TABACCO: You already knew the Government could track you via your Credit Cards and that chip in every Cell phone sold in America. You know about those Helicopters that follow criminal suspects in runaway autos. In Big Cities there are Video Cameras everywhere. Any police car can check your criminal history, if any, upon request. You cannot fly anywhere without constant snooping into your private life and your baggage. Any website you visit may sell your likes and dislikes to any Vendor. Do you trust your bank not to give away your financial secrets to the Fed and other Businesses? When you see a product on TV and call that telephone number to buy it, they already know who you are, where you live, how and if you pay your Bills, and your Credit Standing. Chances are extremely good they know who is in your bed at that moment. They know what you eat, drink, and medicate with, how you travel and how often, your political profile, your religious affiliations and whether or not you’re an Atheist, your clubs, your philanthropies, your investments, where you work, your medical history, whether you like your martinis shaken or stirred, whether or not you are on Welfare, where you have traveled and when, if you have filed Bankruptcy, whether you own or rent, your license plate number, whether you have outstanding warrants or tickets, how many times you have been married, how many children you have, whether you are straight or gay and – did I leave anything out?
If you only knew how many times you have been cross-referenced and by whom, it would make your head swim. So a few more Databases invading your privacy may seem unimportant to you – but not to me!
A lone individual, who has no contacts, who uses public transportation, has no phone, computer or credit card, may still be able to assassinate an American President, but no Conspiracy or Clique could overthrow him – not in the 21st century.
They know who you are, and they know how you think!
As you read this Post, I think it might be apropos if you listened repeatedly to Kate Smith singing a “new song” ‘God Bless America’ on YouTube (softly in the background as you read this – the volume control at bottom of video can be adjusted); and I hope the Irony, Hypocrisy and blatant flag-waving Propaganda doesn’t kill you!
Oh yes, you will see Ronald Reagan ?acting? in the film in which Kate sang this song. If we didn’t live in America, we would probably believe the lyrics. Yes, America has always been self-congratulatory and hypocritical; only today it’s much worse.
Google ‘1984 orwell’ to source Search above!
U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program
By , 10:51 AM E-mail the writer
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program
The National Security Agency, nicknamed such for years, is the U.S. government’s eavesdropper-in-chief.
What has the government been doing? Is it legal? Does it mean some bureaucrat somewhere has heard all your phone calls? Read on to find out.
The National Security Agency secretly collected phone records of millions of Verizon customers.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
London’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, PRISM would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required in Britain to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an Internet company based outside of the country.
PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.
Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing data collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.
The court-approved program is focused on foreign communications traffic, which often flows through U.S. servers even when sent from one overseas location to another. Between 2004 and 2007, Bush administration lawyers persuaded federal FISA judges to issue surveillance orders in a fundamentally new form. Until then the government had to show probable cause that a particular “target” and “facility” were both connected to terrorism or espionage.
In four new orders, which remain classified, the court defined massive data sets as “facilities” and agreed to certify periodically that the government had reasonable procedures in place to minimize collection of “U.S. persons” data without a warrant.
In a statement issue late Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said, “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”
To read the rest of this Post, click on URL below:
Monday, June 10, 2013
“You’re Being Watched”: Edward Snowden Emerges as Source Behind Explosive Revelations of NSA Spying
Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has come forward as the whistleblower behind the explosive revelations about the National Security Agency and the U.S. surveillance state. Three weeks ago the 29-year-old left his job inside the NSA’s office in Hawaii where he worked for the private intelligence firm Booz Allen Hamilton. Today he is in Hong Kong — not sure if he will ever see his home again. In a video interview with The Guardian of London, Snowden says he exposed top-secret NSA surveillance programs to alert Americans of expansive government spying on innocents. “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded,” Snowden says. “And the storage capability of these systems increases every year, consistently, by orders of magnitude, to where it’s getting to the point you don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer. … The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMYGOODMAN: We turn now to the man who blew the whistle on the National Security Agency and the expanding U.S. surveillance state. On Sunday, The Guardian newspaper revealed the source of its explosive series on the NSA to be a 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant named Edward Snowden. For the past four years, Snowden has been working at the NSA as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen Hamilton and Dell. Most recently, he was working at the NSA office in Hawaii. On May 20th, he boarded a plane bound for Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since.
