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]
posted by Keito
posted by Keito
TPP: Fuck the Corporate-bought Governments already...
posted by Keito
2012-09-08 10:25:52'At this very moment, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP)--a trade agreement that could affect the health and welfare of billions of people worldwide--is being negotiated behind closed doors. While 600 corporate lobbyists have access to the text, the press, the public, and even members of the US Congress are being kept in the dark.
But we don't have to stand meekly by as corporate cronies decide our futures. Concerned citizens from around the world are pooling together their resources as a reward to WikiLeaks if it makes the negotiating text of the TPP public. Our pledge, as individuals, is to donate this money to WikiLeaks should it leak the document we seek.
As WikiLeaks likes to say, information wants to be free. The negotiating text for the TPP wants to be free. Someone just needs to release it.
1. What is the TPP?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a multilateral "free trade" agreement for the Asia-Pacific region which some have taken to referring to as "NAFTA on steroids." The agreement was originally between just three nations--Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore--with a fourth, Brunei, joining shortly after. Today, seven additional countries are in negotiations to join the agreement: Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Eventually, every Pacific-rim nation could be included, making it possible for this trade agreement to affect the lives of billions of people.
2. What's so bad about the TPP?
The TPP negotiations have taken place under an unprecedented shrowd of secrecy, denying all but a very few any input into the terms of the agreement. The chapters that have been leaked are quite disturbing, revealing plans that would threaten public health, the environment, internet freedom, and the general well-being of perhaps billions of people. Here's a little taste of what the agreement would include: foreign investor protections that would help corporations offshore jobs, powers that allow multinational corporations to challenge domestic regulations before international tribunals, a strengthening of patent and intellectual property rules which would, among other things, raise the price of life-saving medicines in third world countries, and the ability for Wall Street to roll back safeguards meant to restore financial stability worldwide.
3. Haven't parts of the TPP been leaked?
Yes, some chapters of the TPP have been leaked to the public, but we want to see the whole text. We--the people who will be affected by this agreement--have the right to know what our governments are proposing.
4. Why WikiLeaks?
We're pushing WikiLeaks to do this because, if they do publish the TPP, it will show that WikiLeaks is still relevant to citizen demands for government transparency, that releasing US diplomatic cables wasn't the end of WikiLeaks' contribution to public knowledge of government misdeeds. And we want this because it will show that the WikiLeaks campaign for government transparency isn't just about national security issues.
Another reason for offering the reward to WikiLeaks is to shield the leaker against any claim that they leaked the document for personal gain. It will be clear that the leaker leaked the text to promote the public interest.
5. Why crowdsource the reward?
We didn't want to ask one rich person or a couple to put up the money for the reward because it's not just one or a few people who have an interest in the TPP--we all do. By asking people from all walks of life to contribute what they can, we help promote the idea we are all invested in the outcome of these negotiations.
6. How does the pledge thing work?
What happens if WikiLeaks publishes the TPP?
When you make a pledge, all you are doing is promising to make a donation at a later date. No payment information is required. If WikiLeaks should publish the TPP text, we will send you an email encouraging you to fulfill your pledge, along with information about how to make a donation to WikiLeaks.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee accuses government of 'draconian' internet snooping
posted by Keito
2012-09-06 20:47:39'The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has accused the government of invading the privacy by monitoring internet use.
Sir Tim warned that plans to monitor individuals' use of the internet would result in Britain losing its reputation as an upholder of web freedom
The plans, by Theresa May, would force service providers to keep records of every phone call, email and website visit in Britain.
Sir Tim told the Times: "“In Britain, like in the US, there has been a series of Bills that would give government very strong powers to, for example, collect data. I am worried about that."
Yesterday was the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation's first global Web Index analysing the state of the web in 61 countries using indicators such as the political, economic and social impact of the web, connectivity and use.
Britain came third in the list which was topped by Sweden and the United States in second place.
Speaking at the launch, Sir Tim said that Britain would soon slip down the rankings if the draft Communications Data Bill became law.
“If the UK introduces draconian legislation that allows the Government to block websites or to snoop on people, which decreases privacy, in future indexes they may find themselves farther down the list,” he said.
The draft bill extends the type of data that internet service providers must store for at least 12 months. Providers would also be required to keep details of a much wider set of data, including use of social network sites, webmail and voice calls over the internet.
Mrs May has justified the need for the new legislation by saying that it is necessary to combat organised crime and terrorism.
Sir Tim's comments came on the same day as he denied that there was an 'off'; switch for the internet.
He said the only way the internet could only ever be completely shut down is if governments across the world coordinated to make it a centralised system:
"At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.
"In order to be able to turn the whole thing off or really block, suppress one particular idea then the countries and governments would have to get together and agree and coordinate and turn it from a decentralised system to being a centralised system.
"And if that does happen it is really important that everybody fights against that sort of direction."'