The consistent excuse from Congress to continue the NSA’s mass data collection is to say they never target anyone other than terrorists. Turns out that’s not exactly the case. In fact, some 90% of the individuals targeted weren’t real targets, as Buck Sexton referred to them on radio today they are more aptly described as collateral Fourth Amendment damage.
Below is a rough transcript of this segment:
BUCK: First, what really caught my eye, because I was doing my read, preparing for what I call as my session in the freedom hunt, there have been new revelations about the N.S.A., Edward Snowden, the contractor turned, oh, people call him a whistle-blower. I think we’re going to have to start thinking of other terms. Whistle-blower is a much abused term now. In fact, when you look at the Obama Administration’s record on whistle-blowers, a lot of the time the people whose names are bandied about by members of the press are with no normal understanding of the term to be called whistle-blowers.
Someone want to explain to me what Bradley, aka Chelsey, Manning, what whistle was being blown exactly, that a war is being fought, that diplomacy is a dirty business, that there are countries all over the world that are very corrupt. We still try to work with them. I’m not really sure how that is blowing a whistle. That would be perhaps blowing state secrets, but not a whistle per se.
There are other instances as well when are people get lumped in, whistle-blower. To be a whistle-blower you have to be identifying wrongdoing and that does not apply to some of the things that we’re talking about here with the N.S.A.
However, in this particular instance, because there there have been many instances, because if you believe what we’re told publicly by the intelligence community at this point in time, what Snowden took with him was massive, a trove of data. And the latest according to “The Washington Post” as we see here is ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in a communication sept intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by “The Washington Post.”
You see, the Post now has all of these documents in its possession and it takes it upon itself to sift through them. And they’re blocking out some things I see here, doing their own version, not of declassification per se, but, oh, of a journalistic scrub perhaps. I’m not really sure exactly what they would call it, because they’re not really qualified to do the things that they’re doing when it comes to removing sensitive information. But ordinary Internet users are being swept up into this.
Now, I have many people who know me and know what I used to do in a — what feels like a prior life now, say, did you see the latest revelation? Do you see what they’re doing? This is Orwellian. This is big brother. This is absurd. And I say, yes, yes, it is. Why are you surprised? That’s where I am now on this. And I don’t mean to be glib or smug. Sometimes I do. In this case I don’t. In this instance, as we find more and more of these data dumps coming out, I have to say to people, well, yes, of course, don’t you see everything on the Internet essentially now for all intents and purposes is collected, it is under surveillance, it is being kept. That the government now, because it’s protecting you from the terrorists, from the terrorizers, the government has decided that it needs all of the information it can get on all of us at all times, even though it doesn’t seem it’s ever able to stop many of these threats from actually becoming a reality.
So we see once again in the dragnet that the N.S.A. is running, allegedly according to “The Washington Post,” according to the snowing document that is — snowing documents that they have in their possession, some of which have been published in the post at least in piecemeal, much of the information that’s being collected from this N.S.A. dragnet that’s suppose to protect us from terrorist organizations, it’s just the stuff that you’re sending to your families and friends. In fact, 160,000 intercepted conversations is what the “Post” is claiming, including emails, instant messages, photographs, social network posts and other document.
The trove included messages exchanged from 2009 to 2012 and some were hundreds of pages long, with 90% of the individuals not targets, but rather I guess you could call them collateral Fourth Amendment damage. Maybe that’s how we should start referring to this. The Fourth Amendment seems rather clear, and yet when it comes to national security, when all of a sudden the intelligence community is in a place where the national security apparatus more broadly, we have to include the White House and the Pentagon. When they have a moment, they can tell us that we’re under such dire threat. They do as they did over the weekend, by the way. I didn’t even care much to delve into the specifics. I just know there was a threat, Fourth of July weekend. DHS looking for something. They’re going to take even more time now, squirt out even more milk bottles and look through even more laptop cases and all the rest of that, because that’s really going to stop the terrorists. So much of it is needless theater, but it’s theater to a broader purpose.
And now you have to understand it’s theater that has a couple of things that make it very tricky to walk back. We’re always told we’re under threat and that if we don’t do these sort of things, if we don’t allow the government to trample on the Fourth Amendment, to decide that it’s able to ignore the Constitution when it’s convenient, we don’t do those things and the terrorists will win. Or at least the terrorists will strike at us. They will harm us. They will do bad things to this country. And so now so many Americans in fact have been brought up in this sort of statist culture. When they talk about these things, you’ll hear them say, I have nothing to hide. And they don’t seem to understand that the founders didn’t say I’m against a general warrant because I’m illegally importing goods, although some of them were. They didn’t say I’m against the concept of my home and my business being rummaged through by Redcoats, because I’m doing so much illegal stuff. They just said that that’s not what the state should be able to do.
It’s too much power in the hands of the state, that it relies too much on the good graces of those who have been given authority by the citizens of this country or in that case of course by the king. And it was unacceptable. It’s not a question of innings or guilt. It’s a question of how much power you’re giving the government to intrude upon our daily lives and to cowice from citizens into subjects. Social media posts. Apparently your baby photos, apparently anything you write to anyone at any point in time could be or is already collected by the same government that promises you, there’s so many safeguards in place, it will protect you.
Let’s keep in mind this is the government that has one of its senior most officials from the I.R.S. pleading the fifth amendment. Can’t talk about what I did in my professional capacity, can’t have that discussion. Why? Oh, I wonder. Seven hard drives crashing. Seven hard drives that are irretrievable. In one instance at least with Lois Lerner, they’ve been destroyed. That’s the government that’s saying don’t worry. We have total access to all of your stuff but we promise we won’t abuse it.
You see, they don’t necessarily want to abuse your stuff. They’re not necessarily targeting any individual out there right now. But they can target every individual. That has of course a chilling effect on all of us. But more importantly, they can target specific people as they need to this time. And as you will see, a state that begins to run roughshod over the people, doesn’t take kindly and this is a historical truth. You can look back to any country that has gone to radical. When people speak out, they have to make examples of people. When people all of a sudden step out of line, when citizens say, this is too much. This government no longer is representative of me, of my values, of what I believe in when they start to have that conversation. Then the government, the one-eyed cyclops that is the government decides to crush dissent. And guess what, with a could be easier crushing dissent when you have access to everything a person has ever said or done. When you have access to secret law, not only secret law, secret warrants.
And when you can avoid the scrutiny of fellow citizens, one of the only checks we have tyranny apart from the Second Amendment, when you can avoid that as a government entity by claiming secrecy, national security privileges. Sorry, you can’t know about that. If you were smarter, if you had more to offer, perhaps we would tell you, but you’re just a lowly citizen. We are the lords in the intelligence community, in the national security community, and you are the serfs. Deal with it. This is the offer they’re making to us now or perhaps it’s an offer we can’t refuse. And this is what they say to us.
And now they wonder why we come out and say, well, you want us to trust us and yet why should we. You want us to trust you, government, and we see how you act in so many different capacities, and instances. This same government that can’t secure the border, that lies to our faces for years about how secure the border is.
We’re going to be talking about that extensively in just a little bit today on the show. That same government is saying to you, give us unlimited surveillance authority and power. You won’t know about it, so don’t worry, it can’t hurt you. But it is going to be unlimited. Give us that power and we’ll protect you. That’s an offer that’s been made by many a tyrant to many a peasant centuries and centuries, millennia back, actually. Give us the authority and everything will be fine. We just had Fourth of July. We just had our Independence Day and been with it. Perhaps we should start to think a little bit more seriously about what freedom actually means here at home and what the government is asking us to do on a regular basis, or even more egregiously, just doing and expecting us to not make a peep about it.