Are Obama’s data power grabs just another ‘phony scandal’?
Behold the latest tack of the foundering, floundering Barack Obama administration. Mired in the several scandals currently engulfing it, this week the president, his press secretary and his Treasury Secretary were among the officials trying to dismiss their wide world of malfeasance as “phony scandals.”
Let us look at just one — the federal government’s multi-department, multitudinous-program effort to vacuum up as much of our data as possible. And let us consider the news that broke just this past week — and make a determination of just how phony this scandal is.
In a July 24 “Best Practices” blog post, the government’s Chief Information Office (CIO) claims the Leviathan has the authority to monitor social media — that is, when it’s not asking Americans to monitor each other and report back. “Attack Watch” and “If You See Something, Say Something” ring any bells?
The National Security Administration (NSA) has collected the metadata of trillions of our phone calls. “Thousands of NSA analysts can listen to domestic phone calls” said an ashen-faced Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler — a charge first leveled by groundbreaking whistleblower Edward Snowden. And they can read our emails, texts and instant messages, and watch our video chats.
This week on ABC’s “This Week,” Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald said these low-level NSA analysts have a “powerful and invasive” data-search tool:
“These [search] programs are … [designed so that] all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”
Is that enough for you? It certainly isn’t for the Leviathan. The government is tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. And this week we learned:
“The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.”
This week we learned the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has used drones for warrantless surveillance in the U.S. in (at least) ten different cases. But we’re sure that number won’t end up being much bigger — aren’t we?
“But ask [top NSA official Harvey Davis] why the facility is so big and what’s inside, and he is less forthcoming. ‘I think we’re crossing into content. It’s big because it’s required to be big’ … (T)he systems inside will warehouse … millions of Americans’ phone logs for five years …”
With the administration doing all this data-grabbing, is it any surprise that some Obama allies are beginning to follow suit? As we know — unions love President Obama and his Democrats. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union really loves Democrats — to the tune of nearly $6 million in 2012 political contributions. And the CWA has been taking notes.
The CWA was just recently caught demanding that its Local 1126 provide the parent with copies of all trouble tickets and install orders involving Voice Link — Verizon’s Internet Protocol (IP) phone system. Why? Because the old-school, dilapidated land-line phone system work is unionized work — and the cutting-edge IP system work is not. So the CWA is illegally stealing and collecting customers’ personal data in an effort to prop up their dinosaur gigs.
We’ve seen the government go after several companies’ data. How will it go with the more compliant unions — whom the government wishes to help? With the unions having collected our data to help the government? Helps put the whole illegal union-election Card Check imposition and unlawful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appointments into better perspective, yes?
Now, does all of this sound like a “phony scandal” to you? Me either.