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Glenn Greenwald: NSA Surveillance Program is ‘Antithesis’ of Fourth Amendment

Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and journalist who became a left-wing celebrity for his articles helping whistle-blower Edward Snowden expose the NSA’s mass-surveillance program, admits...

Just what are they hiding and why? The Fourth Amendment weeps

We’ve heard variations on the phrase “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” from the government for quite some time....

Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

Peter Van Buren Here’s a bit of history from another America: the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If...

Police Infringe Strippers Fourth Amendment Rights

Despite its title as America’s Finest City, San Diego, Ca. has a well-documented and sordid history of institutional corruption. Whether it’s city employees treating...

Abuse, War Crimes and the Violation of the Fourth Amendment

David Cole  RINF Alternative News The old Washington adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime may not apply when it comes to the revelations...

The Surveillance State. NSA Telephony Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Marjorie Cohn  RINF Alternative News Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC),...

The Surveillance State. NSA Telephony Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that requires Verizon...

California Senators to NSA: Not So Fast, We Follow the Fourth Amendment

Alex Gauthierivn.usJanuary 10, 2014 A bipartisan team of California lawmakers is pushing a bill through California's...

Prediction: Fourth Amendment Evolves in 2014

Jennifer Granick When should courts follow legal precedent and when should the law change? This is a debate that underlies this...

Crazy King Says Rand Paul Hates America For Defending Fourth Amendment

Congressional intel chair says Paul “doesn't deserve to be a U.S. Senator.” Steve Watson GOP Congressman Peter King, chair of the...

Crazy King Says Rand Paul Hates America For Defending Fourth Amendment

Congressional intel chair says Paul “doesn't deserve to be a U.S. Senator.”Steve WatsonInfowars.comJanuary...

Does Exercising the Second Amendment Invalidate the Fourth Amendment?

Dean Weingarten The Rutherford Institute is petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case of Quinn v. State of Texas, a case...

Judge: Testing Welfare Applicants for Drugs Violates Fourth Amendment

Some South Dakota conservatives think we should test welfare recipients for drug use. A U.S. District Court judge ruled this week...

Ex-NSA Boss: Fourth Amendment Dispensable in Post 911 World

For government and its intelligence apparatus, so-called metadata is only a Stasi state baby step. Kurt Nimmo The former boss of the CIA...

ACLU Plans Appeal of NSA Fourth Amendment Ruling

Infowars.comDecember 27, 2013 ACLU is "extremely disappointed" and plans to appeal federal judge's ruling Friday that...

DUI in Arizona: Understanding your rights under the Fourth Amendment

world.einnews.comNovember 27, 2013 If you can show that the traffic stop was a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, you have a good possibility of...

Fourth Amendment and Foreigners: Does it Apply?

The National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance of foreign leaders has been well publicized. The phones of politicians from Germany to Brazil, from France to...

Administration Keeps Chipping Away At The Fourth Amendment

Asks Supreme Court to allow warrantless cell phone searches. techdirt.com August 20, 2013 Considering what’s come out about the NSA’s domestic surveillance “accidents,” it almost makes you...

Greenwald: NSA Supporters Exploiting “Terrorist Threats” to Kill Fourth Amendment

Journalist says Obama suddenly declared massive “terrorism threat” after downplaying al-Qaeda for years. Kit DanielsInfowars.comAugust 6,...

Fourth Amendment Dead in Los Angeles

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comAugust 5, 2013 In Los Angeles, and much of the rest of the country, the...

Obama's Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment

It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both...

Contempt for the Bill of Rights: Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment

It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both...

Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment

It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both...

Governor Rick Perry Signs a Pair of Bills Upholding Fourth Amendment

Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law June 14 that curtails the power of law enforcement and government to use drones to...

Pelosi Booed After She Defends NSA Violating Fourth Amendment

Infowars.com June 24, 2013 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s “progressive” fan base at the Netroots Nation conference shouted her down on Saturday after...

Governor Rick Perry Signs a Pair of Bills Upholding Fourth Amendment

Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law June 14 that curtails the power of law enforcement and government to use drones to...

Rand Paul revives the Fourth Amendment

Bruce Feindailycaller.comJune 21, 2013 To borrow from the British sage Samuel Johnson, Andrew McCarthy expounding on...

Obama Justice Department Silent On NY Cops Violating Fourth Amendment

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comJune 13, 2013 On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder filed a Justice Department...

Undermining the Fourth Amendment: NSA Memos Expose Obama Administration’s Lies about Wiretapping

National Security Agency internal memorandums made public over a decade ago refute the Obama administration’s claims that its vast domestic surveillance program are being...

Undermining the Fourth Amendment: NSA Memos Expose Obama Administration’s Lies about Wiretapping

National Security Agency internal memorandums made public over a decade ago refute the Obama administration’s claims that its vast domestic surveillance program are being...

Most Americans Oppose Fourth Amendment

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comJune 11, 2013 If we can believe the latest poll issued by the...

Senate and House Intelligence Committee: NSA Spying and the Fourth Amendment

Intel Committee Heads Walk Away Rather than Square NSA Programs with Fourth Amendment Sunday morning I questioned Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers –...

Sen. Rand Paul to Introduce Fourth Amendment Restoration Act

Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.The New AmericanJune 7, 2013 His attendance at Mitt Romney’s Rocky Mountain confab...

Senators Dismiss Treasonous NSA Attack on Fourth Amendment

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comJune 7, 2013 After The Guardian outed the NSA and its unprecedented violations...

Spying on Americans and the Fourth Amendment. An Open Letter to Dianne Feinstein, Chair...

Dear Senator Feinstein: On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped...

Sen. Rand Paul to Introduce Fourth Amendment Restoration Act

His attendance at Mitt Romney’s Rocky Mountain confab hasn't kept Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) from working to protect the people of the Commonwealth of...

Obama May Separate Facebook and the Fourth Amendment

Obama May Separate Facebook and the Fourth Amendment Email   Print   Share Posted on May 8, 2013 Poster Boy NYC (CC BY 2.0) The Obama administration...

Caught On Tape: Police Officers Violating Fourth Amendment

Jon Locke's home surveillance cameras recorded officers rummaging through duffle bags, searching a car in his driveway and turning a surveillance camera the other way.

Goodbye Fourth Amendment: Homeland Security Affirms “Suspicionless” Confiscation Of Devices Along Border

Slowly but surely the administration is making sure that both the US constitution, and its various amendments, become a thing of the past. In the name of national security, of course. And while until now it was the First and Second amendments that were the target of the administration's ongoing efforts to eavesdrop on anyone, all the time, in order to decide who may be a domestic terrorist and thus fit for 'droning', coupled with an aggressive push to disarm and curtail the propagation of weapons in what some perceive is nothing more than an attempt to take away a population's one recourse to defend itself against a tyrannical government, the time may be coming to say goodbye to the Fourth amendment - the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures - next. But only in close proximity to the border at first. According to Wired, "the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security."

More on America's quest, by a very select few, to one by one extinguish its civil liberties from Wired:

The DHS, which secures the nation’s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining to electronic devices “within 120 days.” More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.

“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.

The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.

And before this becomes yet another red vs blue scream fest, where the underlying fact is ignored in the name of proving the validity of one's ideological convictions, the reality is that the eradication of the Fourth Amendment started with Bush, and has merely accelerated under Obama.

The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.

What does this decision mean in principle:

According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

100 miles today, 1,000 miles tomorrow, and the entire nation the day after.

For those still confused, luckily there is a case study:

A lawsuit the ACLU brought on the issue concerns a New York man whose laptop was seized along the Canadian border in 2010 and returned 11 days later after his attorney complained.

At an Amtrak inspection point, Pascal Abidor showed his U.S. passport to a federal agent. He was ordered to move to the cafe car, where they removed his laptop from his luggage and “ordered Mr. Abidor to enter his password,” according to the lawsuit.

Agents asked him about pictures they found on his laptop, which included Hamas and Hezbollah rallies. He explained that he was earning a doctoral degree at a Canadian university on the topic of the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon.

He was handcuffed and then jailed for three hours while the authorities looked through his computer while numerous agents questioned him, according to the suit, which is pending in New York federal court.

First they came for your notebook at the Canadian border, and nobody said anything...

In other news, the rest of the world now openly hates America for its relentless and ever accelerating loss of freedoms. All "in the name of the national security" bogeyman of course.

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EFF to Supreme Court: Blanket DNA Collection Violates Fourth Amendment

SAN FRANCISCO - February 4 - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Supreme Court Friday to block DNA collection from everyone arrested for a crime, arguing that law enforcement must get a warrant before forcing people to give samples of their genetic material.

EFF's amicus brief was filed Friday in Maryland v. King – a case challenging a law in the state of Maryland that requires DNA collection from all arrestees, whether they are ultimately convicted of a crime or not. Maryland officials claim that DNA is necessary for definitive identification, but they do not use the sample to "identify" the arrestee. Instead, they use the sample for other investigatory purposes – retaining and repeatedly accessing the wealth of personal information disclosed by an individual's genetic material despite lacking individualized suspicion connecting the arrestee to another crime. This violates the Fourth Amendment.

"Your DNA is the roadmap to an extraordinary amount of private information about you and your family," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "It contains data on your current health, your potential for disease, and your family background. For government access to personal information this sensitive, the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant."

In addition to Maryland, 27 states and the federal government have laws that mandate DNA collection from anyone arrested, even if they are not yet convicted of a crime. EFF has filed amicus briefs in a number of cases challenging these unconstitutional laws. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has shown increasing sensitivity to the power of sophisticated technology to undermine traditional privacy protections.

"Let's say you were picked up by police at a political protest and arrested, but then released and never convicted of a crime. Under these laws, your genetic material is held in a law enforcement database, often indefinitely," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "This is an unconstitutional search and seizure."

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Maryland v. King later this month.

For the full brief in Maryland v. King:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-16

Contacts:

Jennifer Lynch
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   [email protected]

Lee Tien
   Senior Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   [email protected]

EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

EFF to Supreme Court: Blanket DNA Collection Violates Fourth Amendment

SAN FRANCISCO - February 4 - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Supreme Court Friday to block DNA collection from everyone arrested for a crime, arguing that law enforcement must get a warrant before forcing people to give samples of their genetic material.

EFF's amicus brief was filed Friday in Maryland v. King – a case challenging a law in the state of Maryland that requires DNA collection from all arrestees, whether they are ultimately convicted of a crime or not. Maryland officials claim that DNA is necessary for definitive identification, but they do not use the sample to "identify" the arrestee. Instead, they use the sample for other investigatory purposes – retaining and repeatedly accessing the wealth of personal information disclosed by an individual's genetic material despite lacking individualized suspicion connecting the arrestee to another crime. This violates the Fourth Amendment.

"Your DNA is the roadmap to an extraordinary amount of private information about you and your family," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "It contains data on your current health, your potential for disease, and your family background. For government access to personal information this sensitive, the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant."

In addition to Maryland, 27 states and the federal government have laws that mandate DNA collection from anyone arrested, even if they are not yet convicted of a crime. EFF has filed amicus briefs in a number of cases challenging these unconstitutional laws. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has shown increasing sensitivity to the power of sophisticated technology to undermine traditional privacy protections.

