By Paul Gable
Seven months after the Edward Snowden leaks about National Security Agency spying started becoming public, President Barack Obama is now saying some changes in programs may have to be made.
A Blue Ribbon panel appointed by the president, Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, recently published a 309 page report.
One of the conclusions in that report were that the NSA program of vacuuming information about phone calls and other electronic transmissions within, into and out of the U.S. was, from all available evidence, worthless as a tool to fight terrorism.
Blanket vacuuming of U.S. citizens, phone records and conversations, emails, Facebook posts and internet searches do not make the American people safer from terrorist activity. All it does is to seriously infringe on the freedoms from government encroachment guaranteed by the Constitution.
Another conclusion was that the NSA should be clearly designated as a foreign intelligence collection organization. This is the one that kills me.
The NSA always was designated as a foreign intelligence collection organization. Back in the day when I held a top secret special intelligence clearance from the U.S. Government, the first thing you heard in an indoctrination briefing was that listening in on the conversation of a U.S. citizen was breaking the law, making you subject to a $10,000 fine, 10 years in jail, or both.
We could seriously reduce the national debt just from the fines that could be collected from NSA personnel breaking this law in recent years! Each occurrence is a separate crime – $10,000 each.
But, with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent passage of the Patriot Act, our nation’s intelligence agencies believed they had blanket approval to do whatever they wanted in the name of ‘fighting terrorism.’
Too often recently I have heard well-meaning but seriously misinformed citizens say, “I’ve got nothing to hide, they can listen to me all they want.”
No they can’t – It’s Against the Law!
If the U.S. government is not going to obey its own laws, why should U.S. citizens?
Sadly, this is not new. Since at least 1919 when that little pervert J. Edgar Hoover was made head of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation General Intelligence Division, in the midst of what was known as the ‘Red Scare’ in those days, agencies of the U.S. government have been illegally spying on U.S. citizens.
Hoover’s entire legacy is one of using the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, collecting extensive secret files on political leaders and using illegal wiretaps and break-ins to collect evidence.
And we allowed Hoover to get away with this for 52 years until he died in 1972!
The supposed ‘number one law enforcement officer’ in the country was allowed to arbitrarily break the law for 52 years.
Imagine what a guy like Hoover would be doing today if he were head of the NSA!
If we, as U.S. citizens, are not going to demand that our government officials obey the law and punish them when they don’t, then, let’s do away with the Constitution, forget about democracy and study the government systems of Jo Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
Because that’s the direction in which we seem to be going!