International Conspiracy Killed the 4th Amendment
Global Cooperation Needed to Restore Our Rights
Yesterday, a privacy advocacy group filed an emergency petition to the Supreme Court to stop the NSA's domestic surveillance program.
Good to hear the Electronic Privacy Information Center is keeping the pressure on the program — and on the Obama administration — for such a massive violation of our Fourth Amendment rights...
Maybe the Supreme Court will finally act in a way our politicians from both parties never will.
Over the last several decades, the Fourth Amendment has been willfully ignored to the point where it is functionally worthless.
It started as far back as the 1960s during the height of the Cold War and evolved with technology as our laws became obsolete, with the NSA at the lead, quietly dismantling the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights...
A History of Abuse
The first version was ECHELON, a signals intelligence system designed to intercept satellite communications. It eventually evolved to include telephone calls, faxes, email, and other data traffic across the globe via satellite transmissions, public-switched telephone networks, and microwave links.
During the 1990s, the NSA used ThinThread, which involved wiretapping and sophisticated analysis of the data. Three weeks before the September 11th attacks, the project was scrapped. The reason for this was the Trailblazer Project, which removed all of the built-in privacy protections of its predecessor.
President Bush authorized domestic spying without search warrants on any phone calls, Internet activity, text messaging, and other communication involving anyone believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the United States.
Under public pressure, Bush had to stop the program. This didn't last long, and Congress relaxed FISA court rules the very next year.
Now we have PRISM, Stellar Wind and Boundless Informant, which compile all of the personal data being collected by the NSA. Data is mined from a massive database of American communications, including email communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.
Many of the cases coming from these programs were referred to by FBI agents as "pizza cases" because they turned out to be food takeout orders.
Anecdotal evidence from people familiar with the investigations suggests 99% of the flagged communication is completely worthless and benign.
As citizens, we cannot even hope to see what the NSA is truly doing. Our politicians are protecting them and preventing any true public oversight.
What we can see, however, is the scope of the programs — and they are beyond anything you can imagine.
26 miles south of Salt Lake City, a $1.2 billion complex on a National Guard base is almost complete. It houses 1.5 million square feet of top secret space. NSA computers alone will fill up 100,000 square feet.
In September, this data center will begin farming data from all forms of communication with the help of 5 zettabytes of storage, or the equivalent of 1.25 trillion DVDs.
According to William Binney, the whistle-blowing former NSA technical director, "They would have plenty of space with five zettabytes to store at least something on the order of 100 years' worth of the worldwide communications, phones and emails and stuff like that, and then have plenty of space left over to do any kind of parallel processing to try to break codes."
The data center will require 65 megawatts of power — enough for 65,000 homes — and use 1.5 million gallons of water to cool of the high-tech computer systems per day.
As massive as it is, this single facility isn't enough. The NSA is building another facility at Fort Meade in Maryland that is two-thirds the size of the Utah complex.
It makes you wonder what they are storing if they are being so selective about the information they obtain...
Considering NSA Director James Clapper's apology to a Senate Committee, it is pretty obvious. Here is the "erroneous answer" Clapper gave back in a March meeting that he apologized for:
Sen. Ron Wyden: "...does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"
Director Clapper: "No, sir."
Wyden: "It does not?"
Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."
Obviously, Clapper was dead wrong in two ways: One was obvious from information leaked about PRISM.
The other comes from additional leaks from overseas.
All of this could be fixed, assuming that we only had to worry about the NSA. Legislation could rein in the flagrant violations of the Fourth Amendment by our government.
Unfortunately for us, the Fourth Amendment would still be worthless. We are being spied on by government agencies that are not bound by the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
Le Monde, a major French newspaper, uncovered information revealing that the French DGSE intelligence service is storing vast amounts of data "outside the law, and beyond any proper supervision." Data is being siphoned from connections inside France and between France and other countries.
In the German publication Der Spiegel, an interview with Edward Snowden detailed how the NSA shares information with the German BND agency, which runs its own similar electronic surveillance program.
Of particular concern is the British Tempora program. It stores all of the information passing through fiber-optic cables passing through the UK. Every single bit of information from phone calls, email messages, Facebook posts and web history is swept up and analyzed by the agency.
Working alongside the GCHQ analysts are 250 from the NSA.
According to the Guardian's article on the program, the NSA analysts were given guidelines — but were told by GCHQ lawyers, "We have a light oversight regime compared with the U.S."
They also were told it was "your call" when it came to judging the necessity and proportionality of what they were allowed to search.
850,000 NSA employees and U.S. private contractors with top-secret clearance have access to GCHQ databases that circumvent any need to consider the Fourth Amendment.
These databases hold all content of a phone call, email, or any other message for a minimum of three days. Metadata is kept for up to 30 days.
Add in the other members of the "Five Eyes Alliance," and the NSA has access to information on American citizens from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as well.
Among them, virtually all worldwide electronic information passes through the alliance's data-mining programs.
Note that the countries running these programs and sharing reams of data with the NSA are the ones up in arms over the NSA program that feeds information back to them.
It's a joke. All this public posturing is pure, disgusting hypocrisy.
Worthless and Outdated
The simple fact is that the Fourth Amendment has a workaround in the digital age. It has become worthless because it is hopelessly out of date.
What does it matter if the NSA isn't the one collecting the data when it has unfettered access to all of it?
How can shutting down PRISM, Stellar Wind, and Boundless Informant stop the NSA from circumventing the Constitution and Bill of Rights so long as it has unfettered access to data from its partners in France, Britain, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia?
The fact is the NSA will continue to have access to reams of information on American citizens.
And there is nothing we can do to stop it.
The lawsuit to shut down the NSA PRISM program filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center is a good start on the domestic front. For the Fourth Amendment to hold any value, we need legislation that cuts off foreign sources of data on American citizens, unless a warrant is specifically issued.
We also need like-minded people in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom to push back and secure their freedom and rights as well in a united front.
We're being abused and lied to by corrupt politicians, bankers, and corporate CEOs.
Our wealth is being sapped and our rights are being denied.
Our best hope for the future is to break away from the financial, political, and governmental programs that undermine our unalienable and universal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and wealth.
Outsider Club's own Nick Hodge is launching a new service to address these very issues. It's called Like Minded People... stay tuned for more details.
Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page.
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