Last night, our President, went on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. When asked about government surveillance of the American people, President Obama responded:
"We don’t have a domestic spying program. What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack...That information is useful."
We don’t have a domestic spying program? Really?
1.) What about §215 of the Patriot Act which allows the Director of the FBI to “requir[e] the production of any tangible thing (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items” without a showing of probable cause, reasonable suspicion, criminal activity or even a warrant?
2.) Consider the NSA’s “Boundless Informant” computer program that datamines the metadata from most internet activity in the entire world, and tracks user location by country and IP address. The NSA has refused to release statistics on the nature and depth of the datamining in the United States, but does admit that it occurs. Is this not domestic spying?
3.) What about the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program which allows government officials to collect the internet history data on American citizens? Does the recording of domestic search history, content of emails, file transfers and live chats without first proving that any indicia of a crime has occurred not count as a domestic surveillance program?
4.) Should we not consider the Postal Service’s Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program in which the Postal Service photographs the front and back of EVERY, single envelope processed in the country (over 160 Billion last year) domestic surveillance?
5.) What impact do the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendment Acts of 2008 and 2012 have on domestic spying? These acts spawned multiple secret domestic surveillance programs. Should we be concerned that the NSA is able to unilaterally go on transcommunication company servers without a warrant/PC/RS showing? Is there not a spying program that is clearly present when all information is taken indiscriminately? Or when American citizens are being unknowingly investigated because they are Facebook friends with someone who is friends with someone suspected of “terrorist” activity. Does the NSA’s ability to hack into a live Skype voice-over-IP chat or intercept e-mails in real time under these amendments not amount to a domestic spying program?
6.) What should we categorize the collection of MILLIONS of domestic telephone records through NSA warrants to the Verizon wireless cellular telephone company? Should we assume that only Verizon was targeted or can we assume that every cellular company is providing this information?
7.) We also need to ask what bulk court orders of internet metadata that last for up to 90 days from FISA courts should be defined as. This program was started during the Bush administration and was recently reported to be ended. Or are the reports true that these order requests are simply being offered under alternative programs?
8.) How should we interpret NSA program “EvilOlive” which broadens the scope of domestic internet metadata? Does the fact that EvilOlive is now able to direct more than half of all internet traffic it intercepts when one end of the communication is within the United States, to categorized and accessible files on government servers count as domestic spying?
9.) If Project X-Keyscore used by the NSA to search without warrants or a showing of criminal or terrorist indicia is not domestic spying, what is it? Keyscore allows analysts to search BOTH metadata AND the content of e-mails and any other internet activity.
10.) Should we ignore recent revelations that almost every state is photographing and tracking license plates, many of which are being submitted to national databases for future criminal reference?
I know this President lies. Politicians lie. But the Snowden slides submitted to the Guardian Newspaper clearly demonstrate these programs to exist and it is difficult to justify how President Obama could say that there is no domestic spying program with a straight face. Maybe what he meant was that “there isn’t one domestic spying program, there are dozens of them.”
This statement by the President if a flat out lie, and the media should require him to explain his comments. I am appalled by the President’s unwillingness to be truthful with the American people. I had hoped that his rumored interest in civil liberties would move him to reign in some of these programs.
Prior to this statement, I believed the President to be a man in over-his-head, trying to find common ground between an unmanageable bureaucracy and the rights of the American people he represents. However, his latest comments indicate which side of the privacy debate he has chosen to align himself with. Civil liberties are being extinguished by both the leaders of the Republican and Democrat party. Our government isn’t being forthcoming with us. The government is by, for and of the people. We need to demand better. I’ll be continually harassing my Congressmen on his pro-NSA spying stance. Every American should do the same.