We Warned the American People about Naked Surveillance.
But No One Listened…
I’m from a small town in Indiana, where we often passed on knowledge with this simple bit of farmland wisdom: “If you plant onions, you’ll pretty much get onions.” Another way of stating it, perhaps more eloquently, is “You reap what you sow.”
Still another fitting bit of wisdom in the context of what we are witnessing today would be found in “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
Over a decade and a half ago, the NSA Four (Bill Binney, Ed Loomis, Tom Drake, and myself), together with HPSCI Senior Staffer Diane Roark pleaded for surveillance that protected the innocent in order to prevent the destruction of individual privacy guaranteed us all by the U.S. Constitution.
Nobody listened. No one cared. No one took corrective action.
Today, we see unfolding before our very eyes a Constitutional crisis of monumental proportions, one that threatens the very foundations of our nation’s system of governance.
People hidden in the bowels of the United States Intelligence Community are leaking classified information taken from the private phone calls of innocent people – people who have not been accused of committing any crime – to the press for purely political reasons, reasons that include an attempt to take down our duly elected administration.
Had the approach we advocated over 16 years ago been used – one that featured a built-in capability that prevented the kind of access to, and disclosure of, private information we are seeing in the news – we would not be witnessing the abject abuse of authority that is unfolding before us. President Obama’s order just before departing the White House that spread access to NSA’s intercepts to hundreds of additional people across all 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community would not have mattered. Innocent people’s private information would have been protected.
The questions remain – is anyone listening? Does anyone care? Indeed, Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Is anyone taking corrective action to prevent such leaks, even in the absence of identifying the individuals who are continuing to break the law?
It might take a week, maybe two, maybe even three, depending on the IT architecture involved, to put the data protections in place.
For the American People. For the nation…