At this point, it should be explained that the FISA Court came into existence with the institution of the Foreign Information Surveillance Act, which was necessitated in the late ’70s to rein in the intelligence community, which had become disparate, internally incommunicado and wreaking havoc in some cases around the globe since the 1950s. Since the FISA Court’s inception, they have only turned down one request. Congressional and/or executive oversight of FISA has been nonexistent.
The algorithm used for foreign surveillance has been adapted for use domestically, monitoring Skype, video-conferencing, emails, texts, tweets, credit card transactions and vocal communications. This was all brought to light the second week of June by Edward Snowden. Snowden worked for consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton as a high-level computer troubleshooter and engaged as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden, undergoing a crisis of conscience, blew the whistle on a large portion of the NSA’s communications surveillance program. The blanket warrant from FISA has no “sunset provision” — it will go on forever. It will affect generations unborn ad infinitum. The Congressional and executive branches of our government are paying multiple billions of taxpayer dollars to retain and store the information accumulated, without even telling us what this is going to cost us annually to maintain. Roughly 3.4 million people in government have top-secret clearance to this information. The threat of its misuse is obvious, and increases exponentially, as the program continues.
Also, on June 19, 2013, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller stated that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been using drones for surveillance on Americans inside American shores.
By using the word “metadata” and law enforcement and saying, “Trust us; we don’t look at or abuse the content of the information,” the current administrators of the government are eliminating the Fourth Amendment. At any time, the repository of our information can be breached. How many ways our personal data can be abused is up for grabs.
We should completely and totally end the domestic aspect of this surveillance, saving ourselves billions of dollars. Do we really want to pay for our own potential enslavement? With that implementation, the Fourth Amendment should again reign as law of the land, as it was meant to be, and America will be stronger for it.
Happy Fourth of July!
Joseph F. Doyle is a freelance writer living in Salem.