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Surveillance State Brought Petraeus Down

By The Reverend Published: November 14, 2012

"Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications." All those daily intercepts are conveniently done without judicial warrants, as the Constitution demands.

The above quote is from the 2010 Washington Post series: "Top Secret America." During the Bush administration (and continued by the Obama administration) our government began eavesdropping on and intercepting any and all electronic communications made by Americans. This is all in violation of our 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.....but it continues each and every day of the year.

There is something poetic about the leader of America's secret CIA operations being caught with his pants down by the very Surveillance State he commanded. Yes, the fall of David Petraeus came about because of the new U.S. paradigm of warrantless wiretapping....because of the Surveillance State all Americans now live under.

...the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley - a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) - received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.

It appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email.

"a friend of hers (Kelley's) who was an FBI agent"....That FBI agent had a personal interest in Ms. Kelley....."supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter" - and was found to have "allegedly sent shirtless photos" to Kelley, and "is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI".

Think about it. An FBI agent who had a personal interest in the married Jill Kelley, did Kelley a favor by rooting through what she considered to be harrassing e-mails from the married Paula Broadwell who was having an affair with the married David Petraus. That then eventually led to e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus which uncovered their affair. And then all of that led to this...

The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications - mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 - between (General) Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .

There was no evidence here of a crime. There was no probable cause. The e-mails between Broadwell and Kelley were not threatening, also too, freedom of speech......yet because one smitten FBI agent wanted to impress the object of his lust, today General David Petraeus is no longer the CIA Director.

That is what happens when the CIA, the FBI and the NSA are given blanket 4th amendment violation rights. No one is safe from the threat of the mighty Surveillance State, not even the head of the CIA.

Using fear as a driver, our elected leaders decided after 9-11 to grant the FBI and the CIA sweeping new powers to spy on American citizens without due process, without judicial warrants. To the highly decorated and venerated General Petraeus.....a man who commanded those very spy powers as head of the CIA....that all worked out to a "shirtless" FBI agent with amorous intentions towards Jill Kelley, and doing her "a favor", eventually uncovering the not-illegal affair between the General and Paula Broadwell.

If our new Surveillance State can bring down the formerly-Immaculate Petraeus......who could possibly be safe from it's reach?

Glenn Greenwald, yesterday....

This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.

But, as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside. As Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this morning: "Who knew the key to stopping the Surveillance State was to just wait until it got so big that it ate itself?"

I disagree with Mr. Timm. There is no stopping the Surveillance State. The fall of General Petraeus because of the Surveillance State "run amok" will alter nothing. No matter who the State consumes with it's Surveillance, no matter how invasive and illegal it all is.....the Surveillance State is here to stay.

If there is a moral to the Petraeus story, if there is anything that Americans should learn from the fall of the formerly Immaculate General....that is, if there is anything to be learned beyond the salacious details....it is that the U.S. went down the wrong path when illegal, unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping of all U.S. communications became acceptable in the 00's.

General David Petraeus got caught in the very web of surveillance he ruled over as CIA director. He committed no crime, he did nothing wrong......and now he knows that being innocent of crimes no longer means anything in the Land of the Free.

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