NSA DNA


A recent article reveals that there was institutional resistance within NSA to domestic mass surveillance. I am not surprised. There is no question that suspicionless mass surveillance of Americans violates the very DNA of NSA. Since the Church and Pike Committees of 1976, the mantra of the agency was Thou Shalt Not Surveil Americans.

When they began doing precisely that with the inception of "the Program," as President Bush's program of warrantless domestic mass surveillance was called, the early NSA whistleblowers resigned from their positions, and they filed formal complaints alleging waste, fraud and abuse with the Inspectors General of DOD, NSA, and DOJ.

Diane Roarke, the ranking staffer handling the NSA account at the House Committee on Intelligence, complained repeatedly to then-DCI Michael Hayden. Her account of their last meeting is memorable. She says that Hayden could not look her in the eye, and he explained to her that he had approval to conduct mass surveillance on Americans from the highest levels of government, from the President himself.

President George Bush was certainly aware of the Program, it was called the President's Terrorist Surveillance Program, or alternatively the President's Surveillance Program (PSP), and he did authorize it, but multiple accounts indicate that it was the brainchild of Vice President Dick Cheney. It was the office of the Vice President that championed the Program and steamrolled over all bureaucratic resistance. 

I suspect that somebody else was pulling Cheney's strings, but I also believe in the existence of the Illuminati and I subscribe to a conspiratorial view of history, so pay me no mind. Cheney's staff lawyer, David Addington, was the prime mover. Hayden was the DCI who re-authorized the Program, after then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey got hinky, uncomfortable with a radical reinterpretation of the President's powers under Article II of the Constitution.

This is how freedom in America died. Cheney put Addington in play, Addington wrote the foundational legal opinions rationalizing the mass surveillance of Americans, and good soldiers Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander executed the plan. Many protested, but to no avail. Most early NSA critics were destroyed financially and professionally, though their protests were legal, proper, and founded on a deep appreciation of their duty to uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The way that these critics were treated may represent the nadir of our history as a Republic. Their prosecution was shameful. I am not aware that any apology was ever rendered.

Edward Snowden emphasizes that the experiences of earlier NSA whistleblowers and dissenters like Diane Roarke, Kurt Wiebe, Thomas Drake, Ed Loomis, William Binney, Russell Tice, James Risen and Thomas Tamm led him to the realization that he would have to steal a massive cache of classified documents, lest he be marginalized and neutralized as they were. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

There is no question in my mind that these gentlemen, Cheney, Addington, Hayden, Alexander, all need to be called to testify before a Joint Special Committee on Mass Surveillance, and they need to be read their rights before they open their mouths.


Many of them should be in a Supermax wearing orange jumpsuits, along with other conspirators.

Appearing before a joint congressional hearing will do for a start.


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