Is NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden a patriot or traitor, is the Air Force denying access to news, who is responsible for PRISM and what about the collecting of news outlets phone records? These are several of the items currently flitting across my radar, each of which is alarming in and of itself. Taken all together, I’m starting to think the conspiracy theorists may have been right all along. It's not paranoia when people really are out to get you.
Big Brother IS Watching
The first object on my personal radar screen -
Unless you live in a cave, or rely on MSNBC for your news, you have no doubt heard the NSA is spying on Americans. In America. Secretly.
According to the latest reports, there are more than fifty (50!) Internet Service Providers who have been forced to open their records to the NSA. That is on top of Verizon being court ordered to hand over its files.
It has been an open secret for a long time that the NSA can monitor every land and cell-based phone call and all email and electronic communications. There is supposedly an algorithm that searches for key words related to national security. This complete annihilation of the notion of privacy is thanks to a little something called the Patriot Act.
At the time, and several times since, those whom are usually referred to as the tin-foil hat wearing crowd have said only a fool believes National Security and targeting foreign terrorists are the only purposes to which this technology is being used. Big Brother has arrived, and in true conspiracy theorist fashion, it has done so right under our noses and with our consent if without our full knowledge and awareness. The dragon has awakened from its slumber and crept from it's dark and hidden cave, and it is only a matter of time until it burns everything to the ground.
Patriot or Traitor?
Part of the reason we know this is because 29 year old Edward Snowden, a contracted NSA analyst has blown not just the whistle, tuba and French Horn, he has proverbially set off radar sirens in every community in the country. Or has he?
Questions are being raised as to the veracity of his explosive statements and the authenticity of the documents he leaked. According to the administration, the NSA and others, they aren't doing anything wrong, they aren't spying on Americans, accessing Internet Service Providers or getting records for which there is no justifiable terrorist threat. Snowden has broken several very serious laws, they say, but they have not.
The Justice Department is reportedly preparing charges against Snowden, and some lawmakers are labeling his actions ‘treason’. Some have gone so far as to recommend prosecution of any news outlet that publishes the content of those leaked documents.
No News For You!
The next related item is an Air Force “Notice to Airmen” concerning a possible Classified Message Incident.
An Air Force’s 624th Operations Center Notice to Airmen has been leaked, but from its content, doing so hasn’t broken any laws. It is clearly labeled “For widest distribution”. It has been incorrectly stated the Air Force is telling its personnel not to read the news about the NSA scandal, as doing so may constitute a Classified Message Incident.
The truth is simply that the Air Force is telling its personnel that accessing stories, news or information on the Verizon phone record collection by the NSA may not be done on NIPRNET, Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network, systems or computers. It is a fine hair to split.
Those stationed overseas, as well as many in this country, only have NIPRNET as their Internet Service Provider. In other words, troops stationed in war zones at the behest of the United States Government, in the service of the United States Government, after swearing an oath on the Constitution of the United States of America are not allowed, even in their off-duty hours on a personally owned computer, to read breaking news stories of a scandal that seems to violate the privacy rights of Americans.
I guess that it is then not also a scandal that these men and women are having their rights infringed upon because their only access to the World Wide Web is through NIPRNET. They are risking their lives for those rights, yet exercising them is more than they can expect.
This is a copy of the relevant portion of the memo. What is most interesting is it clearly states this information is widely available on publicly accessible sites. But not accessible to you if you happen to be in the Air Force.
This next item on my radar has been the subject of many blogs, articles and rants, both on line and on screen. It is called PRISM, and in laymen’s terms, it is the data collection program run by the NSA. In short, nearly everything done on line, by anyone in the world can be tracked through this program. This goes to the heart of the uproar caused by Edward Snowden.
This far-reaching and mostly classified (in its scope, uses and applications) program was authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The breaking scandal infers “Foreign” is an incorrect definition for part of the acronym. The “F” in FISA should be read as “Federal”.
The existence of FISA is nothing new. When it was first uncovered, the former administrations’ response was to issue all kinds of assurances that this all-seeing eye would never be directed at law-abiding Americans. Its purpose and sole use was, we were told, to track, understand, foil and ultimately catch terrorists whose goal was to destroy America.
Now we are full circle. Edward Snowden’s allegations and leaked documents seem to not only confirm the most extreme conspiracy theorists dire warnings, but to exceed them.
Nothing to see here, move along folks
The next object flitting across my personal radar screen, the one I’ve been trying to get a read on, is this administration’s response . This is the President who campaigned on the promise of openness and transparency. I guess he did fulfill his promise, we simply misunderstood that the transparency he was referring to was our private lives.
President Obama has called all of these revelations nothing more than “hype”. His administration is whipping the gerbils on the wheels of the spin machines to death in an effort to keep pace with the volume of scandals.
It is all a Republican plot to undermine his Presidency.
It is all half-truths and lies, and the real truth is he is still the President most concerned for the little guy, the disaffected, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden.
It is nothing but a shell game to deflect people’s attention from the evil Republicans attempts to dismantle and filibuster the programs, policies and laws this administration is attempting to enact, for the betterment of all mankind.
I’m still waiting for anything resembling a reasonable explanation to be issued by this President. I don’t think saying this all began under a previous administration is reasonable after five years.
The most reasonable statement I’ve heard on all of this, though it hasn't been issued by the administration is a question worth asking.
“The NSA can track every email, IM, land line and cell phone call, but no one can give the whereabouts and activities of the President of the United States, and the origins of talking points on the issue of Benghazi.”
But that has already been answered and explained away by this administration as just more “hype”. Because “what difference does it make?”
Well, Mr. President, the difference all the hype makes is simply it is on your watch that all this is happening.
Hell Hath No Fury
The last object on my radar screen, the one that has been drawing my attention primarily because it flits off and on like a bogey that may or may not be there is the issue of this administration’s obtaining phone records of news organizations. The intent, according to the government, is to find and plug leaks internally.
Let’s say that again. They collected legitmate news organizations phone records in an attempt to find and punish those who are leaking information to the media, information that has led to questions about this administrations forthrightness on several key issues.
Perhaps, finally, the main stream media’s love affair and sycophantic reporting of this administration is at an end. Mr. President, I know you didn't spend much of your formative years in this country, but there is an old American saying you would have done well to learn, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.
Since publishing this, literally minutes ago, some new information has come to my attention. It seems Edward Snowden is a phony, did not have access to the documents he claimed and is pretty much on every score, well, a liar.
"This Ain't Hell" has submitted an FOIA for Snowden's service records, but experience regarding those who falsify or embellish their service has already called into question one of his key claims - that he was in some form of Special Forces training. He doesn't directly claim he was a Ranger, but leaves that impression.
This kind of thing is exactly why the real threat of PRISM, the NSA and all these others scandals swirling around the White House and the administration never seem to amount to anything.
So, in answer to the original question I posed in this post's title, Snowden may or may not be a traitor, but he certainly had an agenda. I would just call him a traitor if any of what he released is real, if anything he has said has any basis in fact. The problem is, now that the rest of his story has been called into question, even if he is telling the truth and did somehow get his hands on documents several miles above his pay grade, it won't be believed. And the gerbils can now take a rest.
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