Tag Archives: National Security Agency

You SLAY me, Barack!

At a time when the “Democratic” White House administration and the “Democratic” Party believe that the Bill of Rights are negotiable, the Million Mask March comes not a day too late.

So it can come as no surprise to learn that President Barack Obama — winner of the Nobel Peace Prize — reportedly bragged that with the use of killer drones, he has become “really good at killing people.”

This news comes after I just watched Jeremy Scahill’s important documentary “Dirty Wars” on Netflix.

In the documentary, Scahill (among many other things) points out how far the United States of America has fallen that its president can act as judge, jury and executioner and order the assassination of even American citizens. Indeed, the killer drones that Obama brags so much about have snuffed out at least two U.S. citizens.*

This is, to put it mildly, not the “hope” and “change” that I voted for in November 2008.

Once we make it acceptable for the president of the United States of America to target certain U.S. citizens as “terrorists” ripe for unilateral, extrajudicial assassination, what’s to stop a president’s mere political opponents from being branded as “terrorists,” as “enemies of the state” who “must” be eliminated?

Americans’ collective deafening silence on the blatantly illegal, immoral, unethical and unconstitutional presidential (or other governmental) use of killer drones only pushes us further toward that scenario.

For his cowardly, illegal, and yes, evil, use of killer drones alone I could not cast a second vote for Barack Hussein Obama in November 2012.

Americans also haven’t made nearly enough noise about the mind-blowing abuses of the National Security Agency and other eavesdropping branches of government, who shit and piss all over the U.S. Constitution and its guarantees, especially the Fourth Amendment’s establishment of “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” which “shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth Amendment’s guarantees are not negotiable, yet both parties of our broken, insanely unrepresentative, pro-corporate duopolistic system say that the law of the land is whatever they say it is — just as they say that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee that a U.S. citizen will not be executed without first having had a fair trial is negotiable.

(The Sixth Amendment reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”)

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t belong just to the “tea-party” fucktards. It belongs to all of us Americans, and its protections stem from historical gross abuses of power by those who hold such power — abuses of power that always have been foreseeable, and that thus have been proscribed in the document that is the supreme law of the land, of which no person is above.

Therefore, to point out that something or someone blatantly and unacceptably violates the U.S. Constitution doesn’t make one a crackpot. It makes one a patriot.

And one who calls him- or herself a “Democrat” yet makes excuses for such unconstitutional — and thus treasonous — actions by Barack Obama is not a patriot, but is a worthless fucking party hack, no better than the party hacks on the right who have made all kinds of excuses for the treasonous, anti-constitutional actions by the unelected Bush-Cheney regime.

Barack Obama not only is good at killing people, but he’s been great at killing his party.

After having watched Obama follow up his ubiquitous, relentless promises of “hope” and “change” only by using the U.S. Constitution as his own personal toilet paper — and after having watched the likes of right-wing millionaire “Democratic” U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein call brave, patriotic whistle-blower Edward Snowden a “traitor” when she, in fact, is the fucking Constitution-trampling traitor — I am done with the “Democratic” Party. And I’m not alone.

I hope that tomorrow’s Million Mask March goes well, and that it spawns many more public demonstrations against the treasonous elite in D.C. who long ago forgot who serves whom.

I have the feeling that it won’t be long before I am donning a mask of my own and taking it to the streets.

It’s long past time to burn it all down and start over again.

*Don’t get me wrong. It’s not only a crime only when it’s committed against a U.S. citizen. The U.S. government, as Scahill and others have pointed out, is perpetrating war crimes against people abroad on pretty much a daily basis — war crimes that guarantee that we’ll always have a fresh supply of “terrorists” so that those who treasonously profiteer from keeping us “safe” from the “terrorists” that they treasonously create will have a steady income of our tax dollars.

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HELP MEEE!!! I’m DROWNING in all of this FREEDOM!

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters as he arrives for a national assembly in Caracas

NSA whistleblower Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters images

To smug Americans for whom freedom is only a word and for whom “freedom” is defined by our corporate and plutocratic overlords, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and American patriot Edward Snowden are easy targets to bash in order to feel better about their small, pathetic selves, so should Venezuela take Snowden in, predictably, the hypocritical rhetoric about how “free” and “good” the United States is and how “unfree” and “bad” Venezuela is will freely flow.

