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06-25-2013, 04:13 PM #171
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- Jun 2013
Pardon the Patriot! The 2016 Snowden Litmus Test
The establishment, whether “left” or “right” hates, yes hates, Edward Snowden. They want him publicly punished for the sake of their self-vindication. You can see some idea of how the Establishment is feeling sorry for itself by this story in Politico.com (I now realize that Politico is a daily valentine the establishment sends itself with lots of hugs and kisses).
“Edward Snowden’s globe-trotting is the latest international headache for President Barack Obama, with no relief in sight… The spotlight-grabbing international travel — just as Obama seeks to focus attention on his Tuesday climate change speech and a weeklong trip to Africa that begins Wednesday — is sure to keep Snowden’s own story atop the headlines, highlighting the White House’s relative powerlessness to bring him back to face charges. There’s no telling when the stream of stories drawn from his leaks will end, or what his host countries might decide to do with the information he carries, should he share it with them.”
Poor, helpless President Obama bravely trying to promote the global warming fraud while the great and powerful threat of Edward Snowden frustrates all his wonderful plans. Don’t you just want to weep for the President and the poor, bullied NSA?
But the real problem is that the American people have no way of holding politicians accountable. Secret policies based on secret interpretations of secret laws cannot be stopped by voters kept in the dark. We see right now that politicians are handing out assurances that nothing bad is happening due to secret internal controls. Not reassuring!
So what do we do?
We demand a public symbolic act that everyone can witness and verify. What we need now is a public campaign and a petition drive among registered voters to demand one thing from anyone who wants to be president:
Give a full pardon to Edward Snowden!
Every candidate at every opportunity needs to be asked where he stands on the demand that the next president pardon Edward Snowden. It needs to be shouted at meetings and pushed at the media as well, who will be doing all they can to marginalize the question.
You might object that this can’t make much difference. A president could issue the pardon and not change anything about how the NSA and the DOJ spy on Americans. Yes, that it theoretically possible. If enough of the American people can really push this agenda, then a candidate committed to the surveillance state would be well-advised to at least concede on the visible issue in order to placate Americans.
But sometimes, even politicians fail to be pragmatic. I think that most people who will be running for office in 2016 really and truly hate Edward Snowden. They feel personally offended that he did not bow to the god of data harvesting and do his part to keep the rest of us in the dark. They simply won’t be able to stomach pardoning Snowden, or even promising to do so. This demand will truly separate the power-lusters from the patriot leaders.
Pardon the Patriot! Promise To Free Edward Snowden If You Want Our Vote For 2016
Read more: http://godfatherpolitics.com/11435/p...#ixzz2XGEDlksz
06-26-2013, 02:04 AM #172
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- May 2007
- South West Florida (Behind friendly lines but still in Occupied Territory)
No More Sunshine And Butterflies: NSA Fallout Broadsides Lib Lawmakers
June 25, 2013 by Sam Rolley
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has had a pretty fail-safe formula for “preaching to the choir” speaking engagements over the past few years: Praise President Barack Obama, demonize conservatives and talk about rainbows, butterflies, abortion and homosexuality.
But revelations that the National Security Agency is spying on Americans is “gumming up the works” for liberals like Pelosi. She is increasingly being met by crowds of liberals angry that Obama’s tactics pretty much destroy the idea of leftist utopia.
“He did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents,” Pelosi said of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, addressing attendees of the annual Netroots National conference of liberal Internet activists. “We have to have a balance between security and privacy.”
She then moved to make the case to liberal supporters that Obama’s spying is somehow more noble than George W. Bush’s.
“People on the far right are saying oh, this is the fourth term of President Bush,” Pelosi said. “Absolutely, positively not so.”
The Democrat veteran lawmaker was promptly met with a barrage of shouts from the crowd in support of Snowden and the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s not a balance. It’s not Constitutional!” one attendee shouted before being removed. “No secret laws!”
And a chant could be heard emerging from the audience, “Leave him alone! Secrets and lies! No secret courts! Protect the 1st Amendment.”
