Sunday, January 15, 2017

Snowden Movie Misses Key Purpose of NSA Spying - Monitoring CIA Covert Operations


Source: Exopolitics

Published: January 15, 2017

By: Dr. Michael Salla

The movie Snowden by Oliver Stone performs a masterful job in depicting efforts by the National Security Agency (NSA) in comprehensively gathering up electronic communications between people and organizations in the U.S. and all over the world. Stone correctly displays the routine violation of U.S. constitutional rights such practices entail, and why Edward Snowden was motivated to become a whistleblower and leak official state secrets to journalists in order to reveal what was happening.


The movie frames the core issue raised by Snowden as personal privacy being a right protected by the US Constitution, except in cases where courts grant exceptions due to criminal activities or national security. In the case of the NSA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) had become a judicial rubber stamp for NSA spying. Snowden, however, revealed that personal privacy is routinely violated without any FISA court rulings, and with no transparency and accountability in the process used by the NSA and the intelligence community more generally.

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Subsequently, journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have seen their careers skyrocket as a result of their coverage of Snowden’s releases, and the need to curtail state sanctioned violations of personal privacy on spurious national security grounds. In short, the NSA and intelligence community should not be allowed to spy on private citizens without solid legal justification.

This raises the question of why is the NSA and the intelligence community spying on private citizens, and violating U.S. constitutional norms in the process? What Snowden the movie suggests is that the “war on terror”, which is used to justify individual surveillance, is a mere figleaf for more long-term cyber threats posed by China and Russia, and the need to give U.S. corporations a competitive edge against international rivals.

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This is where Snowden and the journalists covering his revelations fail to see the big picture emerging from deeper forces at play when it comes to NSA spying on private citizens. First, we need to separate the military intelligence community comprising the NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), etc., from civilian controlled organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency.

While the chief purpose of the NSA, DIA and other military intelligence organizations is to conduct intelligence and counter-intelligence operations, it is the CIA which is uniquely tasked by the U.S. Congress to conduct covert operations. This is where the CIA will send its operatives into countries and organizations not merely to gather intelligence or perform counter-intelligence, but to conduct covert operations including sabotage, blackmail, coups, false flag operations, assassination, etc.

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What further needs to be considered is that the CIA since its inception in 1947 under President Harry Truman, has conducted its covert operations without genuine oversight or transparency. There is literally no mechanism within the U.S. bureaucracy by which CIA covert operations can be understood, let alone accounted for. This led to Truman famously regretting his decision to enable the CIA to go beyond mere “human intelligence” gathering. He said on December 22, 1963:

I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency — CIA . . . For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. . . . We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.

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Coming one month after President Kennedy’s assassination, Truman was ominously hinting at a CIA link to the national tragedy

In contrast to the CIA, military intelligence operations are conducted in conformity with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and run according to a strict chain of command. Basically, at the apex of the NSA, and other military intelligence organizations, the officials running these agencies can be held accountable for their actions.

What further compounds the problem with CIA covert operations is who does the CIA work for? On the surface, the CIA works for the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch of Government including the U.S. President. That is largely correct when it comes to the CIA analytical division, what Truman pointed to as its “original assignment”, but what about its covert operations division which has been known over the years by a number of names, the current one being the “National Clandestine Service”?


Read more at: Exopolitics.org
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