Surveillance State: NSA’s PRISM Spying on Virtually All Americans

NSA Soaks Up Billions of Files Daily

Another day means another round of revelations surrounding the NSA’s horrifyingly large-scale surveillance of Americans and indeed most everybody else. The day started with a report from Declan McCullagh saying that, in absence of more evidence to the contrary, there was no reason to believe the NSA had “direct access” to the PRISM companies’ servers.

Like most expressions of optimism or at least hope that our worst fears aren’t being realized, within hours the Guardian leaked another piece of the puzzle, an additional capture from the “top secret” Powerpoint presentation on PRISM that confirmed that not only was direct access the whole point of the scheme, but that all of those hopes that it was “limited” to indirect access was actually a whole separate system of additional surveillance that the NSA also has. In effect, they are having their cake and mercilessly spying on it too.

Then there’s “Boundless Informant,” the latest dystopian name in a growing collection of NSA “services.” The whole point of this one is to keep track of just how much data the NSA is sweeping up in its growing war on privacy.

The answer is, as usually, frighteningly grim, with the data leaked by the Guardian about this revealing that the NSA collected, in one single 30 day period in March, 97 billion pieces of “intelligence” worldwide, including several billion culled directly from the United States.

All of this reveals several things, including that Google, Facebook et al. flat out lied about not giving the NSA “direct access,” that the Obama Administration has been and is continuing to lie about not systematically spying on hundreds of millions of Americans as a matter of course, and that there is no speculation about government intrusion into our personal lives that doesn’t seem to pale in comparison to the reality.

The whole thing seems very much beside the point for the Obama Administration, comfortable that their secret laws and positions of unchecked power are entirely secure even now that the public is aware of how badly their privacy and common decency is being violated. Instead, officials are focused on shaking their fists at the press for wising people up to the truth, and threatening to prosecute the whistleblowers who, in contrast to the many public officials who seemed aware of this terrible policy, actually felt the need to speak up.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.