Following recent news (first reported in USA Today) that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting some phone records, only Richard A. Falkenrath seems to be talking any sense. His article, which appeared in this morning’s edition of the Post, is a clear explanation of the program, why it’s necessary, and why it is almost certainly legal—despite a lot of congressional blather to the contrary.
How is it legal? Well, the data collected in the program is volunteered by three phone companies and stripped of user-identifiable information per current telecom laws. The NSA did not compel the companies to provide anything (in fact, Qwest chose not to participate) and the entire program fits within the context of preexisting law.
With the domestic wiretapping issue earlier, I at least get the controversy (as that plan would likely be illegal in peacetime). This new controversy makes no sense at all.
- The Right Call on Phone Records (Washington Post; free registration may be required).