Debunking the Myths About NSA Surveillance
Debunking the Myths About NSA Surveillance
February 13, 2014
If you’ve been following the ongoing NSA surveillance debacle, then you’ve no doubt heard plenty of folks offering all kinds of reasons why we shouldn’t be worried about it—or why we shouldn’t/can’t fight it. They’re wrong on all counts. In the interest of truth, here are some myths about the NSA surveillance programs, debunked.
1. “The programs keep us safe by stopping terrorists during the planning stage.” Wrong. In fact, contrary to claims made by pro-surveillance government shills, the NSA has stopped exactly one person: a San Diego cab driver, who was convicted of sending $8,500 to a Somali terrorist group. There’s a reason why two independent bodies have advised the administration that the programs are worthless and highly unconstitutional–because they are.
2. “There’s simply no other less-intrusive way to achieve the same ends.” Wrong. First, you need to determine what those ends are. What is the goal of the NSA with these programs? Sure they say it’s to keep us safe, but the truth is that they have a myriad of legal means available. The whole point of warrants, court orders, etc. are to force the government to make their case fairly while protecting innocent citizens. If the point is to control the citizenry, then no. There isn’t another way to do it, because they were never meant to be able to do so.
3. “NSA data-crunching programs only work if you collect all information on everyone.” Wrong. As the Guardian reports, no cases have been found that warranted bulk collection. In fact, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board found that none of the cases studied contained information that could not have been collected using targeted surveillance. This means that point #2 is true: They can do their job with targeted surveillance against individuals for whom they have obtained a warrant. They simply choose not to. Instead, they collect it all.
4. “Congress knew about and approved these programs.” Again, wrong. The opposite happened. Rep. Justin Amash blew the whistle on this little end run done by Rep. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger. Point blank, they lied. They hid the documents. They ensured that no one knew about it, at least no one who wasn’t on board. Techdirt explains:
So, when Feinstein and others greeted the leaks with a shrug and a blase “We’ve known about this for years,” there was probably some truth to those claims. Certain Representatives and Senators knew. Some even tried to warn the public. Still others had no idea, not until the details began appearing, not in security briefings, but at The Guardian and Washington Post.
5. “It’s just metadata. It’s not everything.” Sadly, this is not only wrong, but misleading. Yes, they are collecting all your phone calls and your emails, but even if they weren’t, we’ve already explained how just having metadata is bad enough.
6. “President Obama is serious about reform.” This is a crock. Beyond wrong. In fact, this statement is downright stupid, and if you’ve said it as anything less than sarcasm, you should go slam your head in a door. He made some noises about reform, but we’ve already explained how that works, and we already know he’s a liar anyway. If you like your privacy, you can keep it, right?
Notably absent from the president’s recent speech on surveillance was a commitment to end other forms of bulk collection. Congress needs to finish the job by rewriting the laws to ensure that no records or communications can be collected in a mass, suspicion-free fashion and that the government’s tools be targeted only at those suspected of wrongdoing.
Here’s the truth. The federal government is spying on you, in a manner that is highly illegal and unconstitutional. It does not keep you safe. It does not help you. The NSA could get the information it needs on actual threats by using constitutional means and targeting the people who are threats instead of targeting all of us. What they are doing is identifying the dissidents, the political activists, the ones who stand in opposition to their socialist, controlling agenda.
If you’re not on a list by now, you’re not doing it right.
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