Saturday, April 3, 2010

Beyond Their Wildest Dreams

From The Spy Factory:

MICHAEL HAYDEN: On the 13th of September, I gave an address to an empty room, but we beamed it throughout our entire enterprise, about free peoples always having to decide the balance of security and their liberties, and then I told the workforce, there are going to be a lot of pressures to push that banner down toward security, and our job at NSA was to keep America free by making Americans feel safe again.

NARRATOR: Those pressures aren't long in coming. When Hayden is asked by Vice President Cheney what more NSA can do, he answers, "Not much, without breaking FISA laws," the laws force that force NSA to obtain a warrant to listen in on Americans.

Three weeks after the attacks, President Bush bypasses those laws, by secretly issuing an executive order: NSA will no longer have to worry about obtaining warrants to eavesdrop inside America. If 9/11 was a wake-up call, the response is a license to listen to almost anything and everything.


JAMES BAMFORD: If you want to tap into international communications, it seems like the perfect place is San Luis Obispo. That's where 80 percent of all communications from Asia enters the United States.

NARRATOR: But under NSA's new orders, they don't tap in here. Instead the cables run straight from San Luis Obispo to a building in San Francisco.

The building, at 611 Folsom Street, is AT&T's regional switching center. All the international traffic snakes up to the seventh floor, and it is here that a crucial change takes place. The seventh floor is also where AT&T's domestic traffic is routed—a cacophony of millions of conversations: cries and laughter, hopes and dreams, emails, faxes, bank statements, hotel reservations, love poems and death notices, all sent by people from inside the United States. The only thing they have in common is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

NARRATOR: In 2003, an AT&T engineer notices that the cables on the seventh floor have been rerouted, and a mirror image of all the traffic, both domestic and international, is now being sent to a secret room one floor below.

MARK KLEIN (Former AT&T Technician): It was obvious that this was some kind of NSA installation. I figured out that what they were doing was a blind wholesale copying of the entire internet data flow. And this meant randomly scooping up huge amounts of purely domestic data, as well as international data.

BRIAN REID (Internet Systems Consortium): When I hear the word wiretap, I've always imagined some person in a trench coat and a black hat and sunglasses, skulking around after dark, secretly tapping into a wire and hoping that no one notices. But what they've done in that facility is by full light of day, they've cut the fiber optic cables and then reconnected them in a splitter. What they have built is a facility that is capable of monitoring absolutely all data communication through it.

NARRATOR: Brian Reid, a communications expert, has examined AT&T's internal documents that Klein provided. They show that the secret room contains electronic equipment specifically designed for signals intelligence, equipment programmed to sift through millions of messages, searching for keywords like the ones Bamford sent from Kuala Lumpur.

BRIAN REID: The most curious piece of equipment in that room is a completely flexible monitoring system that can be told on a moment's notice, "Please monitor all conversations that contain the word hummingbird. Please monitor all conversation that goes to Mobile, Alabama. Please monitor all conversations that contain both the word hummingbird and go to Mobile, Alabama."

NARRATOR: NSA has turned its giant ear to listen in on America.

BRIAN REID: Based on everything I know, I believe that there are between 15 and 30 of these secret rooms around the U.S.

NARRATOR: The post-9/11 rules authorized NSA to listen in to Americans both inside and outside the U.S., without any special court approval.

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution:

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.

Terrorists can kill Americans, and destroy American property.

But, they are unable to kill or destroy America.

Only we can do that, when our love of our country grows cold.

And, this happens when we forget why we love America - this happens when we forget what America stands for.

In sharp violation of principles codified in the wake of a terrible struggle for freedom, our government now invades our privacy at will - the only authority for this is the order of an executive who, at any given moment, is disliked by half the country.

But, who cares, as long as we're safe, right? I mean, I'm innocent - who cares if they listen in to my most private conversations?

There is nothing they can do to ensure that we are kept safe.

But there is plenty that they can do with intimate and private information, from false accusations which lead to rendition and torture, to identity theft by criminals in government service, to old-fashioned, peverted voyeurism.

And every minute they are invading the privacy of innocent Americans, violating our civil rights under the supreme law of the land which we pay them to uphold, is one less minute spent doing their job defending us against the threats we pay them to defend us against.

From The Spy Factory:

ADRIENNE KINNE: For a voice interceptor, the computer system would essentially pop up, and it would be very similar, I would say, to iTunes, where you could just go through and click on various conversations, and it would have the phone number, the time up, time down. We were told that we were to listen to all conversations that were intercepted, to include those of Americans and other allied countries.

NARRATOR: Some of those conversations are personal, some even intimate.

ADRIENNE KINNE: And there was no directive to say that when you had conversations like this come through, that you should delete them. That's what we did when I was on active duty in '94 to '98. We would never collect on an American. I had a real problem with the fact that people were listening to it and I was listening to it. The time that that interceptor, that voice interceptor, is spending listening to conversations in the States, that's time that they can't spend looking or listening for actual conversations related to terrorist organizations.

Osama bin Laden and his khawarij terrorists seek to destroy America. But, Sheikh bin Laden knows this is beyond his power, unless he can get us to do it to ourselves.

And, his plan is working, because where the terrorists failed in destroying our Constitutional government, we are having success beyond their wildest dreams.

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