U.S. Constitution versus Executive Orders
Exclusive: Obama’s NSA Operates on Two Sets of Books. Who is Watching the Watchers?
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Washington and the National Security Agency (NSA) are operating on two sets of books. One that everyday Americans have to go by and a second set for President Barack Obama, his benefactors and political allies. It’s the U.S. Constitution versus Executive Orders. The U.S. citizens and journalists versus President Obama.
Can anyone cite one executive order that has been overturned by Congress or the Judiciary? If not, then where’s the balance of power? Wake up. It doesn’t exist.
Corruption and abuse cannot be detected and exposed when there are no constitutional checks and balances in play. Otherwise freedom of speech and a free press operate in name only. They are dead when our system is operated exclusively or more precisely—tyrannically by executive orders, in this case signed by one person—the President, who is currently Barack Obama. This voids constitutional protections, operations and jurisdictions. Congress and the Judiciary are merely rubber stamps for executive mandates. This is un-American.
Not only is Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) under fire for targeting U.S. citizens inside the United States and their worldwide espionage practices, they are stonewalling journalists’ ability to expose abuses within the spy agency itself by denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by hiding behind Executive Order 13526. Even more disturbing, the NSA dismisses its U.S. victims who seek redress from NSA misconduct, and the journalists who try to expose it, as potential national security threats to the United States. Who is watching the watchers?
This executive branch tyrannical, foggy, black cloud will suffocate America into a long dark night of dictatorial oppression if it is not stopped. Clearly what America got under the auspices of protecting the homeland under the U.S. Patriot Act was a bait and switch. The NSA was created for the purpose of conducting external surveillance, not for surveillance inside the United States against U.S. citizens, yet under the Obama administration journalists and American citizens are viewed as a threat to the government, and therefore a risk to national security. The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act was to provide a mechanism for citizens and journalist to know exactly what is going on in their government. That’s why it is called the Freedom of Information Act and not the Politicians-You’ve-Just Gotta’-Trust-Us Act.
In How Extensive is the NSA Domestic Surveillance of U.S. Media? Is it legal?, I first reported the NSA’s illegal targeting of two domestically based U.S. citizens, both media personalities, two days before Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations rocked the world. The May 30 NSA incident included the collection of content. As it was described to me, the NSA apparently collected a domestic phone conversation between media personality Doug Hagmann and another media person, inside the United States real-time, and forwarded the data retrieval codes and routing information to other parties. This is a misuse of the NSA’s intelligence gathering tools according to their Charter. This misuse most likely benefits persons with political agendas and is intended to intimidate, silence and root out sources and whistleblowers. It’s no secret that the Obama administration has a war on whistleblowers. It’s also not a secret that Hagmann has been extensively and exclusively reporting on Benghazi and the DHS.
Whether you consider former NSA contractor Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor, The Guardian’s June 6 report of Snowden’s NSA revelations confirmed my June 4 report of Hagmann’s NSA allegations against the spy agency.
According to Executive Order 12333, this is a violation of NSA’s mission which states in part: “no foreign intelligence collection by such agencies may be undertaken for the purpose of acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons.” Domestic intelligence gathering falls under the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) purview, not the NSA. Moreover “under Sec. 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, NSA may acquire telephone metadata, such as the telephone numbers dialed and length of calls, but not the content of call or the names of the communicants.”
Snowden’s most distressing allegation which seems to be lost thus far on those reporting on this is that NSA contractors have unbridled access to the NSA’s data banks. Absolute power tends to corrupt (knowledge is power). Absolute, tyrannical NSA executive-office directed surveillance by, for, and against friends or foes of the executive equals unbreakable control, intimidation and criminality.
NSA Freedom of Information Act Process
With Hagmann’s verbal consent, I filed a FOIA request on his behalf on June 9 to seek the content that the NSA allegedly collected based on his affidavit signed under the penalty of perjury I had reported from regarding his NSA allegation.