My best guess is that “Public Enemy Number One” Edward Snowden will end up in Venezuela, which, predictably, is going to result in a maelstrom of even more Venezuela bashing here in the United States. (The government of Venezuela, you see, has the audacity to govern the nation as a sovereign nation and not as a satellite of the United States, as a “good” nation “should.”)

Even so-called members of the so-called U.S. left wing mindlessly engage in Venezuela bashing, as though the United States — with its stolen presidential elections, its bloated-beyond-belief military-corporate complex and its bogus wars, its killer drones and its extralegal executions, its Abu Ghraib House of Horrors (and other acts of torture and crimes against humanity), its ridiculous income gap between the rich and the poor, its right-wing Supreme Court that routinely rules against the people and for the plutocrats (gay marriage doesn’t harm anyone’s profits, you see), its bought-and-paid-for-by-the-corporations Congress, and its government’s gargantuan electronic storage of the records of much or most or even almost all of our phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and even our snail mail — were the paragon of a truly free and open nation.

Salon.com, for instance, in “seriously” examining Edward Snowden’s options for political asylum, helpfully notes that on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most free and 7 being the least free, Venezuela ranks only a 5, according to some organization called Freedom House, which conveniently gives the United States a 1 for freedom.

Wow. Especially after I just learned that apparently all of the snail mail that I receive is photographed* and the images of my snail mail are stored by the federal government (along with my phone-call records, e-mails, Internet activity, etc.), I, for one, don’t feel that the U.S. is No. 1 in terms of freedom. (In Freedom House’s defense, maybe they gave the U.S. a 1 for freedom before NSAgate broke, but I am confident that they’d still give the U.S. a 1, regardless.)

I wonder if Salon.com’s writer even bothered to look up Freedom House on Wikipedia, for fuck’s sake. Wikipedia notes of Freedom House (all emphases are mine):

Freedom House is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. Freedom House was founded in October 1941, and Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons. It describes itself as a “clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world.”

The organization’s annual Freedom in the World report, which assesses each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policy-makers. Freedom of the Press and Freedom of the Net, which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports.

As of 2010, grants awarded from the U.S. government accounted for most of Freedom House’s funding; the grants were not earmarked by the government but allocated through a competitive process. Freedom House is widely regarded as a reliable source. Nonetheless, some critics have accused Freedom House’s reports of bias or of promoting U.S. government interests abroad.

Well, yeah. Duh. If the U.S. government is funding you, could you give the U.S. government anything but the highest mark possible? I mean, who is going to pay for a report that is unflattering?

That and we need to define “freedom” and truly examine how much freedom a nation’s citizens actually have.

Freedom of the press, for instance — sure, Americans at least in theory have freedom of the press, but unless you are very wealthy, how can you possibly even remotely compete with the corporate media machine, which pumps out pro-corporate and pro-plutocratic and pro-status-quo messages relentlessly? Sure, at least in theory, you can say whatever you want — but who will ever hear you?

Democracy, too — sure, in theory you could run for political office, even for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate or even for U.S. president, but, regardless of how bright and talented you are, how successful are you actually going to be in your quest for political office without a shitload of money?

About half of the members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are millionaires. The median net worth of the typical American household, by comparison, is not even $70K. (And if you think that the Democrats are on your side, know that the typical Democrat in Congress is even richer than is the typical Repugnican. Really, you’re so fucked. We’re so fucked.)

So — can the average American really run for political office? Or, like freedom of speech is, is it a rich person’s game? Are hundreds of millionaires in D.C. truly representative of the average American’s interests?

What we have in the United States is the veneer of freedom. “Freedom” is defined for us by the plutocrats, and so therefore in the U.S., “freedom” is pretty much synonymous with “capitalism.” We Americans are free (if we have the money) to buy shit that we don’t need. We are free to go into debt (if the all-powerful credit-reporting agencies deem us worthy enough) in order to buy shit that we don’t need. We are free to pick a wage-slave job (McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, etc.). We are free to go to college in order to be in student-loan debt for life while there aren’t any jobs for which we can even use our college degrees for which we can’t afford to pay. We are free to be inundated with corporately produced propaganda telling us how “free” we are, and we are free to vote for pro-corporate candidates, at least around half of whom are millionaires.

