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Behind the NSA Spying Program

So why is everyone going crazy over the news that the government collected phone records and Internet data? Caitlin Dickson on how far it’s gone, who’s involved—and how Obama just defended it at a press conference.

This week, The Guardian informed us of a top-secret government order, approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requiring that Verizon hand over millions of Americans’ phone records to the National Security Agency. People started freaking out. Then The Washington Post reported that not only has the government been keeping an eye on whom we call, when, and how long we talk to them, but it’s also been tapping into the servers of nine major U.S. Internet companies and collecting emails, photos, videos, documents, and other user activities. Then people really freaked out. All this freaking out is making it hard to decipher what, exactly, is happening and what it means. So let’s take a deep breath and break down what we know so far.

Behind the NSA Spying Program

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Leviathan

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Verizon. AP. IRS. Obama’s not the problem—it’s a government that has grown too big to control. John Avlon on how to tame the leviathan and save the president’s second term.

With news that Verizon was required to hand over supposedly private domestic phone records to the government as part of a national security dragnet, the second-term curse just got much more real for the Obama administration.

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Britain's Guardian newspaper says the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a secret court order. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

We Hear You

Verizon: Happy to Help!

One of America’s largest consumer brands appears to have aided a government spying operation. The question is whether it’s bad for business. Not in the slightest, writes Daniel Gross.

They can hear you now! Maybe that should be Verizon’s new marketing slogan.

Spencer Ackerman and Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian have the big scoop on the Obama administration asking for, and receiving, “the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecom providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.”

Don’t blame the administration. We’re doing this to ourselves.

The Guardian dropped quite a scoop last night: the NSA has been collecting phone records from millions of Verizon customers. The full extent of the order is not entirely clear, but this much is: if you are a Verizon customer, the National Security Agency may know who you have called, when, and approximately where you were when you called them. But don't think you can necessarily rest easy just because you're on AT&T. We don't know if there were other orders for other telecom providers.

Verizon

How much protection is all this spying and searching and herding giving us? (Don Ryan/AP)

He's Changed

How the President Made Friends With Big Brother

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The president has evolved from ardent civil libertarian to surveillance hardliner. With liberals outraged by the Verizon court order, Daniel Klaidman and Eli Lake chart the change.

'Nobody Is Listening to Your Telephone Calls'

After a brief speech on Obamacare Friday, the president was asked about the NSA secretly obtaining Americans' personal information (spying?). Didn't catch his lengthy, wide-ranging response? Here are the important bits, boiled down to a very manageable 129 seconds.

Your Guide

NSA Surveillance Explained

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Caitlin Dickson on how far it’s gone, who’s involved—and how Obama just defended it at a press conference.

Reader Poll

Do You Care That the NSA Is Spying on You?

Leviathan

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

We Hear You

Verizon: Happy to Help!

Spooks

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