Spying Is Meant to Crush Citizens’ Dissent, Not Catch Terrorists

The Big Secret Behind the Spying Program

While many Americans understand why the NSA is conducting mass surveillance of U.S. citizens, some are still confused about what’s really going on.

In his new book, No Place to Hide, Glenn Greenwald writes:

The perception that invasive surveillance is confined only to a marginalised and deserving group of those “doing wrong” – the bad people – ensures that the majority acquiesces to the abuse of power or even cheers it on. But that view radically misunderstands what goals drive all institutions of authority. “Doing something wrong” in the eyes of such institutions encompasses far more than illegal acts, violent behaviour and terrorist plots. It typically extends to meaningful dissent and any genuine challenge. It is the nature of authority to equate dissent with wrongdoing, or at least with a threat.

The record is suffused with examples of groups and individuals being placed under government surveillance by virtue of their dissenting views and activism – Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, anti-war activists, environmentalists. In the eyes of the government and J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, they were all “doing something wrong”: political activity that threatened the prevailing order.

The FBI’s domestic counterintelligence programme, Cointelpro, was first exposed by a group of anti-war activists who had become convinced that the anti-war movement had been infiltrated, placed under surveillance and targeted with all sorts of dirty tricks. Lacking documentary evidence to prove it and unsuccessful in convincing journalists to write about their suspicions, they broke into an FBI branch office in Pennsylvania in 1971 and carted off thousands of documents.

Files related to Cointelpro showed how the FBI had targeted political groups and individuals it deemed subversive and dangerous, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, black nationalist movements, socialist and communist organizations, anti-war protesters and various rightwing groups. The bureau had infiltrated them with agents who, among other things, attempted to manipulate members into agreeing to commit criminal acts so that the FBI could arrest and prosecute them.

Those revelations led to the creation of the Senate Church Committee, which concluded: “[Over the course of 15 years] the bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilate operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of first amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”

These incidents were not aberrations of the era. During the Bush years, for example, documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed, as the group put it in 2006, “new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups“. The Pentagon was “keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database”. The evidence shows that assurances that surveillance is only targeted at those who “have done something wrong” should provide little comfort, since a state will reflexively view any challenge to its power as wrongdoing.

The opportunity those in power have to characterise political opponents as “national security threats” or even “terrorists” has repeatedly proven irresistible. In the past decade, the government, in an echo of Hoover’s FBI, has formally so designated environmental activists, broad swaths of anti-government rightwing groups, anti-war activists, and associations organised around Palestinian rights. Some individuals within those broad categories may deserve the designation, but undoubtedly most do not, guilty only of holding opposing political views. Yet such groups are routinely targeted for surveillance by the NSA and its partners.

One document from the Snowden files, dated 3 October 2012, chillingly underscores the point. It revealed that the agency has been monitoring the online activities of individuals it believes express “radical” ideas and who have a “radicalising” influence on others.

***

The NSA explicitly states that none of the targeted individuals is a member of a terrorist organisation or involved in any terror plots. Instead, their crime is the views they express, which are deemed “radical“, a term that warrants pervasive surveillance and destructive campaigns to “exploit vulnerabilities”.

Among the information collected about the individuals, at least one of whom is a “US person”, are details of their online sex activities and “online promiscuity” – the porn sites they visit and surreptitious sex chats with women who are not their wives. The agency discusses ways to exploit this information to destroy their reputations and credibility.

The NSA’s treatment of Anonymous, as well as the vague category of people known as “hacktivists”, is especially troubling and extreme. That’s because Anonymous is not actually a structured group but a loosely organised affiliation of people around an idea: someone becomes affiliated with Anonymous by virtue of the positions they hold. Worse still, the category “hacktivists” has no fixed meaning: it can mean the use of programming skills to undermine the security and functioning of the internetbut can also refer to anyone who uses online tools to promote political ideals. That the NSA targets such broad categories of people is tantamount to allowing it to spy on anyone anywhere, including in the US, whose ideas the government finds threatening.

Greenwald told Democracy Now yesterday:

People are aware of J. Edgar Hoover’s abuses. The nature of that series of events is that the United States government looks at people who oppose what they do as being, quote-unquote, “threats.” That’s the nature of power, is to regard anybody who’s a threat to your power as a broad national security threat.

***

There has already been reporting that shows that—the document, for example, in the book that shows the NSA plotting about how to use information that it collected against people it considers, quote, “radicalizers.” These are people the NSA itself says are not terrorists, do not belong to terrorist organizations, do not plan terrorist attacks. They simply express ideas the NSA considers radical. The NSA has collected their online sexual activity, chats of a sexual nature that they’ve had, pornographic websites that they visit, and plans, in the document, on how to use this information publicly to destroy the reputations or credibility of those people to render them ineffective as advocates. There are other documents showing the monitoring of who visits the WikiLeaks website and the collection of data that can identify who they are. There’s information about how to use deception to undermine people who are affiliated with the online activism group Anonymous.

