Wednesday, April 16, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

The NSA imbroglio

In 1980, James Bamford was the first reporter to divulge the existence of the NSA. Since then, he has published three books on the agency: “The Puzzle Palace,” “Body of Secrets” and “The Shadow Factory.” Bamford has proven not only accurate, but clairvoyant. “Body of Secrets,” written in 1982, explains how, post 9/11, the NSA focused on collecting intelligence on American citizens. So why is Congress acting as if this was a total surprise? If our representatives spent more time overseeing the executive branch and less time on circuses, they might be better informed.

One of the real scandals about the NSA/NRO/CIA/DIA and a host of other “intelligence” organizations is not about Edward Snowden, but why over two million civilians have Top Secret clearances. Another scandal is the yearly intelligence budget of over $70 billion is growing exponentially. What of government agencies hiding their sins of omission and commission behind the catch-all phrase “national security?” Why do these two words send the public and the press into a catatonic silence?

Over 25 years working in the Department of State, I had access to documents beyond Top Secret, and I can recall only a handful that, if revealed to the enemy (the Soviets at the time), might have caused harm to our national security as the term was originally intended to mean. Many classified documents were embarrassing to either the U.S., or a foreign power; many more (if not the majority) fell in the “CYA” category. Quite a few were classified to keep them out of another agency’s loop (AKA “protecting one’s turf’”), or out of the real enemy’s hands: Congress. Finally, a vast number were classified solely to make them inaccessible to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Since Eisenhower, there have been sporadic attempts at bringing the classification process under control but all have failed. The ability to classify confers a certain self-importance and prestige on the person who wields the Top Secret stamp. When in doubt, classify and go for the highest classification you can get away with, is the motto. There’s no price to pay for over-classifying any document, but hell to pay leaving it unclassified and having it fall into the hands of the press.

After 9/11, Bush and Cheney whipped up our fear demons, and the sheep in Congress reacted predictably; with less than a day’s debate, they passed the Patriot Act which makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment. The Libertarians and the Tea party were AWOL in this debate. Only a few liberals asked: Is it worth losing personal liberties to fight people armed with AK-47s and box cutters?

Congress, backed by the security/industrial/military/intelligence (SIMI) complex, has convinced many of us that we can achieve 100 percent security if we throw enough money at the problem. It’s a fool’s errand. Let’s borrow a page from Republicans: run a cost/benefit analysis on the so-called War on Terror. Can we accept being 90 percent safe while spending “only” $30 billion on intelligence, instead of spending $70-plus billion, and lose our civil liberties, to be 95 percent safe? Is that extra 5 percent safety really worth $40 billion?

Right-wingers love everything “Pentagon” and “national security.” 9/11 was a godsend to them for it allowed George Bush to advance us inexorably toward a militarized, national security state financed by Wall Street fraudsters and banksters. President Obama is only marginally better — he lies less than Dubya. The people have lost the battle but not yet the war, so let’s pass the pitchforks and go to the barricades!

JOHN GARON
Placerville

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 45 comments

  • James E.June 17, 2013 - 1:53 pm

    In these modern times, pitchforks and barricades are not applicable. sadly.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 17, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    Mr. Garon, it is exceedingly difficult not to use the word "liar" WRT your latest selective blame bush bull$hit. You, mention the work of James Bamford. Therefore, given your State Department experienced as well as other of your personal experiences you are aware of ECHELON. I became aware of ECHELON in 1997. At that time FreeRepublic.com was the leading anti-Clinton website. I "spoofed" ECHELON on FreeRepublic with key words. I got a visit from the Secret Service. You know damn well, John, that today's invasive practices precede Bush. ECHELON precedes the patriot act. It had zero congressional authority or oversight . . . active BB (before bush)

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 17, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    ECHELON . . . Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links. . . . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON . . . Edward Showdon is an obama plant . . . a deliberate distraction from Obama's real malfeasance of Benghazi et al

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  • EvelynJune 18, 2013 - 7:37 am

    "One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived." ~ Niccolo Machiavelli

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  • EvelynJune 18, 2013 - 7:47 am

    An interesting downloadable book, first published in 1973, HERE. I agree that no career State Department employee can be ignorant of such programs.

