Saturday, December 28, 2013

The NSA…men who found the needle…and the haystack

“Most people look for the needle in the haystack. The NSA takes the whole haystack home.”

Terre Haute – Indiana Not too many months ago I read a major newspaper’s article about “the most powerful man you have never heard of.” General Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency, more commonly known as the NSA, had a large clandestine program. They had told the public they did not do large collections of metadata. But we have since found out that that was the “least untruthful answer” possible. It was a very kind way of saying they had lied.
But earlier this year, in one of the biggest stories of the decade, Edward Snowden, security contractor, hacked some fire walls, did some things we are still not sure of, stole a still unspecified amount of documents, possibly 1.7 million according to some, and told the world that the American government was tracking millions of calls daily, keeping tabs on allies, bugging headquarters of European Nations, and even bugging the phone of the head of Germany. It reminds one of the Cold War.
The official story is that this is to protect the nation against acts of terrorism. According to the Washington Post, one of the first to report the story, we still do not know of a single time when terrorism was actually stopped or stalled because of it. It was also declared, under the official story, to be constitutional.
A judge in Washington DC recently declared it “almost certainly unconstitutional” while another just yesterday declared it to not fall without of the realm of “unreasonable,” and thus to be indeed constitutional.
The one who said it was constitutional was a George Bush appointee, the one who said it was not was a Bill Clinton appointee.
Although the president is in Hawaii, during the holidays he is reading a 304 page report with almost fifty resolutions for an overhaul, by a committee of five. In an opinion piece one of them said
“Several news outlets have reported that the review group had called for an end to the program, but we did not do that. We called for a change in approach rather than a wholesale rejection… But make no mistake: The review group reaffirmed that the program should remain a tool of our government in the fight against terrorism…It has the potential to prevent the next 9/11.”
When the president comes back to Washington the debate will begin about the overhaul. The only thing we know for sure will happen is that the president will be nice to the press when he talks about it, and that, he said, is one of his New Year resolutions.

Andrew C. Abbott

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