(Thanks to Jack Kemp for the genesis of this essay.)
On February 27, 2001 Joseph Nacchio, CEO of the telecommunications firm Qwest, met with government officials. Now, such a powerful man meeting with the government is hardly unusual and this would be no more unusual than any other such meeting except that Nacchio wasn't meeting with just any government officials; he was meeting with the shadowy, super-secret espionage and data collection cabal known as the National Security Agency (NSA). The meeting did not go well; the NSA people wanted something that Nacchio simply could not give. The meeting ended with dark warnings from the government agents.
The NSA wanted Qwest to collect data on their customers for them.
Please note; this was over six months BEFORE the September 11 attacks which ostensibly put the current PRISM program in place.
Threats were made, but Nacchio ignored them; he was an American citizen in the most free country on Earth, a place where the Constitution protected us. Sadly, Nacchio was wrong.
According to Eric Erickson:
"Qwest had received classified contracts with the NSA, which the NSA subsequently dropped because of Nacchio’s refusal to allow the NSA to spy on Americans through Qwest.
During the time it appeared Qwest was going to get the contracts, Nacchio had bought company stock.
Because the contracts with the NSA were classified, Nacchio could not publicly discuss those contracts, which — again — were subsequently cancelled by the NSA.
But because Nacchio, as CEO, knew about them and had bought or sold stock during that time, the federal government charged him with having insider information. The irony is that had Nacchio told the public about the contracts, he could have gone to jail for revealing classified information."
The reality is the government hounded Nacchio for refusing to play ball on their data collecting scheme.
As Wayne Madsen explains:
"The illegal NSA surveillance program, once known by its highly-classified code-name STELLAR WIND, was revealed by AT&T employee Mark Klein, who divulged NSA’s “secret room” on the 6th floor at AT&T’s central office on Folsom Street in San Francisco. The “secret room” was next door to the 4ESS phone switch. According to AT&T documents, NSA had direct wiretaps on key Internet circuits on the floor above. NSA’s operation conducted vacuum-cleaner copying of the data stream of the Internet, which included e-mail, web browsing, VOIP phone calls (e.g., Skype) and all the other common Internet services. There is informed speculation that because of an aggressive AT&T internal campaign to transfer all its old long-distance traffic to fiber lines, traditional phone calls that passed through the 4ESS switch were likely transferred to the Internet circuits, making phone calls also very likely subject to NSA eavesdropping.
AT&T and Verizon agreed to participate in the STELLAR WIND program."
STELLAR WIND started before the 911 terror attacks.
But even so, the NSA was still primarily collecting "metadata" (which seems to be the new chic word) on suspected terrorists making calls to terrorist-supporting countries. PRISM is different; it is collecting metadata on ALL Americans through the major electronic media.
(America owes a debt of gratitude to William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe - two high level NSA officials who blew the whistle on Stellar Wind, just as Edward Snowden has now done on PRISM.)
The NSA is building an enormous data collection and storage center in Utah.
From the article by James Bamford:
"But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
So, the NSA is gathering metadata but also working to break encryptions. In other words, they will have everything - your bank accounts, your medical records, your spending habits, your reading lists, everything. They will know who you are communicating with, what you are saying, and what you are doing. This goes far beyond checking telephone numbers against each-other; the capability will be there to learn anything about anyone if the agency should so choose.
There is a long history of government aggression against the electronic media going back to Bill Clinton's bursting of the tech bubble by suing Microsoft, and the political class in America has long desired to get these companies under their collectivist thumbs. There have been a series of lawsuits against numerous companies, from Lucent Technologies to Global Crossing Limited. http://www.corporatecomplianceinsights.com/veraz-networks-settles-f... The primary governmental agency at work has been the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Ah, the SEC. Interesting agency there.
When Facebook went public last year the original offering was badly botched; as a result, Facebook took a bath. Why was that?
Well, for starters, a mysterious explosion of early orders and subsequent cancellations overloaded the computers at NASDAQ and the SEC. The way electronic trading works, the original orders are processed by one computer but must be confirmed by the SEC computers. Normally this is an almost instantaneous check, but the large backlog created by purchases and subsequent cancellations ended up creating a huge time gap that gummed up the works. Programmers called a "code blue" but the SEC failed to respond. As a result, investors took a bath on the IPO.
George Soros swooped in and picked up a large amount of Facebook stock. That in itself is interesting; this is reminiscent of other Soros stock manipulation scams. Soros is a decided FOO (Friend of Obama). NASDAQ has a government approved plan where they pay investors back with pennies on the dollar. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/us-sec-nadsaq-facebook-id...
But it could not have happened without the computer problems at the SEC and their failure to act; it was almost as if they WANTED this to happen. I wonder...
Facebook had contributed more money to Republicans than to Democrats http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/16/technology/social/facebook-republic... in the runup to the IPO (and the 2012 elections). I can't help but wonder if there is not some link between the disaster at Facebook and their participation in the NSA data mining program. The SEC was at the heart of the Nacchio prosecutions as well; was this a friendly little "nudge" (as Cass Sunstein would say) to make Mark Zuckerberg cognizant of his civic duties?
This is pure speculation, but given the way Zuckerberg has denied everything (to the point of implausibility) but in a most curious way, one that suggests Facebook was voluntarily on-board with this. See Allahpundit. http://hotair.com/archives/2013/06/07/mystery-deepens-are-tech-behe...
At any rate, the FBI has made their desire to be able to tap your server known to Congress.
"The FBI refers to this problem as "Going Dark." To move into the light, it wants its current surveillance tools to work faster. In 2011, Valarie Caproni, the former FBI general counsel, told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, that "addressing the Going Dark problem does not require the Internet to be re-designed or re-architected for the benefit of the government." In actuality, say the Internet providers, by asking institutions to provide a permanent back-door into the servers through which the government can access private information, this is precisely what it will require."
And actually they can legally tap any calls made through the internet under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and the FBI argues that anything that appears in a public forum at any point should always be public. They want permanent backdoors built into all systems to allow unfettered access to everyone's private information. The Obama Administration planned to fine internet companies that refused access to government snoops. http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/government-plans-to-fine-i... The Administration also wants to have unfettered access to the browser history of all individuals in this country without a warrant. http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/obama-administration-wants...
Furthermore, a watchdog group has sued Janet Napolitano over an internet kill switch that was supposedly never implemented. http://www.infowars.com/rights-group-sues-big-sis-over-internet-kil...
The Founding principle of the internet was unlimited, unrestricted access. Our government is turning this into a tool of oppression, using it against the American People. Telephone calls and internet activity are unquestionably part of our "papers and effects" that are guaranteed secure in the Bill of Rights, yet our government is systematically taking those fundamental rights away. Now there are people like Joseph Nacchio rotting in prison because he would not allow those rights to be stolen, and Edward Snowden is hiding for his life in Hong Kong (if you believe that) in abject fear of an out-of-control government.
If nothing else, our rights to speech will be chilled by the knowledge that the government can find out our private electronic correspondence or phone calls. Thomas Jefferson would be horrified.
A free society does not spy on her citizens, and America is increasingly resembling the old Soviet Union. If the torch of Liberty is to remain lit we must put a stop to this now. History shows that once the all seeing eye is in place it cannot be blinded. Time is short.
Read more from Tim, Jack Kemp, and friends at www.tbirdnow.mee.nu