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  • EvelynJune 18, 2013 - 7:49 am

    . . . or, it can be read HERE.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 18, 2013 - 6:01 pm

    Colonel, surely you are familiar ECHELON?

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  • James E.June 18, 2013 - 6:33 pm

    Phil, I don't want to talk about it -- it's classified. I was once accused of leaking classified information to CBS -- had to appear before a federal grand jury. Lucky for me other witnesses testified that I couldn't have done it as I was just not a leaker (not a good word when one is old).

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 18, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    'nuff said, Colonel. You confirm that Garon speaks with forked tongue. Today's "prism" is just yesterday's "ECLELON" It's "ECHELON VERSION 7.77" except that Bush and obama added a level or two of oversight AND a few hardware upgrades.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 18, 2013 - 7:31 pm

    BTW, Colonel . . . Do you suppose Garon had anything to do with this cover-up back in '96? - - - LINK - TWA Flight 800

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  • James E.June 18, 2013 - 9:04 pm

    Phil, after a moment of consideration, I think not.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 19, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    Has the rest of the forum been swept up and carted off to a FEMA camp? . . . Colonel? . . . Cookie . . . . R.J. . . . hellloooo . . . . ???? . . . . D.B.? . . . yoo-hoo?

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  • James E.June 19, 2013 - 2:09 pm

    Phil, I'm here. Of course, I had to jump over hoops to get here as the Mt.Democrat experiments with their computers. This may be the reason all others are AWOL.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 19, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    Thanks, Colonel. I'm feeling sort of like Rod Serling Twilight Zone vibes.

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  • James E.June 19, 2013 - 2:37 pm

    Phil, don't be afraid as I'm going away for a while. Will be back.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 19, 2013 - 2:45 pm

    Mensch . . . screwed up politics . . . but a mensch none the less

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  • James E.June 19, 2013 - 3:09 pm

    Back on station with a full load of bullets. How can I help and throw a smoke if you can. Army talk for those of you who sat out our various wars.

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  • James E.June 19, 2013 - 3:12 pm

    Once in the Army I was called a mensch -- always nice to hear.

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  • DB SmithJune 19, 2013 - 3:17 pm

    Another frigin fracking test after multiple attempts! This is what it will be like everywhere very soon. Prepare!!!

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  • DB SmithJune 19, 2013 - 3:20 pm

    Colonel, You must have got some super duper new keyboard that has special capabilities because all I see are your posts making it through. Seems like you are talking to yourself? Where did you get that keyboard?

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  • James E.June 19, 2013 - 4:03 pm

    OK, going away again. Back later.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 20, 2013 - 7:37 am

    Colonel, my research reveals that this newspaper is an environmental terrorist. - - - $93.60 per year senior rate for hard copy home delivery vs. $10 per month ($120 per year) for on-line subscription. THIS IS NUTS! . . . DEFINITELY NOT GREEN . . . . here is a link for existing hardcopy subscribers to logon to the forum - - - http://www.mtdemocrat.com/wp-login.php

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 20, 2013 - 9:03 am

    Reinforcements on the way!!!

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 20, 2013 - 9:36 am

    Colonel, It's all yours. This empty room is just too creepy. . . . D.B. . . . Kirk . . . Cookie . . . R.J. . . . John . . . . Evelyn . . . Hello???

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  • James E.June 20, 2013 - 10:18 am

    Phil, it's very creepy. Will check back periodically to see if anyone was able to get through the MtDemocrat maze.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 20, 2013 - 10:27 am

    Colonel, I'm off in search of wampum at Redhawk . . . later . . .