"Let's say you were picked up by police at a political protest and arrested, but then released and never convicted of a crime. Under these laws, your genetic material is held in a law enforcement database, often indefinitely," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "This is an unconstitutional search and seizure."

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Maryland v. King later this month.

For the full brief in Maryland v. King:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-16

Contacts:

Jennifer Lynch
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   [email protected]

Lee Tien
   Senior Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   [email protected]

EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

Expanding NSA Power Bad, Fourth Amendment Good

By Ralph Lopez  Missing from the debate over expanding NSA authority in the War on Terror is the simple question, beyond our reflexive desire for...

Bureaucrat Proposes Violating Fourth and Second Amendments to Protect Children

Kurt Nimmo Infowars.com November 10, 2013 Illustration: Banksy In Massachusetts, a bureaucrat wants police to enter private residences and “safeguard” guns under the pretense that violating the Constitution...

Black Protest and the Limits of Debating the First Amendment

Members of the Indianapolis Colts stand and kneel for the national anthem prior to the start of the game between the Indianapolis Colts and...

Senate narrowly blocks amendment allowing warrantless access to online data

With only two votes to spare, the US Senate blocked a controversial bill that would expand...

FBI Comes After the 4th Amendment

While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are battling in their final round in the Democratic primaries and Donald Trump is arguing that...

TRI Asks Federal Court to Strike Down N.J. Anti-Bullying Law as Unconstitutional Restraint on...

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked a federal court to declare a New Jersey anti-bullying law unconstitutional in light of its chilling effect on students’ free speech rights. The Institute’s latest brief, which counters a move by the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to have the lawsuit dismissed, argues that the state’s enforcement of […]

The Second Amendment: A Symbol of Freedom or An Invitation to Violence?

John Whitehead  RINF Alternative News "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and...

The Second Amendment: A Symbol of Freedom or An Invitation to Violence?

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” — The Second Amendment to the US Constitution You can largely determine where a person will fall in the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment based […]

Textbook Tells Fourth Graders ‘White Voters’ Were Unlikely To Support Black President

Fourth grade students in Dupo, Illinois assigned to reading a Common Core approved biography of President Barack Obama are being told that all white...

Feinstein Kicks the Fourth in the Face with Obscene Intelligence Bill

Kurt Nimmo Infowars.com November 2, 2013 More evidence Congress is in bed with the spooks and the underwear drawer sniffer brigade. On Friday, we learned that constitutional...

Wikileaks: Bringing the First Amendment to the World

Mediastan is a documentary film that follows the journey of a small group of WikiLeaks' associates in their quest for media outlets to publish...

Tenth Amendment Center Drafts Model Legislation to Nullify the NSA

The Tenth Amendment Center has a plan for preventing the National Security Agency (NSA) from making Americans inmates in an electronic prison. In a new...

Obama’s Justice Department’s Brazen Disregard for the First Amendment

There's something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to...

‘1984 Day’: Restore the Fourth movement kickstarts nationwide anti-surveillance protest

A grassroots movement of Fourth Amendment activists is rallying across 20 US cities to protest illegal surveillance techniques by the American government. ...

The Amash amendment failed, but civil libertarians won on Wednesday

Julie BorowskiFreedomWorks via The Daily CallerJuly 26, 2013 Wednesday’s vote on NSA funding was a big...

House Defeats Amash Amendment to Control NSA Surveillance

Vote outcome reveals how important maintaining and growing the surveillance state is to the political...

Nevada Police face rare Third Amendment lawsuit for Force Comandeering Homes

Family arrested for not immediately surrendering their homeAdan SalazarInfowars.comJuly 5, 2013 A Nevada family...

Activist Posts 4th Amendment on Orwellian Sign Banning 4th of July

Anthony Gucciardi Infowars.com July 5, 2013 This is what Independence Day is all about. After I wrote a piece covering and tracking down the photo of...

Celebrate the Fourth by Standing Up to the NSA’s Domestic Spy Grid

Infowars.comJuly 3, 2013 A group of patriotic Americans in Utah have Fourth of July plans, not...

'Restore the Fourth': Reddit, Mozilla, WordPress set for July 4 protest against NSA surveillance

Thousands of websites will launch a July 4 online protest against the NSA surveillance programs. Reddit, Wordpress, and Mozilla will take part in the...

NSA memo pushed to ‘rethink’ 4th Amendment

Philip Ewingpolitico.comJune 7, 2013 The National Security Agency pushed for the government to “rethink” the Fourth...

The Lautenberg Amendment

Adam Clymer’s New York Times article on the death of New Jersey Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (June 4, 2013) briefly mentions a “Lautenberg measure gave...

Constitutional Sheriffs Convention Focus: States’ Rights, 2nd Amendment

For two days beginning on Friday, May 31, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) is holding a convention (see video below) at...

Appeals Court Strikes Down Bulk NSA Phone Spying

Appeals Court Strikes Down Bulk NSA Phone Spying

by Stephen Lendman

On June 11, 2013, the ACLU challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records (ACLU v. Clapper)."

It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying: 

"Because the NSA's aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment." 

"The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity."

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215 - the so-called "business records" provision.

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy. 

It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what's happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It authorizes the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. 

It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.

At the time of its suit, the ACLU said "(w)hatever Section 215's 'relevance' requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans."

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorized surveillance relating to "foreign intelligence information" between "foreign powers" and "agents of foreign powers." 

It restricts spying on US citizens and residents to those engaged in espionage in America and territory under US control. 

No longer. Today anything goes. America is a total surveillance society. Obama officials claim no authority can challenge them. Governing this way is called tyranny.

The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. It held Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act doesn't permit bulk collection of Americans' phone records. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously - overturning a lower court decision.

The Obama administration argued that the ACLU lacked "standing" to challenge NSA surveillance practices, and Congress "precluded" judicial review except by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court most often only hearing government arguments.

The appeals court rejected this reasoning, saying:

"If the government is correct, it could use Section 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including e‐mail and social media information) relating to all Americans." 

"Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans."

ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo called the ruling "a resounding victory for the rule of law."

"For years, the government secretly spied on millions of innocent Americans based on a shockingly broad interpretation of its authority." 

"The court rightly rejected the government’s theory that it may stockpile information on all of us in case that information proves useful in the future." 

"Mass surveillance does not make us any safer, and it is fundamentally incompatible with the privacy necessary in a free society."

ACLU deputy legal director/lead counsel in the case Jameel Jaffer explained:

"This ruling focuses on the phone-records program, but it has far broader significance, because the same defective legal theory that underlies this program underlies many of the government’s other mass-surveillance programs." 

"The ruling warrants a reconsideration of all of those programs, and it underscores once again the need for truly systemic reform."

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) executive director Cindy Cohn called the ruling "a great and welcome decision and ought to make Congress pause to consider whether the small changes contained in the USA Freedom Act are enough."  

''The 2nd Circuit rejected on multiple grounds the government's radical reinterpretation of Section 215 that underpinned its secret shift to mass seizure and search of Americans' telephone records.''

“While the court did not reach the constitutional issues, it certainly noted the serious problems with blindly embracing the third-party doctrine - the claim that you lose all constitutional privacy protections whenever a third-party, like your phone company, has sensitive information about your actions."

EFF's legislative analyst Mark Jaycox added:

"Now that a court of appeal has rejected the government's arguments supporting its secret shift to mass surveillance, we look forward to other courts - including the Ninth Circuit in EFF's Smith v. Obama case - rejecting mass surveillance as well." 

"With the deadline to reauthorize section 215 looming, we also call on Congress to both expressly adopt the interpretation of the law given by the court and to take further steps to rein in the NSA and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

One court victory doesn't mean overall triumph. The right-wing Supreme Court may have final say - or Congress able to legislatively circumvent High Court or other judicial rulings with no administration opposition by either party.

US governance serves powerful entrenched interests at the expense of popular ones. It's fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-freedom. 

Odds strongly favor no change in business as usual. Sacrificing precious liberties for greater security assures losing both.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Failing to Hold Police, Law Enforcement Accountable for Wrongdoing, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Immunity...

WASHINGTON, DC — Ruling in two separate cases in Plumhoff v. Rickard and Wood v. Moss, the U.S. Supreme Court has once again refused to hold law enforcement officials accountable for allegedly violating citizens’ constitutional rights. In the first case, the Court dismissed complaints against police officers who were involved in a fatal shooting, despite Fourth Amendment concerns […]

Sacking NYT Executive Editor Jill Abramson

Sacking NYT Executive Editor Jill Abramson

by Stephen Lendman

In September 2011, she succeeded Bill Keller. On May 14, The Times headlined "Times Ousts Jill Abramson as Executive Editor, Elevating Dean Baquet."

It reflects "an abrupt change of leadership." Times chairman/publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. claimed "an issue with management in the newsroom."

Times staff familiar with her relationship with Sulzberger suggested she was "polarizing and mercurial." She "clash(ed) with (managing editor) Baquet.

He was "angered" over Abramson's "job offer" to senior London Guardian editor Janine Gibson. She wanted her as "co-managing editor."

"Conflict between them arose." Sulzberger got involved. He decided earlier to sack her. On May 15, he appointed Baquet executive editor.

"(N)either side (explained) detail(s) about Abramson's firing," said The Times. She was its first female executive editor in its 160-year history.

In 1997, she joined the broadsheet. She served as Washington bureau chief. As managing editor. 

Earlier she was a Wall Street Journal correspondent/reporter/deputy bureau chief. The American Lawyer staff reporter. 

The same capacity at Time magazine. As Legal Times editor-in-chief. She taught at Princeton. She's an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow.

As an undergraduate, she was arts editor of the Harvard Independent.

In 2012, Forbes named her its fifth most powerful woman. She ranked after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and Melinda Gates.

Michelle Obama ranked seventh. IMF chief Christine Lagarde was eighth.

Baquet is The Times first African-American executive editor. He promised staff he'd "listen hard…be hands on…be engaged…walk the room. That's the only way I know how to edit," he said.

David Bromwich is Yale University Professor of Literature. On May 15, he headlined "After 9/11: The Stories We Tell and the Stories We Don't."

He writes on civil liberty issues. About "America's wars of choice." About its "continuous engagement in multiple wars."

"And if not wars, then widely distributed black-op killings, in faraway places where (America claims having an) interest."

Officially it's called counterterrorism. Their alleged terrorism, not ours.

Bromwich called civil liberty wars "poisonous." Fundamental freedoms are destroyed. "(T)hings come up every day," he said.

He addressed Abramson's sacking. He cited Sulzberger's claimed reasons. They "seem credible enough," he said.

"(A)nd yet, the same qualities were compatible with (lots) of her predecessors." It begs the question. Why was Abramson sacked and not them?

It's unlikely for her management style. She learned former executive editor Bill Keller earned more than she did. She asked for a raise. Likely comparable pay and benefits.

It sounds credible, said Brownwich. Hardly reason to sack her. Or wanting a co-managing editor. As executive editor, it was her call.

Nothing suggested she was wrong. Executives make important decisions. It's their job. They get fired for serious bad ones. Ones adversely affecting profits. 

Abramson likely thought added managing editor strength would boost Times readership. It was her call to make. No reason to sack her.

