Culture / Somewhat Topical / Words, Words, Words

Who is the NSA really monitoring?

Secrets don’t make friends when it comes to the opinion of the Press.

This controversial NSA terrorist surveillance program was first authorized in 2006 and has been the subject of a press-hype many times since. It happened to former President George W. Bush in early 2007 and history is repeating itself with President Obama.

Following some serious backlash in media coverage last week, Obama said to NBC:

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program’s about. What the intelligence committee is doing is looking at phone numbers and duration of calls, they are not looking at names and not looking at content.”

Photography credit LA Times

Yes the NSA is surveying phones and it is for our own good.

General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, defended his agency and surveillance programs, saying they exist for a reason, protecting Americans.

“I think what we’re doing to protect American citizens here is the right thing,” Alexander told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We aren’t trying to hide it.”

If a member of the NSA wants to actually listen to a phone call, they have to take the case to a federal judge in the FISA (Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court). Perhaps causing the media uprising, this same federal court approved that the FBI obtain all of Verizon’s private user information, including telephones calls daily, from April 25th to July 19th. This three-month period of data collection and monitoring is concerning to citizens, particularly those who value privacy in this digital age where people seem to be handing it away.

Maybe it’s just me, but “confidential” and “classified” are terms that inspire conspiracies no matter what it entails. The American people feel they aren’t being given the whole story when the word classified is thrown in to the mix. It’s like an inside joke that I’m not a part of. I want to know more. What are you hiding?

To me, this entire thing seems blown out of proportion by the press. When Bush was in office, the Liberal media freaked out. Now that it’s Obamas turn to explain the same program that’s been in place nearly a decade, it is the Conservative media creating the hype.

One problem I do have with the program is that is seems racist. “No American citizens,” is what President Obama said but I hear is that no white or anglo-named American’s privacy is in danger. What about Iranian-Americans or other first-generation immigrants who are constantly dealing with the threats and loss of privacy because of their name? How does the NSA determine whether or not to further survey someone? By name, skin color, Tweets, or text messages? And how does FISA judge whether or not that person is a threat to national security? It is vague at the cost of the little privacy American citizens have left.

If you think about the endless mountains of text on the internet and in phone records, it seems impossible for one government agency to sift through it all. How many man hours does it take to read my Facebook? How much money does it actually cost for the FBI to read every single text message? It is overwhelming.

I support our president and always have, but the concept of a “classified” agency to monitor phone calls seems suspect. But if I’m not part of the terrorist groups they’re hunting, why worry? It should only truly frighten those citizens who have something to hide.


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