Recent stories show that Greenwald is right:

And it’s not just spying …

The government may treat anyone who challenges its policies as terrorists.  For example:

The indefinite detention law may be used against American dissenters. Specifically, the trial judge in the lawsuit challenging the law had asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys.   The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead writes:

No matter what the Obama administration may say to the contrary, actions speak louder than words, and history shows that the U.S. government is not averse to locking up its own citizens for its own purposes. What the NDAA does is open the door for the government to detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker. According to government guidelines for identifying domestic extremists—a word used interchangeably with terrorists, that technically applies to anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in order to criticize the government.

Daniel Ellsberg notes that Obama’s claim of power to indefinitely detain people without charges or access to a lawyer or the courts is a power that even King George – the guy we fought the Revolutionary War against – didn’t claim.  (And former judge and adjunct professor of constitutional law Andrew Napolitano points out that Obama’s claim that he can indefinitely detain prisoners even after they are acquitted of their crimes is a power that even Hitler and Stalin didn’t claim.)

And the former top NSA official who created NSA’s mass surveillance system says, “We are now in a police state“.

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  • http://www.friv3go.com/ friv 3

    NSA is investigating the mass of U.S. citizens and realistic goals for the certain control, we can see and understand these things.

  • HS

    In the face of dwindling, finite resources and population overcapacity, it is clear that the elite and their sockpuppets in gov’t regard us as the enemy.

    • schticknic

      See, this is what I don’t understand. Our elites MUST be psychopathic, because, as proven in the post-WWII years – it simply doesn’t take very much to keep the peace. What? A modest house, food, a TV/entertainment, a retirement, college for the kids….. anything else? That is easily fuc*king do-able within the current economic framework. But NO, they want more and more, pushing the world into a dystopic science-fiction caricature. Why? They HAVE to be psycho/sociopathic, the lot of them. It makes no sense. The little people are going to kill a lot of people if the elite don’t start giving it up, as they did for Roosevelt ….

  • http://bigdanblogger.blogspot.com/ Big Dan

    I asked this before: are rich people evil? It sure as hell ain’t any POOR people doing any of this shit!!!

    • xoxxxo

      That’s what I want to know too! After almost 13 years of related death and destruction, you would think it’s about time for him to state the obvious. He has his Pulitzer prize now and his book – and that Sony movie deal firmly in place…so what’s stopping him? Until that day arrives, his integrity is still in question.

      • lorkoos

        You cannot present a thing like that without hard evidence, a smoking gun.

        • xoxxxo

          WTC Bldg. #7

        • mazi

          exactly. greenwald might support such a cause, but to go down that path, when he has so many other dragons to slay, could just stall his mission.

          • xoxxxo

            9/11 is where most of those dragons come from…destroy the source (the justification)…and you destroy the dragons at the same time. If you don’t go to the root cause…nothing changes.

      • PattyFromTexas

        I remember what happened when Glenbeck demanded Debra Medina (she was running for governor in TX) deny there was anything fishy about the official 911 story. When she equivocated, he immediately shouted on his radio station that she was a conspiracy theorist and absolutely ruined any chance she might have had for political office.

  • Arnold Lockshin

    “Spying Is Meant to Crush Citizens’ Dissent, Not Catch Terrorists”

    Right on.

    And the international all-inclusive spying is used to effect “regime-change” and related subversive operations abroad.

    Arnold Lockshin, political exile from the US living in Moscow

  • disqus_3BvGtKqEmE

    NSA nazi wet dream

  • SupernaturalCat

    The indefinite detention law may be used against American dissenters. Specifically, the trial judge in the lawsuit challenging the law had asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.

    Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead writes:

    “No matter what the Obama administration may say to the contrary, actions speak louder than words, and history shows that the U.S. government is not averse to locking up its own citizens for its own purposes. What the NDAA does is open the door for the government to detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker. According to government guidelines for identifying domestic extremists—a word used interchangeably with terrorists, that technically applies to anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in order to criticize the government.”

  • Undecider

    This article screwed up with the first sentence. No, most people do not know why. However, the headline should explain it to those who do not.

  • Calgacus

    Napolitano is mistaken. Don’t know about Joe, but Adolf blessed himself with absolute power over all Germans, just as Barack has over Americans.

    Original order of 4-26-42
    German Wikipedia Article
    English Translation

  • isolato

    Lots of nervous joking about using the “wrong” words in e-mail. Pervasive surveillance doesn’t just crush dissent…it prevents it.

