USA Today has found the other shoe -- the partner to the EFF lawsuit against the NSA which the government has been trying to throw out for national security reasons -- and have dropped it with a loud thud. Ars Technica has a good article on the legal arguments involved in such warrantless wiretapping, and let's just say that the government's position looks pretty shaky.
Basically, the White House bases its right to do what they are doing on:
1> The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted shortly after 9-11, which they claim implicitly authorized such warrantless wiretaps, and,
2> Constitutional powers as the Nation’s Commander in Chief to monitor communication links between
persons in the U.S. and persons in enemy territory during times of war.
Unfortunately for them:
1> Members of Congress have clearly indicated that they did not intend to grant the authority asserted by the Administration. In fact, the Bush Administration sought to have the resolution broadened to apply to warrantless monitoring inside the US, but Congress specifically refused.
2> Congress passed clear restrictions on these powers when they enacted FISA, which includes a provision allowing warrantless searches for up to 15 days after the declaration of war. If a formal declaration of war had this limited effect, it is difficult to see how a resolution authorizing the use of force could be viewed as having more sweeping, unlimited, unmonitored powers.
3> The President's powers were designed specifically for monitoring enemy communications during a time of war... not all communication made by tens of millions of Americans.
Yes, I recommend a boycott of AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. They gave the NSA direct pipes of all of their customer's data, allowing the government to search through the records of your phone calls without any kind of warrant or judicial oversight. The least you can do is call them up and complain loudly, asking them when they're going to cut off the "secret" data pipelines they have running straight to the NSA's headquarters. Or would you rather wait around until you discover what other personal information they can permanently store in their databases about you too?
The NSA's current "wide net" warrantless surveilance is just the tip of the iceberg, based on what they can technically deal with at this time. As computers get faster and more powerful and data storage becomes increasingly less expensive, expect more intensive data mining, voice recognition scanning, and computer-based warrantless monitoring of the US public, unless this behavior is nipped in the bud.
Note to self:
Need to look at other mobile phone providers.
Need to look into canceling AT&T broadband.
Need to look into an independent voice-over-broadband provider that doesn't go through AT&T's network. (i.e. no DSL.)