FBI and Access to NSA Data on Americans
Peter Van Buren
March 11, 2016 "Information
- Hear that hissing sound? That is
the last gasps for air from the Bill of
Rights. The Bill is one breath away from
The FBI has quietly revised its rules
searching data involving Americans’
communications collected by the National
The classified revisions were accepted
by the secret U.S.
FISA court that governs
surveillance, under a set of powers
colloquially known as
Section 702. That is the portion of
law that authorizes the NSA’s sweeping
PRISM program, among other
PRISM, and other surveillance programs,
first came to mainstream public
attention with the information leaked by
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden,
preceeded by other NSA whistleblowers
Thomas Drake and Bill Binney.
Since at least 2014 the FBI has been
allowed direct access to the NSA’s
massive collections of international
emails, texts and phone calls – which
often include Americans on one end of
the conversation, and often
“inadvertently” sweep up Americans’
domestic communications as well. FBI
officials can search through the NSA
data, using Americans’ identifying
information, for “routine” queries
unrelated to national security.
of 2014, the FBI has not been required
to make note of when it searched NSA-gathered
metadata, which includes the “to” or
“from” lines of an email. Nor does it
record how many of its data searches
involve Americans’ identifying details.
So, quick summary: secret surveillance
programs enacted in secret ostensibly to
protect America from terrorism threats
are now turning over data on American
citizens to the FBI, fully unrelated to
issues of national security. The rules
governing all this are secret, decided
by a secret court.
that does not add up to a chilling
definition of a police state that would
give an old Stasi thug a hard-on, than I
don’t know what is.
FBI Has New Plan to Spy on High School
Peter van Buren
The FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies as potential future terrorists, warning that such “extremists” are in the same category as ISIS.
The FBI’s Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools guidelines try to avoid the appearance of specific discrimination against Muslim students by targeting every American teenager who is politically outspoken, as if that somehow makes all this better. The FBI’s goal is to enlist every teacher and every student as informants. The concept is not dissimilar to attempts by the FBI to require tech companies such as Apple to become extensions of the FBI’s power. FYI, the FBI also now has full access to data collected on Americans by the NSA.
You really do need to scan through the FBI’s materials, which are aimed directly at our children; my words cannot describe the chilling 1984-tone purposely adopted.
As author Sarah Lazare points out, the FBI’s justification for such mass teenage surveillance is based on McCarthy-era theories of radicalization, in which authorities monitor thoughts and behaviors that they claim without any proof lead to acts of subversion, even if the people being watched have not committed any wrongdoing. This model is now (again, welcome back to the 1950s) official federal policy.
The FBI guidelines claim “High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of violence within our borders… youth possess inherent risk factors.” In light of this, the FBI instructs teachers to “incorporate a two-hour block of violent extremism awareness training” into the core curriculum for all youth in grades 9 through 12.
Here are the danger signs the FBI directs teachers keep a sharp eye out for:
— “Talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious”;
— “Using code words or unusual language”;
— “Using several different cell phones and private messaging apps”;
— “Studying or taking pictures of potential targets (like a government building);”
— “Some immigrant families may not be sufficiently present in a youth’s life due to work constraints to foster critical thinking”;
— “Encryption is often used to facilitate extremism discussions.”
And just to make sure the connection with McCarthyism and the red baiting days of the 1950s is clear enough, the FBI materials warn “Anarchist extremists believe that society should have no government, laws, or police, and they are loosely organized, with no central leadership. Violent anarchist extremists usually target symbols of capitalism they believe to be the cause of all problems in society — such as large corporations, government organizations, and police agencies.”
So, sorry, Bernie Sanders supporters.
Peter van Buren is a
former United States Foreign Service
employee who wrote the books Ghosts of
Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent and
We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the
Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the
© 2015 Peter Van