The Surveillance Machine
TIME CODE: 00:00 _05:00
“The Eyes of Texas” song
The eyes of Texas used to be a popular folk tune---but today, the song could be about other eyes: The Eyes of A Spy Machine...
We live in the United States of Surveillance--with cameras like these increasingly positioned on street corners and with much more invisible spying online and on the phone. Anyone who is paying attention knows that privacy could be out the window, that’s what former newspaper editor Bill Kovach says:
I think the idea of privacy is gone. I think you have to adjust to the fact that somebody somewhere may be watching what you’re doing -- and may not be the government, it may be General Motors, it may be general telephone and telegraph, it may be the drugstore on the corner.
All of this is not happening by accident--well funded powerful agencies and companies are engaged in the business of keeping tabs on what we do, what we say, and what we think.
Mass Surveillance is the focus of this new 6 part investigative documentary series examining who is watching whom and why.
Some Americans are up in arms, including an internet entrepreneur who says government spying could be a first step towards a Police State...Alfredo Lopez:
Alfredo Lopez :
...let me put it this way: there is in the United States all the technology. (insert drone b-roll) From drones to computers, to surveillance, to day-to-day camera surveillance...all over the country. There is a structure and apparatus for a Police State. The United States is not a Police State, that is clear--we are not that...that I dare I draw the line...but we can be. And we can be with a flip of a switch, and the real problem is, I’m not sure that the people of this country have become--have not become sufficiently conscious of their rights, and of the constitution, and the purpose of the constitution to really put a halt to that when it starts. And so you know, that’s the real battle.
Others believe spying is now a big industry, more about money allocated out of fear, than stopping terrorism. Sam Antar is a convicted Felon who says there is a corporate angle.
Sam Antar :
It’s a bigger story than the NSA story. It’s really corporate surveillance of critics, or corporate surveillance or rivals within their own corporations. In other words, executives surveilling rival executives.
...these companies are looking for the Edward Snowdens in their own worlds
Sam Antar :
To many in the world, today, the face of America also has A BIG NOSE---for sniffing and sifting mountains of data—phone calls, emails and texts. And with many mouths silenced by paranoia to keep what they decide is secret, secret.
Even high tech-sector executives are deeply troubled.
I am incredibly disappointed truthfully, I had become disappointed over the last couple of years. I had strongly expected this, like many others, that this was happening. Um, what I had not realised, is that actually now we have created a situation where all commerce is unsafe, all communications are unsafe, you know, the most things that we had expected to be actually have some level of protection, competently eviscerated.
Just like Toys R’US, is one of our biggest stores for kids, Secrets R’US has become an American OBSESSION and, now, an explosive and divisive issue--that affects people all over the world.
it is important that the US is embarrassed by this, because there isn't away around it! They should stop it, they should stop and decease, they should sign a treaty saying they will not conduct cyber war! They should sign a treaty saying they will respect the human rights of the whole world.
TIME CODE: 05:00 _10:00
Taken together, America has become a Surveillance-Industrial State where everyone’s business has become its business, and where one huge US intelligence Agency has been given the sanction and unlimited amounts of money to spy on the whole world.
In this series you’ll meet a former undercover FBI Agent who says government spying is out of control.
...we want the intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies to have power to go after people who are doing harm. But these programs are being done regardless of any suspicion of wrongdoing….
And a computer whiz who did the same kind of specialized secret work that whistleblower Edward Snowden did, but for the military.
Well, when you work for the government, you’re like, I’m here to do a job. You know, at the end of the day, go home and make sure the job’s done right...and it’s really that simple. And the federal government has a lot of really outstanding people that work for it--high end, high level--they wake up dedicated to make sure that it’s done to the highest level you could imagine. But, sometimes you just have people that just do their thing...you know, they become upset with what they see.
You will also hear from Edward Snowden’s personal lawyer who says that his leaks to the public were leaks of conscience:
Edward Snowden has no desire to harm his country in any way. He believes that he’s still on this side, of his former colleagues, but they just don’t see that. ….we have tilted too far in the direction of collecting information on innocent people.
