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Jon Soltz Headshot

Government Intrudes on Troops' Privacy

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Absolutely disgusting. According to a new report from ABC, thanks to the Patriot Act, the government has been listening into phone calls from troops in the middle east, and passing clips of them around the office. Not just that, but the clips are of private moments between troops and their wives and girlfriends.

From ABC:

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.

Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.

Oh, he felt badly? How about I start listening into the phone calls of NSA staff, and posting the best stuff on blogs, so we can all have a laugh.

Asked for comment about the ABC News report and accounts of intimate and private phone calls of military officers being passed around, a US intelligence official said "all employees of the US government" should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and "information assurance."

"They certainly didn't consent to having interceptions of their telephone sex conversations being passed around like some type of fraternity game," said Jonathon Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has testified before Congress on the country's warrantless surveillance program.

Turley is right, and frankly, the response to ABC from the intelligence official is a disgrace.

Let me tell you something about being in a warzone. It's grueling, it's mentally taxing, it's hot, you see men blown up and losing limbs. For many, the one bit of calm they have is a brief moment when they thought of their wives or girlfriends back home, who they haven't seen for months.

But it was also agonizing. They could see them in their heads, but they couldn't touch them or smell them.

The best troops have is a brief telephone call sometimes. And, yes, it was as close to intimate as they can get. A tiny bit of good amidst the hell of war.

For the government to think that it was acceptable to listen in and pass around troops' most intimate moments, like some high-tech peeping toms, some satellite-powered voyeurs, is one of the greatest insults I can think of to those men and women in uniform sacrificing everything they have for their nation.

It's good that Senator Jay Rockefeller has started an investigation into this. I sincerely hope that he does not stop until everyone who let this happen is accounted for, and their heads roll. And I hope Republicans, who used to be all about limited government, and who swore to uphold our Constitution and Constitutional rights wake up and realize what's happening.

Our troops deserve a lot better from the government they're fighting for.

Crossposted at