Why doesn’t NSA spy on Wall Street?

blankfein_dimon-620x412By Michael Degerald

Since early June when the first stories were released, we have seen a wave of leaked information drastically change our understanding of the United States government. Its activities in intelligence gathering have been shown to be much wider than previously thought; its relationships with major tech corporations have been shown to be much murkier and of a darker nature than was publicly known.

Its relationship with the people of the United States is on shaky ground — revelations have been met with untrue explanations time after time, each exposed as false by further leaks. One of the few things we can say for sure is that things are not as they have been presented to us, by Republicans or Democrats. More will be leaked, and it’s hard to imagine the nature of that information now.

As many have documented, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, lied directly to Congress about the nature of the surveillance the NSA was carrying out on American citizens, and came up with a series of story changes to attempt to justify them. It has been convincingly argued that he only dug the hole deeper, but those of us waiting to see him fired and prosecuted for perjury are still waiting.

Others have taken umbrage at the feigned motive of transparency behind a release of documents that had been called for by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). Most recently, Clapper responded to the revelations that the NSA has been spying on the Brazilian oil firm Petrobras by insisting that it was, despite all logical conclusions, done in the name of national security.

Clapper insisted: “It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing. We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.”

Even if we assume that this serves as a justification, which it doesn’t, his statement raises far more questions than it answers. His attempt to bring “terrorist financing” into the discussion is shameful — there is no connection whatsoever between Petrobras and funding terrorism, and if there were, the U.S. would have been screaming about it and would have taken a completely different plan of action. So if it isn’t about terrorism, the idea that the NSA must spy on a Brazilian oil company, and on that nation’s president, Dilma Rousseff, an ally of the United States, in the name of preserving economic stability is laughable.

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