Drudge pointed this out to me - was USA Today's big story yesterday on the government's collecting of phone data simply a rehash of old news printed in the NY Times last year?
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
New York Times:
Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.
The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.
As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.
This has already been beaten to death, no? Actually, if I recall at the time, a large majority of Americans approve of this surveillance - more than 2/3rds, I believe...
So what happened? Did the Democrats and/or the MSM feel that Bush was regaining some steam; and with no fresh distortions handily available, just re-hashed an old issue in order to distract the electorate? After all, it is hard to defeat the party in power when you are winning a war, the economy is going gangbusters, and the opposition has no cognizant governing plan besides promising to raise taxes and investigate the President....
Shame on USA Today; and shame on the rest of the media for re-reporting old news for partisan political gain...
UPDATE 1145P: Michelle Malkin in today's New York Post quotes the USA Today article and makes her point:
According to the newspaper's piece (a naked attempt to derail former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden's nomination as CIA chief):
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans - most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews."
Note, please: "This program does NOT involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations."
They're looking at massive amounts of numbers and phone-call patterns, not eavesdropping on teenage lovers' quarrels or your neighbor's pizza order or Susan Sarandon's heart-to-hearts with Cindy Sheehan.
And: "The spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity."
Translation: The counterterror experts at the NSA are - gasp - doing their job. And - to their credit - some American companies are stepping up to the plate to help them.
The paper admits the kind of data collection involved is not new. The Clinton administration's Echelon program was far more intrusive.
Michelle is right - not a smack at Bush, but a smackdown attempt at his nominees...partisan, and pathetic.