The Twitterverse buzzed last night when a former Moveon.org staffer who now heads a renewable energy company, Tom Matzzie, live tweeted former National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Michael Hayden having "off the record" conversations with reporters.
Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing "on background as a former senior admin official" Sounds defensive.— Tom Matzzie (@tommatzzie) October 24, 2013
On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give "off record" interviews. I feel like I'm in the NSA. Except I'm in public.— Tom Matzzie (@tommatzzie) October 24, 2013
Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago.— Tom Matzzie (@tommatzzie) October 24, 2013
Matzzie offered Hayden a small taste of what it is like to have your every conversation monitored.
I propose a similar tactic for all of the surveillance state apologists officials and Congresspeople who argue that metadata is not surveillance. Let us track their every movement, phone call, credit card purchase, text message, e-mail and tweet. There is a plethora of not necessarily secret information the spies might not want the public to know. We can find out where Dianne Feinstein (who recently argued that the metadata call records program was "not surveillance") gets her hair done or where John Boehner gets his fake tan. Or where Director of National Intelligence James Clapper eats breakfast and goes to the Gym. Or how often NSA Director Keith Alexander visits his dentist or calls his doctor. Or how often they talk to SAIC and CSC management officials who have lucrative government contracts.
We can learn how often Dianne Feinstein talks to other intelligence community officials, or how often she talks "off the record" with reporters, and to which reporters. We can learn which donors she takes calls from. (Opensecrets.org lists prominent defense contractors General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman as top contributors). Take all metadata, and we can learn what she buys with a credit card, who she e-mails and what she looks at online. The administration now argues the call records program is allowable under PATRIOT Act Section 215, a section that applies to all third-party information, not just phone calls.
If the government can know my every electronic interaction, then the public should put together a rap sheet of electronic data on Clapper and Alexander to see how they like their every move monitored. How often does Keith Alexander e-mail with former Director surveillance state mouthpiece Hayden? When does Clapper give quotes as "a senior administration official" disparaging a whistleblower or defending the national security apparatus?
It was not pretty when former CIA Director David Petraeus had his e-mails made public. But one does not have to be having an extra-marital affair to want to conduct your business without being tracked. It may not be a secret where Dianne Feinstein gets her nails done, but she may not want it published. However, since certain officials cannot seem to realize the privacy - and the freedom that comes with the privacy - of operating without government monitoring, I propose that the public spy on the spies and see how they like it.