"We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government." ? William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)
The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers "inconvenient laws" aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.
Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.
It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn't suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.
Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting "internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans."
It's extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it's surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.
In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.
By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as "traffic shaping" —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans' emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.
The government, however, doesn't even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to "[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans."
Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans' data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.
Using this rationale, the government has justified hacking into and collecting an estimated 180 million user records from Google and Yahoo data centers every month because the data travels over international fiber-optic cables. The NSA program, dubbed MUSCULAR, is carried out in concert with British intelligence.
No wonder the NSA appeared so unfazed about the USA Freedom Act, which was supposed to put an end to the NSA's controversial collection of metadata from Americans' phone calls.
The NSA had already figured out a way to accomplish the same results (illegally spying on Americans' communications) without being shackled by the legislative or judicial branches of the government.
The USA Freedom Act was just a placebo pill intended to make the citizenry feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance. In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.