WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US government primarily uses data from National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance programs to manipulate foreign diplomats and conduct economic espionage, as opposed to fighting terrorism, analysts told Sputnik.
The NSA is currently conducting surveillance on more than 100,000 foreign nationals outside the United States, several senior US officials revealed on Monday. US officials claimed so-called Section 702 authorities have helped stymie cybersecurity threats and disrupt terror plots.
Pretext For Control
The mass surveillance program may be used for counterterrorism, but it is also widely used as a weapon to ensure continued US global domination, cyberwar and data collection expert and author William Blunden told Sputnik on Tuesday.
The power structure of the United States is based on a system which perpetually seeks out untapped resources and new markets, Blunden explained.
"All of the rhetoric about spreading democracy and freedom is thrust aside when it conflicts with these motivating necessities," he said.
Blunden observed that US political leaders including both presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had promised "ironclad" guarantees of security to theocratic regimes in the Middle East which were the wellspring of Sunni extremism.
"So it's only natural that the intelligence services will reflect elite priorities and cater to them," Blunden said.
The focus on monitoring that was conducted under Section 702 was misleading because it downplayed the scale of intelligence community operations, Blunden cautioned.
"Compared to programs enabled by Executive Order 12333 data intercepted via Section 702 is a drop in the bucket. Outside US borders there were very few limits, if any, with regard to what agencies like the CIA and NSA can do," he said.
Such people face a surveillance apparatus with more funding than most countries spend on their entire military, with "no legal rights, no inherent constitutional protections, and very few places to hide," Blunden said.
There was no prospect of serious reform to restore real legality or transparency to the system, but only a superficial cosmetic pretense at doing so, Blunden noted.
The US media, rather than maintain pressure on lawmakers, had failed in their responsibility: They had merely reported the half-measures passed by Congress and dutifully moved on, Blunden recalled.
Tenth Amendment Center National Communications Director Mike Maharrey told Sputnik that under the current system the US government and its intelligence agencies could spy on anyone outside the country they wanted to with no restraints operating on them whatsoever.
"From a purely legal standpoint, the US government has virtually unlimited authority to spy on foreign nationals outside of the country. Ethically, well that’s a different story. And this type of secret surveillance is ripe for abuse," he warned. "Based on documents provided by Edward Snowden, there is evidence that the NSA has used ‘foreign intelligence gathering’ as a back door to spying on American citizens."
"Even if it is completely legal for the US government to do this, we should be wary. As James Madison warned, ‘the means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home,’" he said.
Such powers required far more oversight from Congress and media scrutiny than they had ever received, Maharrey concluded.