The issue of spying on American Citizens by the Government is a hot topic. Some feel it’s needed post 9/11, and have no problem with it—they are trusting and can never imagine the US Government invading their privacy to such an extent that their life is altered and they end up on some list. Others are outraged, and believe the Constitution is being trampled.
To accomplish its goals, the Government has partnered for years with AT&T. AT&T has been so obliging, ( “One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help”) with the Government. One has to wonder just how far and to what extent our privacy has been invaded, with the pro-offered help of AT&T?
Most of the information we have comes from Edward Snowden, and the New York Times and Propublica have researched vast information:
…the government has been fighting in court to keep the identities of its telecom partners hidden. In a recent case, a group of AT&T customers claimed that the NSA’s tapping of the Internet violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. This year, a federal judge dismissed key portions of the lawsuit after the Obama administration argued that public discussion of its telecom surveillance efforts would reveal state secrets, damaging national security.”
A program called “Fairview” is one of the oldest—-way back to 1985, when MaBell broke up. In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, a fiber optic cable was damaged, and the following happened:
A Fairview fiber-optic cable, damaged in the 2011 earthquake in Japan, was repaired on the same date as a Japanese-American cable operated by AT&T. Fairview documents use technical jargon specific to AT&T. And in 2012, the Fairview program carried out the court order for surveillance on the Internet line, which AT&T provides, serving the United Nations headquarters. (NSA spying on United Nations diplomats has previouslybeen reported, but not the court order or AT&T’s involvement. In October 2013, the United States told the United Nations that it would not monitor its communications.)
This does not exclude the other top companies, the documents show. Verizon, who bought out MCI in 2006, has been linked to cooperating with the NSA under the code name: Stormbrew:
One [document] describes a Stormbrew cable landing that is identifiable as one that Verizon operates. Another [document] names a contact person whose LinkedIn profile says he is a longtime Verizon employee with a top-secret clearance.
All of this has its roots in 9/11, but the absolutely astonishingly capabilities were already evident in 2003, only two years post 9/11. Although just days after 9/11, AT&T were turning over phone calls and as much data as permissible technology wise then— it was in 2003 where we see the program really take off, partly due to the rise of the technology:
…the Fairview program forwarded to the agency 400 billion Internet metadata records — which include who contacted whom and other details, but not what they said — and was “forwarding more than one million emails a day to the keyword selection system” at the agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Stormbrew was still gearing up to use the new technology, which appeared to process foreign-to-foreign traffic separate from the post-9/11 program..
What took place between the advent of the NSA partnership with AT&T for “our protection” has had vast implications for every American. If knowledge is power, information is the key to that power. That power can be “protective” but also “abusive”depending who’s hands it falls into. Knowing my private details, knowing my private thoughts, that is power that when abused by a Government can destroy me and those I love. Consider where this technology was in 2013, and consider all the implications:
AT&T’s provision of foreign-to-foreign traffic has been particularly important to the NSA because large amounts of the world’s Internet communications travel across American cables. AT&T provided access to the contents of transiting email traffic for years before Verizon began doing so in March 2013, the documents show. They say AT&T gave the NSA access to “massive amounts of data,” and by 2013 the program was processing 60 million foreign-to-foreign emails a day.
Privacy vs National Security is a debate that will continue—but one other “part” that is fluid in this debate is needing honest Governmental people who will trust the American people enough to know we should be a part of this conversation. As laughable as that is for now—or maybe forever, possibly that is why the Founding Fathers knew, knew the right to privacy is a cornerstone on a free and independent Country.
Source: Pro Republica