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:18 am

    "FBI Director: Obeying the Constitution "Will Take An Awful Long Time" - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:21 am

    "Obama picks official who approved of dragnet NSA surveillance to head FBI" - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:23 am

    “We Don’t Want a Word on Your Allegations Pertaining to NSA Wiretapping of Obama, Judges & Activists”-MSNBC - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:30 am

    “APPROPRIATE” – Eric Holder Doubles Down On Government Intimidation Of The Media - HERE: Holder claims Congress may have “misinterpreted” his earlier under oath remarks when he testified that no journalists had been prosecuted by the Justice Department for publishing leaks.

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:36 am

    "FBI’s Robert Mueller: Feds need broader surveillance powers" - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:40 am

    "NSA: If Your Data Is Encrypted, You Might Be Evil, So We'll Keep It Until We're Sure" - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 22, 2013 - 6:42 am

    "NSA Whistleblower: NSA Illegally Spied On General Petraeus and Other Generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and All of the Other Supreme Court Justices, the White House Spokesman, and Many Other Top Officials" - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 23, 2013 - 6:43 am

    "[J]ournalists who act as mere stenographers for the government who never criticize in more than a superficial fashion are protected and rewarded … but reporters who actually report on government misdeeds are prosecuted and harassed." - HERE

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  • EvelynJune 23, 2013 - 6:46 am

    "Pelosi Booed At Netroots Nation 2013 For Defending Obama's Domestic Spying" - HERE

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 27, 2013 - 10:03 am

    John, you offer no rebuttal. Silence implies affirmation. You concede the argument. Q.E.D.

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  • cookie65June 28, 2013 - 8:09 am

    Here is some government spending that didn't get any sequester cuts. obama/jarrett paying contractors millions to dig thru citizens financial info handed over by banks in exchange for relaxing government threats against themselves. The corruption is so deep now it would take a bunker-buster to even scratch the surface of it. http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/27/obama-administration-paid-contractors-millions-to-snoop-through-americans-financial-data/

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  • cookie65June 28, 2013 - 8:19 am

    The expansion of government can only lead to one thing. This is not the government looking for the citizens. This is the government looking out for the government. garon, like the overwhelming majority of career public trough feeders views the American citizens as "them". "Them" have provided a rather care-free existence for garon and millions of others just like him. Self-proclaimed entitlement has its privileges. Be a good surf and bring me my slippers.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 28, 2013 - 8:23 am

    Edward J. Snowden is likely an Obama "Rabbit" pulling the hounds off course. He divulges NOTHING NEW SnowLINK - ECHELON

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  • cookie65June 28, 2013 - 9:27 am

    Here is another one of those ricochet's that hit the leftists in their posterior. https://securecdn.disqus.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/528/2330/original.jpg

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  • cookie65June 28, 2013 - 3:53 pm

    While waiting for this page to download there was and ad for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness). How appropriate.

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  • cookie65June 28, 2013 - 5:25 pm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/number-of-federal-wiretaps-rose-71-percent-in-2012/2013/06/28/9ffde292-e032-11e2-963a-72d740e88c12_story.html

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  • EvelynJuly 12, 2013 - 1:17 pm

    Smile!

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  • FranJuly 12, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    Evelyn says: July 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm Smile! Scary link Miss Evelyn--I sleep in front of my comp--hopefully drool is not recorded coming out of my mouth on you tube. Gamer s, for a long time, have known this was happening in some form. They have always known that the net is not "secure." People will create and sell script to over ride what is out there. Programmers and hackers...they are beyond smart when it comes to computers...age doesnt matter...it could be the 8 year old across the street filming ones every move. I just accepted it many years ago. There are few secrets...you just have to surf for the answer.

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  • EvelynJuly 12, 2013 - 3:23 pm

    "Obama gives himself control of all communication systems in America" - HERE: 'In explaining the order, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) writes that the president has authorized the DHS "the authority to seize private facilities when necessary, effectively shutting down or limiting civilian communications."'

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