At the same time, writer Andy Greenberg of Wired Magazine says Snowden’s revelations are leading to reform:
It seems that he’s their worst nightmare kind of genius employee gone rogue. What I do see that’s kind of remarkable is that his leaks are already starting to inspire reforms. Even as the government’s department of justice calls for his imprisonment, the president himself is talking about how the NSA needs to be reformed based on what he’s released
Obama on NSA reform
“Going forward I’m directing the Director of National Intelligence in consultation with the Attorney General, to annually review--for the purposes of declassification, any future opinions of the court with broad privacy in implications. And to report to me and to Congress on these efforts.”
Stopping mass surveillance is also an issue that is building in intensity.
Woman Protester :
“I cannot stand this anymore! I can’t! As a mother, as a daughter! I cannot try to explain this situation to my children!”
‘‘This is an effort that’s uniting strange bedfellows from across the political spectrum. I’m proud to stand here with Democrats, with Republicans, with Progressives, with Libertarians! Because this is not...this is not about right or left, this is about right and wrong.”
In this series, we’ll tell you what NSA really does, how it works with telecom and internet companies, and the threat it poses to a free press and democratic values.
it’s not only a violation of freedom of the press, it’s a violation of the public’s right to know. Information is the oxygen of a democracy, it’s not just about participating in democratic processes, it’s about being informed--that’s what makes democracy meaningful. And when we don’t have that information--when a very powerful entity--the government has the information and the people don’t, that is not a very healthy sign
We will also show you how whistleblowers, hackers and activists are fighting back and winning support worldwide.
There’s been a kind of cat and mouse game between the surveillers and the surveilled that’s been going on for decades. And what (show b-roll Julian Assange) WikiLeaks was the first to show is that the mice can have some small or even large victory despite their lack of resources. Now we see the cats have cracked down again, and that the surveillance state has responded...but then Snowden appeared as another win for the mice. You know, I think that this is going to continue, these sort of “tit for tat.” But it does seem that these revelations by the mice, these moments when we learn when transparency wins out over secrecy, essentially, are getting bigger over time.
Even as protests mount the United States Government still supports a vast cyber spying program.
President Obama addressing NSA surveillance:
“What I’ve been very clear about is that there has to be a narrow purpose to it, not a broad based purpose, but it’s rather based on a specific concern around terrorism, or counter proliferation, or human trafficking, or something that I think all of us would say has to be pursued.”
President Obama has called for some minor reforms, but critics are not satisfied:
TIME CODE : 10:00 _15:00
There are some things that I actually like about Barack Obama...um, but I’m clear about the fact that politically he is my opponent--he’s my enemy! And he is clear about the fact that you have to put into place a series of controls that will preserve the social order...that’s the only purpose for this stuff!
Many in the media have been challenging the power of the surveillance state too--relying on leaks because they can’t always get access to insiders who are afraid to speak.
The NSA has invited some selected journalists in--like for this pro-NSA CBS 60 Minutes report:
60 Minutes: Inside the NSA, Jon Miller “The agency gave 60 minutes unprecedented access to NSA headquarters, where we were able to speak to employees who have never spoken publicly before. Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates.”
Senior Correspondent John Miller later left the network to join the New York Police Department as an intelligence official.
Miller asked some softball questions--ostensibly trying to understand what the NSA does and doesn’t do.
60 Minutes Jon Miller interview w/General Alexander
Jon Miller: “You don’t hear the calls?”
Keith Alexander: “You don’t hear the call.”
Jon Miller: “You don’t see the names?”
Keith Alexander: “You don’t see the names.”
Jon Miller: “You just see, this number call that number?”
Keith Alexander: “The...this number, the to/from number, the duration of the call, and the date/time...that’s all you get. And all we can do is tell the FBI, that number is talking to somebody who is very bad, you ought a go look at it.”
Later, a widely read website showcased another interview by HBO Comedian John Oliver, asking: “What Does It Say About The US Press That The Toughest Interview Keith Alexander Has Is From A Comedian?”
John Oliver interview w/Keith Alexander :
John Oliver: “It’s been said your motto was collect everything, is that true?”
Keith Alexander: “For specific problems.”
John Oliver: “Right. But you do understand that collect everything is also the motto of a Hoarder...that’s the fundamental principle which it’s ends up with someone living alongside 15,000 copies of newspapers of the 1950s and 6 mummified cats.”
Former officials like General Alexander were off limits to our series---as Vanee Vines of the NSA made clear, rejecting our request for a tour:
“Thank you for writing. Given the volume of such media requests, we can’t assist you at this time with your project.”
