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September 22, 2020

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DARREL SMITH: A monitored people are not free

2 min read

Published Mobridge Tribune 

Every country needs good intelligence and American intelligence has increased dramatically, very dramatically. How many intelligence organizations would you expect America has?
The Washington Post investigated in a series called “Top Secret America.” They found, “Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.” They hire about 854,000 people (roughly the population of South Dakota) who inhabit office buildings almost three times the space of the Pentagon, just in the Washington area, and issue about 50,000 reports a year. The scope of this effort defies imagination, organization, management and sometimes effectiveness. The reports are often redundant and regularly overload analysts’ and decision makers’ capabilities.

To find terrorists they spy on you and me. The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, has been widely criticized for lying at a March 2013 hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all, on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” DNI Clapper replied “No, sir.” He added “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect — but not wittingly.” The Committee knew he was lying but didn’t correct him because it was secret information. So where do we go for the truth? Snowden watched this and felt the American people should know. He forced them to admit that they spied on us but they now say they don’t anymore.

Do you believe them? In fact, maybe they aren’t. America can spy on “foreigners” like the English and England can spy on us. So both countries can spy on each other and share their information.

One of the ways they spy on us is to collect the metadata we create all the time. Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. Who do you write, call, email, text etc. and who do those people contact. What do your Facebook, Twitter and other social connections reveal? What Internet searches, Internet sites, articles, news stories, books, movies, entertainment and sports events are you interested in? Health records are online. What do you buy? What financial records are online? If you have a cell phone they can track your location and they can also use it to listen to you talking in your room even if the phone is off.

It’s legally more difficult for them to actually analyze the content of communication. They probably have this capability but may only use it if they have a legal or terrorist interest in someone. They may also have computers search your communications for threats. Computer evaluation of this material is becoming more capable.
A European said something like, “A monitored people are not a free people”

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