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5 Ways the War on Terror Has Changed Your Life

From having your phone and internet data collected to the militarization of the police, the war on terror is having a major affect on American lives.

Photo Credit: U.S. Government/Wikimedia Commons


The leaks from National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden over the summer have made one thing abundantly clear: the war on terror has come to affect every single American. The justification for the NSA’s massive surveillance program has been that it helps prevent terrorist attacks, though journalists, analysts and U.S. politicians have cast doubt on those claims.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Muslims in the U.S. were systematically targeted, harassed and detained. But soon enough, the war on terror at home became a war where all Americans got caught up in its dragnet.

Now it’s not just Muslims who are affected, though they still remain the most under threat from government power. It’s all Americans--and the powers of the National Security Agency prove that. From having your phone and internet data collected to the militarization of the police, the war on terror is having a major affect on American lives.

Here are 5 ways the war on terror impacts you.

1. Phone Data

The first major Guardian story by Glenn Greenwald resulting from Snowden’s leaks was on a secret court order requiring Verizon to give the NSA information on all phone calls made on its system. The specific information collected from these calls is “metadata,” or the “information generated as you use technology” that can include the “date and time you called somebody or the location from which you last accessed your email,” as the Guardian notes. These calls included those within the U.S. and those between domestic and international callers. The secret Verizon order was renewed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last month, as it must be every three months.

But it’s not just Verizon callers who are having their “metadata” collected. After Greenwald’s first story was published, the Wall Street Journal reported that customers of AT&T and Sprint also have their metadata collected under a similar court order.

Millions and millions of Americans are having information about who they call and where they call from collected by the government. And that’s just a start to how the war on terror is impacting you.

2. NSA Data For Criminal Investigations

Yesterday, Reuters reported that information collected from government agencies, including the NSA, was being sent to local law enforcement for use in criminal investigations. It’s an example of how the war on drugs is bleeding into the war on terror.

Reuters reported that the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Special Operations Division (SOD) takes the lead on this. The SOD is comprised of a number of partner agencies, like the NSA, CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security. Information that comes from phone records, foreign governments, wiretaps and more is funneled to local law enforcement authorities to crack crime cases, particularly drug cases.

What’s worse is that the law enforcement authorities who receive this information then try to cover up that they got it from this program. The data the NSA is collecting is now being used to target Americans accused of ordinary crimes.

3. Internet Data

In addition to phone “metadata” being collected, the NSA also collects all sorts of information from your Internet activities. One NSA program called PRISM collects “metadata” from a number of Internet companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook.

While the NSA claims to have “direct” access to the servers of these companies, they have denied that and only say they comply with specific court orders. Whatever the case, it’s clear that the NSA collects data about Americans’ internet use.

Last week, the Guardian’s Greenwald published another major story on yet another NSA program that targets Internet use. Greenwald reported that “a top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”

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