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As it's been noted since 9/11, and as it’s just now coming under a brighter light, the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) role in our government’s surveillance of its citizens represents only a fraction of the actual scope of the egregiousness with which our state has been trampling—and continues to trample—upon the constitutional rights of its citizens. The pretense that this dark period in our nation’s history has been fomented by externally-sourced “terrorism” since 2001 belies truths that align with the greater reality of a police state that’s been spiraling out of control for a much lengthier period of time—a government that has morphed the term, "war on terrorism," into the all-encompassing phrase, "war on crime," all to obfuscate a much more opaque political agenda.

Since 9/11, and as noted by Messrs. Shane and Moynihan in Sunday’s NY Times, (see:  “Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.’s”) and more specifically over the past seven or eight years,  matters in this regard are to the point where they’re pretty much "out of control." (There are many noted figures that have used this phrase, or others virtually synonymous to it, to describe this situation.)

(NOTE: I have serious questions regarding Shane’s and Moynihan’s “plot twists” in this over-arching story, but I’ll save those for another post.)

The end result of this unbridled theft of our society’s right to privacy?

In 2013, we live in a society where the surveillance state offers up a San Diego cab driver’s $8,000 contribution to a Somali terrorist group (in Somalia) as the primary justification for their outlandish subsidies to the military-industrial-techno-surveillance complex expenditures.

Meanwhile, as the cabbie, who's to be sentenced on October 25th, is expected to do serious time in federal prison, our surveillance dystopia carries on with business as usual, not missing a beat as they let HSBC, Standard Chartered and Wells Fargo/Wachovia off the hook with fines equivalent to less than a few weeks’ worth of their profits for laundering $1.5 trillion in cash belonging to al Qaeda, Hezbollah, South American drug cartels and other organized criminal entities.

(NOTE: As always, I wanted to get this story out to the community, as it’s breaking. I’ll be adding significant content to this post over the next few hours. So, please check back in, as your personal schedules permit.)

Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.’s
By SCOTT SHANE and COLIN MOYNIHAN
New York Times
September 2nd, 2013

For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
A New York training site for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which includes federal and local investigators. AT&T employees are embedded in the program in three states.

The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.

The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987...

...

...It offers the most significant look to date at the use of such large-scale data for law enforcement, rather than for national security.

The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.

Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers....

As Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated in the article, specifically as it related to a 27-slide PowerPoint presentation "...evidently updated this year to train AT&T employees for the program, '[it] certainly raises profound privacy concerns.'"

“I’d speculate that one reason for the secrecy of the program is that it would be very hard to justify it to the public or the courts,” he said.

Mr. Jaffer said that while the database remained in AT&T’s possession, “the integration of government agents into the process means there are serious Fourth Amendment concerns.”

At least in part, what we have here is a full-blown effort by the powers that be to change the narrative, IMHO. One need look no further than the opening sentence of this article, to see the greater truths of the story...
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls...
Furthermore, and as I've noted it in multiple posts in this community, there has been a major effort in the release of this story to downplay any commentary about the state's capturing of call content, despite a significant amount of credible sources informing us over the past 10+ years that this indeed, has occurred. (But, more about that over the next few hours.)

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