No Surprise Here: NSA Abused Surveillance Powers

from the but-of-course-they-did dept

This will comes as little surprise to most people, but it turns out that the NSA has been abusing its surveillance powers, collecting significantly more information than they are allowed to by Congress. Of course, we got a hint of this last year when an NSA whistleblower revealed how the NSA regularly tracked information it wasn’t supposed to be tracking. And, of course, we’ve yet to see a secretive gov’t program yet that hasn’t been abused in some way. National Security Letters? FBI abused it. Warrantless wiretapping? Abused. So we should certainly be questioning why the administration is claiming that there shouldn’t be oversight over any such programs, when history has shown that they have been, and will continue to be, abused.

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Comments on “No Surprise Here: NSA Abused Surveillance Powers”

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Enrico Suarve says:

Nothing to see here

Carry on walking folks and look away…

Keep on looking at us like that and we’ll tase your ass. You can trust us, after all… well… take it from us, you can trust us

Change you can believe in*

*subject to terms and conditions, offer may be altered at any time without notice, beliefs may vary

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Re: Nothing to see here

OK Coward i’ll bite…

In what way? NSA, Police and FBI constantly abusing powers and the new administration stating they don’t need oversight?

Certainly sounds like business as usual – meet the new boss same as the old boss

no oversight = look away (or has the same effect anyway)

Go on enlighten me, what did I miss that was so insightful you couldn’t fit it into a one line reply

Bob (user link) says:

Is it really a big deal

How threatened are you that they can, and do listen in on your emails or phone calls? Google does it.

Unless you have some reason to be tapped, no one is going to waste the time and money it would cost to do so… you’re just not that interesting.

The NSA (and other agencies) have a weighty task. We talking about some serious consequences for failure on their part, and unfortunately, those consequences directly effect our lives.

Besides, even if they are surveillancing American citizens, they can’t take action against a suspect without following due process -except for possibly extraordinary rendition, which is, by definition, extraordinary. And again, realistically, the stakes are pretty high, and they aren’t going to risk the time, money, and bad pr for no reason.

Bottom line: suck it up.

Bob Basher says:

Re: Is it really a big deal

Bob, you are an idiot. In fact, you are worse than an idiot as you obviously hide behind ignorance like some sort of shield that will protect you.

It’s people like you who continued to give up freedoms in Nazi Germany that led the way to secret police, rounding up of ethnic peoples and finally genocide.

If you keep looking the other way, trying to justify giving up your freedom and it WILL BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU.

Oh, it will sound like a good reason… keep you safe, stop terrorism, save the children, save the planet, or whatever “feel good” cause they invent to strip you of your freedom.

So roll over and play dead if you want. It will be the truth sooner than you think as you are systematically stripped of your freedoms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Is it really a big deal

Bob Basher, I’m calling Godwin’s law on you.

Yeah, because a lot of that supposed Nazi stuff never even happened in the first place. Why would their government have cared if someone was Jewish or not? Answer: they wouldn’t. They had much more important issues to deal with, like WWII, than peoples personal religious beliefs. All these people that are just soooo scared of the big bad government should just put their tin foil hats on and go hide in the woods, preferably in the middle of hunting season.

Also, I appreciate seeing comments that aren’t all the same sarcastic opinion echoed from the article 20 times in 15 different ways.

Me too. I really appreciate reading sensible comments like Bob’s. People who don’t trust the government must have something to hide.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Is it really a big deal

“The NSA have a weighty task”

True, the No Such Agency and the CIA does have a weighty task –

Unfortunately, that task seems to have little to nothing to do with our well being. But what’s Obama to do? The last guy that tried to castrate the intelligence community, Kennedy, didn’t fair so well.

DCX2 says:

Re: Is it really a big deal

Yes, it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal for journalists who are trying to break stories about government law-breaking. It’s a huge deal for political opponents who are not currently in control of this spying apparatus. It’s a huge deal if the feds drive you to suicide like they did to Bruce Ivins.

Just because it’s not a big deal to you, directly, does not mean that it’s not a big deal to someone who is in some way connected to you and everyone else.

weneedhelp (user link) says:

Re: Is it really a big deal

“Unless you have some reason to be tapped, no one is going to waste the time and money it would cost to do so”

What is happening is computers go over ALL conversations, pick out keywords, and flags them for review.
Call someone and say nothing but anthrax, explosives, etc, etc.

“They can’t take action against a suspect without following due process”
With the above mentioned, you can be deemed a terrorist, or enemy combatant, shipped off to one of our gulags, and it would be all legal. There’s your due process.

“bad pr” Dont kid yourself. You would be taken away and no one but your family would know, and no one would listen.

Suck it up? – what a fool.

Overcast says:

Of course – for years many have been saying “don’t allow government to do this and that… it WILL be abused”.

And yes, of course; it’s being abused.

Unfortunately, that task seems to have little to nothing to do with our well being. But what’s Obama to do? The last guy that tried to castrate the intelligence community, Kennedy, didn’t fair so well.

Yep, true enough. He was ‘taken care of’.

asymptote says:

NSA's goal

The best treatment I’ve found of No Such Agency is “Body of Secrets” by James Bamford. NSA is part of our defense establishment. Their task in the defense of the USA is to be ABLE to intercept ALL communications, especially but not exclusively in electronic form. The technical challenges are huge — example: how do you tap an undersea fiber optic cable? But the task doesn’t end at collection of traffic. The collected traffic must me decrypted and analyzed. Seemingly innocuous plain text messages could be encoded instructions. The analysis task is a huge challenge, requiring a relentless push for greater computational power (“They measure their IT capacity in acres”). To be able to respond to a defense crisis quickly, they must already have the interception, collection, and analysis tools in place and operational (according to their view of the world). There are two obstacles in the way of looking at the data they collect: the law of the land; and the sheer enormity of the data set. Don’t assume they collect data only for targets of interest — they theoretically only *analyze* the subset of the collected data for targets of interest. The law kicks in when the analysts’ little heads start looking at pillowtalk between a soldier in Iraq and her spouse back home. It’s a short step from looking at love talk between Americans, to looking at anything I put into discoverable communications. At present, the only impediment to Big Brother watching my every move is sufficient computational power.

