Super-Dooper Snoopers – Tea Party Nation

Super-Dooper Snoopers – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

While in the U.S. Army in the early 60s, I worked in the G-2 (intelligence) office of my battalion. I was surely no James Bond, but I did need a security clearance and quickly was granted one to be around documents marked “secret.” There are now thousands waiting for their security clearances and 4.8 million who already have one!

When Edward Snowden, an analyst for a national security contractor, decided to tell the world that the National Security Agency was actually gathering meta-data about all of our communications (and the rest of the world’s), I was among those who were not surprised. Whole books had been written about this practice before and since 9/11. James Bamford had published “The Puzzle Palace” about the NSA way back in 1983!

The Justice Department has charged Snowden with conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, disclosing communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. The charges, each of which carries a potential 10-year prison term, were filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Well, at least that beats a firing squad.

Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media thinks a lot of notable news media personalities have been duped. “Those who claimed NSA traitor Edward Snowden was a patriot or hero have egg all over their faces, as the former NSA contract worker has fled from China to Russia…” I am inclined to agree.

It is a fact of life in this year of our Lord 2013 that information about you is so available that there are few if any of your purchases and preferences that are not known to every company with whom you do business. Your local supermarket knows the brand of cereal or shampoo you prefer. This is called “open source” information and it is not only gathered, but sold to anyone who wants it.

The information you voluntarily or unwittingly give to those with whom you do business as well as the information may post daily on your Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In accounts is all accessible and accessed.

The NSA has long had powers to scoop up scads of information about communications by, to, and from Americans. Its roots go back to the earliest days of the Cold War. Until recently revelations, we thought that the information we provide to the Internal Revenue Service was closely guarded and never to be used for political purposes, but in the Age of Obama, that illusion has been shattered.

In a recent Business Week article, Ashlee Vance reported “Less recognized is that, in this era of open-source software, the NSA gets direct access to the inventions of thousands of the smartest computer science minds on the planet for free.”

“It started,” said Vance,”with the founding of Google in 1998. The search engine giant needed to collect and analyze so much data that it couldn’t afford to buy systems from big-name tech companies. Instead, Google created its own open-source software program that ran across hundreds of thousands of computers. Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter have been even more aggressive about open-sourcing their underlying infrastructure.”

NSA and, indeed, the President, could have put a lot of the consternation to rest by coming out early and explaining what it does and the limitations under which it works. While it is most certainly a very secretive agency, there is much that is common knowledge about its mission.

In the post 9/11 era with a massive Homeland Security Agency charged with keeping us safe, it is a good, if not essential, idea to have a public discussion about the role of the Fourth Amendment protection of our privacy. Even though the Founders had no idea of modern communications they still believed that our privacy must be respected. Meanwhile, we live in a world of enormous electronic connectivity that is subject to surveillance.

Moreover, there are those who believe all the surveillance we are learning about is just the tip of the iceberg. There is widespread speculation that the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and other agencies has been working on a massive consolidation of power in the White House, preparing for the deliberate collapse of the U.S. dollar, and the chaos that would follow.

On June 19, the president of the Associated Press, Gary Pruitt, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. saying that the DOJ seizure of journalist’s phone records has had “a chilling effect” on newsgathering, not just for the AP but other newsgathering organizations. He described the collection of records affecting more than a hundred journalists was an “overbroad and sloppy fishing expedition” that failed to follow procedures on notification. If the intent was to impact legitimate news gathering, it was successful.

We still trust that law enforcement must secure a warrant to tap our phones, but the information about with whom we speak is routinely gathered, as it must, by telephone companies. It can be a useful tool to determine patterns, especially if they are between Americans and foreigners with bad intentions.

Inherent in all this data-gathering is the potential for its misuse—and worse—but that is true of much of what government does. The need for congressional oversight was never more paramount, but it comes at a time when the Congress is held in low esteem and sharply divided.

The greater present concern must be that we have a White House engaged in a plan to render the Constitution useless with a manufactured crisis to deliberately impose an authoritarian control over all of us.

We now living in an Orwellian era of super-dooper snoopers

© Alan Caruba, 2013

 

‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs – Tea Party Nation

‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Seton Motley

Note: This first appeared in Red State.

UPDATES: Aplenty – from late last night – below.  Please, indulge us and read from top to bottom – for clarity’s sake.

