During a live Web chat, NSA whistle-blower/leaker Edward Snowden emphasizes the need for the rule of law. He also strikes, at one point, a tone you might be forgiven for taking as conciliatory.
“I think a person should be able to dial a number, make a purchase, send an SMS, write an e-mail, or visit a Web site without having to think about what it’s going to look like on their permanent record. ”
That’s the word from NSA whistle-blower/leaker Edward Snowden, who today answered questions tweeted by the public as part of a live Web chat, his first since June of last year.
The Thursday event took place the same day that the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent federal watchdog agency within the executive branch, released a report that said, despite differing views on the board, that the US National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone-records program is illegal, has provided “minimal” counterterrorism value, and should be shut down.
The chat also happened just about a week after President Obama announced during a closely watched speech that “the work had begun” on reforms to the NSA and that several first steps had been taken, including initial measures to prevent abuse of the bulk phone-records program and moves to create greater privacy protections for citizens of other nations.
Snowden said during the chat that the PCLOB report makes it clear: “There is simply no justification for continuing an unconstitutional policy with a zero percent success rate.” Rather, he said, warrantless, bulk collection of data should end and surveillance should be conducted along traditional legal lines involving ideas of probable cause and court orders.
The people at the working level at the NSA, CIA, or any other member of the [Intelligence Community] are not out to get you. They’re good people trying to do the right thing, and I can tell you from personal experience that they were worried about the same things I was.” – Edward Snowden”The fact that these records are gathered without the government having any reasonable suspicion or probable cause justifying the seizure of data is so divorced from the domain of reason as to be incapable of ever being made lawful at all,” Snowden wrote, adding elsewhere that there was no reason for the NSA and other agencies not to abide by the law:
“The NSA and the rest of the US Intelligence Community is exceptionally well positioned to meet our intelligence requirements through targeted surveillance – the same way we’ve always done it – without resorting to the mass surveillance of entire populations,” Snowden wrote.
Obama said during his reform speech that the government should no longer hold telephone metadata and that an inquiry would be made into how a third party could be developed to hold it. He also said he’d directed the attorney general and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to develop a way to require the court’s permission before the NSA can access metadata in the database…
Hey, wait, I just remembered that most of us vote. Let’s vote on it. If you want the spying, raise your hand. Don’t worry, they can see you just fine right where you are sitting or standing, right through your walls.
Before you say “I have nothing to hide,” ask yourself if you have anything to protect, because a government keeping secret records on everyone is a set up for a horrific Nazi situation.
Accept this current situation and we face a future where you can be framed and harvested. A knock on the door, then no one sees you again. Or perhaps they see you on the news. Who knew you were a terrorist? You hid it so well. Good thing they got you … and confiscated your life savings to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Anyone who complains must be a terrorist too and will be taken.
Tell me why this could never happen.
I see. And these safeguards and high standards of which you speak, they kept the spying to date on an “as needed” basis that was Constitutional and they protected all Americans from unreasonable searches without probable cause? No, they didn’t.
End this mess.