So much fucking freedom!

It’s a fucking joke to hear and read Americans boasting about how free and wonderful the United States of America is when there are mountain ranges of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t maintain that other, Latin American nations that even a supposedly left-wing website like Salon.com has bashed recently, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, are perfect nations, are Utopias, but so smug are we Americans, the planet’s biggest fucking assholes, that we apparently are completely oblivious to our own glaringly obvious flaws while we (even those of us who call ourselves “liberals” or “progressives” or the like) gleefully bash other nations as supposedly being less free than we are (“free” according to our plutocratic overlords, of course).

Sick fucking shit.

Venezuela is looking pretty fucking good to me right about now.

P.S. In case you are wondering, on the so-called Freedom House’s “freedom scale” of 1 to 7, I’d give the U.S. a rating of 3.5, maybe 3.0, at best. And from what I know of Venezuela, I’d give it no worse a rating than the U.S.

*We’re “assured” that our snail mail isn’t ever actually opened without a court order allowing it, but that only the outside of our snail mail is photographed. I, however, don’t trust “my” government at all. Human beings tend to abuse their power whenever and wherever they can get away with doing so, and Edward Snowden’s biggest “crime” is exposing such ubiquitous abuse of power here in the land of the so-called “free.”

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Why the NSA? Look to Brazil right now

Associated Press photo

Increasingly, a faceful of pepper spray is how the plutocrats (via their thugs, of course) respond to commoners who dare to demand better conditions. Commoners are told that if they — we — want substantial change, we have to use the system that already has proven itself to be ineffective in meeting our needs and to be unwilling to change in any significant way. This young Brazilian woman is attacked by one of the plutocrats’ thugs during a massive protest in Rio de Janeiro this week. (What, she doesn’t look like a seriously dangerous person to you?)

Take a look at what’s happening in Brazil right now and you’ll see what the primary purpose of the National Security Agency and the rest of the U.S. domestic surveillance infrastructure is: It’s to control us chickens in the case of a significant chicken revolution — and to keep the minority of Colonels Sanders safe from us majority chickens.

It’s great to see Brazil explode, great to see the people of Brazil reject the plutocrats’ shiny, new sports stadiums while so many Brazilians go without. I love news images like this:

A demonstrator holds a Brazilian flag in front of a burning barricade during a protest in Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Protesters, one holding a Brazilian flag,  burn trash to block a street near the sate legislative assembly building during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013.  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013.  Officers in Rio fired tear gas and rubber bullets when a group of protesters invaded the state legislative assembly and threw rocks and flares at police. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Protestors are reflected on the glass of a building, left, as they march in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013.  Protests in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities, set off by a 10-cent hike in public transport fares, have clearly moved beyond that issue to tap into widespread frustration in Brazil about a heavy tax burden, politicians widely viewed as corrupt and woeful public education, health and transport systems and come as the nation hosts the Confederations Cup soccer tournament and prepares for next month's papal visit. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Protesters try to invade the state assembly during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013. Officers in Rio fired tear gas and rubber bullets when a group of protesters invaded the state legislative assembly and threw rocks and flares at police. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month. (AP Photo/Nicolas Tanner)

Associated Press images

Those images, also taken in Rio de Janeiro this week, are vibrant images of democracy, of freedom struggling to be born. The plutocrats — of course — tell us, no, these young people are criminals, when it’s the plundering plutocrats who are the criminals, the traitors, the enemy, and who cause far more damage to nations and to the world than do those who struggle for a better world.

Not dissimilarly to the sociopoliticoeconomic dynamic in Brazil, while the government of the United States of America squanders our tax dollars on such unnecessary things as a bloated-bey0nd-belief military (including, of course, our bogus wars) and a blatantly anti-constitutional vast domestic spying apparatus (to be clear, it’s as wrong to spy on the peoples of other nations as it is wrong to spy on Americans), “our” government tells us, the people, that our government just cannot afford us.

