ABC News has a story out reporting that employees at the National Security Agency (NSA) listened in on “hundreds of US citizens overseas … as they called friends and family back home.” One employee described the contents of the calls as “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.” nother employee ws even more specific:

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.

“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy’,” Faulk told ABC News.

The left is trying to portray this as the end of civil liberties as we know it and is desperately trying to tie the incident to this summer’s debate over FISA.

  • Glenn Greenwald writes: “There is one reason and one reason only these abuses occurred: because George Bush broke the law — committed felonies — by ordering the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants.”
  • The Center for American Progress blares: “Ever since President Bush confirmed the existence of a National Security Administration wiretapping program in late 2005, he has insisted it is aimed only at terrorists’ calls and protects Americans’ civil liberties.”

Don’t get us wrong. NSA employees have no business entertaining themselves by listening in on phone sex. The employees involved should be disciplined. But Greenwald and CAP leave out a huge detail. The same ABC story reports:

“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

The phone calls in question were made on satellite phones. The U.S. government was not required by any law to obtain a warrant to listen in on satellite communications. Not before FISA was first passed in 1978, not after FISA passed, not after 9/11, and not after FISA was reauthorized in this summer.

Again, no one condones what the NSA employees did here. But if the left wants to be taken seriously by their elected leaders in future congressional debates over FISA, they should try and get their facts straight. Here, again, they are 100% wrong.