Something else led Sulzberger to do so. Other than what he said. 

In January, Abramson called Julian Assange and Edward Snowden heroes.

"I view (Snowden), as I did Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, as a very good source of extremely newsworthy information," she said.

The Times didn't cover his revelations straightaway. At the same time, Abramson didn't avoid controversy.

Months earlier, she called the Obama administration "the most secretive" in her experience.

"I dealt directly with the Bush White House," she said. "(W)hen they had concerns (about) stories (relating) to national security…"

"The Obama administration had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history."

"It's on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with."

It reflects direct orders from Obama, she added. In June 2013, she expressed concern over Justice Department officials surveilling reporters.

She said "the process of news gathering is being criminalized." Perhaps her views came home to roost.  

Perhaps the real reason for her sacking. Publicly criticizing US policy Times correspondents, commentators and editors defend in print appears cause for dismissal.

It reflects gross hypocrisy. Publishing one thing. Saying something entirely different at times. Bashing the White House The Times deplorably defends in print.

Baquet avoided doing it. As Times managing editor or elsewhere. He was a New Orleans-based Times-Picayune journalist. Then the Chicago Tribune.

In 1990, he became The Times' metropolitan editor. Then a business desk special projects one.

In 2000, he became LA Times managing editor. Then editor-in-chief. In 2007, he returned to the NYT. His positions included Washington bureau chief, national editor, assistant managing editor, managing editor, and now executive editor.

In 2006, he killed an LA Times story about NSA spying on Americans. About wiretapping them. About operating illegally.

About unconstitutional data-mining. About troubling civil liberty violations. About authorizing searches on millions of Americans without court-authorized warrants. 

Mark Klein worked for AT&T for 22 years. In 2004, he retired. After doing so, he turned whistleblower. 

He revealed blueprints and photographs of NSA's secret room. It's inside the company's San Francisco facility.

Three other whistleblowers submitted affidavits. They explained post-9/11 lawless NSA spying on millions of Americans. 

The FBI, CIA, Pentagon, state and local agencies operate the same way.

Spies "R" us defines US policy. America is a total surveillance state. It's unsafe to live in. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying. It passed with little debate. 

On December 30, 2012, Obama signed it into law. Doing so largely went unnoticed. 

Warrantless spying remains law for another five years. Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization. 

Probable cause isn't needed. So-called "foreign intelligence information" is sought. Virtually anything qualifies. Vague language is all-embracing.

Constitutional protections don't matter. All major US telecommunications companies are involved. 

So are online ones. They have been since 9/11. Things now are worse than then.

One expert said what's ongoing "isn't a wiretap. It's a country-tap." It's lawless. 

Congress has no authority to subvert constitutional provisions. Legislation passed has no legitimacy. Constitutional changes require amendments. 

The Patriot Act trampled on Bill of Rights protections. Doing so for alleged security doesn't wash. Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were compromised. 

So were First Amendment freedom of association ones. Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. Unchecked sweeping surveillance followed.

So-called "sneak and peak" searches are conducted through "delayed notice" warrants, roving wiretaps, email tracking, as well as Internet and phone use.

Section 215 pertains to alleged suspects, real or contrived. It authorizes government access to "any tangible item." 

Included are financial records and transactions, education and medical records, phone conversations, emails, other Internet use, and whatever else Washington wants to monitor.

Individuals and organizations may be surveilled whether or not evidence links them to terrorism or complicity to commit it. In other words, everyone is fair game for any reason or none at all.

Post-9/11, sweeping surveillance became policy. What Bush began, Obama escalated. 

Privacy rights are systematically violated. Good journalism requires telling people what they most need to know. 

Media scoundrels suppress it. They bury truth. They substitute misinformation rubbish. They lie, distort, mislead, conceal and twist reporting to fit official US policy.

They mock legitimate journalism. They betray its core ethical standards. They shame themselves in the process.

Expect Baquet to continue The Times ignoble tradition. It supports wealth, power and privilege. 

It does so at the expense of popular interests. Burying truth and full disclosure. Expect more of the same going forward.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Duplicitous Obama Civil Rights Hyperbole

Duplicitous Obama Civil Rights Hyperbole

by Stephen Lendman

Obama represents the worst of rogue governance. On April 10, he honored Lyndon Johnson. One war criminal paid tribute to another.

He spoke at his Austin-based Presidential Library and Museum. He did so commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

His words rang hollow. The New York Times called his speech "stirr(ing)." It stopped short of denouncing his duplicity. More on what he said below.

America's human and civil rights record is by far the world's worst. No other nation matches its lawlessness. None approach it.

It's by far the world's most unprincipled. It's responsible for virtually every crime imaginable and then some.

It's police state than democracy. It's more battleground than homeland.

Lawless FBI, CIA, NSA, FEMA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Border Patrol, and other federal operatives work jointly with state and local authorities. 

They target fundamental freedoms. They harm their own people.

Anyone can be arrested, charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned for any reason or none at all. US citizens at home or abroad can be murdered. Obama can order them killed by presidential diktat.

Others can be arrested and detained. They can be held indefinitely. They can be thrown into military dungeons. They can be denied civil justice. They can be held uncharged.

Innocence is no defense. State terrorism is official policy at home and abroad. Police states operate this way. America is by far the world's worst.

Freedom, human rights, and other democratic values don't matter. Supporting right over wrong is hazardous. 

Challenging Washington's right to dominate globally risks persecution or death. America is unfit to live in. Things go from bad to worse.

Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Rogue governance defines his agenda. Humanity may not survive on his watch.

On July 2, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Officially it's called:

"An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes."

It was more feel good than do good. Objectives fell short of promise. They were more hype than reality. They weren't achieved. Things today are worse than ever in modern times.

On June 11, 1963, Jack Kennedy called for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public…"

He included "hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments." He urged "greater protection for the right to vote."

Segregationists kept legislation from being enacted. Bottling it up in committee works as intended.

Kennedy's November 22, 1963 assassination changed things. Johnson was a former Senate Majority Leader. He was a powerful mover and shaker.

He wielded bully pulpit power as president. He supported civil and voting rights legislation. On November 27, 1963, he told Congress:

"No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."

Enactment of legislation he sought followed. Designed to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin fell woefully short.

Powers enacted were weak. They remain so. Equal protection under law is more fantasy than real. It's a figure of speech.

Millions of persons of color bear witness. Muslims in America at the wrong time know the sting of US injustice. They're persecuted for praying to the wrong God. Constitutional protections don't help.

Johnson's July 2, 1964 statement rang hollow. He called signing the Civil Rights act a "proud triumph."

"Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom," he said. 

They died for imperial lawlessness. More than ever today. Johnson didn't explain. Nor presidents following him.

"Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities," he said. For America's rich, well-born and able alone. 

"Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders," he added. 

It's selectively given. America has the best democracy money can buy.

"We believe that all men are created equal," said Johnson. "Yet many are denied equal treatment."

The vast majority do today. A select few benefit. They do so at the expense of all others.

"We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights," said Johnson. 

"Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights." Overwhelming numbers enjoy few today. 

Freedom is an endangered species. It's disappearing in plain sight. Tyranny is on a fast track toward replacing it. International, constitutional and US statute laws don't matter.

Democracy is pure fantasy. A year after civil rights legislation passed, the Voting Rights Act followed. On August 6, 1965, Johnson signed it into law.

It nominally supports 15th Amendment protections. They prohibit federal or state governments from denying citizens voting rights based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

On February 3, 1870, it was ratified. Fulfillment didn't follow promise. Nor from the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

US voting rights were constitutionally flawed by design. America's founders enfranchised adult white male property owners only.

Laborers were excluded. So were women. They were considered homemakers and child-bearers alone. Slaves were called property, not people. 

Native Americans, free Black men, apprentices, felons, and persons considered incompetent were denied.

From inception to today, US elections were never open, free and fair. Big money controls them. Electoral fraud is rife.

Things are pre-scripted. Voters have no say. Secrecy and back-room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process.

Candidates are pre-selected. Monied interests own them. Key outcomes are predetermined. America is a one-party state.

Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime's worth of difference separates them.

Independent candidates are shut out. Media scoundrels ignore them. 

Issues mattering most are unaddressed. Horse race journalism and trivia substitute.

Millions of Americans are disenfranchised. Criminal records alone exclude many. Effort to suppress minority voters are rife.

Half of eligible voters opt out. They do so because interests they most care about go unaddressed. 

Because candidates from either party don't care. Because corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic voting machines are rigged.

They're programmed using secret software. They're easy to manipulate. They steal elections.

They provide no receipts. Excluding them prevents vetting. Opponents end up with voter choices. Losers are declared winners.

Partisan politics serves privileged elites. Democracy is pure illusion. It's a figure of speech. It bears repeating. Americans get the best one money can buy. 

Supreme Court rulings affirmed it. One dollar = one vote. Deep pockets cast many. It's the American way. It shams the right way.

Commemorating civil rights legislation ignores today's deplorable conditions. Duplicitous Obama rhetoric highlighted the disgraceful state of the nation. He called expressing them "a singular honor."

Doors "swung open for" him, he said. "That's why I'm standing here today," he added. 

"…I have lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts." He spoke at the end of a three-day summit. It commemorated civil rights law. Carter, Clinton and GW Bush spoke earlier. 

None connect to popular struggles. Jim Crow never touched their lives. Human and civil rights eroded on their watch. 

So did other fundamental freedoms. They did nothing to prevent it. They support wealth, power and privilege. Ordinary people don't count. People of color least of all.

Clinton signed the repressive 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) into law. It violates constitutional protections. 

It compromises habeas rights. It limits judicial relief. It assured more capital punishment for innocent victims. 

Nearly always, people of color, Muslims, or others among society's most disadvantaged are affected.

Clinton lied calling AEDPA "an important step forward in the federal government's continuing efforts to combat terrorism."

Its enactment had nothing whatsoever to do with it. International or homegrown terrorism is a ruse.

Clinton said he requested legislation after Oklahoma City. On April 19, 1995, a massive explosion destroyed its downtown Murrah Federal Building.

It killed 168 people. Hundreds more were injured. A 16-block area was affected. Over 300 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Elgin Air Force Base's Armament Wright Laboratory studied the incident. No single truck bomb caused it. 

Former director/explosives and ordnance expert/(Ret.) Brig. General Benton K. Partin was in charge. His report was damning. In part it said:

"Indeed, a careful examination of photographs showing the collapsed column bases reveal a failure mode produced by (internally installed) demolition charges and not by a blast from (a) truck bomb" as claimed.

Additional forensic evidence showed other devices were involved. Official reports suppressed what happened. 

Lies substituted for truth. It's longstanding US practice. So-called terror plots are state-sponsored. 9/11 is Exhibit A.

Bush administration police state laws followed. Civil and human rights were targeted. They were eviscerated.

Patriot Act legislation alone gutted Fifth and 14th Amendment due process rights.

First Amendment ones eroded. Anyone can be wrongfully accused. Prosecutions can claim membership in, association with or support for so-called "undesirable groups."

Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures no longer exist. Unchecked surveillance was authorized.

Powers include accessing personal financial, medical and other records. So-called "sneak and peak" searchers are OK.

