “more open to opposing views”.

When did this blanket surveillance begin? When did Lindsey Graham begin embracing (or at least voting for) everything Obama? Perhaps Graham has something he’d rather not have “come out”.

ROCnPhilly on June 10, 2013 at 12:38 PM

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