Did someone say rant?....
posted by Keito
2013-11-07 20:42:00In the words of several Google Engineers in recent weeks, I too would like to voice a very big "Fuck you"... this time aimed squarely at the 3 smug bastards who sat before the Intelligence and Security Committee hearing earlier today.
I really, truly, honestly couldn't give a flying toss how sincere or sensible these UK intelligence front-men come across as on TV... they are all self-righteous assholes. The whole hearing was nothing more than a PR stunt (from their viewpoint), meant to try and sway the masses into thinking these 'reasonable' people can be trusted to carry out such despicable actions... all in the name of "National Security".
Terrorism is a poor excuse for the blanket surveillance of an entire nation.
I am not scared of terrorism, though with the behaviour of our nation, the threat will undoubtedly grow, and with it state oppression too... unless we change our behaviour, this is almost inevitable.
*It's the government oppression that scares me*... and quite rightly so. A once in a blue moon freak terrorist attack, while abhorrent, is something we can overcome. A state modelling itself on Big Brother is not so easily dealt with.
We might (just might) be able to gain control and stop the government oppression, but it won't be easy... after all, how do you control entities that are entirely secretive and free from almost all oversight or public scrutiny?
Anyway, back to the televised débâcle which aired earlier today... The sound-byte getting published by several 24hr mainstream media news networks sees John Sawers suggests that "more Britons were killed abroad in 2013, than the past seven years combined."... and this I don't doubt, but perhaps for altogether different reasons to what he may insinuate throughout his speech. (What's more, the domestic threats we face are absolutely minuscule). To stem terrorism these people need to consider an entirely different approach to "attack prevention"... You know, how's about we stop bombing other nations and killing indiscriminately for a start. The current method of wholesale snooping is not the correct way to combat terrorism, it will never work, nor will drone strikes or military interventions/occupations.
In the words of Michael Rivero, "Stopping terrorism is simple. Just quit screwing around with other people's countries and the terrorists will go home. But the government of the United States wants to go on screwing around with other people's countries, refuses to stop, indeed views it as Manifest Destiny for the United States Government to persist in screwing around with other people's countries, and views the inconvenience, increased tax burden, loss of civil liberties, and even deaths among the American people as just another cost of doing business."
Let's be very clear about one thing... The risk of terrorism grows - DUE TO THE WAR ON TERROR.
In other words, the War on Terror hasn't helped combat terrorism, it has fuelled it.
With that in mind it is most concerning that many folk fail to understand this increased threat of terrorism - as a direct result of the War on Terror - is exactly what the government has been attempting to achieve... this presents itself as a very convenient excuse to clamp down hard on freedoms; to implement draconian measures and plenary powers for the ruthless and power-hungry rulers in government. They are sweeping the freedoms from under our feet at an alarming rate, with little to no resistance from the populace. After all, the easiest way to gain public support for government wrong-doing is to wrap that wrong-doing up as some sort of beautiful measure, concocted to prevent either of the following:
* Child Pornography
...and, right on cue, we see stories depicting that the Snowden Leaks have helped terrorists AND paedophiles evade law enforcement - a perfect way to not only deflect any blame from themselves, but also discredit Snowden and sully his reputation.
I dare say we'll be seeing some triple-A movie blockbuster that depicts a whistleblower as some sort of evil kingpin overlord, in the non-too-distant future. Unfortunately, propaganda is not something that has been relegated to the history books.
The insinuation that Snowden's leaks have in some way endangered this nation, angers me no end. The danger we may face is entirely manufactured - by our own governments' failed foreign policies - something the bare-faced liars that took to the courts today failed to detail.
You want to know the risk you face from terrorism? Here's a simple to understand graph that lays it out for you
You want to know the risk we face from government? Read some history books and then open your eyes to the world we live in today.
Saturday Morning Rant #38365864251
posted by Keito
2013-11-07 20:28:33"Considered writing another letter to my MP this morning. Had the page open, then came to my senses and decided that it's just completely and utterly pointless. They don't listen and I'd be wasting my time.
