NSA Caught Red-Handed
by Stephen Lendman
It’s a longstanding rogue agency. It always operated extrajudicially. It’s worse than ever now. It’s a power unto itself.
Obama claims “(w)e don’t have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat.”
False! Obama knows it. He lied. He always lies. He’s a serial liar. NSA has a longstanding domestic spying program.
On August 15, the Washington Post headlined “NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds.”
Most infractions involved “unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States.”
Doing so’s restricted “by statute and executive order.” Violations range from “significant ones to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of US e-mails and telephone calls.”
Agency personnel are told to substitute generic language for specific details. They do in Justice Department and Director of National Intelligence reports.
They delay sending them. The FISA court didn’t learn about an unconstitutional new collection method until months after it began.
Obama officials repeatedly stonewall. Secrecy substitutes for transparency.
After promising to explain NSA operations in “as transparent a way as we possibly can,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole dismissively told Congress:
“Every now and then, there may be a mistake.” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied. He committed perjury. He got away with it. He remains unaccountable.
Obama appointed him to investigate NSA spying. He’ll head a so-called independent commission. Putting him in charge assures coverup, denial and whitewash. It assures business as usual.
He told Congress NSA has no domestic spying program. When it was too late to matter, he disingenuously apologized for a “clearly erroneous” statement.
NSA audit information WaPo obtained “counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.”
“Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure.”
“The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.”
“There is no reliable way to calculate from the number of recorded compliance issues how many Americans have had their communications improperly collected, stored or distributed by the NSA.”
Causes and severity vary widely. Sweeping surveillance assures many lawless practices. Serious ones happen often.
Audit data included only incidents at NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters and other Washington area facilities.
Three government officials spoke on condition of anonymity. They said infractions would be much higher if other “NSA operating units and regional collection centers” were included.
One of the most serious violations involves “divert(ing) large volumes of international data passing through fiber-optic cables in the United States into a repository where the material could be stored temporarily for processing and selection.”
NSA calls it “multiple communications transactions.” Domestic and foreign ones are commingled.
NSA calls its mission “cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances.”
Signals Intelligence Management Directive 421 says “raw SIGINT data…includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and/or unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice, and some forms of computer-generated data, such as call event records and other Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata as well as DNI message text.”
WaPo said database query incidents into “raw SIGINT data… include, but (are) not limited to, unevaluated and/or unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice, and some forms of computer-generated data, such as call event records and other Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata as well as DNI message text.”
NSA claims collecting information on Americans while targeting foreigners suspected of terrorism “does not constitute a violation.”
It “does not have to be reported” for inclusion in quarterly congressional reports, it said. Once obtained, communications of Americans are freely searched.
A second WaPo article headlined “Court: Ability to police US spying program limited,” saying:
The FISA court’s chief judge said the body lacks tools to “independently verify how often the government’s surveillance breaks the court’s rules that aim to protect Americans’ privacy.”
According to chief FISA court Judge Reggie B. Walton:
“The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court.”
“The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing (government) compliance with its orders.”
WaPo said the FISA court can demand and obtain more information about cases. It’s unclear how often it happens. The court’s largely rubber stamp. It’s complicit with lawless spying.
On August 15, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined “NSA Spying: The Three Pillars of Government Trust,” saying:
US officials lied. They claim rigorous executive, congressional and judiciary oversight of NSA activities. Doing so they say assures no lawless privacy invasions.
“Today, the Washington Post confirmed that two of those oversight pillars – the Executive branch and the court overseeing the spying, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) – don’t really exist,” said EFF.
“The third pillar came down slowly over the last few weeks, with Congressional revelations about the limitations on its oversight, including what Representative Sensennbrenner called ‘rope a dope’ classified briefings.”
Trust in government oversight’s no longer warranted. It never was. For sure it’s not now.
Snowden explained in stark detail. So did whistleblowers Russell Tice, Mark Klein and others. Unconstitutional data-mining is longstanding practice. All three branches of government are involved.
They’re complicit in sweeping lawless spying. Millions of Americans are affected. According to EFF:
“The pattern is now clear and it’s getting old. With each new revelation the government comes out with a new story for why things are really just fine, only to have that assertion demolished by the next revelation.”
“It’s time for those in government who want to rebuild the trust of the American people and others all over the world to come clean and take some actual steps to rein in the NSA.”
“And if they don’t, the American people and the public, adversarial courts, must force change upon it.”
“The three pillars of American trust have fallen. It’s time to get a full reckoning and build a new house from the wreckage, but it has to start with some honesty.”
“Join EFF in calling for a full investigation by emailing Congress today.”
“For far too long, secret law and a secret surveillance state have been a dark shadow on Americans’ freedom. It’s time to shine a light on NSA’s spying.”
It’s time to fully expose its dark side. It’s time to stop America heading for full-blown tyranny. It’s time to do it now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.