Second Life Intellectual Group Discussion Topic
I spy, and you cannot hide
from Braincrave Second Life staff
May 18, 2011
Click here to start Braincrave.com Second Life Intellectual Discussion Group via IRC - no membership requiredDiscuss this article live, right now, in chat - no membership required

Share submit to hubski
Recently Active Users  
Looking to date people who like to think? For a limited time, completed profiles get a free 6-month Gold membership! Use promotion code THINK

Former NSA employee Thomas Drake has a wife and 5 sons, one of whom has significant health problems. But, understanding the risks to him and his family, he couldn't remain silent and be complicit in enormous government violations. As a result, he has been charged with espionage for leaking government secrets to the Baltimore Sun. Like all whistle-blowers against government corruption and fraud, he is an enemy of the state. If convicted, he faces 35 years in prison.

In a country where the government openly puts cameras in school cafeterias to spy on what children are eating, what the NSA is doing might not seem like such a big deal. But there are those in the NSA who are quitting because they don't want to be accessories to subverting the Constitution. Numerous government officials know what's going on (e.g., the FISA court and the US Supreme Court have been notified formally and through "back channels" of the NSA's transgressions, the Department of Justice has been notified). Everyone in a position of power to do something about it is ignoring it. Telling the truth to congressional oversight committees is now considered "leaking." There is no one left to go to.

well at least we dont have to worry about anarchy anymore
One the one hand, the government claims that, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from surveillance. On the other hand, the government uses guns against anyone who tries to expose their secrets. They have completely turned the constitutional protection of privacy on its head. The hypocrisy never ends.

Even though the New York Times revealed in 2005 that the NSA was running a warrantless wiretapping program inside the US (after holding the story for more than a year because Bush told them not to publish it), the details of these scandals remain hidden from the public. At the time, then Senator Obama denounced the NSA program as illegal and he claimed there wouldn't be any warrantless wiretaps if he was elected. Now Obama is actively supporting warrantless wiretaps and relentlessly prosecuting whistle-blowers. My, how his views have changed.

The US government is spying on just about every electronic communication in America, including copying every email. Why? According to "the highest-ranking military intelligence officer," "We had the power." Obama is fully supporting this surveillance. Are you OK with that?
When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as "often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government." But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. The Drake case is one of two that Obama's Justice Department has carried over from the Bush years.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute, who, in his book "Necessary Secrets" (2009), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, says, "Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon."

"...I did not tell secrets. I am facing prison for having raised an alarm, period. I went to a reporter with a few key things: fraud, waste, and abuse, and the fact that there were legal alternatives to the Bush Administration's ‘dark side' "—in particular, warrantless domestic spying by the N.S.A...

Jack Balkin, a liberal law professor at Yale, agrees that the increase in leak prosecutions is part of a larger transformation. "We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state," he says. In his view, zealous leak prosecutions are consonant with other political shifts since 9/11: the emergence of a vast new security bureaucracy, in which at least two and a half million people hold confidential, secret, or top-secret clearances; huge expenditures on electronic monitoring, along with a reinterpretation of the law in order to sanction it; and corporate partnerships with the government that have transformed the counterterrorism industry into a powerful lobbying force. Obama, Balkin says, has "systematically adopted policies consistent with the second term of the Bush Administration."

...Even in an age in which computerized feats are commonplace, the N.S.A.'s capabilities are breathtaking. The agency reportedly has the capacity to intercept and download, every six hours, electronic communications equivalent to the contents of the Library of Congress. Three times the size of the C.I.A., and with a third of the U.S.'s entire intelligence budget, the N.S.A. has a five-thousand-acre campus at Fort Meade protected by iris scanners and facial-recognition devices. The electric bill there is said to surpass seventy million dollars a year...

[Crypto-mathematician Bill] Binney expressed terrible remorse over the way some of his algorithms were used after 9/11. ThinThread, the "little program" that he invented to track enemies outside the U.S., "got twisted," and was used for both foreign and domestic spying: "I should apologize to the American people. It's violated everyone's rights. It can be used to eavesdrop on the whole world." According to Binney, Drake took his side against the N.S.A.'s management and, as a result, became a political target within the agency...

