NSA DATA DRIFTNETS: DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE & REPRESSION ON A MASSIVE SCALE

When Iran-Contra felon John Poindexter was kicked to the curb in 2003, his career at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) may have been "terminated," but his domestic spying program, Total Information Awareness lives on under the rubric of the Bush regime's Terrorist Information Awareness.

Monday's Wall Street Journal carried an eye-opening piece rich with stunning revelations of a National Security Agency (NSA) program even more sinister than the one dreamed up by Ollie North's former boss.

As the Democratic-led House of Representatives prepares to vote on a bill that strips the American people of constitutional protections from warrantless wiretapping, the massive scale and intrusive character of these programs become alarmingly clear. The police state under construction by the Bush administration with the complicity of leading Democrats, is one where privacy is a thing of the past, a "quaint notion" like international law or prohibitions against torture.

While congressional and popular focus in the debate over FISA renewal revolves around the issue of retroactive immunity for telecom corporations, the more contentious question of NSA's role in analyzing mountains of data illegally collected by the communications giants for some dozen U.S. intelligence agencies is sorely lacking.

Siobhan Gorman writes,

According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called "transactional" data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns. Then they spit out leads to be explored by counterterrorism programs across the U.S. government, such as the NSA's own Terrorist Surveillance Program, formed to intercept phone calls and emails between the U.S. and overseas without a judge's approval when a link to al Qaeda is suspected.

The NSA's enterprise involves a cluster of powerful intelligence-gathering programs, all of which sparked civil-liberties complaints when they came to light. They include a Federal Bureau of Investigation program to track telecommunications data once known as Carnivore, now called the Digital Collection System, and a U.S. arrangement with the world's main international banking clearinghouse to track money movements.

The effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called "black programs" whose existence is undisclosed, the current and former officials say. ("NSA Domestic Spying Grows as Agency Sweeps Up Data," The Wall Street Journal, Monday, March 10, 2008, Page A1)

Last week, Brian Beutler at The Media Consortium reported that a new FISA whistleblower has stepped forward with information about a major wireless provider apparently granting the state unrestricted access to all of their customers' voice communications and electronic data via a so-called "Quantico Circuit." Quantico, Virginia is the site of major U.S. Marine, FBI and DEA installations. The brief report describes the sinister reach of these illegal surveillance operations. Babak Pasdar, a security consultant and CEO of Bat Blue Corporation, gave a signed affidavit to the Government Accountability Project. It is a very chilling read.

According to Beutler's summary, Pasdar describes how the FBI was allowed unfettered access to information about any mobile phone subscriber, including,

* listening in and recording all conversations en-mass;
* collecting and recording mobile phone data use en-mass;
* obtaining the data they accessed from their mobile phone (Internet access, e-mail, web);
* trending their calling patterns and other call behavior;
* identifying inbound and outbound callers;
* tracking all in and outbound calls;
* tracing the user's physical location

According to Gorman, the NSA gets access to data from telecommunications switches through the FBI:

It [NSA] also has a partnership with FBI's Digital Collection system, providing access to Internet providers and other companies. The existence of a shadow hub to copy information about AT&T Corp. telecommunications in San Francisco is alleged in a lawsuit against AT&T filed by the civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, based on documents provided by a former AT&T official. In that lawsuit, a former technology adviser to the Federal Communications Commission says in a sworn declaration that there could be 15 to 20 such operations around the country. Current and former intelligence officials confirmed a domestic network of hubs, but didn't know the number. "As a matter of policy and law, we can not discuss matters that are classified," said FBI spokesman John Miller.

Ominously, when a "terrorist" suspect is believed to be in a U.S. city, Gorman uses Detroit as an example, "a community with a high concentration of Muslim Americans," the surveillance driftnet may be directed to "collect and analyze" all electronic communications into and out of the city.

This is nothing less than the architecture that enables an Orwellian police state to spy on millions of Americans and squelch dissent. While NSA shills and congressional hacks such as Senator Kit Bond (R-MI), portray NSA as directing its tentacles against "al-Qaeda," prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Afghan-Arab database was given virtual free reign as they plotted mass murder in the United States.

According to Paul Thompson at the History Commons (formerly the Center for Cooperative Research) key members of the 9/11 plot were surveilled by NSA and yet, there was no concerted effort whatsoever to prevent bin Laden's "Martyrdom Battalion" from wrecking havoc. Thompson reports,

On March 20, 2000, either Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi used a phone registered to Alhazmi to make a call from San Diego to an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana'a, Yemen, run by Almihdhar's father-in-law. The call lasted 16 minutes. According to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, the call was intercepted by the NSA, which had been intercepting Alhazmi and Almihdhar's calls for over a year, but the FBI was not informed of the hijackers' presence in the US. The call is only briefly mentioned as a family phone call by the 9/11 Commission in a endnote, and it is not mentioned that the call was monitored.

In other words, NSA did "connect the dots," as did the CIA and FBI and choose instead to do nothing—if by "nothing" one means protecting "certain foreign interests" as Sibel Edmonds avers, say rich Saudi sheiks, subversive CIA/Pentagon operations in the Balkans, or destabilization operations against Russia in Chechnya.

But as Bill Van Auken writes,
Like the Republicans, the Democratic leadership fully accepts the legitimacy of the overall framework of "national security" and the "global war on terrorism" used to justify the illegal spying carried out against the American people.

Whatever concerns they have expressed about this program, none of the leading Democrats have pointed to the obvious danger—that the massive intelligence being collected by the administration will be used to prepare wholesale repression under conditions in which social polarization, economic crisis and mass opposition to war will create political upheavals. ("Massive NSA operation exposed as Congress prepares vote on domestic spying bill," World Socialist Web Site, 11 March 2008)

It's a small world and the political space for meaningful dissent is growing smaller by the day. Somewhere, John Poindexter must be smiling.

Link to source-webpage, obtained via: Antifascist Calling..., March 11, 2008, 12:20pm

Donate


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe


  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.