“Truth, through the lens of gossip” or “What is legal, through the lens of Law” (Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Album Cover)
When pressed to think about clandestine organizations, I’m often lead down the thought path towards action/sci-fi secret outfits such as Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D., James Bond’s MI6 (though this is actually a real government organization), and George Orwell’s dogs from Animal Farm. Often times I’ll even muse about how awesome it would be if one of these such organizations existed in real life.
In the last few days, these musings seem to have come to fruition with the recent uproar in regards to the awesomely named “secret organization” called PRISM.
I used quotes for two reasons. The first reason is that PRISM is hardly a secret. The plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months. By “local planning office,” I mean to say the internet and by “nine months,” I mean to say 5 years.
The second reason for my implicative use of quotation marks is that PRISM is a tool used by the National Security Agency (NSA).
PRISM is a kick-ass GUI that allows an analyst to look at, collate, monitor, and cross-check different data types provided to the NSA from internet companies located inside the United States.
So the NSA uses PRISM -my instinct here is to complain about acronyms. I’ve decided not to as my name is one of them- PRISM is a tool that collects data and this data is collected from internet companies.
Tech companies are legally required to share information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa). Those requests have to be made via a Fisa court …. The companies are not obliged to make the process easier for the NSA.
From the Director of National Intelligence’s June 8th memorandum (please read this):
Under Section 702 of FISA, the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.
Most importantly the information used cannot and I mean cannot:
be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, or any other U.S. person, or to intentionally target any person known to be in the United States. Likewise, Section 702 cannot be used to target a person outside the United States if the purpose is to acquire information from a person inside the United States.
So if all of this is true, where is the scandal? Why the uproar? Nobody in the US is being targeted without a reasonable tie to an international terror institution. Well, let’s have a “chat” with Edward Snowden to find out.
Recently Edward Snowden took it upon himself to disclose practices and policies used by the NSA. Practices and Policies which, in Edwards opinion, were immoral and inappropriate.
What I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
In his recent revelation as the NSA whistle blower, Edward speaks out about the injustice he has witnessed.
The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,”
Supposing that the world was naive enough to believe that everybody followed the law as they should, there would be no problem with the NSA’s use of tools like PRISM.
The problem with this is that the NSA bends the laws to their own purposes. Just as lawmakers, cops, and even people avoiding speeding tickets do. Our legal system is a cacophony of loopholes and short cuts. When you work for the government, the law changes from “what shouldn’t I do” to “what all am I allowed to do” and “how far can I go with this.”
How can we challenge the gross misuse of United States Law?
Note: When sifting through information concerning current events, I’ve found that the “facts” seem to change on a daily basis. These changes come from all sides. It seems that the need to be first has far outweighed any sort of journalistic integrity and this is very, very disconcerting. The government, the people, and the generally unconcerned all have constantly changing opinions and sources of info. I would just like to ask everybody to please use their best judgment when spreading information. Gossip is the worst (out of all the things). Remember we are all in this life together. The only way to Be Always Growing is to be doing this together. That being said: I welcome any and all corrections that you may have. Thanks for reading-JR