Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   7 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

The Crux Of The NSA Story In One Phrase: "Collect It All"

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Supported 3   Well Said 2   Interesting 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 7/15/13

Become a Fan
  (111 fans)
Source: The Guardian


The NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah

The Washington Post this morning has a long profile of Gen. Keith Alexander , director the  NSA , and it highlights the crux -- the heart and soul -- of the NSA stories, the reason Edward Snowden sacrificed his liberty to come forward, and the obvious focal point for any responsible or half-way serious journalists covering this story. It helpfully includes that crux right in the headline, in a single phrase:

collect it all

What does "collect it all" mean? Exactly what it says; the Post explains how Alexander took a "collect it all" surveillance approach originally directed at Iraqis in the middle of a war, and thereafter transferred it so that it is now directed at the US domestic population as well as the global one:

"At the time, more than 100 teams of US analysts were scouring Iraq for snippets of electronic data that might lead to the bomb-makers and their hidden factories. But the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, wanted more than mere snippets. He wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency's powerful computers.

"'Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, 'Let's collect the whole haystack,' said one former senior US intelligence official who tracked the plan's implementation. 'Collect it all, tag it, store it. ... And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.' ... 

Click Here to Read Whole Article

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:

"[E]ven his defenders say Alexander's aggressiveness has sometimes taken him to the outer edge of his legal authority."

"The outer edge of his 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."

I know 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 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").

Next Page  1  |  2

 

For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges, civil rights cases, and corporate and securities fraud matters. I am the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, How Would A Patriot (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system

US investigates possible WikiLeaks leaker for "communicating with the enemy"

Prosecution of Anonymous activists highlights war for Internet control

The myth of Obama's "blunders" and "weakness"

Are All Telephone Calls Recorded And Accessible To The US Government?

The Remarkable, Unfathomable Ignorance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
6 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

At the very least, there is one useful result of t... by Philip Zack on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 6:36:05 PM
It comes down to this.  Keith Alexander's per... by Richard Pietrasz on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:17:31 AM
... I recently read that since it broke the "NSAga... by PCM on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:23:51 AM
This is not just the work of General Alexander or ... by Paul Repstock on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 9:25:16 AM
All of your information is being collected too. So... by Paul Repstock on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 10:04:20 AM
Repeal Revoke Abolish His Majesty's Patriot Act Au... by Lance Ciepiela on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 6:17:55 PM
"Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related... by Dave Winship on Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013 at 8:50:36 PM