"Delayed notice" warrants were approved. Warrantless searches became standard practice.

So were roving wiretaps, email and text message tracking, as well as Internet and telecommunications monitoring.

Prosecutions include secret evidence withheld from defense counsel. It's officially OK. It's common police state practice.

Guilt by accusation follows. For the first time, so-called "domestic terrorism" became a federal crime.

Virtually none exists. Numerous innocent victims were charged. They languish unjustly in America's gulag. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other political prisoners do so.

Patriot Act legislation began things. Other harsh measures followed. Homeland Security is America's Gestapo. 

It operates ruthlessly. It does so extrajudicially. It targets innocent victims. It lies calling them terrorists.

Military commission legislation gutted civil protections. It grants extraordinary power to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged terrorists extrajudicially.

It legalized torture. Bush made it official US policy. It continues under Obama. He exceeded the worst of all his predecessors.

He presides over a repressive police state apparatus. Big Brother watches everyone. Mass surveillance is official US policy.

Fake war on terror persists. Rule of law principles don't matter. Nor democratic values. Human and civil liberty violations are rife.

Administration policies are the most secretive in US history. Whistleblowers are ruthlessly targeted. Exposing government lawlessness was criminalized.

So is protesting for fundamental constitutional rights. Tyranny is official US policy. Executive diktats can declare martial law. 

Constitutional law can be suspended. It can be abolished altogether. Federal troops can be deployed against ordinary people.

Peaceful protests are endangered. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legislation authorized indefinite detentions. 

Anyone can be held without charge or trial. Solely based on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all is OK.

Presidents have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens. They can target anyone they wish. They can do it extrajudicially.

No one is safe. Due process, civil protections, and judicial fairness don't apply. Abuse of power replaced them. Obama endorses them.

He mocks legitimacy. He governs lawlessly. His duplicitous civil right rhetoric rings hollow. His agenda bears witness to his lies.

'No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson," he said . 

"He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required."

"Those of us who've had the singular privilege to hold the office of the presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and it can be slow, frustrating. And sometimes you're stymied." 

"You're reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions of those who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully vindicate your vision." 

"But the presidency also affords a unique opportunity to bend those currents by shaping our laws and by shaping our debates, by working within the confines of the world as it is, but also by reimagining the world as it should be."

Obama's demagoguery wore thin long ago. Duplicity substitutes for truth. His deplorable record speaks for itself. He's a world class con man.

He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. Throughout is tenure, he waged war on freedom.

He's gone all-out to destroy it altogether. He deplores equity and justice for all. He's beholden solely to monied interests.

He supports wealth, power and privilege. He's mindless of popular needs. He trashed human and civil rights throughout his tenure.

He represents the worst of rogue governance. His agenda is state terrorism writ large. His worst crimes go unpunished. 

He's got nearly three more years left in office. Humanity may not survive his onslaught.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

TRI Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Prohibit Police Practice of Routinely Carrying Out Warrantless...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Challenging the practice by police of routinely searching cell phones of individuals who have been arrested, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare these warrantless cell phone searches an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. Insisting that cell phone digital data represents […]

Likening NSA Surveillance to Abusive Colonial-Era General Warrants, TRI Asks Appeals Court to Declare...

Likening the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic spying program to a modern-day incarnation of the abusive colonial-era general warrants and writs of assistance which prompted the Framers of the U.S. Constitution to adopt the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, The Rutherford Institute has asked the United States Court of Appeals for the […]

New York Ending Stop and Frisk?

New York Ending Stop and Frisk?

by Stephen Lendman

Stop-and-frisk is longstanding New York City policy. It's blatantly racist. It targets Blacks and Latinos. It's unconstitutional.

It violates privacy rights. In 2012 alone, nearly 700,000 people were affected. Ray Kelly was New York's longest serving police commissioner. 

He served from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2013. He lied calling stop and frisk effective. Clear evidence proves otherwise. 

The vast majority of those stopped are innocent victims. They're targeted based on race and ethnicity. They committed no crimes.

On January 30, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said:

"We're here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city."

"We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men."

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) initiated a federal class action lawsuit against New York City. Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. challenged "NYPD's practices of racial profiling and unconstitutional stop-and frisks."

CCR called its class action New York's "trial of the century." It cut to the very heart of discriminatory police practices. It was "part of a larger citywide movement" to end them.

It said "(n)o court case is more important to the future of New York City." Police accountability is long overdue. It remains to be seen what's forthcoming.

Last August, US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a landmark decision. 

Her 195-page ruling was scathing. She said NYPD "adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling."

"The New York City Police Department ("NPPD") made 4.4 million stops between January 2004 and June 2012." Personal lives were wrongfully "interrupted."

Doing so "violated their constitutional rights in two ways:

(1) they were stopped without a legal basis in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and

(2) they were targeted for stops because of their race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Scheindlin held top city and NYPD officials liable for constitutional violations. She accused them of willful indifference.

They turn a blind eye to flagrant racial discrimination, she said.

In November, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Judge Scheindlin's ruling. They didn't reverse it. 

They ordered Floyd reassigned to a new district court judge. CCR responded, saying:

"We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case."  

"The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Scheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals." 

"That, unprompted, they should reassign the case from a judge deeply steeped in the issues for the last 14 years, who gave the City every opportunity to defend itself in the course of this litigation, is troubling and unprecedented."

That was then. This is now. On January 30, CCR headlined "City of New York and Center for Constitutional Rights Announce Agreement in Landmark Stop and Frisk Case."

"With Questions of Law Settled, Next Phase of Charting NYPD Reforms to Begin," saying:

"After 14 years of litigation and decades of community action, plaintiffs' counsel and Mayor" de Blasio reached agreement.

Appealing Judge Scheindlin's ruling was withdrawn. Floyd v. NYC seeks long denied injunctive relief. At stake is ending unconstitutional racial profiling. It's doing it once and for all.

It remains to be seen what follows. If past is prologue, hold the cheers. At Thursday's press conference, "the focus was squarely back on reforming the police department," said CCR.

According to its Executive Director Vincent Warren:

"Today is the beginning of a long-overdue process: the reform of the NYPD to end illegal and racially discriminatory policing." 

"For too long, communities of color have felt under siege by the police, and young Black and Latino men have disproportionately been the target." 

"We are glad to have reached an agreement with the City and commend Mayor de Blasio for promising to drop the appeal and embracing reform. We are eager to finally begin creating real change."

CCR want a court-appointed independent monitor. Someone with impeccable civil and human rights credential. Someone to hold NYC police and administrative officials accountable.

Judge Scheindlin so-ordered. Under terms reached with city authorities, a monitor will be appointed. A three-year term will be served.

At stake is New York "substantially complying with the remedies," said CCR. "(T)he parties will begin the process for stakeholder input as soon as the paperwork is completed."

Lead CCR attorney Darius Charney said:

"We look forward to working with the communities directly affected on the streets every day to come up with solutions that protect the rights of all New Yorkers."

Plaintiffs' co-council Johathan Moore added:

"This agreement to drop the appeal in this case vindicates the findings by judge Scheindlin and provides the opportunity for the NYPD to reform policies and practices that the district court found unconstitutional." 

"However, the agreement is only the beginning. All the parties have much work ahead to implement remedies that will bring meaningful change to the NYPD."

It won't happen easily. It won't be quickly. Racism in America is embedded. It's longstanding. It's institutionalized.                                                             
Hundreds of thousands of victimized Blacks and Latinos languish unjustly in America's gulag. They comprise two-thirds of America's 2.4 million prison population.

Most are nonviolent. Many committed no crimes. Many others committed offenses too small to matter. Just societies call misdemeanors. Minor at most penalties follow. Imprisonment is verboten. 

Not in America. Criminal injustice reflects longstanding policy. 
America's most vulnerable are victimized by judicial unfairness, get tough on crime measures , three strikes and you're out, mandatory minimums, racist drug laws, and guilt by accusation.

Long-term imprisonment is commonplace. Harsh conditions persist. In her book titled "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," Michelle Alexander discussed it, saying:

"Any movement to end mass incarceration must deal with (it) as a racial caste system, not (a method) of crime control." 

"We need an effective system of crime prevention and control in our communities, but that is not what the current system is." 

"(It's) better designed to create crime, and a perpetual class of people labeled criminals, rather than to eliminate crime or reduce the number of criminals."

New York's 1973 Rockefeller drug laws are ruthlessly pernicious. Anyone convicted of selling two ounces or more of heroin, morphine, "raw or prepared opium," cocaine, or cannabis faces mandatory 15-year sentences.

Longer-term ones range up to life in prison. Possessing four ounces of these substances mandates the same sentences. 

America's war on drugs has nothing to do with crime control. It targets people of color. It's filling prison beds.

It's Jim Crow writ large. It's fundamentally about control. "Racial caste is alive and well in America," says Alexander.

Justice is color-coded, not blind. More Blacks are imprisoned, on probation, or parole than were enslaved in pre-Civil War days.

More are disenfranchised than before 15th Amendment rights prohibited voting based on race.

Black children are less likely to be raised by both parents than during slavery days. Mass imprisoning Black fathers bears much responsibility.

One in three Black males spends some portion of their lives in prison. Many are considered felons for life. In Chicago, it's nearly 80%.

A permanent underclass exists. Fundamental rights are denied. They include disenfranchisement, exclusion from juries, loss of public benefits, and compromised access to education and proper healthcare.

In 1971, Nixon declared war on drugs. He did so to shift focus. He wanted attention off his disastrous Southeast Asian war. He wanted the subject changed.

He made so-called drug abuse a federal crime. He instituted mandatory sentencing. He got no-knock warrants authorized. 

He filled prison beds. He began destroying a generation of Black and Latino male youths. Reagan continued where he left off. "Just Say No" instituted zero tolerance.

Incarceration numbers skyrocketed. They jumped from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 in 1997. Blacks and Latinos were disproportionately targeted. They still are.

Democrats compete with Republicans. They're out to prove who's tougher. Clinton boasted about no one able to call him "soft on crime."

His policies increased America's prison population hugely. He exceeded all presidents in US history. 

He waged war on Black America. He targeted Latinos the same way. He banned convicted drug felons from public housing. He denied them food stamps for life.

Jim Crow never died. It thrives. All decades earlier civil rights gains were lost. They were shaky to begin with. They were more myth than reality.

Conditions today are worse than when MLK was assassinated. His dream was a convenient illusion. 

Caste system inequality is institutionalized. It's a longstanding racial nightmare. Will New York cops turn a new leaf?

Will hardcore commanders order it? Will they enforce it? Will Mayor de Blasio? Will other city authorities? Will their counterparts across America?

Will Blacks and Latinos be treated fairly? They never were before. It takes a giant leap of faith to expect change. 

It's hard believing a new dawn in New York. It's hard believing it anywhere across America. 

It's hard believing MLK's dream coming true. Maybe some day little boys and girls of all colors will grow up to be brothers and sisters. Maybe some day those of color will be "free at last." 

Maybe everyone will enjoy rights being systematically destroyed. Maybe America will be fit to live in. Another world is possible. It's worth going all out to achieve.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Reactions to Obama’s NSA Address

Reactions to Obama's NSA Address

by Stephen Lendman

Hundreds of Stop Watching Us activists protested outside the Justice Department. They did so before he spoke.

