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This is Jonathan Goodman. Welcome to another episode of The World of Internet Marketing. It’s great to have you with us. Today’s episode is titled “You’re Still Not Mad Enough.” We’re going to veer off the track from our usual podcast segments and dedicate the full half hour of this show to the NSA monitoring program. The way I’ve decided to approach this is that I’ve done extensive compilation of research based on articles from throughout the world. I’ve segmented them into categories. First, we’re going to look at the law as it stands. Then I’ll talk about Edward Snowden, followed by the NSA, the President, Congress and Senate and finally the Internet companies involved in this mess.
Anonymous (Guy Fawkes Mask) / Hong Kong Rally to Support Snowden (SnowdenHK) / SML.20130615.7D.42258 (Photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
Let’s start with the law as it stands now. Companies are legally required to provide data about foreign users when it’s requested under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But they are not required to make it as easy as some of these companies are alleged to have done. Certainly, by the time we go through this, we will see that some of them have an open door policy to the NSA. The companies that negotiated with the government are Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, Apple and Paltalk. But Twitter is the only one who did not make it any easier for the government to access their records. Now many of these Internet companies are vehemently denying that they’re even providing data to the NSA. By the end of this podcast, you will know that is a boldfaced lie.
The companies said they did not provide all-out server access to the government, but only relinquished data regarding their specific requests. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act can request anything to a broad sweep of Intel purposes to asking questions about certain people. Originally, it was supposed to be foreign nationals. But that has gone out the window. There’s an incident within one of these companies where an NSA agent monitored the servers and installed government software and monitored usage for days afterwards. We’re going to dive into all of that.
First, let’s focus on Edward Snowden. This is a high school dropout, regardless of what he did between high school and joining Booz Allen. At Booz Allen, he was given unprecedented access. Booz Allen will say that he only worked for the company for three months. Well, shame on Booz Allen for giving somebody that level of credentials and security clearance having only worked for the company for three months. Here is a direct quote from Edward Snowden on why he chose to release information:
“I can’t in good conscious allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
Snowden is holed up in a random hotel in Hong Kong trying to hide from the U.S. government, who he believes is trying to find him at all costs. His only concern is the safety of his family in the States. Snowden believes that sharing the government’s secrets is a matter of principle and he wanted to create a conversation about their role in the private lives of citizens.
Meanwhile, in a typical move of the American news media, the focus has shifted from the real role of government agencies spying on regular Americans to Snowden’s pole-dancing girlfriend. This is mostly due to American news media attempting to play to the lowest common denominator, rather than educating the American people on this issue. I personally do not see Snowden as a hero. I think that what he did was foolish. I think that the repercussions will follow him for as long as he remains on this Earth, and it is to be seen how long that will be. He has everybody looking at him now and everybody looking for him now. He has put undue pressure on this girlfriend and on his family.
They interviewed the father, and the father could easily be identified as a radical hippie with his cross earring hanging from one ear. It’s unfortunate that I make that statement, but with the gloat on his face, it would seem that when interviewed, Snowden’s father was rather overjoyed with the situation. This seemed to be something that he took great pride in. And I don’t think anyone should take great pride in this. I think that Snowden at the end of the day, yes, he exposed important things that are being done within the government, but at what expense? His life is now ruined. His career is now ruined. His girlfriend is being mocked. There is an old Star Trek saying:
“The good of the many outweighs the good of the few.”
But nobody is out there marching to this.
Maybe is we were a different society. Maybe if we weren’t stuffing cheese doodles down our throats and trying to get a 32-ounce or even larger Big Gulp down our throats and sitting on our coaches watching football, while and continuing to munch and feed ourselves to death. Maybe if we were more radicalized as a nation, but since Kent State happened, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe in a normal society where we aren’t constantly bombarded with the best looking people having the wealthiest lifestyles that we would take arms to this.
Again, I’m certainly not suggesting that there should be an overthrow, but I will ask where is Occupy Wall Street? Because those are exactly the people I would think would march in the street and protest over this. But no protests. This will all be a wash. Nobody has stopped using Facebook because of this news. So the only person who has been destroyed by this is Snowden, his girlfriend and his parents. His life is now on the line. His girlfriend will be known forever as the pole-dancing girlfriend of the spy. And what he did was traitorous. He exposed security information and this is unfortunately where we are now. Are we going to have a good discussion about this? Is it going to lead to Google and Facebook going through and making changes and pushing back on the government? Yes. Is that great? Yes. But at the end of the day, if the government is able to show – and right now they really can’t show – that there is a tie between the data they’re collecting and any type of radical terrorist attack that was thwarted.
But now knowing what we know, we are a watched society. Now we know that and now we’re a little more educated. Still, we choose to go about our daily lives. We choose to go get our two liters of soda and our Subway sandwiches and stuff that down our throats. But at the end of the day, we have become a society where if the Chairman of the Chinese empire got on NBC and said, “Your lives are not going to change. You’re just now all Chinese. We would probably still go about our day and get our Chinese food and rent our DVDs and wouldn’t really care that much.” That’s the society that we’ve become. We are complacent. And you’re really still not mad enough.
