MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
June 6 editorial entitled "President Obama’s Dragnet," the New York Times editorial board lacerated the White House for its intrusive surveillance state tactics:In a withering
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night, we now know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon’s business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system. We know that this particular order was a routine extension of surveillance that has been going on for years, and it seems very likely that it extends beyond Verizon’s business division. There is every reason to believe the federal government has been collecting every bit of information about every American’s phone calls except the words actually exchanged in those calls.
Articles in The Washington Post and The Guardian described a process by which the N.S.A. is also able to capture Internet communications directly from the servers of nine leading American companies. The articles raised questions about whether the N.S.A. separated foreign communications from domestic ones.
Despite insulting platitudes (as the NYT calls them) from the Obama administration defending the massive invasion of privacy ("Intelligence Chief Says Massive Data Collection Is No Big Deal, But Reporting It Is" -- Forbes), the NYT's fierce condemnation of, in essence, sweeping data collection may finally wake some elites in the US up to the dangers of the enabling -- euphemistically named -- "Patriot Act."
Indeed, the NYT concludes its damning editorial with a shot at the "Patriot Act" itself: "Stunning use of the act shows, once again, why it needs to be sharply curtailed if not repealed."
Glenn Greenwald, who has been focused like a laser for years on constitutional abuses by the Bush and Obama administrations, wrote a column in The Guardian on May 4 that details wider government collection of private data than the public is even aware of. This, according to one former counter-terrorism expert who appeared on CNN, may include the large-scale recording of telephone conversations by the National Secuity Agency (NSA). This is technologically possible through advancement in broad information gathering capabilities within the NSA and other agencies.
There is even a government agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), that most Americans have never heard of whose sole purpose is satellite surveillance and intelligence data gathering. According to the NRO website,
The NRO has been intertwined with innovation since its inception. Formed in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the NRO was secretly created on September 6, 1961 with the purpose of overseeing “all satellite and overflight reconnaissance projects whether overt or covert.” The existence of the organization is no longer classified today, but we’re still pressing to perform the functions necessary to keep American citizens safe. As the NRO mission states, we are relentlessly working to foster “Innovative Overhead Intelligence Systems for National Security.”
The slogan of the NRO is "Supra et Ultra" – above and beyond – which also can be translated to "out of reach," which is just what has become of those in the government through four administrations who have expanded domestic spying far, far beyond its constitutionally permitted limits.