No boundaries for e-mail, internet snooping

Forget the Fourth Amendment. It’s going the way of the dodo bird. It’s way too quaint and old-fashioned for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell.

As diarist MLDB puts it bluntly over at DailyKos:

Forget the Constitution.  To this crew “national security” and the constitution don’t mix.

Every e-mail, file transfer and internet would be subject of government surveillance if McConnell has his way.

McConnell is drawing up plans for cyberspace spying that would make the current debate on warrantless wiretaps look like a “walk in the park,” according to an interview published in the New Yorker‘s print edition today.

According to the article, McConnell is drawing up a Cyber Security policy

which will closely police Internet activity.

“Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search,” author Lawrence Wright pens.

Looks like it is goodbye to “probable cause” and “warrants” — and hello to unfettered prying by the all-seeing government in the name of national security.

“Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation, he said,” Wright adds. “Giorgio warned me, ‘We have a saying in this business: ‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.'”

A zero-sum game is one in which gains by one side come at the expense of the other. In other words — McConnell’s aide believes greater security can only come at privacy’s expense.

Apparently retired Admiral McConnell has long advocated for “computer network defense”, an area not previously the province of any intelligence agency. And it looks like the tools might already be in place — and perhaps elements of McConnell’s plans might already have been implemented.

In November, a former technician at AT&T alleged that the telecom forwarded virtually all of its Internet traffic into a “secret room” to facilitate government spying.

Whistleblower Mark Klein said that a copy of all Internet traffic passing over AT&T lines was copied into a locked room at the company’s San Francisco office — to which only employees with National Security Agency clearance had access — via a cable splitting device.

“My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room,” Klein. said “And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those Internet cables into the secret room — and we’re talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the Internet.”

“As a technician, I had the engineering wiring documents, which told me how the splitter was wired to the secret room,” Klein continued. “And so I know that whatever went across those cables was copied and the entire data stream was copied.”

According to Klein, that information included Internet activity about Americans.

“We’re talking about domestic traffic as well as international traffic,” Klein said. Previous Bush administration claims that only international communications were being intercepted aren’t accurate, he added.

“I know the physical equipment, and I know that statement is not true,” he added. “It involves millions of communications, a lot of it domestic communications that they’re copying wholesale.”

This whole effort flatly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. One cannot point to this executive order or that statute and claim that they make warrantless wiretapping and cyber-snooping OK. The U.S. Constitution trumps them all. It is the Supreme Law of the Land.

Are you listening, Mike?

Explore posts in the same categories: 4th Amendment, eavesdropping, Warrantless wiretapping

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