Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Does the NSA have your baby pictures?

With new disclosures courtesy of Edward Snowden, revealing the extent to which the NSA has gathered personal private information about innocent American citizens suspected of nothing, it should be clear to almost anyone that the government has no right to do any of it and never did.

Does the government have the right to peek in through your windows, bug your home and put surveillence cameras on you and your family without probable cause or a warrant? Obviously they do not. And they do not have the right to use other electronic means to gather information on you and your family without a warrant showing probable cause either.

Unfortunately there are politicians who disagree and think the government does have that right. And Democrats are among them, including Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi who along with Feinstein called Edward Snowden a traitor,  and a Democratic president who the ACLU said has a record on civil liberties that is "disgusting".

The new data revealed by the Washington Post thanks to Snowden, showed that 9 out of 10 conversations, emails and other data gathered by the NSA came from innocent Americans suspected of nothing and who were not the direct targets of surveillence but simply caught up in the surveillence. 

According to the Post article, the NSA now has baby pictures, sexually explicit web cam encounters, selfies, sexual photos, personal email exchanges and private medical records of hundreds of thousands of innocent American citizens not targets of any investigation despite Obama's previous statements that they did not. And, as Snowden has now proved, he personally had access to these files (and presumably many others do too) despite claims by Obama and people like General Alexander and James Clapper that he did not.

The Post looked at 160,000 email messages, instant messages, photos, and documents provided by Snowden , 90% of which were taken from American citizens who were entirely innocent and were not even suspects.  They also report that all of these NSA collected documents spanned  the years 2009 to 2012, Obama's first term where the bulk gathering increased far beyond those of the Bush years. Proving again that Obama's greatest talent is for reneging on promises and he will roll over and cave in to whomever he thinks he can't stand up to, whether its Wall Street, the health insurance lobby, Republicans, or the brass at the NSA. And as it's been reported, Obama has prosecuted more people ( or tried to) under the Espionage Act (including journalists) than all previous presidents combined.  This clearly did not come from some inner conviction about national security since many of the prosecutions were more persecution than prosecution, some were used as harassment and then dropped. Obama ran on precisely the opposite position.

( Hillary Clinton made a significant statement about Snowden a few days ago which typically went completely over the heads of mainstream journalists when she was asked in an interview what she would do about Snowden. Clinton said she believed he should be allowed to come back to the United States and get a fair trial. The significance of that is there is no possibility of a fair trial under the Espionage Act. The defendant is not allowed to introduce evidence in his defense, can't call witnesses,  is not entitled to discovery and there is no defense, not whistleblowing, not revealing criminality, nothing. There is only one question to be answered -- did someone charged under the Espionage Act commit the actions the government claims they did -- yes or no. In Snowden's case the charge is, did he unlawfully take the documents, yes or no.  That is the only issue to be decided in an Espionage Act prosecution of Snowden. Clinton's answer reveals that unlike Obama,  she would not charge Snowden under the Espionage Act but under another statute that would allow for a defense.) 

Brianna Keilar, who continued the kowtowing of CNN and others in the media to people in power and who save their shock, outrage and courage for things like Anthony Weiner's sex chats,  characterized the new revelations by saying, "let's be clear -- some of the intelligence gathered is valuable -- and some of it isnt ".

Well no, not exactly.  What the Post and Snowden's documents revealed is that some of the intelligence gathered is in fact valuable -  but 90% of it isnt.  Not some of it isnt, most of  it isn't. And it's gathered at the expense of the constitutional rights of American citizens. And what's even worse is that the NSA  is storing  that irrelevant 90% in a data base where it can be accessed instead of destroying it. All this in spite of the fact that as a candidate in 2008 Obama promised to curtail the Bush secret surveillence, promised as recently as a few months ago there was no personal or identifiable data about Americans being gathered or stored, and promised no one had access to any Americans' private information. All of that is untrue. He also promised more transparency to the entire process including the secret decisions made by the FISA court.

The great irony of the NSA data collection of Americans who are not targets of surveillence,  is that Obama himself is referenced in these same NSA files without using his name, instead using the term, "minimized U.S. president" 1,227 times to refer to Obama. Which at least confirms that what the NSA does is based on intelligence. And is about the only thing related to Obama that can be called transparent.

1 comment:

Americans Right to Privacy said...

As increasing infringements on our Email and online privacy rises, we see great demand for a solution. The threats against your personal Internet privacy is increasing everyday as "free" Email providers, hackers, NSA's PRISM program, and the amended US Patriot Act are just a few of a growing list that are compromising our freedoms. As we stand at a crossroads, it may appear hopeless to protect our God given rights to privacy but rest assured, there are real solutions to this serious problem!
Solutions exist. Today, regaining your online Privacy means going Abroad...