But we've seen this happen so many times before - only to later learn that there's more to the story. When things calm down its the hysteria mongers who are left with egg all over their faces (yes, I'm looking at folks like you Jonathan Karl).
The latest scandal monger just so happens to be the infamous Glenn Greenwald. So we should be doubly forewarned to take a few deep breaths before launching into OMG!!! territory. He is basically reporting on a subpoena that he got access to that requires a telephone company to turn over its "metadata" to the NSA.
So of course, even folks like BooMan are clutching their pearls about the government getting access to information about all of our telephone calls.
...it is a record of every American Verizon user's calls, texts, emails, and locations of where those messages were sent from and received.Not so fast BooMan. Yes, its true that Greenwald reported that it was Verizon's records that were subpoenaed. But if you look at the actual document, it was Verizon Business Network Services that was covered under the subpoena - not Verizon Communications. I haven't read every report on this story, but so far the New York Times seems to be the only one reporting on this distinction.
Verizon Business Network Services is one of the nation’s largest telecommunications and Internet providers for corporations.This likely requires some further investigation - but it should put to rest any idea that the administration is looking into the Verizon call records of every American.
Other cautions about the hysteria erupting over this story were noted by Joshua Foust. Last night he wrote "Nine Dashed-Off Points on the NSA 'Scandal.'" You should read the whole thing, but here are the two I found the most informative:
4. The NSA, despite the broad nature of its warrant request, did nothing illegal, and the supposed illegality of the FISC procedure has not been demonstrated.There are certainly privacy questions that are raised here. But as I wrote a couple of months ago, the whole concept of privacy needs some discussion in this technological era. For example, did you know that unless you have taken specific steps to block it, just by visiting this blog, you have given me your location, IP address, what posts you clicked on, what article referred you here and how long you visited? All of that information about visitors is available to you too at the little green button over to the right labelled "Site Meter." That's exactly the same kind of information this NSA subpoena requested on phone records. And its one little tiny bit of the kinds of information available on most anyone that surfs the internet or uses a "smart phone."
5. The information the NSA is collecting is metadata, not content (like a wiretap), and not account names. Uncovering personally identifiable information would require separate warrants to do so. This was a pattern analysis, not really mass surveillance as we traditionally understand it.
So my advice is to take a few breaths and let this story unfold. My guess is that once all of the information on this one gets out, Mr. Greenwald will once again wind up with a pretty good dose of egg on his face.
UPDATE: If you want to see a real professional investigative reporter take on Glenn Greenwald about this topic, check out this exchange between he and Al Giordano a few years ago. Here's my favorite line from Al:
Hey Glenn: being an accusatory asshole doesn't make you a better journalist. It's turning you - and some other coreligionists of your crusade - into the very kind of apparatchik that brought us the FISA bill to begin with.