Oh, the NSA. What a pack of ghouls they have become. Among their myriad shady dealings, a recently revealed/purported practice should give all of us even further pause. In fact, you might just want to hit the stop button. The NSA is apparently intercepting shipments of computers and electronic devices and implanting surveillance hardware and spying malware before these devices reach their consumer destinations.
I imagine the NSA would claim that the computers and devices they pre-tap are being shipped to people the NSA already believes to be “security threats.” But the reality of their indiscriminate surveillance does not give me comfort in these claims. The NSA has been spying on everyone, inside and outside the United States. And it seems that intercepting electronic devices is just another prong in their Pokémon obsession to “collect it all.”
Furthermore, a recent court ruling has dismissed an ACLU lawsuit against the NSA. The lawsuit claimed that the NSA had infringed on the constitutional rights of citizens by collecting telephone metadata without any probable cause of wrongdoing. The court, represented by the “honorable” Justice William Pauley, struck the case down. One of the major reasons for dismissal was included in a peculiar paragraph, the logic of which would make me laugh if it weren’t so harrowing:
The ACLU would never have learned about the section 215 order authorizing collection of telephony metadata . . . but for the unauthorized disclosures by Edward Snowden. Congress did not intend that targets of section 215 orders would ever learn of them. [I’m sure they didn’t.] And the statutory scheme also makes clear that Congress intended to preclude suits by targets even if they discovered section 215 orders implicating them. It cannot possibly be that lawbreaking conduct by a government contractor that reveals state secrets—including the means and methods of intelligence gathering—could frustrate Congress’s intent. To hold otherwise would spawn mischief: recipients of orders would be subject to section 215’s secrecy protocol confining challenges to the FISC, while targets could sue in any federal district court. A target’s awareness of section 215 orders does not alter the Congressional calculus. The ACLU’s statutory claim must therefore be dsimissed.
In other words, you can’t sue us for unlawful conduct if the only way you found out about our unlawful conduct was through unlawful conduct. Hmmm. While I would agree that espionage by its nature involves secrecy and the bending of certain rules of propriety and straight dealing, usually espionage is directed at one’s enemies. To call every American citizen a “target” is to declare war on your own people. Which is basically what has been done. What Justice Pauley is really saying here is that citizens are expected to uphold their part as law-abiding and obedient serfs even while the civil government treats them like enemy combatants: “You must play by the rules. We will not. You weren’t supposed to find out we were cheating. Just go back to your state-appointed duties.” No. If Congress treats the citizens like enemies, then the rules of war apply both ways. And as we all know, “All’s fair in love and war.” I certainly don’t feel any love for the NSA right now …