NSA Data-Mining, PRISM, & Why My Black Ass Isn’t Afraid

Pissed off that the govt is spying on you? Welcome to being black in America. My man, Dr. Cornel West called it the “Niggerization of America.” And it’s been happening since 9/11. To that point, watching privileged folk lose their freedom-loving minds this morning, has been nothing but pure comedy for me.

Oh, and when I say “privileged folk,” I’m not talking about “certain people” who identify as Republicans or Conservatives — no, those people are annoying. Instead, my source of humor today has been the rancorous cries of disgust aimed at the White House in light of the news that the NSA’s data-mining program is in the interest of national security. What is NSA data mining, why is the government doing it, and why are some of my friends upset? Surely it’s a cause for concern if you’re interested in the U.S. Constitution, and luxuries like freedom and justice, yes?

This from Market Watch:

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities.

The disclosure this week of an order by a secret U.S. court for Verizon Communications Inc.’s (NYSE:VZ) phone records set off the latest public discussion of the program. But people familiar with the NSA’s operations said the initiative also encompasses phone-call data from AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) , records from Internet-service providers and purchase information from credit-card providers.

The agency is using its secret access to the communications of millions of Americans to target possible terrorists, said people familiar with the effort.

[…] Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said the program is lawful and that it must be renewed by Congress every three months. She said the revelation about Verizon, reported by the London-based newspaper the Guardian, seemed to coincide with its latest renewal.

Civil-liberties advocates slammed the NSA’s actions. “The most recent surveillance program is breathtaking. It shows absolutely no effort to narrow or tailor the surveillance of citizens,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University.

[…] The arrangement with Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, the country’s three largest phone companies means, that every time the majority of Americans makes a call, NSA gets a record of the location, the number called, the time of the call and the length of the conversation, according to people familiar with the matter. The practice, which evolved out of warrantless wiretapping programs begun after 2001, is now approved by all three branches of the U.S. government.

AT&T has 107.3 million wireless customers and 31.2 million landline customers. Verizon has 98.9 million wireless customers and 22.2 million landline customers while Sprint has 55 million customers in total.

NSA also obtains access to data from Internet service providers on Internet use such as data about email or website visits, several former officials said. NSA has established similar relationships with credit-card companies, three former officials said.

A supporter takes pictures of US PresideSenate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid, in response to the ruckus had this to say, “Everyone should just calm down and understand this isn’t anything that is brand new.” Sen. Reid is correct; yes, this NSA program is nothing new. At least from where I sit as a black man, thye NSA program damn sure isn’t anything new. This is why I find the reactions of some of my friends to be hilarious. People of color – black folks in particular – have always been suspicious of “the man” spying on us. Shoot, we’ve seen what COINTELPRO has done to the Black Panther Party and other organizations associated with the Black Power Movement. Aside from more than a few black folks sitting in prison for allegedly buying dime bags of weed on the phone, we have political prisoners in exile in Cuba to serve as evidence of these practices by the government. Truth be told, the U.S. government has been tapping the phones and checking the emails of black folks since slavery.

This from WaPo:

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

So yeah, welcome to being black in America, my white liberal friends. And yes, you have the NSA to thank for this. Don’t worry, you still have some of your privilege left. Yep, you don’t have to worry about random unreasonable searches by police officers; or the occasional interrogation room anal probe without an attorney present. Nope, no stop-and-frisk for you either. And yes, you’re still less likely than a black person to be arrested for marijuana possession. See? Not all is lost. Just calm down and understand that calling your cocaine connect in Columbia (or, maybe the owner of a poppy field in Afghanistan) might not be a good idea. Instead, have one of your black friends to do your not-so-illegal dirt, like always. Besides, if the government says it’s perfectly legal to kill you without due process, why then is the NSA data-mining program unreasonable?