In the weeks after the attacks, rumors began circulating inside the N.S.A. that the agency, with the approval of the Bush White House, was violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—the 1978 law, known as FISA, that bars domestic surveillance without a warrant. Years later, the rumors were proved correct. In nearly total secrecy, and under pressure from the White House, Hayden sanctioned warrantless domestic surveillance. The new policy, which lawyers in the Justice Department justified by citing President Bush's executive authority as Commander-in-Chief, contravened a century of constitutional case law. Yet, on October 4, 2001, Bush authorized the policy, and it became operational by October 6th. Bamford, in "The Shadow Factory," suggests that Hayden, having been overcautious about privacy before 9/11, swung to the opposite extreme after the attacks...

Drake recalled that, after the October 4th directive, "strange things were happening. Equipment was being moved. People were coming to me and saying, ‘We're now targeting our own country!' " Drake says that N.S.A. officials who helped the agency obtain FISA warrants were suddenly reassigned, a tipoff that the conventional process was being circumvented. He added, "I was concerned that it was illegal, and none of it was necessary." In his view, domestic data mining "could have been done legally" if the N.S.A. had maintained privacy protections. "But they didn't want an accountable system."

...Few people have a precise knowledge of the size or scope of the N.S.A.'s domestic-surveillance powers. An agency spokesman declined to comment on how the agency "performs its mission," but said that its activities are constitutional and subject to "comprehensive and rigorous" oversight. But Susan Landau, a former engineer at Sun Microsystems, and the author of a new book, "Surveillance or Security?," notes that, in 2003, the government placed equipment capable of copying electronic communications at locations across America. These installations were made, she says, at "switching offices" that not only connect foreign and domestic communications but also handle purely domestic traffic. As a result, she surmises, the U.S. now has the capability to monitor domestic traffic on a huge scale. "Why was it done this way?" she asks. "One can come up with all sorts of nefarious reasons, but one doesn't want to think that way about our government."

Binney, for his part, believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the N.S.A. has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and Utah. Binney says that an N.S.A. e-mail database can be searched with "dictionary selection," in the manner of Google. After 9/11, he says, "General Hayden reassured everyone that the N.S.A. didn't put out dragnets, and that was true. It had no need—it was getting every fish in the sea."

Binney considers himself a conservative, and, as an opponent of big government, he worries that the N.S.A.'s data-mining program is so extensive that it could help "create an Orwellian state." Whereas wiretap surveillance requires trained human operators, data mining is automated, meaning that the entire country can be watched. Conceivably, U.S. officials could "monitor the Tea Party, or reporters, whatever group or organization you want to target," he says. "It's exactly what the Founding Fathers never wanted."

...Few people are more disturbed about Drake's prosecution than the others who spoke out against the N.S.A. surveillance program. In 2008, Thomas Tamm, a Justice Department lawyer, revealed that he was one of the people who leaked to the Times. He says of Obama, "It's so disappointing from someone who was a constitutional-law professor, and who made all those campaign promises."
The Secret Sharer. Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state?


DISCUSS!


The Braincrave.com discussion group on Second Life is 500 lindens to join and has open enrollment. We are a community of men and women who seek beauty and stimulation through our minds. We find ideas, education, and self-improvement sexy. We think intelligence is hot. But Braincrave.com is more than brains and I.Q. alone. We are curious. We have common sense. We value and offer wisdom. We experiment. We have great imaginations. We devour literacy. We are intellectually honest. We support and encourage each other to be better. Braincrave.com intellectual group discussions in Second Life are typically held at 12:00 PM SLT (PST) and 7:00 PM SLT. The discussions take place in Second Life group chat so you must be a member of the Second Life group to participate or you can participate as a non-member through our IRC link.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work, excluding any content linked via another source/website, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given and references the URL: http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=557.

Click here to start Braincrave.com Second Life Intellectual Discussion Group via IRC - no membership requiredDiscuss this article live, right now, in chat

LIKED THIS ARTICLE?
E-mail and tell them so! And also make sure to Bookmark and Share it!

Views: 3265    Sanctions: 0  (based on 0 awards)     Next Article
Advertisement: