From the July 1999 Idaho Observer:
The government knows everything
The government knows everything, commented International Biotoxicological Center Director Bruce Halstead, M.D., late last March.
According to Dr. Halstead, who has worked closely with the U.S. government, the U.S. military and the United Nations on numerous scientific and academic projects since the 1960s, it does not matter the subject -- be it textiles, medicines, toxins or technology -- the government knows everything. If it comes across something that it does not understand, they will commission somebody like me to find it out, said Dr. Halstead.
by Don Harkins
The National Security Agency (NSA) is the federal agency responsible for locating, digesting and disseminating every published word. In his book The Puzzle Palace (1982) James Bamford reported on America's most secret agency. Bamford reported that after the Vietnam War in 1976, the NSA still controlled 68,203 people -- more than all of the employees of the rest of the intelligence community put together.
Dr. Halstead further illuminated the federal government's obsession with knowing everything by stating that if it finds a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter that it does not understand in a book or an article, it will clip out those specific references and forward them to the appropriate authority in the specific field and demand answers.
According to a 1980 report from the General Accounting Office, the Puzzle Palace produced nearly 40 tons of classified waste each day. In 1973 the NSA attempted to construct an elaborate, $3,000,000 paper shredder and incinerator system that operated successfully for only 51 days out of its first 17 months. The failure of the massive system prompted one senator to ask an NSA official, Is the National Security Agency literally burying itself in classified material?
To which the NSA assistant director, seemingly resigned to his fate, responded, 'It would seem that way,' quoted Bamford in The Puzzle Palace.
According to the article Spy Agency Staff Lacks Diversity, Director Says, published in The Washington Times (November 1, 1993) the NSA currently controls between 38,000 and 52,000 employees. Due to the top secret nature of the NSA's activities, agency funding is intricately woven into the black ops fabric of the intelligence community and, therefore, an annual budget is nearly impossible to ascertain. Though estimates have run as high as $10 billion, simple arithmetic derived from reports to Congress regarding the operations and maintenance budgets for defense agencies, the figure for intelligence and communications appropriations is about $2.8 billion.
The Defense Intelligence Systems Agency (DISA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) also fall into the intelligence and communications category. ...the DISA has no reticence in revealing its annual operations and maintenance budget (nearly $400 million). Again, simple arithmetic reveals the total for DIA and NSA, and the bulk of this remainder (about $2.4 billion) must be NSA, concluded John Pike.
Pike maintains the informative website at: www.fas.org/irp/nsa/nsaorgan.html which paints a well-documented picture of the NSA based upon official government reports and newspaper articles.
The NSA is born
At 12:01 on the morning of November 4, 1952, a new federal agency was born. Unlike other such bureaucratic births, however, this one arrived in silence. No news coverage, no congressional debate, no press announcement, not even the whisper of a rumor. Nor could any mention of the new organization be found in the Government Organization Manual, or the Federal Register, or the Congressional Record. Equally invisible were the new agency's director, its numerous buildings and its 10,000 employees, wrote Bamford in the first sentence of the Puzzle Palace.
No statute establishes the NSA, or defines the permissable scope of its activities, commented Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Frank Church, who added that the CIA was established by Congress through the National Security Act of 1947 and therefore the agency, unlike the NSA, has a legal mandate and restrictions on its activities.
Nations at peace and at war have always attempted to intercept the communications of other nations for intelligence purposes. The actual birth of the NSA can be traced to the cryptographic talents of Herbert Yardley. In May, 1916, Yardley, a state-department clerk, intercepted a coded cable from New York to the White House. Yardley broke the code within two hours and a year later presented Solution of American Diplomatic Codes to his superior David Salmon. According to Bamford, Salmon asked if Yardley thought that British code experts could also break American cryptographic codes. Yardley's answer to Salmon has since become a maxim for cryptographers: I always assume that what is in the power of one man is in the power of another.
