Truth Up: NSA Edition

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It’s your daily re-truthing, and today we’re focused on the ever-evolving NSA spying stories.  The First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles has joined forces with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Human Rights Watch, People for the American Way, and other organizations to sue the NSA for violating their First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting their phone records.  Represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the plaintiffs are suing the NSA over its bulk telephone records collection program, the same program that the New York Times characterized as criminal.

Revelations continue to come about the NSA’s spying programs, particularly the existence of an NSA program named FAIRVIEW, which is an “upstream” program designed to collect information before it even reaches the Internet.  According to NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, FAIRVIEW is intended to “own the Internet.”  FAIRVIEW, according to Drake, is “just a name, that at the highest level means to own the Internet” by enabling the NSA to tap fiber optic cables to access information securely before it even reaches the Internet.

Drake cites the revelation of a 2003 “Network Security Agreement” between the NSA and Global Crossing, reported on by the Washington Post, which enabled U.S. officials to access the data flowing through fiber optic cables which carry the majority of the world’s voice and data traffic.  In order to secure that data, the Federal Communications Commission held up approval for cable licenses until lawyers for the government’s “Team  Telecom” developed the Network Security Agreements enabling U.S. access to the cables and the information they carried.

The security agreement for Global Crossing required a “Network Operations Center” which government officials could visit at any time with just 30 minutes of warning.  Any surveillance requests would be handled by U.S. citizens sworn to secrecy, which kept information from the Global Crossing’s executives and directors.

Though the NSA and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied having the ability to record and analyze where its intelligence came from, the Guardian’s reporting on Boundless Informant revealed that this was a lie.  Additionally, in a March 2012 exchange with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), NSA Director General Keith Alexander made the following statement about NSA surveillance:

“Within the United States, that would be the FBI lead,” responded Alexander. “If it were a foreign actor in the United States, the FBI would still have to lead. It could work that with NSA or other intelligence agencies as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the United States it would have to go through a court order, and the court would have to authorize it. We’re not authorized to do it, nor do we do it.”

Alexander was under oath at the time he gave his testimony, and we now know that his statement was a lie. At the time he gave his testimony, the NSA was engaged in the interception of communications and information involving American citizens.  In short, Alexander perjured himself.

Don’t worry, because President Obama is here to reassure you that you can trust him to secretly collect your data:


jay batmanJay Batman is a graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law, where he attained his J.D. in May 2013.  He completed a B.A. in English with a minor in Political Science at the University of Montevallo in 2002. He is employed with Dustin Stockton Political Strategies, LLC, and presently resides in West Texas with his dog and co-author, Buddy Love.