FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted today that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, and that they have used them to monitor citizens on American soil, while he was under questioning from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the Senate Judiciary Committee. When asked if the FBI would be more transparent given the recent scandals at the NSA, Director Mueller replied: “There is a price to be paid for that transparency… I certainly think it would be educating our adversaries as to what our capabilities are.”
What has happened over the last several weeks has really been very dramatic. There has been a flood of evidence that the federal government at various levels and all across the spectrum is corrupt. As I try to sort through the many scandals, lies, half-truths and malpractice, I’m beginning to think that perhaps this is all happening just as the administration had planned.
So much information is leaking out about all of these scandals, it seems the public has basically reached a saturation point. There is this sense that folks have come to the conclusion, “Yes. My government is corrupt and they have been party to many of these scandals.” So we’ll judge them at the ballot box.
The problem with this thought process is that the average citizen shuts off the part of the brain that was paying attention to each individual scandal and regards the entire bundle as a whole. When we do this, we end up missing the bigger picture. All of these scandals aren’t just telling us that the government is corrupt… they are telling us about specific corruptions. The idea is to weave all of this together and understand each individual scandal as a whole.
For example, use two issues that are linked above – FBI drone use and NSA snooping. If the FBI drone use had been announced 3 months ago, there may have been backlash against the program, especially if we tied the announcement to Senator Rand Paul’s historic filibuster.
However, releasing this news now has brought muted reaction. The reason? Compared to all of the other issues that we are learning about our government now, the FBI using drones in American airspace seems rather innocuous. But, it isn’t.
There is a connection between the unmanned drones roaming the US and with the NSA having full access to our cell phone calls, email, text messages, web searches, and online shopping. Listen to how one former NSA agent characterizes it:
“In the digital world the metadata is really an index of the content, content itself is carried by the metadata,” said Drake. “So it’s very easy to go to the content whenever you feel like.”
The government has been telling us “it’s just metadata – we can’t actually see what you’re saying/doing”, but this is not entirely true. The metadata simply acts as a tab in an index. All someone has to do is click the tab (metadata) and voila – there’s all the content that “they couldn’t see” before. The government (or anyone able to access the metadata) has access to all of our private information for the last few years. All of it.
So how does this connect to the FBI using drones over American airspace? While the NSA monitors all of our electronic movements, the FBI can scrutinize all of our physical movements. The drones allow them to constantly monitor activity over a large area, including into private areas, like backyards. It may seem like they already have this ability with technology like helicopters and satellites, but drone technology actually combines the capabilities of the other two. Drones can be used without being seen (unlike helicopters) but they carry the offensive capabilities and ease of use that helicopters provide.
These two simple actions by two agencies that work closely together allow our government to literally observe someone every second of the day. These two programs combined give our federal government a tremendous amount of power.
We now have a picture of a government with the capability to continuously monitor us, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. We have just stopped short of installing cameras in our homes to allow them to monitor us even there – and if you own a webcam you’ve done that too.
“Snowden was a systems administrator, so he had access to the whole system, databases, and processes and communications lines, so he was responsible to keep it up and running. So he could go into anything, basically change anything in there,” (emphasis mine)
I implore you dear reader, pay attention to each issue that comes out. Don’t let yourselves get over burdened by each piece of information to the point that it threatens to crush you. We have recently seen several waves of attacks on our Constitution and upon our very liberty. Stay vigilant my friends.