What Do We as a People Really Fear More: Terrorism or Despotism?

“Snowden's NSA Domestic Surveillance Revelations Are Old News: So Why Are US Power Centers So Intent on Portraying The Whistleblower As a Traitor?”

The following are excerpts from the latest analysis by one of my favorite investigative journalists Bill Conroy at NarcoNews. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety here at NarcoNews:

After Verizon was exposed in the media as being a party to the NSA domestic surveillance program, the company issued a public statement denying it was sharing any phone-call data with the DoD agency.

Verizon has issued a public statement [in 2006] saying that due to the classified nature of the NSA program, “Verizon cannot and will not confirm or deny whether it has any relationship to the classified NSA program,” but that “Verizon’s wireless and wireline companies did not provide to NSA customer records or call data, local or otherwise.” [Emphasis added.]

Verizon was not the only alleged party to the NSA surveillance program that appears to have provided a less than believable statement to the public on the matter. In a January 2007 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez wrote:

A Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued orders authorizing the Government to target for collection international communications into or out of the United States where there is probable cause to believe that one of the communicants is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization. [Emphasis added.]

Again, like Verizon, the Bush administration seems to rely on semantics to obfuscate. Though the NSA surveillance program revealed by Snowden does target “international communications into or out of the United States,” that is only half the truth, since we now know the program, as was reported by the media in 2005 and 2006, also scoops up massive volumes of data involving domestic telecommunications traffic.

So, we have to wonder why the US government and the nation’s commercial media are beating the drum of treason so loud when it comes to Snowden’s disclosures, alleging they have caused devastating damage to our national security, when what Snowden revealed has been disclosed previously by the same commercial media.

One source with ties to the intelligence community told Narco News that a "team has already been dispatched" to apprehend Snowden via extraordinary rendition — the extrajudicial removal of an individual from one country for the purpose of transferring the person to another country.

“That team is now shadowing him,” the source claims.

 

That probably comes as no surprise to anyone, particularly Snowden, who faces incredible obstacles in any bid to make it to a safe-harbor country in Latin America, given all routes by air from Moscow to Latin America will take him through the airspace of the US or its allies.

Could it be that the sin Snowden committed in releasing that new evidence is that the proof is too good, that it leaves no wiggle room for weasel words, for our government and corporate leaders to mislead the public about their activities — even if they are technically legal and approved by the FISA court.

What is it that might be so damaging about such disclosures now?

Key to understanding the NSA surveillance program is the underlying reason for gathering the domestic telecommunications data in the first place. As the CRS report notes, the NSA back in 2006 was allegedly collecting data from Verizon and other telecom carriers for “‘social network analysis' to map relationships between people based on their communications.”

In essence, that means the NSA is creating a massive, clandestine social-media system for conducting surveillance. Social network analysis, in simple terms, is a highly refined version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon parlor game, which is based on the premise that any two people on the planet can be linked to the actor Kevin Bacon via six or fewer acquaintances.

Of course, the social-network mapping employed by the NSA makes use of a powerful computer infrastructure and sophisticated software that together are capable of analyzing huge quantities of data at an incredibly high speed.

And undoubtedly this data includes a mix of public-source information, such as voter-registration records (which include names, email addresses and phone numbers) and private data — such as the phone records being obtained by the NSA through the FISA warrant.

When combined, these databases can provide very precise, name-specific relationship maps that can be integrated with real-time geospatial data [already employed in the US drone program as Narco News has previously reported], so that the NSA not only knows who a person is and who they are connected to at any given time, but also where they are on the planet and where they are likely to go next.

It is, in essence, the ultimate Facebook account.

Clearly, social network mapping on the scale likely being employed by the NSA would be an invaluable tool in tracking terrorist cells seeking to operate inside the US.

But it could be used with equal ease to identify and track individuals associated with legitimate political or religious organizations and movements that some corporations or government agencies deem a threat.

From the CRS report:

Mission creep is one of the leading risks of data mining cited by civil libertarians, and represents how control over one’s information can be a tenuous proposition. Mission creep refers to the use of data for purposes other than that for which the data was originally collected. This can occur regardless of whether the data was provided voluntarily by the individual or was collected through other means.

… The potential wide reuse of data suggests that concerns about mission creep can extend beyond privacy to the protection of civil rights in the event that information is used for “targeting an individual solely on the basis of religion or expression, or using information in a way that would violate the constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination.”

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or neither, you have to consider that, if not our current president, then maybe it will be the next one who will be less-than vigilant about preventing this “mission creep.”

The implications for the people of this nation and their Constitutional rights is profound should this powerful social-network mapping be applied to areas that might compromise civil liberties — say using it to disrupt union organizing or to manipulate vote counts.

In the final analysis, when it comes to intelligence-community surveillance of the domestic population, this country could well be faced with a stark choice. What do we as a people really fear more: terrorism or despotism?

Read the entire analysis by Bill Conroy here @ NarcoNews

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Comments

  1. HAL 9000 says:

    Despotism

  2. MontanaMuleGal says:

    Manipulating vote counts? That’s been going on since computerized voting machines were first implemented, circa 2000.