They wore STOP SPYING glasses. They held signs saying "Stop Spying on Us." "Big Brother In Chief." "Obama = Tyranny." 

CODEPINK members were there. On Thursday, co-founder Medea Benjamin said:

"Though President Obama is scheduled to lay out reforms for the NSA spying program, we have little reason to believe they will be sufficient of implemented."

"The intelligence agencies in the US are totally out of control - from mass dragnet spying, to killing by remote control…" and it's time for transparency and accountability."

Bill of Rights Defense Committee executive director Shahid Buttar said:

"Despite pledging to stop Bush era abuses, President Obama has repeatedly chosen to leave the NSA free to monitor the American people en masse." 

"More than any other issue, his administration's complicity in mass surveillance will come to define its legacy."

It's certain unless he "chooses to finally support reforms like the USA FREEDOM Act, which would end bulk collection, and start a longer process needed to remove the officials caught lying to Congress, and fix the broken secret FISA court process."

Clearly, he has no intention of doing it. A same day article said the worst of business as usual will continue.

Skepticism and then some followed Obama's address. Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner said:

"I didn't expect a lot, but I think we got almost nothing in terms of actually reining in what I call this national surveillance state."

"We have a right to privacy." Not according to Obama. "So you have this vast surveillance apparatus."

"And then you have a speech that basically lauds the people who are spies, talks about them really as, oh, they're your neighbor. They don't want to do anything wrong to you. They're only out to protect you."

His address was a shameless PR stunt. It was smoke and mirrors. It was long on rhetoric. It was short on substance. It delivered empty promises. 

It was filled "with a lot of BS about oversight (and) transparency," said Ratner. It was "completely meaningless."

Obama wants us to trust the government "which we've shown can't (be) trust(ed)."

Former Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson called Obama's address "disappointing, but not surprising."

"It is simply not realistic to expect the federal government to voluntarily relinquish powers it has granted itself, even when (they're) unconstitutional."

"And when the government has convinced itself that it is OK to sweep up the phone calls, texts and emails of hundreds of millions of Americans, it is no surprise that the President is not really proposing to change anything."

TechFreedom president Berin Szoka said Obama's "speech will probably be remembered most for the much-needed reforms it didn't announce."

Law Professor Jonathan Turley called Obama's address "a nothing burger served hot and with a sympathetic smile."

"It was much of the same. Another review board composed of government officials. Another promise for the Executive Branch to review itself."

"I was underwhelmed. It seemed like another attempt to reinvent privacy in a new surveillance friendly image."

Mass surveillance "will continued and the intelligence community will retain its authority with little outside independent limits."

Obama's reform is "basically 'trust us, we're your government' (including a reminder that NSA people are your neighbors)."

His speech was "more spin than substance." It was typical Obama.

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) said Obama's "proposed reforms (far) short of what is needed, particularly in terms of actionable solutions."

CDT director Greg Nojeim said:

"(W)e were disappointed in (Obama's) failure to offer a clear path forward on (vital) reforms."

His "proposed changes do not fully address the fundamental problem of bulk collection of personal metadata and fail to adequately protect the rights of people around the world."

Partnership for Civil Justice Fund co-founders Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard said:

"Rather than dismantling the NSA's unconstitutional mass surveillance programs, or even substantially restraining them, President Obama today has issued his endorsement of them."

"The speech today was 'historic' in the worst sense. It represents a historic failure by a president to rein in mass government illegality and violations of fundamental rights."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said Obama's so-called reforms have "have a long way to go. Now it's up to Congress and courts" to act.

EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said:

"Mass non-targeted surveillance violates international human rights law." 

"It is disproportionate because it sweeps up the communications and communications records of million of innocent people first and only sorts out second what is actually needed."

"(T)he NSA must be forbidden from engaging in mass, untargeted surveillance in the US or abroad." 

ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said:

Obama's "decision not to end bulk collection and retention of all Americans' data remains highly troubling."

Glushko-Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic staff lawyer Tamir Israel said:

"Protecting foreigners' privacy rights" is essential. Recognizing it "in principle is unhelpful, as (Obama's) Directive leaves the US foreign intelligence apparatus' capacity to indiscriminately spy on all the activities of all foreigners all the time largely untouched."

Privacy International Legal Director Carly Nyst said:

"The reforms proposed by President Obama fundamentally ignore those who are spied on simply because they don't have an American passport." 

"We need genuine, effective changes that account for the way the world now communicates. Secret international intelligence-sharing arrangements must come to an end and human rights must be properly guaranteed to humans, not just American citizens."

Amnesty International executive director Steven Hawkins said:

"The big picture takeaway from today's speech is that the right of privacy remains under grave threat both here at home and around the world."

Access executive director Brett Solomon said:

"The human right to privacy is universal. The rights of persons outside of the United States are as fundamental as the rights of U.S. citizens." 

"However, the President’s defense of ongoing overseas intelligence collection programs ensures that the citizens of the world will continue to be subject to mass surveillance."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called Obama's speech "embarrassing." He spoke "for almost 45 minutes and sa(id) almost nothing."

"He's been very reluctant to make any concrete reforms, and unfortunately, today we see very few" presented.

On January 17, London's Guardian headlined Obama NSA reforms receive mixed response in Europe and Brazil," saying:

"Europeans were largely underwhelmed by Barack Obama's speech on limited reform of US espionage practices, saying the measures did not go far enough to address concerns over American snooping on its European allies."

NSA supporters loved Obama's speech. House and Senate intelligence committee chairpersons Rep. Mike Rogers (R. MI) and Diane Feinstein (D. CA) issued a joint statement, saying:

"Today President Obama gave a strong speech in defense of the need to collect and use intelligence in order to protect the nation and to prevent terrorist attacks around the world." 

"We strongly agree with his comments in support and praise of the professionals in our intelligence community who do this work while upholding the civil liberties and privacy rights of all Americans."

Democrats largely supported Obama's speech. Republicans offered mixed reactions. Speaker John Boehner said:

"I look forward to learning more about how the new procedure for accessing data will not put Americans at greater risk." 

"And the House will review any legislative reforms proposed by the administration." It "will not erode the operational integrity of critical programs that have helped keep America safe."

Senator Rand Paul dissented strongly, saying:

"The Fourth Amendment requires an individualized warrant based on probable cause before the government can search phone records and e-mails." 

"I intend to continue the fight to restore Americans' rights through my Fourth Amendment Restoration Act and my legal challenge against the NSA. The American people should not expect the fox to guard the hen house."

The Financial Times called Obama "defiant on US surveillance activities."

Wall Street Journal editors said he delivered "a conflicted address…His new anti-terror proposals will do little to secure American privacy but they might make the country less safe."

New York Times editors support the worst of Obama's policies. They praised his speech. It "was in large part an admission that he had been wrong," they said.

He "announced important new restrictions on the collection of information about ordinary Americans…He called for greater oversight of the intelligence community..."

He "acknowledged that intrusive forms of technology posed a growing threat to civil liberties." At the same time, "his reforms (lacked) specifics..."

Calling "on Congress to create a panel of independent advocates (is) a huge improvement" over current practice.

Times editors largely defended the worst of lawless mass surveillance. They left rule of law principles unaddressed. They ignored America's fast track toward tyranny. They betrayed their readers in the process.

The Chicago Tribune defended Obama saying:

His "proposals outlined Friday are modest enough to give Americans some confidence that their privacy will be better protected without creating a greater risk to their security."

Los Angeles Times editors called Obama's "NSA reforms a significant step."

His "overarching theme...was that, with the best of intentions, the government over which (he) presides has gone too far in taking advantage of advanced technology."

He must "restore the proper balance between security and privacy."

Since mid-2013, the Washington Post discussed Snowden documents in detail. Numerous articles explained how NSA violates personal privacy.

Unless Obama acts to change current policy, intrusive "programs will carry on unabated," said WaPo.

Obama tried putting lipstick on a pig. Expect nothing substantive ahead to change. Washington is a cesspool of lawlessness. Things are worse than ever now.

Congress and federal courts are in lockstep with the worst  administration policies. Rule of law principles don't matter. 

Government by diktats threatens everyone. Freedom is fast disappearing. It's happening in plain sight. 

Obama did more to destroy it than any previous president. It takes a giant leap of faith to think he'll reverse things.

He waged war on democratic values. He did so from day one in office. He's a duplicitous con man. He broke every major promise made. 

He wants Americans to trust him. He gives chutzpah new meaning. He intends business as usual. 

Sustained in-his-face public outrage is the only chance to stop him. Inertia so far keeps it contained.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Obama Fans Aren’t even Pretending That Was a Good Speech

President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment on Friday, and not even his fans are proclaiming victory.  In this moment when Obama is actually doing one thing I agree with (talking to Iran), more and more people seem to be slowly,...

Rand Paul v. NSA Spying

Rand Paul v. NSA Spying

by Stephen Lendman

He's Kentucky's junior senator. He's leading a class-action lawsuit. He's filing it in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

It's against the Obama administration's mass surveillance program. He urged everyone "to stop Barack Obama's NSA snooping on the American people."

His lead lawyer is former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli. He's acting as a private individual, not a US senator. More on this below.

Paul is a right-wing Republican. He's a Tea Party favorite. He's anti-populist and corporatist. 

He prioritizes national defense. He does it at a time America's only enemies are ones it invents. At the same time, he's against preemptive wars.

Last summer he said:

"I believe individuals and countries can and should defend themselves, but I simply can’t imagine Jesus at the head of any army of soldiers, and I think as Christians we need to be wary of the doctrine of preemptive war." 

"We must and should stand with our fellow Christians in the Middle East and around the world, but that does not necessarily mean war and it certainly does not mean arming sides in every conflict."

At the same time, he said:

"If we were to cut somewhere else in the budget, I would try to restore some money to the military."

He opposes drone warfare against Americans. Last March, he filibustered for 13 hours. He did so against nominating John Brennan as CIA director. 

"Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil," he asked? "The answer to that is no," he said.

Paul voted against the FY 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts. He did so because of provisions permitting Obama to order US citizens arrested and indefinitely detained on his say alone for any reason or none at all.

Ralph Nader says differences between him and his father "are ones of personality, policy and opportunism."

He's a 2016 presidential aspirant. His politics run counter to mainstream America. He "declines to challenge the (corporate managed trade) autocratic systems of transnational governance," said Nader.

On the one hand, he stresses constitutional preamble "we the people" language. On the other, he supports bloated military budgets, corporatism, cutting vital social benefits, and other anti-populist policies.

According to Nader:

"Corporatism, Empire, militarism, the big Wall Street Banks, crony capitalism and the unlawful, repressive national security bureaucracy" define the measure of the man. 

Paul supporters and others have cause for concern. Would he send his own children to fight US imperial wars? Indeed so, saying:

"If the military action is justified and there is no other recourse, I will cast my vote with a heavy heart."

Arguably America had no just cause ever throughout its history. Its war of independence repackaged Crown rule under new management. Everything changed but stayed the same.

Wilson pledged to keep America out of WW I. Straightaway he went all-out for involvement. Roosevelt manipulated Japan to attack. 

