… The first principle any inquiry must take into account is that despite extraordinary political pressure to do so, no western government has been able to present evidence showing that such [mass surveillance] programs are necessary. In the United States, the heads of our spying services once claimed that 54 terrorist attacks had been stopped by mass surveillance, but two independent White House reviews with access to the classified evidence on which this claim was founded concluded it was untrue, as did a Federal Court.
Looking at the US government’s reports here is valuable. The most recent of these investigations, performed by the White House’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, determined that the mass surveillance program investigated was not only ineffective — they found it had never stopped even a single imminent terrorist attack — but that it had no basis in law. In less diplomatic language, they discovered the United States was operating an unlawful mass surveillance program, and the greatest success the program had ever produced was discovering a taxi driver in the United States transferring $8,500 dollars to Somalia in 2007….
Despite the extraordinary intrusions of the NSA and EU national governments into private communications world-wide, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear Bomber,” was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device. While even Mutallab’s own father warned the US government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn’t get Mutallab a dedicated US investigator. All we gave him was a US visa.
Nor did the US government’s comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn’t do more than a cursory investigation — although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching – and failed to discover the plot. 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America….
The NSA granted me the authority to monitor communications world-wide using its mass surveillance systems, including within the United States. I have personally targeted individuals using these systems under both the President of the United States’ Executive Order 12333 and the US Congress’ FAA 702. I know the good and the bad of these systems, and what they can and cannot do, and I am telling you that without getting out of my chair, I could have read the private communications of any member of this committee, as well as any ordinary citizen. I swear under penalty of perjury that this is true.
These are not the capabilities in which free societies invest. Mass surveillance violates our rights, risks our safety, and threatens our way of life.
If even the US government, after determining mass surveillance is unlawful and unnecessary, continues to operate to engage in mass surveillance, we have a problem. I consider the United States Government to be generally responsible, and I hope you will agree with me. Accordingly, this begs the question many legislative bodies implicated in mass surveillance have sought to avoid: if even the US is willing to knowingly violate the rights of billions of innocents — and I say billions without exaggeration — for nothing more substantial than a “potential” intelligence advantage that has never materialized, what are other governments going to do?
Whether we like it or not, the international norms of tomorrow are being constructed today, right now, by the work of bodies like this committee. If liberal states decide that the convenience of spies is more valuable than the rights of their citizens, the inevitable result will be states that are both less liberal and less safe. Thank you.
I will now respond to the submitted questions. Please bear in mind that I will not be disclosing new information about surveillance programs: I will be limiting my testimony to information regarding what responsible media organizations have entered into the public domain. For the record, I also repeat my willingness to provide testimony to the United States Congress, should they decide to consider the issue of unconstitutional mass surveillance. …
It’s curious that Snowden is willing to give so much gatekeeping leeway to Greenwald. The details of this relationship certainly bear further scrutiny. In any case, given his cluelessness regarding both the underwear bomber and the boston bombing, as well as his silence on 9/11, it’s clear snowden is either a limited hangout or didn’t have the highest levels of access that would reveal the machinations behind those false flag events. But his statement does beg the question of what the real intent of all this mass surveillance is, if not even to protect us from the chosen boogie man of the day. Is it just the institutional impulse to expand without limit? Or are millions of law-abiding citizens to be targetted for nefarious purposes? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll just point out some of the history of how such computerized research and catalogs of names were used in the past, in iran (~1980), indonesia (~1965) and nazi germany. In the first two cases the US embassy provided lists of people to be killed by the new regime (yes the US supported Khomeini’s rise to power, part of its islamic fundamentalist approach to foreign subterfuge which gave rise to AQ). In the latter case of course IBM helped catalog the lists of people to be deported to concentration camps.
Obviously I could be wrong, but given the overall context of the export of US jobs and the increasing impoverishment and oppression of the american people, not to mention the impunity of the american financiers who gave rise to hitler, it would fit like a glove. The powers that be are malthusian eugenicists and don’t deserve trust by any stretch of the imagination. At best they are scam artist parasites, and at worst they are wanna-be mass murderers.