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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The State of the Police State

It's amusing to hear politicians talk about freedom. It's such a 20th century term. We have no real freedom anymore.

As evidence, just look at what the government does. The US Government collects data on its own and other nations' citizens. The Guardian reports:

The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programs, an NSA memo describes how in 2007 an agreement was reached that allowed the agency to "unmask" and hold on to personal data about Britons that had previously been off limits.

The memo, published in a joint investigation by the Guardian and Britain's Channel 4 News, says the material is being put in databases where it can be made available to other members of the US intelligence and military community.

Britain and the US are the main two partners in the 'Five-Eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance, which also includes Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Until now, it had been generally understood that the citizens of each country were protected from surveillance by any of the others.

But the Snowden material reveals that:

• In 2007, the rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet. Previously, this data had been stripped out of NSA databases – "minimized", in intelligence agency parlance – under rules agreed between the two countries.

• These communications were "incidentally collected" by the NSA, meaning the individuals were not the initial targets of surveillance operations and therefore were not suspected of wrongdoing.

• The NSA has been using the UK data to conduct so-called "pattern of life" or "contact-chaining" analyses, under which the agency can look up to three "hops" away from a target of interest – examining the communications of a friend of a friend of a friend. Guardian analysis suggests three hops for a typical Facebook user could pull the data of more than 5 million people into the dragnet.

• A separate draft memo, marked top-secret and dated from 2005, reveals a proposed NSA procedure for spying on the citizens of the UK and other Five-Eyes nations, even where the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so. The memo makes clear that partner countries must not be informed about this surveillance, or even the procedure itself.

The 2007 briefing was sent out to all analysts in the NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for collecting, processing, and sharing information gleaned from US surveillance programs.

Up to this point, the Americans had only been allowed to retain the details of British landline phone numbers that had been collected incidentally in any of their trawls.

But the memo explains there was a fundamental change in policy that allowed the US to look at and store vast amounts of personal data that would previously have been discarded.

If you are a citizen in any of the Five-Eyes countries (USA, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada), you have no real freedom from government intrusion into your affairs. You are a criminal in the government view, an attitude which makes all of those countries act like the Nazi's won the Great War of the 20th century.

Since the government has decided that we are all criminals, it's up to you to act accordingly. You should be working to right the government. Failing that, these illegitimate governments who are violating their own constitutions have no legitimacy to even exist and must be toppled as soon as possible.