As the event organizers attempted to quiet the crowd, the verbal jibes continued.
One man in attendance shouted at Pelosi what conservatives have been shouting at her for years, “You suck!”
06-26-2013, 09:34 AM #173AprilGuest
Putin Rules out Snowden Expulsion, Rejects US 'Ravings and Rubbish'
President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Tuesday a former U.S. spy agency contractor sought by the United States was in the transit area of a Moscow airport but ruled out handing him over to Washington, dismissing U.S. criticisms as "ravings and rubbish."In his first public comments since the fugitive flew in on Sunday, he appeared to make light of the affair around Edward Snowden, whose flight from U.S. authorities is becoming an increasing embarassment for President Barack Obama. Asked by a journalist about the affair, he smiled fleetingly.
"I myself would prefer not to deal with these issues. It's like giving a baby pig a haircut: there's a lot of squealing, but there's little wool," he told a news conference in Finland.
His refusal to hand back Snowden risked deepening a rift with the United States that has also sucked in China and threatens relations between countries that may be essential in settling global conflicts including the Syrian war.Putin said the 30-year-old American was in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and, not having gone through passport control, was free to leave.
"The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it would be for us and for himself," Putin said. Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador but Quito has said it is still considering the application and the United States is trying to persuade the governments of countries where he might head to hand him over. His plans remain unclear.
"He has not crossed the state's border, and therefore does not need a visa. And any accusations against Russia (of aiding him) are ravings and rubbish," Putin said in response to a question at a news conference during a visit to Finland.Washington has gone to great lengths to try to ensure Snowden has nowhere to go to seek refuge. But Putin said Russia had no extradition treaty with the United States and suggested Moscow would expel Snowden only if he were a criminal."Thank God, Mr Snowden committed no crimes on the territory of the Russian Federation," Putin said in the garden of a presidential residence, with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto beside him.
Putin said he hoped relations with the United States would not be affected by the affair but his words seemed to rebuff U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking only hours earlier.
"It is accurate there is not an extradition treaty between Russia and the United states, but there are standards of behaviour between sovereign nations," Kerry said, in Jeddah.There has been speculation in the Russian media that Snowden may be talking to the FSB and could be involved in a prisoner swap. Putin said Russian security agencies "never worked with... Snowden and are not working with him today".
The U.S. State Department said diplomats and Justice Department officials were talking to Russia, suggesting they sought a deal to secure his return to face espionage charges.Snowden, charged with disclosing secret U.S. surveillance programmes, left Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday and the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group said he was headed for Ecuador.Journalists camped out at the airport have not spotted him inside, or leaving, the transit area. He has not registered at a hotel in the transit zone, hotel sources say.
A receptionist at the Capsule Hotel "Air Express", a complex of 47 basic rooms furnished predominantly with grey carpets and grey walls, said Snowden had turned up on Sunday, looked at the price list and then left.U.S. officials admonished Beijing and Moscow on Monday for allowing Snowden to escape their clutches but the United States' partners on the U.N. Security Council, already at odds with Washington over the conflict in Syria, hit back indignantly."The United States' criticism of China's central government is baseless. China absolutely cannot accept it," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing, also dismissing U.S. criticism of Hong Kong, a Chinese territory, for letting Snowden leave.
Putin also went on to praise WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is also a fugitive from U.S. justice, and questioned whether he or Snowden should be treated as criminals.
"Ask yourself: should such people be handed over to be imprisoned or not?" said Putin, who last week was smarting at being isolated over Syria at a summit of the G8 industrial powers and sees Washington as an overzealous global policeman.
Fallout from a protracted wrangle over Snowden could be far-reaching, as Russia, the United States and China hold veto powers at the U.N. Security Council and their broad agreement could be vital to any settlement in Syria.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Tuesday he was pessimistic an international conference on Syria could take place in July as hoped and urged Russia and the United States to help contain a conflict which has killed almost 100,000 people.
The Sheremetyevo airport transit area is Russian sovereign territory, but Russia says that in staying there Snowden has not formally entered the country. Going through passport control might implicate Putin in helping a fugitive.
