July 3, 2008 | By Tim Jones

Senator Hatch and Tinfoil Hats

Apparently no longer even bothering with coherent or rational arguments, supporters of the flawed surveillance bill have now resorted to namecalling. Here's Senator Orrin Hatch's argument in last Thursday's Senate debate. (h/t ThinkProgress)

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"How many times have we heard claims that the Protect America Act would permit the government to spy on innocent American families overseas, on their vacations? Or innocent American soldiers overseas serving their country? Or innocent American students who are simply studying abroad?

Painting this type of picture only feeds the delusions of those who wear tinfoil hats around their house and think that Nine-Eleven was an inside job.

That's a strong statement. Who exactly is Senator Hatch referring to?

Here's USA Today in May of 2005:

"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... For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others."

Here's The New York Times' Pulitzer-winning coverage in December of 2005:

"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."

And here's The Wall Street Journal in March of this year:

"According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches ... The haul can include records of phone calls, email headers and destinations, data on financial transactions and records of Internet browsing."

It's a simple fact: AT&T and other telcos illegally sent millions of Americans' private domestic communications to the NSA for at least five years. Senator Hatch and other telco allies continue to make nonsensical accusations like this because they know arguing their case with actual evidence and substance is a lost cause.

If you haven't already, call your Senators now and tell them to oppose telco immunity and the new surveillance bill.


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