The snooping is an outgrowth of 9/11, but “growth” is the operative word. An emergency response has been expanded and institutionalized, secretly and repeatedly.
The warrantless wiretapping program the Bush administration started focused on catching terror suspects from abroad communicating with Americans. But, like mushrooms after the rain, the program spread exponentially to where all phone calls in America are subject. Another program extends the snooping to the Internet and credit-card use, though the details are sketchy.
It is of little comfort that the seizure of this electronic trail is defended by both Republicans and Democrats as routine. They are government insiders who signed off on it.
Nor is it comforting to know the sweep of phones doesn’t cover content, only numbers, locations and time. The same people who say don’t worry also insisted the Internal Revenue Service can be trusted to treat all taxpayers fairly.