James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has told the public that the NSA domestic spying and mass surveillance program is necessary because it has stopped 50 terrorist attacks. If that is true, isn’t domestic spying on Americans by law enforcement agencies a good thing, even if mass surveillance cuts a few corners on the US Constitution and violates a few unimportant rights?
First, it is not true. If you have not been following the Congressional hearings, and few of us have time to do that, you might not have noticed that Mr. James Clapper was caught red handed lying under oath on national television about these very same NSA domestic spying programs. When asked under oath if the intelligence agencies were collecting data on millions of Americans, Mr. Clapper testified that they were not doing so. He then clarified his testimony to say that the NSA was not wittingly collecting such data.
Unfortunately for Mr. Clapper’s credibility, Edward Snowden provided a major embarrassment for the NSA by revealing just a few days later that Mr. Clapper’s intelligence agencies and the NSA were very wittingly and intentionally collecting massive amounts of data, on a daily basis as a part of the domestic spying and mass surveillance programs. The NSA was collecting this data not just on some millions of Americans, but on every single American citizen.
In case you don’t have time to Google this, I have pasted here some of the top Google search results that come up (as of the time of this writing) when you type in the name of the man overseeing the domestic spying program which is collecting all of your communications:
Google Search for James Clapper:
Denver Post (blog)
1. James Clapper Apologizes to Congress for ‘Clearly Erroneous’ Testimony
ABC News (blog) - by Abby D. Phillip -
2. James Clapper is still lying to America
Salon – by David Sirota –
3. Senators accuse government of using ‘secret law’ to collect Americans’ data The Guardian –
4. James Clapper Apologizes for Lying to Congress About NSA …
5. WASHINGTON (AP) — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for telling Congress earlier this year that the National …
6. James Clapper Says He Forgot About the Patriot Act – Truthdig
– The mendacious national intelligence director who last month told NBC News that he gave the “least untruthful answer” in a March Senate …
7. Intelligence director James Clapper apologizes to senators for mistake
National Intelligence Director James Clapper apologized to senators for saying the federal government does not bulk collect Americans’ …
This is the man who you are trusting with all of your personal communications data, constitutional rights and civil rights.
Mr. Clapper has not been convicted of perjury, so I can not legally claim that he is a perjurer, but I can state the facts which are that he has been caught lying under oath to congress and the American people about the NSA domestic spying program and its impact on our civil rights and Constitution. All of this was caught on national television. Indeed Mr. Clapper’s fall from grace has been so complete, that following these events, even the New Your Times Editorial Board issued an editorial saying that the Administration has lost all credibility on the NSA domestic spying issue.
Believe it or not, just two weeks after he was caught lying about the NSA spying program, this same man went to every Sunday morning news program to tell the American people that his domestic spy campaign has stopped 50 terrorist. Harder still to believe, is the fact that many in the media accepted this known liar’s statements about NSA mass surveillance as fact. And now, to the dismay of those of us who are trying to save our nation from a terrible mistake, we hear Clapper’s lie about 50 plots repeated over and over, as if it had not been discredited.
Here are the facts: Of the so called 50 terrorist who were stopped by NSA domestic spying, not one was stopped by Mr. Clapper’s domestic spy program.
The first and most noted case that Mr. Clapper takes credit for is the so-called NY subway bomb plot. The facts are that it was the British whose actions led to the arrest in this case. Mr. Clapper is just riding their coat tails. There is a name in the military for cowardly men who claim the honors which were rightfully won by others. It would appear that in addition to the name liar, Mr. Clapper deserves that title as well.
British intelligence, through hard work and competence, apprehended and arrested a known bad guy overseas. When they took him into custody they also took his computer. As a result they had access to his email. While the terrorist was in custody, a terrorist sympathizer sent him an email asking about help with a bomb recipe. The British informed the US intelligence community who arrested that suspect. Good work British Intelligence. But domestic spying in the USA did not uncover the plot. The NSA spying programs which violate your civil rights and the Constitutional rights of all Americans was not even involved in the case.
Indeed, for the other two cases which Clapper has revealed (and you know he is leading with his best supporting evidence) the NSA domestic spying program did not lead to those arrests either. In both of those cases it was the interception of overseas communications, not NSA domestic spying, which played a role in solving the cases.
