Opinion written by George McClellan:
Incidental collection, in other words, intercepting other peoples cyber communications, cell phones and internet messaging, is both a blessing and a curse, for the sender, the receiver and the interceptor. Today, it’s big business, both for government searching for crimes, and commercial services looking to sell products. Sometimes they overlap.
A person’s Internet search for specific products are electronically identified, stored and acted upon using essentially the same software technology the government uses to select whose communications is going to be recorded, with or without a warrant, for some specific use in the future, often as evidence in a criminal proceeding. Knowing what our enemy’s intentions are is paramount to protecting our country. They do it as well. Everybody does using high tech intelligence collection platforms to protect the security of their nations, their own secrets and intentions. A business does it to increase sales and profits and government does it to effect a political change or punish people. It’s all a tawdry business, but it’s not going to be stopped.
Once upon a time,1929 in fact, the precursor of the current NSA, was then called the “Star Chamber or Black Chamber.” It was an Army Signal Corp. Cryptologic unit intercepting communications between foreign ambassadors in DC to their home countries. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson was “shocked, shocked,” that the government was intercepting communications and stopped the State Departments support for the Black Chamber, effectively closing it down. He gave as his reason that “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” During WW2, Stimson became Secretary of War and completely reconciled his closing of the Black Chamber by enthusiastically encouraging the growth of military codebreaking.
Unlike the old days of mail interception, which included “mail covers,” i.e.: simply recording the to and from addresses on letters in the postal system, not requiring a 4th amendment warrant, to actually opening a letter surreptitiously, requiring a warrant, in comparison, today’s collections methods center on use of certain words that automatically activate the computers recording of the message. This is a broad spectrum sweep of the ether collecting incidental information as it hits antennas and reflectors and, includes radio, satellite and short-wave transmissions.
Other sophisticated collection methods focuses on microwave and WiFi emissions, of specific cell phone numbers assigned to specific phone bands, i.e.: foreign Ambassador(s) for example.
When the legal protections covering these methods are usurped by a desperate President, or his henchmen, then crimes of the highest order have been committed especially when the intent is to destroy a political opponent. It is here where “incidental collections” become an excuse for abandoning 4th amendment protections as accidental or as denial plausibility. These possible contacts have been recognized as probabilities in the collection arena and Congress has enacted laws, under the 4th amendment, and FISA laws, to protect the people identified by such interceptions. Revealing the names of Americans identified by such incidental collections constitutes a felony and, if ignored, constitutes another serious crack in the Constitutional foundation of the rule of law. It also destroys trust in our government.
The Left promotes and protects these exposures as long as it works in their favor. Imagine the agonizing screams from Schumer, Pelosi and John Lewis, were Obama to be indited for his part in authorizing such interceptions. It’s getting close but don’t count on it. Protect yourselves, they are out to get you! Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (25Mar17)