Slipped into the WSJ article on the NSA surveillance programs and abilities was a tiny (but huge) bit of information:
For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, officials say, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA arranged with Qwest Communications International Inc. to use intercept equipment for a period of less than six months around the time of the event. It monitored the content of all email and text communications in the Salt Lake City area
NSA Defenders will of course say this is 'old' and happened under a different administration, to which I say: Who gives a damn? Do the current administration (not to mention future ones) have the ability to continue doing this around other major events? SuperBowls, World Series, G8 Summits or Occupy protests?
NSA defenders arguments of 'just foreign', 'metadata' and 'no sign of abuses being policy' also all crumble under this revelation. One does not monitor all of the texts/emails coming from a major American city for 6 months without it being 'policy'.
QWEST has been in the news before about the NSA for being one of the lone holdouts against mass surveillance, which began BEFORE 9/11:
Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, convicted of insider trading in April 2007, alleged in appeal documents that the NSA requested that Qwest participate in its wiretapping program more than six months before September 11, 2001. Nacchio recalls the meeting as occurring on February 27, 2001. Nacchio further claims that the NSA cancelled a lucrative contract with Qwest as a result of Qwest's refusal to participate in the wiretapping program. Nacchio surrendered April 14, 2009 to a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania to begin serving a six-year sentence for the insider trading conviction. The United States Supreme Court denied bail pending appeal the same day.Some more link about this story:
The Atlantic has a humorous take:
So Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for president, and chief executive of the Salt Lake City Olympic games, almost certainly had his communications monitored by the NSA for six months or so in 2002.Techdirt:
I wonder how long they stored those emails and texts.
At the time, Michael Hayden was in charge of the NSA, and today he remains one of the staunchest supporters of the NSA's surveillance, calling its opponents losers who can't get laid for daring to question the level of unconstitutional surveillance of our communications. Perhaps -- just perhaps -- he'd like to explain the legal rationale for spying on every digital communication. Sure, sure, this happened soon after September 11th, and I'm sure US officials were worried about the possibility of a terrorist attack on the winter Olympics. But, I don't recall us turning off the Constitution or ripping out the 4th Amendment just for the Olympics. Perhaps General Hayden, rather than random name calling, could share with us how such a project was possibly anywhere in the vicinity of legal at the time?