Ongoing Spying on Americans Big Time is Already Big Business, Mr Gonzales
I'll touch on the ongoing NSA domestic spying controversy and make you aware of the extent of government/corporate sying that has been occuring under the Bush administration.
Wellllllllll, Alberto Gonzales said what we all wonder about out loud- Mr Bush may feel comfortable with warrantless spying on domestic communications.
You should be aware that the Electronic Freedom Foundation is sueing ATT for giving the government access, without the permission of individuals, to it's networks and massive amounts of data- the records of our emails, phone calls, who they are to and what they contain.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.
In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.
In the past, Gonzales and other officials refused to say whether they had the legal authority to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on domestic calls, and have stressed that the NSA eavesdropping program is focused only on international communications.
In December of 2005, the press revealed that the government had instituted a comprehensive and warrantless electronic surveillance program that ignored the careful safeguards set forth by Congress. This surveillance program, purportedly authorized by the President at least as early as 2001 and primarily undertaken by the NSA, intercepts and analyzes the communications of millions of ordinary Americans.
In the largest "fishing expedition" ever devised, the NSA uses powerful computers to "data-mine" the contents of these Internet and telephone communications for suspicious names, numbers, and words, and to analyze traffic data indicating who is calling and emailing whom in order to identify persons who may be "linked" to "suspicious activities", suspected terrorists or other investigatory targets, whether directly or indirectly.
But the government did not act-and is not acting-alone. The government requires the collaboration of major telecommunications companies to implement its unprecedented and illegal domestic spying program.
AT&T Corp. (which was recently acquired by the new AT&T, Inc,. formerly known as SBC Communications) maintains domestic telecommunications facilities over which millions of Americans' telephone and Internet communications pass every day. It also manages some of the largest databases in the world, containing records of most or all communications made through its myriad telecommunications services.
The lawsuit alleges that AT&T Corp. has opened its key telecommunications facilities and databases to direct access by the NSA and/or other government agencies, thereby disclosing to the government the contents of its customers' communications as well as detailed communications records about millions of its customers, including the lawsuit's class members.
The lawsuit also alleges that AT&T has given the government unfettered access to its over 300 terabyte "Daytona" database of caller information -- one of the largest databases in the world. Moreover, by opening its network and databases to wholesale surveillance by the NSA, EFF alleges that AT&T has violated the privacy of its customers and the people they call and email, as well as broken longstanding communications privacy laws.
Note I highlighted the phrase "suspicious activities". The Department of Defense for instance has spied on anti-military recruitment protests, terming them as "threat". Peace protests are termed the same way. Read the full .pdf- it is chilling. If the "terrorists hate us for our freedoms" perhaps this is a way to get them to like us- take the freedoms away. Gotta say, I feel as though perhaps I'll get a knock on the door, just for sharing this information because I love my country and its people and feel badly that we all are being mislead. Did I mention an antiwar postcard is listed in this database, for crying out loud? That Quakers, Code Pink and the Raging Grannies are being watched?
Or this quotation from a DoD briefing document?
“[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”Looks like the World Wide Web is already being pretty well monitored, Mr Gonzalez. And that intelligence folks are even monitoring our vehicles- as well as our persons.
Two years ago, the Defense Department directed a little known agency, Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, to establish and “maintain a domestic law enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense.” Then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz also established a new reporting mechanism known as a TALON or Threat and Local Observation Notice report. TALONs now provide “non-validated domestic threat information” from military units throughout the United States that are collected and retained in a CIFA database.Sounds almost reasonable. Until you note that it seems directed at people practicing free speech
The corporate/Government nexus makes me ill at ease:
CIFA is becoming the superpower of data mining within the U.S. national security community. Its “operational and analytical records” include “reports of investigation, collection reports, statements of individuals, affidavits, correspondence, and other documentation pertaining to investigative or analytical efforts” by the DOD and other U.S. government agencies to identify terrorist and other threats. Since March 2004, CIFA has awarded at least $33 million in contracts to corporate giants Lockheed Martin, Unisys Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation and Northrop Grumman to develop databases that comb through classified and unclassified government data, commercial information and Internet chatter to help sniff out terrorists, saboteurs and spies.Again, we see the internet is obviously being monitored.
The compant ChoicePoint has 19 billion public records in its databases. The Department of Defense and the FBI utilize it's "expertise" in spying on us.
ChoicePoint began in 1997 as a company that sold credit data to the insurance industry. But over the next seven years, it became an all-purpose commercial source of personal information about Americans, with billions of details about their homes, cars, relatives, criminal records and other aspects of their lives.There is no Congressional oversight here. It is a public company, not part of our government. It can do what it would be illegal for agencies of our government to do- and sell them the information.
Now the information company is transforming itself into a private intelligence service for national security and law enforcement tasks. It has acquired a host of companies that produce sophisticated computer tools for analyzing and sharing records in ChoicePoint's immense storehouses.
Speaking of a lack of Congressional oversight, Mr Gonzalez came up short when our legislators asked him about NSA spying. Could what we are learning be just the tip of the iceberg concerning the privact rights we are losing?
Keep your eyes open, looks like more bad news to come.
In yesterday's testimony, Gonzales reiterated earlier hints that there may be another facet to the NSA program that has not been revealed publicly, or even another program that has prompted dissension within the government. While acknowledging disagreements among officials over the monitoring efforts, Gonzales disputed published reports that have detailed the arguments.
"They did not relate to the program the president disclosed," Gonzales testified. "They related to something else, and I can't get into that."