The NSA had been created in secret and designed to be invisible although its hard to hide more than 30,000 employees with a vast number of buildings…their tightly guarded Headquarters here in Maryland covers more than 325 acres. They have a small army to protect them from enemies foreign and domestic, as well as their own fire department and Swat Team.
Yet, these days, you don’t have to get on the inside for a staged tour of the NSA to know what’s happening---and that’s thanks to the whistleblower they’re all paranoid about.
One man, former contractor, Edward Snowden alone is suspected of making off with MILLIONS of documents that we have only seen a fraction of. He’s been called an “insider threat.”
“I’m just another guy who sits there day-to-day in the office watches what’s happening--what’s happening and goes this is something that’s not our place to decide, the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.”
In a recent appearance for TED, an organization that features diverse speakers, Snowden said he would do it all again despite his notoriety and the charges against him:
“And I want to make it very clear, that I did not do this to be safe, I did this to do what was right, and I’m not going to stop my work in the public interests just to benefit myself.”
NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett later condemned Snowden at another TED Talk
“I do not like the way that he did it, I think there were a number of other ways that he could have done that, that would have not endangered our people, and the people of other nations through losing visibility to what our adversaries are doing...but I do think it’s an important conversation.”
Snowden’s secret files have sparked a global controversy and debate about the role of American surveillance that seems to have the world as its target. It has fueled debates in almost every country.
TIME CODE :15:00 _ 20:00
They’re damaging here in the United States cause people obviously know what the government is doing. But the damage done, internationally, is spectacular. Not only did they get a lot of governments upset with them--that they can patch over--but masses of people throughout the world know that the United States government is surveilling them, and this is a major major problem for them.
Much of the focus of public anger is directed at this vast agency known by it’s three initials—NSA—the National Security Agency also called a SHADOW
or “an enigma wrapped in a riddle.” The author of this book, journalist James Bamford, has even made a documentary about the NSA for a Public Television Science-Series:
“For those in the know, the joke was always that NSA stood for No Such Agency, for those on the inside, the joke was that NSA stood for Never Say Anything.”
Bamford and a small army of critics are now dueling with former NSA officials and their defenders. Lawyer Robert Litt works for The Director of National Intelligence and downplays the dangers:
“The intelligence community and the Executive Branch is subject to significant accountability. We have accountability to the Congress--people may question whether that accountability is good enough or it’s structured properly, but we still have a degree of accountability and the president is of course ultimately accountable to the public.”
The NSA is trying to convince the public that it is not dangerous but at the same time it has become obsessed with dangers within, a so-called “Insider Compromise” that is now consuming their attention:
Danny Schechter Stand Up :
In the post Snowden period the US government is facing a big problem, internally, to deal what they call “insider threats.” As many as 4,000 people they suspect of perhaps getting involved in leaking documents or being an insider threat. On the other hand they have a problem from congress and the media which is denouncing the NSA and denouncing surveillance. So, they’ve come up with a new term and a new program--it’s called, it’s in this report here “National Security (CUT TO b-roll: opening book and scroll down) through Responsible Information Sharing.” Now, what does that mean? It’s not really clear but the idea is to coordinate the intelligence community and to have the people in Washington linked up to the people at the local level--even at the tribal level on Indian reservations to try to create an integrated Police State apparatus--at least it could be used for that, although right now it’s just for responsible information sharing. And one of the things about this book that I found interesting was they acronyms--the nicknames of all the organizations that are part of this network. I’d like you to look at it--6 pages of acronyms of organizations in the responsible information sharing environment.
To explore the mentality of analysts and tech wizards who do the same work that Snowden did we met Brad Sumrall, a darknet programmer, and former military intelligence contractor:
you were, in a way, doing what Ed Snowden was doing at one point...can you tell us about that?
Brad Sumrall :
Basically the exact same job. I mean, depending on what government building you’re in--I mean, it’s still the same thing--it’s the same rack of servers, you still have the SIPRNet there, you have the regular Garrison internet. If you went out into the field, you have the tactical--tactical internet or networks...
So, when Snowden was monitoring information of various kinds, he had I guess, clearances...did you have clearances as well?
Brad Sumrall :
Mhm...yep. And he was on the SIPRNet.
So, in doing all of that stuff, were you very conscience of the material you were dealing with being of a high security nature?
Brad Sumrall :
Mhm. Oh yeah...you have all the sensitive databases, right there.