For the first time in my adult life I've decided to join the majority of my friends... who simply don't vote. These non-voters always irked me somewhat before, but now I too have finally succumbed to such voting apathy. Brand made a convincing case, and as the saying goes "it only encourages them".
There is NO-ONE worth voting for, as far as I'm concerned they're all the same - when it comes to the really important issues and policies (not the little bullshit ones they have the country torn over, such as Benefits - which is a diversionary tactic used to shift the nations eyes from the countries real tax black holes).
My main concerns stem from recent revelations, be it the economic warfare of Wall Street, or the police state/Fascist spying exercises of the SS, *cough* sorry I mean the NSA/GCHQ (like a tragic comedy double act).
Each of the three main UK parties want to stifle free speech and limit personal privacies and freedoms. They all think that the behaviours of GCHQ is warranted. They all want to continue the War On Terror and the War on Drugs. They all protect Big Business (Bankers and other cronies, who are always on hand to offer mutual back-scratching benefits). They all can be bought by the highest bidders, to impose nationwide policies that benefit Corporations and inversely DO NOT benefit the voting populace.
I don't think I can even begin to get across, via the medium that is Facebook, just how angry I am at the current state of our political offerings. They can all go take a running jump. In fact, my preferred option would be to rally them all up and put them on some remote Japanese island - BATTLE ROYALE-style. A fight to the death between Obama, Cameron, Putin and all the other shit-heads in power would be something I could actually get behind. I'd vote for that.
The direction these arseholes are taking our nations in, really is something to be concerned about. The revolution is far, far, far too long overdue.
From time to time, you may see a flicker of hope, a speech that hits all the right notes, that strikes a chord... Milliband being a prime example of late. He gave a speech which had inspiring moments, with socialist rhetoric that appealed to the liberal left (myself included), but I haven't forgotten the tactics of other politicians which sounded like they were going to change the system too. From Blair to Obama... They all sing sweet lullabies to a certain demographic.... but when the election is over, and the win secured, they all turn out to be nothing but corrupt liars. The same old, same old.
I'd go so far as to say that in days gone by, the control we had over our leaders was far, far greater. When past-Presidents were caught doing illegal things, they paid dearly. Take Nixon, his actions earned him nationwide contempt and an impeachment to boot! Now though, it's as if (and not by happen-chance) these politicians learned from Nixon's (and others') mistakes. Not in so much as they learned not to carry out such wrongdoing.... no.... they learned that if they want to carry out such wrongdoing, they need to grant themselves "Executive Powers"... These plenary powers offer complete immunity, when caught in the act.
The President is now, for all intents, an Untouchable. Be it War Crimes in foreign lands or blanket surveillance of an entire homeland nation. Be it lies to Congress, the public and courts; Be it media manipulation and the silencing of dissent; Be it Renditions or Indefinite Detentions that contravene International Laws and basic Human Rights.
The world is broken; out of kilter.
The rich have convinced the middle class to blame the poor, for all the countries economic woes. All the while, the vast taxes in the kitty go towards the purchase of shamelessly expensive weaponry and standing armies that fight our Endless Wars.
One such war, The War on Terror, has achieved nothing, except of course a massive bill for the taxpayers... oh, and a massive invoice for the War Machine Corporations (aka the Military Industrial Complex... Lockheed, Boeing, etc), laughing all the way to the bank... oh, and last (but not least), it has actually increased the rate and chance - since 2001 - of there being a terrorist attack.... Who'd have thought that the indiscriminate killing of families by gung-ho hicks with guns, or remote controlled weaponised drones, would've led to a backlash by poor Muslims in distant lands?
With blood on their hands, and disdainful grins on their faces, the current G8 leaders have made a mockery of democracy. How long will this continue before action is taken?"
