Posted 10 months ago on June 10, 2013, 11:07 p.m. EST by arturo
from Shanghai, Shanghai
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
On Wednesday evening, the London Guardian's Glenn Greenwald published a top-secret order of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) secret eavesdropping court, which ordered Verizon Business Communications to hand over daily to the National Security Agency (NSA) the telephone numbers, times, and caller locations of every U.S. telephone call, including local calls, for a period of 90 days from April into July. What developed rapidly was the obvious: that this was a mere 90-day rollover of spying that had been going on continuously for seven years (throughout the entirety of the Obama Administration), as Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) admitted in trying to defend the program Thursday,— and that every U.S. telephone carrier had received the same order, while forbidden even to mention it, and was doing exactly the same thing, as the Wall Street Journal reported the same day.
'Few Americans believe that they live in a police state...'
There was instant pandemonium in a Senate hearing Thursday morning, when Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) asked Attorney General Holder whether the Administration was spying on members of Congress and the Supreme Court. When Holder tried to maintain that Congressmen had been "fully briefed," Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) interrupted, saying "We're going to stop right here, because this 'fully briefed' is something that drives us up the wall," and insisted that neither she nor any of the other Senators sitting with her knew what was going on.
Separately, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) told press that this was exactly what they had been publicly warning of for years: that the Obama Administration had a secret, radically overblown legal interpretation of its rights to spy on ordinary Americans under the Patriot Act, one which would shock most Americans were they to learn it. And indeed it has. And it's only beginning.
Veteran Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the author of the Patriot Act, demonstrated in a letter to Holder that the leaked order specifically contravened the Act. He demanded that Holder answer four questions by Wednesday, June 12, of which the fourth was, "Does the FBI believe that there are limits on what information it can obtain under [Patriot Act] section 215? If so, what are those limits?"
Then, Thursday afternoon, only about 24 hours after the first leak, the Guardian and Greenwald obtained and selectively published another file held at the highest level of U.S. security clearance: an internal NSA slide-show instructing employees on how to use a data-mining apparatus called "Prism." The slide-show was dated April 2013—right now. The Washington Post obtained the same leak and published another story at the same time.
The slide-show said that the NSA had obtained direct access to the main servers of nine leading Internet service providers, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. NSA analysts were told that they could obtain any data, whether current or historical, including e-mail, video and voice chats, photos, voice-over-internet protocol, file transfers, videoconferencing, notifications of target activity ("logins, etc."), online social networking details, or "special requests."
Because of the word "foreign" in "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," the slide-show presentation instructed NSA staff, as a fig-leaf of compliance with the law, that they could only target such data if they believed there was a 51% chance that the target might be outside the United States, or in communication with someone outside the United States.
The Guardian accompanied its second leaked revelation with an unsigned June 6 editorial which might have been entitled "An Existential Challenge to American Freedom." After summarizing what the paper had reported over the two days, the editors wrote:
"Few Americans believe that they live in a police state; indeed many would be outraged at the suggestion. Yet the everyday fact that the police have the right to monitor the communications of all its citizens—in secret—is a classic hallmark of a state that fears freedom as well as championing it. Ironically, the Guardian's revelations were published 69 years to the day since U.S. and British soldiers launched the D-Day invasion of Europe. The young Americans who fought their way up the Normandy beaches rightly believed they were helping free the world from a tyranny. They did not think that they were making it safe for their own rulers to take such sweeping powers as these over their descendants."
After qualifying that Britishers should not minimize the dangers of terrorism, or the very real possibility that their own government might be spying on them in just the same way, they conclude:
"But it is American civil liberties that are primarily in the spotlight now. Ever since 9/11, the U.S. has allowed the war on terror to frame a new domestic authoritarianism that is strikingly at odds with America's passionate sense of its own freedom. This week's revelations have stunned millions of Americans whose justified outrage against 9/11 surely never led them to expect such routine and unrestrained surveillance on such a massive scale. U.S. politicians have a poor post-9/11 record of confronting such powers. Even now, it is possible that many will look the other way. But this is an existential challenge to American freedom. That it has been so relentlessly prosecuted by a leader who once promised to stand up against such authority, makes the challenge more pressing, not less."
Which is to say, accurately, that it is Obama who is the one responsible for these crimes. He cannot blame the Congress, as he attempted to do in a press appearance Thursday morning.
The New York Times appeared Friday morning with a very lengthy, bitter 1,100-word editorial entitled "President Obama's Dragnet," which formalized that newspaper's divorce from the U.S. President, and appropriately ridiculed his apologists. Contorted and emotional, the editorial mirrored fights at high levels in the United States. Bloggers noted that one sentence was altered just two hours after the editorial was first posted on Thursday. In the original version, the lead sentence of the third paragraph read, "The administration has now lost all credibility." Two hour later, someone had added the words, "on this issue."
Further Documentation: Police State U.S.A.: A Timeline of Obama's Expansion of Bush-Cheney Domestic Spy Programs
Despite his campaign promises to the contrary, once Barack Obama became President in 2009, he wholeheartedly adopted and expanded the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance and data-mining program which had been created during the Bush Administration, under the direct control of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Obama's about-face should not have surprised anybody; it was signaled already in July 2008, when then-Senator Obama reversed course and voted to give the telecommunications companies immunity from civil suits for their cooperation with the NSA. A few months earlier, Obama had voted against immunity. It has been reliably reported, and not disputed, that what changed Obama's vote was the advice of this campaign counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, who was speaking out publicly in favor of immunizing the telecoms who had been giving the NSA full access to their electronic traffic.
Upon assuming office, although Obama tried to distance himself from Bush on the issues of torture and Guantanamo, he was silent on the NSA surveillance program. No speeches, no executive orders. And in fact, as we have now learned, the Bush-Cheney program has now extended beyond the major telecommunications companies, to include access to the major Internet companies.
Under the latter program, launched in late 2007 and 2008 after Congress provided new legal authorities (including the immunity law supported by Obama), the NSA obtained the cooperation of Microsoft and Yahoo in providing access to their servers, according to the Washington Post. Since the beginning of 2009, the so-called PRISM program expanded to include Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, and others—so that Obama is now presiding over a data-collection and data-mining project which is truly the fulfillment of John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program.