Continued from part one.
The same technique may be working for collecting data on American citizens in an effort to bypass the Fourth Amendment. It would not be surprising if our government has laid secret fibre optic cables across the Atlantic to the U.K., our closest and most trusted ally. They could have the British government’s secret agency (MI-6 and others) retrieve all of the information we ask them to and send it back automatically.
As the data is technically foreign and not restricted or hampered by the Fourth Amendment our agencies can retrieve everything without legal restriction. If you type http://www.google.com.au/ into your browser, you’ll connect to Google’s Australian server in the blink of an eye. Your data will move even faster on private government networks.
It’s also easy for the NSA to place fibre optic cable Internet backbone intercepts so that they see everything crossing the Internet. In the same way that TSA has airport checkpoints where the public must pass, the NSA probably has electronic checkpoints in front of the big Internet companies to see anything and everything as the data must pass through. As the storage capacity of the NSA grows, they’ll be collecting everything you do, and save it forever for future prosecutions if they want.
While you may not be concerned that the Obama administration would do this, the effects are cumulative. Future presidents will have all of the expanded executive powers and in-place spying facilities to do whatever they want. A future president may not be as benign as Mr. Obama.
At this time the British are having a similar discussion about the surveillance of the British public, so we may be doing the same for their secret agencies. All traffic would be encrypted, so the complicit governments wouldn’t be able to see the data, but just act as a conduit to bypass laws. Sad, and likely true.
All this is being done under the Patriot Act to “keep us safe.” Although only Verizon was reported on, by obvious extension the NSA is collecting data from all of the other carriers have been given National Security Letters (NSL) as well. The FISA authorized warrants (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) allow these letters to be issued, after “review” by this oversight court.
Although it sounds like a panel oversees the validity of the requests, it’s understood that very, very few have been denied. Add up the columns from this tabulated review. Between 2004 and 2012, 143,364 NSL’s were issued at an accelerating pace. Only 11 were denied when submitted for review. So much for oversight. The rubber stamp gets a lot of use. Further, our government has two additional courts for appeals, so I doubt that any request has been denied.
Companies who receive these letters cannot even tell anyone that they have them. They must comply, or else.
If you think about prisoners who are released early but must wear an ankle monitor so that the authorities know where they are at all times, the NSA goes one better.
Your smartphone does the same thing, plus the microphone and camera can be switched on remotely. That means our government can track and record your movements, listen to your conservations and photograph you at different times.
Which method is more effective: ankle monitors telling location only or smart cell phones telling everything? Don’t you love the high speed Internet connection that your phone has 24×7?
So if you use a cell phone or even have it switched on, you are being tracked down to a few feet for use in a future case if the government chooses to prosecute you. I know that your immediate thought is that if you haven’t done anything wrong, there isn’t anything to worry about. But you’re wrong.
It’s not that you haven’t done anything wrong; it’s that the government agencies may think that you have. If they do, that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and you’re arrested, indicted and so on, you’ll go bankrupt trying to disprove government prosecutor’s claims. After indictment, the prosecutors will spend a lot of public money to find you guilty. Their careers depend of guilty verdicts, not your innocence.
Keep in mind that some people, who aren’t coerced into plea-bargaining to save their families from bankruptcy, are found not guilty. That means that they are released from custody and attempt to reclaim their lives. Often, they can’t as the “emperors’ wife must be above suspicion” to quote the proverb. In spite of not guilty verdicts, many people will assume that they got away with it and will shun them. That and they will probably be bankrupt, as the government doesn’t reimburse the very expensive defense lawyers that a person is forced to hire. It’s a business.
That’s why 95% (19 out of 20) of felony cases are plea-bargained according to the PBS Frontline report.
Our own government is spying on its public… all of us. It’s obvious claim is to “keep us safe.” Think of the cattle awaiting the one-way trip to the abattoir, fenced in to “keep them safe.” You are being electronically fenced in.
So much for the Fourth Amendment, our freedoms and personal liberty. For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for all of us.
Will the terrorism cancer be cured, or will our government’s very expensive and crude methods kill the patient in the process? Time will tell. I’m not optimistic without significant changes in Congress. Vote me in; I’ll provide solutions, not political double-speak.
We are on a very slippery slope.
Allan Levene for Congress, Hawaii Committee
820 West Hind Drive, # 240-552, Honolulu, HI 96824