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NSA Aiming For ‘Total Population Control’ According to Former Agency Official

A former high level NSA technical chief told a conference in London organized by the Centre for Investigative Journalism earlier this month that the goal of the NSA is “total population control.”

William Binney worked as a leading NSA codebreaker during the Cold War, but he left the agency in disgust shortly after the September 11th attacks. According to a report in the Guardian, he recently testified before the German Parliament and told them “that his former employer had a ‘totalitarian mentality’ that was the ‘greatest threat’ to US society since that country’s US Civil War in the 19th century.”

The Guardian reports that during the London conference Binney said the NSA targets pretty much everybody in the world.

“The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, he said, “And it’s said to be about terrorism, but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.”

Binney called the lack of transparency the biggest concern and put the number of violations of the U.S. Constitution in the trillions.

“The FISA court has only the government’s point of view”, he said. “There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for US domestic audiences and you can double that globally.”

According to the Guardian, the former agent says the NSA stores away vast amounts of data, far more than anybody admits.

“At least 80 percent of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80percent of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

Binney said a recent Supreme Court opinion asserting a warrant requirement for searching a smart phone was cause for optimism, but I don’t have much faith in the federal courts to ultimately rein in a federal agency. Even the rare good ruling means little when the NSA operates cloaked in nearly complete secrecy. Those of us who value our privacy must find ways outside of the Beltway to hinder the spy agency’s operation and force substantive changes.

The OffNow campaign focuses on state and local action to make illegal spying as difficult possible with the ultimate goal of pressuring change from the bottom up.

Click on the links below to get involved. After all, it’s your privacy!

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Greenwald Releases Names of NSA Spy Targets

Journalist Glenn Greenwald released the names of five Americans targeted by NSA spies on Wednesday.

Greenwald obtained the information through documents given to him by Edward Snowden, specifically a spreadsheet called the FISA recap. The five people Greenwald revealed as spy targets all had one thing in common – their Muslim faith. They include civil rights activists, attorneys, a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates and academics.

Here are the five names Greenwald released:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The spreadsheet contained 7,485 email addresses that were apparently monitored between 2002-2008. According to Greenwald, it appears many were foreigners with suspected links to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. There were also many Americans, including known terrorists Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both killed in a 2011 drone strike. The nationality of many were listed as “unknown.”

Greenwald interviewed all five of the men he revealed. All felt their religion placed them in NSA cross-hairs. Although a few had some distant links to organizations linked to terrorism and foreign countries that might raise suspicion, the information Greenwald provided shows no justification for long-term snooping into their emails.

The five Americans whose email accounts were placed on the list come from different backgrounds, and hold different religious and political views. None was designated on the list as connected to a foreign power. Some have come under sharp public scrutiny for their activities on behalf of Muslim-Americans, and several have been investigated by the government. But despite being subjected to what appears to be long periods of government surveillance, none has been charged with a crime, let alone convincingly linked to terrorism or espionage on behalf of a foreign power. Taken together, their personal stories raise disturbing questions about who the government chooses to monitor, and why.

ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer likened the targeting of Muslim Americans by the government to FBI surveillance of dissedents in the 1960s.

Some of the government’s surveillance practices today are reminiscent of those earlier abusive practices. Today’s American-Muslim activists occupy the same position that civil-rights and anti-war activists occupied during the 1960s.

This latest revelation hints at the potential abuses inherent in secret spy programs run under the cloak of darkness. Documents released by Snowden indicate a far more insidious program than many imagined, and they reveal systematic lying by government officials. When one stops to considers what we now know about the NSA spy program, it boggles the mind to contemplate what remains hidden.

The government downplays each new revelation, but how can we believe their official statements when documentation has exposed a web of lies? The only solution lies in ripping away the veil of secrecy, and demanding the NSA and other federal agencies remain true to the limits on their power spelled out specifically in the Constitution. We cannot depend on Congress, the president or federal courts to rein in the spy programs. The federal government will never limit itself. We must take action at the state and local level to force the issue and bring about change from the bottom up.

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Regular People Targeted By NSA Spies, Not Just Criminals

Have you noticed that not once has an NSA revelation led people to say, “Oh, that isn’t as bad as I thought?”

In fact, every leaked document proves the spy agency more invasive, more expansive and more insidious than we realized. And what we’ve seen likely represents only the tip of the iceberg.

Last weekend, the Washington Post detonated the latest NSA bombshell, once again leaving Americans thinking, “Wow, it’s even worse than we imagined.”

After analyzing tens of thousands of files and communications obtained through Edward Snowden, the Post concluded that as many as nine out of 10 Internet users caught up in the spy dragnet were not the intended targets of surveillance. Not only that, but documents revealed that large amounts of data not relevant to any investigation was stored on NSA computers, even after it was deemed unimportant.

According to the Post story, nearly half of the files contained names, accounts and email addresses belonging to Americans.

There were indications that some of the information gathered was used in anti-terror activities and led to the capture of terror suspects, but the vast majority was not.

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

The NSA did “minimize” (NSA parlance for hide) over 65,000 identifiers belonging to Americans, but some 900 pieces of information escaped the censor’s mouse click. And the Post found that the criteria for determining if a surveillance target was actually foreign was exceptionally loose. Simply typing an email in a foreign language was adequate evidence to deem a person “foreign” for the purpose of spying.

The documents also revealed a continuing pattern of government lies. Officials have insisted Snowden did not have access to the information he gave to the paper. It also vastly understated the number of people targeted in its PRISM and Upstream programs

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

Snowden said the programs “crossed the line of proportionality.”

“Even if one could conceivably justify the initial, inadvertent interception of baby pictures and love letters of innocent bystanders,” he added, “their continued storage in government databases is both troubling and dangerous. Who knows how that information will be used in the future?”

Perhaps the most damning tidbit was the revelation that NSA spies use the more lenient standards of PRISM and Upstream programs to continue spying on targets even after the FISA court refused to extend warrants beyond the initial 90 days.

“These selectors were previously under FISA warrant but the warrants have expired,” one analyst writes, requesting that surveillance resume under the looser standards of Section 702. The request was granted.

We cannot count on the federal government to untangle its own web of lies. Congressional action to date has proved feckless. Federal courts generally rubber-stamp expansive federal powers. The president seems perfectly content to remain in full possession of his surveillance powers.

We need to find new ways to attack the beast.

The OffNow campaign focuses on state and local action to hinder the surveillance-state. By denying cooperation and resources to the NSA and other agencies violating basic privacy rights, we can hinder its operation and ultimately grind it to a halt. State and local action also serves as a megaphone, trumpeting a powerful message to the political class in Washington D.C.

Please get involved. It’s your privacy, after all.