Even as intelligence agencies try to keep their staff in line, reporters have become another enemy and maybe a bigger threat---with many hard-hitting reports winning major media prizes, and pitting leaders of the mainstream press against the lack of transparency by the NSA
“He said, awarding the Pulitzer to Snowden enablers is a disgrace.” Anything you’d like to say back to him about that?
“you know, I’d like to think Peter King’s condemnation as an enormous badge of honor.”
NBC Interview - David Gregory and Glenn Greenwald
“Why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald be charged with a crime?”
“The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama Administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the emails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced--being a co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources--if you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories, and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said, investigative reporting has come to standstill.”
TIME CODE : 20:00 _26:05
“What do you say to those journalists that have been also highly critical of this kind of reporting on Edward Snowden revelations? People like David Gregory that are asking if Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted.
It’s outrageous. I don’t know how he could call himself a journalist and talk like that. I mean, look, this is the job...this job is were supposed to report the truth, if whistleblowers come forward, were supposed to take the risk along with those whistleblowers. And society long ago decided that we're supposed to have protections when we do this.”
Glenn Greenwald on Fox News
“This is what journalism is about, shining a light on what the most powerful people in the country are doing to them in the dark, so we're going to continue to do that no matter what David Gregory and his friends say.”
This series will take you to a high-level media summit held inside the New York Times that debated the role of leaks and the need to defend the press.
I think there is a need for pushback. This conference is a step in that direction and there are reporters, ah, and even, even mainstream uh news organizations that are pushing back. Uh, so there is an important fight going on here.
The NSA could not have access to as high a volume of emails and communications without the full cooperation of Telecom companies and internet providers. This relationship has blossomed into a Surveillance Industrial Complex with a flow of personnel back and forth between the NSA and its contractors.
...as the internet expanded, corporations I think saw the possibilities of making huge profits, and really jumped into it...very, very aggressively. But the important thing to note is that, the real heavy duty corporate involvement in the internet is only about 6 or 7 years old...that’s when they really swept in.
Events like 911 enabled the NSA to grow into a $60 billion dollar enterprise…with 70% or $42 Billion going to contactors, some led by former NSA executives. In October 2001, the NSA had only given 55 contracts to 144 contractors. By October 2003, that number had grown to 7,197 contracts for 4,388 companies. Snowden had been an NSA employee who left to work for a company called Booz Allen Hamilton, run in part by a former NSA Director. Private companies like these were given access to the NSA’s top secrets.
This also led to an expansion of spying---even as government studies found that the FBI, and CIA screwed up by not applying the intelligence they had but couldn’t process to stopping 9/11.
Under pressure from President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the agencies decided that traditional legal restraints no longer mattered.
So, immediately after 9/11 it was somewhat shocking to me that there was a general feeling that was being expressed that the rules didn’t matter anymore. That the FBI had been unleashed and we were now allowed to investigate who we want and not worry about the legal restraints, and it concerned me greatly because I knew from the history of the FBI that that would lead the FBI into a dangerous area that was going to impact the civil liberties of innocent people and not improve security, in fact even harm security and I think that’s essentially what happened.
Keep in mind, The Patriot Act is what allowed them to grow--they were so kind of insignificant, they did a few little things--but then all of sudden they became the...with a big fat check.
In Addition to their huge budgets, technological supremacy, and backing from key politicians who are supposed to exercise oversight, NSA has always counted on support from a fearful public. That’s changing, says Attorney Ben Wizner of the ACLU.
I think that they’re so used to getting their way, they’re so used to being able to invoke the threat of terrorism and having everybody roll over, that they’re surprised by this environment, where those kinds of dangers, threats, are not scaring the public into submission. But ultimately this is about what they do, and not what they say. Ah, and I don’t think that there is a great defense.
No, nothing new for me. Because back in the 1980’s, it was common knowledge that the NSA was using many of the same tools that its alleged words come out to been using today.
Why do you think that is? Why are they doing what they’re doing?
It’s not an ideological issue because you have democratic presidents, you have republican presidents, you have the far left, the far right. They all agree on one thing. We all want to know what everybody else is doing.
So, spying is in our gene pool.
Yes, spying is in the American gene pool unfortunately.
Coming Up Next: More on How the NSA does what it does. We will tell you about its collection program that enables it to spy on the internet and all of us. You have a right to know what they are doing---and we will tell you.