Snowden is travelling on a refugee document of passage provided by Ecuador, WikiLeaks said.
U.S. officials said intelligence agencies were concerned they did not know how much sensitive material Snowden had and that he may have taken more documents than initially estimated which could get into the hands of foreign intelligence.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is not looking for a confrontation with Russia.
Speaking at a news conference in Saudi Arabia, Kerry says it's true that the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia but called on Moscow to comply with common law practices between countries where fugitives are concerned.
Kerry said, "I would simply appeal for calm and reasonableness. We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is 'a fugitive' from justice.'"
06-26-2013, 10:12 PM #174
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- South West Florida (Behind friendly lines but still in Occupied Territory)
NSA Can’t Say Anything About Anything, It Would Help ‘Adversaries’
June 26, 2013 by Sam Rolley
Shortly after the National Security Agency spy scandal broke, ProPublica journalist Jeff Larson filed a freedom of information request with the agency seeking any personal data it had collected on him.
While he didn’t expect a response, he received a Glomar response—neither a confirmation nor denial that the information he was seeking existed. The reasoning explained for the Glomar response is simply baffling.
In a letter to Larson, Chief NSA FOIA Officer Pamela Phillips wrote:Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about the NSA’s technical capabilities, sources, and methods.The letter goes on to offer boilerplate justifications for its data collection efforts.
Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs.
Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.
But the question remains for many Americans: Who does the NSA classify as an “adversary”?
06-27-2013, 03:55 AM #175
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- South West Florida (Behind friendly lines but still in Occupied Territory)
06-27-2013, 08:18 AM #176
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- South West Florida (Behind friendly lines but still in Occupied Territory)
The Public Doesn’t Believe the NSA … Knows What’s Really Going On With Mass Spying
June 27, 2013
Source: Washington’s Blog
The government keeps on lying about how it’s spying on Americans without authorization from a court.
It keeps lying about the scope of its spying.
It keeps lying about the need for mass surveillance (and here) and the way that the information gained from spying will really be used … to harass political opponents.
Indeed, NSA whistleblower Russel Tice – a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping –recently said that the NSA illegally spied on General Petraeus and other generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and all of the other supreme court justices, Barack Obama, the White House spokesman, and many other top officials.
The mainstream media will not interview Tice about this explosive issue. (Tice made his revelations to former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds – who has been deemed credible by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, several senators [free subscription required], and a coalition of prominent conservative and liberal groups – and to James Corbett. Edmonds and Corbett have small, alternative media web-based radio shows.)
And yet – in very heartening news – a new poll by Rasmussen shows that the American public understands much of what is really going on:
Most voters think the National Security Agency is likely to have violated one of the country’s most cherished constitutional standards – the checks and balances between the three branches of government – by spying on the private communications of Congress and judges.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is at least somewhat likely that the NSA has monitored the private communications of Congress, military leaders and judges. That includes 45% who believe it is Very Likely.
Just 14% say it’s not likely that the Executive branch of the government monitored the private communications of the Legislative and Judicial branches. Another 14% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
This concern takes on even more significance given that 57% of voters believe it is likely the NSA data will be used by other government agencies to harass political opponents.
Despite the president’s assurance that “nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” 68% believe it is likely that “government agencies are listening in on private conversations of American citizens.”
Currently, 33% of voters approve of the recently disclosed NSA program of monitoring Americans’ private phone and e-mail communications to fight terrorism. Fifty percent (50%) are opposed.
The United States was founded on a belief that governments are created to protect certain unalienable rights. Today, however, more voters than ever (56%) view the federal government as a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights.
06-27-2013, 08:28 AM #177AprilGuestThe Public Doesn’t Believe the NSA … Knows What’s Really Going On With Mass Spying
06-27-2013, 10:34 PM #178AprilGuest
NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama
June 27, 2013
• Secret program launched by Bush continued 'until 2011'
• Fisa court renewed collection order every 90 days
The internet metadata collection program was halted in 2011 for 'operational and resource reasons'. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian.
