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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Americans Are More Skeptical About NSA Spying than Ever ... Despite Massive Propaganda Campaign -- By George Washington, Zero Hedge

We’ve previously noted:
  • Only 11% of Americans trust Obama to actually do anything to rein in spying
Despite the massive propaganda push by the NSA and its lackeys in Congress, the people still aren’t buying it.

Bill Moyers notes:
A new poll finds that Americans are increasingly concerned about their online privacy — and it’s the result of increased media attention on NSA surveillance. The poll, USA Today’s Byron Acohido writes, is the “latest proof point of what could, at the end of the day, take hold as a tectonic societal shift: the return of privacy as a social norm. Call it the Edward Snowden effect.” The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by software company ESET, found that four out of five Americans have changed their social media security settings, and most of those people have made the changes in the last six months. Acohido writes:
…[T]he steady flow of revelations from the Snowden documents, detailing the pervasive nature of the National Security Agency’s anti-terrorism surveillance activities, has kept privacy top of mind for many consumers.

Of course the NSA can tap into online data to the extent it does largely because commercial companies, led by Google and Facebook, pursue business models that treat consumer privacy as a free profit-making resource.

It took a wild card, in the form of Edward Snowden, to get the masses focused on who is doing online tracking and profiling, and for what agendas.
Huffington Post notes:
A majority of Americans think that current oversight over data the NSA can collect about Americans is inadequate, and almost half think oversight of the data the NSA collects about foreigners is inadequate, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

According to the new poll, 54 percent of Americans think federal courts and rules put in place by Congress do not provide adequate oversight over the phone and Internet data the NSA can collect about Americans, while only 17 percent said that the oversight is adequate.
And the Washington Post writes:
[A] poll of 1,000 people, conducted by YouGov from Oct. 5 to Oct. 7 …  indicated, however, that the National Security Agency had not demonstrated that its phone and Internet data-collection programs were “necessary to combat terrorism” as it tried to deal with recent disclosures based on documents released to journalists by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Postscript: It probably doesn’t help that – instead of coming clean – the NSA and its supporters have been caught lying again and again, or that they are still so tone deaf that they are cheerfully trying to sell singing the glories of a surveillance state.

3 Senators with Top Secret Clearance “Have Reviewed This Surveillance Extensively and Have Seen No Evidence That The Bulk Collection of Americans’ Phone Records Has Provided Any Intelligence of Value That Could Not Have Been Gathered Through Less Intrusive Means”

Mass spying by the NSA has never stopped a single terrorist attack.

Mass surveillance actually interferes with our ability to stop terrorism.

Today, 3 current U.S. Senators (Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich)  who are all on the Senate Intelligence Committee – with top security clearance and access to classified NSA briefings – filed a “friend of the court” brief pointing out that the NSA’s mass spying hasn’t stopped a single attack:
Now that the government’s bulk call-records program has been exposed, the government has defended it vigorously.  Amici [i.e. friends of the court ... the 3 Senators, along with numerous security experts] submit this brief to respond to the government’s claim, which it is expected to repeat in this suit, that its collection of bulk call records is necessary to defend the nation against terrorist attacks.  Amici make one central point: As members of the committee charged with overseeing the National Security Agency’s surveillance, Amici have reviewed this surveillance extensively and have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means. The government has at its disposal a number of authorities that allow it to obtain the call records of suspected terrorists and those in contact with suspected terrorists. It appears to Amici that these more targeted authorities could have been used to obtain the information that the government has publicly claimed was crucial in a few important counterterrorism cases.

***

As Amici and others have made clear, the evidence shows that the executive branch’s claims about the effectiveness of the bulk phone-records program have been vastly overstated and, in some cases, utterly misleading….

For example, the executive branch has defended the program by claiming that it helped “thwart” or “disrupt” fifty-four specific terrorist plots…. But that claim conflates the bulk-collection program with other foreign-intelligence authorities.  In fact, as Amici know from their regular oversight of the intelligence community as members of the SSCI, “it appears that the bulk phone records collection program under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act played little or no role in most of these disruptions.” …. Indeed, of the original fifty- four that the government pointed to, officials have only been able to describe two that involved materially useful information obtained through the bulk call-records program…. Even the two supposed success stories involved information that Amici believe—after repeated requests to the government for evidence to the contrary—could readily have been obtained without a database of all Americans’ call records….

In both public statements and in newly declassified submissions to the SSCI, intelligence officials have significantly exaggerated the phone-records program’s effectiveness. Based on the experience of Amici, the public—and this Court—should view the government’s claims regarding the effectiveness of its surveillance programs with searching skepticism and demand evidence rather than assurances before accepting them.
Indeed, NSA spying is not very focused on terrorism at all

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