Doing so gave him the war he wanted. He had to convince Congress and a pacifist public. Pearl Harbor worked as planned.

So do false flags. They're longstanding US practice. They began in the 19th century. They repeated through 9/11. Every post-WW II war America waged was lawless. So do current direct and proxy ones.

Nuremberg Charter and Principles call them supreme crimes against peace. Paul has much to answer for. 

Supporting lawlessness means complicity with high crimes. At the same time, he believes wars require Congress declaring them. 

Shamefully he ignores UN Charter provisions. The Security Council alone has final say on whether one country may attack another. It's permitted only in self-defense.

Paul endorses wars on "radical Islam." It's not "go(ing) quietly into that good night," he claims. He includes Iran as a prime target. 

Doing so ignores Tehran's longstanding peace agenda. It hasn't attacked another country in centuries. It threatens none now.

He uses incendiary rhetoric like "our enemies." It bears repeating. America's only ones it invents. Not according to Paul, saying:

"Until we understand the world around us, until we understand at least a modicum of what animates our enemies, we cannot defend ourselves and we cannot contain our enemies."

He calls "Iran developing nuclear weapons...the most pressing (issue) of the day." No matter that its nuclear program is peaceful. No evidence whatever suggests otherwise.

"I have voted for Iranian sanctions in the hope of preventing war and allowing for diplomacy," he said. "War should never be our only option," he added.

He's a pro-Israeli loyalist. America shouldn't meddle in its settlement construction program, he says. It's "none of our business." He ignores Palestinian rights. Their longstanding grievances don't matter.

Last year he visited Israel. "I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America," he said.

At the same time, he opposes foreign aid. He wants Washington's annual multi-billion dollar Israeli package significantly reduced. 

"The biggest threat to our nation right now is our debt," he says. He wants it cut at the expense of ordinary Americans. 

He's waging war on social justice. He wants Social Security and Medicare privatized. He wants retirement eligibility age raised.

He's for cutting Medicaid and other vital social safety net protections. He wants Washington out of the business of helping ordinary people entirely.

He supports flat over progressive taxation. He wants capital gains, dividends and other investment income taxes eliminated.

He wants US resources benefitting Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites and privileged elites. He's against the Constitution's General Welfare clause.

Article I, Section 8 states:

"The Congress shall have power to...provide for (the) general welfare of the United States."

It means "We the People." It includes everyone equitably. It means what never was, isn't now, or won't ever be under a system Paul supports. It favors privilege, not fairness.

Democracy in America is the world's greatest scam. It's government of, by and for privileged elites. 

Nader once called it "government of the Exxons, by the General Motors for the Duponts." It's polar opposite popular interests. It's run by rogues, scoundrels and crooks. 

It mocks legitimacy. Monied interests decide who'll serve. Ordinary people have no say. Democratic values don't matter. It's the way it's always been. It's worse than ever now.

Congress permits war on humanity. It's waging it at home and abroad. It's destroying America's social fabric. Police state justice is official policy. Lawless spying reflects it.

On January 3, Paul told Fox News why he's filing suit, saying:

"The question here is whether or not, constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people." 

"So we thought, what better way to illustrate the point than (by) having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign up for a class action suit."

Six months ago, he began collecting signatures. Anyone with a cell phone or connected online can join it.

"We're hoping...we can get a hearing in court, and ultimately get this class-action lawsuit, I think the first of its kind on a constitutional questions, all the way to the Supreme Court," he said.

He's targeting the Obama administration. "We want them to protect the fourth amendment. We want them to protect the right to privacy," he said. 

"We think we can have security, that we can defend against terrorism, but that doesn't mean that every single American has to give up their privacy."

On December 16, his web site headlined "Sen. Paul Applauds the Protection of Fourth Amendment Rights," saying:

"I commend US District Court Judge Richard Leon for upholding and protecting our Fourth Amendment rights." 

"This decision represents an important first step in having the constitutionality of government surveillance programs decided in the regular court system rather than a secret court where only one side is presented." 

"In June, I introduced the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act which, if enacted, would have restored our Constitutional rights and declared that the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause." 

"The NSA phone surveillance program is a blatant abuse of power and an invasion of our privacy." 

"This ruling reminds the Federal government that it is not above the law. I will continue to fight against the violations of American's Constitutional rights through illegal phone surveillance until it is stopped once and for all."

RANDPAC is Paul's political action committee. "Stand With Rand," it headlines. "Join the Class Action Lawsuit."

"Wanted: Ten Million Americans to Sue to Take Back Our Rights."

"I'm outraged," said Paul, "and I'm going to do everything I can to END this madness."

"That's why I've asked Internet providers and phone companies to join me in a class-action lawsuit to STOP Barack Obama's NSA from snooping on the American people."

According to an unnamed senior Paul staffer:

Since he floated his class-action lawsuit last June, hundreds of thousands of people volunteered online as possible plaintiffs.

The ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as conservative activist Larry Klayman and Charles Strange filed other suits earlier.

Fighting Washington and winning rarely happens. Judge Leon granted Klayman and Strange a preliminary injunction. He ordered the Obama administration to stop collecting their phone data.

At the same time, he stayed his ruling. He cited potential "significant national security interests at stake."

He gave Obama's Justice Department time to appeal. His decision applies only to plaintiffs. It doesn't affect mass NSA surveillance. Odds favor reversing him on appeal.

Expect America's Supremes to have final say whether on this case or another. It's too important an issue for them not to address. 

It's highly unlikely they'll side with justice. Right-wing judges deplore it. They control federal courts. 

Supremes are pro-business, pro-war, pro-privilege and anti-populist. Right over wrong faces long odds.

NSA spying is longstanding. It's been ongoing for decades. It takes a giant leap of faith to think individual, group or class-action lawsuits will stop it.

Justice isn't Washington's long suit. Nor fairness. Nor doing the right thing. Rogue states don't embrace these values. 

America is by far the worst. For sure it's the most dangerous. It threatens world peace, equity and justice. Mass surveillance is one of many ways.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/rand-paul-v-nsa-spying/

ACLU v. Clapper Ruling

ACLU v. Clapper Ruling

by Stephen Lendman

A previous article said the following:

On June 11, the ACLU filed suit. It challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records."

It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying: 

"Because the NSA's aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment." 

"The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity."

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215. It's known as the "business records" provision. 

It permits collecting "any tangible thing...relevant" to alleged foreign intelligence or terrorism related investigations. It way oversteps. It's unconstitutional. 

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy. 

It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what's happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It does so by authorizing the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.

"Whatever Section 215's 'relevance' requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans," said ACLU.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorized surveillance relating to "foreign intelligence information" between "foreign powers" and "agents of foreign powers." 

It restricts spying on US citizens and residents to those engaged in espionage in America and territory under US control. 

No longer. Today anything goes. America is a total surveillance society. Obama officials claim no authority can challenge them.
Governing this way is called tyranny.

On December 16, Federal District Court of the District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon ruled against NSA spying.

He called it "almost Orwellian" and much more, saying:

"The threshold issue is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephone metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes, and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets."

"I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary' invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval." 

"Surely, such a program infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment." 

It's core constitutional law. It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Mass NSA surveillance does it lawlessly.

It has nothing to do with national security. Claims otherwise ring hollow. America spies for control. It does so for economic advantage. Espionage is longstanding policy.

Corporate secrets are stolen. So are political ones. Top foreign government and business officials are spied on. Virtually everyone is fair game.

Domestic spying is longstanding. It's unconstitutional. It doesn't matter. Two federal judges disagreed. If ACLU appeals to the Supreme Court, it'll likely lose.

It's stacked with right-wing extremists. Five current justices are Federalist Society members: Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.

Elena Kagan is ideologically sympathetic. As dean of Harvard Law School, she hired Bush's outgoing Office of Legal Counsel director, Jack Goldsmith. Francis Boyle called him a war criminal.

Kagan bragged about putting him on staff. Boyle quoted her saying she "love(s) the Federalist Society." It's ideologically over-the-top. It's extremely right-wing.

With these type justices on America's High Court, ordinary people haven't a chance. Nor judicial fairness.

In September 2012, Congress overwhelmingly passed the 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act. 

Obama signed it into law. He called doing so a national security priority. He lied. It reflects police state lawlessness. It extends the 2008 FISA Amendments Act (FAA). It's for another five years.

It authorizes warrantless spying. It does so without naming names or probable cause. It violates Fourth Amendment protections. 

Overseas phone calls, emails, and other communications of US citizens and permanent residents may be monitored without authorization. Perhaps domestic ones covertly. 

Probable cause isn't needed. Anything goes is policy. Constitutional protections don't matter. Police states operate this way.

ACLU lawyers filed suit. It passed through lower courts to the Supremes. In October 2012, High Court justices heard oral arguments. Clapper v. Amnesty International challenged the constitutionality of warrantless spying.

On February 26, the Supreme Court ruled. It dismissed ACLU's case. It violated constitutional protections doing so. 

It ruled against lawyers, journalists, human rights groups, and others challenging protections too important to lose.

It said they couldn't prove surveillance was "certainly impending." They didn't have required standing to sue, they claimed. 

Saying so was absurd on its face. It's a standard never before used. Imposing it denies the legitimate right to sue. Doing so reflects police state justice.

It wasn't the first time fundamental rights were denied. It won't be the last. Warrantless electronic spying is intrusive. It's institutionalized.

Congress approves. So does Obama. America's Supremes violated the public trust. They've done it many times before. They'll do it again. Lawless NSA spying is safe in their hands.

In ACLU v. Clapper, Judge William Pauley heard arguments. ACLU called for the program to be ended. Ahead of the hearing, its legal director, Jameel Jaffer, said:

"This vast dragnet is said to be authorized by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, but nothing in the text or legislative history of that provision remotely suggests that Congress intended to empower the government to collect information on a daily basis, indefinitely, about every American’s phone calls."

"This kind of dragnet surveillance is precisely what the fourth amendment was meant to prohibit."

"The constitution does not permit the NSA to place hundreds of millions of innocent people under permanent surveillance because of the possibility that information about some tiny subset of them will become useful to an investigation in the future."

ACLU argued against blanket seizure of its phone records. Doing so violates its core constitutional rights. It compromises its ability to work with journalists, advocacy groups, whistleblowers and others.

It claimed standing because NSA has access to its phone records. It didn't matter. Judge Pauley rejected its challenge. He called mass NSA surveillance legal.

He called it a valuable tool against terrorism. He said it "only works because if collects everything." He either lied or doesn't understand what's going on.

He claimed meta-data collection "represents the government's counter-punch" against Al Qaeda's terror network.

"The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented," he said.

Mass phone data collection "significantly increases the NSA's capability to detect the faintest patterns left behind by individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations." 

"Armed with all the metadata, NSA can draw connections it might otherwise never be able to find."

Without them, he claimed, "the civil liberties of every citizen" would be "imperil(ed)." 

"The question for this court is whether the government's bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This court finds it is." 

"But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of government to decide."

Judge Pauley nonsensically said mass telecommunications surveillance could have perhaps prevented 9/11.

"The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world," he claimed.

"It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program - a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data."

It bears repeating. NSA mass surveillance has nothing to do with national security. Pauley knows nothing about spying. His ruling reads like an NSA press handout. His legal judgment leaves much to be desired. 

Most other federal judges are no better. Police state lawlessness remains in good hands. Judge Leon is an exception who proves the rule. 

He's an unheard voice in the wilderness. We need lots more to make a difference. We need them throughout the judiciary. 

We need them on the highest court in the land. We need them in all government branches. We need what we don't have.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/aclu-v-clapper-ruling/

Federal Judge Rules Against Mass Surveillance

Federal Judge Rules Against Mass Surveillance

by Stephen Lendman

On December 16, Federal District Court of the District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon issued a damning 68-page ruling. He called NSA spying unconstitutional. It's "almost Orwellian," he said.

"The threshold issue is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephone metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes, and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets."

"I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary' invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval." 

"Surely, such a program infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment." 

It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Doing so violates core constitutional law. Mass NSA surveillance does it writ large.

It has nothing to do with national security. America's only enemies are ones it invents. NSA spies globally. It watches everyone. It monitors allies. It's about control. 

It's for economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.

Domestic spying is longstanding. It's institutionalized. It's unconstitutional. It doesn't matter. Nothing before was done to stop it. Judge Leon took an important first step

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer commented on his ruling, saying:

"This is a strongly worded and carefully reasoned decision that ultimately concludes, absolutely correctly, that the NSA’s call-tracking program can’t be squared with the Constitution."

"As Judge Leon notes, the government's defense of the program has relied almost entirely on a 30-year-old case that involved surveillance of a specific criminal suspect over a period of two days."

"The idea that this narrow precedent authorizes the government to place every American under permanent surveillance is preposterous."

"We hope that Judge Leon's thoughtful ruling will inform the larger conversation about the proper scope of government surveillance powers, especially the debate in Congress about the reforms necessary to bring the NSA's surveillance activities back in line with the Constitution."

"The bipartisan USA Freedom Act, which has 130 co-sponsors already, would address the constitutional problems that Judge Leon identifies."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls the proposed measure "a substantial improvement to America's laws regarding mass surveillance."

At the same time, it's "a floor, not a ceiling." It addresses a small portion of NSA abuses and "overreaching government secrecy."

It leaves important unfinished business. EFF endorses passage. Lots more needs to be done, it stressed.

Judge Leon's ruling marks the first successful NSA legal challenge. Conservative activist Larry Klayman and Charles Strange filed suit (Klayman v. Obama). Strange's son was killed in Afghanistan.

Months earlier, ACLU filed a similar suit (ACLU v. Clapper). It challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records."

It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying: 

"Because the NSA's aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment." 

"The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity."

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215. It's known as the "business records" provision. 

It permits collecting "any tangible thing...relevant" to alleged foreign intelligence or terrorism related investigations. It way oversteps. It's unconstitutional. 

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy. 

It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what's happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It does so by authorizing the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.

"Whatever Section 215's 'relevance' requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans," said ACLU.

On November 22, US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge William Pauley heard arguments. He hasn't yet ruled.

Judge Leon granted plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. He ordered the Obama administration to stop collecting their phone data. 

He ruled whatever it currently has must be destroyed. At the same time, he stayed his ruling. He cited potential "significant national security interests at stake."

He gave Obama's Justice Department time to appeal. He said his decision applies only to plaintiffs. It doesn't affect NSA's mass data-mining.

At the same time, his ruling is an important first step. For years, he said, constitutional issues were adjudicated under "a cloak of secrecy."

He referred to the unaccountable FISA court. It's virtually rubber-stamp. It mocks judicial fairness and legitimacy. 

Judge Leon's ruling is an important step in the right direction. "While Congress has great latitude to create statutory scheme like FISA," he said, "it may not hang a cloak of secrecy over the Constitution."

EFF called his decision "historic." Ruling for Klayman and Strange symbolically condemns mass surveillance.

Obama's Justice Department relies on two Supreme Court rulings. In Miller v. United States (1976), the Supreme Court ruled:

"The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the obtaining of information revealed to a third-party and conveyed by him to Government authorities, even if it is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence placed in the third-party will not be betrayed." 

The Court added that information revealed to another source "takes the risk (of being) conveyed" to someone else.

In Smith v. Maryland (1979), the High Court extended the so-called third party doctrine to telephone communications. 

It said in "expos(ing) that information" to phone company equipment, individuals "assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers dialed."

In US v. Jones (2012), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged the need to update Fourth Amendment protections, saying:

"People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers, the URLS that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers, and the books, groceries and medications they purchase to online retailers." 

"I would not assume that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection."

In United States v. US District Court (the so-called Keith case) (1972), a unanimous Supreme Court ruling upheld Fourth Amendment protections in cases involving domestic surveillance targeting a domestic threat.

Judge Leon addressed Smith v. Maryland, saying:

"The question before me is not the same question that the Supreme Court confronted in Smith." It's "a far cry from the issue in this case."

He differentiated between then and now. Obtaining limited information on one person is vastly different from daily mass surveillance. He was blunt stating:

"This short-term, forward looking (as opposed to historical), and highly-limited data collection is what the Supreme Court was assessing in Smith." 

"The NSA telephony metadata program, on the other hand, involves the creation and maintenance of a historical database containing five years' worth of data." 

"And I might add, there is the very real prospect that the program will go on for as long as America is combatting terrorism, which realistically could be forever."

"Admittedly, what metadata is has not changed over time." 

"As in Smith, the types of information at issue in this case are relatively limited: phone numbers dialed, date, time, and the like." 

"But the ubiquity of phones has dramatically altered the quantity of the information that is now available, and more importantly, what that information can tell the Government about people’s lives."

"Put simply, people in 2013 have an entirely different relationship with phones than they did thirty-four years ago."

"Whereas some may assume that these cultural changes will force people to 'reconcile themselves' to an 'inevitable' 'diminution of privacy that new technology entails,' I think it is more likely that these trends have resulted in a greater expectation of privacy and a recognition that society views that expectation as reasonable."

In other words, privacy intrusions today are simple. They happen with digital age technology ease. Greater diligence is required to protect rights too important to lose. 

Courts and Congress are obligated to do so. Judge Leon's ruling represents an important first step in the right direction. Lots more needs to be done.

A Final Comment

Edward Snowden issued a statement. He praised Judge Leon's ruling, saying:

"I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts." 

"Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans. rights. It is the first of many."

Separately, he offered to help Brazil investigate harmful NSA spying. He'll do it in return for permanent political asylum. He said so in an open letter to all Brazilians. Folha de S. Paulo published it. 

It's a Brazilian daily broadsheet. Snowden in part said:

"I've expressed my willingness to assist where it's appropriate and legal, but, unfortunately, the US government has been working hard to limit my ability to do so." 

"Until a country grants me permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak out."

Brazilian senators asked Snowden for help. He's willing to provide it.

"I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded." 

"That's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under."

It remains to be seen if Brazil takes him up on his offer. Snowden urged it, concluding:

"If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/fedeeral-judge-rules-mass-surveillance/

NSA Mass Monitoring Cell Phone Calls Globally

NSA Mass Monitoring Cell Phone Calls Globally

by Stephen Lendman

On December 5, the Washington Post broke the story. It headlined "NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show."

Doing so enables tracking individual movements. It maps their relationships. It does it in "previously unimaginable" ways.

NSA maintains a vast database. It's called FASCIA. It "stores information (on) locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices…"

New efforts analyze data collected. Doing so reflects mass global surveillance. NSA claims it doesn't target Americans willfully. It lied saying so.

"Incidental" whereabouts alone are tracked, it claims. WaPo said the term "connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result."

Previous articles explained how NSA operates lawlessly. It does so globally. It targets Americans. It does it willfully. It collects phone records of millions of AT&T, Verizon and other telecommunications company customers.

It taps into central servers of nine or more US Internet companies. Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and others willingly cooperate.

Audio, video, photos, emails, text messages, and other personal information is collected. Doing so lets NSA track individual movements and contacts over time.

According to retired NSA/US Air Force/Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency analyst-turned whistleblower Russell Tice:

What's ongoing "is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined."

It's been widely known for years. Little was revealed publicly. Pervasive spying is much worse than suspected.

Snowden released documents and others reflect the tip of the iceberg. Expect lots more revelations ahead. Newly revealed WaPo information is the latest.

An unnamed senior NSA collection manager said "we are getting vast volumes" of location data worldwide.

It's gotten by tapping into cables connecting global cell networks. They serve US cell phones and foreign ones.

Additional data is collected from "tens of millions of Americans" traveling abroad annually. According to WaPo:

"In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June." 

"Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among the people using them."

NSA wants global privacy eliminated. It wants total electronic information access. It wants it in America and abroad. 

It wants it everywhere. It wants it no matter who or where you are. It's well on the way to getting it.

NSA lies claiming mass surveillance is lawful. Robert Litt is Office of the Director of National Intelligence general counsel. 

He lied claiming "no element of the intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone location information about cellphones in the United States."

Its most powerful analytic tools are collectively called "CO-TRAVELER." It enables bulk collections. It involves more than location information.

A portrait of travel times and people whose paths crossed is gotten. Doing so reveals physical interactions and relationships. It lets NSA know who we're with, where and when.

CO-TRAVELER permits looking for "unknown associates of known intelligence targets," said WaPo. It does so by "tracking people whose movements intersect."

Privacy advocates call aggregated location data over time uniquely sensitive. Sophisticated mathematical techniques are used.

They let NSA analysts map cell phone user relationships. They do so by correlating their movement patterns over time. They do it with up to millions of other cell users crossing their path.

Cell phones "broadcast their locations" even when not in use. Carrying one on your person tracks where you're going.

CO-TRAVELER and related tools involve methodically collecting and storing location data on "a planetary scale," said WaPo.

People are monitored in "confidential business meetings." Their medical, financial, and other private spaces are tracked.

Privacy practically no longer exists for anyone communicating electronically.

Chris Soghoian is principal ACLU technologist. "One of the key components of location data, and why it's so sensitive, is that the laws of physics don't let you keep it private," he said.

Emails can be encrypted, he added. Online identities can be disguised. "(T)he only way to hide your location is to disconnect from our modern communication system and live in a cave."

Vast NSA data more than doubles Library of Congress print material. It's growing exponentially. It's so vast, it's "outpacing (its) ability to ingest, process and store" what's gotten. NSA is upgrading to greater capacity. 

Three US Democrat senators expressed concern. Ron Wyden (OR), Mark Udall (CO) and Barbara Milulski (MD) introduced a 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment.

It requires US intelligence agencies to say whether they ever collected or plan obtaining location data on "a large number of United States persons with no known connection to suspicious activity."

Americans tracked globally can't be determined from Snowden documents alone. Senior intelligence officials declined to estimate.

They claim no way to do it. Why not wasn't explained. An intelligence agency lawyer was cited. He doesn't respect constitutional law.

He claimed cell phone data monitoring doesn't violate Fourth Amendment rights. They protect against unlawful searches and seizures. 