Since Wednesday, The Guardian has published a series of articles based on information provided by Snowden. First The Guardian revealed the National Security Agency is collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a secret court order issued in April. Then The Guardian revealed the existence of a top-secret program codenamed PRISM, where the NSA obtained access to the central servers of nine major Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo! and Facebook. Then, on Friday, The Guardian exposed how President had ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for U.S. cyber-attacks.
And then The Guardian revealed details about an NSA data-mining tool called Boundless Informant that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks. A top-secret NSA “global heat map” shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide. The NSA most frequently targeted Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt and India. The Boundless Informant documents also showed the agency collected almost three billion pieces of intelligence from U.S. computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March of 2013.
In a few minutes, we’ll be joined by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who has written these exposés, but first let’s turn to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in his own words. He recently sat down with Glenn Greenwald to talk about why he leaked the documents and why he is revealing his identity. The interview was filmed by Laura Poitras. It was filmed in Hong Kong. It was posted on the Guardian website on Sunday.
EDWARDSNOWDEN: My name’s Ed Snowden. I am 29 years old. I work for Booz Allen Hamilton as an infrastructure analyst for NSA in Hawaii.
GLENNGREENWALD: What are some of the positions that you held previously within the intelligence community?
EDWARDSNOWDEN: I have been a systems engineer, systems administrator, a senior adviser for the Central Intelligence Agency, a solutions consultant and a telecommunications information systems officer.
GLENNGREENWALD: One of the things people are going to be most interested in, in trying to understand what—who you are and what you’re thinking, is there came some point in time when you crossed this line of thinking about being a whistleblower to making the choice to actually become a whistleblower. Walk people through that decision-making process.
EDWARDSNOWDEN: When your in positions of privileged access, like a systems administrator for these sort of the intelligence community agencies, you’re exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale than the average employee, and because of that, you see things that may be disturbing. But over the course of a normal person’s career, you’d only see one or two of these instances. When you see everything, you see them on a more frequent basis, and you recognize that some of these things are actually abuses. And when you talk to people about them in a place like this, where this is the normal state of business, people tend not to take them very seriously and, you know, move on from them. But over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up, and you feel compelled to talk about it. And the more you talk about it, the more you’re ignored, the more you’re told it’s not a problem, until eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public, not by somebody who was simply hired by the government.
GLENNGREENWALD: Talk a little bit about how the American surveillance state actually functions. Does it target the actions of Americans?
EDWARDSNOWDEN:NSA and the intelligence community, in general, is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can, by any means possible, that it believes, on the grounds of sort of a self-certification, that they serve the national interest. Originally, we saw that focus very narrowly tailored as foreign intelligence gathered overseas. Now, increasingly, we see that it’s happening domestically. And to do that, they—the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system, and it filters them, and it analyzes them, and it measures them, and it stores them for periods of time, simply because that’s the easiest, most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government or someone that they suspect of terrorism, they’re collecting your communications to do so. Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge, to even the president, if I had a personal email.
GLENNGREENWALD: One of the extraordinary parts about this episode is that usually whistleblowers do what they do anonymously and take steps to remain anonymous for as long as they can, which they hope, often, is forever. You, on the other hand, have this attitude of the opposite, which is to declare yourself openly as the person behind these disclosures. Why did you choose to do that?
