Is the NSA Protecting Our Privacy by Allegedly Violating It?

courtesy of ABCNews.go.com

It’s a sad state of affairs in American politics when our Congress is willing to put politics over the well-being of the nation (we are nearing a pivotal health care decision on Thursday too). Last week, the House Government and Oversight Reform Committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder under contempt of court for failing to release documents relating to “Operation Fast and Furious.”

Apparently, R-Ca. Darrell Issa believes that this investigation on the Obama administration is for the good of the public. Plus he fears that Holder withholding important documents to the investigation show a propensity for the Obama administration to lie. Well if that’s the case, why hasn’t Issa and the Republican-backed House investigated into potential violations of the Fourth Amendment by the NSA?

Issa and his supporters are apparently more concerned about the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” than their privacy because they believe a conspiracy to take everyone’s guns trumps all other worries that our democracy may be withering away. If we aren’t able to have reasonable privacy in this country then what good is the First Amendment?

As reported by Wired.com, two inquiries proposed by Senators D-Ore. Ron Wyden and D-Colo. Mark Udall. They wanted to know how many Americans were wiretapped under the NSA’s 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under this act, the government is allotted a certain amount of power to spy on foreign countries and agents of those countries. But it was not meant to spy on Americans because that would be a violation of the act.

Apparently we have it all wrong though.

Courtesy of nsa.gov

After the inquiry ended up with Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Charles McCullough, he wrote to the senators:

“The NSA inspector general “and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”

Even more disturbing is what McCullough added. He wrote that to give the senators (and the American public) an estimate on how often we have been potentially illegally wiretapped would be “beyond the capacity” of the NSA’s in-house agency. More specifically, McCullough wrote,

“I defer to [the NSA inspector general’s] conclusion that obtaining such an estimate was beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

So the NSA can’t tell Congress how much spying they’ve done on us because that would violate our privacy? Right… But McCullough basically blows the NSA’s cover by admitting that obtaining an estimate would impede the NSA’s mission. This means that either the NSA illegally spies on such a large amount of Americans that reporting the exact numbers would be unrealistic or the NSA is so incompetent, large and bloated that the information could be in a number of people’s hands.

If you remember The Washington Post’s investigation into the level of incompetence of the government’s top secret programs, then this should come as no surprise. Oh, and let’s not forget about the multiple violations of the PATRIOT Act where thousands of Americans were illegally wiretapped.

With the low likelihood of President Obama vetoing CISPA if it passes through Congress and with the F.B.I reporting that they have arrested 24 international Internet credit card thieves, it’s hard to see Americans not being driven by fear, thus allowing bills limiting our privacy to become law.

Without enough Americans aware of what’s going on, we can’t expect our legislators to act in accordance to our rights. This is why we have Congress trying to score political points by investigating “Operation Fast and Furious” and spending millions to repeal Obamacare. This is why we have one lone senator who voted against the renewal of the invasive acts of our government.

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