Specifically my FOIA request sought “Copies of any and all U.S. Government, National Security Agency communications—print, broadcast, electronic, email and voice recordings” on Hagmann. Then I followed up by submitting Hagmann’s notarized consent form which I was told via an email exchange with a NSA/CSS FOIA officer would not affect the NSA’s decision regarding processing my FOIA request that they had already mailed out to me. For privacy reasons, under the law no one can file a FOIA on a third party and have it processed without that person’s consent.
Having filed numerous FOIA requests, the NSA FOIA officer’s response was odd and troubling. Why didn’t the U.S. citizen’s consent granting the NSA permission to process the FOIA request not matter in their decision? I soon found out why. As always, the devil is in the details.
Excerpt from NSA’s FOIA denial addressed to me dated June 21, 2013:
“You may be aware that one of the NSA/CSS missions is to collect, process, and disseminate communications or signals intelligence information for intelligence and counter intelligence purposes and to support military operations. NSA is authorized to engage in these activities in order to prevent and protect against terrorist attacks, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, intelligence activities directed against the United States, international criminal drug activities, and other hostile activities directed against the United States…
“As you may be also be aware, there has been considerable speculation about two NSA intelligence programs in the press/media… Although these two programs [Sec. 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, as authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) & FISC Sec. 702] have been publicly acknowledged, details about them remain classified and/or protected from release by statutes to prevent harm to the national security of the United States. To the extent that your request seeks any metadata/call detail records on Mr. Doug Hagmann and/or any telephone numbers provided in your request, or seeks intelligence information on Mr. Hagmann, we cannot acknowledge the existence or nonexistence of such metadata or call detail records pertaining to Mr. Hagmann or based on Mr. Hagmann’s name. Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about NSA’s technical capabilities, sources, and methods. Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs. Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security (emphasis mine).
“Therefore, your request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records on Mr. Hagmann is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 13526, as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4.”
Target Journalists and U.S. Citizens
Excuse me, the NSA FOIA office denied a FOIA request on a U.S. citizen because it “would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security?”
Is the NSA saying that U.S. citizens do not have the right to hold them accountable if they go rogue and illegally target and collect content on them because in doing so the innocent U.S. citizen could hurt national security? Who is the enemy here?
My FOIA request had nothing to do with the NSA’s intelligence gathering processes or with foreign intelligence. I didn’t seek phone numbers or metadata. No national security secrets would be compromised. Neither Hagmann nor I work as agents of a foreign government, are involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or international criminal drug activities either. The only risk of processing my FOIA request on Hagmann is exposing the Obama administration’s misuse and abuse of the NSA that is targeting U.S. citizens in the United States and illegally collecting content.
This abuse of power already occurred at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department when they misused domestic surveillance assets and personnel to target Fox News reporter James Rosen and the Associated Press. Has anyone in the Obama administration been held accountable? No.
Unlawful activity on the part of NSA poses a substantial and exceptionally grave threat to national security that may in fact equal the risk posed by external foreign based threats due to the nature and design of the constitutional republic operated by federal authorities of elected and unelected officials and their contractors.
Moreover by suggesting that I could endanger national security for filing a FOIA request as an investigative journalist, a government watchdog, as opposed to the fake journalists, the Obama administration media cheerleaders, is in violation of the United States Constitution, “The First Amendment ... prohibits infringing on the freedom of the press ...”
If the media is prohibited from bringing to light information to Americans about abuse within a government agency, the result is an uninformed electorate who may become a danger to themselves.
Americans vote and make decisions based on having accurate information on politicians and on what is occurring within government agencies and military offices that are acting in their name. If the electorate is not informed, corrupt politicians and lawlessness become America’s norm. Justice and the rule of law are compromised and perverted. The “news” becomes propaganda. This is the exceptionally grave danger to the Republic, to America’s national security, to retaining freedom and adds a nail in the coffin of free speech and a free press.
