NSA Monitored All Communications
Thursday, January 22, 2009
On January 21, former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice appeared Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show. Tice, who helped expose the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, told Olbermann government programs designed to spy on the American people are more extensive and far reaching than previously admitted. “The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications — faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications,” Tice said. “It didn’t matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.”
During the Bush administration, it was claimed the intercepts involved foreign communications and the intelligence gathered was integral to the conduct of the so-called global war on terrorism. In order to get around the warrant requirements of FISA, a bill authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against those supposedly responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001, was passed (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists). The authorization granted Bush the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or those who harbored said persons or groups. AUMF allowed the Bush administration to avoid FISA and Wiretap Act restrictions.
But according to Tice, the NSA program was not limited to alleged al-Qaeda members, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed at the time, but included “news organizations and reporters and journalists” in the United States. The data “was digitized and put on databases somewhere.” It was not simply journalists, however, the NSA spied on and likely continues to spy now.
“Spying on Americans by the super-secret National Security Agency is not only more widespread than President George W. Bush admits but is part of a concentrated, government-wide effort to gather and catalog information on U.S. citizens, sources close to the administration say,” Doug Thompson wrote for Capitol Hill Blue on December 27, 2005. “Besides the NSA, the Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and dozens of private contractors are spying on millions of Americans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
According to Thompson and his sources in the government, the “Pentagon has built a massive database of Americans it considers threats, including members of antiwar groups, peace activists and writers opposed to the war in Iraq.” In response to publicity, the Pentagon claimed it was “reviewing the files” to determine if the information was necessary to the conduct of the putative war on terrorism. “Given the military’s legacy of privacy abuses, such vague assurances are cold comfort,” Gene Healy of the CATO Institute told Thompson. “There’s a long and troubling history of military surveillance in this country,” added Healy. “That history suggests that we should loathe allowing the Pentagon access to our personal information.”
In addition to spying by the NSA and the Pentagon, documents released in 2006 revealed the FBI and its Joint Terrorism Task Force monitored and infiltrated several nonviolent activist groups. “Labeling law abiding groups and their members ‘domestic terrorists’ is not only irresponsible, it has a chilling effect on the vibrant tradition of political dissent in this country,” Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU, said at the time.
According to a Washington Post report, the NSA has turned over information to the Defense Intelligence Agency, FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security.
Although the NSA monitors all communications — faxes, phone calls, and computer communications — it is impossible to collect all of this data, according to Tice. “What was done was sort of an ability to look at the metadata … and ferret that information to determine what communications would ultimately be collected,” he told Olbermann.
Obviously, the NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, and the Department of Homeland Security are not interested in “every conversation I had with my little nephew in upstate New York,” as Olbermann sarcastically put it. They are primarily interested in the communications of “domestic terrorists,” or those opposed to government policies.
Well before president Truman established the NSA in 1952, government cryptologists were spying on Americans under the Armed Forces Security Agency’s Project Shamrock, a program that worked with telegraphic companies to turn over the telegraphic correspondence of Americans to the government. “The NSA kicked its spy campaign into high gear in the 1960s,” writes Earl Ofari Hutchinson. “The FBI demanded that the NSA monitor antiwar activists, civil rights leaders, and drug peddlers. The Senate Select Committee that investigated government domestic spying in 1976 pried open a tiny public window into the scope of NSA spying,” but this window was slammed shut in the name of national security. “The few feeble Congressional attempts over the years to probe NSA domestic spying have gone nowhere. Even though rumors swirled that NSA eyes were riveted on more than a few Americans, Congressional investigators showed no stomach to fight the NSA’s entrenched code of silence.”
More recently, Congress has not only “showed no stomach” when it comes to illegal and unconstitutional spying of Americans, it has worked hand-in-hand with the executive and intelligence agencies to facilitate this process. In essence, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security serve as a domestic political police force little different than the NKVD of the former Soviet Union. The domestic political police force in the United States, like the NKVD’s Special Board, is interested in “socially dangerous” people, that is to say people opposed to the government.
Unlike Stalin’s NKVD, the FBI and Homeland Security have yet to engage in a Great Purge of arrests, interrogation, torture, imprisonment, and deportation. Bush, however, through the Military Commissions Act and other draconian legislation, has set the stage for a political purge, especially if another false flag attack occurs in the United States. Executive Orders associated with FEMA stand ready to suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and round up “socially dangerous” people and send them to newly constructed KBR concentration camps.
Unfortunately, far too many people naively believe all of this will change under Barack Obama. Mr. Obama, however, is merely a figurehead and window dressing packaged for public consumption, a friendly and smiling face slapped as a deceptive cover on the secret government of the bankers. If and when push comes to shove — another manufactured terrorist attack or civil disturbances related to an economic depression — Obama will pen an executive order sending “socially dangerous” people to concentration camps.