If you’re a reporter or cop with a Verizon phone, the government now has all your sources

Fox News is simply beside itself with ire over the news last night that the Obama administration forced Verizon to turn over the phone records of all of its 121 million customers to the National Security Agency.

But the ire should extend far beyond partisan news outlets.  Reporters, police, and regular Americans should all be concerned.

Let’s start with Fox. You likely won’t be surprised to hear that while Fox is very upset over Obama’s domestic eavesdropping, they were fine with George Bush’s. Which is interesting, since President Obama at least got a court order to do what he did. Bush skipped the court order all together.  But that didn’t stop Fox from geting all verklempt.

You see, Fox News is worried that this is an “abuse of the Patriot Act.”

How adorable.

Fox News finally cares about the Patriot Act, and civil liberties.


I’ve always said that the only time conservatives would ever start caring about civil liberties was when someone started going after them, preferably targeting gun nuts (and keep in mind, all you gun nuts on Verizon, the government now has your records too – hee hee).

Reporters and cops who use Verizon, beware

But it goes beyond that.  The government now has a list of the sources for every journalist in America who uses Verizon.  Are you a politician who chats with reporters and would rather not have that known publicly? Are you a reporter who might be concerned that the government will now use this data to further its leak investigation against you and your sources?

The government also has the list of the confidential sources for every cop in America who uses Verizon.

And a record of anyone who’s used their Verizon phone to call a hooker, or the NRA.

Lindsey Graham’s bizarre “I’m not a terrorist” defense

It’s easy for people like Lindsey Graham to say:

“I’m a Verizon customer,” Graham revealed. “I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government’s going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don’t think you’re talking to terrorists. I know you’re not. I know I’m not. So, we don’t have anything to worry about.”

domestic privacy eavesdropping spying

Eavesdropping via Shutterstock

But the information being turned over goes far beyond “I’m not a terrorist, so I don’t care.”  As noted above, are you a cop, a journalist, a man cheating on your wife?  How about a closeted Republican senator who uses his Verizon phone to call gay phone sex lines?  Do you think the government having that information in its hands might be a problem for you?

This is not a “limited” inquiry

And there’s another thing.  Graham goes on to say, and this is a total lie:

“I’m glad the activity is going on, but it is limited to tracking people who are suspected to be terrorists and who they may be talking to.”

Well, no.  They’re tracking all 121 million Verizon customers.  So that’s a flat out lie.   Even the Fox Host was taken aback by Graham’s obviously false assertion that this court order only applies to a few suspected terrorists:

“Are you sure?” co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered. “That’s what it’s supposed to be, but are you sure they’re still doing that?”

When people like Lindsey Graham, who are lawyers and know better, trot out the “it’s okay if you spy on me because I’m not talking to terrorists” line, it’s particularly insulting.  They know better than that.  The Constitution and the Bill of Rights aren’t based on the notion that anything goes so long as you’re not guilty.

Lots of things in life are private, even if they’re not against the law, Senator Graham.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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