The officials quoted by The Wall Street Journal said it was understandable that Obama did not know about the phone tapping of Merkel and other leaders for nearly five years of his presidency because the NSA has so many eavesdropping programs, it would not have listed all of them for the president. “The president doesn’t sign off on this stuff,” one official was quoted as saying. But the official said that policy was under review, the Journal reported. [CNN]
IT’S BEING revealed slowly, awkwardly and embarrassingly that the NSA under George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama has been wagging the dog of both presidents, with few boundaries or rules on what the word ally means. The secret spying inside the military industrial complex in the 21st century is being revealed to have at its head in Keith Alexander an unelected, unaccountable, unbridled leader who thinks he operates beyond our democratic republic, but it didn’t start with him.
NSA director Keith Alexander began in 2005, but the spying on German leaders began when former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder didn’t support the Iraq war, continuing when Angela Merkel became chancellor.
Let’s also face a primal political fact and that’s the U.S. has been spying on our allies forever. What technology has done is bring a dangerous transparency to the craft.
So, blame whatever politician or party fits your ideology, but as a person who has read more than I’ve written about the NSA and the vast network of contractors and homeland security operators across the Beltway, many of whom are housed in Virginia, it’s clear that what Dana Priest and William Arkin reported on back in 2010 is just the tip of what’s developed since 9/11, with no end in sight until Edward Snowden dropped a dime on the NSA.
When the revelations from Edward Snowden through Glenn Greenwald broke, the caterwauling about the supposed heinous nature of what was being revealed hit my inbox in a contagion. People refusing to understand or even consider the Pandora’s box that was being supplied to citizens of a democratic republic that had long ago lost its way.
9/11 was the excuse, with the fearmongering of politicians leading to Keith Alexander’s overreach, which should have been seen as inevitable. This is not to defame the intelligence community or its importance, but instead to strip bear a leader who has disgraced himself and the nature of national security, which is to be run through elected officials of the people, not be a rogue instrument that makes our presidents look like fools or scoundrels and our country incapable of alliances that make the world go ’round instead of an earth of warring countries.
Lisa Monaco, a homeland security advisor to the White House, called on Friday for a “greater focus” to ensure the US was balancing “security needs with the privacy concerns all people share”. Her op-ed piece in USA Today was widely interpreted as a signal of growing concern within the administration.
Monaco wrote: “We want to ensure we are collecting information because we need it and not just because we can.”
In August, announcing a review of US intelligence activities in the aftermath of the first disclosures based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Obama gave the impression that the NSA was solely focused on counter-terrorism measures.
“I don’t have an interest and the people at the NSA don’t have an interest in doing anything other than making sure that where we can prevent a terrorist attack, where we can get information ahead of time, that we’re able to carry out that critical task,” he said. “We do not have an interest in doing anything other than that.”
The Spiegel report said the NSA’s Berlin-based surveillance hub, adjacent to the Brandenburg gate, was one of several in Europe, citing a 2010 document that referred to branches existing in about 80 locations across the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt. The article said it was not clear whether the monitoring of Merkel’s phone included actual telephone conversations or was restricted to call data, but raised the question over whether a surveillance operation, which began three years before she became chancellor, was initially intended to gather intelligence ahead of the Iraq War, which Germany opposed.
Merkel, then in opposition, was critical of Germany’s anti-war stance. Bild reported that the then-chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, was also the target of surveillance, at the behest of the George Bush administration.
All this coming out at a time when former Vice President Dick Cheney is being interviewed as someone wholly removed from what has developed over the last 10 years, something that began and ballooned during the Bush administration. A national security apparatus that is finally being exposed in the Obama era. Yet people are instead talking about Mr. Cheney’s remarkable health rehabilitation, as he escapes questions that should be front and center, not because it’s always Bush’s fault, but because the embedded tentacles of what the NSA continued to do until recently began under Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.
Mentioning the Bush-Cheney era in no way excuses President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who from the start of his presidency never wanted to look back at what had come before. Ignoring the national security venom of the slithering serpent that snaked through the entire structure put in place to protect America after 9/11, but which now is known to have developed into a hydra of incomprehensible and anti-democratic tentacles that is strangling our freedoms and the very meaning of what it is to be a democratic republic.
Once again, because of hyper partisan blindness, the incompetence to work together on something that impacts us all, including America’s image around the globe, congressional oversight is exposed as the joke it has become, while the NSA changed the very meaning of national security, helped through the elite congressional lawmakers privy to this information. Thinking the American people shouldn’t know what’s being done with our tax dollars.
Through the revelations of spying, which the American commander in chief Barack Obama is said to be ignorant, our image has been trashed yet again. Assuming Obama didn’t know, it’s hard to ascertain what’s more damning or revealing. That Obama knew and continued their policies or that he took on blind faith that what he inherited from the Bush-Cheney era was good enough for the “change” Administration, without even a look inside to see what they’d done.
This expansion of NSA snooping didn’t start under President Obama, but by blithely and naively accepting the Bush-Cheney world as it was when he arrived in Washington, keeping in place much of what came before, President Obama has been tarred by it forever and so has the United States under his leadership.