Perhaps you are having trouble keeping up, as I am, with the Obama scandals, from the Black Panthers to Fast and Furious to Benghazi to the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the crony relationships and failures of Obamacare.
This may seem like old news but of particular interest to me is the NSA surveillance program, the one exposed by Edward Snowden. I’ve been wanting to write about it for some time but we were so awash in scandals I couldn’t fit this in before. The most recent revelation came Dec 4th with the report that the NSA is capturing cell phone locations worldwide. That piles on to the story about the NSA spying on foreign allies including the accusation that Obama knew about the spying.
In the last couple months we’ve learned about the security flaws that compromise personal data at healthcare.gov and a rumor that data gathering engine behind that Obamacare web site starts collecting data off your computer as soon as you go to the site, before you even sign up.
Conservatives, including Republican Senators and others, such as Larry Kudlow and the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal have defended the NSA program as a necessary part of the War on Terror. The Wall Street Journal editorial reads:
“The regulatory agencies claim—and use—the power to seize property and control individual conduct. The very administration of the entitlement state depends on tracking (Social Security numbers), data-processing (Medicare benefits) and individual scrutiny (tax audits). The IRS knows far more about American citizens than the NSA does…”
They go on to say,
“The Fourth Amendment restricts unreasonable searches on individuals but imposes few limits on collection and analysis, and technologies have no privacy rights. The NSA is screening the data system in general for conduct that threatens the security of the system, not targeting any particular individual or group using the system. The right comparison is a cop on a beat who patrols public spaces. He’s not investigating a crime or enforcing a law; he’s watching for suspicious behavior. “
This is completely and utterly wrong-headed. First of all, The Wall Street Journal has NO idea about how the NSA program works. They base their editorial on the text of the Patriot Act and the claims of NSA and other Administration officials. But, from Fast and Furious to Benghazi to the State Department prostitution scandals and HHS insider trading and IRS misdeeds we know the Administration is filled with liars and cheats. So why would we take their word on the NHS data collection activities?
Second, the Patriot Act authorized cell phone monitoring only when a known foreign agent was being contacted. What law, what act of Congress authorizes wide-spread data-mining of domestic phone records and credit-card transactions? Larry Kudlow, on his radio show, repeated the claim that the NSA data-mining operation didn’t identify us as individuals or listen to our phone calls. Instead, they simply looked at phone numbers and call durations for suspicious patterns of behavior. And, it is claimed, that this surveillance stopped terror attacks.
How can any of that be true? What computer algorithm identifies suspicious behavior unless the parties in the conversation are identified and cross correlated with another data base containing names of known terrorists or other criminals? What pattern of phone calls is suspicious? Is it that I called the same number every evening for a week? Is it that my call lasted an hour and a half? Is it that I did a lot of conference calling? I call the “suspicious behavior” claim baloney! Moreover, my phone number, especially my cell phone number, IS my identity. So the claim that individuals are not being identified is false on the face of it. They might as well say, “We are not identifying you as an individual. We are just looking at Social Security Numbers.”
Third, because the Administration has made the claim that they are just looking at phone records for suspicious behavior, we see they have at least admitted that there is wide-spread domestic data mining. But since the claim that they are looking at phone numbers and not identifying individuals is a self-contradiction, we know they are also lying about the program. So why should I believe the claim that they are not eavesdropping on conversations or anything else they say? What is the purpose of the NSA data center project in Utah if they are only looking at meta-data? And if they cut 90 per cent of administrators to assure us that their spy system was secure, isn’t that an admission that your confidential information has been potentially compromised already?
Fourth, The Wall Street Journal, Larry Kudlow and the rest of the Conservative gang gloss over one, very important, detail of the NHS program. They just assume the NHS has the right to run your phone records and credit card transactions through some super computer. But your records are the property of your phone company and your credit card company. What gives any government the right to analyze them any more than your neighbor down the street has a right to analyze them? You might say that your records are already being analyzed by marketing wizards and sold to third parties so they can spam you with offers for kitchen appliances. But Amazon and eBay and and AT&T do not have armies and they can’t put you in jail. The Federal Government can make your life a living hell because you made an anti-Muslim video or spoke out against Obama. Just as there is supposed to be a separation between church and State, there should be a wall of separation between our private transactions and law enforcement.
Fifth, it’s claimed that the NHS program has stopped terror plots. I know that the original Bush program has stopped terror plots because it linked domestic phone calls with known overseas terrorists. But, the Obama program did not stop the Boston bombers. In fact, Russia warned us about these guys and we still didn’t stop them. I would give the program a pass except for that part about the Russian warnings. I’m told there are 12 million illegal immigrants “operating in the shadows” that we have to identify by legalizing them. Why can’t we identify them through this sophisticated phone surveillance system?
Finally, The Wall Street Journal point out, quite correctly, that the Federal Government already has a ton of information about you thanks to the IRS, the Social Security Administration the Post Office and on and on. And so, this NHS program is only a slightly larger intrusion.
And THAT observation key. But not in the way The Wall Street Journal intends. Let’s add all this together, accepting that some of our assumptions or facts may be mistaken. Here we go:
- The Obama Administration is not bound by law (see GM bailout, Black Panthers, interim appointments etc.)
- The Obama Administration uses the power of the State to punish political enemies (see IRS, EPA that waived fees from Freedom of Information Act requests by Leftist groups but not for Conservative ones).
- The Obama Administration considers their agenda more important than the lives of Americans (see Fast and Furious, Benghazi).
- The Obama Administration lies (see Benghazi coverup and all of the above, etc.).
- The Obama Administration security analysis failed multiple times (Ft. Hood, Benghazi, Boston, Egypt, etc.) (A debatable point, admittedly.)
- Obamacare will add all of your medical records to the existing data dossier on you and may collect non-medical data on you as well.
- US agents have been told to cover up the sources of their information and the extent of their spying.
- Obama continues to fund-raise even though he is not running for office.
What can we conclude? First and foremost, the Administration can’t be trusted to tell us the truth about domestic spying nor can they be trusted to confine themselves to legal and Constitutional activities. There is enough suspicious behavior, such as denying there is spying and then admitting it and then admitting it is bigger than they said at first and building data center facilities much larger than necessary if they were telling the truth.
My second conclusion is more of a hypothesis or a thought experiment. What if all this spying and data collection by the NSA, IRS, Obamacare and the rest isn’t about terrorism at all? What if it’s about political power? That would explain the ineffectiveness in stopping the Boston bombers or the Ft. Hood attack. What if this is the real purpose?: