NSA Spying Not About Safety

NSA whistleblower Russel Tice has told reporters examples of people the NSA was spying on prior to the PRISM program. Tice says these people were targeted for blackmail and other leverage over them.

WashingtonsBlog has the story:

  • “Members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial”
  • “One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court”
  • “Two … former FISA court judges”
  • “State Department officials”
  • “People in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people”
  • “Antiwar groups”
  • “U.S. companies that that do international business”
  • “U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business”
  • “NGOs that–like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work”
  • “The president of the United States now [i.e. Barack Obama, when he was running for Senate]“
  • Top Democratic and Republican congress members, especially on the Intelligence, Armed Services and  Judiciary committees, as well as the senior leadership in both the House and the Senate
  • General Petraeus and other generals
  • Supreme Court justice Alito … and all of the other Supreme Court justices
  • White House spokesman Scott McClellan

Again, this was Bush-era spying examples. The program has been ramped up and extended under Obama.

Rather than demonstrating protection from dangers, this list shows us that the spying tools were being used for political purposes. It isn’t hard to imagine that Howard Dean, Obama’s “yes we can,” the Occupy Movement, and other failed attempts at change were under total survelillance then crushed.

We know the spying goes beyond metadata. As recent reports indicate, cellphone and computer microphones and cameras can be turned on secretly and remotely. Smart meter data has already been given over to government agencies according to the ACLU. Apple, Microsoft and Google are reported to have provided backdoors in their operating system software to allow remote control.

There seems to be no filter for age, either, which means kids are having profiles built as soon as they use a phone or tablet. It brings new meaning to the idea of your “permanent record” (a mythical school file that students joked about in more innocent times.)

It’s time for our elected leaders to put an immediate end to this. It may not be possible, though, if they are being spied on and blackmailed.

Comments | 2

  • Liminal Intent

    About thirty years ago, Foucault re-introduced us to the panopticon. The structure, originally conceived for incarceration in the 19th century, where a central space could see all, but the ringed cells around it sees nothing.

    A little later and further down the digital trail, as surveillance was gaining steam, Hakim Bey, coined the term TAZ. Temporary Autonomous Zones. Since all spaces public and private were now claimed and codified- his book argued it was in the stitches, outside institutionalism, where a semblance of freedom could still be found.

    The old saying, ‘The handwriting is on the wall’, can now be read, ‘the bytes are in the bag’. It’s hard to really reckon human life in the traditional sense, knowing that our each and every utterance or impulse may be monitored and manipulated.

    The traditional society, with rituals to mark significant life passages- such as going from childhood to adulthood- also recognizes an interim period when one is neither here nor there. This is the liminal realm, the seam which is both pause and launch point. The unengaged axis.

    Our lives also offer many such transitions, but this hedonist culture twists those rituals- spring break, the bachelor party, the cruise ship, or the retirement dinner. These may be blowouts or a pleasant diversion, but it’s not the same kind of suspension and time of redefinition offered by tribal culture.

    I’ve been thinking of this all lately in light of the the frenzy surround the PRISM and NSA “revelations”. If our conversations, our browsing habits, our point of sale purchases, our cryptic texts..if all our engagements are monitored, it stands to reason that the untracked places are of increasing value. They do seem to be harder and harder to come by.

    These eddies in the stream, where life-forces can gather, and the rush of the world sidestepped even if for a moment, may be our most promising refuge.

  • Minimization analysis

    Marcy Wheeler continues to do an excellent job examining the ‘minimization’ provisions:


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