Earlier today, Bryan Preston and I traveled to the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Md. If you have a chance to go, you should. It’s a cool, cool place. The curator and staff were top-notch. The exhibits are amazing.
We’ve produced a special Vent at Hot Air that provides a very different perspective on the NSA than the one the MSM has been spewing.
One interesting thing happened worth sharing: When I missed the turn for the museum, I had to drive through the guard booth. Because I officially entered the NSA premises uninvited, I was pulled aside into the parking lot by security. They asked for my driver’s license and my Social Security number. And then one security guard looked me straight in the eye, unembarrassed, and asked if I was a citizen.
I couldn’t help it. I answered affirmatively and then told him: “I guess I’m not supposed to editorialize, but it is really refreshing to hear a security guy ask that question out loud without apologizing.” He and his colleague chuckled. Appreciatively.
From WaPo today, former deputy homeland security adviser and deputy assistant to the president Richard Falkenrath writes:
Bureaucrats excel at finding reasons not to do something. They are most often guilty of sins of omission, not commission. A timid, ordinary executive might have concluded that it was too risky to ask U.S. telecommunications companies to provide anonymized call records voluntarily to an agency such as the NSA, dealing with foreign intelligence. If the USA Today story is correct, it appears that Mike Hayden is no timid, ordinary executive. Indeed, it appears that he is exactly the sort of man that we should have at the helm of the CIA while we are at war.
Update 5/13: Verizon being sued…
The furor over the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records intensified Friday, with one telecommunications giant slapped with a $5 billion damage suit for allegedly violating privacy laws and the former head of another firm saying through a lawyer that his company refused to participate because he thought the program was illegal.
Qwest, a Baby Bell serving 15 million customers mostly in the West, was approached in the fall of 2001 to permit government access to private phone records, according to an attorney for Joseph Nacchio, who at the time was Qwest’s chairman and CEO.
Nacchio refused because the government had failed to obtain a warrant or cross other legal hurdles to obtain the data, according to the lawyer, Herbert Stern. “Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act,” Stern said Friday in a written statement.
The nation’s other major phone companies–AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth–have not acknowledged or denied cooperation with the NSA, despite published reports contending they have voluntarily turned over millions of records of customers’ phone calls since the terrorist attacks of 2001. On Friday, the three companies issued carefully worded statements declaring their commitment to protecting consumer privacy and operating within the law.
At the same time, two New Jersey public interest lawyers filed suit against Verizon in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeking $1,000 in damages for each record improperly turned over to the NSA or up to $5 billion in all.
Hat tip: Tom Elia, who writes:
The two lawyers filing suit are named Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer. OpenSecrets.org shows that a lawyer from Princeton, NJ named Carl Mayer donated $4,000 to Ralph Nader in the 2004.
A search also shows that Mayer contributed $5,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaigm Committee in 1997.