Sunday, August 31, 2014

NSA Developed Search Engine is Another New Toy for the Surveillance State


The NSA has developed yet another tool with which to wage the ongoing war on American privacy that has escalated in intensity under the damnable presidency of Barack Obama. According to a new story based on documents provided by former government contractor turned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Obama's Stasi has built the mother of all search engines. ICREACH allows for multiple government agencies to query numerous databases filled with data that has been gleaned under the pretense of the phony war on terror. The events of September 11, 2001 provided the government every excuse that it needed to engage in massive domestic surveillance of millions of law-abiding U.S. citizens, take a meat ax to the Constitution and build a costly Surveillance State Gomorrah. With the definition of "terrorism" becoming increasingly vague it is only a matter of time until it is affixed to American dissidents, political opponents and critics of the ever more tyrannical government in Washington.

The story which was originally published at the online magazine The Intercept under the title of "The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built it's Own Secret Google" was written by Ryan Gallagher. The story states that:

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

AND

The search tool was designed to be the largest system for internally sharing secret surveillance records in the United States, capable of handling two to five billion new records every day, including more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones. Metadata reveals information about a communication—such as the “to” and “from” parts of an email, and the time and date it was sent, or the phone numbers someone called and when they called—but not the content of the message or audio of the call.

While Mr. Obama has continued to be quite the artful dodger on the collection of "metadata" and not the actual content of intercepted communications, it is all hogwash. After collection, the "metadata" than can then be used to reference the actual content of calls, emails, texts etc. According to former NSA executive turned whistleblower Thomas Drake, "metadata indexes content", a statement that is compatible with former NSA boss Michael Hayden's comments that "we kill people based on metadata". Billions of records are swept up daily and it is all being stored in facilities like that massive NSA complex in Bluffdale, Utah.
More according to Gallagher:

In a statement to The Intercept, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the system shares data that is swept up by programs authorized under Executive Order 12333, a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that monitor communications overseas. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal Congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks. But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans’ communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites—and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data.

Legal experts told The Intercept they were shocked to learn about the scale of the ICREACH system and are concerned that law enforcement authorities might use it for domestic investigations that are not related to terrorism.

Which is an obviously reference of the circumventing of the Constitutional requirements of our legal system by a practice known as “parallel construction” which was revealed last year by Reuters. The Reuters story which is entitled “Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans” from which I excerpt:

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

So in addition to living in an unaccountable surveillance state that would blow George Orwell's mind, now there is a practice of government agents being able to set people up. Then there is the battlefield ready, militarized police force that may just end up being put under national control which is now being advocated. Don't forget that after 9/11 the government actively began to encourage neighbors, delivery personnel and home service companies to report "suspicious" behavior. We are not only subject to secret surveillance, secret laws and secret courts but also must exist among millions of potential rats and snitches.

Those creeping little cat footsteps of fascism grow louder by the day don't they? That is if you are listening.