EDWARDSNOWDEN: I think that the public is owed an explanation of the motivations behind the people who make these disclosures that are outside of the democratic model. When you are subverting the power of government, that that’s a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy. And if you do that in secret consistently, you know, as the government does when it wants to benefit from a secret action that it took, it will kind of get its officials a mandate to go, “Hey, you know, tell the press about this thing and that thing, so the public is on our side.” But they rarely, if ever, do that when an abuse occurs. That falls to individual citizens. But they’re typically maligned. You know, it becomes a thing of these people are against the country; they’re against the government. But I’m not. I’m no different from anybody else. I don’t have special skills. I’m just another guy who sits there, day to day, in the office, watches what happening—what’s happening, and goes, “This is something that’s not our place to decide. The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.” And I’m willing to go on the record to defend the authenticity of them and say, “I didn’t change these. I didn’t modify the story. This is the truth. This is what’s happening. You should decide whether we need to be doing this!”
GLENNGREENWALD: Have you given thought to what it is that the U.S. government’s response to your conduct is in terms of what they might say about you, how they might try to depict to, what they might try to do to you?
EDWARDSNOWDEN: Yeah, I could be, you know, rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me or any of their third-party partners. You know, they work closely with a number of other nations. Or, you know, they could pay off the triads or, you know, any—any of their agents or assets. We’ve got a CIA station just up the road in the consulate here in Hong Kong, and I’m sure they’re going to be very busy for the next week. And that’s a fear I’ll live under for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be. You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk because they’re such powerful adversaries that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they’ll get you, in time.
But at the same time, you have to make a determination about what it is that’s important to you. And if living—living unreel but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept—and I think many of us are; it’s the human nature—you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest and go to sleep at night after watching your shows. But if you realize that that’s the world that you helped create and it’s going to get worse with the next generation and the next generation, who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk, and it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, so long as the public gets to make their own decisions about how that’s applied.
GLENNGREENWALD: Why should people care about surveillance?
EDWARDSNOWDEN: Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently, by orders of magnitude, to where it’s getting to the point you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
GLENNGREENWALD: We are currently sitting in a room in Hong Kong, which is where we are because you travel here. Talk a little bit about why it is that you came here. And specifically, there are going to be people who will speculate that what you really intend to do is to defect to the country that many see as the number one rival of the United States, which is China, and that what you’re really doing is essentially seeking to aid an enemy of the United States with which you intend to seek asylum. Can you talk a little bit about that?
EDWARDSNOWDEN: Sure. So there’s a couple assertions in those arguments that are sort of embedded in the questioning of the choice of Hong Kong. The first is that China is an enemy of the United States. It’s not. I mean, there are conflicts between the United States government and the Chinese PRC government. But the peoples, inherently, you know, we don’t care. We trade with each other freely. You know, we’re not at war. We’re not, you know, armed conflict, and we’re not trying to be. We’re the largest trading partners out there for each other.
Additionally, Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech. People think, “Oh, China, great firewall.” Mainland China does have significant restrictions on free speech, but the Hong Kong—the people of Hong Kong have a long tradition of protesting in the streets, of making their views known. The Internet is not filtered here, no more so than any other Western government. And I believe that the Hong Kong government is actually independent in relation to a lot of other leading Western governments.
GLENNGREENWALD: If your motive had been to harm the United States and help its enemies, or if your motive had been personal material gain, were there things that you could have done with these documents to advance those goals that you didn’t end up doing?
EDWARDSNOWDEN: Absolutely. I mean, anybody in the positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could, you know, suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia. You know, they always have an open door, as we do. I had access to, you know, the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station we have, what their missions are and so forth. If I had just wanted to harm the U.S., you know, that—you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon. But that’s not my intention. And I think, for anyone making that argument, they need to think, if they were in my position, and, you know, you live a privileged life—you’re living in Hawaii, in Paradise, and making a ton of money—what would it take to make you leave everything behind?
The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the length that the government is going to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society, but they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests. And the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse, until eventually there will be a time where policies will change, because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. Even our agreements with other sovereign governments, we consider that to be a stipulation of policy rather than a stipulation of law. And because of that, a new leader will be elected, they’ll flip the switch, say that because of the crisis, because of the dangers that we face in the world, you know, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it, and it’ll be turnkey tyranny.
AMYGOODMAN:NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden being interviewed by The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald. The interview was filmed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in Snowden’s Hong Kong hotel room on June 6. Edward Snowden left the U.S. for Hong Kong on May 20th, has been there since. When we come back, we’ll be joined by Glenn Greenwald from Hong Kong and then NSA whistleblower, William Binney. Stay with us.
