Domestic Spying Abuse: You Were Warned

What was that I wrote a while back about Security Agencies? Ah, yes:

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It is a given, demonstrated fact that governmental security agencies are not seekers of truth, but seekers of guilt. Whenever they are given any powers to spy on their own citizens, they will do so - for reasons frivolous, paranoid or (apparently very rarely as shown so far) actually justified.

Anything and nothing can - and will - be held against you.

Because in the mindset of governmental security agencies, everyone is suspect, everyone is guilty. Period.
Well, guess what?
Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

(...) "These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA's Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.

Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad's Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.

"Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another," said Faulk.

(...) Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.

Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.

"I feel that it was something that the people should not have done. Including me," he said.

As if this was never expected.

But hey - like I said: anything can and will be held against you ... thus branding you as a National Security threat anytime, anyhow, any day. For any reason. Case in point:
Protesting nuns branded terrorists

For decades, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte have practiced their Roman Catholic faith with an unwavering focus on world peace. Their antiwar activities even landed them in federal prison earlier this decade for trespassing onto a military base and pouring blood onto a nuclear missile silo.

Now they face fresh infamy as two nuns secretly branded by Maryland State Police as terrorists and placed on a national watch list.

"This term terrorist is a really serious accusation," Sister Ardeth, a nun for 54 years, told The Washington Times on Thursday in the first interview that the women have given since being informed they were among 53 people added to a terrorist watch list in conjunction with an extensive Maryland surveillance effort of antiwar activists.

"There is no way that we ever want to be identified as terrorists. We are nonviolent. We are faith-based," she said.

The women freely acknowledge their participation in antiwar activities.
Then there was this.

And that.

Or this.

Or that.

And this.

And that.

And so on and so forth.

But-but-but ... I hear my fellow Canadians thinking aloud, that's happening only in the U.S.! Surely, this is not happening in Canada!

Well, guess again - with the following recent example this time around:
CSIS, RCMP monitor protest groups for possible Olympic threats

Security forces are predicting protests will escalate as the 2010 Olympics approach and have mounted a number of "intelligence probes" to counteract threats.

The information is contained in documents obtained by Canwest News Service from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP, the lead agency for the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

The "threat assessments" show police have identified several threats to Olympic security, including anti-globalization, anti-corporate and First Nations activists, as well as international terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, which has already announced that the London 2012 Summer Games will be a terrorist target.
Nice conflation there, isn't it, between activist groups and ... al Qaeda?!?

Again - nothing new here.

Hence, I am not surprised at all. Allow me to repeat myself yet once again - because obviously, there are still way too many folks out there whom are still sleeping at the switch on this grave matter:
Police and Security Agencies will inevitably abuse any and all domestic spying powers they are given for no other reason than they are driven by the following paranoid mode of thinking: because something/anything deemed potentially disruptive (even remotely or not at all) to the safety and security of citizens (or to the integrity of the nation's critical infrastructure) may or may not happen, spying on lawful citizens must be done.
Ah, the ever convenient rationale of Security Agencies to spy on all citizens.

So, my American friends and fellow Canadians ...

Maybe you remain unfazed by all of this, your smug reasoning reassuring you that nothing like that could ever happen to you, that it is inconceivable that some "tracker" has been listening (or may yet still) to your most private conversations on the phone, or parsing through your emails, or credit card/bank statements, and so on.

Or maybe you remain approving of indiscriminate domestic spying, confident that such setting aside of constitutional rights serves the ultimate purpose of catching them evul ter'rists (which, as it turns out, is a false premise), while also being of the mind that such "accidental" abuses happen to others - never to you. In other words, you are one who would gladly proclaim "Security - Hallowed Be Thy Name" with much gratitude, patriotic fervor and conviction.

But regardless, how would you know whether or not you have been caught in the "wide-net" approach to electronic surveillance already adopted by Police and Security Agencies?

How would you possibly become aware that some faceless "tracker" is sharing all that was caught of your most private, intimate conversations - all the while sharing laughs with colleagues in so doing? That complete strangers have become quite familiar with your private life?

That faceless, shadowy men and women have been endowed with the power to act as nothing more than peeping toms, all-too-eager to watch and listen into every and all facets of your privacy, of your intimacy?

And how would you know whether or not you will be branded a security threat just because you went on strike, or because someone "out there" has decided that some of the books/newspapers/magazines that you read may be suspicious, or simply because you were overheard complaining about the government?

That is the question, isn't it?

No. One. Is. Safe.

All of the above once again demonstrate the harsh, ugly reality in this post-9/11 world driven by fear and the willingness to accept the ludicrous fallacy that we need to surrender "some" of our basic constitutional rights in order to improve security against terrorist attacks.

Yet always forgetting that abuse of security measures is as inevitable as the sun rising and setting - especially without any significant oversight.

Better wake up fast on your own and now, instead of being awaken by the thundering sound of jackboots just outside your home ... mere moments before your door is crashed open and you get picked up in a "pre-emptive security sweep".

Do you get it now?

And if so - what are you going to do about this travesty called "Security", this grotesque affront to your privacy, your intimacy, your civil rights?

(Cross-posted from APOV)


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