Revelations about the breathtaking scope of government spying are coming so fast that it's time for an updated roundup:
- Just weeks after NSA boss Alexander said that a review of NSA spying found not even one violation, the Washington Post published an internal NSA audit showing that the agency has broken its own rules thousands of times each year.
- Each violation could have resulted many Americans being spied upon. The ACLU notes, "some of these incidents seem to have implicated the privacy of thousands or millions of innocent people."
- EFF points out: "The thousands of violations only include the NSA's main office in Maryland -- not the other -- potentially hundreds -- of other NSA offices across the country. And even more importantly, the documents published by the Post reveal violations increasing every year."
- Two Senators on the intelligence committee said the violations revealed in the Post article were just the "tip of the iceberg."
- Glenn Greenwald notes: "One key to the WashPost story: the reports are internal, NSA audits, which means high likelihood of both under-counting & white-washing." (Even so, the White House tried to do damage control by retroactively changing on-the-record quotes)
- The government is spying on essentially everything we do. It is
not just "metadata" ... although that is enough to destroy your privacy.
- The government has adopted a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act which allows it to pretend that "everything" is relevant" so it spies on everyone.
- NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA collects all of our conversations word-for-word.
- It's not just the NSA ... Many other agencies, like the FBI and IRS -- concerned only with domestic issues -- spy on Americans as well.
- The information gained through spying is shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally "launder" the information gained through spying, i.e., to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way ... and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges.
Top counter-terror experts say that the government's mass spying doesn't keep us safe.
- Indeed, they say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts.
- They say we can, instead, keep everyone safe without violating the Constitution ... more cheaply and efficiently than the current system.
- There is no real oversight by Congress, the courts, or the executive branch of government. And see this and this.
- Indeed, most Congress members have no idea what the NSA is doing. Even staunch defenders of the NSA now say they've been kept in the dark.
- A Federal judge who was on the secret spying court for three years says that it's a kangaroo court.
- Even the current judges on the secret spying court now admit that they're out of the loop and powerless to exercise real oversight.
- A former U.S. president says that the spying program shows that we no longer have a functioning democracy.
- The chairs of the 9/11 Commission say that NSA spying has gone way too far.
- Top constitutional experts say that Obama and Bush are worse than Nixon ... and the Stasi East Germans.
While the government initially claimed that mass surveillance on Americans prevented more than 50 terror attacks, the NSA's deputy director John Inglis walked that position back all the way to saying that -- at the most -- one (1) plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone. In other words, the NSA can't prove that stopped any terror attacks. The government greatly exaggerated an alleged recent terror plot for political purposes (and promoted the fearmongering of serial liars). The argument that recent terror warnings show that NSA spying is necessary is so weak that American counter-terrorism experts have slammed it as "crazy pants."
- Even President Obama admits that you're much less likely to be killed by terrorists than a car accident. So the government has resorted to lamer and lamer excuses to try to justify mass surveillance.
- Experts say that the spying program is illegal, and is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists ... which led to the Revolutionary War.
- The top counter-terrorism Czar under Clinton and Bush says that revealing NSA spying programs does not harm national security.
- The feds are considering prosecuting the owner of a private email company -- who shut down his business rather than turning over records to the NSA -- for refusing to fork over the information and keep quiet. This is a little like trying to throw someone in jail because he's died and is no longer paying taxes.
- Whistleblowers on illegal spying have no "legal" way to get the information out.
- There are indications that the government isn't just passively gathering the information ... but is actively using it for mischievous purposes.
- Spying started before 9/11 ... and various excuses have been used to spy on Americans over the years.
- Governments and big corporations are doing everything they can to destroy anonymity.
- Mass spying creates an easy mark for hackers. Indeed, the Pentagon now sees the collection of "big data" as a "national security threat" ... but the NSA is the biggest data collector on the planet, and thus provides a tempting mother lode of information for foreign hackers.
- Mass surveillance by the NSA directly harms internet companies, Silicon Valley, California ... and the entire U.S. economy. And see these reports from Boingboing and the Guardian.
- Some people make a lot of money off of mass spying. But the government isn't using the spying program to stop the worst types of lawlessness.
- Polls show that the public
doesn't believe the NSA ... and thinks that the government has gone way too far in the name of terrorism.
- While leaker Edward Snowden is treated as a traitor by the fatcats and elites, he is considered a hero by the American public.
- Congress members are getting an earful from their constituents about mass surveillance.
- The heads of the intelligence services have repeatedly been caught lying about spying. And even liberal publications are starting to say that Obama has been intentionally lying about spying.
- Only 11% of Americans trust Obama to actually do anything to rein in spying.
- A huge majority of Americans wants the director of intelligence -- Clapper -- prosecuted for perjury.
- While the Obama administration is spying on everyone in the country -- it is at the same time the most secretive administration ever (background). That's despite Obama saying he's running the most transparent administration ever.
- A Congressman noted that -- even if a mass surveillance program is started for good purposes -- it will inevitably turn into a witch hunt.
- Surveillance can be used to frame you if someone in government happens to take a dislike to you.
- Government spying has always focused on crushing dissent ... not on keeping us safe
- An NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on -- and blackmailing -- top government officials and military officers (and see this).
- High-level US government officials have warned for 40 years that mass surveillance would lead to tyranny in America.
- A top NSA whistleblower says that the only way to fix things is to fire all of the corrupt government officials who let it happen. As the polls above show, the American public is starting to wake up to that fact.