Friday, June 7, 2013
“A Massive Surveillance State”: Glenn Greenwald Exposes Covert NSA Program Collecting Calls, Emails
The National Security Agency has obtained access to the central servers of nine major Internet companies — including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo! and Facebook. The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the top-secret program, codenamed PRISM, after they obtained several slides from a 41-page training presentation for senior intelligence analysts. It explains how PRISM allows them to access emails, documents, audio and video chats, photographs, documents and connection logs. “Hundreds of millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions – in fact, billions of people around the world – essentially rely on the Internet exclusively to communicate with one another,” Greenwald says. “Very few people use landline phones for much of anything. So when you talk about things like online chat and social media messages and emails, what you’re really talking about is the full extent of human communication.” This comes after Greenwald revealed Wednesday in another story that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers. “They want to make sure that every single time human beings interact with one another … that they can watch it, and they can store it, and they can access it at any time.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMYGOODMAN: We begin with news that the National Security Agency has obtained access to the central servers of nine major Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo! and Facebook. The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the top-secret program on Thursday, codenamed PRISM, after they obtained several slides from a 41-page training presentation for senior intelligence analysts. It explains how PRISM allows them to access emails, documents, audio and video chats, photographs, documents and connection logs that allow them to track a person or trace their connections to others. One slide lists the companies by name and the date when each provider began participating over the past six years. But an Apple spokesperson said it had “never heard” of PRISM and added, quote, “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers and any agency requesting customer data must get a court order,” they said. Other companies had similar responses.
Well, for more, we’re joined by Glenn Greenwald, columnist, attorney, and blogger for The Guardian, where he broke his story in—that was headlined “NSA Taps in to Internet Giants’ Systems to Mine User Data, Secret Files Reveal.” This comes after he revealed Wednesday in another exclusive story that the “NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers.” According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, the scope of the NSA phone monitoring includes customers of all three major phone networks—Verizon, AT&T and Sprint—as well as records from Internet service providers and purchase information from credit card providers. Glenn Greenwald is also author of With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He’s joining us now via Democracy—video stream.
Glenn, welcome back to Democracy Now! Lay out this latest exclusive that you have just reported in The Guardian.
GLENNGREENWALD: There are top-secret NSA documents that very excitingly describe—excitedly describe, boast about even, how they have created this new program called the PRISM program that actually has been in existence since 2007, that enables them direct access into the servers of all of the major Internet companies which people around the world, hundreds of millions, use to communicate with one another. You mentioned all of those—all those names. And what makes it so extraordinary is that in 2008 the Congress enacted a new law that essentially said that except for conversations involving American citizens talking to one another on U.S. soil, the NSA no longer needs a warrant to grab, eavesdrop on, intercept whatever communications they want. And at the time, when those of us who said that the NSA would be able to obtain whatever they want and abuse that power, the argument was made, “Oh, no, don’t worry. There’s a great check on this. They have to go to the phone companies and go to the Internet companies and ask for whatever it is they want. And that will be a check.” And what this program allows is for them, either because the companies have given over access to their servers, as the NSA claims, or apparently the NSA has simply seized it, as the companies now claim—the NSA is able to go in—anyone at a monitor in an NSA facility can go in at any time and either read messages that are stored in Facebook or in real time surveil conversations and chats that take place on Skype and Gmail and all other forms of communication. It’s an incredibly invasive system of surveillance worldwide that has zero checks of any kind.
AMYGOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, there is a chart prepared by the NSA in the top-secret document you obtained that shows the breadth of the data it’s able to obtain—email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, Skype chats, file transfers, social networking details. Talk about what this chart reveals.
