• United States



NSA Whistleblower Drake: You’re automatically suspicious until proven otherwise

Jul 16, 20126 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

NSA whistleblower Thomas A. Drake is backing the EFF's lawsuit over the government's massive spying program. Drake also had a lot to say about the establishment of a 'surveillance society' in America. In a video interview, he said it was ‘soft tyranny. It raises the specter of you're automatically suspicious until we prove that you're not. It raises the specter of a universal wiretap, a persistent universal wiretap on every single person, or if not, they can create one.'

Continuing in the theme of what NSA whistleblowers have to say about Americans under mass surveillance, such as William Binney’s claim that the NSA has dossiers on nearly every U.S. citizen, we’ll take a look at another former NSA official, Thomas A. Drake, who was also brave enough to turn whistleblower and had his life turned upside down because of it.

RT had a very interesting interview with Drake, who said, “Security has effectively become the State religion; you don’t question it. And if you question it, then your loyalty is questioned.” . . . “Speaking truth of power is very dangerous in today’s world.” The journalist pointed out that investigative journalists are labeled as “terrorist helpers” for trying to reveal the truth, to which Drake said the government’s take is “you go after the messenger because the last thing you want to do is deal with the message.” The NSA, the government, “They object” to anyone who dares to “air dirty laundry” or show the skeletons in the closet. “Not only do they object to it, they decide to turn it into criminal activity.”

Drake added, “Most people don’t stand up to power because power wields a lot of power and power can do you in, or make life very difficult.” This almost made me throw up since those who are brave enough to object to our country moving away from the Constitution and everything that America stands for, cannot possibly mean those people are for the terrorists! Most are people who love our country and believe in freedom, believe in the USA! Those people believe the government can’t stomp out our rights and hide behind national security secrets to avoid telling We the People the truth about mass domestic spying. Some of those people who are brave enough to not only stand up and be counted, but also to fight for our rights include the EFF with Jewel v. NSA. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn wrote:

For years, government lawyers have been arguing that our case is too secret for the courts to consider, despite the mounting confirmation of widespread mass illegal surveillance of ordinary people. Now we have three former NSA officials confirming the basic facts. Neither the Constitution nor federal law allow the government to collect massive amounts of communications and data of innocent Americans and fish around in it in case it might find something interesting. This kind of power is too easily abused. We’re extremely pleased that more whistleblowers have come forward to help end this massive spying program.

Many people do not read the law, proposed bills, or what is happening in the court. If you are so inclined, you can read the EFF’s motion for partial summary judgment, William Binney’s declaration and J. Kirk Wiebe’s declaration. Among many other eye-openers, Thomas A. Drake’s declaration states:

The NSA has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords and phrases in email. The NSA has the ability to do individualized or small scale searches for particular electronic communications in real time. It also has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers. The wholesale collection of data allows the NSA to identify and analyze Entities or Communities of Interest later in a static database.

Some more of Drake’s statements in the video interview included, “The NSA had entered into a secret agreement with the White House in which NSA would become the executive agent for this secret surveillance program. On the front end, it was designed to deal with the threat, the terrorist threat, and that was probably understandable. But what it did is it actually, essentially, turned the United States into just a collection platform.” He spoke a little bit about how CISPA would take the secret law of the Patriot Act, Section 215, up a notch so that under the label of “cyber threats and to provide cybersecurity, the government wants even more invasive access — almost persistent access to networks which are not normally available to the public.”

If you take what has been happening post 9/11 security world, what you’re seeing is the establishment of a surveillance society. You’re seeing the establishment of the surveillance network….People don’t realize the extent to which we are already surveilled in many, many different ways — the extent to which vast amounts of our own transactional data, in all forms — all electronic forms, and emails, and your tweets, and bank records, and everything else, are all subject — or suspect, in terms of surveillance….It raises the specter of kind of the rise of soft tyranny. It raises the specter of you’re automatically suspicious until we prove that you’re not. It raises the specter of a  universal — I call it a universal wiretap, a persistent universal wiretap on every single person, or if not, they can create one.

“You also have the fear element. Fear in itself is control. And what people will do if they are fearful is to censor themselves.” Regarding NSA and other government surveillance powers, Drake added, “What happens if they don’t like you? What happens if you speak ill-will against the government? What happens if you say something that they consider disloyal?” Drake pointed out that what happened to him, a top government executive, sends a “very chilling message that if you speak out, if you speak up, we’re going to hammer you and we’re going to hammer you hard.”

Wielding fear like a weapon and using policy as opposed to the Constitution and protections granted to us via the Bill of Rights is very dangerous and seems very anti-American. I agree with Drake, “We are going down a very slippery slope in America.”

If cursing upsets you, then please don’t watch this clip gone viral about “Good Will Hunting had it right 14 years ago.”

Like this? Here’s more posts:
  • The more you encrypt, the more the government breaks into your cloud
  • HOPE 9: Whistleblower Binney says the NSA has dossiers on nearly every US citizen
  • Track the trackers with Collusion: Interview with Mozilla’s Ryan Merkley
  • Mobile Phone Surveillance Out of Control: Cops Collected 1.3 Million Customer Records
  • High tech car theft: 3 minutes to steal keyless BMWs
  • TSA lawlessly snubs federal court ruling for 1 year! Interview with Jim Harper
  • Hacker claims to have breached & backdoored antivirus software firm Trend Micro
  • The Future of Drone Surveillance: Swarms of Cyborg Insect Drones
  • NSA claims it would violate Americans’ privacy to say how many of us it spied on
  • Independence Day: Ghosts of SCOTUS on the fundamental right to privacy
  • Windows 8 technology shift: The coming end of Win32 apps
  • Going Dark in the Golden Age of Cyber-Surveillance?
  • Interview with founder of Thruzt, the social network that got hacked almost immediately

Follow me on Twitter @PrivacyFanatic

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.