Pardon Edward Snowden (Photo credit: Tc Morgan)
On the flip side of that, there is a White House petition for Snowden. I’ve signed it. And the petition is to pardon him. As of this moment, the number of signatures is 74,346. The signatures needed by July 9 is to get to a goal of 100,000. Now I don’t understand what that means because they say to reach a goal of 100,000 and they’re showing 25,000. But then in the other column, they’re saying total signatures on this petition are 74,000. Well, they are certainly going to reach 100,000. They’ve already met the 25,000 and I believe that there is a criteria within the We the People website, which is the White House’s petition website that requires now 50,000 signatures. So we’ve far surpassed that.
Why do I want Snowden pardoned? I think he’s a traitor. I think what he did is terrible for our society. So why do I want him pardoned? Because I want the White House to see these number of signatures, which hopefully will go beyond 100,000, and send a message that yes, what this guy did was traitorous, but we want him to slide. We want to give him a free pass just as a message to the government that you can’t spy on Americans. It’s in the Constitution that you can’t monitor an entire country. And everything can’t fall under FISA. Going back to my notes, the editors in the news reporting world are becoming more hesitant to label Edward Snowden as a whistle blower. Instead, they are opting to describe him as someone who leaked or revealed classified information.
So what are we doing here? We’re taking a terminology, whistle blower, which generally means this company has done something wrong, I have found out about it and I’m going to blow the whistle on them. And the news media is instead taking out the word “whistle blower” and changing it to “leaker.” I bet if you turn CNN on right now and they’re talking about Edward Snowden, they’re calling him a leaker. A leaker isn’t a whistle blower because a leaker is just dispensing information. It’s leaking out there. A whistle blower is saying that something is going wrong and I’m going to tell you about it. And this change in terminology is motivated by the definition of someone who exposes wrong doing. News reporters and editors are reluctant to judge whether this case shows legal wrongdoing at this point in time.
Let’s move forward and talk about the NSA. Here’s a direct quote from the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper:
“Our ability to discuss these activities is limited by our need to protect intelligence sources and methods. Disclosing information about the specific methods the government uses to collect communications can obviously give our enemies a playbook of how to avoid detection.”
Believe me, they know how to avoid detection. In fact, it’s so easy to avoid detection that I again would ask, if you’re monitoring everybody, you’re probably not monitoring the terrorists.
Startling photo of the Boston Marathon bombers (Photo credit: Ninian Reid)
The Boston Marathon is a perfect example of this. These guys were on a monitoring list, so if the NSA was doing its job, they should have detailed information of conversations of who they called, when they called and what the conversation was. Because let me tell you, they have that detailed record. It is not just who called, when he called and how long the conversation was. They have the vocals. How do I know this? Because the interesting thing is that Shia LaBeouf was on the Tonight Show several years ago, and he was talking about the NSA agent he was working with on one of his movies who pulled up the vocals of a phone call that Shia LeBeouf had had a year before.
So you can’t tell me that if this program is working that right now that what the NSA should do is say, “We were monitoring this guy. Here are the conversations. We knew that he was planning something.” There are 500,000 NSA employees monitoring all of us and they missed the one guy who was on the list to be monitored. But they’ve got Shia LeBeouf. They probably have Angelino Jolie. They probably after this, have me. But they don’t have the guy who murdered and maimed people in Boston. So what good is that program?
By the way, Prism is actually the software. It is not the program or project. Prism is the name of the software that they use. The surveillance tool is called Boundless Informant. It details and maps by country the data they retrieved from phone networks and the Internet. This map resembles a heat map of the entire world with different colors given to each country depending on the amount of information retrieved for it. I have the map right here in front of me. I can say that they are deeply monitoring the Middle East, which is Pakistan and that area. They are moderately monitoring the United States. So it goes from red to light green. The red is Pakistan and that whole area. The yellow, or less monitored areas, is the United States and China. The least monitored is Canada and Mexico. And somewhere underneath our monitoring is the whole east coast of Africa where we know there is terrorist activity going on right now.
Here is a direct quote:
“The Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from U.S. computer networks over a 30-day period ending March 2013.”
So for 30 days, they had 3 billion pieces of intelligence on U.S. computers. Now you’ve got Pakistan, Afghanistan and those areas. How many computers are they monitoring there? Believe me, the terrorists are using applications that are blocking the NSA’s program. Advocates of the government claim that it stopped the plot by the terrorist who had planned to bomb the New City subway system in 2009. Well, didn’t we have a terrorist attack around that time? Or I guess not.
