Did the IRS use NSA data against Conservative Groups?
Posted by patriotslog
Obama has been adamant about two things from the hour the Guardian story broke about the NSA surveillance programs leaked by Edward Snowden: 1) The surveillance is mild, not the Orwellian overreach conspiracy theorists say, and 2) nobody is targeting you and listening to your phone calls.
I happen to believe the first, simply because despite the government claims that at least 50 terror plots have been stopped by the programs, we have thus far only been given 2 such plots in the United States: A stock exchange bomber, and a subway bomber. They did not help with the spree of high profile shootings in the last few years, nor did they help with the Boston Marathon bombings. If the NSA really was as omniscient as Big Brother, it seems from Arizona to Boston, with at least Colorado, Wisconsin, and Connecticut in between, there would be scores of lives still happily carrying on each day as normal.
But that is not the case, and because it is not saving these lives we need to question the surveillance, and make a decision about whether or not it is worth the intrusion. The second claim–that you are not being targeted and wire tapped–is the one that concerns me the most. The word “targeted” raises a neon red flag for me. I do not really have any data on this, which usually means I would not say it, but I feel this is critical, and maybe you noticed it too. For the first few days after the news broke about the spying programs, President Obama seemed to use the line “nobody is listening to your phone calls” in defense of the spying. Recently, that seems to have changed to, nobody is targeting you, and listening to your phone calls. While the common reader may think the two are a distinguishment without a difference, the slight change of words could have monumental importance.
Having been around politics and worked in the trenches so to speak, and having even written a speech or a press release or two, I can testify that every single word in any public statement analyzed and scrutinized under a 1,000 times optical zoom microscope before it is released. A message must be as exact as it is articulate. There are literally countless times when a speech or press release is held up because of a single word here or there that must be checked and re-checked with superiors, linguists, strategists, librarians, and Martians before a staff is comfortable releasing it. It is a very time consuming process, so a one or two word shift in narrative always raises my eyebrows.
Which is why I looked into it. The FISA law essentially says the same thing: you cannot be targeted and wire tapped. Everyone knows lawyers and politicians love to play with words, so simply imputing the word targeted can easily (and by that I mean it would be legally justified and nobody would even question it) mean that nobody is singled out; rather, everyone is subject to it. Think about it: if an employer targets a few minorities for layoffs that employer is guilty of discrimination and may have broken laws. If that employer has to lay off every worker, it is not discrimination. What I am suggesting is that the NSA may very well record every single phone call so that it can access the ones needed without “targeting” those people. And recent documents with Attorney General Eric Holder’s signature on them seem to agree.
Edward Snowden’s credibility is still in question to many, but he, and a few other former NSA employees have said they could wiretap anyone, anytime, with no warrant. The “targeting” stipulation may be why. Even if this were not the case, the “transparent” (I am still not really sure how President Obama can use that word without laughing) FISA courts did not turn down one single request last year for targeting Americans.
If this is happening we need answers. The biggest question mark is whether or not the IRS used NSA data in their heightened scrutiny of conservative groups? This might be the most important political question since Watergate (no I am not calling this a Watergate scandal, I am simply saying finding an answer to this is as important as finding an answer to the Watergate question). If other government agencies–say, the Justice Department–can access all of your metadata, as well as the words spoken or sent in your conversations from the NSA at a simple request, then your privacy may be completely gone.
Any crime you are accused of, even if falsely so, will open the vault of your life. Conversations can be used against you–even if your records show nothing illegal–to degrade your character and make a jury believe you are the type of person who would commit whatever crime you are being accused of. Running for office, child custody cases, applying for military service and so on could all be the key that will unlock your past and make it public.
At the very least, if someone in the government (let’s call that someone the President) does not like someone else (let’s call that someone else anyone who opposes the President politically) and their NSA data, phone calls and all, can be accessed by the President’s cabinet and subsequent bureaucracies, you or your political cause–conservative or liberal–can be tied up in red tape indefinitely, if not shut down all together. This is direct suppression of free speech, and a blatant violation of your First Amendment rights.
Dissent, opposition, and even freedom of speech could be historically altered if this becomes a practice. If the IRS was able to use the privacy of conservative groups against them, then they can do the same for liberal groups, and for you as an individual. If the IRS was able to use conservatives’ privacy against them, then you and I, and possibly everyone, no longer have privacy at all. That is why we must ask these questions. That is why we must get these answers. That is why we must have this debate.
22 June, 2013
About patriotslogI am studying to achieve a double major in political science and journalism from the University of Kentucky. I am married to a wonderful woman named Sierra. I am starting this blog because I feel the political climate in Washington is carving deep canyons for our children to climb out of. Our representatives, on both sides of the isle, do not represent us, they represent the lobbyists.This blog is not to give answers, but to make people think. I believe the more we think about our ideas the better they will become; as opposed to becoming more and more intrenched in far left or right wing brainwash, where it seems nobody thinks anymore. I hope y'all enjoy.
Posted on June 24, 2013, in Constitutional Law, Patriotslog Articles, Politics and tagged First Amendment, FISA court approves all requests, IRS scandal, meta data, NSA leaks, NSA recording phone calls, NSA spying, NSA stopped terrorist attacks, privacy, spying on americans, wire tapping. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.