Monday, June 13, 2011

NSA illegally spying on American public

Episode: The Madeleine Brand Show (NPR) for June 13, 2011
“What does NSA mean?” This is a brief history of how the agency came into being and started abusing its mission.

NSA turns focus on American public, culls information
Madeleine Brand talks to The New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer about the increase in surveilance of American citizens by the "National Security Agency." Mayer has been investigating the national security apparatus for years.

For Thomas Drake, a [whistle blower and] former employee of the NSA, today was supposed to be his day in court. He was facing 10 felony charges, including violations of the Espionage Act, for passing state secrets to a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and he faced 35 years in prison.

However, last Friday he took a deal and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of unauthorized use of a government computer. So now it's likely that he will be fined, but not face any jail time.

Drake's prosecution and the back story suggests that the NSA, which is supposed to focus on foreign threats to US security; it has turned inward and is compiling databases of information about American citizens:

  • It keeps a copy of every email sent
  • keeps track of every computer search
  • keeps track of every bank transaction...
  • So the dystopian, Orwellian "Big Brother" nightmare of telescreens watching all the time is back on schedule.

NSA used to just spy overseas, but why limit itself? (Welcome to the Police State)
Gov't overreaches on a suspected leak (Washington Post)

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