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‘Total Information Awareness’ surveillance program returns, bigger than ever

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A new feature story in this month’s Wired blows the lid off plans for a massive new National Security Agency data center in Utah that represents the resurrection of a program that Congress killed in 2003, known as “Total Information Awareness,” targeting literally all electronic communications all over the world — including those made by American citizens.

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The proposal was to build computing systems that could suck up every electronic communication on the planet and filter them through a smart super-computer that would flag certain conversations, emails, transactions and other items of interest for further review. It was a program so monstrous in scope that after a brief legislative battle, Congress imposed strict regulations on the type of technology that could accomplish those ends, prohibiting it from ever being used against Americans.

But if well sourced intelligence reporter James Bamford is to be believed, as of this year, their efforts to stop it are moot.

According to Bamford, the NSA’s new data center in Utah will be the most all-encompassing spy machine ever conceived, capable of breaking almost any encryption, reading any email and recording any phone call anywhere in the world, even if it’s not made over the Internet. A network of ultra-sensitive satellites enhance the center’s intelligence-finding capabilities with the unique ability to sniff electronic communications from a massive distance.

More troubling still, Bamford’s three covert sources who worked for the NSA reportedly claim that the agency is dumping Americans’ communications into the mix, knowingly violating the U.S. Constitution in pursuit of a modern-day Manhattan Project.

When Congress struck down the Pentagon’s “Total Information Awareness” program, they did, however, authorize funding for “processing, analysis, and collaboration tools for counter terrorism foreign intelligence,” which is precisely how the NSA describes this data center. Just a year after that authorization, Bamford notes that the Department of Energy founded a computing facility where scientists developed technology that was secretly being funneled to the NSA for the data center currently under construction.

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Bamford’s sources are not the first to come forward with claims of dubious activity at the NSA. The Obama Administration prosecuted NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake for funneling secret data to a nameless reporter, and former NSA analyst Russell Tice came forward with other revelations in 2005, and again in 2009. Even back then he was warning that the NSA had access to all Americans’ communications and even private credit card information. That message was heard, and heard well, by lawmakers like Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who said he would not be surprised to learn that the NSA was even spying on him.

In these latest revelations, one of Bamford’s covert sources claims that the NSA is on the verge of a massive coup, putting the U.S. inches away from “a turnkey totalitarian state.” A much smaller spying program that targeted top Democrats and reporters, uncovered amid an investigation into a burglary, was the impetus for impeachment proceedings against former President Richard M. Nixon, which caused him to resign part-way through his second term. At the time, Congress was concerned that such power would be wielded for political purposes.


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WATCH: Trump walked out of a 1990 interview with CNN when they asked about his finances

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Long before he became the president, Donald Trump was a business tycoon who had trouble holding onto his money.

As New York Times reporting on the president's personal income tax records has shown, Trump throughout his career would frequently burn through money at a stunning rate throughout the 1990s, at one point reporting adjusted gross losses of nearly $1 billion per year in 1994 and 1995.

The tax records obtained by the Times show that things really started going downhill for Trump in 1990, when he reported a gross net loss of $400 million.

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GOP lawmaker in Tennessee admits to prescribing opioids to his second cousin — who was also his lover

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Tennessee state Sen. Joey Hensley (R) is under investigation by a medical review board for providing opioids to family members, one of which was his second cousin -- who also happened to be his lover, the Tennessean reports.

Hensley, an anti-LGBT ideologue who wrote his state's infamous "Don't Say Gay" bill, admits that he prescribed drugs for his relatives, but says he's the only doctor in town.

“There are not many people in the county who haven’t been to see Dr. Hensley, and she was one of them,” defense attorney David Steed said, adding, “Half of the county are Hensleys. Everyone there knows everyone. There were multiple relationships and the physician-patient relationship was only one and somewhat incidental to the others.”

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2020 Election

West Virginia voter: ‘I’ll probably vote for Donald Trump’ because ‘he keeps the people to the TV set’

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A group of West Virginia voters explained their voting choices to MSNBC on Monday.

"I don't have TV, I don't have internet," one woman said. "I'm pretty far behind. And I bet you a lot of around here are because we're poor. I don't know nothing about Joe [Biden]. I ain't never heard nothing about him at all. Donald Trump, I know a little bit about him because of the past couple of years."

"I'll probably vote for Donald Trump," Jeff Kibbey told MSNBC. "He keeps the people to the TV set."

"One, Trump is good," Francis Senter insisted. "Biden -- however you pronounce his name -- is good too. But like I say, I can't judge either one of them. It's the same community it ain't never going to change because if it was going to change it wouldn't look like this right here."

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