The power of the “deep state,” the intelligence community’s lock on the secrets of every citizen in the United States, information that used to be only in sensational magazines, is now public knowledge. The March 8, WikiLeaks dump of over 9,000 emails, a dump reportedly far larger and worse than the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013. A dump disclosing potential spying of Americans by their own television sets, whether on or off, or by their automobiles. Sophisticated cyber technology “beyond what Snowden could have imagined,” capable of spying leaving the footprint of other countries so our government remains undetected. The power to blackmail the powerful of either political party is in the hands of the “Deep State.” And reportedly, the 9,000 documents are but 1 percent of what WikiLeaks has received by whistle blowers within the National Security Agency (NSA).
No one is exempt, not even President Donald Trump. One warrant allowed the spying of Trump Tower during the latter part of the Trump campaign and a second the Trump server itself, the first reportedly authorized by the FISA Court—a largely secret court where intelligence organizations CIA, FBI and etc. request spying authority. Since 1979 only 12 requests were denied out of 38,169 made. The judges seldom turn down the intelligence community. The second, by the FBI authorized by someone higher, some have suggested President Barack Obama.
As serious as this is, it is not new. Some remember CIA spying on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee led by Democrat Committee Chairperson Dianne Feinstein just three years ago this month. In this scandal, the CIA acknowledged that it “had secretly searched Senate computer files related to an investigation of the agency’s Bush-era harsh interrogation program.” The Senate was investigating them and was about to release its incriminating findings. Their admission that they lied for several months when accused of having done this and their apology to the senators to whom they had spied, does not make such acceptable.
Nor did they disclose who directed them to spy on the Senate in the first place? This wasn’t just any group of U.S., it was the Senate Intelligence Committee, charged with overseeing all spying sponsored by our government. In effect, the CIA was spying on its congressional boss.
But WikiLeaks dumps and spying on a presidential candidate or the U.S. Senate are extreme examples of the power of the “Deep State.” What of their power to spy, and potentially blackmail our elected officials, or you?
We have known for years of the government’s secret surveillance network, code named “Stellar Wind,” that intercepts, deciphers, analyzes and stores “vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign and domestic networks… Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases.” Stored are “all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cellphone calls and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases and other digital “pocket litter” (James Bamford, “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center. Watch What You Say,” Wired, March 15, 2012) Edward Snowden documentation revealed their “intercepting 200 million text messages every day worldwide through a program called Dishfire” (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, “The 10 Biggest Revelations from Edward Snowden’s Leaks,” Mashable, June 5, 2014).
So where is your sensitive information stored? Launched in 2004 under the George W. Bush Administration, but vastly expanded under Barack Obama, the National Security Agency in Bluffdale, Utah, facility houses all electronic information in the world. It is designed to hold a Yottabyte of information. A yottabyte is One thousand zettabytes (the number 1 followed by 24 zeros — 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). The philosophy is that the “more data, the more telephone calls, the more email, the more encrypted data that you have—the more patterns that you’re likely to discover.”
The NSA Oak Ridge facility houses the super computer, installed in 2006, capable of finding patterns and printing them out in milliseconds in a process code named “Brute Force.” The “goal was to advance computer speed a thousandfold, creating a machine that could execute a quadrillion operations a second, known as a Petaflop—the computer equivalent of breaking the land speed record.” With upgrades the computer, called “jaguar for its speed, it clocked in at 1.75 petaflops, officially becoming the world’s fastest computer in 2009,” is housed in Building 5300. There “318 scientists, computer engineers and other staff work in secret on the cryptanalytic applications of high-speed computing and other classified projects” (Cryptome, “NSA Decryption Multipurpose Research Facility,” March 16, 2012).
Resistance to this invasion of privacy was massive resulting in the termination of the Patriot Act whose authority was used to justify bulk collections. It was replaced in 2015 by the USA Freedom Act, which required telephone companies to collect the metadata instead and store it at their expense. The NSA may still access (and does) the information with approval of the secret FISA Court if the government maintains there is a reasonable suspicion that the phone data of a target is relevant to a terror investigation. Reportedly this is why Trump Tower was under surveillance the closing weeks of the Trump presidential campaign.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.