The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata "every 90 days". A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011.
The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind.
According to a top-secret draft report by the NSA's inspector general – published for the first time today by the Guardian – the agency began "collection of bulk internet metadata" involving "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States".
Eventually, the NSA gained authority to "analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States", according to a 2007 Justice Department memo, which is marked secret.
The Guardian revealed earlier this month that the NSA was collecting the call records of millions of US Verizon customers under a Fisa court order that, it later emerged, is renewed every 90 days. Similar orders are in place for other phone carriers.
The internet metadata of the sort NSA collected for at least a decade details the accounts to which Americans sent emails and from which they received emails. It also details the internet protocol addresses (IP) used by people inside the United States when sending emails – information which can reflect their physical location. It did not include the content of emails.
"The internet metadata collection program authorized by the Fisa court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted," Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, said in a statement to the Guardian.
"The program was discontinued by the executive branch as the result of an interagency review," Turner continued. He would not elaborate further.
But while that specific program has ended, additional secret NSA documents seen by the Guardian show that some collection of Americans' online records continues today. In December 2012, for example, the NSA launched one new program allowing it to analyze communications with one end inside the US, leading to a doubling of the amount of data passing through its filters.
What your email metadata reveals
The Obama administration argues that its internal checks on NSA surveillance programs, as well as review by the Fisa court, protect Americans' privacy. Deputy attorney general James Cole defended the bulk collection of Americans' phone records as outside the scope of the fourth amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"Toll records, phone records like this, that don't include any content, are not covered by the fourth amendment because people don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in who they called and when they called," Cole testified to the House intelligence committee on June 18. "That's something you show to the phone company. That's something you show to many, many people within the phone company on a regular basis."
But email metadata is different. Customers' data bills do not itemize online activity by detailing the addresses a customer emailed or the IP addresses from which customer devices accessed the internet.
Internal government documents describe how revealing these email records are. One 2008 document, signed by the US defense secretary and attorney general, states that the collection and subsequent analysis included "the information appearing on the 'to,' 'from' or 'bcc' lines of a standard email or other electronic communication" from Americans.
In reality, it is hard to distinguish email metadata from email content. Distinctions that might make sense for telephone conversations and data about those conversations do not always hold for online communications.
"The calls you make can reveal a lot, but now that so much of our lives are mediated by the internet, your IP [internet protocol] logs are really a real-time map of your brain: what are you reading about, what are you curious about, what personal ad are you responding to (with a dedicated email linked to that specific ad), what online discussions are you participating in, and how often?" said Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute.
"Seeing your IP logs – and especially feeding them through sophisticated analytic tools – is a way of getting inside your head that's in many ways on par with reading your diary," Sanchez added.
The purpose of this internet metadata collection program is detailed in the full classified March 2009 draft report prepared by the NSA's inspector general (IG).
One function of this internet record collection is what is commonly referred to as "data mining", and which the NSA calls "contact chaining". The agency "analyzed networks with two degrees of separation (two hops) from the target", the report says. In other words, the NSA studied the online records of people who communicated with people who communicated with targeted individuals.
Contact chaining was considered off-limits inside the NSA before 9/11. In the 1990s, according to the draft IG report, the idea was nixed when the Justice Department "told NSA that the proposal fell within one of the Fisa definitions of electronic surveillance and, therefore, was not permissible when applied to metadata associated with presumed US persons".
How the US government came to collect Americans' email records
The collection of email metadata on Americans began in late 2001, under a top-secret NSA program started shortly after 9/11, according to the documents. Known as Stellar Wind, the program initially did not rely on the authority of any court – and initially restricted the NSA from analyzing records of emails between communicants wholly inside the US.
"NSA was authorized to acquire telephony and internet metadata for communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States," the draft report states.
George W Bush briefly "discontinued" that bulk internet metadata collection, involving Americans, after a dramatic rebellion in March 2004 by senior figures at the Justice Department and FBI, as the Washington Post first reported. One of the leaders of that rebellion was deputy attorney general James Comey, whom Barack Obama nominated last week to run the FBI.
