Monday, January 06, 2014

NSA Dodges; Refuses To Say It Doesn't Spy On Congress

Senator Bernie Sanders,an Independent from Vermont, sent a letter to the NSA Friday, asking whether it has or is "spying" on members of Congress and other elected American officials.

In his letter, Sanders specifically defined "spying" as "gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or e-mails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business."

The NSA didn't answer the Senator's question, but their response was most revealing: "Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons."

In other words, they have none. And of course in the process of hoovering up data on virtually every call, internet customer and e-mail in America, the calls members of Congress and other elected officials are being scooped up as well.

Attorney General Eric Holder pulled the same stunt at a congressional hearing last summer when he responded to Senator Mark Kirk, (R-Illinois) by saying that the NSA had no "intent" to spy on Congress, but that this was something that needed to be discussed privately..and of course, not under oath.

What the Attorney General undoubtedly had in mind was James Clapper, director of National Intelligence being caught in a blatant lie to Senator Ron Wyden(D-Oregon) while testifying to Congress last March that the NSA was not collecting data on millions of Americans:

That was before Edward Snowden's leak on exactly what the NSA was doing, and before the news on how internet and cell providers were being forced to cooperate.

The idea of the NSA recording and storing metadata on the communications of members of Congress and other elected officials gives rise to some interesting possibilities, especially since we're talking about the Obama Administration.

Remember, this is the man who won his senate seat by getting his people to shop for a judge who would unseal the sealed divorce records of his Republican opponent Jack Ryan, which contained some of the usual wild, unproven accusations one finds in a contentious divorce where child custody is involved.

And let's not forget the suspicious timing of the leak on General David Petraeus' extramarital affair...after he testified before Congress backing up the Administration's fairy tale on Benghazi, something he did a 180 on a month later, once the president's re-election was safely in the bag and the leak was used to discredit him.The data used to find out about his affair came from phone records that were used to match up with certain hotel bills.

And dare we mention the way the IRS was used to go after President Obama's perceived political enemies?

The same techniques can be used to sway members of Congress to vote a certain way, or to 'persuade' a popular senator or governor not to run for office.

In spite of what the Obama Administration and tools like Clapper and Holder might say, we do have an expectation of privacy. It's called the Fourth Amendment, something I'm sure President Obama has little familiarity with:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Our Founders put this in the Constitution for a good reason, and they would be would be amazed at how tamely we've repeatedly allowed this right to be violated.

No comments: