June 20, 2010
The underwear and propane and firecracker would-be bombers and a string of dim-witted patsies set-up by the FBI were cited by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as an excuse to increase government surveillance of the internet. “Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security,” the Associated Press reported on Friday.
|Napolitano cited documented government patsies as an excuse to increase government surveillance of the internet.|
“The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet,” Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. “We can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances. At the same time, there are situations where trade-offs are inevitable.”
Stewart Baker, former undersecretary for policy with the Department of Homeland Security, claims the Obama administration has shed its “liberal” skin and takes a more “mature” view of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “They now appreciate the risks and the trade-offs much more clearly than when they first arrived, and to their credit, they’ve adjusted their preconceptions,” said Baker.
Napolitano defended the use of airport naked body scanners and claimed she has worked to institute a number of restrictions on the scanners’ use in order mollify the public. The Associated Press reports scans taken by the machines cannot be saved or stored by the operator.
In February Gale D. Rossides of the TSA wrote a letter to Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, admitting images are routinely saved by the machines.
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Also in February Indian film star Shahrukh Khan had an image of himself produced by a scanner circulated at Heathrow airport in London. Airport workers asked Khan to autograph the printout.
Last year it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security considers constitutionalists, Second Amendment advocates, returning veterans, and members of militia groups to be potential domestic terrorists. Napolitano’s speech was an admission that the government is monitoring patriot groups and individuals.
The government has spied on Americans involved in entirely legal political activity and activism for decades. In the mid-1970s the Church Committee revealed the surveillance, infiltration, and subversion of political groups under the FBI’s COINTELPRO. The CIA was also actively involved in monitoring political groups.
Although the FBI claims it shut down COINTELPRO in the 1970s, there is ample evidence the program still exists.
In 2006, Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, said the company routes all internet traffic to the National Security Agency. “This potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of Internet communications of countless citizens,” Klein said at the time.
The NSA has used its Echelon program to intercept radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic, including internet, communication for years. The NSA has intercepted telegrams and mail since the early 1950s. Under Project SHAMROCK all telegraphic data entering into or exiting from the United States was intercepted by the NSA with the avid participation of Western Union and its associates RCA and ITT.