ABC Investigation: Government Intercepted Private Calls and Personnel Passed Around Tapes for Recreation

In a remarkable investigation, Brian Ross has uncovered extensive abuses within the military surveillance program operated out of Fort Gordon. The investigation includes interviews with two former employees who say that purely private conversations were intercepted between U.S. citizens, including phone sex tapes that were passed around for fun. I was interviewed for the story.

What is most remarkable about this investigation is the total lack of supervision or limitations placed on agents. In direct contravention of what President Bush and the Administration has stated publicly, the surveillance program regularly intercepted journalists, diplomats, and U.S. citizens in calls with nothing to do with terrorism. The witnesses describe a virtual fraternity like environment as “juicy” calls were passed around for laughs “like songs on an IPod.”

For the full story, click here and here.

13 thoughts on “ABC Investigation: Government Intercepted Private Calls and Personnel Passed Around Tapes for Recreation”

  1. I truly hope more people come out with information on the illegal activities of this administration. We need to know in the starkest possible terms, exactly what has/is happening. I am grateful to everyone who has come forward.

  2. … ‘magically’ all fixed – ???

    There is NO reasonable explanation for what just happened here
    – nor what’s been happening all month, come to think of it!
    Must be Mercury!

  3. Sorry wrong thread.

    BTW, JT, my computer is all f**** up since signing off your site last – this AM early…

    WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General John Ashcroft responded angrily on Tuesday to Congressional Democrats who suggested that a no-bid private contract awarded to him by the Justice Department last year amounted to a “backroom, sweetheart deal” that would earn his consulting firm tens of millions of dollars.

    “There is not a conflict, there is not an appearance of a conflict,” Mr. Ashcroft said at a hearing of a House Judiciary subcommittee called to explore the circumstances of the contract.

    He repeatedly tried to talk over the panel’s Democratic chairwoman, Representative Linda T. Sanchez of California, who offered the harshest questioning of Mr. Ashcroft, a Republican. The former attorney general stepped down from the Justice Department three years ago and now runs a Washington consulting firm that bears his name.

  4. New York State Constitution

    [Security against unreasonable searches, seizures and interceptions]

    Article I

    §12. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable interception of telephone and telegraph communications shall not be violated, and ex parte orders or warrants shall issue only upon oath or affirmation that there is reasonable ground to believe that evidence of crime may be thus obtained, and identifying the particular means of communication, and particularly describing the person or persons whose communications are to be intercepted and the purpose thereof. (New. Adopted by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)

  5. david
    1, October 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    BTW, is this what had Ashcroft so upset that he threatened to resign if it was implemented?

    Actually I think it was Robert Mueller, head of the FBI who threatened to resign if it was turned on. In fact I think several other higher ups did. I’ll call them the wisemen.

    Ashcroft simply refused to authorize it, which is why Andy Card and Roberto Gonzales, then an attorney for the White House, waited until Ashcroft was in a coma, then took it to James Comey, the Deputy and then acting Attorney General, who likewise refused to sign it and he informed the White House representatives that it was illegal. So, Gonzo and Card decided to sneak over to the hospital and tried to get a heavily medicated, barely coherent Ashcroft to sign it from his hospital bed. Even Ashcroft who usually sided with Bush, refused to sign it. Even in his weakened condition. For all his faults I’ve always been grateful to him for that one, great act. They tried to get him to sign it, but Comey, who found out they were going there had rushed to the hospital and was there with Ashcrof, who raised his finger toward Comey and said “theres the Attorney General”.

    Gonzo and Card, knowing Comey’s answer, stormed out, from what I understand somewhat abrasively, brushing past Comey as if he wasn’t even in the room.

    What a scene that would have been to witness. Stuff like that is right out of a Hollywood script.

