Collected here is background information to resolve conflicting claims about recent revelations about the Obama-Bush domestic spying program.
The expansion began immediately after the Bush-Cheney administration took office in 2001, and was later expanded after 9/11 and the imposition of the Patriot Act.
Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio is the only major communications executive known to have fought the program on behalf of his customers. Later, he was imprisoned on a financial fraud charges that he and his attorneys argue were trumped up to teach other American CEOs a lesson about opposing the federal government's program.
My forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry, describes Nacchio's prosecution in the context of the government's massive surveillance program, and its use by both government and private sector leaders to intimidate their critics in government, the private sector and the media. Author James Bamford reported in-depth on the Nacchio complaint, which occasionally resurfaces in part.
In mid-2008, Sen. Barack Obama helped keep surveillance details secret and the program strong. After securing the Democratic nomination for the presidency, he switched his campaign position opposing immunity for communications companies that illegally conspired with government officials to spy on their customers.
Obama joined a bipartisan Congressional majority granting the immunity in 2008, thereby preventing most court litigation by citizens to learn if there are being victimized.
The White House photo at left shows President Obama and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough talking confidentially this month on the South Lawn of the White House. McDonough said June 16 that, Obama Will Speak On NSA In The Coming Days.
In other major news, the UK newspapers Guardian reported that the UK government had been caught secretly spying on allies at a Group of 20 meeting in London and then sharing the information with the United States and certain allies. Separately, the UK's Independent reported that Iran has committed to sending 4,000 troops to support Syria's government. With the U.S. positioning approximately the same number of troops in Jordan (and by some reports inflitrating advisors across the border into Syria), the Independent warned that the United States appears to be repeating its disastrous involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Mideast religious wars dating back to the 7th Century.
After each scandal officials deny that any laws are broken or that the public need have any concerns even though the most relevant laws, courts, factual situations, and decisions are secret.
Furthermore, whistleblowers are being increasingly prosecution as spies. Those like Army Private Bradley Manning and NSA leaker Edward Snowden face a lifetime in prison, if not death. Federal authorities kept Manning, now on trial for massive disclosures, was kept in pre-trial detention characterized as torture by critics.
Additionally, reporters are being investigated with the potential of spy charges and the certainty of enormous legal expenses for themselves and their organizations. Even more dangerous for the public, individual reporters and their media employers increasingly face loss of access to relevant government officials if their reports are regarded as too aggressive. That kind of reprisal can mean loss of sources and jobs for reporters, who see cooperative reporters move to the top of the field with continued scoops from anonymous officials who like to rewarding their media friends and shape public discourse with no accountability.
Worst of all, a clear pattern has emerged whereby news organizations are not simply victims of government reprisal, but willing participants in secret agendas.
The participation of the Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham in this month's annual Bilderberg conference, as usual, underscores the deep ties between the financial, government, media, and national security elite. Graham, shown at right in a file photo, has served on the American Friends of Bilderberg board with David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Ron Paul supporter and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, and Perseus Capital executive James Johnson, a major player among Democrats. With great secrecy, the Bilderberg Group first met in 1954 at the smallish Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands with a guest list created by two members of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families.
The invitation-only secret conference each year attracts approximately 130 participants, which this year included the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Her Royal Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and CEOs of major new and old media companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon.com. Mainstays are the top American and European financial, mining, energy, and industrial companies and their regulators.
Among other notable participants this year was former CIA Director David Petraeus, now chairman of the new global subsidiary of KKR, the $60 billion buyout company led by longtime Bilderberger Henry Kravis. Attending also was Kravis, whose father helped devise the special preferences in tax laws for energy companies, and offered George H.W. Bush his first job after Yale graduation. National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander has frequently attended, but was not reported this year. Sometimes attendees are not listed, such as U.S. presidential candidates hoping for approval from the group.
The excerpts below include official government sources, such as the NSA, independent experts, such as author James Bamford and former NSA executives William Binney and Thomas Drake; and from news commentaries, both from mainstream publications and independent experts. The material focuses primarily on NSA and other spying on Americans in the United States because the NSA's original mandate was international intelligence. Thus, spying on foreign leaders fall within its expected scope. The Guardian reported on June 16 that British and NSA surveillance experts targeted attendees at London G20 summit in 2009, a story that might prove embarrassing to Obama as the G8 summit began in Ireland. But the reports would hardly surprise anyone.
The news accounts below draw heavily from the Washington Post for several reasons. The paper devotes massive space to its coverage, and is highly influential in Washington. I am a longtime subscriber, and appreciate how editors will strive to avoid duplication in coverage (which could easily occur if our list below tried to excerpt from many sources regarding essentially the same news story).