(INTELLIHUB) 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush has gone on the record with his belief that the massive and overpowering National Security Agency actually needs more power.
Speaking at a national security forum in South Carolina, Bush called for broader NSA powers to combat so-called “evildoers” despite the fact that a vast majority of terror suspects arrested since 9/11 have been helped and sometimes entirely coaxed along by the FBI. Bush also called for private technology firms to work more closely with the government, which in reality means allow the NSA access to the data on any and all Americans.
“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said according to the Associated Press. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”
The AP also reported that Bush wants to revisit the minor rollbacks made to the anti freedom Patriot Act, essentially making the implementation of a full-scale surveillance state part of his campaign platform.
This Jeb Bush call to give the NSA even more powers is in direct opposition with most Republican presidential candidates as well as civil libertarians and privacy rights activists on both sides of the aisle. It also directly lines up with the will of the establishment powers that are largely funding his campaign.
Interestingly, giving the NSA even more power would actually further allow them to control elected politicians through their already documented surveillance of members of Congress.
The National Security Agency has actively targeted members of Congress since at least the early 1970’s as detailed in whistleblower testimony first released by famous investigative journalist Duncan Campbell and detailed in a report I wrote on Campbell and his work on ECHELON.
Margaret Newsham explained that ECHELON was an automated computer-driven system for sifting and sorting all types of international civilian communications intercepted from satellites — mainly operated by U.S. companies.
The scale of the operation she described took my breath away (this was 1988, remember). The NSA and its partners had arranged for everything we communicated to be grabbed and potentially analyzed.
ECHELON was at the heart of a massive, billion-dollar expansion of global electronic surveillance for the 21st century, she explained. She feared the scale of automated surveillance. “Its immensity almost defies comprehension. … It is important for the truth to come out,” she said. “I don’t believe we should put up with being controlled by Big Brother.”
While sitting inside Building 36D at Menwith Hill Station, Newsham had been invited to listen on headphones to a live call from inside the U.S. Senate. She recognized the voice of Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, and immediately realized the NSA had gone off track. “Constitutional laws had been broken,” she told me.
Eventually Newsham would go on to share her story with CBS’s “60 Minutes” and several international newspapers. In a November 1999 interview Newsham provided more details on the NSA listening in to Thurmond’s calls which she personally heard.
To me, there are only two issues at stake here: right or wrong. And the longer I worked on the clandestine surveillance projects, the more I could see that they were not only illegal, but also unconstitutional.”
Margaret Newsham is not pleased with herself for participating in spying on ordinary people, politicians, interest groups and private companies, which is exactly what she did for 10 years, from 1974 to 1984.
Both the satellites and the computer programs were developed at Lockheed’s headquarters in Sunnyvale California, and in 1977, she was stationed at the largest listening post in the world at Menwith Hill, England.
“On the day at Menwith Hill when I realized in earnest how utterly wrong it was, I was sitting with one of the many “translators”. He was an expert in languages like Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Suddenly he asked me if I wanted to listen in on a conversation taking place in the US at an office in the US Senate Building. Then I clearly heard a southern American dialect I thought I had heard before.”
“Who is that?” I asked the translator who told me that it was Republican senator Strom Thurmond. ‘Oh my gosh!’ I thought. We’re not only spying on other countries, but also on our own citizens. That’s when I realized in earnest that what we were doing had nothing to do with national security interests of the US.”
“One can only imagine the amount of spying, bribing, and overall control the NSA and other intelligence agencies have over members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The idea that they would target Thurmond over 30 years ago but would leave Congress alone today is laughable, especially when you consider the surveillance programs revealed by Snowden.”
So Jeb Bush wants to give the same NSA that is already targeting Congress and journalists alike should be given even “broader powers” to save us from scary evildoers yet we are expected to believe he even remotely cares about the Constitution and civil liberties in America?
Remember, giving the National Security Agency even one more shred of power would end democracy in America and establish a full-scale surveillance dictatorship.