William Thien

Pattern Recognition Part II:On The Recent Revelation That The US Government is Compiling All of Our Telephone Records

Posted on: June 14, 2013

I blogged recently about what I believe is happening with regard to The NSA’s program to surveil the telephone records of all Americans. I concluded that due to the success of the 9/11 attackers and that of The Boston Bombers, even though our intelligence analysts had advanced information on both events, the fact that both attacks were still successful indicated that the focus of the surveillance (collection of telephone records) by The NSA on all Americans may not be couched entirely in a desire to prevent further terrorist activity. Such flags as a heads up from a foreign intelligence agency (from Russia on The Boston Bombers) or the report about a pilot not wanting to learn how to land a jetliner (regarding the 9/11 attackers) only to fly the jetliner, such reports and information are the holy grail of the intelligence business. If someone looked the other way it was because they were told to do so. When you discover something like that while working in the intelligence business, it often merits a promotion. There are accolades and back slapping. And why not? Look what can be prevented with such knowledge? But more importantly in those cases, look what wasn’t.

Now, let me add that I have worked for The NSA (See my “About Page”) while on assignment from The US Army. In my experience, The NSA doesn’t simply just start collecting information on particular targets and the thought that they should start wiretapping or collecting information on all US Citizens on their own accord is absurd. These along with all of the other recent developments, The I.R.S. scandal, all have political origins, I am certain.

In fact my experience with such matters leads me to recall a situation where a number of us, all analysts, were asked if we should re-direct the focus of a multi-capability surveillance satellite over the country’s border to collect information on drug activity of a particular type. Of the ten or so of us sitting in the secure facility, all said we should not do so. With the technology we had at the command of what was basically a joystick, we could have easily done so, I must tell you. There were members of all US Armed forces present and members of several agencies as well. Not one person voted to turn the satellite in the direction of The United States. That tells you something about the very highest caliber of members of The US Armed Forces, then. This was in the early nineties. Instead, the information about the targets was given to the state police of said state and forwarded to domestic agencies.

That sentiment, that we should not surveil our own country due to the charter of The NSA may have changed since 9/11. But I doubt it. Why? The screening process to become an employee of The NSA or work in my capacity at the time in The US Army on assignment there at an NSA post is very thorough and involves numerous and lengthy questionnaires with cross-referenced questions, often a series of polygraph examinations with members of The Department of Defense visiting your neighbors, former employers, and going to schools you attended. The process frequently takes months, sometimes more than a year. My Top Secret SCSI Clearance took seven or eight months to complete. The older you are, the longer it takes because there is more footwork for the investigators to do.

Getting back to the point though, I believe that there is a political component to The NSA’s surveillance of all US Telephone records. I believe this because information obtained by said surveillance is transferred to local authorities. The federal government can’t be everywhere in a physical sense if it can in fact be everywhere in an electronic sense, which is what all of the databases, the telephone records, the credit card transaction records, the internet activity records, it is what all of the records allow, a sort of electronic omniscience. But since the federal government can’t be everywhere, they must utilize local resources to accomplish certain activities. Whoa! Where are you going with this?

The answer to the question that is forming in your minds is a definite, “yes.”

What is happening at a certain level is that the federal government is tasking local authorities with the responsibility to collect information on your physical activities if you make “the list” you could say.

But even more importantly, The Patriot Act, that legislation which authorized the expansion of wiretapping and such activities as you have now become aware of, also allows something much more insidious, the “sneak-and-peek” (entry) of your residence, with a warrant but unannounced (they do it when you are not there). Who knows when they will decide to tell you or how often they enter? In other words, someone deemed to be suitable to the task (may even be someone who is duly deputized due to a certain skill set such as a locksmith), someone deemed suitable is authorized to enter your dwelling in your absence and search it. But does it stop there? Do they sabotage your things during the search? Do they take things? You will never know unless you notice something yourself, because The Patriot Act authorizes such governmental intrusion.

The real problem in my estimation with such activity though is that anyone with a badge or any type of governmental authority can probably get away with doing what I’ve just described and you would never know and with no authority from the federal government. Your neighbors may even be aware, and you wouldn’t have a clue if they didn’t tell you. Things get bumped during such searches. Perhaps you noticed something was disturbed. Do your neighbors have a key to your apartment? What is happening here?! See what I’m talking about? I’ve blogged in the past about putting an end to The Patriot Act. Why? Not only does the Patriot Act undermine The Constitution (which may have been temporarily necessary, but that is unlikely), The Patriot Act also undermines the social well being of the country.

Just as importantly, The Patriot Act makes no real distinction between foreign and domestic terrorism and that is the catch (Read the link I’ve included from The ACLU further on).

Are you an outspoken conservative that wants to downsize government (maybe you went on the “possible terrorist” list)? 2nd Amendment Activist (possible terrorist)? Who knows how long the list is and who or what defines it? Did you recently buy some ammunition online? How about a firearm? Do you blog as I do? Do you like to read blogs like mine? Do you write to your elected officials with your suggestions (this is a crucial one because it immediately becomes a national security matter, almost certainly if you express any disgruntlement and dissatisfaction with their performance)? Isn’t everyone disgruntled about the performance of the government? Hold it, isn’t just about everyone disgruntled?

Lo and behold, suddenly we discover we are all under surveillance.

Enough said.

But don’t take my word for it. And I’m not the greatest fan of these people, but read this http://www.aclu.org/national-security/surveillance-under-usa-patriot-act

Note: the only other reason I can offer for the oversight which missed the obvious regarding The Boston Bombers is that now that the US Government has tasked intelligence agencies to monitor all of our activities, search old ladies and children at the airport, what have you, there is so much information coming in that the intelligence agencies are overwhelmed with a sort of white noise of information and unable to completely function or focus on certain threats. There is essentially information overload at the intelligence agencies. But to me the prior scenario seems more likely. Nevertheless, our intelligence agencies don’t just start spying (as our elected would have us believe), they don’t just start spying on us en masse without direction from our elected, Congress in particular. And this is why I’ve written to the effect that we should once again start profiling and leads to the title of that essay on profiling, Welcome to Post 9/11 America: The United States of Police States. An Argument for Profiling.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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