Monday, November 18, 2013

Edward Snowden's Legacy: Privacy Matters

Absence of Privacy

It is troubling that the FISA court has affirmed that Americans have no protected right to privacy via third party vendors e.g. telecommunication companies. Following this reasoning process the National Security Agency and other sleuths may extract and store not only email communication but financial, medical, education, and employment records on all of us. For further information please see U. S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Public Filings.

Some Americans say "they have nothing to hide" and thus no complaint with ever present NSA surveillance, but they have not pondered the possibility of self-incrimination. A case in point: the David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell tryst. As The New York Times recently explained, privacy and confidentiality are nonexistent because "No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A."

The breaking and entering digital technology developed by the NSA and its Wall Street coterie has been employed by other parties for advantageous reasons. Rupert Murdoch's News of the World editor apologized in its final issue for hacking cell phones and computers to enhance readership. Leveson Report investigators found that News of the World was not the only newspaper trafficking in stolen communications.

The National Security Agency, a prominent decision-maker in government affairs, is endowed annually with $10.8 billion. It is confirmed that the 35,000 NSA workforce, tasked with preventing terrorist attacks, has been roaming outside its purview by banking phone call data and communication fingerprinting U.S allies.

Angela Merkel's cell phone, for instance, was monitored from 2002 to 2013. It is not known whether the NSA was acting independently or with permission from Presidents Bush and Obama but either way these actions have impaired foreign relationships.

The world's discontent with NSA's intrusive electronic snooping is so acute that Senator John McCain has called for Keith Alexander the NSA director [2005-present] to resign or be fired. In September Mr. Alexander told Senate Intelligence Committee members that “I believe that it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox.” The $2 billion lockbox referenced by Mr. Alexander, the NSA Utah Data Center, has experienced multiple systems' failures [explosions] since going operational.

NSA's Reconnaissance for Good or Naught?

Tailored Access Operations: NSA's ability to enter electronic systems e.g. personal/business/government computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones affix spyware, and then watch and listen. The New York Times reports that:
But as the [Snowden/NSA] documents make clear, the focus on counterterrorism is a misleadingly narrow sales pitch for an agency with an almost unlimited agenda. Its scale and aggressiveness are breathtaking.
The NYT's "No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A" article raises the question of advance knowledge of planned murderous forays and cites the following examples.

During the assault on Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel in June 2011, the NSA was listening to the Taliban teams' cell phone conversations while they searched the facility for targets.

The NSA was cognizant that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons in the past, yet this information did not stop the August sarin gas massacre.

Intelligence agencies are critical to security but when they abuse their spyware capabilities they reveal ulterior motives. William Binney, a former NSA whistleblower believes that unless the NSA and its partners are constrained, the United States will become a totalitarian state. The truth is we are already NSA's captive audience.

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