Opinion

Is the NSA using the same keywords as the IRS?

In the summer of scandal for the Obama administration, add another layer to the story that the National Security Agency and FBI have been monitoring the routine communications of Americans.

But there are a couple of paragraphs deep in Friday’s report from the Washington Post, “U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in a broad secret program,” that are particularly troubling in light of what has come out about the IRS targeting conservative groups based in part on whether their names included phrases like “9/12,” or “Tea Party,” or whether their descriptions included “educating about the constitution” or being “unhappy with the way the country is governed.”

nsadataminingThe Post paragraphs:

“And it is true that the PRISM program is not a dragnet, exactly. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all.

“Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade, Md., key in ‘selectors,’ or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s ‘foreignness.’ That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by The Post instruct new analysts to make quarterly reports of any accidental collection of U.S. content, but add that ‘it’s nothing to worry about.'”

Sure, it’s nothing to worry about if you’re Planned Parenthood, Acorn or Obama for America, but if the NSA and FBI are as selective in their attention as the IRS has been shown to have been, it might be something to worry about if you’re an administration critic who routinely uses computers to read, write and disseminate.criticisms of the Obama administration.

New York Times columnist and liberal Obama fan Thomas Friedman thinks it would be great if the U.S. could be China for “just one day” so the government could do whatever it wanted without regard for life in a democratic republic.

Obama is meeting with Chinese “president” Xi Jinping today in California.

Maybe they can just compare notes.

 

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