Under new rules being developed by the Obama administration, the National Security Agency will be able to take data collected for “counter-terrorism” purposes and share it with local law enforcement, a move that has civil liberties advocates expressing concern.
A new report from the New York Times outlines how the Obama administration’s new policy will make it easier for the NSA to share information between law enforcement agencies with very little oversight. According to the New York Times report:
The Obama administration is on the verge of permitting the National Security Agency to share more of the private communications it intercepts with other American intelligence agencies without first applying any privacy protections to them, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.
Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that the administration had developed and was fine-tuning what is now a 21-page draft set of procedures to permit the sharing.
The new rule changes would allow federal agencies such as the FBI to access streams of information gathered by the spy agency, “including emails, phone calls and location data.” These federal agencies would then have the ability to pass the data to state and local law enforcement. As the Times points out, “all of this can happen without any congressional or judicial oversight under a Reagan era executive order known as EO 12333.”
The new rules would change current restrictions on who has access to the contents of the phone calls and emails gathered by the NSA from around the world. Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for the office, told the Times that the goal of the new rules, is “to ensure that they protect privacy, civil liberties and constitutional rights while enabling the sharing of information that is important to protect national security.”
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A draft of the new rules has not been made public and likely will not be, due to “national security” restrictions. The new rule change sounds disturbing and absolutely should alarm all privacy advocates; however, we must also acknowledge that the U.S. government has had this ability for some time now. Through the use of Department of Homeland Security fusion centers and an ever-increasing onslaught of bureaucratic spying, the U.S. Surveillance State continues to grow.
“In short, domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. FBI agents don’t need to have any ‘national security’ related reason to plug your name, email address, phone number, or other ‘selector’ into the NSA’s gargantuan data trove. They can simply poke around in your private information in the course of totally routine investigations,” the ACLU of Massachusetts wrote. “And if they find something that suggests, say, involvement in illegal drug activity, they can send that information to local or state police. That means information the NSA collects for purposes of so-called ‘national security’ will be used by police to lock up ordinary Americans for routine crimes.”
There is also the use of a previously revealed technique known as “parallel construction,” which former NSA technical director William Binney called “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.” Essentially, the federal government shares information gathered without a warrant and directs local law enforcement to make the arrest. Using parallel construction, police investigators build their case using traditional policing methods, and hide the fact that they gathered the data through illegal means, thanks to the federal government and parallel construction.
The new federal government rules will help parallel construction go from being a process that happens underneath the surface to the law of the land, effectively circumventing the Fourth Amendment. As the Tenth Amendment Center writes, “It’s all another sobering reminder that any powers we grant to the federal government for the purpose of national security will inevitably be used just about everywhere else. And extraordinary powers we grant government in wartime rarely go away once the war is over. And, of course, the nifty thing for government agencies about a ‘war on terrorism’ is that it’s a war that will never formally end.”
If the War on Terrorism is truly a War on Free People, what can we do to stop it in its tracks? How can we hold a government accountable when the rulers simply change the rules of the game whenever they please? Only an Awakened, and organized mass of free hearts and minds can prevent the total loss of freedom in the United States of America.
Derrick is available for interviews.
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