Home > Uncategorized > NSA and the War on America

NSA and the War on America

Remember when you could trust the government? Neither do I. Even when I was a small, very small, part of it, I knew it could not be trusted. I have always maintained that government is an evil, although a necessary one. While the job of government is to limit men’s freedoms in order to protect those of others, we have in America a constitution that limits the power of the government. The constitution was designed to limit the power of government in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity.

And while my friends and acquaintances mocked my insistence that government was evil, the government was doing its damnedest to prove me right. And now comes news reports that the NSA and the Obama administration have lied to us, the proletariat, again about the scope and scale of the spying they have done on us.

We remember that General James Clapper said, in testimony before Congress, that the NSA did not collect any data at all from citizens. Then, a few days later, he was forced to recant his testimony, and admit that the NSA did collect data, but it was only “metadata.” This metadata, apologists told us, fell outside of the protections of the fourth amendment. Not to worry, they all said, nobody is reading content, just everything else. President Obama, just last week, said: “as President, I’ve taken steps to make sure they have strong oversight by all three branches of government and clear safeguards to prevent abuse and protect the rights of the American people.” Yet the Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record.

Guess what? The government has lied to us again. The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents. The NSA audit counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it was not required to report the unintended surveillance of Americans. In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court, when it was told about it, ruled it unconstitutional “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in congressional testimony.

Documents published by the Washington Post reveal the number of violations increasing every year. The news reports and documents are in direct contrast to the repeated assertions by Obama, Clapper, and General Keith Alexander that the US government does not listen to or look at Americans’ phone calls or emails. And yet, we are treated to official pronouncements that oversight by the administration was “extensive” and “robust.”

Additionally, the Chief Judge of the FISA Court admits that the court is unable to stop the NSA’s abuses: “The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court,” Judge Reggie B. Walton, said in a written statement. “The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance.”  While many people have complained that the FISC is just a rubber stamp for the CIA, FBI, and NSA, the reality is worse by degrees. The Court has admitted that it cannot do what Obama claims it is doing: exercising oversight to uphold constitutional restrictions on government intrusion and constitutional rights held by citizens. So we know that the FISC isn’t controlling the NSA.

Representative Sensenbrenner recently complained that “the practice of classified briefings are (sic) a ‘rope-a-dope operation’ in which lawmakers are given information and then forbidden from speaking out about it.” Last week, it was even uncovered that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, failed to provide freshmen members of Congress vital documents about the NSA’s activities during a key vote to reapprove the spying. So the freshmen were left to vote like Pelosi: pass it to find out what’s in it. And this year, the congressional bodies charged with oversight have been woefully derelict. The House Intelligence committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight has not met at all, and the Senate Intelligence committee has met only twice.

At what point do we recognize that the government isn’t merely ineffective or indifferent, but actively inimical to our citizenry’s interests?

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