On May 20, 2013, Edward Snowden flew to Hong Kong. He had already been meeting with journalists at the Guardian and Washington Post for months. Those journalists have since won the Pulitzer Prize.
Just short of a year ago, President Obama denied that the NSA was spying on all of us.
Up until that point the idea of mass domestic surviellance was still the stuff of conspiracy theories and the government could get away with official denials.
No matter what your personal opinion of Snowden, he changed all that.
Here is the Daily Show take on NSA lies.
I would like to present a list of government lies that they have been caught in regarding the NSA spying.
To put this into perspective, consider that just months before Snowden leaked the NSA documents, the ACLU argued before the Supreme Court that the FISA law was unconstitutional.
The SCOTUS ruled against the ACLU on these grounds:
1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans' communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court.In fact both of those statements were untrue, but none of us knew that for certain. The Snowden leaks forced the Justice Department to admit that it wasn't notifying any defendants they were being charged based on NSA surveillance.
We don't know if the Justice Department knew that it was lying to the Supreme Court. However, lawyers are under the obligation of correcting the record. So far the Justice Department has refused to do so.
The Justice Department, in their efforts to defend the FISA law, have readjusted how the 4th Amendment is defined.
The privacy rights of US persons in international communications are significantly diminished, if not completely eliminated, when those communications have been transmitted to or obtained from non-US persons located outside the United States.And now the list I promised. Please know that this list is not complete. It's merely how much I could dig up. Feel free to add to it.
#1) “… NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), said August 23.
“I am reviewing each of these incidents in detail,” Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairman of the Senate intelligence panel, said in a statement, after the NSA confirmed to Bloomberg News yesterday that some analysts deliberately ignored restrictions on their authority to spy on Americans.#2) “The ongoing national dialogue is not about your performance. The NSA/CSS work force has executed its national security responsibilities with equal and full respect for civil liberties and privacy.”
- NSA chief Keith Alexander, June 25
The NSA promptly violated those rules — “since the earliest days” of the program’s 2006 inception — carrying out thousands of inquiries on phone numbers without any of the court-ordered screening designed to protect Americans from illegal government surveillance.#3 “The government cannot target anyone under the court-approved procedures for this program unless there is an appropriate and documented foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition, such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities or nuclear proliferation.”
The violations continued for three years, until they were uncovered by an internal review, and the NSA found itself fighting to keep the spy program alive.
- Attorney General Eric Holder, June 15
#3 Part 2 “Now part of the reason they’re not abused is because they’re — these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.”
- President Obama, August 5
“Indeed, the record before this court establishes that NSA’s acquisition of internet transactions likely results in NSA acquiring annually tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications, and tens of thousands of non-target communications of persons who have little or no relationship to the target but who are protected under the Fourth Amendment.”#4 From the March 12, 2013 testimony:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon): “So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper: “No, sir.”
#5 “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany, So lives have been saved.”
- President Obama, June
#5 Part 2 “Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe—saving real lives. This isn’t a game. This is real.”
- Representative Mike Rogers, July
An analysis of 225 terrorism cases inside the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has concluded that the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”
The study, to be released Monday, corroborates the findings of a White House-appointed review group, which said last month that the NSA counterterrorism program “was not essential to preventing attacks” and that much of the evidence it did turn up “could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.”
The Chief Executive of Cisco, John Chambers, has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama saying that NSA’s surveillance might lead to a total collapse of trust in US technology.
The letter bears the date after a day of leaking of pictures where NSA staff is shown installing beacons on networking gear intercepted before being reshipped to target destinations.
John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, has written in the letter that such surveillance will lead to collapse of confidence among customers that buy US technology gear and other things.
Mr Chambers has also admitted that the surveillance activities by NSA had led to some customers delaying their orders. Since Cisco equipment handle the internet traffic, therefore, it might be at a far greater risk than other devices if security of its equipment becomes questionable.
Apart from Cisco, other top technology firms have also written to president over the surveillance methods of NSA. Eight tech companies, which also included Google, Apple and Facebook, had impressed upon the US government for reforms in the existing laws in December last year.