Big Brother update

Big Brother update

by digby

George Stephanopoulos managed to interview Glenn Greenwald this morning about a new scoop without questioning his journalistic credentials or asking him when he stopped being a traitor. It was rather refreshing.

After all, the story is rather important, particularly in light of the very close vote in the House last week:

Today on “This Week,” Glenn Greenwald – the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs – claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans.

“The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.” 
Greenwald explained that while there are “legal constraints” on surveillance that require approval by the FISA court, these programs still allow analysts to search through data with little court approval or supervision.

“There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans,” Greenwald said. “You can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.”

“And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he added.
The good news is that Saxby Chambliss has been on the case and knows for a fact that Greenwald is completely full of it. Because Chambliss asked the NSA and they told him so.
But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee told Stephanopoulos he would be shocked if such programs existed.

“It wouldn’t just surprise me, it would shock me,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, said on “This Week” Sunday.

Chambliss said he recently spent time with NSA officials and was assured that the programs Greenwald describes have been exaggerated.

“I was back out at NSA just last week, spent a couple hours out there with high and low level NSA officials,” Chambliss said. “And what I have been assured of is that there is no capability at NSA for anyone without a court order to listen to any telephone conversation or to monitor any e-mail.”

Chambliss said that any monitoring of emails is purely “accidental.”

“In fact, we don’t monitor emails. That’s what kind of assures me is that what the reporting is is not correct. Because no emails are monitored now,” Chambliss said. “They used to be, but that stopped two or three years ago. So I feel confident that there may have been some abuse, but if it was it was pure accidental.”
Meanwhile, we had David Gregory fluffing the NSA's pool boy, Congressman Mike Rogers, on Meet the Press. Rogers  explained at length, without any follow-up,  that the vote this week that came just 6 votes short of dismantling the NSA programs was a result of the public being upset about the administration's abusive Big Brother IRS and Obamacare which they confused with  the benign NSA that's doing God's work.

That is no joke, it's what he said.  And then he lied repeatedly about other details we already know while the petty little Villager David Gregory (who, like so many others, obviously can't see past his personal animosity toward Greenwald to the underlying issues) asked him to go on at length about how Edward Snowden is killing people.

And that was it. Rogers was the only guest he had on this subject. They didn't have time for any opposing views.  They needed to talk about more important issues: Weiner and Filner.