I have been the voice crying in the wilderness about the biggest swindle in government, the mushrooming National Security Agency that gorges on so much tax money the exact amount is classified. They operate out of a complex larger than the Pentagon and spread their tentacles around the globe. It recently came to light that much of their capability is directed not at foreign intelligence as dictated by their mission, but toward law abiding United States Citizens.
America has been under terror attacks for decades while NSA wiles away the time doing who knows what. Seventeen years ago Khobar Towers was bombed with 498 injured and 19 Americans killed, to this day NSA has no clue who did it! The USS Cole was attacked and al Qaeda claimed responsibility but NSA don’t know if that’s true and wasn’t able to warn about the attack in advance, 30 sailors were killed. Then there is 9/11 and a long tragic list of terror attacks that goes on and on and on.
Finally, NSA Director, Four Star Obama handpicked General Keith Alexander, admits the Obama Administration misled us, the public, about the utility of NSA Surveillance. That misleading information about terror plots and their foiling had been issued to bolster support for the government’s vast surveillance kingdom. General Alexander still has his job while General Stanley McChrystal lost his job when Rolling Stone reported that the General and his aides made disrespectful remarks about Joe Biden while they were off duty.
During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings, Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange:
“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” said Leahy. The Vermont Democrat then asked the NSA chief to admit that only 13 out of a previously cited 54 cases of foiled plots were genuinely the fruits of the government’s enormous dragnet surveillance systems:
“These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled,” Leahy said, asking Alexander, “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” replied Alexander.
Alexander is not alone, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has a history of lying to Congress as well. Once upon a time before Eric Holder became Attorney General that was a crime! Apparently laws only apply to us peasants, not to government leaders? If you trust the chain of command, Obama, Hagel, Clapper and Alexander maybe you can trust the 100,000 bureaucrats?
The Patriot Act’s Sec. 215 (50 U.S.C. § 1861) authorizes the government to collect “tangible things” that are “relevant” to an authorized national security investigation. I am not Chief Justice of the Supreme Court but I can read the Constitution and am quite sure the Patriot Act itself is unconstitutional, always have believed it and always will. Anyway, We now know that NSA used Sec. 215 to collect metadata on EVERY phone call that EVERY AMERICAN has made, reportedly over the last seven years. That metadata includes numbers dialed, numbers of incoming calls, times of the calls, and routing information. Many Members who voted for the Patriot Act, including the past chairman of the law’s authorizing committee, have stated that NSA’s blanket surveillance program is FAR BEYOND what was intended in the law. Keep in mind, this is what has been admitted, most likely not the whole truth.
Pursuant to Sec. 215 and at the request of the government, the FISA court routinely enters 90-day orders to telecommunications providers like Verizon to turn over to the government ALL CALL DETAIL INFORMATION or “telephony metadata” for calls within the U.S., including PURELY LOCAL CALLS. The FISA court approves the procedures that the administration says it will impose on itself to limit its own access to the data. I call that a rubber stamp or “trust me” to do the right thing approach. After the IRS, EPA, DHS, etc., who in their right mind would give the government a blank check? In the United States I have no idea what any Judge would have to do to end up in the slammer? Every American who finished he fifth grade and understands the meaning of “is” knows that forcing Americans to buy something is unconstitutional, everybody except the Supreme Court, of course.
The Obama Administration has not provided a public explanation as to how the telephone records of all Americans are “relevant” to a national security investigation. Similarly, Sec. 215 is silent as to how the government may use these records once it has obtained them.
The Amash-Conyers amendment would have ended NSA’s blanket collection of Americans’ telephone records by requiring the FISA court under Sec. 215 to order the production of records that pertain only to A PERSON under investigation. It would have ended the mass surveillance of Americans; Permitted the government to continue to acquire business records and other “tangible things” that are actually related to an authorized counterterrorism investigation; And impose more robust judicial oversight of NSA’s surveillance. The FISA court would be involved every time NSA searches Americans’ records, and the court would have a substantive, statutory standard to apply to make sure the NSA does not violate Americans’ civil liberties.
In short, the government would have to provide facts to the FISA court to show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records sought are relevant to an appropriately authorized national security investigation and pertain to the person, group or corporation under investigation. There is no proof that the Judge would be awake or playing cell phone poker while NSA presented its case but it had a chance of working. The Amash-Conyers amendment would not have affected foreign surveillance.
Unfortunately, the amendment failed 205-217, with 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voting to uphold the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. This was a sad day for me when only one Arkansas Congressman, Tim Griffin, voted for the Amendment. Yes, most Republicans voted for lawlessness over our Constitution. They voted for lazy, ineffective lying bureaucrats over law abiding citizens. With $100 trillion in unfunded requirements and a $17 trillion national debt, they voted to keep an incalculably costly unconstitutional extravagant useless program. They were fearful they might be blamed if NSA continued to fail to uncover and thwart terrorist attacks. They failed America.
And so I continue as a tiny voice in the wilderness warning that, as in the days of Noah, so are the days of our lives when NOBODY is looking out for OUR interests and few people have time to look around to see what happened to our once great esteemed nation.