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Domestic Spying Threat Continues

March 13, 2008

Does anyone remember the Pentagon’s antiterrorism software designed to trace electronic data of U.S. citizens to search for suspicious patterns? The plan was controversial and quietly melted into the background of political America. The data pattern analyzing software did not disappear, but was adopted by the National Security Agency. Homeland Security legislation has empowered the stealthy NSA to gather domestic intelligence through the FBI. Especially notable are extensive examinations into U.S. communication patterns despite public opposition and political resistance on some fronts. Officially, the NSA doesn’t admit to monitoring domestic data or material.

Recently, political television ads have been aimed at resuming the full powers of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to put pressure on reluctant lawmakers. The secretive participation of the NSA in domestic collection of data seems to be blurred, even though the agency claims diligence in applying all laws while keeping Congress continually informed. So what is up with monitoring patterns for U.S. email, internet searches, travel and telephone records and financial bank data from all available sources?

The extent of data manipulation and storage is unclear, although A.T.&T. has recently been accused in a lawsuit of keeping a shadow system for the NSA. The NSA claims that data is used to police foreign threats. Does this sound plausible?

If reasonable suspicion is determined from analysis of data, written subpoenas are drafted through the FBI for more invasive examination of information. This pattern of examination continues despite the fact that the FBI continues to underreport information, essentially providing inaccurate or false reports to Congress. President Bush has steadfastly maintained that intelligence is gathered from outside U.S. sources of infrastructure. How this is accomplished or whether his statement is accurate remains unknown. The data that the NSA retrieves is received through the FBI. The NSA claims that the agency is unaware of the contents of any private communications, but are aware of events, behaviors and profiles of that information where this information is concerned. Does this make you feel safer? Obviously, there is more here than meets the eye and the potential for abuse is alarming to champions of civil liberties.

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