Nearly every part of US gov is "involved in monitoring or surveillance."

As Congress prepares new guidelines for the NSA's domestic spying program, US lawmakers are leaving untouched a wide array of government programs which also perform surveillance on Americans:
These programs - most of them highly classified - are run by an alphabet soup of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They sift, store and analyze the communications, spending habits and travel patterns of U.S. citizens, searching for suspicious activity.

The surveillance includes data-mining programs that allow the NSA and the FBI to sift through large databanks of e-mails, phone calls and other communications, not for selective information, but in search of suspicious patterns. Other information, like routine bank transactions, is kept in databases similarly monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency.

"There's virtually no branch of the U.S. government that isn't in some way involved in monitoring or surveillance," said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian and fellow at the National Security Archives at The George Washington University. "We're operating in a brave new world."

Domestic spying quietly goes on [Baltimore Sun]


  1. For a historian, that’s mighty sloppy use of the phrase “branch of the U.S. government”. There are exactly three: executive, legislative, judicial. Check your Constitution.

    NSA, CIA, FBI, and most other such alphabetamines are departments or agencies within the executive branch.

  2. My friends and I (over the phone) regularly discuss OBL, IED’s, Anthrax, banks in other countries, sharia law, etc… Occasionally we just read Get Your War On to each other.

    If they’re going to watch us, and repress our freedoms, let’s keep ’em busy by using the heck out of the freedom we still have.

  3. This is the gov’t that thought there was extensive WMD in Iraq and missed 9/11 right? You guys do realize that most bureaucracies — especially with our population are inefficient. Not that surveillance shouldn’t be curtailed. But if you’re not doing anything wrong what’s the worry. And if you are? Hell, they probably won’t catch you anyway.

  4. But if you’re not doing anything wrong what’s the worry.

    That they are.

    Gov’t in the USA is supposed to be transparent to the people,

    not vice versa.

  5. “This is the gov’t that thought there was extensive WMD in Iraq and missed 9/11 right?”

    Uh, you’re using the government’s epic fail at WMD as a means to feel confident that it wouldn’t epic fail you right into one way flight to Syria?

  6. t th rsk tht ths pst wll b dltd.(pprntly fr nt rmvng th vwls frm my pst…) fnd t rnc tht th st tht rls s hrd gnst cnsrshp nd srvllnc, spnds s mch tm cnsrng nd srvllng my psts.

  7. Given the close association between industrial and governmental espionage in other countries, I wonder how much of the results of these actions winds up as marketing data, industrial analysis and other commercial annoyances?

  8. You only have to look at England to see how this is going to turn out.

    Investigative powers justified as being “anti-terrorist” are in fact now routinely used to monitor which parents take which children to which schools on which days.

    Everyday people try to do the best for their children in the face of an arbitrary, inefficient, and unaccountable state.

    The states response is to employ anti-terror powers to spy and tail them, rather than put resources into fixing the open wounds in the state-run schools that drive parents to try to “cheat”.

    Can you guess what provisions outlawed protests in front of the Houses of Commons? “The Supression of Free Speech Act?” no, in fact it was called the “The Police and Serious Organised Crime Act”, but it contained a provision to outlaw protests in front of parliment.

    An 80 year old who spoke out against Gordon Brown at the Labour conference was detained under the terrorism powers, and “Nzube Udezue, a 21-year-old recent graduate from Oxford University” was arrested and nearly executed at gunpoint by armed police on a train platform in London yesterday,
    in a near re-enactment of the state murder-by-incompetence of Juan Charles de Menezes in 2005.

    Anti-terrorist powers were used to bug a Muslim Member of Parliament, speaking to one of the people he represents, in clear violation of practice that MP’s conversations are inviolate.

    How can someone receive fair representation if their private conversations (guarenteed as private by our legal defintion of due process) get bugged?

    Wake up America, Preventing terrorism is a sensible aim, but you’ve got crooks for rulers at the moment. Mission creep says these powers are going to be subverted to serve the interests of those whose only goal is to remain entrenched in power and siphon off as much money as they can while they’re there.

  9. @12 Danegeld
    Nicely put.

    Would people please stop repeating the reich wing talking point that “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. Privacy is a state of mind as much as a physical reality. Knowing that every word one says or types is being monitored alters the very fabric of society. Privacy is a human right.

    We all, I believe, will have something that we want to hide at some point in our lives.

    I watched “The Lives of Others” tonight. Anyone who wants to see what a surveillance society looks like should watch this film, I think that it should be required viewing for everyone living in a western nation.

    The story deals with the East German Stasi in 1984, before widespread computer use. One can imagine how much more easily the authorities can work now that they have full data mining capabilities.

  10. It seems to me that U.S. is rapidly becoming the sort of country depicted by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash…

  11. @13

    This isn’t a left/reich thing…

    “If I were a hard-core Bush follower … I would have a huge poster of Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emanuel on my wall. Unconditional, endless funding of the war. Warrantless eavesdropping. A stop to lawsuits examining Bush lawbreaking. Telecom immunity. What more could a Bush follower ask for? As Kit Bond put it: “the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get” — a deal they tried but were unable to get when the Congress was controlled by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert. …. The White House had to wait until Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi took over before they could get that done. ”

    — Glenn Greenwald

    “I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’ ‘Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!’”