GLENNGREENWALD: I think the crucial thing to realize is that hundreds of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions—in fact, billions of people around the world essentially rely on the Internet exclusively to communicate with one another. Very few people use landline phones for much of anything. So when you talk about things like online chats and social media messages and emails, what you’re really talking about is the full extent of human communication. And what the objective of the National Security Agency is, as the stories that we’ve revealed thus far demonstrate and as the stories we’re about to reveal into the future will continue to demonstrate—the objective of the NSA and the U.S. government is nothing less than destroying all remnants of privacy. They want to make sure that every single time human beings interact with one another, things that we say to one another, things we do with one another, places we go, the behavior in which we engage, that they know about it, that they can watch it, and they can store it, and they can access it at any time. And that’s what this program is about. And they’re very explicit about the fact that since most communications are now coming through these Internet companies, it is vital, in their eyes, for them to have full and unfettered access to it. And they do.
AMYGOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, as you reported, the PRISM program—not to be confused with prison, the PRISM program—is run with the assistance of the companies that participate, including Facebook and Apple, but all of those who responded to a Guardian request for comment denied knowledge of any of the program. This is what Google said, quote: “We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege [that] we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”
GLENNGREENWALD: Right. Well, first of all, after our story was published, and The Washington Post published more or less simultaneously a similar story, several news outlets, including NBC News, confirmed with government officials that they in fact have exactly the access to the data that we describe. The director of national intelligence confirmed to The New York Times, by name, that the program we identify and the capabilities that we described actually exist. So, you have a situation where somebody seems to be lying. The NSA claims that these companies voluntarily allow them the access; the companies say that they never did.
This is exactly the kind of debate that we ought to have out in the open. What exactly is the government doing in how it spies on us and how it reads our emails and how it intercepts our chats? Let’s have that discussion out in the open. To the extent that these companies and the NSA have a conflict and can’t get their story straight, let them have that conflict resolved in front of us. And then we, as citizens, instead of having this massive surveillance apparatus built completely secretly and in the dark without us knowing anything that’s going on, we can then be informed about what kinds of surveillance the government is engaged in and have a reasoned debate about whether that’s the kind of world in which we want to live.
AMYGOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, on Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein told reporters in the Senate gallery that the government’s top-secret court order to obtain phone records on millions of Americans is, quote, “lawful”.
SEN. DIANNEFEINSTEIN: As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the FISA court under the business records section of the PATRIOT Act; therefore it is lawful.
TABACCO: Slavery & Segregation were once “lawful”; that doesn’t make them right! I didn’t think the Patriot Act was Constitutional when it was passed under Bush, nor do I like it now!
AMYGOODMAN: That was Senator Dianne Feinstein. Glenn Greenwald?
GLENNGREENWALD: Well, first of all, the fact that something is lawful doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous or tyrannical or wrong. You can enact laws that endorse tyrannical behavior. And there’s no question, if you look at what the government has done, from the PATRIOT Act, the Protect America Act, the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Amendments Act, that’s exactly what the war on terror has been about.
But I would just defer to two senators, who are her colleagues, who are named Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. They have—are good Democrats. They have spent two years now running around trying to get people to listen to them as they’ve been saying, “Look, what the Obama administration is doing in interpreting the PATRIOT Act is so radical and so distorted and warped that Americans will be stunned to learn” — that’s their words — “what is being done in the name of these legal theories, these secret legal theories, in terms of the powers the Obama administration has claimed for itself in how it can spy on Americans.”
When the PATRIOT Act was enacted—and you can go back and look at the debates, as I’ve done this week—nobody thought, even opponents of the PATRIOT Act, that it would ever be used to enable the government to gather up everybody’s telephone records and communication records without regard to whether they’ve done anything wrong. The idea of the PATRIOT Act was that when the government suspects somebody of being involved in terrorism or serious crimes, the standard of proof is lowered for them to be able to get these documents. But the idea that the PATRIOT Act enables bulk collection, mass collection of the records of hundreds of millions of Americans, so that the government can store that and know what it is that we’re doing at all times, even when there’s no reason to believe that we’ve done anything wrong, that is ludicrous, and Democratic senators are the ones saying that it has nothing to do with that law.
