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NSA: Free Speech is a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Wednesday January 11th 2006, 9:46 am

As further evidence the Bushcons are not interested in snooping “al-Qaeda,” and in fact there is no “al-Qaeda” threat in America, consider revelations that the NSA snooped the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a Quaker peace group. “The National Security Agency has been spying on a Baltimore anti-war group, according to documents released during litigation, going so far as to document the inflating of protesters’ balloons, and intended to deploy units trained to detect weapons of mass destruction,” reports the Raw Story. “According to the documents, the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a Quaker-linked peace group, has been monitored by the NSA working with the Baltimore Intelligence Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department.” Of course, it is completely absurd that the NSA and the Baltimore police would actually believe a small group of Quakers have weapons of mass destruction, that is unless they believe the Bill of Rights is a weapon of mass destruction.

Last year, Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore “sent a letter to Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency, requesting a meeting,” a press release reveals. “The letter raised three major concerns: 1] the agency’s involvement in Justice Department plans to monitor and gather data about US citizens; 2] its role in the war against Iraq; and 3] the eavesdropping on the diplomatic delegations from several United Nations Security Council nations [first reported March 2, 2003 in the London-based Observer]. Since there was no response to the letter, fourteen Pledge members went to the spy agency on Oct. 4, 2003 to seek a meeting with the director. Some forty security operatives blocked access to the visitor’s parking lot. After some dialogue about the Constitutional right of citizens to petition government officials, Marilyn Carlisle, Cindy Farquhar, Jay Gillen, Max Obuszewski and Levanah Ruthschild were arrested and charged with trespass. Later the antiwar activists were also charged with a failure to obey a lawful order.” In short, the NSA went after the activist group because they insisted the Bill of Rights means what it says.

The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore press release continues:

Thus the Agency perceives Constitutionally-protected speech as some kind of threat. It is believed the NSA is monitoring the activities of the Pledge, which would explain the massive police presence on Oct. 4. This may be an attempt to intimidate those who question Agency operations…. At trial, scheduled for May 27, the defendants intend to bring out the NSA’s intimate involvement in the duplicitous efforts to promote war with Iraq. They expect to be found not guilty of both charges. All five Pledge members who were arrested at the NSA on Oct. 4, 2003 continue to be involved in risk-arrest actions protesting the war and the occupation.

It should not be surprising the NSA and the Straussian neocons in control of the Bush White House and the Pentagon consider free speech a weapon of mass destruction and also consider a small group of Quakers a threat to national security (or a threat to their ability to invade and occupy small countries). Indeed, the “NSA’s intimate involvement in the duplicitous efforts” were used “to promote war with Iraq.” As declassified NSA documents reveal, “the Tonkin Gulf [so-called incident] confirms what historians have long argued: that there was no second attack on U.S. ships in Tonkin on August 4, 1964. According to National Security Archive research fellow John Prados, ‘the American people have long deserved to know the full truth about the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The National Security Agency is to be commended for releasing this piece of the puzzle. The parallels between the faulty intelligence on Tonkin Gulf and the manipulated intelligence used to justify the Iraq War make it all the more worthwhile to re-examine the events of August 1964 in light of new evidence,’” according to the National Security Archive. “President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara treated Agency SIGINT reports as vital evidence of a second attack and used this claim to support retaliatory air strikes and to buttress the administration’s request for a Congressional resolution that would give the White House freedom of action in Vietnam.” This “freedom of action” resulted in the death of around three million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans.

As an example of the super-secret snoop organization’s respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, consider the following: “The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its ‘Transition 2001′ report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution’s 4th Amendment prohibition on ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ without warrant and ‘probable cause,’ according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents,” writes Jeffrey Richelson, senior fellow of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. “The NSA told the Bush transition team that the ‘analog world of point-to-point communications carried along discrete, dedicated voice channels’ is being replaced by communications that are ‘mostly digital, carry billions of bits of data, and contain voice, data and multimedia,’ and therefore, ’senior leadership must understand that today’s and tomorrow’s mission will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the “protected” communications of Americans as well as targeted communications of adversaries.’” In other words, the NSA was telling the in-coming Bushites they have no respect for the founding document of this country and “adversaries” are both foreign and domestic (and as the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore case reveals, mostly domestic).

Meanwhile, in order to lower the heat focused on the NSA in the wake of the revelations Bush used the snoop agency as his own personal enemies monitoring network, the “National Security Agency’s inspector general has opened an investigation into the agency’s eavesdropping without warrants in the United States,” according to the Washington Post. “The Pentagon’s acting inspector general, Thomas Gimble, wrote that his counterpart at the NSA ‘is already actively reviewing aspects of that program’ and has ‘considerable expertise in the oversight of electronic surveillance,’ according to the letter sent to House Democrats who have requested official investigations of the NSA program.”

Gimble’s letter appears to confirm that an internal investigation into the NSA’s domestic eavesdropping program, authorized in a secret order by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is under way. The Justice Department has opened a separate criminal investigation into the recent leak of the highly classified program’s existence.

Of course, this will be about as useful as a bucket milking unit on a bull. The NSA works closely with the Department of Defense and is generally directed by a military officer—in other words, Thomas Gimble’s “investigation” will be something like the Mafia investigating improprieties in its prostitution or drug pushing operations. As an indication that any “investigation” will be about as useful as the aforementioned milking unit, consider the remarks of the NSA’s inspector general, Joel F. Brenner, who declared “that suggestions that any eavesdropping had been conducted for ‘domestic political purposes’ is false,” according to the New York Times. In other words, according to this factotum, when the NSA snooped the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore it had nothing to do with politics. If you believe this, I have a bridge I want to sell you in Brooklyn.

In fact, the NSA has long snooped Americans for political reasons and, as reported in December, it “conducted much broader surveillance of e-mails and phone calls without court orders than the Bush administration has acknowledged,” with plenty of help from your local telecom corporation. “The story [published in the New York Times] quoted a former technology manager at a major telecommunications firm as saying that companies have been storing information on calling patterns since the Sept. 11 attacks, and giving it to the federal government. Neither the manager nor the company he worked for was identified.”

But don’t expect anybody to be held responsible because the NSA “destroyed the names of thousands of Americans and US companies it collected on its own volition following 9/11, because the agency feared it would be taken to task by lawmakers for conducting unlawful surveillance on United States citizens without authorization from a court, according to a little known report published in October 2001 and intelligence officials familiar with the NSA’s operations,” writes Jason Leopold. “NSA lawyers told the agency that the surveillance was illegal and that it could not share the data it collected with the CIA or other intelligence agencies.” Once again, if you believe this—the NSA destroyed many terabytes of perfectly good data and didn’t pass it on to its right hand, the CIA and other snoop agencies—then I have a second bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

It should be assumed from the start the NSA, CIA, DIA, FBI, etc., have long engaged in illegal and unconstitutional snooping against the American people, who are after all their primary target, not the phantom “al-Qaeda” or any number of CIA created terrorists. In a police state, the enemy is the people, who may rise up at any moment and throw off their shackles. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans do not realize they are clasped in shackles and if they do, most think there must be a good reason for it.



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