WHISTLEBLOWER - feat. Edward Snowden [RAP NEWS 19]
posted by Keito
Congress Disgracefully Approves the FISA Warrantless Spying Bill for Five More Years, Rejects All Privacy Amendments
posted by Keito
2012-12-29 11:33:54'Today, after just one day of rushed debate, the Senate shamefully voted on a five-year extension to the FISA Amendments Act, an unconsitutional law that openly allows for warrantless surveillance of Americans' overseas communications.
Incredibly, the Senate rejected all the proposed amendments that would have brought a modicum of transparency and oversight to the government's activities, despite previous refusals by the Executive branch to even estimate how many Americans are surveilled by this program or reveal critical secret court rulings interpreting it.
The common-sense amendments the Senate hastily rejected were modest in scope and written with the utmost deference to national security concerns. The Senate had months to consider them, but waited until four days before the law was to expire to bring them to the floor, and then used the contrived time crunch to stifle any chances of them passing.
Sen. Ron Wyden's amendment would not have taken away any of the NSA's powers, it just would have forced intelligence agencies to send Congress a report every year detailing how their surveillance was affecting ordinary Americans. Yet Congress voted to be purposely kept in the dark about a general estimate of how many Americans have been spied on.
You can watch Sen. Ron Wyden's entire, riveting floor speech on the privacy dangers and lack of oversight in the FISA Amendments Act here.
Sen. Jeff Merkley's amendment would have encouraged (not even forced!) the Attorney General to declassify portions of secret FISA court opinions—or just release summaries of them if they were too sensitive. This is something the administration itself promised to do three years ago. We know—because the government has admitted—that at least one of those opinions concluded the government had violated the Constitution. Yet Congress also voted to keep this potentially critical interpretation of a public law a secret.
Tellingly, Sen. Rand Paul's "Fourth Amendment Protection Act," which would have affirmed Americans' emails are protected from unwarranted search and seizures (just like physical letters and phone calls), was voted down by the Senate in a landslide.
The final vote for re-authorizing five more years of the FISA Amendments Act and secretive domestic spying was 73-23. Our thanks goes out to the twenty-three brave Senators who stood up for Americans' constitutional rights yesterday. If only we had more like them.
Of course, the fight against illegal and unconsitutional warrantless wiretapping is far from over. Since neither the President, who once campaigned on a return to rule of law on surveillance of Americans, nor the Congress, which has proven to be the enabler-in-chief of the Executive's overreach, have been willing to protect the privacy of Americans in their digital papers, all eyes should now turn to the Courts.
EFF was just in federal court in San Francisco two weeks ago, challenging the NSA's untargeted dragnet warrantless surveillance program. And the Supreme Court will soon rule whether the ACLU's constitutional challenge to the "targeted" portions of the FISA Amendments Act can go forward.
But make no mistake: this vote was nothing less than abdication by Congress of its role as watchdog over Executive power, and a failure of its independent obligation to protect the Bill of Rights. The FISA Amendments Act and the ongoing warrantless spying on Americans has been, and will continue to be, a blight on our nation and our Constitution.'
New Book Details the NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program, As Government Moves to Avoid All Accountability in Court
posted by Keito
2012-09-30 12:39:23'Former New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald’s new book, published last week, provides yet more details about how the the NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program came about, and confirms that even top Bush Administration lawyers felt there was a “strong argument” that the program violated the law. “Officials might be slammed for violating the Fourth Amendment as a result of having listened in on calls to people inside the country and collecting so much personal data," Eichenwald wrote, and “in the future, others may question the legality” of their actions.
Yet even today, eleven years later, the government continues to claim that no court can judge the program's legality. In the next month, the government will argue—in EFF's case in federal district court and ACLU's case in the Supreme Court—that courts must dismiss the legal challenges without ever coming to a ruling on the merits.
Eichenwald's book, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, describes how the NSA’s illegal program—what he calls "the most dramatic expansion of NSA's power and authority in the agency's 49 year history"— was devised just days after 9/11 to disregard requirements in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Instead of getting individualized warrants to monitor Americans communicating overseas, the Bush administration unilaterally gave the NSA the power to sweep up millions of emails and phone calls into a database for analysis without court approval:
Connections between a suspect e-mail address and others—accounts that both sent and received messages there, whether in the United States or not—would be examined. At that point, a more detailed level of analysis would be applied creating something of a ripple effect. The suspect e-mail address would lead to a second, the second to the accounts it contacted.
