Boston civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate has stated that you’re a criminal and the NSA knows it. Is the NSA actively spying on you?
In Silverglate’s book, Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, he claims that every person in the United States commits at least three federal felony crimes per day and if the government decides you’re somehow worthy of their attention, you will be targeted:
The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague. In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior. The volume of federal crimes in recent decades has increased well beyond the statute books and into the morass of the Code of Federal Regulations, handing federal prosecutors an additional trove of vague and exceedingly complex and technical prohibitions to stick on their hapless targets. The dangers spelled out in Three Felonies a Day do not apply solely to “white collar criminals,” state and local politicians, and professionals. No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch, and nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional democracy hangs in the balance.
Has It Happened? Is It Happening Now?
We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11. They
contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers. After
he consulted with Legal, he refused. As a result, NSA canceled a
bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top
bidder for. And then the DoJ targeted him and prosecuted him and put
him in prison for insider trading — on the theory that he knew of
anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for
the government, while the public didn’t because it was classified and
he couldn’t legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock
knowing those things.
This CEO’s name is Joseph P. Nacchio and TODAY he’s still serving a
trumped-up 6-year federal prison sentence today for quietly refusing
an NSA demand to massively wiretap his customers.
This has ugly parallels with the Aaron Swartz case and with the
federal persecution of hundreds of state-legal medical marijuana
providers. In this case a corrupt federal prosecutor (is there any
other kind?) did the dirty work of the NSA by performing an “ordinary,
everyday” legal rape of an innocent person: find any of the half a
dozen federal felonies that every person commits every day, and
prosecute them for it. Not because their “crime” was terrible or
heinous. But because they didn’t kowtow to some smiling bastard in an
“…Massive Surveillance Machine…”
With the current uproar about over-broad National Security Agency (NSA) data collection (read more about the data collection program here), this information may indeed be as scary as it seems. NSA “whistleblower” Edward Snowden told The Guardian, “I’m willing to sacrifice all of [his comfortable salary and lifestyle] because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
Not so secretly, now. But the mechanism is already in place. More from The Guardian’s interview with Snowden:
He described how he once viewed the internet as “the most important invention in all of human history”. As an adolescent, he spent days at a time “speaking to people with all sorts of views that I would never have encountered on my own”.
But he believed that the value of the internet, along with basic privacy, is being rapidly destroyed by ubiquitous surveillance. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” he said, “because what I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA’s surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. “What they’re doing” poses “an existential threat to democracy”, he said.
Given the now-noted fact that you’re a criminal and the NSA knows it, is the NSA spying on you? According to available information, the answer is maybe. Basically, the bulk data requisitioned from providers and companies sits in “storage” until information is received with regard to a perceived “national security threat” or an opportunity to gather “foreign intelligence,” and then analysis of a specific portion of the data begins. Additional applications must be filed with FISA if that analysis is to continue, and they must prove a reasonable investigative purpose. Content or “real-time’ monitoring would require an additional court order.
Since you and I are federal felons on any given day (if Silverglate is to be believed), it seems a “reasonable investigative purpose,” as obviously liberally interpreted by the NSA and other government agencies, likely already exists.
You’re A Criminal And The NSA Knows It.