Thomas R. Eddlem
President Obama delivered a wordy and categorical defense of NSA warrantless snooping on Americans' data privacy January 17 in a speech at the Justice Department, reiterating the longtime executive branch view that Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy in any electronic transaction.
In a January 5 Fox News Channel interview, New York Republican Congressman Peter King claimed that Senator Rand Paul tells “absolute lies” with respect to NSA surveillance of Americans, concluding of the Kentucky Republican that “he doesn't deserve to be in the United States Senate for spreading that kind of misperception and — absolute lies — to be honest with you.”
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont wrote to the NSA asking if the agency collects the telephone records of members of Congress, and CNN received a response claiming that it does collect congressmen's phone records because “Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.” In other words, congressmen have no privacy from the prying eyes of the NSA either.
Apple Inc. executives have labeled leadership of the U.S. government's National Security Agency “malicious hackers” and have vowed to fight against reported NSA software hacks of all of Apple's iPhones. NSA documents published by the German magazine Der Spiegel boast that its program DROPOUTJEEP “includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device, SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc.”
The Eastern European nation of Slovakia agreed to take the last three ethnic Uighur prisoners who have been detained at Guantanamo since 2002, according to the Associated Press December 31. The Uighurs, ethnic Turkish Muslims from China, were innocent religious pilgrims caught up in the dragnet during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2002.
The German magazine Der Spiegel revealed extraordinary details about the NSA's TAO program, which is tasked with “pervasive” penetration of the Internet and global telephone traffic. This most aggressive division of the U.S. government's National Security Agency directly hacks into computers and telephones and is focused upon foreign governments, perhaps differing from other NSA programs that also harvest the data of American citizens.
The interventionist establishment is terrified that a reinvigorated Tea Party may prevent new unnecessary wars and foreign military interventions in the coming years, according to an article in Democracy magazine. The article — “R.I.P. Republican Internationalism” by Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb and Michael Kramer — frets that “a common thread emerges: a Tea Party-wide reluctance to engage with the world, except for those they view as true U.S. friends, such as Israel.”
Southern District of New York Judge William H. Pauley III declared in a December 27 decision that the NSA surveillance program — which draws in every American's telephone records without a warrant or probable cause — was “legal” even though it “imperils the civil liberties of every citizen.” The decision contrasts sharply with a decision two weeks ago by Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon that termed the warrantless surveillance program unconstitutional and “almost Orwellian.”
After six months of silence, National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has begun speaking publicly about how he “won” a debate over massive warrantless surveillance of Americans by their government. Earlier this year, the former Booz-Allen-Hamilton contractor for the NSA provided reporter Glenn Greenwald with documentation of universal surveillance of Americans' telephone records by the NSA without the constitutionally required warrant and probable cause under the Fourth Amendment.
Texas U.S. Senator and Republican Minority Whip John Cornyn will face a wild four-way primary battle, featuring constitutionalist-minded Representative Steve Stockman and two other primary opponents. “The struggle here is very clearly between big government crony capitalism from Cornyn and small government populism from Stockman,” former National Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Dave Nalle told The New American of the March 4 primary.