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Kiriakou writes: "The Washington Post reported last week that the National Security Agency soon would begin providing local law enforcement with data on American citizens intercepted without probable cause and without a warrant. This data has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. It apparently will be used mostly in drug cases, although it could conceivably be used against any American for any reason."

NSA. (photo: unknown)
NSA. (photo: unknown)

The Very Existence of the NSA Is Illegal

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

15 March 16


he Washington Post reported last week that the National Security Agency soon would begin providing local law enforcement with data on American citizens intercepted without probable cause and without a warrant. This data has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. It apparently will be used mostly in drug cases, although it could conceivably be used against any American for any reason.

Most Americans shrugged their shoulders when the news became public. But the Massachusetts ACLU published a blog post that tried to explain why this is so important and so dangerous to our civil liberties. The ACLU said:

Domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. FBI agents don’t need to have any “national security” reason to plug your name, email address, phone number, or other “selector” into the NSA’s gargantuan data trove. They can simply poke around in your private information in the course of totally routine investigations. And if they find something that suggests, say, involvement in illegal drug activity, they can send that information to local or state police. That means information the NSA collects for purposes of so-called “national security” will be used by police to lock up ordinary Americans for routine crimes. And we don’t have to guess who’s going to suffer this unconstitutional indignity the most brutally. It’ll be Black, Brown, poor, immigrant, Muslim, and dissident Americans: the same people who are always targeted by law enforcement for extra “special” attention.

Until recently, according to the New York Times, NSA analysts “filtered” the information before providing it to other governmental entities. The NSA would mask the names and any irrelevant information about innocent Americans before passing the information to the CIA, the FBI, or the Department of Homeland Security. Those protections no longer exist.

What kind of information are we talking about here? You name it. The NSA can give it to the FBI, the local cops, or whomever else they want. Have you called an abortion provider? A psychiatrist? Do you have a secret boyfriend or girlfriend? Have you texted your weed connection? Nothing will be secret. And remember, nobody has a warrant for anything.

Civil libertarians around the country will argue fervently that this is illegal and unconstitutional. It is, of course. But I would go further. I would argue that the very existence of the NSA is illegal.

NSA is not like the CIA or the National Security Council, which were created by the National Security Act of 1947. The NSA was created in 1952 by presidential executive order. That sounds fine. But only Congress can create a federal agency. President Truman did it unilaterally at the time and nobody in Congress complained.

Truman made the new National Security Agency subordinate to the Secretary of Defense. It’s a military organization. All NSA leaders, since the organization’s creation, have been generals or admirals. It has never had civilian leadership.

The problem with that is there is a federal law that prohibits the military from having any role in domestic policy. It’s called the Posse Comitatus Act. Passed and signed into law in 1878, the Act states: “From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress.”

That means that Congress can authorize the army to, say, assist local governments during a natural disaster. But it forbids exactly what the Obama administration is now mandating the NSA to do – provide information to federal and local law enforcement organizations on American citizens. It’s just simply illegal. It’s the use of the military in law enforcement. It’s an act of war against the American people.

One of three things must happen. Either our elected representatives in Congress must vote to allow the NSA to share with law enforcement information collected on Americans without a warrant, after open, public hearings; or the courts must take up the matter and make a decision based on the Constitution; or the NSA must cease to exist. I would vote for the last.

John Kiriakou is an Associate Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. He is a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer and former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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-14 # JohnBoanerges 2016-03-15 17:32
Geez, John, how about going it one further? Read Are Cops Constitutional? by Roger Roots for a REAL hair raiser (
+1 # JohnBoanerges 2016-03-15 17:40
Only 71 pages without the 456 footnotes. A real page-turner though.
+3 # goodsensecynic 2016-03-16 08:42
Yeah, us dumb guys what can't read nuthin' longer than a soup can label sure does get confused by all them big words and ... whad'ya call 'em? ... oh yeah, paragraphs with a whole buncha sentences but no pictures.

You guys gotta make it simple, 'cause I'm stupid. Thank goodness I got Sarah Palin to 'splain it to me.