The plutocrats continue to get only richer, regardless of what the nation’s economy is doing, while the rest of us are told that we have to accept “austerity” measures. Curious, isn’t that?

Such grievous injustice inherently is sociopolitically unstable — thus, we have the vast spying infrastructure to give our plutocratic overlords the heads up should the chickens rise up and come for them.

Will it work?

I’m thinking that it won’t.

Once the government that stopped representing the actual interests of we, the people, long ago, actually starts to maim and kill everyday Americans who have risen up to protest, all hell will break loose.

You will see Americans who never have joined together before — such as those of us on the actual left (and not Barack Obama’s and the Obamabots’ “left”) and the right-leaning-but-also-civil-liberties-loving libertarians — joining together, even if only uneasily and even if only temporarily, to take back our government. Those in the middle will have to pick a side, as those in the middle had to do during the American Revolution.

How out of touch are our elitist overlords?

They assure us that the NSA prevented a “terrorist” attack upon the treasonous, thieving weasels of Wall Street — as though we commoners are going to be thrilled to hear that the precious asses of the millionaires and billionaires of Wall Street, who robbed us fucking blind, have been kept safe through the use of our tax dollars — so that they can continue to rob us fucking blind.

That’s some continuing fucked-up shit, to continue to try to push off on to the American people the blatant propaganda that what’s good for the plutocrats actually is good for us commoners.

What’s good for the plutocrats of course is not good for the rest of us, and if — when — the sleeping giant awakens, the NSA won’t be enough to save the Colonels Sanders from the legions of chickens who finally have had far more than enough.

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Two ways you can help patriot Edward Snowden right now

Updated below

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from a video during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters image

Repugnican Tea Party Speaker of the House John Boehner has called 29-year-old National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden (pictured above) a “traitor.”

This is not all that surprising, coming from an alcoholic fascist like Boehner, whose treasonous, far-right-wing party’s only wish is to preserve the status quo. (Actually, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors want to take us back to the Dark Ages, but, at the minimum, they want to keep us trapped where we are; they seek to block all progress in the United States of America, and to a large degree, they succeed.)

Edward Snowden is a defender of the U.S. Constitution — specifically, Americans’ Fourth-Amendment right to privacy.

But in the down-the-rabbit-hole United States of America, where freedom and democracy died long, long ago, the actually treasonous criminals are let off scot-fucking-free while those who report the treasonous criminals’ criminal and treasonous activity, like Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, are made into the “criminals.” They’re called by the hypocritically treasonous powers that be “traitors,” even.

(If Snowden is a “traitor,” gee, maybe he’s a “terrorist,” too! Maybe there’s a killer drone hunting him down as I type this sentence!)

Today, the power-mad, democracy-hating, Constitution-violating traitors in Washington go after patriots like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. (I’d call Julian Assange a patriot, but he’s Australian… Still, he’s a lover of actual freedom and actual democracy and he rejects the faux freedom and the faux democracy that the plutocrats and their servants in D.C. claim are the real thing.)

Tomorrow, the fascists in D.C. come for the rest of us.

There are two simple things that you can do right now to help Edward Snowden:

  • One, you can contribute to his legal defense fund, which the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has set up. You can do that here. (If you decide to donate to Snowden’s legal defense fund via the PCCC, be sure to donate to the “PCCC Strategic Fund” that is shown on the webpage.) I’ve given $10 to Snowden’s legal defense fund and I probably will give more.
  • Two, you can sign the petition on the White House’s website to encourage President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden. The petition is available here. (You’ll have to register with the website if you’re not already registered; registration is simple.) When I signed the petition this morning, almost half of the necessary 100,000 signatures necessary for the White House to consider the petition had been collected.

And use your sphere of influence, of course.

Doing these things is better that doing nothing. They’re something.

We need to alter the sociopolitical environment that even makes it possible for an actually treasonous fascist like John Boehner to call a courageous patriot like Edward Snowden a “traitor.”