In other words, the NSA was given the green light to warrantlessly spy of Americans communications on American soil—a power that was illegal under FISA. And the government—instead of finding probable cause for surveillance like the Constitution requires—started using a burden of proof akin to the game Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon.
Eichenwald’s reporting, focused on the immediate aftermath of 9/11, unfortunately overlooks the NSA’s longstanding desire to live “on the network” reflected in its presentations to the incoming Bush Administration officials in December, 2000. The idea that the NSA only came up with this idea after 9/11 isn’t really accurate.* But regardless, Eichenwald's reporting makes clear that Bush administration officials were terrified that this program would become public.
Of course, after several years, much of the NSA’s program did become public when the New York Times exposed its existence in their 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning investigation. Virtually every major news organization in the US subsequently reported on the NSA and its mass spying programs, which led to congressional investigations and a multitude of lawsuits—two which will be argued in the coming month.
In EFF’s lawsuit, in addition to a mountain of public information including many governmental admissions, the court will see evidence from AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein showing blueprints and photographs of the NSA’s secret room in AT&T’s facility in San Francisco. Three more NSA whistleblowers, including William Binney a former high ranking official involved with the program during its infancy, also submitted affidavits laying out how the NSA illegally spied on Americans in the aftermath of 9/11.
Despite this all of this, the government recently filed a motion in the Northern District of California invoking the controversial “state secrets” privilege. Essentially, the government argues that—even if all of the allegations are true—the case should be dismissed entirely because admitting or denying any fact would potentially endanger national security, even in the face of the government’s own craftily wordsmithed “denials” before Congress and elsewhere.
In the ACLU’s case going before the Supreme Court this term, a group of journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists has sued over surveillance conducted after the passage of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). The FAA was passed in 2008 and formalized some of the admitted portions of NSA’s program, allowing emails and phone calls to and from from overseas to continue to be acquired without a warrant. The government only needs one general court order to target large groups of people—even entire countries—communicating to Americans for an entire year.
The plaintiffs, given that their professions, regularly talk to people who are almost certainly spied on. They argue that surveillance of them without warrants renders the statute unconstitutional. But the government contends the case must be dismissed on “standing” grounds because the plaintiffs can’t prove with certainty they have been surveilled, because, in a perfectly circular argument, the government won’t “admit” they have been surveilled, as if public admissions by the government is the only way to prove illegal wiretapping.
As the ACLU writes, “The government theory of standing would render real injuries nonjusticiable and insulate the government’s surveillance activities from meaningful judicial review.” The same can be said of the ‘state secrets’ privilege in EFF’s case. The government is contending they can use government secrecy as a sword to terminate judicial accountability. It doesn’t matter how much evidence is in the public domain, just by telling the Court that the information implicates “national security," they can wall off entire subject matters from judicial oversight, effectively hiding illegality, unconstitutionality along with embarrassing or overreaching acts by NSA spooks and others.
Eichenwald is just the latest in a long line of journalists to discuss and organize details about the NSA’s unconstitutional program. At this point the American people are well aware of the NSA’s actions – only the courts have been kept in the dark. And if the courts go along with blinding themselves, the government will have been given a license to violate the law and constitution long into the future.'
* Before 9/11, the NSA asserted” “The volumes and routing of data make finding and processing nuggets of intelligence information more difficult. To perform both its offensive and defensive mission, NSA must ‘live on the network.’” Opsahl Decl. Ex. 4 [Vol. I, p. 214] (National Security Agency, Transition 2001 (December 2000), at 31). Moreover, the NSA asserted that its “mission will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the ‘protected’ communications of Americans as well as the targeted communications of adversaries.” Id. at 32 [Vol. I, p. 215]