Now it is official. Kind of. At least we know now.
The NSA has been collecting phone call records on every call, local international, whatever, of every customer, US citizen or not.
So far this has been confirmed for Verizon customers, but it is safe to assume that Verizon is not the only company data are collected from. Unless there is something about the Verizon customers that the NSA feels compelled to look further into them. We doubt that the majority of the terrorists select Verizon as a service provider, but we just don’t know.
It was reported that the intelligence agencies had access to the central servers of nine of the country’s biggest technology firms including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
The companies denied any knowledge of it. But you see, that is the beauty of the program: it is secret! They would not necessarily know.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, questioned the Guardian and Washington Post, saying the reports “contain numerous inaccuracies.”
So there is even more?
From the CNN report:
While he made no mention of data mining, Clapper did defend the American intelligence effort generally, saying, “Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”
Clapper also called out the person or people behind “the unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program,” saying such apparent leaks are “reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”
Here we go.
President Obama said in 2009 : “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
What happened to that? There are numerous indications now that this administration does everything to prohibit transparency. In hindsight one can even ask, did he mean more or less transparency?
Remember the wiretapping of journalists (AP) in order to find the leaks within the government?
And there was Thomas Drake, an employee of the NSA, who revealed how money is wasted there: instead of going for a software program costing 3 million dollars, the NSA decided to go for a program costing 4 billion. The government dropped the indictment in the last minute, and Drake was convicted to a year probation for a minor violation.
What was the program for, you’d ask? It was about processing data collected from wiretapping and data from phone records, like the ones from Verizon.
The government wouldn’t reveal that, of course, so that’s why the government dropped the charges. You see, how that all fits together.
Under this administration six whistle blowers – twice as many as under all previous administrations combined – have been indicted under an 1917 law called “Espionage act”, which was enacted in World War I to prevent cooperation with the enemy.
Who is the enemy here?
And one cannot forget Bradley Manning, the soldier who released thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.
He was accused of putting “soldiers at risk”. If that is something someone can be accused of, what about charging G.W. Bush, who sent them to Afghanistan and Iraq to begin with. If that is not putting “soldiers at risk”, I don’t know what is.
BTW, Manning’s detention was called “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Do I need to say more?
The list is by far incomplete, we can only select a few things for the purpose of this article.
Now, everything of the above is in the name of national security. Or course it is, and when we hear that, we accept it. No questions, like who defines national security, or does any particular action, program, law really improve national security. Oh, it is for national security, and we need to keep it secret, otherwise the enemy would know what we are doing, and that’s why we can’t tell you.
A perfect way to get away with a lot of things.
A lot of governments, btw, use the “national security” excuse. Not all are democratic governments.
“Shocking” or “Lawful”? It is shocking that it is lawful.
We dare to ask, is it even useful.
From above link we quote: “Many analysts cited how federal surveillance of phone records could prove useful.”
Emphasis on “could”.
“Phone records could have proved valuable in tracking the suspects in that [Boston marathon] terror attack”.
We understand that the records were collected for a number of years. The cited court order was “the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years.”
Aha. So, records were available. Did it prevent the attack or even minimize the impact?
You know the answer to that.
So much for the usefulness of the data collection (admittedly it can bring some light after the fact).
The New York Times is right by saying “the administration has now lost all credibility” when it comes to overreaching in the name of fighting terrorism.
We admit, we had some hope when the Obama administration got started, after the awful Bush years. While not everything is bad, with regard to what we’ve discussed above, Obama seems to be bushier than Bush.