One of the common defences of the Republican
police state surveillance program is the mantra “Sept. 11 changed everything.” According to a Bloomberg News story, the Bush Administration was engaged in domestic electronic surveillance well before the Sept. 11 attacks (italics mine):
The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.
The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation’s largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.
“The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,” plaintiff’s lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. “This undermines that assertion.”
What’s truly pathetic is that this system was in place and it did not stop the Sept. 11 attacks. But really, it’s vital for U.S. security.
Except when it doesn’t work.
Update: Amanda at Pandagon has more.