NSA memos expose Obama administration’s lies about wiretapping [World Socialist Website]

By Eric London
13 June 2013

National Security Agency internal memorandums made public over a decade ago refute the Obama administration’s claims that its vast domestic surveillance program are being carried out as part of a “war on terror.”

Plans to carry out the abrogation of basic democratic rights were well underway at least ten months before the “global war on terror” was launched in the aftermath of the still unexplained events of September 11th, 2001.

The “Transition 2001” memo, published internally by the NSA at the end of 2000 in preparation for the inauguration of President George W. Bush, discloses a decade-old plan to undermine the foundations of the Fourth Amendment. The heavily-redacted document was made public by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a George Washington University professor.

The Fourth Amendment states that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

The 2000 NSA memo expresses the view that this basic democratic right is not compatible with the repressive needs of the state:

“The Fourth Amendment is as applicable to eSIGNINT [electronic signal intelligence] as it is to the SIGINT of yesterday and today. The Information Age will however cause us to rethink and reapply the procedures, policies and authorities born in an earlier electronic surveillance environment.” [emphasis added.]

“Make no mistake,” the memo continues, “NSA can and will perform its missions consistent with the Fourth Amendment and all applicable laws. But senior leadership must understand that today’s and tomorrow’s mission will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the ‘protected’ communications of Americans as well as the targeted communications of adversaries.” [emphasis added.]

The Fourth Amendment contains no “however” or “but” clauses, as the authors of the memo attempt to imply. The language “shall not be violated” clearly indicates that the constitution’s authors intended no such exceptions.

Moreover, the fact that the NSA employed quotation marks when referencing “protected” constitutional rights signifies the level of contempt with which large sections of the ruling class view the basic democratic rights of the American people.

The authors’ expression of consternation about the slow pace in the growth of the NSA’s surveillance plan is reflected in a different document published only three months prior by the Project for a New American Century. Less than a year before the events of September 11th, the authors of the PNAC document titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century” wrote that “the process of transformation” within the national security apparatus is “likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Those credited with participating in producing this document include a host of intelligence insiders, military commanders, academics, and government officials, including Paul Wolfowitz, David Epstein, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and others.

This is an extraordinary statement, echoing remarks made in 1997 by former national security adviser under Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who noted that the “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being.”

Despite the authors’ formal statements of support for the Fourth Amendment, the insinuation that there exists a legalistic state of exception to protected constitutional rights has historical implications: such exceptions serve as pseudo-legal justification for the actual establishment of a police state.

References to the fact that the proposed “rethinking” is the result of changes in “today’s and tomorrow’s mission” demonstrate that Constitutional democratic rights are to be subordinated to the needs of US imperialism in the post-Soviet era…

Full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/13/memo-j13.html


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