The law of the land will be like a castle made of sand.

Bob (user link) says:

Its beyond your pay grade

There is a military slang term for talking about things that you don’t really know about…”it’s beyond your pay grade.”

You can call me an idiot, you can say I’m a fool, but the fact of the matter is, you’re talking about something about which you don’t know pertinent details.

I’m sorry. Have you devised a way to identify and analyze relevant chatter between known and suspected terrorist operatives inside and outside of the country. Are you able to draw a correlation from that analysis to clear and present threats to national security?

No? Then maybe you don’t know what they should or should not be allowed to do, and maybe the news of the NSA’s ‘abuse’ of power is spin created by the liberal media who has clearly decided what you should think about this particular topic.

Or maybe they just know they can make a buck off of stupid fear mongers.

Take it easy Dale Gribble, THEY are not out to get you.

Tgeigs says:

Blah blah blah trust your government blah

“Are you able to draw a correlation from that analysis to clear and present threats to national security?”

A. No, and apparently neither are the intelligence agencies, or else they would have been more successful in stopping terrorist attacks, identifying the capacity of weapons of mass destruction, and keeping us from sending SCUDs into asparin factories.

B. If the dangers were clear and present, we wouldn’t be having this discussion because the unintelligence agencies would know WHOM to direct their activities (this assumes that they don’t know, which is BS. There IS NO real threat, relatively speaking, and the NSA/CIA/FBI is doing exactly what it intends to do: spying on the American public).

C. None of this matters anyway, because law enforcement agencies are not allowed to obtain wiretaps w/o a warrant, or else they must obtain a warrant quickly after beginning a necessary wiretap. The abuses mentioned in this article fall under that category, are illegal, and should (but won’t) be stopped.

Fascism, thy name is America

Dave says:

Government workers are people too

My problem is that people always come up with the “what do you have to hide?” question.

Are you a tory? A nazi? A communist? A terrorist?
OR GOD FORBID… a socialist???

That kind of fearmongering that gets repeated over and over always places the government in the “trustworthy” role. Do you really trust the people working in the government??

I trust them a lot less than I trust my neighbor, but I still close my blinds at home.

gwjones (profile) says:

After COINTELPRO, some people still think the Feds are the good guys

It’s astounding, but maybe not given we live in a ‘fast-food’ 30-sec ad oriented society, that people forget so quickly the lessons of US history as recent as the 70’s.

The FBI and local police illegally carried out surveillance citizens exercising free speech for over a decade, planted false rumors, committed felonies that were blamed on legal organizations and then, when exposed and ordered by courts to desist and destroy illegal files, handed them off to right-wing private armies to be computerized (which they were also caught doing).

Look a little further back, when in the 60’s a plan was laid before the Joint Chiefs of Staff to blow-up John Glenn’s Mercury rocket on the launch pad and blame it on Castro, thereby securing overwhelming public support for a full scale invasion of Cuba.

If that seems like ancient history to some, ponder Donald Rumsfeld scheduled to appear before Congress on Sept. 11 to explain a $2 trillion hole in the Pentagon budget. Needless to say, instead of grilling him with questions about this unbelievable loss, he was showered with money to hunt down the vicious terrorist who blew-up the World Trade Ctr.

Wow. I’m sure glad the government gets to listen in on all our conversations…

Terry Wagar says:

Eric Carlson and Joan Wagar, A,K,A, Doubleclick and Mrs Dash,( yes those are there nicknames they gave each other.) admitted to poisoning me while I was a plasma donor back in 2005.
Eric Carlson pedofied me behind prison walls and then framed me as a pedophile on march 26th 2007, I caught the crime on a audio recorder I put in Joan’s purse.
there were people in authority helping them with this and nobody in authority will help they pretend nothing happened and refuse to investigate this.
Eric Carlson changed his hair color and his name to Gashel and Clackamas Walmart was hiding him from my Family by pretending He’s someone else but this is not hidden, only ignored by the authority’s and media
I’m disabled from being poisoned and the hospitals refuse to admit I’m poisoned.
My Family is in danger from these people and I have no other recourse but to make these charges public.
My name is Terry Wagar,I’m from Portland Oregon and I’m backing up these charges.
I have been threatened with harassment charges by a Sargent Walker, She is a Portland Police officer stationed at the OHSU hospital, for the non crime of reporting a multi murder conspiracy within that hospital.
They dont give a s4!t Joan and Eric was poisoning a plasma donor!
And how many god damn John Ray’s in authority are there in portland oregon!
You damn serial killer.
Where did Mrs Dash keep her stash? in A Garlic Salt Shaker!
What did Doubleclick do with his Dick? You Pedo!
Why you hiding A body double for Clackamas Walmart?
Cover this up Sgt Walker!
We have our Witch hunts right here in Portland Oregon, and they use it to justify murder.
The Authority’s call it “Pedofied” it means they just run around spreading rumors about someone they want dead, they label that person A pedophile, turning hundreds of people against that person overnight.
It makes it easy to get volunteer’s to lie for them so they can murder off that person.
And no one complains, thinking to themselves “One less pedophile to worry about.

It’s A great responsibility to report A crime the Authority’s don’t want reported!

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