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Obama Administration Endorses Continued Spying on Americans

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Global Research, April 13, 2009

Antifascist Calling...

Since fatuously declaring his to be a "change" administration, President Barack Obama has quickly donned the blood-spattered mantle of state secrecy and executive privilege worn by the Bush regime.

On Friday April 3, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss one of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) landmark lawsuits against illegal spying by the National Security Agency (NSA).

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That suit, Jewell v. NSA, was filed last September against the NSA, NSA Director Keith B. Alexander, President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence. But with the departure of the Bush gang, the defendants now include President Barack Obama, NSA Director Keith B. Alexander, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence.

When the suit was filed against the government, EFF declared:

"The lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, is aimed at ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. ("EFF Sues NSA, President Bush and Vice President Cheney to Stop Illegal Surveillance," Electronic Frontier Foundation, Press Release, September 18, 2008) looted from company shareholders.

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While Alexander and his family may be safely ensconced in the dry but relatively safe harbor of Windhoek, Verint's security products live on, providing "actionable intelligence solutions" to repressors world wide. According to a Business Week company profile,

Verint Systems, Inc. provides analytic software-based solutions for the security and business intelligence markets. Its analytic solutions collect, retain, and analyze voice, fax, video, email, Internet, and data transmissions from voice, video and IP networks for the purpose of generating actionable intelligence for decision makers. The company primarily offers communications interception solutions, such as STAR-GATE, RELIANT, and VANTAGE; networked video solutions that include NEXTIVA; and contact center actionable intelligence solutions, which include ULTRA. Verint Systems serves government entities, global corporations, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, transportation agencies, retail stores, utilities, and communications service providers. (Verint Systems, Inc. Business Week, Information Technology Sector, accessed April 11, 2009)

Other corporate outfits providing similar intelligence "solutions" to America's telecommunications firms and agencies such as the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency include Verint's rival Narus (another spooky Israeli security firm), Siemans and Ericsson.

Despite the economic meltdown, Washington Technology reported March 27 that "technology companies are poised to tap into the billions of dollars that will flow from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into new federal, state and local initiatives." Many of the initiatives include new corporate welfare projects devised by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to "keep America safe."

In this context, the Obama administration's drive to preserve the NSA's ability to illegally spy on Americans is intimately connected to the corporatist bottom line. After all, Democrat or Republican, the business of government is business.

Arguments in San Francisco federal district court by U.S. Attorneys have been described by constitutional law experts as being "worse than Bush." In their motion to dismiss Jewell, the Obama administration cited the same perverse logic of the previous regime: that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue "out of hand."

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Douglas Letter, U.S. Terrorism Litigation Counsel for Obama's Department of Justice, argued that simply allowing the case to proceed "would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security."

Yet more pernicious--and unprecedented--arguments followed. "The DoJ," according to EFF, now claim "that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying--that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes."

Arguing that the state possesses "sovereign immunity," the "change" administration now claims that under provisions of the disgraceful USA PATRIOT Act--a draconian law rammed through Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks--the state is "immune from suit under the two remaining key federal surveillance laws: the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act."

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Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research,, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press and (more...)
 

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