Libertarian Kentucky Senator Rand Paul warns in a speech today that he believes US spooks and shadow government agencies are ” drunk with power”, and that elected representatives are privately afraid of those operating behind the curtain.
In a scheduled appearance at the University of California-Berkeley, Paul will address the continuing domestic spying controversy.
In prepared comments Paul notes “I am honestly worried, concerned about who is truly in charge of our government. Most of you have read the dystopian nightmares and maybe, like me, you doubted that it could ever happen in America.”
“If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them?” the comments also state. “I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think I perceive FEAR of an intelligence community drunk with power, unrepentant, and uninclined to relinquish power.”
The Senator is set to continue on the track that saw him win CPAC’s GOP presidential nomination straw poll recently. During his CPAC speech, Paul slammed the NSA, urging “If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance… I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”
The Berkeley speech, which takes place at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time, comes in the wake of the latest revelation that the NSA recorded 100% of phone calls in an unnamed foreign country, using a program dubbed MYSTIC, and a tool called RETRO — for “retrospective retrieval”.
The Washington Post reported the findings yesterday, garnered from leaks by Edward Snowden. NSA documents state that the program is essentially a “time machine” that opens a door “into the past,” allowing a replay of the voices on any given call, without the need for prior identification of the person on the line.
The NSA continues to argue that it is within the law for it to operate such programs in foreign countries, however, MYSTIC did not exempt US citizens living there.
“Ubiquitous voice surveillance, even overseas, pulls in a great deal of content from Americans who telephone, visit, and work in the target country,” The Post reports. “Present and former U.S. officials … acknowledged that large numbers of conversations involving Americans would be gathered from the country where RETRO operates.”
The report also states that the NSA has previously considered expanding the program to other countries, and may already have done so.
Appearing remotely during a recent TED event, Edward Snowden declared that even bigger revelations regarding the NSA are on the way. Snowden acknowledged that every NSA spying program we are learning about now was planned before the 9/11 attacks, and that the event only served to provide justification to expand and implement more surveillance programs.
Snowden said that he is concerned with exposing “one of the dangerous legacies we’ve seen in the post 9/11 era,” adding “They’re making the Internet fundamentally less safe for Americans. Is it really terrorism we’re stopping? Do these programs have any value at all? I say no. Three branches of the American government say no.”
“The bottom line is terrorism has always been a cover for action—it provokes an emotional response,” he added. “The NSA asked for these authorities back in the 1990s. But Congress and the American people said no, said it’s not worth the risk to our economy. But in the post 9/11 era, they used secrecy and the justification of terrorism to start these programs in secret.”
Also appearing at the TED event was Tim Berners-Lee, one of the pioneers of the internet. Berners-Lee praised Snowden as a “hero”, while Snowden said that he supported Berners-Lee’s recent call for an Internet “Magna Carta.”
“I grew up in the Internet,” Snowden said. “I believe a Magna Carta for the Internet is exactly what we need. We need to encode our values in the structure of the Internet. I invite everyone in the audience to join and participate.”
Other activists seeking to battle the NSA’s domestic spying have recently targeted the new monolithic Utah data center, promoting a campaign to cut off the water supply to the facility. Because this is actually quite a good idea, and it has garnered interest from lawmakers, it has not gone unnoticed by those who are “drunk on power”, as Rand Paul describes them.
The NSA is now actually arguing that its water bill should be declared top secret and that it should not need to declare how much water is being pumped into the Utah facility as a matter of national security.
“By computing the water usage rate, one could ultimately determine the computing power and capabilities of the Utah Data Center,” wrote the NSA’s associate director for policy and records, David Sherman in an undated letter written in response to a request for the information from The Salt Lake Tribune. “Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining.” Sherman argues.
Documents uncovered by the Tribune have indicated that the NSA facility could use between 1.2 and 1.7 MILLION gallons of water PER DAY.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department’s Inspector General, who is supposed to oversee the NSA’s activities and ensure they are within the law, admitted yesterday that he had no idea that the NSA was collecting bulk metadata on Americans’ communications.
“From my own personal knowledge, those programs, in and of themselves, I was not personally aware,” Anthony C. Thomas said.
Thomas also announced that the Pentagon has no intention to investigate the matter. Thomas said he was “waiting to see the information that the NSA IG (inspector General) brings forward with the investigations that are going on, and what we often do not want to do is conflict.”
That is some valuable oversight from the executive branch!
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