Friday, June 7, 2013

Beyond Orwell: Obama Says Gov Spying Protects Civil Liberties & Freedom

by Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism

President Obama came out to publicly endorse PRISM because it promotes public safety and protects of civil liberties.

Obama said that this “modest encroachment on privacy . . . helps us prevent terrorist attacks.”

According to the president Americans must accept this “trade-off” that creates balance between privacy and safety. He said: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program is about. In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance. There are trade-offs involved.”

In defense of unnecessary government surveillance on all Americans, Obama said: “You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Simply put, Obama explained that “if the intelligence community actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge.”

Disclosure of the PRISM program in mainstream media has alerted the general public to the fact that the US government has been collecting information on US citizens for national security purposes over several presidencies.

The revelation that the US government has been spying on all Americans is nothing new.

Andy McCarthy, former federal prosecutor points out : “Telephone record information (e.g., the numbers dialed and duration of calls) is not and has never been protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court held as much in its 1979 Smith v. Maryland decision.”

McCarthy continues to explain: “Understand: the phone record information at issue here is very different from the content of telephone conversations. Because the latter involve higher privacy expectations, they are heavily regulated under not only the Fourth Amendment but both Title III of the federal penal code and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under these laws, the government is not permitted to access communications content absent court authorization based on probable cause either that a crime has been committed or that the surveillance target is an agent of a foreign power (such as a terrorist organization or a hostile government).”

House Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger stated that PRISM has “thwarted” domestic terrorist plots going back several years.

House Representative Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee (HIC) supports the use of spying on American citizens through digital communications for the sake of discovering terroristic activities.
Rogers said : “I can tell you why this program is important, that within the last few years this program was used to stop a terrorist attack in the United States. We know that. It’s important. It fills in a little seam that we have, and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) explained that the surveillance program in question is reviewed every 3 months and confirmed that it has been in place for many years.
Feinstein said: “Terrorists will come after us if they can, and the only thing we have to deter this is good intelligence. It’s called protecting America.”

When the surveillance program was uncloaked the SIC held a classified meeting with national security officials to “debate about security and freedom.”

Outraged , James Clapper, director of National Intelligence (NI) said: “The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret US court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”

Clapper went on to say: “Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”
Billions of cell phone calls are monitored by computer software that searches for patterns to spot terrorists faster.

Acquiring phone records is necessary for this endeavor and stop terror plots before they are enacted.
The mainstream media asserts that the National Security Agency (NSA) “receives only numerical information, known as metadata, about phone calls: the originating and receiving phone numbers, calling-card numbers, the duration of a call and identifying information about mobile phones.”

Josh Earnest, spokesman for the White House said: “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to call details, such as a telephone number or the length of a telephone call.”

The NSA has a secret court order to syphon telephone records from millions of Verizon US customers.
In April of this year, the court order was allegedly issued and will continue through July 19th. The order states that Verizon will “ongoing” and on a “daily basis” hand over data on customers to the NSA that pertain to calls made by US customers within the country and outbound calls to other countries.
The order was initiated by an application provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to have Verizon “produce” records to the NSA “and continue production.”

Telephony metadata, which Verizon is ordered to give to the NSA, is defined as “comprehensive communications routing information . . . session identifying information, trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers and time and duration of call.”

Verizon is bound to secrecy as the order states: “It is further ordered that no person shall disclose to any other person that the FBI or NSA has sought or obtained tangible things under this Order.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the order. FISA was created in 1978 to “designate seven federal district court judges to review applications for warrants related to national security investigations.”

Interestingly, “warrant applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are drafted by attorneys in the General Counsel’s Office at the National Security Agency” because of the necessity of a judicial warrant to “conduct national security related investigations.”

*Reposted from Occupy Corporatism with permission - Be sure to visit OccupyCorporatism for more of Suzanne Posel's writings and insights

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