However, public records show that the Yahoo based email account that he used to send information about pipe bombs was monitored under ordinary warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The monitoring didn’t even use the Prism software that monitors everybody else. So it wasn’t widespread spying of emails that helped prevent the terror plot from being foiled, but regular monitoring of a suspicious Pakistan email address.
Obama blames any issues with the program on Congressional oversight, but lawmakers feel that is not entirely the case. Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill believe some parts of the program were withheld from their discussions. Various meetings were held with administrative officials and lawmakers from 2009 to 2011. But on most occasions only members of the judiciary and intelligence committees could attend. So most members of Congress could not consult with their aides unless they had the appropriate security clearance on issues surrounding the classified material. Without the ability to speak with members of their staff about topics unfamiliar to them, lawmakers were more likely to side with the Administration.
Now the NSA has records of hundreds of millions of Americans in an evolving database centered on whether terrorist suspects have contacted Americans. It has gathered audio, video, photos, emails and web search from U.S-based Internet providers including Microsoft and Google to try to find terror-related behavior overseas. Honestly, they have a better understanding of people’s porn usage than they do of when a terrorist is going to strike. President Obama claimed that you can’t have full security and still have privacy and they were only looking at phone numbers and the length of the calls. We know that to be absolutely incorrect.
After September 11, the government started looking at data from American-based phone companies to see if foreign terror suspects were contacting citizens. If government officials want to listen in on specific conversations, they have to get a court order to do so. We know that not to be true. The Web record monitoring by the NSA began only recently, but the government says its procedures are the same. Now in 2011, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled that the government had overstepped its bounds regarding Section 702 of the FISA, which is the same exact section of the law that the government is using to justify its use of the Prism software. And full disclosure of the court records and rulings are kept classified, meaning that the public has no knowledge of how the surveillance law was interpreted. Lawmakers of the Electronic Frontier Foundation have tried to get FISC to release at least some portion of the ruling citing the Freedom of Information Act. However, FISC ruled in a 2007 that groups wanting that information must go through regular Federal district courts. So no one thinks they can release the information.
Senator Rand Paul is not my favorite guy, but he’s considering a Class Action lawsuit against the NSA to the Supreme Court. Honestly, I think we should take a Class Action lawsuit out against Facebook, Twitter and Goggle. But Rand Paul says he will reach out to Internet and telephone companies for support from their customers. Here’s a direct quote:
“If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”
Well, guess what, Senator Paul? No one is waking up. You’re not going to get 10 million Americans because of cheese doodles, Big Macs and French fries. Because at the end of the day, we just want to go on living our lives. We want to be born. We want to get a job. We want pay to taxes and have children and stuff our faces. And everything in between is nothing to anyone. To radicalize the American psyche to move on this issue will never happen.
And where are the gun lobbyists? You want to talk about information as to whether they know you have a gun. Not only do they know that you have a gun, they know that you’re going out hunting on Wednesday. They know that you were talking to your friend. They know that you made that purchase. So don’t play the game that this doesn’t relate. Now it’s very clear that we don’t need any law to have us register our guns. The NSA knows it all. They got the information. And all of this comes down to is a health request. All of this about who can and who can’t have a gun all comes down to a health issue. You want to do a check as to whether or not somebody can own a gun? You look at whether or not they’ve had a psychological evaluation. That’s it. If they pass a psychological evaluation, they should be allowed to have a gun. And you can’t tell me it wouldn’t have been apparent that this moron in Colorado and the one in Connecticut after taking a psychological evaluation should not have had a gun. And the rest of us normal Americans will live our lives and should be able to do as the Second Amendment allows and own a gun.
Now let’s talk about the Internet companies because here is where it gets very interesting. Both Microsoft and Google are urging the government to allow them to release specific details about surveillance information. FISA currently prohibits companies from releasing this data. Here’s a direct quote:
“A bipartisan coalition of 86 civil liberty organizations and Internet companies, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reddit, Mozilla, FreedomWorks and the American Civil Liberties Union, are demanding swift action from Congress in light of the recent revelations about unchecked domestic surveillance.”
The groups want reform to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which includes the misused clause that forced Verizon to hand over their records to the government. The groups also demand changes to FISA and the State Secrets Clause, which essentially allows the government to perform domestic surveillance without being held accountable. The group’s website is stopwatching.us, where you can sign a petition to stop illegal surveillance. Are you going to do it? I forget to give you a short code for the Edward Snowden petition. The code is 1.usa.gov/198BYXa. That’s the code to sign that petition to tell the government that they shouldn’t be doing this.
I’m almost done with my time, so let me take a couple more minutes to read through this petition for you.
“Google has vehemently denied that the U.S. government has any access whatsoever to its user information. A direct quote from Goggle’s statement on June 6: Goggle cares deeply about the security of our user data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law and we review all such requests carefully.”
We know this not to be true.
My half hour has come to an end. Next week, we will go back to our segments and maybe introduce interviews. Thank you so much.