Through the PRISM-Obama’s Technological Coup D’Etat-How Tech Giants are helping Obama turn 2013 into Orwell’s 1984

Through the PRISM-Obama’s Technological Coup D’Etat-How Tech Giants are helping Obama turn 2013 into Orwell’s 1984

I remember reading George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984 in high school and thinking, “Wow I am so glad THAT could NEVER happen in the USA”. Ah the folly of youth! As it turns out the United States government has been doing a fine imitation of Big Brother aided by every conceivable technological company in our country today-Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, AOL, YouTube and the list goes on.

Why would the United States government, via their National Security Agency (NSA, also referred to in intelligence circles as “No Such Agency”) be interested in monitoring the every keystroke of law abiding Americans online?

Originally the program was intended to monitor foreign communications taking place via servers owned by U.S. tech companies like Google et al, since PRISM’s inception in 2007. Now it seems that PRISM related reports now account for 1 in 7 intelligence reports. That is a staggering number.

Big Brother is definitely watching!

The NSA is not supposed to be able to monitor internal U.S. communications! How is this possible or legal?

The Attorney General’s office (yes that is right, Eric Holders office-the same one that is being scrutinized due to its bosses possible lies to Congress) and the national director of intelligence issue a directive to the tech company in question-let’s just use Google for our example. Google in turn hands over access to their servers-and therefore all of the communication that goes through them-to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whose charter is to monitor for internal threats, and then the FBI passes this information on to the NSA.

How do we know that it is only the dangerous people, like terrorists, whose communication is being monitored?

An NSA employee has to have 51% “confidence” that a communication is “foreign”. Yes that is right, all that stands between the average citizen and the power of the NSA is the “confidence” of a government employee- in the current climate of intimidation of those who hold political viewpoints that differ from the current Administration-the IRS situation with 501c3’s being investigated and harassed, 69% of adoptive families being audited by the IRS during the 2012 tax cycle just to name two-that is not comforting to many. Nor should it be.

What kinds of communication are we talking about here? The Washington Post article details the types of communications included in this techno-dragnet as:

“…audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs… [Skype] can be monitored for audio when one end of the call is a conventional telephone, and for any combination of “audio, video, chat, and file transfers” when Skype users connect by computer alone. Google’s offerings include Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive files, photo libraries, and live surveillance of search terms.”

So if in my communications I mention certain keywords, like “terrorist”, could that put me on PRISM’s radar?

Yes, and there is nothing technically illegal about it. There was a piece of legislation that made it possible for these types of surveillance to take place with nothing more than the “reasonable belief” of a government employee that this communication is somehow questionable. According to an article on tech blog Gizmodo this legislation was simply a rearrangement of the law brought on by the public pressure placed on the Bush administration to end the warrantless wiretapping program made legal by the Patriot Act of 2001.

The Protect America Act of 2007 made it possible for targets to be electronically surveilled without a warrant if they were “reasonably believed” to be foreign. That’s where that 51% comes in. It was followed by the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which immunized companies from legal harm for collaborating handing information over to the government. And that’s the one-two punch that gives PRISM full legal standing.”

Why the heck would companies agree to this kind of violation of our Constitutional right to free speech?

Again, let us return to Google for our example. If you are the main legal counsel for Google and you receive this type of demand for access from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the office of the national director of intelligence you are going to automatically realize that while Google has very deep pockets, the power and resources of the U.S. Government exceed those of your employer. In other words a quick cost/benefit analysis will lead you to determine that it is far less costly to Google to comply with the governments request than it is to resist and spend millions in court defending the principle of freedom of speech.

I understand that all of these companies have issued denials of involvement with this program, wouldn’t it be illegal for them to lie?

This is where it gets tricky. The author of the NSA briefing that outlined the PRISM program also explained the process that allows this communication between the NSA and its corporate partners:

“It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers.”

In other words, the NSA need only “ping”, or query, the companies equipment remotely instead of requesting the information from company representatives.

How the heck did this come to light?

An article in the Washington Post and an investigation by the UK Guardian that broke this morning, and discussions on many conservative radio shows like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

What can the public do about it?

Start by seeking out those in office who are supporting this like Lindsay Graham (R), South Carolina and Diane Feinstein (D), California and calling them to account for their support of the willful violation of the Constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, and remind them that in the United States of America elections have consequences.

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1 Comment
  • Blue says:

    “The program is conducted under authority granted by Congress and is authorized by the Foreign intelligence Surveillance Court which determines the legality of the program.”


    Yet no one is even sure if this FISA court is a Constitutionally legal entity.”

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