Sky Also Not Blue, Up is Down....
Plenty of information came to light a few years ago when 22-year AT&T employee Mark Klein announced that AT&T had been funneling all data (that's every bit from every ISP
that touches their network, not just AT&T's) right into the NSA's lap
(pdf) with little or no regard to law. Pile that on top of things like Echelon
and the NSA's new $2 billion snoop factory exposed by Wired last week
, and the scope of the agency's domestic spy power becomes rather clear -- as does the government's (both parties) total disregard for the law.
Wired's news story appears to have ruffled some feathers in DC, resulting in NSA chief General Keith Alexander being asked before Congress whether anything in the Wired
story was true. Not only does Alexander deny everything in the story, he goes on to insist the NSA completely lacks the ability to spy on American data
"NSA does not have the ability to do that (spy on citizen e-mails) in the United States....We don’t have the technical insights in the United States. In other words, you have to have something to intercept, or some way of doing that either by going to a service provider with a warrant or you have to be collecting in that area. We’re not authorized to do that, nor do we have the equipment in the United States to collect that kind of information."
That's pretty much the largest lie ever flung in a city known for them, and it highlights just how powerless Congress really is when it comes to policing the nation's intelligence operations for privacy abuses. It's likely worded in just such a way as to cover the NSA's stealthy posterior from a legal perspective, but it's a farce all the same. To hear whistleblowers tell it, NSA is getting full feeds of every byte of data in real time while their new warehouse supercomputers hammer away at encryption and the agency laughs at the Constitution. Other than that, yeah -- the NSA's completely incapable of spying on citizen communications.