    — Bill Hicks

  12. “We’re operating in a brave new world.”

    should read

    “We’re headed for the grim meathook future.”

    Maybe the increasing density of surveillance will trigger the Singularity all by itself.

    Picture a malfunction automatic teakettle spilling on a slice of burnt toast, forever.

  13. Just to give some background on #15s Glenn Greenwald quote: Steny Hoyer is the House Majority Leader; in other words he’s the number 2 Democrat in the house. The horrible spying legislation already passed the Democrat controlled House (where control means they get to do things like set the agenda and decide which version of a bill comes up for a vote). The Democrat controlled Senate is probably in the process of defeating sensible amendments and voting for the same bill as we speak. Democratic Presidential candidate Obama has committed to voting for it.

    The difference between the right and the left on this is that the Republicans are uniformly enthusiastic about unchecked presidential power to spy on Americans, while only about half the Democrats are.

  14. “If you have nothing to hide, you have everything to fear”

    Welcome to our Brave New World …

  15. Our only hope is that the Government is as inefficient, inept, bungling, and kafkaesque in this matter as they are in all others, our maybe that should be our greatest fear!

  16. “If you’re not doing anything wrong then you don’t have anything to worry about” is a wonderful security blanket. Unfortunately security blankets and teddy bears and lucky rabbits feet don’t actually protect you against anything, just make you feel safer.

    The history of any judicial system is rife with stories of innocent people prosecuted by the state: USA, USSR, wherever.

    The fact that these various agencies are “looking for patterns” instead of specific actions shouldn’t make us feel better either– patterns can be very complex, and interpreted in many different ways. One man’s terrorist could be another man’s philanderer or avant garde artist.

  17. Heres why (just a small sample):

    Telecom Contributions – 2006

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House
    Time Warner $13,200
    AT&T Inc $13,000
    Comcast Corp $10,000
    Communications Workers of America $10,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
    Total Pelosi $56,200

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chmn. Sen. Intell. Cmte.
    AT&T Inc $16,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $16,000
    BellSouth Corp $14,900
    Total Rockefeller $46,900

    Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-CA), House Majority Leader
    AT&T Inc $12,000
    Comcast Corp $10,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
    Time Warner $10,000
    Total Hoyer $42,000

    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader
    BellSouth Corp $31,050

    Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader
    AT&T Inc $22,000

    Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader
    NelNet Inc $19,600

    “I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grassroots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty. There is no reason why telephone companies should be given blanket immunity to cover violations of the rights of the American people – we must reaffirm that no one in this country is above the law… It is time for this politics of fear to end. We are trying to protect the American people, not special interests like the telecommunications industry.” -BARACK OBAMA, the week before the Wisconsin primary.

    Though he voted for the amendments, why is Obama ignoring the massive wave of public opinion and common sense going on right now in committing to sign the FISA bill? The Democrats could have embraced this as a shining moment to define themselves and stand up for the people. Instead, with the exception of a handful, they are cowardly shooting themselves in the foot. I feel like our leaders have just signed away the Sudetanland

    Please see:


  18. I’ve quoted Judge Andrew Napolitano before, and I will quote him again b/c this is such an awesome comeback to the whole “I’m not worried, I’ve got nothing to hide” statement. Napolitano was on Alex Jones’ Prison Planet when he said the best way to respond to that, is to say, “I’ve got everything to hide”. I just think that is so kick-ass. Another thing that is kick-ass is this shirt I just ordered from RIP USA, it says “1984: Stop it before it’s too late”. I can’t wait to get it!

  19. It is indeed sad and regrettable when a place originally known across the world for its principles of fighting for freedom becomes instead known for censorious actions and “Big Brother” behavior. One can only hope the near future will bring a change.

  20. The FISA bill has passed. The amendments failed. Obama voted for the amendments, but then still voted for the bill after they failed. Our democracy has truly become a complete sham today. Senators Kennedy, McCain and Sessions did not vote. All 28 who voted no on FISA were Democrats (including Hillary!) All the Republicans voted yes, as did 21 Democrats. This according to CSPAN2.

    Many are requesting refunds of their contributions to the Obama campaign. If you contributed to Mr. Obama’s campaign and you would like a refund. Call 866-675-2008. Additionally, I withdrew my support (from the day he announced his candidacy) with this statement, in the field where they ask the reason for opting off of his email list:

    FISA. You broke your oath to protect / defend the Constitution, and you broke your promises to all who have supported you and campaigned for you. You are just another player in a dirty game now. God help us all.

  21. Well if it makes y’all feel any better, the US Government has never had any qualms whatsoever about surveilling the rest of the planet, so…
    Welcome To Our World.

  22. @5, try this…

    Here’s a sample:



    Nikolai Patrushev, head of Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB), told Pakistan’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) about Solenzara (Southern Corsica) frenchelon station : a nuclear expert sent CRW (UK Counter-Revolutionary Warfare)`s anarchists and terrorists nym servers logs to Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) !

    Ask 634th Military Intelligence`s contact of Microsoft greed & sadness & unhappiness Dpt via for Ref. NAVWCWPNS, NSWC, USAFA, AHPCRC, ARPA, SARD, LABLINK, USACIL, NRCNSA/CSS.

    I like to append stuff like this to e-mails, font size 1, text color white.

  23. I wish the USSR was still around. They served as a nice reminder to Western governments of how NOT to act.

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