You betcha!
+39 # Buddha 2016-03-15 17:51
Anybody else find the possibility of giving Donald Trump as Commander in Chief the NSA to play with terrifying? Obama doing what he is with it is fascist enough, thank you very much...
+5 # Glen 2016-03-16 05:51
Trump or Clinton would be a disaster and if I could, I'd be packing my bags for an ex-pat move out of the country. The U.S. and its citizens are a lost cause. Those so rabidly supporting Trump are fairly terrifying, don't you agree?
+1 # Buddha 2016-03-17 14:56
I agree enough that I'm starting to move up my refit schedule for my Valiant 40 bluewater cruising sailboat, I was initially thinking of working for 3 more years then retiring to it, I might not have that kind of time.
+20 # djnova50 2016-03-15 18:29
I'd vote for the third option as presented by John Kiriakou. With the Department of Homeland Security, why do we even need the NSA?
+29 # Skyelav 2016-03-15 19:04
We are truely a nation of Dumbos. First we buy into the premise that killing people in the Middle East was justified, and then put in a puppet ruler in Iraq and, if anyone was paying attention we privatized all Iraqs businesses and took them for ourselves and our allies i.e. GB. Then we ..... and so on until the part of sleeping through the complete loss of our rights a la NSA super spying. Now we are busy prosecuting whistle blowers for, er... well for something. This is Alice in Wonderland redux.
+30 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2016-03-15 19:08
Face it. We don't need the Dept of Homeland Security either.
+32 # dquandle 2016-03-15 19:21
Exactly. If the US didn't engage in staggering amounts of terrorism abroad, and supporting heinous regimes and dictators, there would be no blowback from terrorist organizations our terrorism creates.
+2 # REDPILLED 2016-03-16 15:36
Exactly correct!

But how would the greedy Corporate-Milit ary-Political-M edia Complex continue its luxurious, sociopathic lifestyle?
+19 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-03-15 19:28
The government has always spied on us. And, they always will.
A bloated military = an empire in decline.
+26 # reo100 2016-03-15 19:51
This and the NDAA is what really upsets me the most about Obama. Yes, I'll give him credit for cleaning up a disastrous mess, but he has willingly stripped us of our civil rights. Being a civil rights scholar makes it harder for me to digest. Of course I don't blame him totally. I think this has been the plan all along, even before he was elected. Between the NSA and the NDAA any one of us can be falsely targeted and imprisoned with no habeas corpus rights. Think about how easy it would be?
+9 # treerapper 2016-03-16 03:37
What would be the most interesting to know is who is behind Obama - who's pulling those strings on stuff like this. I don't believe for one minute that this is from inside the Administration. This is from the ultimate gang - the gang that pulls all the strings behind every Presidency.

It always comes back to the unanswered question of who organized and facilitated the killing of Kennedy. If that were known, you would have the answers to 911 and all the other "inside jobs"

Just look at all the wars and pseudo wars - they're not fought for any flag, they all have ulterior motives, driven by the ultra rich and powerful - Iraq was about oil, Afghanistan about opium and so on.

Who's the COMMITTEE that facilitates all of this? Wonder if a light will ever shine into this extraordinarily dark and very dangerous tunnel.
+2 # REDPILLED 2016-03-16 15:42

An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King (Updated Edition) by William F. Pepper (2008)

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass (2010)

Mounting Evidence: Why We Need A New Investigation Into 9/11 by Paul W. Rea (2011)

9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed by David Ray Griffin (2011)

The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War by Peter Dale Scott (2013)

They Rule: The 1% VS. Democracy by Paul Street (2014)

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy by Peter Dale Scott (2014)

All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power by Nomi Prins (2014)

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpow er World by Tom Englehardt (2014)

The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government by David Talbot (2015)

The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government by Mike Lofgren (2015)

The Orwellian Empire by Gilbert Mercier (2015)

Two web sites:

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Patriots Question 9/11 - Responsible Criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report
0 # REDPILLED 2016-03-16 15:43
Who Runs Things:

+9 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2016-03-15 20:04
And here we sit, we who believe we are good little Progressives. We who believe we know how to think better than most. Here we sit and do what?

Nothing. We're frigging Tories. All of us. Not one of us willing to do anything but post spittle. Me included.
+11 # economagic 2016-03-15 21:16
Not unwilling to act, but unable to imagine a feasible action that might halt the slide toward you-know-what.

The estimable Mr. Kiriakou, whom I hold in the utmost esteem on a par with Daniel Ellsberg, commits the common fallacy of essayists advocating something which they hope with devout fervor will occur, by explaining what "must" happen. One of those three events must happen in order for governance in the U.S. to remain logically consistent.

But wait: Governance in the U.S. has NEVER been logically consistent, initiated as it was by slaveholders talking about "Unalienable rights" (an inconsistency of which at least some of them were apparently aware). Truman's sleight of creating a federal agency is a more recent example; every military action on foreign soil since WW II another. John Bonifaz filed a lawsuit against W. Bush and wrote a book about it, detailing the history of Congress' abdication of its Constitutional duty and of federal judicial rulings in support of that abdication.

There is a fourth outcome that would save the consistency of Mr. Kiriakous "must" list -- but at the expense of the Republic -- which I need not name.

"The center cannot hold." If we cannot imagine a way to stop the slide, Outcome Number 4 WILL occur, because the current situation is unstable, and "Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking. . . ."

