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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:NSA Domestic Surveillance Tests Constitution
19 May 2006
Modified: 12:04:56 PM
Interview with Chrisopher Pyle, former intelligence officer and professor constitutional law, conducted by Between the Lines' Scott Harris
NSA Domestic Surveillance Tests Constitution

Interview with Chrisopher Pyle, former intelligence officer and professor constitutional law, conducted by Scott Harris

Press reports that the National Security Agency has secretly collected call records of tens of millions of phone company customers since Sept. 11 added to the controversy over President Bush's December admission that he ordered warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizen's international phone and e-mail communication. USA Today reported that despite the government's failure to obtain a court order AT&T, Verizon and Bell South handed over the phone records of their customers, while Quest refused. The White House maintains their monitoring program is aimed at preventing terrorism and is legal.

This new controversy could interfere with the White House plan to install Gen. Michael Hayden as the new CIA director after the abrupt resignation of Porter Goss. Hayden, who served as the director of the NSA from 1999 to 2005, is now under scrutiny for his role in initiating these covert data collection programs.

In a related development, ABC News reported that the FBI acknowledged that it was seeking journalists' phone records as part of an investigation into government leaks to news organizations on secret U.S. prisons and warrantless wiretapping. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Christopher Pyle, a former intelligence officer who worked with congressional committees to reveal Pentagon spying on civilian politics during the Nixon era. Pyle, who now teaches constitutional law at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, examines the legality of the NSA surveillance programs and the threat President Bush's actions pose to American democracy.

Christopher Pyle is a former intelligence officer who worked with Congress to establish the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Related links:


* "Secret Gov't Source Tells ABC News: "Get New Cellphones," by Frank James, The Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2006

* "FBI Acknowledges: Journalists' Phone Records Are Fair Game," by Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, ABC News, May 15, 2006

* "FBI Said to Seek Phone Records of News Reporters," by John Nichols, The Nation, May 16, 2006

* "FBI Says It Tracks Government Worker Calls,"The Associated Press, May 15, 2006

* American Civil Liberties Union at www.aclu.org

* Electronic Privacy Information Center www.epic.org

* Electronic Frontier Foundation www.eff.org

* Center for Constitutional Rights www.ccr-ny.org
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