NSA Whistleblowers’ Startling Claims: Records on 3 Billion Calls Collected Per Day — And It’s Not Just Verizon

Former employees of the National Security Agency say the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.

“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one,” William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”

Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens.

British newspaper The Guardian late Wednesday released an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requesting Verizon to give the NSA the details on every phone call on its landline and wireless networks on a daily basis between April 25 and July 19.

Binney estimates that the NSA collects records on 3 billion calls per day.

“These are routine orders,” said Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower. “What’s new is we’re seeing an actual order, and people are surprised by it.”

Read more here.

Orwell’s ‘1984’ has arrived

The FBI wants back doors to all communications equipment and software. The NSA is grabbing trillions of phone records of American citizens. And reporters’ research apparently is a subject of interest at the Department of Justice.

All of this and more has triggered a surge of renewed interest in a recent video by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in which he declares that “1984,” the George Orwell novel about ultimate government disinformation, manipulation and control – is here.

“Dystopian novels were just that, bad utopias,” he said, “but not practically possible. One could always sigh in relief that such surveillance, such invasion of privacy, was not technologically possible.

“Until now.

“Now we have the technology. Drones that measure less than an inch, weigh less than an ounce and hover noiselessly outside your bedroom window are not a dystopian future but today’s reality,” he said.

“The individual who feared ’1984′ when it was written in 1949 need now shout from the top of his or her lungs, for technology had made the unthinkable, thinkable,” said Paul.

What are the recent developments that prompted the interest?

The National Journal raised questions over confirmation that Verizon, which has more than 100 million Americans as customers, secretly has been handing over documentation of its telephone calls to the National Security Agency.

“Calibrating the appropriate level of outrage will probably occupy us for most of the day,” the report said.

WND reported that the FBI wants changes made in industry requirements so that the agency would possess a back door to all communications software and hardware.

Read more here.

Verizon Scandal: Intel Director Testified in March that Gov. Does Not Collect Data on Americans

On March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other intelligence officials testified about current and future threats to the United States. Senator Ron Wyden asked: “Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans? Clapper answered: “No, sir.” Wyden: “It does not?” Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently, perhaps…”

Verizon strike a lesson in economics

Union workers for Verizon have been protesting for weeks. You’ve read the stories and seen the videos of their antics throughout this strike: putting children in front of moving cars driven by “scabs” or staging a mock funeral outside a Verizon executive’s home. Well you will be happy to know that they will be heading back to work on Tuesday, though without an agreement. But in all of the shenanigans, we have lost sight of exactly why these people were protesting in the first place.

Enter: ObamaCare.

Thanks to ObamaCare .. which these unions supported, by the way .. Verizon is looking at healthcare cost increases of as much as $200 million. Why the increase in cost? Because ObamaCare levies a 40% excise tax on Cadillac health plans, which have been negotiated by these unions. What’s amazing is that Verizon warned about the consequences back in March 2010 when ObamaCare was passed. Apparently these union employees must have thought they were kidding.

Now here is where the unions fail to understand how taxes work. You see .. Verizon isn’t going to just bend over and take this $200 million increase in taxes. Nope. These costs are ultimately passed down to us: the workers and/or the consumers. In this case, Verizon is asking its union employees to pay a portion of their health plan premiums .. which, by the way, is what non-union Verizon workers are already required to do.

The other lesson that these union employees can’t seem to understand is why Verizon must adjust now (in 2011) when the law doesn’t go into effect until 2018. Businesses, apparently unlike government, must plan long-term in order to survive. They re-work business models in order to adjust to changes in the market or expected cost increases (like ObamaCare). This is what a Barack Obama presidency has been so detrimental to businesses in this country .. his big government policies combined with his love of government regulation and pending tax increases, makes it nearly impossible for businesses to create long-term plans. Hence, they sit and they wait and all the while our economy suffers. Can’t blame ‘em.

Verizon on strike: is the middle class really in peril?

With no end in sight, the varying group of red-clad picketers at the Verizon location just around the corner from me promises to be a sight I’ll see for awhile – at least until the economic reality of making no money from working begins to rear its ugly head. According to reports like this, the union and company have been far apart in negotiations.

The Communications Workers of America union calls the strike “standing up for middle class jobs.” Their complaint is that an immensely profitable Verizon has “regressive demands” which “would roll back 50 years of bargaining gains.” Too, the union condemns the “Wisconsin-style tactics” employed by the company.

And the union is getting support in its efforts – for example, the Teamsters who represent UPS workers have ordered drivers not to make deliveries to Verizon facilities where they would cross a picket line. (Sounds like an opportunity for FedEx.) The CWA also claims that over 100,000 have signed a petition decrying Verizon’s “corporate greed.”

Yet Verizon states a case that the workers represent a division of the company that’s not profitable and all they are asking is for well-compensated union employees to chip in a little bit on their benefit packages. The company is also accusing the union of misrepresenting the company’s bargaining demands and also several incidents of vandalism and sabotage. (That seems to be par for the Big Labor course, as I’ll explain later.)

In essence, the conflict boils down to this: Verizon is trying to cut costs in a division that’s on its way to obsolescence. No longer are Americans tied to a phone line as more and more households have eschewed a landline phone for cellular service. Nor does Verizon even have the monopoly on landline service as they used to because cable providers and others have made these services available. Unfortunately for the Verizon employees affected by the strike, their business will eventually go the route of the horse and buggy just as that of the telephone operator went away years ago when direct-dial phones became available.

The other irksome item within the union’s argument is playing that old class envy card. Their claim that the “very profitable company has paid its top five executives more than $258 million over the past four years” doesn’t address how these corporate leaders were paid. Most likely much of the compensation came in the form of stock options granted because the company was “very profitable” – would they prefer these executives lost millions of dollars instead? (By the way, that $258 million number works out to $1433.33 per striking employee per year. Would the strikers accept such a measly pay raise on even a $60,000 salary, let alone upwards of $90,000?)

Certainly that sounds like a huge amount of compensation for these executives – after all, who wouldn’t want a gig where they made an average of $12 million per year? But then again, would you like the hard work and long hours these people put in on their way up the corporate ladder? I doubt these positions were handed to them, and they certainly require more thought and skill in a number of areas than the average line worker would be able to exhibit. A failure on a line worker’s part may mean a few hundred customers are inconvenienced until someone can fix the issue. A CEO’s screwup could drive the entire company to bankruptcy and cost thousands of workers their jobs – so let’s get a sense of proportion here.

Read more here.

Verizon union members Committing Crimes?

State police in Uniontown said a 29-hour loss of landline phone service was caused by an act of criminal mischief when someone went into locked underground Verizon vaults and shut off the power.

Trooper Timothy Kirsch said there was no forced entry at the sites on Main Street and on Route 119 in Lemont Furnace, near the Penn State Fayette campus. Police believe whoever shut off the power had keys.

Police are trying to determine if the incident, which began at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, is related to an ongoing strike by Verizon landline workers.

The local state police barracks was without phone and computer service for 21 hours, police said. Calls had to be forwarded to dispatchers who worked out of another barracks several miles away.

All of the Lemont Furnace area — including many local businesses — had no communication, data and cellphone service for about 29 hours, police said.

Read more here.

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