The Bush administration told us that the government had to engage in warrantless surveillance to stop terrorists from attacking America. Administration officials attacked and belittled critics of its expansive, warrantless surveillance for "crying wolf" and thereby endangering Americans. Congress went along with the administration's violation of both the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by passing new legislation that gave the administration authority to wiretap American citizens in our own country with no individualized warrant, or any evidence of wrong-doing.
Many of us warned about the potential for abuse, especially the threat to the privacy of all Americans posed by widespread and secret government surveillance. Neither the administration nor the Congress, including Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, listened. Now, however, a book about the National Security Agency by James Bamford -- The Shadow Factory -- reveals that the government has been routinely eavesdropping on innocent Americans.
The then-head of the NSA and now Director of the CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden, has denied to Congress that Americans' private conversations were being tapped. But two former military intercept operators have now come forward independently to reveal that they in fact listened in on the personal phone calls of Americans.