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5 More Frightening Details About the NSA

5 More Frightening Details About the NSA

It’s been more than two months since word of the NSA’s drastic surveillance program came to light, and despite the United States’s government’s best attempts to assuage our fears, there’s still plenty of cause for concern. In fact, the more details that emerge, the more reasons citizens have to oppose the program.

Here are five recent pieces of information about the NSA that will have you have worried:

1. It’s Actually a Secret to Congress, too

Though we’ve been assured that there is congressional oversight over the NSA and spying programs, that’s not actually the case. Many members of Congress admit they had no idea what the program did or how it operated, but at least some of them attempted to learn more about it before voting on the issue. Before voting on the NSA funding, members of both parties requested documents and substantial information on the organization, yet these requests were either ignored or outright denied because it was supposedly “classified.”

Republican Morgan Griffith, a Representative for Virginia, was frustrated at having to vote under such circumstances. “My oath is to make informed decisions, and I can’t do my job when I can’t get even the most basic information about these programs,” he said.

2. Everything You Do on the Internet is Trackable

We just learned that the NSA uses the software program XKeyscore to “collect nearly everything a user does on the internet.” By gathering everything you type/send/search for, the NSA has an easy database to look up keywords and identify potential terrorist threats. Of course, culling every bit of activity ultimately has implications for non-terrorists, too. So much for internet privacy!

3. The Information is Being Used for More Than Terrorism

Allegedly, the Drug Enforcement Agency is also using intelligence collected through the NSA to convict Americans for drug crimes. The process is secretive and the DEA can’t obtain evidence this way, so investigators conduct “parallel construction” where they legally gather the necessary evidence from what they already know via wiretapping.

“When law enforcement agents and prosecutors conceal the role of intelligence surveillance in criminal investigations, they violate the constitutional rights of the accused and insulate controversial intelligence programs from judicial review,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy director. “This is inappropriate, dangerous and contrary to the rule of law.”

4. The NSA Doesn’t Track Its Own Emails

Some critics of the NSA have requested to audit employee emails through a freedom of information request to ensure that they are not abusing their powers and privileges, but get this – the NSA claims it lacks the technology to monitor its own emails. Unbelievably, an entity that tracks the digital communications of millions around the world purports to have no way of checking its own internal messages.

At best, it’s a sign that the NSA grants itself the privacy it denies to just about everyone else in the country. At worst, it’s part of a massive cover-up to limit accountability for extremely questionable behavior.

5. NSA Was Re-Approved by a Secret Court

Amidst all of the controversy surrounding the NSA, it seems appropriate to have a national conversation about our surveillance state before saying, “Whatever, carry on!” But that’s exactly what happened in July when a U.S. court renewed the program.

Not just any court – a top secret FISA court – the same court that essentially blindly rubberstamps any request to spy on someone, a true beacon of accountability. Meanwhile, the government believes it is being “transparent” by acknowledging for the first time that the program will continue, despite relying on a secret court to get this dirty business done.

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87 comments

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9:12AM PDT on Aug 21, 2013

Didn't we all see this coming? And of course it's being cleared up as a way to protect us somehow. I'm over feeling like an outsider in my own country. I'm tired of having so many eyes on my activities for no reason.

12:21PM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

excellent article! I always assumed the DEA is running it's own cointelpro program on the marijuana legalization-medical marijuana movement.....it's going to happen .....the tide is turning....here in seattle, hempfest is happening this weekend .....and I find it so strange that the feds are at war with states where the majority have voted to end marijuana prohibition and try a new paradigm ..... what is to fear when honest citizens decide it is time for a change?

9:58AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

US & Allies have been fighting "terrorism" since 9/11. If their spying tactics are so great how come terrorism has not only escalated but terrorist groups have mushroomed all over the world,unchecked,uncontrolled & totally crazy so whats the purpose of spying:its just another preoccupation of stupid,useless politicians trying to make themselves look important.

9:42AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

Isnt it strange that with all the spying & collecting of data governments kick into action long after someone somewhere is blown into smitherines.This is a ploy to keep us ordinary citizens preoccupied with this crap so that governments can go ahead & do what they do best: think of & implement more ways to milk us financially,eradicate all the good things & make changes.When we realise that we've been stripped of more rights whilst being preoccupied,its then too late to retaliate or reverse the process as "it was done for our own protection". Protection from everyone except from these ruthless politicians.

8:30AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

This is way beyond sad. It's sick. And who does it protect? Me? My family? Friends? From who? No. It's there to protect the wealthy from repercussions of their crimes.

12:28AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

David F- yes, the black boxes are extremely disturbing & most people have no clue that they've existed since the late 90's in some cars. These are EDR's- Event Data Recorders- like in airplanes. Only now they've become so much more advanced. The idea, originally, was that it would record things as you drove- then, if you had an accident, the last 15 seconds or so could be retrieved & thus give an idea of circumstances. Thus insurance co could say you were drunk & refuse to pay... Now, they can turn off your car if you have on-star. I won't have GPS or any of that crap. They are integrating all of these things together. Many of us have seen this happening for years. From the advent of OBD I (On Board Diagnostics). OBD II came out in 1996. Not sure when OBD III came out, but... And another issue on the table is removing the black boxes- some says it's legal, some say it's not- you own the car, but do you own the box? I say yes & you can destroy it, BUT, they've wired it in so it's damn near impossible (or will be, by the time this law is in effect). The idea will be to slowly push out all older vehicles until only these cars are on the road. then, your travel habits can be 100% controlled. AND, it will all be advertised for YOUR benefit/safety- I just saw a commercial for On-Star showing someone reporting their car being stolen & it being located w/in minutes & brought to a stop, perps apprehended, happily ever after... But just wait...

11:09PM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Scary - glad I don't drive...Unless they intend on putting GPS on shoes somehow??
Thank you.

11:37AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Thank you Kevin, for your reporting on important issues regarding all of our lives. Appreciated!

9:43AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Eeekks

7:09AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Thank you Kevin, for Sharing this!

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