Schools in Huntsville, Alabama have admitted to spying on students by monitoring their social media accounts for the last 18 months, claiming that the NSA called and warned officials of a potential “violent threat”.
The Huntsville TImes reports that Huntsville school officials began a secret spying program, specifically monitoring Facebook accounts, looking for images of students making “gang signs”, holding guns, or anything else they deemed to be potentially violent.
Huntsville schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski admitted to reporters that the program has been ongoing for a year and a half. The program, named SAFe, or Students Against Fear, came to light after internal documents detailing the scheme were leaked to the media.
The documents show four students, who have since been expelled, posing with handguns. None of the photographs were taken on school grounds. The documents describe students as “posing in a menacing manner with what appear to be weapons.”
“Very often we find unfortunately that young people have evil intentions which they express in public places like Reddit and Facebook and Twitter,” Wardynski said. “They provide video of what they’ve already done, they provide pictures of themselves with weapons.”
When asked to explain the program’s origin, Mr Wardynski, a former U.S. Army colonel, claimed that it was initiated after the NSA called a school security officer and warned of a student making violent threats on Facebook, promising to injure a teacher.
“We found a very good size knife and the student was expelled,” said Wardynski, adding that the system has been monitoring students “ever since we got that call from the NSA.”
“There was a foreign connection,” Wardynski added when asked why the NSA would monitor students in Alabama. The superintendent claims that the student in Huntsville had made the threats online while in a chat group which happened to include an individual located in Yemen.
It seems that the program was kept closely guarded, given that school board members told reporters that they had no clue about the program’s existence.
The only people listed in the internal documents are two security officers and a consultant named Chris McRae, who just happens to be a former FBI agent.
When reporters contacted the NSA for clarification, they received a blanket denial of any involvement. “The National Security Agency has no record that it passed any information to the Huntsville school district, and the description of what supposedly occurred is inconsistent with NSA’s practices,” said Vanee Vines, public affairs specialist with the NSA.
“The NSA is focused on foreign intelligence,” Vines said, adding that information about a domestic safety issue would be sent to another federal agency, such as the FBI. “Moreover, NSA does not make recommendations regarding school safety programs,” said Vines via email.
It is hard to believe the NSA would simply call up school officials and give such tips off, as this would clearly implicate the agency in domestic spying on American children.
However, documents leaked by Whistleblowers have confirmed that the NSA is monitoring the electronic communications of Americans, as well as logging internet activity. Facebook was one of the companies said to granted direct access to their servers under the Prism program. Of course, many Facebook accounts are simply not privacy protected, so anyone can see the content posted onto them.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.