For what little it's worth, I recognized the inconsistency 44 years ago, though I couldn't foresee where it would lead.
+5 # economagic 2016-03-15 21:41
For those unfamiliar with my previous comments on collapse of whatever form, my favored course is continuation of the rear-guard action in electoral politics by those able and willing, while working like madmen to reinvigorate the local economies and communities that have gone dormant in the past 40-50 years. Cooperatives built from the ground up -- literally -- can provide for most of the real needs for which the global corporatocracy already fails, at least until the oligarchs cede "property rights" to all rainwater to Nestle.

The crisis is upon us, if not from political failure then from climate collapse, or financial collapse, or failure any of a couple of dozen other critical global systems now stressed to the breaking point. Be wary of the dangers, while keeping a sharp eye out for the inevitable opportunities, as our tiny mammalian forerunners did 65 million years ago. Embrace the transition. The culmination of the preceding era has not been that great anyway. Let's build what we want to happen in the next one while the opportunity exists.
+12 # danireland46 2016-03-15 20:36
Is it supposed to be comforting that the NSA is sharing info with local police because we know how wonderful the war on drugs has been. Putting young black kids in prison so we don't lose our No.One status as World Incarcerator.
Giving a little sugar to state/local police is the first step in gaining more and more power-Hail to the Mighty NSA!
+8 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-03-15 21:12
Under Nixon at the turn of the ’70’s, the NSA had a list of 30,000,000 people in the USA ‘suspected of disloyalty’. This list was supposed to have been destroyed a couple of years later after its existence was disclosed; but who knows?
+9 # tomtom 2016-03-15 23:30
Yes, let's sit tight and wait to see who gets to be our next leader or we could come to the realization that there's more to creating a just and successful nation than checking a ballot every four years. In the meantime, we watch our children being sent overseas to kill for other nation's resources, the growing imprisonment of our brothers, sisters and neighbors for profit, instead of aiding them to be contributing members of society. What is the limit to our tolerance of our own Jew gassing?
+4 # reo100 2016-03-16 06:04
We must rise up! Back away from our "keyboards" and take serious action. We must clean out 95% of the establishment politicians from the local, state and National level. We must start by electing the only Presidential candidate who is willing to look out for our best interest and halt the destruction we face. You all know who I am thinking and you know we won't have another chance to do this. What do we have to lose?
0 # ChrisCurrie 2016-03-16 13:02
President Obama has been grossly violating this Presidential Oath of Office ("thumbing his nose" at the United States Constitution) on NSA issues and so-called "trade issues" throughout most of his Presidency. He has "sold his soul" to the financial interests of greedy (and often MASSIVELY DEADLY) multinational corporations that literally "have no god but money." It seems like nobody in our government or system of justice cares anymore whether or not governmental officials are violating their governmental Oath of Office and that the United States Constitution has become little more than an historical "artifact" for most practical purposes. This is VERY BAD NEWS for "We the people...."
+3 # LionMousePudding 2016-03-16 14:18
Don't have time to read but I sure hope I'm not the first to point out that Posse Comitatus was revoked in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 at the time only publicly denounced by Patrick Leahy?...

And my favorite activist of all time Father Frank Morales:
0 # 2016-03-16 19:02
REO100 you have answered something you appeared baffled about, concerning the PRESIDENCY. You were pondering why OBAMA has "willingly taken our rights away" and then you proceed to say this was the plan all along before he was elected. I believe you have provided an answer which many people haven't figured out -- or -- are in denial about. The AMERICAN PRESIDENT does not work for or support the AMERICAN PEOPLE anymore. The DEEP STATE rules the country and the president does their bidding. BERNIE SANDERS will not see the presidency because one of two things would result if somehow he miraculously did: He would defy the DEEP STATE and suffer the same consequences as the KENNEDYS or he would bend and play the role of PRESIDENTIAL PUPPET after they threatened his family. The DEEP STATE PLANS for us -- the citizens -- are already in place no matter who is elected PRESIDENT. That is why OBAMA has been forced to do things (like support the TPP) that he knows are wrong. A puppet has no choice. My question is: When will most people figure out that trying to elect someone in a corrupt and broken system is an exercise in futility?
-2 # Anonymot 2016-03-16 21:10
Aha! Somebody got it loud and clear. Congratulations.

However, given that a couple of renegades are running, maybe they will slow the Deep State down to a walk.Nobody will Stop it. They have all the money, arms, and armies. We don't even have pitchforks any more.
+1 # Anarkismo 2016-03-17 23:44
When trying to subdue a poisonous snake, never grab it by the tail.
+2 # JSRaleigh 2016-03-18 13:14
Who believes the NSA has been "filtering" the data before turning it over to the FBI et al.

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