Why I admire Edward Snowden and Fear the NSA
Monday, July 15, 2013
From a story in the Guardian by Glenn Greenwald
The NSA is collecting everything you say on the phone or text or email and keeping for ever at their new Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. Supercomputers there are set up to store gargantuan quantities of data from emails, phone calls and web searches. This totally creeps me out and I applaud Edward Snowden for getting the message out that this invasion of privacy is going on.
"Aside from how obviously menacing and even creepy it is to have a state collect all forms of human communication - to have the explicit policy that literally no electronic communication can ever be free of US collection and monitoring - there's no legal authority for the NSA to do this. Therefore the NSA is breaking the law.
"The outer edge of his (General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA) legal authority": that's official-Washington-speak for "breaking the law", at least when it comes to talking about powerful DC officials (in Washington, only the powerless are said to have broken the law, which is why so many media figures so freely call Edward Snowden a criminal for having told his fellow citizens about all this, but would never dare use the same language for James Clapper for having lied to Congress about all of this, which is a felony). That the NSA's "collect it all" approach to surveillance has no legal authority is clear:
"One Democrat who confronted Alexander at a congressional hearing last month accused the NSA of crossing a line by collecting the cellphone records of millions of Americans.
'What authorization gave you the grounds for acquiring my cellphone data?' demanded Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), waving his mobile phone at the four-star general."
This is not as exciting to some media figures as Snowden's asylum drama or his speculated personality traits. But that the NSA is collecting all forms of electronic communications between Americans as well as people around the world - and, as I've (Mr. Greenwald) said many times, thereby attempting by definition to destroy any remnants of privacy both in the US and globally - is as serious of a story as it gets, particularly given that it's all being done in secret. Here's another former NSA whistleblower, from the Post article, explaining why that is:
"'He is absolutely obsessed and completely driven to take it all, whenever possible," said Thomas Drake, a former NSA official and whistleblower. The continuation of Alexander's policies, Drake said, would result in the 'complete evisceration of our civil liberties.'"
Numerous NSA documents we've already published demonstrate that the NSA's goal is to collect, monitor and store every telephone and internet communication that takes place inside the US and on the earth. It already collects billions of calls and emails every single day. Still another former NSA whistleblower, the mathematician William Binney, has said that the NSA has "assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens" and that "estimate only was involving phone calls and emails."
The NSA is constantly seeking to expand its capabilities without limits. They're currently storing so much, and preparing to store so much more, that they have to build a massive, sprawling new facility in Utah just to hold all the communications from inside the US and around the world that they are collecting - communications they then have the physical ability to invade any time they want ("Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it").
That is the definition of a ubiquitous surveillance state - and it's been built in the dark, without the knowledge of the American people or people around the world, even though it's aimed at them. How anyone could think this should have all remained concealed - that it would have been better had it just been left to fester and grow in the dark - is truly mystifying."
Speak up, be aware and tell your government representatives that you do not want this. WE the people of this soon to be formerly free country must demand that this surveillance stop!