It was militia intelligence officer Paul Revere who warned Americans the British were coming; it was NSA contractor Edward Snowden who warned the United States is watching the world.
The actions taken by former Central Intelligence Agency technical worker Edward Snowden are to be commended. Snowden single-handedly dismantled a system filled with lies, deceit and benign neglect for the right to privacy for the American people. He made the world aware that the NSA is watching us, spying on us and listening to every word in cell phone conversations. US citizens with non-government cell phone accounts through Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile and other carriers learned we are helpless when it comes to the power of the federal government and their need to control our private data. The US continues to violently disrespect the American right for a reasonable amount of privacy, but lucky for us, something happened inside Edward Snowden that unlocked his moral compass that moved him to purposely leak documents and data about the men and women who work for the United States’ most top-secret organization, the National Security Agency, better known as the NSA
Snowden told the Guardian: “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.”
The world has learned it is not little green men from outer space or blue men from Mars spying on us, it’s the NSA and private government contractors who have circumvented due process and replaced it with contempt prior to investigation for the American people. Conspiracy theorists across the globe have been validated in their suspicions that “black helicopters” and the US government spying on its people and other countries is real.
In June 2013, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald reported the US (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order granting the government unlimited authority to obtain communications data for a three-month period. Although the liberal mainstream media in the United States was given its marching orders to report Snowden as a low-level government contract worker gone rogue (Fox News caught on immediately about Snowden), it became fully evident that this “low-level government contractor” was a well-paid government contractor making well over six figures a year and the US government had something to hide: A man named Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower and technical mastermind behind the NSA information breach.
The documents leaked by Snowden show that the NSA created and spread a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a “back door” in encryption products by rolling it into a software tool called BSAFE that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products. The BSAFE tool is widely used by developers to enhance security protocol setting up firewalls and so on. Essentially, what they have done is opened a doorway, in your home, on your personal PC or Apple product for easy access to any and all information saved on any computer with a downline program that can track, assess and report a user’s current keystrokes.
Many foreign news agencies, including the Guardian and the BBC-UK reported that the NSA is accessing the systems of US Internet giants, including Google and Facebook, and collecting data under a previously undisclosed surveillance program called PRISM. International Business Times reporter Ryan W. Neal wrote, “Microsoft helped the NSA circumvent Microsoft’s own encryption software to intercept users’ private communications. Microsoft launched the Outlook.com portal to the public in February 2012, just two months after coming up with the solution. Microsoft also allowed PRISM to access Hotmail, Live and Outlook.com emails before they got encrypted.” Now we know why front end users of Microsoft only use Window’s Explorer to download Firefox and Google Chrome.
The most unfortunate and heartbreaking reality about the NSA’s spying is that throughout history, Americans have been assassinated for even suggesting the government spied on its citizens. To this point, the NSA’s actions is the same type of illegal data collection done by the FBI in the 1993 clash in Waco, Texas. Agents secretly monitored and infiltrated the Branch Davidian complex that turned into a violent and unnecessary loss of innocent life. This was one of the many tests that took place on American soil against her people under the rule of the governments version of a reasonable amount of privacy. If American citizens have rights to a reasonable amount of privacy, the US government has now moved on to bigger things to include twisting the constitution in their favor under the guise of Homeland Security. The search for data that is not there also leads to many missteps by authorities including the government’s increasing “kill switch” powers regarding web servers inside the Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE. If you recall, this cybercrime and countermeasures concept has been an ongoing challenge for many years over the powers granted to government agencies and how they use the Internet “kill switch.” In 2011, the government shut down 84,000 sites in a case of mistaken identity according to WIRED.com.
Recently, the New York Times published a story how the NSA has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyber attacks. The article states, “While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the NSA has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to NSA. documents, computer experts and American officials.”
Many critics, especially those in the Tea Party, feel the Obama Administration has bastardized the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” If the NSA, RSA Security, big data and Microsoft can circumvent your personal privacy settings, the American people have a true challenge in defining the meaning of the Constitution as it pertains to the Fourth Amendment. Did Snowden prove beyond a reasonable doubt the US has rejected the rights of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects?
The short answer would be: Yes!
After the Edward Snowden leak began to snowball in June 2013, President Barack Obama rang in on Snowden attempting to save face and made a directive by saying, “The US government surveillance programs strike ‘the right balance’ between security and privacy and are closely overseen by Congress and the courts.” Of course, the truth about the balance of Obama’s truth was light years away from any form of the truth and fell into to fiction. America clearly understood the president’s statement and is aware of Obama’s sizable scale of domestic surveillance under his administration. In mid-January, leaders of Congress’ intelligence committees said, Obama surveillance idea won’t work. This in response to a chief element of Obama’s‘s attempt to overhaul US surveillance. Congress is pushing back against the idea that the government should cede control of how Americans’ phone records are stored.
Snowden made it very clear; the land of the free and the home of the brave is the country of the watched, tracked and monitored by the US government. This mass (and what some call a constitutionally illegal, or contempt prior to investigation) data collection is not limited to keystrokes on your computer. Social media aggregators, are key services used by the NSA and other big data government contractors to build a profile that can tell big brother when you use the bathroom, to what kind of cheese you buy at the local grocery story and the current balance of your beloved Target card.
Regardless of President Obama wanting to charge Snowden with espionage and give him a long prison term, Edward Snowden stands firm as a true patriot who let his moral conscious take the lead. We really could use an Edward Snowden in the White House.
Certainly Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistle-blowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material, and continues to deliver damaging evidence about one of the world’s most secretive organizations.
Because of Edward Snowden’s actions, he becomes part of American history as the one who dared to define just how much the American people continue to lose their constitutionally given rights for a reasonable amount of privacy at the hand of a very few people.
Making it a requirement for the NSA to get permission when there is no crime on data collection on US citizens is much like a pack of wolves asking permission to eat sheep.