As I type this, someone at the National Security Agency (NSA) is monitoring my words and, consequently, my thoughts and intent. The Washington Post today revealed a top-secret government program named “PRISM”, which collects information from 9 major companies from Yahoo and Facebook to Skype and Apple. This means that everything about you is subject to surveillance since most breathing human beings exist in a near-constant electronic state whether on the internet or on your phone. Nothing is sacred. E-mail, phone, video, chat, etc. are all capable of being “data-mined” and stored at the NSA for perusal.
Here is a chilling quote from the WaPo article that describes how this top-secret information came to light:
Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.
The Obama administration has taken Bush’s economic, domestic, and foreign policies and injected them with a synthetic steroid. Whatever you thought negatively of Bush, facts must dictate that you must feel the same about Obama. The only difference between the two? One was overt, and the other covert. Bush tried to do everything in the open under the guise of “democracy” and “security”. Obama does the same thing, but tries to hide everything from the public and then vilifies anyone who tries to leak his secrets or stand in his way. But let’s not pin this all on one man. To get where we are today requires a coordinated effort that is more powerful than a single President. The monolithic presence of the FBI, NSA, CIA, Federal Reserve, EPA, FCC, FDA, ATF, DEA, etc. are entrenched entities that conduct their business regardless of whomever is President. In fact, they are either so powerful or connected powerfully to corporations via Congress, that they dictate to the President what goes on in this country, not the other way around.
It’s clear that Obama’s ideals were utterly crushed when he took office, and he was sat down and told how things are really ran in this country. He was either on board, or he wasn’t. He decided to go all-in with the Government First plan. This is the plan that puts you and me second, by the way.
This isn’t about finding terrorists. If that were the case, the Boston marathon bombers would have been caught before they detonated their pressure cookers. It’s about information and control. Wikileaks exposed the flaws of government “secrecy”. Gathering and storing so much information about so many people in one location, makes it a tempting target by both domestic and foreign entities. Imagine if the information for every American was eventually stored, in real-time, in a secret NSA facility in Utah and that information was hacked and revealed to the world ala Wikileaks, for anyone to search through its contents.
What if you were also told that the NSA got in trouble for “overcollecting” information on US citizens in 2009, and the government promised it wouldn’t do it again?
I can guarantee you I can get myself flagged by posting about a bunch of key “terms” the NSA is looking for like bombing, attack, jihad, Al-Qaeda, secret, imminent, USA. There, I just got flagged in some goober’s terminal in Utah. “It’s not like I have a bomb in here!”
Its odd that with all of these recent scandals and secrets being revealed about the Obama administration, the apologists are nowhere to be found. Is it really that we all know these things are wrong, but are powerless to prevent it from happening? Or do we secretly hope that it’s all for a good purpose, and its OK for the government to do whatever it needs to do to protect us?
It’s currently estimated that the NSA collects over 3 billion phone calls per day. Not to mention, all the texts, skype and IM conversations, and e-mails that are sent each day. Good thing they have storage capabilities in the “yottabytes” to retain all of this info. Yea, never heard of that? It’s because 1 yottabyte equals 1 quadrillion gigabytes. My hard drive has 750 gigabytes. I feel so inadequate!!
Later last night (Thursday, June 6th), Director of National Intelligence James Clapper held a press conference to explain how much less safer we are now that this highly classified secret has been made public. There appears to be some growing dissension among Obama’s government, as we no longer need Wikileaks to reveal government secrets. First, it was a private by the name of Bradley Manning who, upon knowing some of our state secrets, felt compelled to release them to the public by handing the data over to Wikileaks. Now we are getting higher level government officials who are, due to some moral conscience (what took these guys so long?), to put their life on the line by revealing classified information.
What more do we need to question the integrity of every and all government officials and the statements they make to the public?
UPDATE #1: President Obama responds to recent leaks today. You can find his comments on any news site, but the only one that matters is this:
Obama portrayed the programs as a trade-off between security and civil liberties. “I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security, and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” he said.
The old fuddy duddy Benjamin Franklin said something like this:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, tried some damage control to “clarify” the “myths” about the program, notably saying that PRISM “It cannot intentionally target any U.S. citizen or any person known to be in the U.S.”
The very next day, Edward Snowden willingly stepped forth to reveal that he is the NSA whistleblower, and further noted that in March 2013 alone, 97 billion pieces of intelligence were gathered worldwide, 3 billion of which from within the US alone, making a liar out of James Clapper. James’ key word here is “intentional”, but they can unintentionally target citizens…up to 3 billion items of intelligence worth. Clearly, it did nothing to stop the Boston Marathon attack, so what is its real purpose and goal if it cannot stop the very things its designed to?
As if the moral authority of the US government wasn’t weak already, it has become entirely hollowed out. Nothing that comes from a government official can be believed to be true anymore. This, of course, all came out as Obama visited China to discuss cyber-security. Oh, the irony.
From the Guardian:
In an interview published Sunday, Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old defense contractor employee who blew the whistle on the NSA program, told the Guardian newspaper that “the NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things,” he continued. “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
UPDATE #3: Now that James Clapper has been caught red-handed in a lie under oath (this used to be called “perjury”, something you would go to jail for), how can the Obama administration distance itself from Mr. Clapper’s perjury? Clearly they can’t make the assertion that Clapper was acting independently, lying about a program in some vein attempt to prevent the curtain from drawing back on PRISM. Clapper’s testimony under oath was the administrations position on the matter, plain and simple. Clapper’s lie is simply an extension of the will of the Obama administration. So Obama or his administration had NO hand in guiding Clapper’s testimony? Hardly! It is Obama’s intention to hide the doings of his government at all costs. As Ron Paul plainly stated…we need MORE surveillance of government, not the other way around!