My appearance in
                1996Wayne Stegall

Copyright © 2013 by Wayne Stegall
Updated July 10, 2013.  See Document History at end for details.

If Everyone Was Listening

Imagine a world where your private life was a stage and many were watching you to the harm of your privacy or more depending on the motives and intent of those watching.  My experience as a victim of such a system led me to discover the following law.

Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 119, § 2511 Titled "Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited”

(2)(a)(i) "It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an operator of a switchboard, or an officer, employee, or agent of a provider of wire or electronic communication service, whose facilities are used in the transmission of a wire or electronic communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that communication in the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity which is a necessary incident to the rendition of his service or to the protection of the rights or property of the provider of that service, except that a provider of wire communication service to the public shall not utilize service observing or random monitoring except for mechanical or service quality control checks." (Italics are mine)

The portion of this law in italics seems to grant to the provider of communications service vast freedom to spy that that we are told our own intelligence agencies do not have.  The reason seems to be that the covert bureaucracy has deemed it impossible to keep the providers of intelligence infrastructure from spying.  As a result they deemed it better to allow them to spy and hope they would not be caught rather than expose valued secret espionage technology by the public prosecution of unwanted espionage activity.  It is astonishing that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and actors are authorized by law or expedience to spy without a fourth-amendment warrant.  Indeed, if they are allowed such freedom, actual intelligence agencies could not be doing less.  In this light, the oversight by the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court over intelligence activities could only be so much democratic window-dressing even if their activity is proper within its scope.

However, it doesn't end there.  Unwillingness to prosecute unauthorized users of the spy infrastructure widens the circle of spies in another way.  It is inevitable that the privilege to spy would pass out of the scope of those privileged by this law.  The common practice of favors to politicians, persons of influence, and political benefactors of various sorts widely known to corrupt politics and other areas of life figures here also to pass the espionage privilege to more unauthorized groups and individuals.  My own deductions have the Council on Foreign Relations and perhaps some equivalent European NGO privileged in this way.

Furthermore, this system is to a great extent international, at least in the West.  First this means that other involved governments have their own means of managing non-governmental participation.  The remainder of issues pertain to limits to human rights protections.  Each country may have laws protecting their own citizens.  However, there are no human rights boundaries to foreign spying in this system even among allies.  Anything forbidden in America to its intelligence agencies is open to participating foreign intelligence agencies.  It then become cover for domestic espionage to attribute illegally obtained intelligence to one of their foreign allies.

Once we have this circus, then a certain amount of intelligence resources would have to monitor these extra spies to keep them from getting out of hand.

We would consider ourselves lucky if only the NSA, MI6, and Mossad were listening.  However, China has entered this game as well.  China seems to assimilate any technology that is outsourced to them and those corporations that took their technology to China in the rush to outsource jobs have caused more damage to national security than any whistleblower concerned only with human rights violations.  Nortel was exposed in 2001 by a Canadian human rights organization for installing a police state capable telecommunications system for the Chinese.  In consequence, China's second largest telco has installed a similar system for Iran to demonstrate that this is now a secret largely kept only to the harm of ordinary citizens.

If you believe the president is above unauthorized espionage consider the following media conversation:

My transcription of the YouTube video.1

Washington Watch with Roland Martin

Roland Martin
"And what I made clear to our viewers and listeners is that, look, the inauguration represented the beginning of his second term, but it also represented the count down of end of his presidency.  And the reality is, ah, like anything else, that you better get what you can while it is there because come 2016 that is it."

Maxine Waters
"Well you know, I don't know; I think some are missing something here. The President has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life,  That's going to be very, very powerful and whoever."

"In terms of Organizing for America that he's now shifting to be a 501(c)4?"

"And that database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it's never been done before and whoever runs for President on the Democratic ticket have to deal with that. They're going to go down with that database and the concerns of those people because they can't get around it. And he's been very smart. It's very powerful what he's leaving in place.  And I think that's what any Democratic candidate is going to have to deal with."

Although such a database would seem primarily for Obama to win against his enemies, Maxine has chosen such words as to make you think Obama has the goods on his own party as well.  Obama may not trust anyone.

My own experience with being on a covert stage has been grueling ordeal, a shooting gallery that cannot pass for democracy.  It is daunting to be the target of minions who use espionage to line up every sort of diabolical evil against you, from occult and covert devices to unwitting collateral actors provoked by the same means.  Even preparing an article like this can be quite a covert battle.

Finally, after many have fought for or against this system for many reasons, it seems America is losing its advantage here.  First the bankruptcy of Nortel then the acquisition of Lucent by Alcatel has eliminated North American manufacture of the infrastructure.  Worse now, The remaining Western telecommunications manufacturers are struggling to compete with Chinese competitors who are undercutting Western market prices.2  It seems a bold move to take the West's espionage infrastructure for Chinese communism, one portending worse things for unwitting domestic espionage targets and for the future of Western democracy.


I recall seeing on television the process by which such laws are fomented.  In the fall of 2005, NBC Nightly News reported that telecommunications corporations treated Congress to a $750 per plate meal to convince them to legislate their immunity to participation in any activity required of them under the Patriot act.  That the news reported bipartisan attendance is notable too.  At the time, it seemed unfair that the system that had wronged me could buy immunity this way even while it tampered with the justice that I was due.  What a sham!

1See YouTube videos:  short clip, full version.
2The Economist, "Telecoms-equipment makers:  Toughing it out," October 25, 2007,

Document History
June 26, 2013  Created.
July 9, 2013  Added postscript illustrating how such laws are created.
July 10, 2013  Made a grammar correction.