Spying has never been a pretty business. Those who do it for a living eventually accept it as a necessary evil. I suppose we should also--that is if we're really concerned about terrorism on this nation's soil.
With all of that said, however, it's obvious that there must be constraints in place that seek to prevent those who actively monitor society from misusing and abusing this technological power; and might I add that this tremendous power resides with the smallest of the small among those who work in the intelligence business.
Recently a report was released by the National Security Agency (NSA) that outlines its own spying activities.
The U.S. government on Friday for the first time released data on the scope of some of its most sensitive foreign intelligence-gathering efforts, saying that it had targeted nearly 90,000 foreign persons or organizations for surveillance through U.S. companies last year.
The release of the “transparency report,” issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, follows an order a year ago from President Obama to declassify and make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive surveillance programs.
Warrantless WirepappingOne of the issues that sticks out when reading the Washington Post story is that of "warrantless" surveillance on the part of not only NSA but other intelligence-gathering entities across the board.
It was in 1952 when NSA was established. As part of the military establishment, NSA's mission then, as it still is today, is to affect surveillance against foreign targets to assure the integrity, security, and safety of these United States of America.
Limitations on how this is accomplished have been imposed on NSA over the years since its inception. This includes:
- The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, passed in 1968 by the Congress.
- Executive Order 12036, effected by President Carter in 1978 that acts to prevent "electronic surveillance directed against a United States person abroad or designed to intercept a communication sent from, or intended for receipt within, the United States except as permitted by the procedures established pursuant to section 2-201".
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), also passed in 1978.
- In 2001, the passage of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which established clear standards for how telecommunications providers are to provide wiretapping information to government (The Implications of the Digital Telephony Act of 1994).
- Also in 2001, John Yoo, former George W. Bush administration official, essentially gives the president authority to approve anti-terrorism tactics, including warrantless wiretapping.
- A year later, in 2002, President Bush authorized NSA to conduct warrantless wiretaps on both foreign concerns and U.S. citizens in country through a secret executive order.
- About a year later President Bush disclosed the existence of his secret wiretapping program to the Congress and later in the year the New York Times publishes a story that informed the public of its existence.
In ConclusionOne of the reasons why all of this wiretapping is necessary is the openness of this nation. We let any Tom, Dick, or Mary enter through air travel and for the past two decades we're trying to affect "reasonable immigration laws" that essentially seek to negate common sense by allowing, again, every Tom, Dick, and Mary to cross the U.S./Mexican border w/o any meaningful rules and regulations.
Until this nation get serious about buttoning up our border and limiting air travel entry to only those who really need it, I won't believe for one moment that any of this makes sense. How can you seriously tell the general public with a straight face that all that can be done is being done by way of anti-terrorist tactics when you allow the Southern border to remain open?
The bottom line here is this: the Federal Gov't must enforce its own border laws before it can be taken seriously.
Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
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