Marco Rubio, said to be the favorite of Republican voters for the 2016 presidential race, wants to extend the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance program.Rubio defends NSA surveillance, calls critics liars.
“The government is not listening to your phone calls or recording them unless you are a terrorist or talking to a terrorist outside the United States,” Rubio writes in a USA Today op-ed posted on May 10. He insists there “is not a single documented case of abuse of this program.”
“Despite recent court rulings, this program has not been found unconstitutional, and the courts have not ordered a halt to the program,” Rubio adds.
He then cites the secret court responsible for issuing surveillance warrants as a benchmark. “In fact, this program has been found legal and constitutional by at least 15 federal judges serving on the FISA Court on 35 occasions,” Rubio claims.
Rubio conveniently ignores the fact the surveillance program has operated without the consent of Congress or the American people since its inception. The Florida Republican excuses this illegality by saying “the federal government mobilized to defend the country and prevent further loss of innocent life” after September 11, 2001. He also mentions the PATRIOT Act.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled last week that the NSA surveillance program is rogue and is not authorized by section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (the act was ruled unconstitutional in 2007, a violation of the Fourth Amendment).
“We hold that the text of § 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,” the Court of Appeals ruling last week reads. “We do so comfortably in the full understanding that if Congress chooses to authorize such a far-reaching and unprecedented program, it has every opportunity to do so, and to do so unambiguously. Until such time as it does so, however, we decline to deviate from widely accepted interpretations of well‐established legal standards.”
The NSA has routinely violates rules set down by the secret FISA court. Information from Intelligence Community Documents Regarding Collection under Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reveals the agency crossed referenced a selected list of some 16,000 phone numbers against databases which contained millions of records on Americans’ telephone numbers.
US District Judge Reggie Walton, who oversaw the secret court, said in 2009 he was “deeply troubled” by the NSA accessing domestic phone records without “articulable suspicion.”
Moreover, an independent government review board said last year “certain aspects of the program’s implementation raise privacy concerns” and the NSA has pushed “the program close to the line of constitutional reasonableness.”
While establishment Republicans and Democrats alike insist the illegal surveillance program prevents terrorism and stops the “further loss of innocent life,” as Rubio writes, studies reveal NSA spying on the American people does nothing to prevent terrorism.
“Our investigation found that bulk collection of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group,” said Peter Bergen, director of the New America Foundation. The group analyzed cases involving 225 people recruited by al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
Despite the findings by the New America Foundation, government officials continue to claim terror threats have been averted as a result of massive, unchecked and unconstitutional surveillance.
“Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe — saving real lives,” Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said in July, 2013.
The claim, cited initially by NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, has been debunked.
“We’ve heard over and over again the assertion that 54 terrorist plots were thwarted” by NSA surveillance, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told Alexander at the Judiciary Committee hearing in October, 2013. “That’s plainly wrong, but we still get it in letters to members of Congress, we get it in statements. These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all thwarted. The American people are getting left with the inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs.”
Real Reason for NSA Surveillance Grid: Political and Social Control
Congress continues to promote the fallacy that the NSA is valiantly protecting American innocents from evil terrorists because the surveillance grid now in place is required by the state and the elite that control it.
“These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power,” whistleblower Edward Snowden said in December, 2013.
“Instead of focusing on catching actual terrorists, police spy on Americans who criticize the government, or the big banks or the other power players,” notes Washington’s blog.
The FBI and its precursor at the Justice Department have used surveillance and sabotage to undermine and neutralize political movements for more than a hundred years.
The behavior of the government in response to the nonviolent Occupy movement bears out this assertion. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and elements of the private sector — a combination that represents the true nature of fascism — teamed up to undermine and destroy the movement.
“Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos — I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request — were routinely copied to military intelligence units? “ asks Washington’s blog.
It should come as no surprise the leading presidential candidates, with the notable exception of Rand Paul, all routinely support illegal and unconstitutional NSA surveillance of Americans.
As the Occupy experience and earlier COINTELRPO operations reveal, the elite need massive and unprecedented surveillance to maintain control of politics in America. The NSA is not concerned with a handful of unruly and largely ineffective terrorists. The NSA and the state are seriously concerned about the real enemy — the American people.