    What amazed me was how open they really were about it in 2002 and 2003, when they openly showed Bush going over to NSA to do his famous “signing statements” authorizing this “new program” which would “help get the terrerists”. No one really payed attention I think, or as you said, didn’t care. They just sort of said, “ok, if its to keep us safe”. And the truth is many Americans still don’t care. Probably half of them I’m guessing, give or take. But it wasn’t legal then, and now they’d been snubbed by their AG, and their Deputy and then acting AG.

    So what they’d do?

    Why they fired them, of course. They fired them, and made the guy who brought them the document they wouldn’t sign, Attorney General. Who then signed it.


    Just like any good Banana Republic would do.

  6. Ashcroft lost an election to a dead man. That should have been the first clue he is trouble.

  7. What scares me is that it seems so many people see this level of surveillance as no big deal and even view opposition to it as naive. My family is so staunchly Republican that we used to have to coach our kids to not use the “d” word at family reunions. However, I hear these same supposed conservatives complaining not about governmental lawbreaking but about liberals being pro-terrorist and somehow un-American for wanting to apply the Fourth Amendment.

    It worries me that people have internalized lines like “Al Queda plots to inflict catastrophic harm on America … [and Obama’s] worried that someone won’t read them their rights” or bought into the framing of the issue of domestic spying as the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” when in truth it violated the Constitution Bush swore an allegiance to uphold.

    BTW, is this what had Ashcroft so upset that he threatened to resign if it was implemented? Remember that we still don’t know what made Comey and Ashcroft stand up to Bush until he altered the TSP.

    What could have so shocked the man who Bush chose as AG, who is a member of the Federalist Society? We still don’t know. How much more intrusive can you get than that? Maybe I don’t want to know.

  8. That primates will behave as primates should surprise no one. That adults will behave as children when those adults are charged with protecting constitutionally protected rights should outage us all. Old Ben Franklin was right when he so presciently told us that the trade for a little temporary security at the cost of our precious liberty makes suckers of us all, and further makes us deserving of neither.

  9. I knew 7 years ago when CNN took us inside the NSA listening center at FT Meade in MD, that this is what was going on.

    When Bush released the information about “new capabilities” having to do with “digital switching centers and hubs”, I knew what was happening, and I tried for years to warn people in blogs.

    The story on CNN, informed us that “when” certain words like “President, Bomb, Airplane, etc… were spoken in certain combinations, large super computers would “START” recording the conversation.

    Well, I asked myself this one simple question, that no one seemed to want to answer.

    IF they “START” recording when certain words were spoken, then HOW did they know those words were said in the first place?


    Once you put that question, together with the piecemeal info they have provided us with, such as “digital switching hubs”, the picture becomes obvious.

    They’re listening to ALL calls.

    All calls in the United States are being listened to. Every single one that passes through a digital switching hub becomes what is known as “digitized voice”, which can then be copied off to anywhere they want. Screening would be automated, using digital filters and data mining and data warehousing(something they also spoke about) techniques. After all, at that point the voice recording is merely data on a computer.

    Additionally, all internet traffic, email, web activity, etc, is likewise being captured at the same switching hubs and tandemned off to the “secret rooms” in the phone companies.

    This is the dirty little secret that is hiding in plain sight.

    The informations there, if people will look at it. Sooner or later it will come out, on the news, that everyone in this country has had their phone calls screened by the new digital technology, meaning everyone in the country has had their 4th Amendment rights trampled by the Bush administration.

    And naturally, it goes without saying, that the youthful technogeeks that are young enough to be convinced that what they’re doing is right, are naturally going to abuse the system which is already a system of abuse, and use our personal communications spoken in private, or so we thought, for their own personal amusement.

  10. “a US intelligence official said “all employees of the US government” should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and “information assurance.”

    Why? Is every employee of the US govt. told this is a condition of their employement? Data mining is not good law enforcement but is excellent for controlling a civilian population and suppressing dissent.

    Is the justice dept. going to act in a few weeks on this illegal activity as they did on Palin’s e-mails? If not, why?

    This is a police state. I just don’t think we can deny that fact any longer.

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