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HOW MUCH INFORMATION HAS THE NSA COLLECTED ON AMERICANS?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 9, 2013) — Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old man who was working for a private contractor which provided services to the National Security Agency (NSA) has told The UK Guardian that the “programs and policies” carried out by the secretive entity are “subverting the power of government” and a “fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy.”
The NSA states its mission is to “to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information.” The NSA is headed by a four-star general, Keith Alexander, who in 2010 worked on the development of “U.S. Cyber Command,” which added another function to the agency.
Prior to Snowden’s information becoming public, Reuters reported that “the general [is] at the center of an intense debate over how much power the government should have to spy on private citizens in the name of protecting national security.”
The NSA does not appear to have issued a statement on Snowden’s revelations.
Alexander reports to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who works for Obama.
Alexander’s predecessor, Michael Hayden, denied in 2006 that communications among Americans were “vacuumed up.”
Edward Snowden spoke with two journalists from the UK Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong, where he told them that while he had been employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, he was given authority to wiretap and record “anyone’s” email account. He said that he felt he had been involved in “wrongdoing” because the policies had not been approved by “the public.”
Booz Allen released a statement after Snowden’s interview was released, which reads:
Snowden said that he is not opposed to “government,” but is seeking to expose “the truth.” “The extent of their capabilities is horrifying,” Snowden said.
On Thursday, the day after the resignation of Obama’s National Security Adviser, Tom Donilon, was announced, The Washington Post revealed a secret program carried out by the U.S. and Great Britain named PRISM which performs “mining data” from the servers of nine internet companies to collect photos, emails, audio files and documents.
On Friday, during scheduled remarks in California on his health care program, Obama spoke about the Verizon revelation, commenting that he was concerned about surveillance because after he leaves office, his communications could be “targeted.” However, he defended the program by stating that his regime had “struck the right balance” between security and surveillance and that Congress has been apprised of the surveillance programs. Clapper stated that “The classified program has been authorized by all three branches of the Government.”
Early on Friday morning, The Post & Email asked if Obama were “Big Brother,” harkening to the 1949 George Orwell novel 1984 in which the population of Oceania was brainwashed into submission by constantly-shifting government propaganda. Obama referenced “Big Brother” in his remarks on Friday while defending the spying programs.
At least one member of Congress indicated that he was not aware of the depth and breadth of the data-mining. Last year, Alexander testified before Congress about the capabilities of the intelligence-gathering agency and the new data-collection center under construction in Utah which is scheduled to open in the fall. The Guardian reported that Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have suspected “that the government’s implementation of the 2008 expansions of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as the Fisa Amendments Act, had led to massive surveillance on Americans. They sought repeatedly to quantify the extent of the eavesdropping, only to be stonewalled by the intelligence community. They hinted, vaguely, that they thought ‘millions’ of Americans had their communications data collected.”
Business Insider reported in April 2012 that a former NSA employee had said that “the NSA has had the ability to listen in on American phone calls in real time since 9/11″ and that “eavesdropping” of journalists’ phone calls had occurred.
In 1984, the “Ministry of Truth” disseminated propaganda. Adolf Hitler became a master of propaganda during his purge of Catholics and Jews in the late 1930s. Since 2008, the Obama machine has “controlled” the media.
There have been numerous lawsuits since the inception of the Patriot Act on data collection and surveillance practices, and more lawsuits have been filed since last week’s revelations became public, citing First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations.
Snowden referred to “criminality” on the part of the government in one of his interviews with The Guardian, stating that the NSA “routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America.”
In December 2011, The Post & Email wrote a letter to the FBI detailing evidence of a third party listening and responding to the content of telephone conversations between this writer and another researcher. Responses to the conversation were left in the form of comments which were saved but not published and referred to personal matters.
Last Wednesday, The Guardian reported that the NSA had demanded records from Verizon Wireless from “millions of US customers” through a provision of the Patriot Act signed in 2001 by Pres. George W. Bush which allows warrantless wiretapping and the collection of other information by the FBI approved by a FISA court to purportedly prevent terror attacks.
Snowden said that he came forward because he believes that the “capabilities of oppression” are being furthered by those working for the NSA who are collecting data on average citizens and using “the system…and scrutinize any decision you’ve ever made…and attack you on that basis to…derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of wrongdoing.”
“If living unfreely but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept…you can…collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest…” he said. When the interviewer asked him about his motive for making the disclosures, he said that he had been “living in paradise” and earning considerable compensation while working in Hawaii, but that he could not continue participating in activity which he believes is leading to “tyranny.”
When asked what the consequences could be for speaking out about the intelligence-gathering operations, Snowden said that he was aware that “you can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk.”
The Department of Justice reportedly will likely investigate the “leaks” regarding the PRISM and Verizon phone records data-gathering. However, last June, after national security leaks about Obama’s targeted drone strikes and the Stuxnet virus designed to penetrate the Iranian computer system occurred and “the White House” identified as the source, nothing else was ever reported.
On Sunday, a news report confirmed that the NSA had requested of the DOJ that an investigation be launched. The DOJ has failed to prosecute a voter intimidation case and multiple reports of the forgery of Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Putative Attorney General Eric Holder is under investigation himself for two allegations of perjury to Congress.
In response to Obama’s comments on the NSA data-gathering, Snowden said, “My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it.”
Snowden said the decisions to gather massive amounts of data on Americans were the result of “an authoritarian mindset.”