Those who sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither, Benjamin Franklin famously said.
That phrase seems particularly relevant since the first revelations broke about the National Security Agency’s extensive telephone and Internet spying programs.
From the first, there were many people who believed the NSA was not being completely honest about the extent of its activities, that the spying wasn’t confined to just a few phone calls that agents had warrants for, or to just a few email users whose providers had voluntarily cooperated during focused investigations.
Each revelation since those first has revealed a government tool that is closer and closer to the all-encompassing spy agency privacy and civil liberties advocates have feared.
According to the Telegraph, the NSA told the Senate Intelligence Committee about incidents in which NSA employees used the agency’s technology to spy on loved ones and significant others. There’s even a name for it: “love-int.”
According to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been a big supporter of the NSA spying on Americans, the incidents were “isolated.” But documents released by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor now hiding in Russia, show the NSA broke privacy rules more than 3,000 times in one year.
NSA chief compliance officer John DeLong said most of those breaches were unintentional, but “a couple” of breaches — in the past decade, of course — were willful violations.
NSA credibility factor: somewhere around zero.
Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, told Fox News that he doesn’t believe Congress has been given a clear understanding of the extent of NSA’s spying.
Corker said, “The American people want to know that those of us who are elected … understand fully what’s happening here. I don’t think we do. I would imagine there are even members of the intelligence committee themselves that don’t fully understand the gambit of things that are taking place.”
At this point, it’s clear that no one is safe from the prying eyes and ears at the NSA, which means the entire Obama Administration has access to any piece of information or dirty little secret you don’t want other people to know.
What’s more, it’s clear that if you get on the radar of a federal agent, many, perhaps most, of them have no qualms about abusing that power for their own personal gratification or to make your life miserable. The safeguards that are supposed to protect individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights apparently count for nothing in an Administration that has gone made with its own power.
Where’s the uproar?
Well, there can’t be one if the average person doesn’t realize he’s being x-rayed, stamped, filed and indexed every time he goes to the refrigerator. And the average person won’t ever know that, unless Big Brother comes knocking, because few in the mainstream media will even broach the topic.
Don’t believe in conspiracies? You should, because there’s one going on right in front of our eyes.