So what are we to make of the NSA data gathering? Is it OK for the government to snoop on us? Does it keep us safer? And what juicy secrets have they now found from a previous White House administration?
The government says, “Yes, the program is a necessary evil. It will help us catch terrorists.”
But then, this is the same government that denied snooping on us in the first place.
Sen. Ron Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
CIA Director James Clapper answered, “No, sir.”
If they lied about what they were doing, at the risk of perjury, why should we believe them now, when any answer could be very subjective?
And if spying on more than a hundred million phone calls and emails couldn’t help the NSA detect that one of its own employees was about to leak its secret snooping operation, how can we expect then to efficiently find terrorists? As Ronald Reagan often said, “Remember, these are the same people who run the post office.”
What about the competence of a government that employs 4.2 million persons with security clearances, while 43 percent of the American people believe we should be cutting back on programs that threaten privacy and only 20 percent think we should be doing more to fight terrorism, even at the expense of privacy? Isn’t that a disaster waiting to happen? If the leaker weren’t Edward Snowden, wouldn’t it have been someone else?
In an exchange between CNN’s Erin Burnett and former FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente, we are told that the content of all our phone calls is being recorded and stored, even if it is not audited.
Now we learn that “the National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.”
Then there is this from the chief technology officer at the CIA: “We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever.”
Only days after the NSA story broke we learned that there is tracking of emails in real time.
The terrorists are not idiots. If they hide behind civilians from drone attacks, why wouldn’t they hide behind civilians in the cyber war, implicating innocent others by false-flag emails and phone calls?
Then there is the question, what will the government do with all of this information? And what should it do? Hunt for terrorists? Find Edward Snowden? Purge its own “top secret clearance” list? What about solving murders or locating abducted teenagers caught up in the sex slave traffic?
Most agree that it shouldn’t be used to go after “Joe the plumber.” Remember him? The average citizen from the 2008 election? We shouldn’t go after the parish priest for sex abuse without first clearing the bishops and the cardinals. What hypocrisy to prosecute or punish the little guy and ignore the sins of the powerful.
So, let’s start at the top. Think of all the problems we can solve. We now have phone calls, letters and emails to show any link between the IRS offices in Cincinnati and the White House. Why not reconstruct what happened? We could exonerate or implicate the president and others.
First order of business: Have transcribers compose the massive conversations of the rulers of our country. The Supreme Court, the Senate, the Justice Department, starting with the attorney general, the Cabinet and the president. Even past presidents. No one should be in a position to pass judgment if they, themselves, are guilty of crimes.
There is the new scandal in the State Department, where the agency’s own whistleblower, Aurelia Fedensin is being intimidated for reporting sex crimes with minors, even an ambassador involved. Are there big shots accessing child pornography sites? Why leave that task to Chris Hansen of NBC’s “Dateline”? First, let’s clear the people at the top.
Let us suppose that a presidential aide calls a friend of the president about a donor who wants to give a million dollars in soft money to a campaign, and the aide tells him that the presidential candidate wants that million dollars in soft money to go to the NRA or some Catholic voter-registration program. And let’s suppose that the presidential aide is getting indirect kickbacks from the Catholic voter-registration program. And let’s suppose that the presidential candidate affirms his desire in later conversations. It’s illegal, right?
And let us suppose that the presidential candidate, worried about his crime, makes calls to destroy the career of the witness; let’s say he talks to a major network president and gets him banned from TV appearances, which dramatically impacts his income. Shouldn’t we know those kind of things first, before we go after Joe the plumber?
How many stories are out there waiting to be told? And now we have the evidence to find them all. Now we can apply equal justice. If we persecuted Bill Clinton for his infidelity, now we can learn about the marital affairs of other more beloved presidents who weren’t so unlucky. They had no Linda Tripp recordings, but perhaps the NSA can fill the gap.
Shouldn’t someone know what the NSA knows? Couldn’t the agency use its information to blackmail its superiors? What about the Freedom of Information Act? Doesn’t a U.S. senator, a federal judge, a president have the right to know what conversations the NSA has and what is in them? Things taken out of context can be dangerous.
If the existence of this program can be leaked to the public by a concerned citizen, when can the demographics of the program be leaked to a political campaign? Has it already happened? When can the details or content be leaked to companies or employers? Wouldn’t you want to run a check before hiring? Would you want to hire a babysitter who talks dirty on the phone? Or an accountant who does a Google search on how to embezzle money without being caught? Or a chauffeur who is an alcoholic?
Cardinal Richelieu supposedly once wrote, “Give me six lines written by any man and I can have him hanged as a criminal.” Imagine what he could have done with the NSA. He could have killed France.
Can you see the nightmare? The injustice? The conflict? Can you see why the Founding Fathers wrote the Fourth Amendment?
Welcome to America, in its post-constitutional drift. When you start to violate your own Constitution, step by step, you become a nation without laws, where the ends justify the means. It is survival of the fittest. The powerful rule and will take from you what they want.
You can be sure of one thing. The massive information collected by the NSA will not be used to hurt the rich or powerful. Don’t hold your breath to learn what really happens in the lives of the people at the top. They will continue their crimes, and the flow of riches from the weak to the powerful will continue uninterrupted.
But Joe the plumber? You, my friend, are in big trouble.