Do you remember Edward Snowden? He’s the former CIA contractor who exposed Patriot Act abuses by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 where they were spying on our electronic communications without a warrant. Do you remember how outraged Republicans like Rep. Peter King, Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham were after the revelations; not at the NSA, but at Snowden for letting America know about the disregard of our constitutional rights? And do you remember how we were told by many of these same Republicans that the NSA wasn’t actually listening to our calls or reading our emails?
Well, guess what…
National Security Agency documents recently provided to the New York Times and ProPublica by Snowden reveal that AT&T has provided valuable assistance to the NSA that enhanced the agency’s ability to spy on Internet traffic. The NYT and ProPublica (an independent non-profit newsroom) jointly reviewed the documents supplied by Snowden and published their findings simultaneously.
The most significant finding expanded on what has long been known — that American telecommunications companies have worked closely with the NSA. The agency’s relationship with AT&T, however, is considered unique and especially productive. One of the source documents reviewed by the journalists described it as “highly collaborative,” and another praised AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help.”
The documents provided a treasure trove of information about AT&T’s cooperation with the NSA in engaging in domestic spying of Internet traffic. Among the information revealed:
- AT&T has given the NSA access to billions of e-mails traveling across its domestic networks.
- NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for its partnership with AT&T was more than twice that of the next-largest surveillance program.
- AT&T installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its internet hubs on U.S. soil, far more than its comparably sized competitor, Verizon.
Still nothing to worry about? Well, did you know that in February of this year there was a story by Reuters about a huge NSA spying program involving hidden software on computer hard drives? According to the report, the NSA had figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, and other top manufacturers. This gave the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.
Is it just me, or do we have a problem here? If companies like AT&T are facilitating access to computers and cell phones, doesn’t this software present a dangerous scenario? If the NSA isn’t reading our emails and listening to our phone calls as they say, why do they have software that allows them to do just that?
Courts have ruled that much of what the National Security Agency has done under the Patriot Act was unconstitutional, and Congress passed the USA Freedom Act somewhat limiting the NSA. Yet, the abuses continue.
Until more members of Congress, and certain GOP presidential candidates such as Chris Christie, take Snowden’s revelations more seriously, they will an opportunity to save the Constitution from extinction; including the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and warrantless searches, by the government.
The only question is: will anyone seize the opportunity?
David Leach is the owner and publisher of The Strident Conservative where he is proudly politically-incorrect and always “right.” He is also a frequent contributor at RedState.com.
His political commentaries can be heard daily on KLZ560 AM and other Crawford Broadcasting stations.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org