The Guardian writes that “the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.” That would be in April of this year. After the obligatory mention of President Bush the Guardian goes on to admit that it might have something to do with President Obama.
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.
The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.
A copy of the court order is here. The question of who is in power often matters less than what power he has. Once the definition of enemies is expanded sufficiently to include people with contrary political view then eventually the necessary trawl must include everything. It was Gerald Ford who put his finger on the paradox at the heart of the big government agenda.