    Anyone who says: “We will simply vote the bastard out of office in the next election,” has no concept of the real situation.

    For U.S. “citizens,” the act of voting is truly meaningless, because no one can be sure the votes are accurately counted; however, it’s a way for the shadow gov’t to make the “citizens” feel they are participating in a “democracy.”

    Unless, of course, if you live in Montana, where the tea-party types will tell you over and over: “We don’t live in a democracy; we live in a Republic!”

    Aaack!

  3. joetoad says:

    Snowden schnowden, He isn’t the point of anything, he is just an object to make a point with, by those sly devils that manipulate the public perceptions.

    Everybody with half a brain already knew what was up with the digital capabilities and surveillance.

    They been bugging and eavesdropping telephones, and even little spy cameras for 80 years or more, they even had the goods on the head law enforcement fairy…!

    So, the purpose is: like they do periodically, there needs to be a “human Sacrifice” like well, (don’t get me wrong for sacrilege here, but like Christ on the Cross… ) for the most best example, (and there are multitudes of this type),

    Every so often there needs to be some reemphasis, by “object lesson” to instill order, and to make it clear what’s what etc..

    ANd it is also not for nothing that the truth of all this is being displayed, because as of yesterday… most everyone is already on tape, and even the most exemplary among us, can also be easily reconstructed by faking from the data, the data can be reworked too!

    That phony puppet show they put on is only possible because of the terror of black mail held over the heads of the puppets.

    In a word “social control” from A to Z.

  4. I’ve started bringing this stuff up at the check out line. I mean, people who are hungry for this info seek it out, but many remain in the dark. Just a week ago I was asking people if they were following what was going on with Snowden, and 3 out of the four cashiers didn’t know who that was. The fourth was a lady at Walmart, who didn’t want to look too closely because she “didn’t like to get into arguments.” Anyway, might as well resist being corralled into only talking about this stuff solely on govt tracked websites that attract those already somewhat in the know, or (similarly) public speaking events. Holding up a sign in a large protest can be easily ignored or dismissed. Why not ask your next grocery store checker, home improvement contractor, or telemarketer what they think about being spied on, and then flesh it out a little. I recently called my phone service provider for some tech support, and when they asked me if I needed anything else, I asked them if they’re working with the NSA to spy on my phone calls. A lively conversation ensued. My thought for years has been if positive change is possible (I have serious doubts), it has to be on the tips of people’s tongues wherever you go. Most are too afraid to speak publicly on the issues if they even realize what’s going on, so the act of doing so becomes a kind of demonstration: demonstrating it’s okay to do so and in the process breaking out of the predictable methods of controlling our message. My thought is, no we won’t likely change minds with a single conversation, but if people hear the same info from several different sources, it may start to click. We can act as points in a growing information constellation.

  5. LarryinColumbus says:

    The scary thing about the question of which we fear more is if you ask a large cross section of Americans, they will reply Terrorism.

    Too many people who think they are smart and informed but so naive. Unfortunately, the system has been very successful programming people what is and isnt important.

    What would our world be like if Americans stopped watching TV all-together?

  6. tonywicher says:

    Like Alex Jones said, you are more likely to be hit by lightning twice than be killed by a terrorist – especially since practically all terrorism is sponsored by our own fascist government.

  7. ProudPrimate says:

    What Do We as a People Really Fear More: Terrorism or Despotism?”

    Terrorism? More people are struck by lightning. After the WTC strike in 1993, when the truck bomb was ill placed and failed to bring down the tower, Congress refused to pass a bill that violated the 4th Amendment.

    So they upped the ante. What Do We as a People Really Fear More: a real 9/11, or a FAKE 9/11, with nano-thermite, destruction of evidence, persecution of those with real evidence, &c.?

    I’ll tell you what I fear the most – a people that fall for these shabby, amateurish lies.

  8. It’s simply a way of accumulating power/wealth. Information about you is potentially both.

    Bandwidth and storage and computational power is so cheap that it now makes economic sense for them to just collect everything, index it, and have it on hand in case it can be used for blackmail, or sold to the highest bidder for purposes of industrial or military espionage.

    As long as you remain a nobody who does nothing ambitious or challenging to the power structure, you are effectively invisible. They want you to be very aware of that, so who can really say for sure if Snowden is a true leak, or an intentional psy-ops?

    Are they confident in their power, or nervous? They should be very nervous. There is always a “feature” waiting to be found and exploited. If they make a serious run at outlawing certain types of encryption, I think that’s a sign they are nervous.

  9. I just spent some time in Southern California at a friends house. His girlfriend recently became an attorney. Our conversation about privacy quickly spiraled out of a discussion into a disagreement, and I was surprised to find that someone so fresh out of law school was so eager to burn the fourth amendment in the name of security. Well, that’s the only one we discussed – I’m sure all of them would have burned just as easily. Because “we were attacked” and “people want to attack us”. That’s the trump card. I think it might be because the TV is a ubiquitous school and more powerful on the mind than any academic institution.

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