At the end of 2005, the New York Times revealed the government's warrantless wiretapping program. The National Security Agency (NSA) is tapping American's phones without first getting a judge to pass judgment on the need to invade a citizen's privacy. No judge was ever asked for a wiretap warrant.
A special court was available, called the FISA court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court). Laws passed by Congress required the President to go to this court, but he did not. The President said that we were at war, he was the Commander in Chief, and he didn't have to obey laws or do what the Legislative Branch legislated. He used fancier language, but that's the gist.
The Executive Branch has refused to tell very many Congressman very much about how the NSA system works. The secrecy seemed pointless to me, since any good technologist could figure it out. So I did. Not even your elected representatives could find out what I am about to tell you.
Ever written to someone in Congress?
It's not hard to write to Congress people -- there are links at the bottom for finding out who represents you. A Congressperson will always answer a constituent. These other Congresspeople are also easy to find and very important:
Democracies are not conquered. Democracies do not end when outsiders force them into subjugation. Democracies end when their citizens vote for a strongman who promises to protect them.
Here is how the National Security Agency is protecting you.
I thank Kent Gladstone, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC),
for a critical reading of both manuscripts.
Many critical comments and corrections from Brad Howard
have made the Mini-Tutorial a better adventure for anyone who follows his path.
For information on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act itself, the court that administers it, and many related links, see the Federation of American Scientists: