NYT: Obama Administration Collecting Millions of Phone Records on Ordinary Citizens

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The New York Times didn’t write that headline, but I’m going to rewrite it for them as if George W. Bush were president. No matter what your party affiliation is, you should care about civil liberties.

Here’s the liberal paper-of-record on a sweeping NSA program that implies all American citizens are suspected of terrorist ties:

The Obama administration is secretly carrying out a domestic surveillance program under which it is collecting business communications records involving Americans under a hotly debated section of the Patriot Act, according to a highly classified court order disclosed on Wednesday night.

The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in April, directs a Verizon Communications subsidiary, Verizon Business Network Services, to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” to the National Security Agency all call logs “between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

The order does not apply to the content of the communications.

To be clear, there’s nothing new about the United States government using surveillance technology to monitor the behavior of citizen-suspects, so this isn’t some Republican vs. Democrats issue. From the Clinton-era Project Echelon to the Bush-founded Patriot Act, extended twice by President Obama, Washington D.C. is building a web of domestic spying tools, and the police agencies to enforce its decrees.

The Founders had it right. Citizens own the government and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It is the police’s job to investigate crimes with tools respecting the rights of citizens and to prevent crimes based on publicly acquired knowledge. Police do not have a mandate to trample the rights of citizens and to treat them as if their lives are open books for ‘authorized’ bureaucrats or officials to read.

When every American citizen is suspected of being a terrorist, there can be no privacy and no respite from the state’s intrusions. Democrats who say they care about civil liberties: Can you hear me now?

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