The interception of foreign communication by the NSA, while upsetting to some, does not have Constitutional implications and does not violate the civil rights of Americans. Constitutionally, those programs are fine, and they do not infringe upon the rights of American citizens, or endanger our country. The spying on Americans, however, has not increased our security and instead is making us less safe and less free.
There simply is no case on record where the collection and long term storing of the domestic communications of American citizens through Mr. Clapper’s massive domestic spy program has resulted in any increased safety for the American people. The violation of our Constitution and of our rights as Americans has not made us safer.
Second, if the goal of these NSA mass surveillance programs is to stop imminent threats to our nation, why is the program set up for keyword indexing and long term data storage? Why are your communication records being downloaded into computers for retrieval now and for many years in the future? The NSA is now building a massive complex in Utah to store all of this information on a long term basis.
Mr. Clapper has revealed that all of your “metadata” will be held by the NSA for a minimum of five years. Some classes of data are being stored permanently. All are accessible by keyword. In other words, law enforcement could potentially ask the data base to identify every communication in the data base (possibly including all email, twitter, Skype, fax and telephone voice communication) in which anyone mentioned voting for or against a particular political office holder.
Do you trust Mr. Clapper? That is not really the question. I trust Mr. Clapper and other member of our government to act like human beings. I know that human beings sometimes do good, and some times they do great evil. But most often they do what is in their own self interest. That might be okay as long as your interests do not conflict with the next office holder, or the next one, or the next one, or the next one… Try not to refer to any office holders by name or position in your telephone communications. Your rights are at an end. Now what we are left with is the raw power of the NSA and a hope that it will not be abused by such upstanding gentalen as Mr. Clapper.
Third, the collecting of the records of American citizens is authorized by the US Constitution so long as the government obtains a warrant (see the 4th Amendment). All the government has to do is obtain a warrant based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the procedure enshrined in our Constitution to ensure that Americans retain their civil rights.
What Mr. Clapper is doing is collecting files, in mass, on every single American citizen without a warrant and without a showing that there is any cause to take your records. Instead of a warrant based on probable cause, Mr. Clapper is able to go to the secret “Intelligence Surveillance Court” and obtain an order (not a warrant, and based upon no showing of probable cause) which states that the records of every American are to be uploaded to the NSA every day as part of the domestic spying program. This is an open violation of the US Constitution and of our rights as US citizens.
Fourth, and I did not make this up: Just days before Edward Snowden disclosed that the government was collecting all of this secret data, the President of the United States made a nationally televised address to tell the American people that the threat of terrorism was declining globally and that the threat to America was lower than it was even before 9/11/2001. This made it very awkward just a few days later when Mr. Clapper tried to claim that we needed his NSA domestic spying program because the threat of terrorist is so great. It would appear Mr. Clapper is distorting the truth again about his mass surveillance of American citizens.
Fifth, spying on US citizens who are not suspected of any crimes or criminal activity will not only destroy our civil rights, it will destroy our nation. That argument can be found in greater depth on the Spy and Danger pages of this website. In short, as we begin to fully realize that our government is recording, keyword indexing, and permanently storing all of our email, twitter, Skype, fax and voice communications, it will change our perception of ourselves and our relationship to our government. Will we speak as openly about political or religious or social matters if we know that at any date in the future an unknown administrator can access the record by searching every American’s files simultaneously by keyword? What will happen to our civil rights when we are afraid to speak out on political issues.
Sixth, what if a future leader of this country uses the domestic communications database to identify his political of ideological adversaries? NSA mass surveillance and the NSA’s domestic spying program is creating that data base.
Have you ever said anything bad about the republicans or the democrats in a phone call or in e mail? You would not criticize a president or a senator would you? Would you criticize a president if you knew your words were stored and recorded as part of the mass surveillance and domestic spying program run by the NSA.
With such a database it would be possible to identify every person in the country who had ever spoken ill of any officeholder. If you have never worked with a database, you might be surprised at just how quickly and efficiently it can search through millions of records to identify all of the ones you want. There are many things that governments are not very good at doing, but the history of the last century has demonstrated that governments can be very efficient at processing people whom the government does not want.
This NSA mass surveillances and domestic spying program is a poison to democracy and our freedom. It is a poison to our civil rights. I believe that our nation is in the midst of swallowing a poison. I am reaching out to you. Your voice is the antidote. Your nation and you rights as an American citizen are at stake.