For a government agency funded by U.S. taxpayers to deny and censor the press, under the guise of “national security” regarding a U.S. citizen who believes he was illegally targeted by the NSA embeds a dangerous, unaccountable, lawless monster into the NSA system that cannot easily be corrected or rooted out. Ultimately this permanent all-powerful agency will become a self-contained criminal enterprise, a Gestapo, immune from any accountability be it from Congress or the Justice Department as it is shielded from all meaningful scrutiny by way of executive orders—and by the President who holds the office and signs them.
It’s critical to point out that President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13526—Classified National Security Information on December 29, 2009—the executive order the NSA cited as part of my FOIA denial on a law abiding, taxpaying U.S. citizen.
Additionally the NSA’s FOIA denial I received doesn’t exclusively affect me and Hagmann. The NSA’s denial means that no U.S. citizen or journalist can seek redress and protect the privacy of their sources, contacts, friends or family by using FOIA as an investigative or an accountability tool to inform the public when and if the NSA goes rogue and stop it from happening to someone else. It’s like trying to nail down Jello. This should send a chill down everyone’s spine. You do not have the right to know what the NSA is doing in your name to you.
It appears America’s intelligence assets are being used to protect and promote the political elite against their political dissidents. Like we saw during Watergate that took down President Richard Nixon, the real risk was the contractors who behind the scene were getting access for political gain.
Why can’t the NSA provide information on innocent U.S. citizens they aren’t legally allowed to be targeting and collecting content from? How can that jeopardize national security? It cannot but it can jeopardize the NSA’s future and their funding—at a very low ball estimate of $10 billion a year. No one knows the exact NSA budget because it is classified.
America’s Special Justice System
As documented in The Whistleblower: How the Clinton White House Stayed in Power to Reemerge in the Obama White House and on the World Stage there has been a special justice system in America that doesn’t apply to you or me. Now thanks to the NSA, we can break it down this way. America operates under two sets of books: the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution with a loyalty to the American people versus the rule of law under executive order and loyalty to the person who holds that office, in this case President Obama and his political allies and benefactors.
Every criminal organization operates that way. They present one set of books for the world to see while having a second set behind the scenes that protects them.
It was only last week when the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologized to Congress for lying about NSA programs in relation to U.S. citizens. Why hasn’t Director Clapper been charged with perjury yet? Is Clapper above the law? If the NSA and the Obama administration want to continue to damage America’s image and credibility around the world—and jeopardize national security, letting Clapper get away with perjury that an everyday American otherwise would have been criminally charged with is the way to do that. Clapper should be charged immediately and FOIA requests on U.S. citizens should be processed in such a way to protect national security to rectify additional NSA abuses and root out rogue NSA officials or contractors who may be misusing America’s intelligence assets for political gain.
It is no wonder the NSA, now referred to as the tyrannical Orwellian Big Brother to the world, has lost the trust of not only Americans but America’s allies in the European Union because of fugitive Snowden’s NSA’s revelations for their dragnet spying.
Now add Hagmann’s NSA allegation of content collection and the NSA’s denial of my FOIA request on a U.S. citizen as additional reasons why NSA’s credibility is damaged by their actions. The NSA is not above the law, at least not quite yet but soon it will be if Americans do not demand government accountability right now.
In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.
It’s time for the righteous to stand up and hold Washington accountable because the political justice system is corrupt and apparently the NSA, like the IRS, is above the law. Don’t waste any more time on sign waving protests, and lofty speeches that accomplish nothing more than a blip in press coverage—act.
Stay tuned. I’ll be appealing the NSA’s denial after the NSA FOIA officer I’ve been dealing with tells me what I may seek under FOIA on a U.S. citizen that will not damage national security. Surely there must be something. Thus far they have been unable to provide any criteria.
Click here to read the NSA FOIA denial to my FOIA request and scroll down. I have redacted the names of the NSA officials who are following orders and not personally responsible for this outrageous decision. To those serving in the NSA: did you know when you signed up and took an oath to honorably serve the NSA you would be spying on your fellow countrymen?