Bloggers on the NSA's phone-call database.

Bloggers on the NSA's phone-call database.

Bloggers on the NSA's phone-call database.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 11 2006 5:47 PM

Who You Gonna Call?

Bloggers weigh in on the National Security Agency hoarding domestic telephone records, Howard Dean offending gays, and an American Idol favorite getting the boot.

Who you gonna call? USA Today and other outlets report that the National Security Agency has compiled a database of domestic phone-call records from data provided by major telecommunications corporations AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. Qwest reportedly refused to release the information. President Bush has neither confirmed nor denied the report, which could hamper the nomination of former NSA head Michael Hayden to become CIA director.

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Saying that Bush "has much to answer for," political science professor Steven Taylor at PoliBlog argues that "the notion that the government should have the right, sans court order, to gather millions upon millions of phone records from law-abiding citizens is unacceptable. Further, once the government has information of this nature in a database, the potential for abuse is large." Progressive political consultant Mathew Gross has a beef with Big Brother, too. "I know the Bush apologists … like to say that 'if you're not doing anything illegal, why should you care if the government sticks its nose up your, um, business,' but this is a gross violation of the 4th Amendment," he writes. A Carpetbagger Report post points out that the calls are being logged, not listened to, but a commenter still thinks the database yanks one more civil right out of the hands of Americans. "The government logs all domestic calls, then a year later it will be announced they needed to put names and addresses with those calls. … They chip away a little at the Bill of Rights, wait for the public to become comfortable, then push it a bit further," PRM writes.

On the other hand, some conservative bloggers maintain that this latest flap is just the liberal media kicking up more dust. Jay at Stop the ACLU contends that the USA Today story serves only to "rekindle the scaremongering of the paranoid left." And Mark Levin at the National Review Online's And Another Thing doesn't get the fuss. "The NSA intercept program shouldn't be controversial. The Constitution and precedent make clear that the president, especially during war-time, can intercept enemy communications, including if those communications involve U.S. citizens within the United States. It is absurd to argue otherwise," he claims.

Others think the timing is meant to derail the Republican political machine. "The revelations in today's USA Today about the massive collection of telephone numbers by the NSA - not eavesdropping on calls, not gathering people's names or addresses – was leaked solely to discredit General Michael Hayden and derail his nomination for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency," argues Rick Moran at the Rightwing Nut House. Meanwhile, right-leaning Independent AJ Strata at the Strata-Sphere blames the leak on a "rogue CIA." "This is the same FISA-leak all dressed up in different spin. This is not news except to those ignorant of how things work in the news corpse," Strata scoffs.

Dean the obscure: DNC Chairman Howard Dean admitted Thursday that he misstated the Democratic Party's position on gay marriage after he said on Pat Robertson's 700 Club television program that "the platform said marriage is between a man and a woman." Gay rights groups are decrying Dean and other Democrats who waffle on gay marriage.

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"His recent remarks on the Christian Broadcasting Network in support of traditional marriage demonstrate his belief that GLBT Americans have nowhere else to turn but to the Democrats, so it's safe to throw them under the bus every now and then. Like so many Democrats (including John Kerry), Howard Dean takes the GLBT vote for granted," writes Sandouri Dean Bey at Aman Yala. Although he doesn't support gay marriage, Mick Stockinger at Uncorrelated congratulates the gay community for calling Dean on his attempt to play to both sides of the issue. "I think where Dean miscalculated is in his expectation that the gay lebian bi-sexual and transgendered (GLBT) community would simply shut-up and let him play the Evangelicals--that's usually the deal--wink, wink, nod, nod," he writes.

Nick Gillespie at Reason's Hit and Run blog points out that the DNC platform is foggy on gay marriage anyway. "Note that the language from the platform leaves wriggle room for nervous Dems to deny that they want 'marriage' for gays and lesbians. And note that most if not all major Dem leaders--Gore, Hillary Clinton, Kerry (god, is he even still alive?)--have all huffed and puffed on the subject and come out against gay marriage," he writes. Another Gay Republican is pleased that the Democrats are finally being pressed on the issue. "I'll admit there's a tinge of schadenfreude to this post. After years of listening to 'You have to be a Democrat . . . or else' lectures and general spite and hatred directed at me for my politics, I take pleasure in watching this fight," writes AGR. "I think this is a good thing for the Democrats and ultimately for gays and lesbians because we need to stand up to our respective parties." And gay Washingtonian Republic of T. vows to renounce his Democratic Party membership thanks to Dean's doublespeak. "If the Democratic party was a guy that I'd been dating all this time … Dean's quickie with Pat would basically add up to that boyfriend cozying up with my worst enemy and whispering sweet nothings such as 'I never really liked him anyway.' "

Ciao, Chris: American Idol alternative rocker Chris Daughtry, thought to be a front-runner to win, was voted off the show Wednesday. "America is stupid," bloggers say.

"American Idol, You Are Dead To Me!" writes De on It's All about De. "I will NEVER watch another second of American Idol EVER. … The American IDIOTS vote off the best, most polished and current/relevant singer to hit Idol to date!?" fumes Terry on ApeBlog. But Jim at Jsstudios blog puts Daughtry's loss in perspective. "If you are a rocker does it really matter if you win American Idol? Chris has consistently shown that he has the most clear, recording studio quality voice than any other contestant on the show. … If anything, the 'American Idol' moniker may have been more of an anchor than a parachute for this guy," he writes. Meanwhile, law blogger and huge AI fan Ann Althouse isn't that surprised by the turn of events. "He was my favorite, but I let him go last night. He just wasn't good enough," she laments.