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That’s some good news right there.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls….

Hold the phone.  (Get it?)  The NSA claims “it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.”  The Fourth Amendment begs to differ.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How unreasonable are all of these probable-cause-and-warrant-free listening expeditions?

(T)he Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls….

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required….

More legal flights of fancy from Held-in-Bipartisan-Contempt-of-Congress-Once-and-Counting Attorney General Eric Holder.

Edward Snowden – the guy who first alerted us to this NSA-PRISM-NUCLEON mess – has had his veracity (and mental stability) challenged for claiming Little-Old-He could unilaterally “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to ev….”

Edward Snowden Is Completely Wrong

Not so wrong after all.

When some of us responded to all of this with alarm, we too were summarily dismissed.

‘Nobody is Listening to Your Telephone Calls,’ Obama Says

NSA Data Mining

The paranoid imagine that government eavesdroppers are listening in on their phone conversations and reading their intimate emails.

Someone is listening.  Thousands of someones (at least), in fact.  (And reading – please stay tuned.)  Not so paranoid after all.

(President Barack) Obama Calls Surveillance Programs Legal and Limited

“Legal” is highly dubious.  How about “limited?”

NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily

That’s a fairly expansive definition of “limited.”

By now, the following claim – now just nine days old – seems quaint and antiquated.  Not to mention fundamentally untrue.

President Insists Americans Not Target of Records Sweep

Again, we’re all James Rosens now.

What about our fantasies of the government reading our emails (and text messages, and instant m…?

(NSA phone call self-)authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too….

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications too without going before a court and seeking approval.

Again, we’re all James Rosens now.  And then some.

But wait – we were told it was just the email and Internet metadata – not the content.

Again, not so much.

We have throughout this nightmare awakening had Big Government proponents and officials aplenty – up to and repeatedly including the President – lying their faces off about what is actually happening with our phone calls, emails and all things Internet.

Preemptively listening to, peeking at and harvesting the data of hundreds of millions of innocent Americans is not a “national security” prerogative.  It is, however, a Big Brother imperative.

So when we have warned you about things like:

Forget the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine – Net Neutrality is the Future of Ce…

Obama Official-Network Neutrality Deviser Says First Amendment Does…

And the Left’s response is:

Right-Wing Delusion: Net Neutrality is Government Plot to Control I…

We can all be forgiven for being more than a little skeptical.  On Net Neutrality – and just about everything else.

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UPDATE #1: Obama Administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper late last night released a statement denying most or all of the above.  Which in part reads:

“The statement that a single analyst can eavesdrop on domestic communications without proper legal authorization is incorrect and was not briefed to Congress.”

This is the same James Clapper that in a March 12 Congressional hearing lied to Oregon Democrat Senator Ron … – denying that trillions of Verizon domestic phone call sweeps were occurring.

Fire James Clapper

The Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress about NSA surveillance. What else will he lie about?

Good question.  Is it possible (probable?) that Clapper is lying again here?  Indeed it is.

Which makes the following even more pathetic.


UPDATE #2: New York Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler was a key original source for this eavesdropping story.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee….

In prostrating response to the statement from proven liar James Clapper – a member of the proven-lying Obama Administration – Congressman Nadler has retreated into being a good Democrat, but a troublingly bad representative of We the People and our Constitutio….

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this (original) article was published, saying:

“I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

Owens said he couldn’t comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview.

Congressman Nadler was thus also unavailable to explain why or how this latest Obama Administration assertion, after all of these lies, is any more believable.

And is Congressman Nadler addled?  Was the briefing he (and obviously, ostensibly other Members) attended merely a figment of his imagination?

Hard to think so.  Especially since he – and Snowdon – aren’t the only people to make similar Administration snooping claims:

Senate Intelligence committee chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) confirmed on Thursday, according to the report, that a court order is not necessary for the NSA to search its call data database that it collects under secret orders from major U.S. telecom firms….

(F)ormer FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente disclosed to CNN that under certain investigations relating to the protection of national security, his former employer could access call records and contents of those calls.

“All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he claimed.

It is difficult under these circumstances – with all of these corroborating statements – to not think that what best represents the truth is what Congressman Nadler said first.

Given that the serially untruthful Obama Administration are the only ones denying it.