Since whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked information the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting metadata on all US citizens, including emails, cell phone calls, internet browsing history, wouldn't you like to know what was collected on you? Clayton Seymour, a Navy vet from Hilliard, OH, sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency. The IT specialist was interested in knowing if the NSA was collecting data on him. He was met with a letter telling him he wasn't entitled to that information.

According to the Blaze:

Weeks later, the Navy vet from Hilliard, Ohio—who voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 and supported his platform of greater governmental transparency—got a response that made him "furious."

It was a letter from the NSA explaining that he was not entitled to any information. Seymour tells Tikkun Daily Blog scribe David Harris-Gershon that he "felt betrayed."

The rejection letter details why "none of that data can be obtained by an American citizen in a standard FOIA request," the Tikkun Daily notes.

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Seymour had decided to request his NSA file after coming across a recent post of Harris-Gershon's instructing Americans on how to properly request such files from the FBI and NSA.

Seymour stated to Harris-Gershon in a written communication he was "generally a law abiding citizen with nothing I can think of that would require monitoring, but I wanted to know if I was having data collected about me and if so, what."

According to the Tikkun Daily:

Seymour isn't the only one who has recently had an FOIA request denied by the NSA – dozens of citizens have emailed me to say they've received a similar, if not identical, letter. And it's clear from the exemption the NSA is using that every single American is having their FOIA requests similarly rejected.

Unjustly so.

It should be noted that there are legitimate exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, the first of which states that documents requested may be denied if they are "properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy."

However, the central problem is this: Seymour's letter from the NSA points to Executive Order 13526, signed by President Obama in 2009, as justification for the NSA's FOIA exemption.

This order signed by Obama established a uniform system for classifying national security information, and stipulates that "information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security."

This qualification appears in section 1.4 of the executive order, after which follow many categories of information which may be marked as classified. The category the NSA points to in justifying the classification of all its data is this:

  1. intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology

Meaning: the NSA is classifying every single bit of data it receives from ordinary American citizens based on the premise that it has been gathered covertly.

Meaning: the NSA's advertised justification for not granting FOIA requests is to protect our country. However, the real justification is the NSA's covert violation of Americans' Fourth Amendment right not to be subject to unwarranted searches and seizures (in this case of their personal, digital data).

NSA Rejection Letter

It seems that even benign data culled from citizens like Seymour, who are no threat to national security, have had their data classified by the NSA. Seymour's' rejection letter can be viewed here.

America should be howling in protest; instead, the public hits the snooze button and goes back to sleep. Believing the government is keeping the people safe using these tactics is like believing in the Easter Bunny. The information gleaned from the American public was gathered covertly: beginning to sound as if the American people are a threat. Who are we a threat to?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the American people are a threat to out of control government. The Constitution lists enumerated powers of the government, all three branches, and the people retain the power to curb unconstitutional behavior. The government believes the people have become a threat to the Washington bubble -- the biodome of exclusivity where the people are like pests and therefore not welcome. Government should always fear the people since it is the best method of retaining freedom. However, this administration is in violation of the Constitution in that its actions are not indicative of the creature of the people but more the controller of the people. As more encroachments on rights occur and implementation of bad legislation begins, the real problems will be totally exposed and the people may go passed the point of being outraged. Now, individuals cannot even obtain the same information about themselves that the government possesses; it's all a secret. Another right gone.

People's pictures of the beach, emails containing recipes, phone conversations about your blood test results with your doctor, discussions of car insurance, private conversations with lawyers about wills and such are so essential to the federal government in order to protect the public from terrorists. Sure it is. The data gathering and classifying of the information is for the government to be able to establish profiles and patterns of American's daily lives in order to use in the future. Remember, anything that is collected can be altered to appear to be something that it's not.

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