By Kenneth J. Theisen
On Thursday, April 16th, Senator Diane Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair announced that the panel would investigate reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) improperly tapped into the domestic communications of Americans. The NSA has been intercepting Americans’ emails and phone calls in recent months to an extent that exceeded even the overbroad limits permitted under the spying legislation passed last summer. Feinstein stated, “We will make sure we get the facts.” She went on to say that the hearing will be held within a month. But don’t expect the Senate which passed the law to legalize the massive NSA spy programs to actually protect your rights.
The reason the Senate committee is going to hold the hearing is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) stated on April 15th that the NSA had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails while eavesdropping on foreign communications. DOJ told the New York Times, that it had "detected issues that raised concerns." The DOJ statement went on to say that DOJ officials then "took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance" with the law. This discovery was allegedly made during a review of the NSA spying program.
DOJ now maintains that the problems have been corrected and we are supposed to take the department’s word on this. DOJ refused to discuss what took place, for how long, and how the NSA “improperly” spied on Americans.
The NSA also issued a statement on April 15th which alleged that NSA “intelligence operations, including programs for collection and analysis, are in strict accordance with U.S. laws and regulations.” Well now I feel okay. The NSA would never attempt to deceive the American people.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) also jumped on the re-assurance bandwagon. In its statement it claimed “when inadvertent mistakes are made, we take it very seriously and work immediately to correct them.” Right! It was just an “inadvertent mistake.” Forgive and forget.
Well I have news for DOJ, Feinstein, the NSA, DNI, and the entire Obama administration. The entire NSA spying program is illegal and unconstitutional. It was illegally initiated by the Bush regime immediately after 9/11 and then later “legalized” by a compliant Congress. Even Senator Obama voted for this massive violation of the Constitution while he ran for president. The NSA program uses data-mining techniques to sweep up vast amounts of telecommunications from all over the world. It literally spies on millions of emails, phone calls, etc.
As originally passed, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) law required that law enforcement and government agencies obtain wiretapping warrants for any individuals targeted from inside the United States. But the Bush regime essentially ignored FISA and the courts. Then instead of investigating the Bush regime officials for their law-breaking, Congress actually expanded the law and “legitimized” the massive spying that had been conducted for years. The NSA was provided with broad new authority to collect, without court-approved warrants, vast amounts of international phone and e-mail traffic. Billions of international emails and phone calls pass through telecommunications hubs located in the U.S. The new law allowed the NSA to tap into these gateways.
Now we are supposed to believe that DOJ and Congress will protect our Constitutional rights just because we have a new administration. The government may tinker at the edges of the NSA program and make some adjustment on how it spies on us, but it will continue to spy. There may be new faces at the top, but the government will continue to violate our rights until a massive movement is built that really challenges the “national security” state and the political trajectory begun by the Bush regime and continued by the Obama administration. Neither the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government can be expected to really protect us. All of these branches of government are designed to and do protect the ruling class, not the masses of people.