WASHINGTON – In the wake of major terrorist attacks overseas, a security expert is warning that the ability of the U.S. government to track potential attacks through bulk phone data soon will expire unless Congress acts, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Politicians and media on the “extreme left and extreme right are whipping people into hysteria” over potential abuse of the National Security Agency program, contends Ronald Kessler, an American journalist and author of 20 books about the U.S. Secret Service, FBI and CIA.
Until now, the NSA has been allowed to store bulk, or metadata, of phone calls, prompting a renewed debate over security versus protection of privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Under the recently enacted USA Freedom Act, the NSA will no longer be able to collect Americans’ domestic records in bulk after Nov. 29.
Instead, the new law directs companies to retain the records. But the legislation doesn’t specify how long the companies should retain the data. After a six-month transition period, the NSA can access only targeted data from phone providers with the approval of a court.
“ISIS is almost certainly planning a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack that could wipe out millions of Americans,” Kessler said. “Such an attack could be uncovered by tracking phone records that will now be destroyed.
“Congress needs to act to reverse President Obama’s effort to destroy those records.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., questioned whether the new system is useful, because it is so slow and cumbersome.
The phone metadata program was exposed two years ago by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, prompting lawsuits to protect citizens’ privacy rights.
In October 2013, constitutional lawyer Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the secret and “illicit government scheme” to systematically gather, intercept and analyze vast quantities of domestic telephone communications and metadata, calling it a “highly classified, unlawful mass call tracking surveillance program.”