The current (4th) Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, has confirmed that the NSA does indeed spy on US citizens and collects their data without warrants.
In a letter to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Clapper stated that:
“There have been queries, using US person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-US persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States”
If you don’t see the word ‘warrantless’ and ‘spying’ in this statement, it is because the NSA does not need them. This entire sentence itself is the back-door that allows the NSA to spy on US locals!
The NSA has been denying unwarranted domestic surveillance for over a decade now. There have even been instances when courts ruled in favor of the NSA by throwing out pleas filed against the NSA’s surveillance activities. The recent press release by the NSA is nothing less than an “I plead guilty” in the face of increasing accusations. Reminds me of the time when Lance Armstrong pleaded guilty to using performance-enhancement drugs. The only difference is that I am much angrier at the NSA than I was at Lance Armstrong.
NSA’s White Lies & Shameless Denial
Here is a very interesting video of a discussion between Georgia Representative Hank Johnson, and the 16th Director of the NSA, Director General Keith Alexander. The discussion took place during a budget hearing of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee in 2012, but the questions that Johnson asked the General are the ones that made the headlines that day.
TL;DR: In this discussion, the General claims that:
“You have to have something to intercept or some way of doing that either by going to a service provider with a warrant or you have to be collecting in that area. We’re not authorized to that nor do we have the equipment in the United States to collect that kind of information”
This means that either the General was lying to us then (in 2012), or James R. Clapper is lying to us now in 2014. For all intents and purposes, trusting the NSA in any way is now a mistake that nobody but we ourselves will be responsible for if we allow it to continue unabated.
In the same vein, President Barack Obama recently said:
“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program’s about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.”
The number of loopholes and backdoors that the government has setup seems to be infinite. There is always a loophole, an excuse, a catch or a half-truth present to cover up the warrantless surveillance. It doesn’t matter how you connect the dots, the NSA seems to be an unstoppable data-hungry monster that devours every bit of data it can get its hands on; while brushing aside any calls for justice.
NSA’s Many Whistleblowers
The NSA’s blatant spying activities caught the limelight when Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA’s warrantless spying. However, the NSA had been under fire for the same from a long time already.
In 2001, NSA employee William Binney left the NSA and his position there as a mathematician and code-breaker. Binney asserted that the NSA and the government had developed a system to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to push through the most blatant surveillance programs in history. Binney’s claims were particularly alarming since he insisted that leading telecommunications provider AT&T was involved neck-deep in the exercise.
The NSA Refuses to be held Answerable to Anybody
The NSA has been under fire from Senators Ron Wyden and Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, to state the figure for the number of Americans for which data has been collected. Up until recently, the NSA’s response was that “obtaining such an estimate was beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission”.
I don’t know if the NSA’s power to refuse an inquiry from two ministers from the Senate Intelligence Committee is more worrying, or the fact that the NSA would need to establish a separate department just to count its sins.
In 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a case against the NSA, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former President George W. Bush. The case indicated that a coalition between the two had led to the implementation of a network of surveillance devices that spied on the US locals. After some legal pow-wow, the case went under the blanket (as did all others), on the grounds that the plaintiffs were unable to present a threshold level of evidence to support their claims.
I can go on and on about how the government simply doesn’t seem to care about NSA’s spying activities, or about why the NSA is the most rogue agency on this planet, and how many times the finger has been pointed, but it seems almost useless now. America, the land of opportunities, is going from being a pioneering democracy to becoming a shameless hypocrisy – all thanks to the NSA.
The Government is Stalling & the NSA is Spying
The government has the people tangled up in the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the FISA Amendment, the 4th Amendments and countless other legal strings. The only purpose that any of these laws have served so far is to stall progress while the NSA completes the Bumblehive.
Bumblehive is NSA’s personal 1 million square-foot data collection and processing facility. Built at a cost of over $1.5 billion, the 20- storey facility is located in Utah and houses a Tier III Data Center (that takes up 100,000 square-feet) and can store/process 1 trillion terabytes of data. Breaking the 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard is just one of the facility’s many purposes.