Now we know for certain what we’ve suspected all along. Obama is Big Bro. Yesterday, the UK’s Guardian newspaper did the citizens of the U.S. a huge favor by revealing that our government has put out a dragnet for all of our digital communications. Don’t be fooled. It IS for ALL of our communications. They’re building a huge storage facility in Utah that will be “online” soon.
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.” …
William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. …
Before he gave up and left the NSA, Binney tried to persuade officials to create a more targeted system that could be authorized by a court. At the time, the agency had 72 hours to obtain a legal warrant, and Binney devised a method to computerize the system. “I had proposed that we automate the process of requesting a warrant and automate approval so we could manage a couple of million intercepts a day, rather than subvert the whole process.” But such a system would have required close coordination with the courts, and NSA officials weren’t interested in that, Binney says. Instead they continued to haul in data on a grand scale. Asked how many communications—”transactions,” in NSA’s lingo—the agency has intercepted since 9/11, Binney estimates the number at “between 15 and 20 trillion, the aggregate over 11 years.”
When Barack Obama took office, Binney hoped the new administration might be open to reforming the program to address his constitutional concerns. He and another former senior NSA analyst, J. Kirk Wiebe, tried to bring the idea of an automated warrant-approval system to the attention of the Department of Justice’s inspector general. They were given the brush-off. “They said, oh, OK, we can’t comment,” Binney says.
Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together.
“We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.
It’s a long and very comprehensive story from March 2012; please do read it.
Considering recent developments, including evidence that the Obama administration used the power of the IRS to target political enemies, the news that his administration is storing, for future use, all of our digital communications is downright frightening.
Does anyone seriously believe that this most partisan president in history will NOT use the full power of the government for political advantage and to maintain power for himself and his party? Is he so moral that he will resist the temptation?
Just imagine what can be learned by mining the digital communications of political enemies. Consider the evil possibilities and note that yesterday Eric Holder would NOT respond to a simple question: Has this administration data mined the communications of members of Congress? He didn’t respond with a simple “NO!” Instead, he said he would discuss it, but not in an open meeting.
Can we assume, therefore, that the Obama administration HAS spied on the representatives of the People?
Whether or not they use the information in prosecutions or, for example, targeted assassinations of potential terrorists, the fact remains that information is power and they have gathered massive amounts of information, without our knowledge, which they can mine and then use surreptitiously for any nefarious activity you can imagine.
This fact might explain some of the very odd things we’ve witnessed since Obama became president, such as the kid glove treatment he gets from the media and his lack of vetting. This might also explain the total blackout on coverage of Sheriff Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse and the revelations that Obama’s birth certificate, posted on the White House computers, is considered to be a forgery by a respected document examiner (an expert so reputable that he’s been used by Obama’s own lawyers).
We’re told by the media today that the NSA is collecting only the “records” of communications, not the content. HOWEVER, there are indications otherwise. In a previous post, I presented evidence that the contents of all communications are captured. Again from the UK media:
Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government? A former FBI counterterrorism agent claims on CNN that this is the case:
The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are. …
[Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent told the media:]
We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out. … All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.” …
[He] added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored: repeat that last part: “no digital communication is secure”, by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications – meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like – are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact.
To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is. …
[Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealed] “that the NSA [National Security Agency] set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T” and that “contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists . . . much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.” …
“Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications,” [according to a story in the Washington Post].
Indications are that the document revealed yesterday by the Guardian is simply a ROUTINE renewal of an on-going “dragnet”, which indicates that the “slip” by Mr. Clemente was accurate.
ALL of our digital communications are being stored, for future reference. Reading between the lines, it seems apparent that this huge cache of data is being mined. After the interesting tidbits are found, the Obama administration goes after a more targeted subpoena or warrant: The FBI got a secret subpoena for the AP’s phone records and also a secret warrant for FOX reporter James Rosen’s records. WHY was that necessary since the FBI and the NSA, who share information, already had the records? Because the law requires such subpoenas and warrants to be targeted, limited, and approved by a court.
However, the “dragnet”, apparently an abuse of a provision in the Patriot Act, was used to FIND “probable cause” by unconstitutionally trolling through the records of millions of ordinary citizens. This is beyond outrageous and it’s obviously unconstitutional.
The Obama administration needs to be called to account.