A recent poll has found that Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters nationwide “believe it is likely the NSA data will be used to harass political opponents. So far the NSA has not commented as to whether or not they have queried data to confirm that statistic.
Is this a baseless concern? Over at CBS, reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was discovered to have been hacked. According to CBS, “forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and [removal] of data. This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.”
If you recall, Attkisson was the one that pressed the administration on Operation Fast and Furious and Benghazi. Certainly one could say she was an enemy of the administration, and anyone else trying to keep stones from being turned over.
The Technical Side of Storing Personal Data
Forget about the who, what, and why for a moment, and lets focus on the how. It seems impossible that the government can track your IP address, telephone, history of snail mail use, along with comments posted on the internet. But it is not. Numerous banks, companies, and foundations use constituent database programs that have thousands of functions, and are designed to collect data on every part of your life. In fact, state and federal government law makers use constituent contact systems that provide information of all those in their districts. (The government programs go off of voting registration records and public documents filed).
Using databases like Lexis, an organization can use a program offered by a company like Blackbaud to store any available information about a potential, or current donor/constituent. Nearly every foundation, university, and charity does this in through their development arm. Why? It allows them to exploit information when they make calls or visits to gather money. It’s a pretty basic marketing technique- appeal to your client’s interest, and stroke their ego. Make them feel important.
What does that have to do with the NSA? Easy- the technology exists for one mass database to exist, whereby information from various sources and agencies can be imported. Here is how the operation would look like
- Each person would have an individual file based on a unique identifier, which is easy due to the common usage of social security and drivers’ license numbers.
- The database fields would be pre-programmed/coded to file certain information under various tabs. For instance, in each person’s record, there could tabs or sections relating to phone records, email records, snail mail records, etc.
- An agency regularly imports information to the program, which uses the coding to sort the data and file it into its appropriate record.
- When a person is flagged as suspicious, all that is left is to query information relating to that person, and then you have everything on that individual.
One big problem is how this is done at a massive scale, with massive amounts of information, and performed regularly. That’s a big hump to overcome, but it seems that data centers in Utah are meant to solve that problem. The fact remains is that this data is being collected, but we don’t know how its being organized, if at all. Even if it is not organized, the data can still be queried using known information about the person, which means they will search through all their files for information that matches what they put in the search box. That takes a lot of processing power and time, but its possible.
A Long History of the Establishment Spying on Opponents
Many have heard about COINTELPRO, and the activities the Nixon administration took against political dissidents. What many don’t know is that the FBI had throughout its history documented dissident political groups, and for 15 years operated the counter intelligence program, a series of projects collectively referred to as COINTELPRO. While some organizations under FBI scrutiny were legitimate threats, such as the SDS, scrutiny was used under Nixon to undermine opponents of not only his administration, but of the political establishment. In investigating the FBI, the Church committee also revealed that the anti-communist John Birch Society and Christian Action Council were among targeted organizations.
Between 1960 and 1974, over on one million Americans were being spied on by the FBI, and of 500,000 “subversives” that were investigated, there was not one court conviction. In one year alone, the FBI had opened 65,000 domestic files. Fast-forward to present day, and we see that not only has the government continued to carry out these programs, but they have clearly amplified the amount of scrutiny and harassment they are willing to openly commit upon the citizens of this nation.
In light of the PRISM program, the government spying on varying news agencies including AP, and the IRS scandals, we can determine that there is something awry. It seems as if the political establishment has grown accustomed to spying on their rivals, even using official means to do so when in power.
It is quite normal for political groups to keep tabs on each other. Rightwingwatch.com, a project of People for the American Way, keeps track of over 600 conservative organizations, news site, committees, etc., as well as over 1,000 government officials, sports stars, and private citizens. Media Matters has also made graphics of the interconnectedness of the conservative movement, while Glenn Beck is famous for his research on the interconnectedness of organizations on the left.
There is one difference: the left has power, controls the Presidency, has the majority and controls the leadership in the Senate, and controls the leadership of the minority in the House. They also control the bureaucracy, which includes the NSA, CIA, FBI, DOJ, DHS, EPA and the IRS. Keep in mind they control the unions that staff these agencies. Did I forget to mention the left-wing’s control of our universities? Of the aforementioned agencies, two have direct evidence implicating them in acquiring and releasing private information of citizens to leftist groups. The others are known to keep records on the activities of all Americans, including: phone calls, emails, facebook and twitter posts.
Not only are conservatives being targeted, but so are those on the left. In fact, the ACLU has just filed suit against the FBI on behalf of AntiWar, alleging that the FBI had spied on its editors. Back in 2006, the ACLU also sued the FBI for spying on members of the anti-war Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice, based solely on their political stances. However, these organizations are secondary targets which broke rank with the Obama agenda.
The true primary targets are the conservative organizations that not only oppose this administration, but are also opposed to the political elites in Washington, and the programs instituted by many (and most) high level bureaucratic agencies. In their first step to identify targets, in 2009 the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Janet Napolitano labeled as potential domestic terrorists “right wing extremists,” which comprised of veterans, supporters of limited government, the constitution, and those opposed to abortion and immigration.
Now we know the IRS targeted 300 conservative and right leaning grass-roots organizations, as well as their donors. In their request forms, the IRS had asked for lists of donors, the employment histories for current employees and along with their families, and even of their former interns. The Leadership Institute alone provided over 23,000 pages of documents over one year in order to comply with IRS requests.
In all, we know that the government has a history of targeting political dissidents, and that the current government has hundreds of thousands of pages with lists of employees, donors, interns, and the inner workings of political dissident groups. And that is just the IRS. Numerous other agencies have the cell phone records, emails, and everything else everyone has ever done on their servers.
It is definitely within the means of the government to map out dissident organizations, and then harass and exploit the organizations and members in order to comply and accept government policies. The essence of counter-intelligence/intelligence operations is in fact to gather information for the sole purpose of exploitation, as is what happened under COINTELPRO.
That begs the question- what is the purpose of the government gathering this data? Is the government trying to merely conduct harassing actions against dissidents, or is it attempting to map out dissident (read conservative) organizations which threaten their agenda, so that they can undermine political opposition and retain power?