Originally published at AlterPolitics
Since September 11, 2001, discerning Americans have watched in dismay as their government has stripped away their most basic freedoms, and continues to mutate into something resembling a police state.
Sweeping cell phone surveillance is used by all levels of law enforcement. The NY Times recently revealed that an astounding 1.3 million law enforcement demands were made to cell phone carriers last year alone.
The telecom and technology sectors record and store Americans’ text messages, emails, the data they store online, social site user info, internet activity, and cell phone subscriber whereabouts (via cellular GPS technology), and hand this data over to government agencies with alarming regularity.
Private citizens used to be deemed ‘off-limits’ to law enforcement surveillance, unless a judge could be convinced to grant a warrant. This was precisely what separated the United States from the despotic nations of the world.
But now, all 315 million Americans are subject to warrant-less, Orwellian-style surveillance. The amount of data being collected daily on normal Americans trumps what might have been captured on made members of the Gambino or Genovese crime families just two decades ago. But unlike those notorious Mafiosi of yesteryear, Americans today are not legally protected from overreaching law enforcement, due to the kinds of data now being collected.
Two weeks ago, former NSA Technical Director William Binney shocked attendants at the DefCon hacker conference when he made this revelation:
[T]he NSA was indeed collecting e-mails, Twitter writings, internet searches and other data belonging to Americans and indexing it.
“Unfortunately, once the software takes in data, it will build profiles on everyone in that data,” he said. “You can simply call it up by the attributes of anyone you want and it’s in place for people to look at.”
He said the NSA began building its data collection system to spy on Americans prior to 9/11, and then used the terrorist attacks that occurred that year as the excuse to launch the data collection project.
“It started in February 2001 when they started asking telecoms for data,” Binney said. “That to me tells me that the real plan was to spy on Americans from the beginning.” [...]
“The reason I left the NSA was because they started spying on everybody in the country. That’s the reason I left,” said Binney, who resigned from the agency in late 2001.
Now, WikiLeaks and the Anonymous hacktivist collective, have released new information garnered from the Stratfor email hacking of last December, that sheds light on a new secret TrapWire surveillance system. TrapWire was created by a N. Virginia company called Abraxas, whose employee roster “reads like a who’s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities.”