The Internet, Secrecy and Spying

Speaking to a group of staff and families at the US Embassy in Brasilia on August 14, John Kerry said, “this little thing called the internet and the ability of people everywhere to communicate instantaneously and to have more information coming at them in one day than most people can process in months or a year… makes it much harder to govern, makes it much harder to organize people.”

Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com wrote, “it is hard to hear this from US officials and not immediately think about the Internet’s role in facilitating whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.”

On August 15, Barton Gellman of the Washington Post released information provided to the Post by Edward Snowden. Gellman says that according to an internal audit the NSA “counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.”

What I find to be quite disturbing is not that the NSA violated it’s own privacy rules, but that the information was only revealed after it was released by a whistleblower. The people in charge of the NSA wanted to keep their “mistakes” a secret, and actually lied to Congress about the severity of the violations.

Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith, referring to sworn congressional testimony about the domestic programs from senior intelligence, FBI and Justice Department officials, told the Washington Times, “We were being told there were ‘some’ errors, like a few. They gave everyone the impression these [errors] were very rare. If [my colleagues] had realized how many [violations of privacy protection or legal rules] there were, I think more than seven of them would have switched.”

The “seven” mentioned by Griffith is a reference to a House vote in July on the Amash amendment that would have cut funds for domestic data gathering by the NSA except where based on individualized suspicion. That vote failed 217-205, with 12 not voting. Had seven people who voted against the amendment voted for it, the amendment would have passed. Before that vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.
This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”

It seems to me that withholding such valuable information related to the numerous violations of privacy by the National Security Agency is “not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.” It seems to me that Jay Carney, John Kerry and the many supporters of the NSA want an uninformed populace blindly following the words and whims of whomever may be President.

posted by southernpatriot

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