Yardley was then commissioned to establish the Code and Cipher Solution Subsection and at the end of WWI became the director of MI-8 (military intelligence) in April, 1919. The first proposal submitted to the Army chief of staff called for a bureau of 10 senior code and cipher experts, 15 junior ciphers and 25 clerks. The first budget, submitted May 16, 1919, was for $100,000, 60 percent of which was to be paid for by the War Department, 40 percent to be paid for by the State Department.
The bureau became known as the Black Chamber and set up residence in a four-story brownstone owned by a friend at 3 East 38 Street in New York City.
Today the NSA has site facilities and listening posts all over the world. Its main office is at Fort Meade, MD, where it is reportedly the largest employer in the state with 20,000 people and an annual payroll of $831.7 million.
While the number of employees has diminished in recent years, most likely a condition of advancing technology, the NSA has steadily increased its square footage of floor space and is perpetually upgrading its facilities. NSA facilities currently occupy nearly 3.5 million square feet of space in Maryland alone.
Gunter Ahrendt's List of the World's Most Powerful Computing Sites lists the NSA at Fort Meade as having the world's second most powerful supercomputer.
The NSA has additional domestic research and communications intercept facilities in San Antonio, Texas, near Rosman, NC, near Sugar Grove, WV, near Yakima, WA, and Eilson AFB, AK. The agency has also acknowledged intelligence-gathering sites in Germany, Great Britian, Japan, Australia, the Phillipines, Turkey, Greece and Italy.
Organization and function
The NSA is linked to 18 government departments and agencies through Communications Security (COMSEC) systems. The agency's primary mission is to protect U.S. telecommunications and certain other communications from exploitation by foreign intelligence services and from unauthorized disclosure, commented Pike from information published by the United States Senate Select Committee on Governmental operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Foreign and Military Intelligence (1976).
The NSA's purpose has always been foreign intelligence. The NSA, which is loosely governed by a few federal communications acts, has broad snooping powers for gathering foreign intelligence that is in the interest of national security.
Interestingly, there is no precise definition of foreign intelligence. The notion of national security is also open for interpretation. The NSA reportedly does not initiate any investigations of its own; it responds to the requests of other federal departments and agencies. The undefined terms somehow create gray areas that provide the unchartered agency the authority to gather information from everywhere.
According to Bamford, No law has ever been enacted prohibiting the NSA from engaging in any activity. There are only laws to prohibit the release of any information about the agency.
According to Pike, the agency is divided into at least 26 identifiable groups and directorates. A reading of the synopsis of each group's duties (a few with functions that have not been identified) indicates that the NSA and its possibly 52,000 employees have been commissioned to watch everything, listen to everything and read everything.
The implications of an unbridled NSA
The most obvious implication of an NSA that has been commissioned to find out everything about everything is that the right to privacy does not exist. All phone calls may be monitored, all mail can be opened, all email and computer hard drives may be read, all persons may be photographed and videotaped -- and there is nothing to stop the NSA from doing those things because it has never been formally commissioned and it has no laws which govern its activities.
The more important, yet less obvious, implication of the agency which is the eyes and ears of the other branches, departments and agencies of the federal government, is that it provides interested agencies with all of the data which allow them to evolve, implement and enforce public policy.
If the government knows everything, then it knows when somebody invents an internal combusion engine that runs pollution free and gets over 200 miles to the gallon (of water); it knows that contaminated vaccines have contributed significantly in the spread of AIDS; it knows that FDA-approved herbicides, pesticides, solvents and pharmaceuticals are causing epidemics of physiological and psychological damages to the bodies and minds of trusting Americans.
The government knows everything. It knows everything about everything that is destroying our society and our planet and it knows everything about everything that would allow us to maintain our standards of living while cleaning up our toxic messes and restoring social order.
The government knows everything about all of the things that are poisoning us and it knows everything about all of the things that make us healthy.
If the government knows everything about everything and yet it evolves, implements and enforces public policy that insures the continued poisoning of people and the planet; evolves, implements and enforces public policy that keeps sustainable technologies that would benefit mankind from reaching the marketplace, then, perhaps we have finally identified exactly where to place the legal liability for all that ails this once-free nation.
The government knows everything.
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