P.S. I have to note that it’s pretty fucking stupid for the Repugnican Tea Party, which is hurting among youthful voters, to attack the 29-year-old Snowden like this.

I don’t expect the Obama administration, which has depended upon youthful voters, to attack Snowden nearly as viciously, but it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration decides to proceed with Snowden.

Update: To be fair and balanced, I will point you to this Associated Press news story that I just read in which “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has referred to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing as “an act of treason.”

Oh, sure, the right-wing Feinstein is the chair of the Senate “intelligence” committee, but she’s also a millionaire, one of the plutocrats who benefit from the unconstitutional vast spying upon Americans.

Feinstein also voted for the Vietraq War — from which her husband, Richard Blum, a war profiteer, just happened to make millions of dollars.

With “friends” like these, who needs the fucking Repugnicans?

(If memory serves, I voted for the fascistic Feinstein in 2000, being new to California and not knowing any better; however, I didn’t vote for her in 2006 or in 2012, and I never would cast a vote for her again. She’s one of the many examples one could point to in order to demonstrate that the average American’s interests are not represented in D.C. )

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WHOSE security?

Despite President Hopey-Changey’s promises that the vast amount of data that is collected on us Americans — on our dime, of course — never would be used for nefarious purposes, I’m as confident of that as I am that killer drones never would be used on American soil on American citizens who have been branded by the powers that be as “terrorists” simply because they disagree with whichever right-wing (Repugnican Tea Party) or center-right-wing (“Democratic” Party) regime that’s in charge of the show.

Not to try to outdo Alex Jones, but I just don’t buy that the National Security Agency’s Job No. 1 actually is to protect Americans from actual terrorist attacks.

Oh, sure, if there were another 9/11-like terrorist attack, that would be embarrassing to the powers that be who claim that they’re so damned consumed about keeping all of us safe, but would they really care that some anonymous American commoners got snuffed out?

Of course not.

As long at their precious plutocratic asses are safe. That’s all that matters to them.

No, the NSA exists, I’m confident, primarily to sound the alarm for the plutocrats should the worst-case scenario ever actually arise: The American people actually rising up to overthrow their plutocratic overlords who have kept them — us — in politicosocioeconomic bondage for ages.

And the kicker is, as I mentioned, that we spied-upon-by-the-wolves sheeple are the ones who are paying for the whole “security” system that in all probability actually is meant to keep the plutocrats safe from us. (After all, we do have them vastly outnumbered.)

Perhaps the NSA’s greatest triumph is not in keeping us commoners safe, but in inducing us commoners to believe that the NSA actually works for us.

This Associated Press story on the NSA from today, for example, contains not a whiff of a hint that it might not be entirely true that the NSA exists entirely to protect American commoners from harm and that it does not at all exist, not even at least in part, to protect the plutocrats from the masses, should the masses ever actually rise up:

Washington — An email, a telephone call or even the murmur of a conversation captured by the vibration of a window — they’re all part of the data that can be swept up by the sophisticated machinery of the National Security Agency.

Its job is to use the world’s most cutting edge supercomputers and arguably the largest database storage sites to crunch and sift through immense amounts of data. The information analyzed might be stolen from a foreign official’s laptop by a Central Intelligence Agency officer overseas, intercepted by a Navy spy plane flying off the Chinese coast, or, as Americans found out this past week, gathered from U.S. phone records.

Code-breakers at the Fort Meade, Md.-based NSA use software to search for keywords in the emails or patterns in the phone numbers that might link known terrorist targets with possible new suspects. They farm out that information to the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and to law enforcement, depending on who has the right to access which type of information, acting as gatekeeper, and they say, guardian of the nation’s civil liberties as well as its security.

The super-secret agency is under the spotlight after last week’s revelations of two surveillance programs. One involves the sweeping collection of hundreds of millions of phone records of U.S. customers. The second collects the audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas — and probably some Americans in the process — who use major Internet companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Yahoo.

NSA was founded in 1952. Only years later was the NSA publicly acknowledged, which explains its nickname, “No Such Agency.”

