The NSA story has drifted off the front pages of the public’s mind, but today another story surfaced that should make people sit up, take notice, bang their heads against the wall, and screech.
Now for a little set up.
When the NSA story broke Americans were horrified–for a few minurtes–that the government was gathering and storing phone records, email, Google searches, credit card records, banking records.
Then we got pushback from both Republicans and Democrats involved in the counter terrorism or intelligence communites. Hold on, they said. We’re only targeting foreign individuals who contact someone in America. We’re not gathering everything.
Then Edward Snowden, who started it all, holed up in a Moscow transit lounge and consequently dropped off the public’s radar. Plus, he morphed into a whack-job (and perhaps spy) while masquerading as a whistleblower.
In all, the effect was the public, once outraged, became bored and stopped paying attention.
But today’s Washington Post story ought to be alarming. The Post reports that the NSA had two sources for all of your digital information. The first was the servers of Google, Apple, AOL, Facebook, etc, the so called PRISM program.
But that could be a problem because those businesses might just send their lawyers out to delay the efforts of the government snoops.
So the second source for the NSA was to go to the major digital arteries, the internet pipes that criss cross the country and simply tap in.
They have half a dozen code named locations around the country where NSA technicians have just tapped into the main conduits of digital information, before it ever gets to Google and the rest.
The NSA is siphoning off all digital traffic. All of it. Everything.
And it’s all to be stored for future reference.
All this is the name of catching terrorist Anwar al Awlaki emailing United States Army Major Nidal Hasan, advising Hasan how to commit terrorism on U.S. soldiers preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. (Please note all this snooping didn’t catch the Awlaki/Hasan emailing.)
Why do they need your email or mine to find email from a jihadist preacher living in Yemen?
Nobody has answered that question for me.
But more imporantly, we now know the NSA is sucking digital information out of the main pipes that carry that information, communication, around the country and overseas.
If they can take it all, do you honestly think they are restraining themselves and sticking to the public promises that it’s only foreigners they are interested in?