Wed, Jan 6, 2016
Subject; NSA Surveillance Chaos
While Obama was pursuing the Iran nuclear deal, he wanted to know what Israeli leaders were up to, so he accessed NSA reports. NSA was spying on Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. The thing was, the Israelis were talking on the phone to members of the US Congress. Oops. So it turned out NSA was spying on Congress, as well.
But wait. This story, now being reported as a shocker, is…no surprise at all. It's business as usual for the NSA. The shock and outrage is fake. Who's kidding who?
The NSA is a Pentagon agency, and the Pentagon is part of the Executive Branch of government. Of course it's been spying on the Legislative Branch. If it weren't, it wouldn't be doing its job.
Several years ago, Ed Snowden made the following statement (ABC News aired the video clip): "I, sitting at my [NSA] desk, certainly had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email."
There was a brief "firestorm" in the press about it, and it went down the memory hole. Then, a year ago, there was this—FOX News, 1/9/14, by Andrew Napolitano: "Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), wrote to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Administration (NSA), and asked plainly whether the NSA has been or is now spying on members of Congress or other public officials…The NSA did reply to Sanders by stating — in an absurd oxymoron — that members of Congress receive the same constitutional protections as other Americans: that is to say, none from the NSA…The NSA's refusal to answer Sanders' question directly is a tacit admission, because we are all well aware that the NSA collects identifying data on and the content of virtually every email, text message and phone call sent or received in the U.S."
Boom. Another quick explosion in the press; then, nothing. And it wasn't just the NSA. It was the CIA, too. Read this, from the Huffington Post, 3/11/14: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a staunch defender of government surveillance of ordinary citizens, took to the Senate floor Tuesday with the stunning accusation that the Central Intelligence Agency may have violated federal law to spy on Congress…Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, railed against the CIA for compromising the legislative branch's oversight role — a theme echoed by many of her Senate colleagues throughout the day. The outrage was palpable among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and some suggested CIA Director John Brennan should resign if the allegations are true. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has stuck up for intelligence agencies in the past, declared a potential war…'This is Richard Nixon stuff,' Graham told reporters. 'This is dangerous to the democracy.
Heads should roll, people should go to jail if it's true. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA.'" Once again, outrage, then nothing. This suggests that NSA and CIA have enough illegally-obtained, damaging information on members of Congress to basically keep them quiet and docile—aside from occasional outbursts.
There is more. Back in 1975, the US Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Frank Church, carried out an extensive investigation of US intelligence agencies. Peter Fenn wrote about that piece of history on 9/27/13, at usnews: "Those of us who were staff members of the Church Committee investigating intelligence agencies back in 1975, we were not totally shocked to see the names – Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Martin Luther King, Bobby Seale, Muhammad Ali and Tom Wicker, to name just a few of the over 1,600 people [who were on an NSA watch list]. There were many names we did not recognize – criminals, drug dealers, even old-line suspected communists. But there were two names we never saw, because they were never given to the Church Committee: Sens. Frank Church and Howard Baker. New documents just made public by NSA and George Washington University's National Security Archive now reveal that Church, the chairman of the investigative committee and Baker, a member of both the Watergate and Intelligence Committees, were both put on the watch list and their communications were monitored…If NSA had revealed such explosive information in 1975, all hell would have broken loose. So they chose to lie. There were no whistle blowers then, no voices within the Ford administration that revealed such secrets."
It's quite convenient that, every time one of these revelations occurs, it's treated as a unique circumstance. A few dots may be connected, but the overall story dies. This latest 2015 piece about NSA rolling up members of Congress, as the agency spied on Israeli leaders—it's not breaking; it's one instance in a long history.
Anyone with a few brain cells working can see the pattern: the NSA and the CIA are holding a cloud of threat over the Congress. They've gathered many bits of information, some of which would be embarrassing, to say the least, if they were released.
It's usually called blackmail, extortion, shakedown. Because that's what it is. Unless you want to believe that these intelligence agencies, having assembled large dossiers on members of Congress for decades, are benign in their intent. They're just making sure Representatives and Senators are keeping their daily appointments, having their dry cleaning delivered on time, and maintaining their magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Yes, that must be it. The NSA and CIA are just a Jeeves service. They're meta-butlers and meta-cooks and meta-delivery people. It's all good. People helping people.
Inter-Branch cooperation. Better to believe that, because if the sinister implications are true, then what can Congress do about them? Already sold out to lobbyists and corporations, and on top of that they're under the thumb of spying agencies? They're captive to extortionists who have hundred-billion-dollar budgets?
"Sir, I assume you'll be voting for the war, yes? Just trying to get a feel for your position. Once in a while, these Presidential wars do require Congressional approval. And while we're at it, what about the Trade Treaty? It's vital for National Security, wouldn't you say?"
Just a wink and a nudge. Why use gross tactics? Especially when you have phone conversations mentioning the names of one or two pedophiles, follow-up photos of a private party, and so on. Easy does it. We're all in this together. The Constitution? Separation of powers? Never heard of it. Must have been some ancient piece of paper heralded in a bygone naive era.