But Comey's act of defiance did not end the IP metadata collection, the documents reveal. It simply brought it under a newly created legal framework.
As soon as the NSA lost the blessing under the president's directive for collecting bulk internet metadata, the NSA IG report reads, "DoJ [the Department of Justice] and NSA immediately began efforts to recreate this authority."
The DoJ quickly convinced the Fisa court to authorize ongoing bulk collection of email metadata records. On 14 July 2004, barely two months after Bush stopped the collection, Fisa court chief judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly legally blessed it under a new order – the first time the surveillance court exercised its authority over a two-and-a-half-year-old surveillance program.
Kollar-Kotelly's order "essentially gave NSA the same authority to collect bulk internet metadata that it had under the PSP [Bush's program], except that it specified the datalinks from which NSA could collect, and it limited the number of people that could access the data".
How NSA gained more power to study Americans' online habits
The Bush email metadata program had restrictions on the scope of the bulk email records the NSA could analyze. Those restrictions are detailed in a legal memorandum written in a 27 November 2007, by assistant attorney general Kenneth Wainstein to his new boss, attorney general Michael Mukasey, who had taken office just a few weeks earlier.
The purpose of that memorandum was to advise Mukasey of the Pentagon's view that these restrictions were excessive, and to obtain permission for the NSA to expand its "contact chains" deeper into Americans' email records. The agency, the memo noted, already had "in its databases a large amount of communications metadata associated with persons in the United States".
But, Wainstein continued, "NSA's present practice is to 'stop' when a chain hits a telephone number or [internet] address believed to be used by a United States person."
Wainstein told Mukasey that giving NSA broader leeway to study Americans' online habits would give the surveillance agency, ironically, greater visibility into the online habits of foreigners – NSA's original mandate.
"NSA believes that it is over-identifying numbers and addresses that belong to United States persons and that modifying its practice to chain through all telephone numbers and addresses, including those reasonably believed to be used by a United States person," Wainstein wrote, "will yield valuable foreign intelligence information primarily concerning non-United States persons outside the United States."
The procedures "would clarify that the National Security Agency (NSA) may analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States", Wainstein wrote.
In October 2007, Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, signed a set of "Supplemental Procedures" on internet metadata, including what it could do with Americans' data linked in its contact chains. Mukasey affixed his signature to the document in January 2008.
"NSA will continue to disseminate the results of its contact chaining and other analysis of communications metadata in accordance with current procedures governing the dissemination of information concerning US persons," the document states, without detailing the "current procedures".
It was this program that continued for more than two years into the Obama administration.
Turner, the director of national intelligence spokesman, did not respond to the Guardian's request for additional details of the metadata program or the reasons why it was stopped.
A senior administration official queried by the Washington Post denied that the Obama administration was "using this program" to "collect internet metadata in bulk", but added: "I'm not going to say we're not collecting any internet metadata."
06-27-2013, 10:35 PM #179AprilGuest
How the NSA is still harvesting your online data
June 27, 2013
Files show vast scale of current NSA metadata programs, with one stream alone celebrating 'one trillion records processed'
The NSA collects and analyzes significant amounts of data from US communications systems in the course of monitoring foreign targets. Photograph: guardian.co.uk
A review of top-secret NSA documents suggests that the surveillance agency still collects and sifts through large quantities of Americans' online data – despite the Obama administration's insistence that the program that began under Bush ended in 2011.
Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, told the Guardian that "the internet metadata collection program authorized by the Fisa court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted."
But the documents indicate that the amount of internet metadata harvested, viewed, processed and overseen by the Special Source Operations (SSO) directorate inside the NSA is extensive.
While there is no reference to any specific program currently collecting purely domestic internet metadata in bulk, it is clear that the agency collects and analyzes significant amounts of data from US communications systems in the course of monitoring foreign targets.
On December 26 2012, SSO announced what it described as a new capability to allow it to collect far more internet traffic and data than ever before. With this new system, the NSA is able to direct more than half of the internet traffic it intercepts from its collection points into its own repositories. One end of the communications collected are inside the United States.