    • mirageseekr

      Not me, I start evry e-mail with a little note to my NSA handler reminding them that the “I was just doing my job” justification didn’t work for the Nazi’s and it won’t work for them when the people finally rise up. I also make sure to randomly write words like, Jihad, pipe bomb, Molotov cocktail, fertilizer, mass destruction and Allah just to make sure their little filter catches it. Then I send my friends the cute kitten or puppy picture on youtube. Imagine if we all did this? I think it would be quite an effective method, they could wade through nothing all day and eventually event the dimwitted brainwashed NSA employees will catch on to how stupid this is.

      • isolato

        you and I will no doubt be eliminated in the first phase

      • Jack

        It’s more complex than that… I know they used it against me.

        http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=869029

        This story I linked… that charge it never happened, they blackmailed my ex-GF (shes a local cop very easy) into framing me AND I used to be one of them… a fed.

        They did this because they didn’t like me speaking out about SoD and some of the immigration issues with ICE.

        Basically they tap your phone and if you say too many things that someone doesn’t like they use the people in your life to frame you. Also they isolate you from any friends or people you know who work for the government.

  • Charles Aulds

    Forget privacy; this is not about privacy; and you can never achieve full confidence, ever again, in personal privacy; regardless of how sophisticated your attempts to preserve it. Indeed, those attempts only red flag you as someone with secrets to hide.

    Forget privacy. It’s not privacy we should desire; it’s the preservation of our RIGHT to privacy. That, we should never relinquish.

    NEVER buy the argument that, “if you’ve nothing to hide; you’ve no reason to need privacy.”

    I did something, this morning, in a public washroom, that was NOT illegal; it was NOT wrong; I feel I did have a right, though, to do it in private. Was I wrong to feel that way?

  • RapidRay01 .

    And be labelled a ” Terrorist ! “. I doubt it !

  • My 2 Cents

    For more on the creepiest elements of current U.S. domestic counterintelligence operations, see the archive of published news reports at http://FightGangStalking.com

  • Mellow Jessica

    Women should just start refusing the men in power access to the p*ssy until our civil liberties and unfettered access to reproductive health services are restored.

  • Tony Lopez-Cisneros

    LISTEN PEOPLE: I’VE RUN FOR THE U.S. CONGRESS SEVERAL TIMES; AND, FOR STATE OFFICE &-OR MUNICIPAL CITY OFFICE A FEW TIMES -AND- CAN UNEQUIVOCALLY SAY ***YES*** ” [NSA, CIA, FBI, ETC.] SPYING IS MEANT TO CRUSH CITIZENS’ DISSENT, NOT CATCH TERRORISTS” ! ! !

    AS, IN RUNNING A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE; ONE WILL SPY ON HIS OPPONENT ***NOT*** SO MUCH TO ACCUSE HIM OF BEING A ***CROOK*** (aka A ‘TERRORIST’), BUT RATHER TO HAVE-/-GET THE ***GOODS*** ON HIM SO THAT HE WON’T ***SNITCH*** ON YOU FOR YOUR ***SHORT-COMINGS*** OR ***FRAILTIES***: THAT IS TO ***CRUSH*** HIS (YOUR OPPONENT’S) ***DISSENT*** AGAINST YOUR ***AGENDA***, ***GOAL*** OR ***ENDS*** ! ! !

    BASICALLY–AT LEAST IN POLITICS–SPYING IS ALSO DONE TO GAIN THE ***ADVANTAGE*** OVER YOUR OPPONENT TO ***PREVENT*** HIM FROM INTIMIDATING YOU WITH ******EXTORTION****** ******SCANDAL****** &-OR ******BLACKMAIL****** ! ! ! ! ! !

    YOU CAN SAY THAT ESPIONAGE (SPYING) IS A ******BARGAINING-CHIP****** USED BY POLITICIANS IN THEIR GAME AT THE (‘CARD’) TABLE: TO EITHER CRUSH YOUR OPPONENTS “DISSENT” AGAINST YOU; OR, A MEANS TO “CUT A DEAL” &-OR PART WAYS ******AMICABLY****** ! ! ! ! ! !

    Truthfully, Honestly, Sincerely Yours And Faithfully Recorded & Submitted,

    Tony Cisneros
    2011 (& Possible 2015) Candiate For City Treasurer,
    City Of Chicago,
    State Of Illinois,
    United States Of America.

    P.S.-I ADVOCATE THE REMOVAL & ETERNAL DESTRUCTION OF ALL “ESPIONAGE” & “SPYING” MEANS AT THE DISPOSAL OF SPYS, SPYMASTERS &-OR THEIR UNDERLINGS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

 

 

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