AMYGOODMAN: On Thursday, Glenn, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he stood by what he told Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in March, when he said that the National Security Agency does “not wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans. Let’s go to that exchange.
SEN. RONWYDEN: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?
JAMESCLAPPER: No, sir.
SEN. RONWYDEN: It does not?
JAMESCLAPPER: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.
AMYGOODMAN: That’s the questioning of the head of the national intelligence, James Clapper, by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. Glenn Greenwald?
GLENNGREENWALD: OK. So, we know that to be a lie, not a misleading statement, not something that was sort of parsed in a way that really was a little bit deceitful, but an outright lie. They collect—they collect data and records about the communications activities and other behavioral activities of millions of Americans all the time. That’s what that program is that we exposed on Wednesday. They go to the FISA court every three months, and they get an order compelling telephone companies to turn over the records, that he just denied they collect, with regard to the conversations of every single American who uses these companies to communicate with one another. The same is true for what they’re doing on the Internet with the PRISM program. The same is true for what the NSA does in all sorts of ways.
We are going to do a story, coming up very shortly, about the scope of the NSA’s spying activities domestically, and I think it’s going to shock a lot of people, because the NSA likes to portray itself as interested only in foreign intelligence gathering and only in targeting people who they believe are guilty of terrorism, and yet the opposite is true. It is a massive surveillance state of exactly the kind that the Church Committee warned was being constructed 35 years ago. And we intend to make all those facts available so people can see just how vast it is and how false those kinds of statements are.
AMYGOODMAN: Let’s go back to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein. Speaking on MSNBC, she said the leak should be investigated and that the U.S. has a, quote, “culture of leaks.”
SEN. DIANNEFEINSTEIN: There is nothing new in this program. The fact of the matter is that this was a routine three-month approval, under seal, that was leaked.
ANDREAMITCHELL: Should it be—should the leak be investigated?
SEN. DIANNEFEINSTEIN: I think so. I mean, I think we have become a culture of leaks now.
AMYGOODMAN: That was the Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Dianne Feinstein, being questioned by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Glenn Greenwald, your final response to this? And sum up your findings. They’re talking about you, Glenn.
GLENNGREENWALD: I think Dianne Feinstein may be the most Orwellian political official in Washington. It is hard to imagine having a government more secretive than the United States. Virtually everything that government does, of any significance, is conducted behind an extreme wall of secrecy. The very few leaks that we’ve had over the last decade are basically the only ways that we’ve had to learn what our government is doing.
But look, what she’s doing is simply channeling the way that Washington likes to threaten the people over whom they exercise power, which is, if you expose what it is that we’re doing, if you inform your fellow citizens about all the things that we’re doing in the dark, we will destroy you. This is what their spate of prosecutions of whistleblowers have been about. It’s what trying to threaten journalists, to criminalize what they do, is about. It’s to create a climate of fear so that nobody will bring accountability to them.
It’s not going to work. I think it’s starting to backfire, because it shows their true character and exactly why they can’t be trusted to operate with power in secret. And we’re certainly not going to be deterred by it in any way. The people who are going to be investigated are not the people reporting on this, but are people like Dianne Feinstein and her friends in the National Security Agency, who need investigation and transparency for all the things that they’ve been doing.
AMYGOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we want to thank you for being with us. Is this threat of you being investigated going to deter you in any way, as you continue to do these exclusives, these exposés?
GLENNGREENWALD: No, it’s actually going to embolden me to pursue these stories even more aggressively.
AMYGOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, I want to thank you for being with us, columnist and blogger for The Guardian newspaper. We’ll link to your exposés on our website, “NSA Taps in to Internet Giants’ Systems to Mine User Data, Secret Files Reveal”, as well as “NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily”.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, a Democracy Now! exclusive. President Obama just announced that the U.S. did kill, over the last years, four Americans. We’re going to speak with the father of Anwar al-Awlaki. His name is Nasser al-Awlaki. We’re speaking to him in Sana’a, Yemen. He’s also a grandfather of another of the victims, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. He was born in Denver. He was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen. Stay with us.
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