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.'
Federal Government Reportedly Vastly Expands Big Data Spying, Includes Innocent Citizens
posted by Keito
2012-12-29 11:29:22'After fierce internal controversy, the White House has reportedly authorized a vast expansion of spying capabilities, including the ability to investigate innocent citizens and mine previously separated databases.
“This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” said chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security Mary Ellen Callahan, whose concerns were steamrolled, according to an investigatory report by The Wall Street Journal. One senior official called the expanded powers “breathtaking” in scope.
In part prompted by the frightening near success of the Christmas Day underwear bomber, President Obama demanded more sophisticated resources to prevent future terrorist attacks. “This was not a failure to collect or share intelligence,” said the president’s chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, in January 2010. “It was a failure to connect and integrate and understand the intelligence we had.”
Prior to the updated guidelines, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) maintained the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database (TIDE), a digital warehouse of half a million terror suspects and their friends and family. Under new rules, the NCTC now has access to many other government databases so long as it is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information.”
The NCTC can now copy whole datastores on information, such as flight records, the names of Americans hosting foreign exchange students, and many others. The Federal Privacy Act of 1974 sought to stifle indiscriminate sharing of datasets on Americans, but the law contains a skyscraper-size loophole that exempts an agency from the rules if they notify the Federal Register. “All you have to do is publish a notice in the Federal Register and you can do whatever you want,” security consultant Robert Gellman told the Journal.
A supplementary blog post to the report notes a few key differences between an updated 2008 memo from the Bush Administration and the 2012 guidelines:
Dropping the requirement to remove innocent U.S. people: In 2008, the NCTC was to remove U.S. individuals “not reasonably believed to be terrorism information.” Now, they can keep tabs on U.S. persons for up to five years.
“Pattern-based queries”: Previously, analysts were prohibited from conducting certain sophisticated matching queries that “are not based on known terrorism datapoints,” explains the Journal. Now, its explicitly allowed.
Added oversight: 2012 guideliens added “periodic reviews” to review egregious violations and whether keeping some information “remains appropriate.”
Sharing information with foreign governments: 2012 added guidelines for data sharing with “any appropriate entity.”
Read the full report here
Hackers Dump Millions of Records From Banks, Politicians
posted by Keito
2012-08-28 20:59:58"TeamGhostShell, a team linked with the infamous group Anonymous, is claiming that they have hacked some major U.S. institutions, including major banking institutions and accounts of politicians, and has posted those details online. The dumps, comprised of millions of accounts, have been let loose on the web by the hacking collective. The motivation behind the hack, the group claims, is to protest against banks, politicians and the hackers who have been captured by law enforcement agencies."
Noam Chomsky on the shredding of our fundamental rights and the common good
posted by Keito
2012-07-20 22:21:22"Recent events trace a threatening trajectory, sufficiently so that it may be worthwhile to look ahead a few generations to the millennium anniversary of one of the great events in the establishment of civil and human rights: the issuance of Magna Carta, the charter of English liberties imposed on King John in 1215.
What we do right now, or fail to do, will determine what kind of world will greet that anniversary. It is not an attractive prospect – not least because the Great Charter is being shredded before our eyes."
Obama the sellout.
posted by Keito
2012-07-18 20:02:24Obama was a sellout when he backed off on closing Guantanamo.
Obama was a sellout when he backed off of his promise to keep lobbyists out of his administration.
Obama was a sellout when he protected the Bush administration from prosecution for torture.
Obama was a sellout when he authorized the assassination of U.S. citizens abroad.
Obama was a sellout when he rescinded on his promise to not prosecute marijuana users in states where it is legal, and pushed for a 5 year prison term for a California-legal medical marijuana dispensary operator.
Obama was a sellout when he prosecuted child-soldier Omar Khadr using evidence gained through torture.
Obama was a sellout when he granted 27 waivers to oil companies drilling in the weeks following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Obama was a sellout when he fought for, and won, the right to deny habeas corpus to detainees.
He was a sellout when he blocked UN human rights investigations at Guantanamo.
He dropped charges against the CIA for destroying videotapes documenting torture of detainees.
He deported record number of undocumented immigrants.
He continued rendition of alleged terrorists to countries where they could be tortured.
He continued indefinitely detaining alleged terrorists, WITHOUT TRIAL.
He extended the PATRIOT Act, with no reforms.
He dramatically increased government secrecy, denying more Freedom of Information Act requests in 2009 than Bush did in 2008. So much for open government.
He cut a secret deal to kill the public option, while still campaigning on its behalf.
He defended Don't Ask Don't Tell from legal challenges.
He reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage.
He granted waivers to 30 companies, including McDonalds, exempting them from health care reform.
He announced the single largest arms deal in history, of $60bil worth of arms, to Saudi Arabian dictatorship.
He gave permits to BP and other oil companies, exempting them from environmental protection laws.
He appointed Monsanto executive Michael Taylor to the FDA.
He appointed a former Monsanto lobbyist as Chief Agriculture Negotiator.
He appointed Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury.
He increased the use of combat drones in Pakistan.
He passed a massive Wall Street bailout at the expense of the taxpayers.
He played down the importance of the WikiLeaks documents.
He failed... to address... climate change issues. (three separate links here)
He pushed for mandatory DNA testing for those arrested for crimes, even if they have not been convicted.
He undercuts whistleblowers.
He promised $30bil in military aid to Israel over the next decade.
But NOW, he's a sellout, when he extends Bush's tax cuts? Oh no. Obama has been a sellout since day one.