by James Corbett
January 26, 2014
As the public finally becomes outraged over the NSA’s illegal spying, members of government and the corporate media wage an information war to misdirect that anger to issues of less importance. To counteract this, a bold new citizen-led initiative to nullify the NSA is now gaining momentum around the United States. This is the GRTV Backgrounder on Global Research TV.
One of the less-remembered parts of the Osama bin Laden fairytale was that the NSA had a hard time keeping track of his communications with his Al CIAda operatives. Why? Because, as General Michael Hayden told CBS News back in early 2001, bin Laden used standard encryption and off-the-shelf American telecommunication products.
Sound unbelievable? That’s because it is. As they go on to admit in that very same report, they were tracking bin Laden’s satellite phone after all, and as James Bamford and others have described in exhaustive detail, the NSA was monitoring Al Qaeda’s “communications hub” in Yemen for years prior to 9/11, and purposefullly withholding most of that information from the CIA bin Laden unit. But the idea that the NSA just wasn’t able to track bin Laden because of his dastardly technology was a key meme for the NSA to implant in the immediate wake of 9/11. That’s why the Hayden interview was replayed on CBS less than 48 hours after the attacks, and that’s why, as recently declassified documents show, the NSA used 9/11 as an official talking point to justify their illegal surveillance of Americans.
This meme, of course, was a lie. As NSA insiders have pointed out for years, most if not all of the current illegal collections programs began before 9/11, but the false flag events of September 11th provided the perfect justification for the revelation and expansion of those programs.
Now, over a decade later, that meme is paying off. Just two weeks after a federal district court judge ruled the NSA’s collection of telephone metadata unconstitutional, a different district court judge ruled it constitutional. In his particularly florid ruling, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley wrote:
“The September 11th terrorist attacks revealed, in the starkest terms, just how dangerous and interconnected the world is. While Americans depended on technology for the conveniences of modernity, al-Qaeda plotted in a seventh-century milieu to use that technology against us. It was a bold jujitsu. And it succeeded because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.”
No matter if it bears any resemblance to reality. The meme has been planted and the courts are willing to go along with it. It is now official lore that the NSA needs to spy on everyone’s phone metadata to prevent the next 9/11 from taking place.
Of course, that’s not the only lie in this story. The even bigger lie that is being propounded now is that the national conversation and the court cases are still revolving around the false notion that NSA phone spying is somehow limited to metadata, as if all the NSA is collecting are lists of phone numbers and call durations. We have suspected for years that phone calls were being recorded and stored wholesale, but that was actually confirmed by Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent who casually let it slip on Erin Burnett’s CNN program in May that US intelligence agencies have access to complete phone conversations whenever they want in the name of “national security.”
Although this caused a buzz at the time and was picked up by numerous publications, it was soon covered over by the Snowden story, which once again focused people’s attention on metadata. One person who did not gloss over it, however, was Russ Tice. He was a former NSA employee who became a whistleblower almost a decade ago, as one of the sources for the initial New York Times story exposing the illegal NSA wiretapping program. When he heard Clemente’s interview he immediately contacted his ex-NSA friends and discussed whether the NSA was already recording every phone conversation they could intercept and storing them at their new Utah data center. The ex-NSA gathering’s consensus: this was exactly what the NSA was doing. As a result, Tice decided to go further than ever before about what he knew regarding illegal NSA activities. In a series of interviews on BoilingFrogsPost.com, The Corbett Report, and other media venues, Tice revealed that during his time as an NSA employee he had personally handled the eavesdropping orders to monitor the communications of high-ranking judges, congressman and military officials, presumably for the purposes of blackmail.
And once again these shocking revelations are being spun away into theory and hearsay. This time it’s Senator Bernie Sanders lobbing the softball at the NSA as he sends them a letter politely asking whether the NSA is spying on Congress. Senator Sanders did not ask about the wiretapping of communications that Tice has already exposed, however, but merely whether or not the NSA metadata spying extends to members of congress. Once again, the real scandal is papered over by milquetoast non-confrontation by the bought-and-paid-for congress that have been perfectly content to let this happen for years now.
The entire NSA fiasco is stage-managed theatrics from start to finish, a carefully choreographed stage show with full cooperation from the corporate media that is only too willing to play along and misdirect the national conversation to areas of little or no importance. Meanwhile, in reality, the only question worth discussing is how to abolish the NSA entirely. Since this is not a question that is on the table politically, it is up to the public to find alternative ways of shutting down the NSA. Luckily, there is at least one innovative project happening that proposes to do just that.
Those who are interested in finding out how they can help turn the taps off on the NSA (literally) are encouraged to explore the #NullifyNSA hashtag on twitter and explore the campaign website at OffNow.org.