There is an AP article written by Matt Apzuzo which is fullof thinly veiled indignation about PRIZM. The program to monitor Internet accounts of citizens was begun by George W. Bush late in his admin, and by executive order signed by Pres. George W. in 2001. Let us recall that it was after the 9/11 disaster, and just before we found out about the Al Quada plan to fly crop dusters into buildings.
Anyone who pays careful attention to the “doings” of the National Security Agency knows that any communication which is off United States ground involving non-U.S. citizens is captured and available for taking, storing, analyzing, and reporting to F.B.I. and C.I.A. and the other Spy Alphabet Soup (military and etc.). This practice stems from decades ago Cold War, not the War on Terror.
What is not so well known, is that if the communication (land lines, faxes, emails, cell phones, VoIP or other electronic device) is by a U.S. citizen, then the name of that person(s) cannot be kept in file for more than a year unless criminal activity is detected. Nor, can it be revealed to the F.B.I. or the C.I.A or other Alphabet unless criminal activity is evidenced.
They don’t have to seek a court order. It has already been approved by Congress. It is what the N.S.A. does every day. It was not done in secret.
Now, the government needs only explain to Congress and a secret court exactly how it intends to collect information like emails, Skype video conferences and Facebook messages. Once the court approves the collection rules, the government can grab anything it wants.
Give me a flipping break! With Twitter being the best place to "spy" on celebrities and criminals alike, why get your nerves stretched out like flimsy rubber bands? I have read more personal stuff on Twitter, blogs, and on Facebook that makes me wonder if anyone has any sense of privacy anymore.
The N.S.A. was given authority by Congress back in 2000 to revamp its technology and in 2001 to gather both domestic and foreign intelligence because of the danger of terrorism.
What most of the lawmakers don’t realize is that this 50,000 ton elephant is too big to analyze. I won't even go into how huge the capability of our NSA's electronic surveillance actually is, (but perhaps the new building program out West is not big enough?) Because, it is along the lines of the entire contents of the Library of Congress on an 1/2 hourly basis.
Don't get me wrong. I do not believe the Feds should be able to target and harass citizens because of their ideology. The government should be held to a higher standard than it has sunk right now. Congress should be more careful about the laws they pass, and actually use the brains God gave them in critical thinking processes toward logical consequences of how the passed law will protect or encroach on U.S. citizens. (Like that really will happen!) NOR should anyone who is working in the NSA or other national security service open their big mouths. No single person should decide what is supposed to be a secret and what is not a secret. That is betrayal of trust in my book.
BUT... All the communications which deal with Aunt Mattie and her two dozen cats, Junior’s school grades and all the other mundane daily activities of the average American Citizen are filtered out before the communication is even recorded. The watchwords, which are varied and number in the thousands (because of all the different foreign languages in the world and all the different technologies) are what causes the click to begin recording. After an initial analysis, the recording may or may not be stored for a year or forever depending upon the context, if persons are named, if one of the conversants is a U.S. Citizen or is a legal, green card holding immigrant. (Yes, green-carders are treated as U.S. citizens.)
Another interesting fact is that if you are trying to purchase uranium in rather large amounts, or if you are trying to purchase a missile from Russia while living in Iran even though a U.S. citizen, then that is probable cause and you'll be monitored. If you bandy about terms like C802 or use bombing and federal within a few minutes of each other, then you'll be monitored and your mode of communication will be flagged. Now why does that make me feel safer?
So, my advice to all of Congress and to regular, law abiding citizens is: Don’t panic. Unwad your underwear. Stay calm in the middle of this storm. If you are not a criminal, if you don’t have anything to hide, then you have nothing to fear because your conversations are not interesting enough to be monitored much less be recorded. Your privacy is intact and will remain so. Just pay closer attention to what you tweet!
If we had had this technology and capability back in 1993 when Timothy McVey had the terrorist idea to bomb the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, then 168 lives would never have been lost.
If you need confirmation of all this, there are several books written about our National Security and you can purchase them from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble or other bookstores.