NSA snooping program ‘just one element of vast secrecy regime’

NSA snooping program ‘just one element of vast secrecy regime’
The NSA warrantless spying program is only a part of a “vast” American secrecy regime that has developed and expanded since 9/11, former NSA senior official and a whistleblower Thomas Drake has told RT.

Thomas Drake, who worked for the American National Security Agency (NSA) from 2001 to 2008, says he was at the place “from the very beginning” of the development of the mass surveillance program, PRISM,  that grants the government access to Internet users’ emails, search results, video chats and other data.

The mass surveillance program was actually initiated in the deepest of secrecy shortly after 9/11,” he told RT. “In fact, there was a secret directive signed by President Bush during the first week of October of 2001, authorizing the NSA as the executive agent for the secret surveillance program to essentially turn the USA into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet electronic surveillance. And it’s simply grown by leaps and bounds ever since. And it is now fully institutionalized and it’s on an industrial scale.

In Drake’s view, such practice breaks the social contract under the American constitution and is “a huge” betrayal of trust. 

Thomas Andrews Drake.(Screenshot from RT video)

But for the sake of national security the government decided in secret that it needed to gain records on just about anything and anybody from anywhere they could,” he stated. “And they just feel compelled to own the net. And to own the net means you have to have access to everything. To me it’s the 21st century version of the motto of the east-German surveillance state under the Stasi which was “To know everything.

The former NSA official believes that “there’s certainly a slope that we are going down that doesn’t look very positive if you were to forecast or project [writer George] Orwell into the future.” Some have said, he pointed out “that we’ve actually exceeded Orwell’s [character of his book] Winston cowering in the corners to avoid the ever-present cameras recording his every movement during the day and night.

Drake recalled a “chilling” opinion that he heard from a couple who lives in Germany:

At least we know that we live in a post-Fascist society. You live in a pre-Fascist society and don’t know it,” he cited. 

On the one hand, the development of technologies – such as cell-phones that almost everyone has now – is a wonderful thing, as it serves to connect people.

On the other hand though, “for those who have other intentions every single cell-phone is a tracking device by virtue the fact that it has to connect to cell-towers in a larger network,” he observed. When one has a secret surveillance program, it is extremely tempting “to keep track of everybody, monitor everybody and know all of their movements and who they are associating with, and where they have been and for how long.”

Disconnecting from the net would, possibly be a solution. However, it is extremely difficult to do so since any transaction you can think of in some way keeps a record of what you did, Drake observed. 

US Senator Franck Church.(Photo from bioguide.congress.gov)

The whistleblower cited US Senator Franck Church who warned the American nation in 1975 that agencies like the NSA that possess advanced technologies capable of monitoring everything must operate within the law under proper supervision so that the abyss from which there is no return is never crossed. 

I think right now we are definitely starring into the abyss,” Drake believes. 

The NSA secret snooping program is just one element of “a vast secrecy regime” that the US government has continued to employ and expand over the years since the 9/11terrorist attack on Twin Towers.

It’s not even including the rendition, detention, interrogation program that involved a huge number of countries – at least 54 that we know of from documentation. It also involves secret armies, like the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), which - if you watch the Jeremy Scahill ‘Dirty Wars’ documentary – has active operations ongoing in at least 75 countries across the world. This is like the full militarization under the article 2 powers of the commander in chief in our constitution. It’s unprecedented not just in terms of US history, but also world history,” Drake emphasized.

Drake himself was a target of the spying program back in 2006, when he was under criminal investigation “for having blown the whistle on the secret surveillance programs from their beginning.

It’s very dangerous in America right now - especially under this administration - to hold up a mirror to government and speak truth of the government or speak truth about the government,” he says “And they are using extremely heavy-handed tactics and prosecutorial instruments – far beyond their mandate to go after people and wherever possible put them away.”