J. D. Heyes
March 23, 2013
When the Department of Homeland Security was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, nothing was said – at least publicly – that the newly formed agency would be permitted to operate outside of the confines of the U.S. Constitution. And yet, as time has passed, DHS has become the poster child of constitutional abuses, and of course, all in the name of safety and security.
The latest assault would shred what is left of the Fourth Amendment in the digital age under a proposal that will allow DHS snoops to scan all Internet traffic that flows into and out of defense contractors, which would include a much greater number of the nations’ private, civilian-operated infrastructure.
Per NBC News: “As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks.”
This blatant abuse of the Bill of Rights can’t be pinned on Congress, either. Rather, it comes from none other than a “constitutional law professor” – President Obama.
‘If Congress doesn’t act, I will’
Under an executive order ostensibly pertaining to cyber security that Obama issued in February, the extra snooping will allegedly be driven by classified information given to U.S. intelligence agencies, to include information from the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, Md., “on new or especially serious espionage threats and other hacking attempts,” NBC News reported.
The order was issued following a briefing by top U.S. intelligence officials who warned that cyber attacks have become the most serious threat to the nation, replacing terrorism.
“In some cases, the world is applying digital technologies faster than our ability to understand the security implications and mitigate potential risks,” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Granted, the U.S. indeed does face a substantial cyber security threat. But the problem is that the president’s EO puts DHS at the hub for all of this additional spying, and that is a huge red flag because of the department’s emerging police-state mentality (buying up 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, 7,000 assault rifles, institutionalizing drone-like compliance via theTransportation Security Administration, etc.).
Under the direction of the president’s order, DHS will become responsible for gathering up all of the secret data and passing it to a small group of telecommunications companies and cyber security providers that have employees who hold security clearances, according to government officials. Those firms will then become, in essence, government subcontractors by processing email and Internet transmissions for critical infrastructure clients choosing to participate in the program.
Per NBC News, “By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency’s eavesdropping.”
What right, privacy?
One unnamed DHS official said the telecom companies would not report back to the government what it is they see, aside from providing aggregate statistics – ostensibly to allow the department “to provide more sensitive information” to the telecoms.
But clearly, the Obama administration is attempting to set up what would amount to a public-private intelligence gathering operation; the White House is also “seeking legislation that would give incentives to private companies, including communications carriers, to disclose more to the government.”
“There is a way to do this that ensures civil liberties and privacy and does ensure the protection of the country,” NSA Director General Keith Alexander told a congressional hearing – because that is what he is supposed to say. But of the companies “participating” in the “program,” included are telecom giant AT&T – which provides major services for the Department of Defense– and Raytheon, a major defense contractor.
As technology advances, so, too, does the ability for the government – which is increasing using private industry to do its dirty work – to know everything there is to know about everyone, even though we’re supposed to believe that is not the ultimate goal.
This article was posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 6:36 am