According to its website, NSA is not allowed to spy on Americans. It is supposed to use its formidable technology to “gather information that America’s adversaries wish to keep secret,” and to “protect America’s vital national security information and systems from theft or damage by others,” as well as enabling “network warfare, a military operation,” that includes offensive cyberoperations against U.S. adversaries.

The agency also includes the Central Security Service, the military arm of code-breakers who work jointly with the agency. The two services have their headquarters on a compound that’s technically part of Fort Meade, though it’s slightly set apart from the 5,000-acre Army base.

Visible from a main highway, the tightly guarded compound requires the highest of clearances to enter and is equipped with electronic means to ward off an attack by hackers.

Other NSA facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii duplicate much of the headquarters’ brain and computer power in case a terrorist attack takes out the main location, though each one focuses on a different part of the globe.

A new million-square-foot storage facility in Salt Lake City will give the agency untold additional capacity to store the massive amounts of data it collects, as well as adding to its analytical capability.

“NSA is the elephant of the U.S. intelligence community, the biggest organization by far with the most capability and (literally) the most memory,” said former senior CIA official Bruce Riedel, who now runs the Brookings Intelligence Project. …

NSA workers are notoriously secretive. They’re known for keeping their families in the dark about what they do, including their hunt for terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. NSA code-breakers were an essential part of the team that tracked down bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan in 2011.

Their mission tracking al-Qaida and related terrorist groups continues, with NSA analysts and operators sent out to every conflict zone and overseas U.S. post, in addition to surveillance and analysis conducted at headquarters outside Washington.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in a statement [yesterday] that the NSA’s programs do not target U.S. citizens. But last week’s revelations show that the NSA is allowed to gather U.S. phone calls and emails and to sift through them for information leading to terrorist suspects, as long as a judge signs off. Lawmakers are questioning the scope of the information gathered, and how long and how much of it is kept.

“Does that data all have to be held by the government?” asked Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

King, a Maine independent, was briefed on the program this past week, but would not discuss how long the government holds on to the phone records. “I don’t think there is evidence of abuse, but I think the program can be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans,” he said. …

“Through software, you can search for key words and key phrases linking a communication to a particular group or individual that would fire it off to individual agencies that have interest in it,” just like Amazon or Google scans millions of emails and purchases to track consumer preferences, explained Ronald Marks, a former CIA official and author of Spying in America in the Post 9/11 World.

Detailed algorithms try to determine whether something is U.S. citizen-related or not. “It shows analysts, ‘We’ve got a U.S. citizen here, so we’ve got to be careful with it,'” he said.

Another way counterterrorist officials try to protect U.S. citizens is through centers where operators from the military, CIA, NSA, FBI, Treasury and others sit side by side. When one comes across information that his or her agency is not supposed to access, it’s turned over to someone in the center who’s authorized to see it.

But the process isn’t perfect, and sometimes what should be private information reaches agencies not authorized to see it.

“When information gets sent to the CIA that shouldn’t, it gets destroyed, and a note sent back to NSA saying, ‘You shouldn’t have sent that,'” Marks said. “Mistakes get made, but my own experience on the inside of it is, they tend to be really careful about it.” …

I’m lovin’ those last several paragraphs. We commoners are just supposed to trust that the vast governmental spying that is perpetrated upon us never would be used against us by power-mad individuals who know fully well that information is power, and thus they’re doing their damnedest to gather as much information about us as is possible while they’re telling us that they themselves can’t give us any specific information about their information gathering that they are perpetrating upon us — and that all of this is for our own good. Trust us!

“I don’t think there is evidence of abuse, but I think the program can be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans,” Sen. Angus King proclaimed.

Of course there wouldn’t be any evidence of abuse by the NSA or any of its subsidiaries. Because of the uber-secretive nature of these organizations, any such evidence never would be made available to anyone on the outside, would it?

And that’s what we are going to be promised in the wake of NSAgate, of course: That, to use King’s words, the “program [will] be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans.”

Quite predictably, we will be told by the powers that be, including, of course, President Hopey-Changey and his cronies: Shut up and run along now, you silly, paranoid commoners! Trust us! We’ll fix any problems — although, of course, we can’t share any information about that with you! For your own security!

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