The NSA's Latest Listening Post

Posted by Mark Everett Hall

The National Security Agency has started work on its new one-million square foot, $2 billion data center in Utah. Once completed it will store trillions of phone conversations, e-mail messages and whatever other private communications the secret intelligence agency can snag from around the world. And, if history is any guide, it will also include messages to and from U.S. citizens inside the nation's borders, which is against the law.

But no one really cares.

Most people think the NSA is just snooping on terrorists and their sympathizers, so if they catch a few innocents in their massive dragnet, well, that's no big deal. As members of the Bush Administration once advised Americans about its FISA-free wiretaps, if you're not breaking the law, you've got nothing to worry about (when the government breaks the law).

Is it a game or is it real?The problem, of course, is that it can be a big deal. The NSA often gets things wrong. For example, it advised (falsely) President Johnson that Navy ships had been attacked by North Vietnamese forces in the Gulf of Tonkin. More recently, it signed off on a pre-invasion intelligence assessment that claimed (falsely) that Iraq had a hidden cache of WMDs. For all the data the NSA collects, it seems to have a woeful lack of knowledge.

Among the many disappointments of the Obama Administration so far, its biggest let down has been its ongoing support for many of the Bush Administration's tools to abuse executive power. One of the worst abuses is elimination of a person's privacy. Privacy is the foundation upon which all personal liberty is built. Without privacy, liberty is not possible.

The construction of the NSA's latest data center is just one more nail in liberty's coffin. Sadly, it's being hammered by the so-called liberal Obama Administration.