For years now, the NSA has blatantly spied on Americans illegally — committing crimes that are far worse than Watergate — originally under the orders of appointed President George W. Bush several months before he allowed the attacks of 9/11, and some in Congress have not only condoned it, they have actively tried to justify it by illegally passing retroactive laws, or, as in the case of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, by trying to say that they see nothing wrong with it. It’s not only wrong, it’s illegal and America needs to put an end to it.
Recently, the New York Times (NYT) ran another story on how the National Security Agency (NSA) was again caught snooping on private telephone calls and emails of Americans beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009. The abuse — which is backed up by a former NSA analyst and two intelligence officials — is widespread and was and is done routinely and without court warrants.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is one of a few in Congress who has been investigating the incidents. The politicized Justice Department and other national security officials say that the overcollection of America’s communications was inadvertent, but as noted by Rep. Holt, some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental.
The NSA says that when such errors are identified, they are reported to the appropriate officals who take corrective actions. Right. That’s why the ‘errors’ keep happening. Only a couple months ago, the NSA was found to be violating laws. The Justice Department said they had installed new safeguards, but those appear to be pointless. The illegal spying hasn’t stopped. Some NSA analysts reportedly spied on their own wives and girlfriends too. Until the NSA is dismantled or the proper oversight is put in place, the illegal spying will undoubtedly continue.
Electronic Messages Vaccuumed Up by the Millions
It’s virtually impossible to avoid such errors when the NSA is continuously vacuuming up electronic messages by the millions. Intelligence operators are supposed to filter out the messages of ‘innocent’ Americans, but that doesn’t appear to be happening either and the rampant, unabated spying is out of control.
According to the NYT, the NSA is believed to have gone beyond legal boundaries designed to protect Americans in about 8 to 10 seperate court orders issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. America has some major problems with secrecy in the name of national security and the government’s abuses.
Because each court order could single out hundreds or even thousands of phone numbers or email addresses, the number of individual communications that were improperly collected could be in the millions — it’s not clear what portion of total court orders or communications that would represent. The overcollection of data could and has lead to a significant number of privacy invasions of American citizens.
The fact that the FISA court acts in secrecy doesn’t help. FISA court Judges are appointed, which again shows one of the major flaws of America’s legal system, especially when you look at how corrupted Washington is and has been this past decade because of appointed judges.
Email from all over the world flows through Internet service providers all over the United States. The NSA supposedly monitors foreign email addresses and claims it has no idea when a person using that foreign address will send messages to someone inside the U.S.
Even before the FISA amendment law was forced upon the American public by the Bush administration last year, the NSA ‘tolerated’ significant collection and examination of domestic email messages without warrants. NSA analysts were trained to use a secret database code-named Pinwale that archived foreign and domestic emails enmass in 2005. Pinwale allowed NSA analysts to read large volumes of email messages to and from Americans as long as they fell within certain limits. Former President Bill Clinton was a victim of the Pinwale database whose email was improperly accessed.
Congress Indifferent to or in Favor of Illegal Government Spying
As noted by Glenn Greenwald from Salon News, when revelations of illegal spying surface, Congress never does anything about it — except enact laws that increase the government’s illegal spying powers while gutting the few remaining oversight mechanisms that exist and immunizing the lawbreakers — leading one to believe that regardless of which major political party controls Congress, it’s either indifferent to or in favor of unchecked illegal government spying.
When new revelations of illegal spying arise, Congress repeatedly uses euphemisms to obscure the illegality while assuring everyone that it was strictly unintentional and is being fixed. The usual members of Congress (Jay Rockefeller, Dianne Feinstein, ‘Kit’ Bond and Jane Harman) feign outrage and lie about taking steps to end the abuse, and hold no one accountable while making sure no new oversight mechanisms are implemented. Then Congress endorses more new illegal domestic surveillance. Once more new revelations appear, Congress starts the exact same process all over again. Feinstein denies the most recent abuses by the NSA, but then again, Feinstein has been part of the secretive culture of corruption in Washington for several years.
The Bush cabal couldn’t have been nearly as lawless as they were without the help of Congressional corruption for eight years — corruption that has carried over to the Obama administration. Congress has repeatedly, oftentimes retroactively, passed illegal legislation increasing the government’s surveillance powers since 2001. Everytime they pass the illegal legislation, more new illegal activities are revealed.
As a Senator, Barack Obama voted for passing the illegal wiretapping legislation, one of the first indications of how his presidency would be. In 2008, Congress illegally gave telecoms who participated in Bush’s illegal wiretapping immunity from prosecution — primarily because many in Congress were bought off by said telecoms.
Claims of ‘National Security’ Still Used to Hide Crimes
Many examples of the magnitude of the government’s illegal spying, some of the reactions from Congress, and a video of Eric Holder, Obama’s Attorney General saying that Bush’s spying program was ‘in contravention’ of FISA while refusing to say it’s illegal can be found in Mr. Greenwald’s article. Obama’s Department of Justice (DoJ) is just as politicized as Bush’s was.
The Obama administration has picked up Bush’s bad habit of invoking ‘state secrets’ and ‘national security’ for no other reason than to cover up all the illegal activities performed and condoned by the government, delusionally trying to say that courts can’t rule on the spying program. Despite Bush’s best efforts, the U.S. technically has a president, not a dictator, whose power is supposed to be checked by Congress and the courts.
The abuses of power aren’t being checked because Congress and certain Federal courts — especially the highly-politicized U.S. Supreme Court that has one Judge telling everyone the U.S. Constitution is dead — continue condoning and abetting Bush’s crimes that have continued under the new administration. Implicating the Bush administration would implicate those who have helped Bush commit his crimes.
Even though they’re out of office, the Bush administration — with the help of Congressional leadership — is still sabotaging parts of the world. The Federal Government’s (Obama, Holder, Feinstein, etc.) refusal to abide by the law and hold the Bush administration accountable for their treasonous acts committed against America makes them accessories to Bush’s crimes. An investigation into Bush’s abuses before, during and after the attacks of 9/11 would blow the lid off of Washington. It’s time to take out the trash and restore the rule of law in this country and it’s time for Obama to listen to the people who elected him.