The NSA called it the "One-End Foreign (1EF) solution". It intended the program, codenamed EvilOlive, for "broadening the scope" of what it is able to collect. It relied, legally, on "FAA Authority", a reference to the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act that relaxed surveillance restrictions.
This new system, SSO stated in December, enables vastly increased collection by the NSA of internet traffic. "The 1EF solution is allowing more than 75% of the traffic to pass through the filter," the SSO December document reads. "This milestone not only opened the aperture of the access but allowed the possibility for more traffic to be identified, selected and forwarded to NSA repositories."
It continued: "After the EvilOlive deployment, traffic has literally doubled."
The scale of the NSA's metadata collection is highlighted by references in the documents to another NSA program, codenamed ShellTrumpet.
On December 31, 2012, an SSO official wrote that ShellTrumpet had just "processed its One Trillionth metadata record".
It is not clear how much of this collection concerns foreigners' online records and how much concerns those of Americans. Also unclear is the claimed legal authority for this collection.
Explaining that the five-year old program "began as a near-real-time metadata analyzer … for a classic collection system", the SSO official noted: "In its five year history, numerous other systems from across the Agency have come to use ShellTrumpet's processing capabilities for performance monitoring" and other tasks, such as "direct email tip alerting."
Almost half of those trillion pieces of internet metadata were processed in 2012, the document detailed: "though it took five years to get to the one trillion mark, almost half of this volume was processed in this calendar year".
Another SSO entry, dated February 6, 2013, described ongoing plans to expand metadata collection. A joint surveillance collection operation with an unnamed partner agency yielded a new program "to query metadata" that was "turned on in the Fall 2012". Two others, called MoonLightPath and Spinneret, "are planned to be added by September 2013."
A substantial portion of the internet metadata still collected and analyzed by the NSA comes from allied governments, including its British counterpart, GCHQ.
An SSO entry dated September 21, 2012, announced that "Transient Thurible, a new Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) managed XKeyScore (XKS) Deep Dive was declared operational." The entry states that GCHQ "modified" an existing program so the NSA could "benefit" from what GCHQ harvested.
"Transient Thurible metadata [has been] flowing into NSA repositories since 13 August 2012," the entry states.
06-27-2013, 10:58 PM #180AprilGuest
Frank Church on the NSA
Almost 40 years ago, the Idaho Senator warned of the dangers of allowing the NSA to turn inward
The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
(updated below [Wed.])
In the mid-1970s, the US Senate formed the Select Intelligence Committee to investigate reports of the widespread domestic surveillance abuses that had emerged in the wake of the Nixon scandals. The Committee was chaired by 4-term Idaho Democratic Sen. Frank Church who was, among other things, a former military intelligence officer and one of the Senate's earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, as well as a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Even among US Senators, virtually nothing was known at the time about the National Security Agency. The Beltway joke was that "NSA" stood for "no such agency". Upon completing his investigation, Church was so shocked to learn what he had discovered - the massive and awesome spying capabilities constructed by the US government with no transparency or accountability - that he issued the following warning, as reported by the New York Times, using language strikingly stark for such a mainstream US politician when speaking about his own government:
"'That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.'The conditional part of Church's warning - "that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people" - is precisely what is happening, one might even say: is what has already happened. That seems well worth considering.
"He added that if a dictator ever took over, the NSA 'could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.'"
Three other brief points:
(1) Numerous NSA defenders - mostly Democrats - amazingly continue to insist that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the NSA. How do they get themselves to ignore things like this and this?
(2) The New Yorker's John Cassidy has one of the best essays yet on the NSA revelations, the imperatives of journalism, and Edward Snowden
(3) The vital context for all of this - the reporting we've done and the way we've done it, Snowden's actions, the need for greater transparency - is set forth perfectly in this must-read article by McClatchy about the Obama administration's unprecedented (and increasingly creepy) war on whistleblowers and leakers. Along those same lines, see this great column by the New York Times' David Carr, in which he writes: "that there is a war on the press is less hyperbole than simple math."