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.'
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