Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Second Source of Surveillance State Leaks is Big Trouble for Obama


A new story that was published yesterday by the online magazine The Intercept  has the potential of being big trouble for President Barack Obama and the national surveillance state. The piece, by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux is entitled "Barack Obama's Secret Terrorist-Tracking System  by the Numbers" and expands on their earlier piece "The Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist". The latest set of leaked secret documents come from 2013, after former government contractor turned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had fled Hawaii with his cache of information. The timing makes for a very nice birthday present for Mr. Transparency, especially since the massive expansion of the terrorist watchlist and the TIDE database has taken place on his watch.  TIDE is an acronym for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment.

According to Scahill and Devereaux "Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group" and the story quotes a former FBI special agent as saying that “If everything is terrorism, then nothing is terrorism”. This is the point when one realizes that tracking potential "terrorists" is only a cover for a massive expansion of government surveillance and the compiling of detailed dossiers on millions of law-abiding Americans. The targets are people whose grave offense is in having views that are not compatible with those of  the criminals who are running the show. What do you think that massive NSA storage facility in Utah is for? 

With technology continuing to advance in condensing the amount of physical space that is needed to store more and more data, a facility of that size is not needed to house only that of suspected "terrorists". The phony war on terror has always been a war on Americans themselves. It is only a matter of when the conditions are right for the official government policies to be changed and the contingency plans implemented. It could be a massive financial collapse (which is coming), a war with Russia, another 9/11 style of terrorist attack as former Vice President Dick Cheney has predicted or a wild card like an Ebola virus outbreak.

CNN has confirmed that there is now a second leaker. In a story published on Tuesday entitled "New leaker disclosing U.S. secrets, government concludes" from which I excerpt:

The federal government has concluded there's a new leaker exposing national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, U.S. officials tell CNN.

Proof of the newest leak comes from national security documents that formed the basis of a news story published Tuesday by the Intercept, the news site launched by Glenn Greenwald, who also published Snowden's leaks.

The Intercept article focuses on the growth in U.S. government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the Obama administration.

The article cites documents prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013, which is after Snowden left the United States to avoid criminal charges.

Greenwald has suggested there was another leaker. In July, he said on Twitter "it seems clear at this point" that there was another.

Government officials have been investigating to find out that identity.

Those who trivialize the surveillance as being largely directed towards Muslims are short-sighted and living in denial. This is not the only government database or tracking system, there are other more secret ones buried deep within the bowels of the alphabet soup agencies. Take for example "Main Core" which was revealed in 2008 by Christopher Ketcham in his story for Radar Magazine, "The Last Roundup" about a top secret U.S. government database that targeted political dissidents in a time of "national emergency". "Main Core" is in all probability housed within some component of the massive Department of Homeland Security. I strongly encourage readers to check out the Ketcham story as it offers the context missing in the stories based on the Snowden leaks. I excerpt briefly from "The Last Roundup":

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

Of course, federal law is somewhat vague as to what might constitute a "national emergency." Executive orders issued over the last three decades define it as a "natural disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency," while Department of Defense documents include eventualities like "riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order." According to one news report, even "national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad" could be a trigger.

Given the uproar from conservatives over the apparent targeting of political groups, primarily the so-called Tea Party by Obama's IRS Gestapo, it is both surprising and dismaying that there isn't similar outrage over the NSA surveillance programs. Liberals are also largely silent, when it is their guy who is running amok everything is fine but they would have been shrieking for George W. Bush's head on a platter for something like this.

This is a time when Americans need to be made aware of the massive abuses of power of the Executive Branch under Obama who is able to get away the expansion of the surveillance-police state in ways that no other U.S. President ever has before.