Bush administration supports NSA’s wiretapping projects; citizens lose civil liberties

As early as Feb. of 2001 the Bush administration fully backed up the National Security Agency (NSA) in a number of precautionary “security” measures like wiretapping and internet surveillance against private U.S. citizens, which silently and irrefutably put an end to certain civil liberties. As Palestinians, my family and I often experience racial profiling and we fear speaking about our political beliefs on the phone or on the internet, because we know that this will make us the perfect targets for these investigations.

Even though I knew that these shady investigations or private citizens, specifically those who are Muslims and are of Arab, Iranian or even Pakistani descent, I did not know the extent to which this was occurring.

The History Commons Web site (www.CooperativeResearch.org), a project run by the Center for Grassroots Oversight (GCO), provided me with deep, fact-based grassroots research, on a large number of historical and current political issues that relate to racial profiling and specific legislation that made wiretapping and surveillance legal activities.

Many U.S. citizens oppose such the legalization of NSA wiretapping because they consider it a gross violation of privacy; however, it is crucial to keep in mind that the NSA’s motive for requesting this information from these companies is “national security,” a phrase so powerful that it convinced many Americans of the need for a war with Iraq.

White Americans are not the targets of such investigations. The primary candidates are those Arab and Muslim Americans, their friends, their family, and their international contacts.

The History Commons Web site gave me the facts I need to understand and argue issues concerning racial profiling, which I believe violates my rights as an Arab-American and insults me.

The site performs the function of civic journalism, as it challenges totalitarianism in our society by bringing to light the corruption that takes place in different political, economic and social institutions.

It links many historical and current events by a series of timelines and hosts many investigative projects that critically analyze and critique entities like political figures, specific legislation, Congressional and presidential decisions, as well as current and historical events.

The Web site currently profiles 9,752 historical events in the forms of reports, articles and timelines.

The Web site’s philosophy follows a very strict “democracy for the people, by the people” mentality, as members of the public, who are registered users of the site, get to collect, organize, edit, and publish this information.

I began reading The Loss of Civil Liberties Since 9/11, which is one of the several grassroots investigative projects that are currently being hosted on the History Commons website. I narrowed my topic of interest by specifically searching for “racial profiling,” “wiretapping,” and the NSA.

I was outraged to learn that in early February of 2001 telecommunications companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth complied with the NSA by allowing it to monitor U.S. citizens’ phone and Internet communications.

There is a fine line between precautionary security measures and unjustified spying, illegal violations of privacy or racial profiling, and the NSA has crossed this line and surpassed it long before anyone could stop them – or even take notice.

The site gave me credible, cited and factual information in the form of a documented timeline about the NSA’s, (at times) illegal efforts to guarantee “national security,” at the expense of suppressing civil liberties.

The site featured Quest, another telecommunications company that made the decision on February 27, 2001 to deny the NSA such privileges, because the CEO believed that it would be illegal to release customer information to the NSA without court warrants to justify their need for this information.

Likewise, Bell South expressed in late 2001 the concern that by allowing the NSA access to this information, they would be violating the Communications Act of 1934, which prohibits telecommunication companies from releasing such information without valid court orders.

Consequently, in 2002, President Bush and others from his administration declared that since the NSA needs this information for a matter of “national security,” these companies would be legally protected from being sued.

I found out that after Sept. 11 the NSA began creating a massive data base of U.S. citizens’ phone calls, with the cooperation of Verizon, AT&T and Bell South.

The media did not report on this database until May 11, 2006, allowing the NSA ample time to develop their project freely.

The database compiles records of phone calls made and received by millions of U.S. citizens, with a special focus on international calls.

On July 8, 2006, Bush personally refused to allow a Justice Department Investigation of the NSA wiretapping program. Starting May 9, 2006, Bush personally intervened in the Justice Department’s attempt to investigate the NSA’s activities, and was singlehandedly successful in putting a halt to the investigation.

Other fascinating projects that every citizen should be educated on include A Complete 9/11 Timeline, Support for Islamic Militancy, Prisoner Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Confrontation with Iran and U.S. Health Care.