Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Your phone calls may be under government surveillance. A new report shows the NSA has been collecting phone records of millions of Americans. The White House says the program helped prevent a terrorist attack. But others call it spying.
Kai Jackson has more on the controversial practice.
Many Americans may find this government program incredibly intrusive–one that’s likely to start a debate about civil liberties.
The government is spying on Americans.
Britain’s Guardian Newspaper uncovered a U.S. government court order that allows all Verizon landlines and mobile phones to be monitored on a daily basis.
A lawmaker says it recently prevented a terrorist attack.
“It was a significant case. It happened within the last few years,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, (R) Michigan.
The program, started under the Bush Administration, after the September 11 attacks.
The National Security Agency, based at Fort Meade, Anne Arundel County, runs the highly classified program.
With authority granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the agency insists it monitors only phone numbers and other data, not names and doesn’t listen to conversations.
“I think it’s horrible. I think Americans have become too complacent. The government’s just taking our privacy left, right and center,” a Verizon customer said.
“Everyone should just calm down and understand that this isn’t anything that is brand new. It’s been going on for some seven years,” said Sen. Harry Reid, (D) Nevada.
A Baltimore law professor says the public may think what the government is doing is unethical, but that doesn’t mean it’s illegal.
“It’s probably going to cause more political problems for the administration than it is legal problems because what they’re doing is lawful,” said Byron Warnken, www.warnken.com.
“They have entirely too wide a net and entirely too broad a criteria to hit people with or to gather data with,” said John Higgins, of Hampden.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner is calling on President Barack Obama to explain to the American public why he thinks it’s important for the administration to collect phone records.
The Washington Post and Guardian uncovered another government program called “PRISM.” It analyzes public videos, pictures and documents over the Internet.