Warrantless privacy invasions constitute gross Fourth Amendment violations. According to WaPo:

"(T)op secret briefing slides (show) NSA pulls in location data around the world from 10 major 'sigads,' or signals intelligence activity designators."

"A signad known as STORMBREW relies on two unnamed corporate partners." They're codenamed ARTIFICE and WOLFPOINT.

Both companies administer NSA "physical systems (interception equipment). 'NSA asks nicely for tasking/updates.' "

"STORMBREW collects data from 27 telephone links." They're called OPC/DPC pairs. They refer to originating and destination points.

They transfer traffic from one internal network to another. Cell tower identifiers are included. They're used to identify phone locations.

"The agency's access to carrier networks appears to be vast," WaPo explained. Computer and Information Science Professor Matt Blaze said:

"Many shared databases, such as those used for roaming, are available in their complete form to any carrier who requires access to any part of it."

"This 'flat' trust model means that a surprisingly large number of entities have access to data about customers that they never actually do business with, and an intelligence agency - hostile or friendly - can get 'one-stop shopping' to an expansive range of subscriber data just by compromising a few carriers."

NSA's location tracking capability is "staggering," added WaPo. It renders most communication security efforts "effectively futile."

Analytical tools map date, time, and location of cellphones. Patterns or significant overlap movements are monitored.

Other tools compute cell devices' speed and trajectory. Information gotten overlays electronic data on transportation maps. Likely travel time is determined to show which devices may have intersected. 

This report and previous ones reflect out-of-control NSA spying. It persists at home and abroad.

Thousands more Snowden documents remain to be released. Expect added proof of NSA lawlessness.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawsuits pressed courts to prohibit warrantless searches. Rulings were split.

In 2008, the Third Circuit US Appeals Court held that federal magistrates may require warrants based on probable cause. They may do so before permitting monitoring of phone location records.

Fifth and Sixth Circuit Court rulings approved warrantless seizures. The Supreme Court hasn't yet addressed the issue. It's important enough to do so. It's right wing judges may provide no relief.

At the same time, an earlier High Court ruling prohibited planting GPS devices on cars without warrants. It stopped short deciding whether warrantless tracking violates Fourth Amendment rights.

A Final Comment

On December 6, Russia Today (RT) headlined Sweden 'spied on Russian leaders for US.' "

Sweden's National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA) is involved. It monitors electronic communications.

FRA declined to comment. Its communications head, Anni Bolenius, said:

"We do in general have international cooperation with a number of countries, which is supported in Swedish legislation, but we do not comment on which ones we cooperate with."

Sweden's Sveriges Television (SVT) broke the story. Nils Hanson was involved. He's chief editor of SVT's "Mission: Investigate."

He told RT that FRA/NSA collaboration isn't new. "(N)ow we can show documents proving this relationship," he said.

Snowden provided them. "Sweden's 'cable access' made its position 'unique' in the eyes of the NSA," said RT. 

Sweden's FRA signal intelligence agency is a key NSA partner. According to one Snowden document:

"The FRA provided NSA unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics." NSA bosses were told to:

"Thank Sweden for its continued work on the Russian target, and underscore the primary role that FRA plays as a leading partner to work the Russian Target, including Russian leadership and counterintelligence."

"FRA's cable access has resulted in unique SIGINT reporting on all of these areas."

FRA authorization involves tracking "external threats" potentially affecting Sweden. It secret Defense Intelligence Court issues permits.

Targeting Russian leaders reflects doing so at NSA's behest. It suggests exceeding FRA's remit. 

Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials aren't threats. FRA has lots of explaining to do. Perhaps Moscow will demand answers.

Last April, Voice of Russia cited Julian Assange saying FRA intercepts 80% of Russian Internet traffic. It sells it to the NSA. 

It's further proof of Swedish/US collaboration against Russia. It shows hostile intent. It targets a friendly neighbor.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/nsa-mass-monitoring-cell-phone-calls-globally/

ACLU v. Clapper

ACLU v. Clapper

by Stephen Lendman 

On June 5, London's Guardian headlined "NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily."


Numerous reports followed based on information Edward Snowden revealed. He connected important dots for millions.

Institutionalized spying on Americans isn't new. It's longstanding. Little was revealed publicly. Too few people knew. It's far more invasive than most suspect. Core constitutional rights are violated.

On June 11, the ACLU filed suit. It challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records."

It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying: 

"Because the NSA's aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment." 

"The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity."

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215. It's known as the "business records" provision. 

It permits collecting "any tangible thing...relevant" to alleged foreign intelligence or terrorism related investigations. It way oversteps. It's unconstitutional. 

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy. 

It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what's happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It does so by authorizing the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.

"Whatever Section 215's 'relevance' requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans," said ACLU.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorized surveillance relating to "foreign intelligence information" between "foreign powers" and "agents of foreign powers." 

It restricts spying on US citizens and residents to those engaged in espionage in America and territory under US control. 

No longer. Today anything goes. America is a total surveillance society. Obama officials claim no authority can challenge them.  Governing this way is called tyranny.

The 2008 FISA Amendments Act authorized warrantless spying. The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed doing so for another five years.

Phone calls, emails, and other communications are monitored secretly without court authorization. 

Probable cause isn't needed. So-called "foreign intelligence information" sought means virtually anything. Vague language is all-embracing.

Hundreds of millions of Americans are targeted. Major telecom and Internet companies cooperate. They do so willingly. They were granted retroactive immunity.

All three branches of government are involved. They're complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Congressional leaders are regularly briefly. Bipartisan ones are fully on board. So are US courts. 

In 2008, the ACLU challenged the FISA Amendment's Act constitutionality. It did so on behalf of a broad coalition of human rights groups, attorneys, labor, legal and media organizations.

Their work requires them to communicate with people worldwide. In 2009, a federal judge dismissed the suit. It did so claiming ACLU's clients couldn't prove their communications were being monitored.

In 2011, an appeals court reversed the ruling. The Obama administration appealed to the Supreme Court. In October 2012, it heard oral arguments.

On February 26, 2013, it ruled 5 - 4 against ACLU. It held its plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge warrantless spying.

On November 22, London's Guardian headlined "NSA bulk data collection violates constitutional rights, ACLU argues."

It did so in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge William Pauley heard arguments. ACLU called for the program to be ended. Ahead of the hearing, its legal director, Jameel Jaffer, said:

"This vast dragnet is said to be authorized by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, but nothing in the text or legislative history of that provision remotely suggests that Congress intended to empower the government to collect information on a daily basis, indefinitely, about every American’s phone calls."

"This kind of dragnet surveillance is precisely what the fourth amendment was meant to prohibit."

"The constitution does not permit the NSA to place hundreds of millions of innocent people under permanent surveillance because of the possibility that information about some tiny subset of them will become useful to an investigation in the future."

ACLU argued that blanket seizure of its phone records violates its constitutional rights. Doing so compromises its ability to work with journalists, advocacy groups, whistleblowers and others.

It argued it has standing because Washington has access to its phone records. Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery claimed otherwise.

ACLU has no standing, he said, because it can't prove NSA surveillance harmed its activities, members or clients.

"The program is carefully calibrated for the purpose of" counterterrorism, he claimed. He lied saying it's "not the kind of indiscriminate use of the data that the plaintiffs suggest."

He said congressional intelligence committees were fully briefed. Pauley was skeptical. He cited "veteran congressman" Representative James Sensenbrenner (R. WI).

He submitted an amicus brief. It said "he had no idea of what was happening" when he voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act's Section 215.

Delery argued that sweeping NSA surveillance is constitutional. Not according to ACLU lawyer Alex Abdo. Sustained/sweeping invasion of its privacy violates its Fourth Amendment rights, he said.

Jaffer argued that if current NSA practices continue, authorization other than from Section 215 may permit bulk collection of virtually everything, everywhere, for any claimed reason.

"The Supreme Court has admonished many times that the Congress doesn't hide elephants in mouse-holes," he said. "I think that's what the government is proposing here."

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is a Washington-based public interest research center. It focuses on civil liberties issues. It's dedicated to protecting privacy rights.

On November 18, it headlined "Supreme Court Declines EPIC's Challenge to NSA Domestic Surveillance Program, Leaves in Place Order of Surveillance Court."

EPIC argued against a secret FISA court order requiring Verizon to give NSA access to all its customer records. Doing so exceeded its legal authority, it said.

"It is simply not possible that every phone record in the possession of Verizon is relevant to a national security investigation," it stressed. The High Court rejected its argument without explanation.

Expect more challenges ahead. Shareholder pressure groups want telecom companies to provide more information on what they provide NSA.

Trillion Asset Management and New York State Common Retirement Fund filed motions. They call for AT&T and Verizon to disclose more about their "metrics and discussion regarding requests for customer information by US and foreign governments."

In February 2012, NSA's five page document explained its "SIGINT (signals intelligence) Strategy." It said US laws don't meet its needs.

It explained a four year strategy to "aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age."

"The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on NSA's mission," it stressed.

It wants unrestricted mass surveillance authority. It wants to be able  to collect data from "anyone, anytime, anywhere." It'll decrypt codes intended to keep personal information private.

It intends to "revolutionize" analysis of data it collects. It wants to "radically increase (its) operational impact."

It doesn't clarify what legal or policy changes it may seek. Its powers are nominally granted by Congress, executive authority and the FISA court.

It already operates extrajudicially. It has broad latitude to do so. It's report argues for more flexibility. It wants greater than ever sweeping authority. It wants to "dramatically increase its mastery of the global network."

An NSA statement said:

"NSA's Sigint strategy is designed to guide investments in future capabilities and close gaps in current" ones. 

"In an ever-changing technology and telecommunications environment, NSA tries to get in front of issues to better fulfill the foreign-intelligence requirements of the US government."

Critics like ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, EPIC and others cite core constitutional rights violations. Modern technology facilitates police state lawlessness.

Everyone is vulnerable. There's no place to hide. Freedom is fast disappearing. Alleged security concerns ring hollow. They're cover for what's too precious to lose.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/aclu-v-clapper/

Appeals Court Stays Stop and Frisk Ruling


Appeals Court Stays Stop and Frisk Ruling

by Stephen Lendman

Stop and frisk is longstanding NYPD policy. It reflects brazen racial profiling. It affects hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino New York city residents annually.

No evidence proves it's effective. Plenty shows it's racially motivated. It violates core constitutional rights. It's one of many abusive practices.

On August 12, US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a landmark ruling. It was scathing.

She said NYPD "adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling." Doing so violates "violated their constitutional rights in two ways:

(1) they were stopped without a legal basis in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and

(2) they were targeted for stops because of their race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Limits on stops are "paramount," she said. They must "be based on 'reasonable suspicion' as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States."

They must "be conducted in a racially neutral manner."

"The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table."

"No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life."

"Those who are routinely subjected to stops are overwhelmingly people of color, and they are justifiably troubled to be singled out when many of them have done nothing to attract unwanted attention."

Equal protection under the law is fundamental, said Scheindlin. "The Constitution prohibits selective enforcement based on considerations such as race."

Judge Scheindlin acted responsibly. It doesn't matter. According to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, she "ran afoul" of the judiciary's code of conduct.

She did so, it said, by compromising the "appearance of the impartiality surrounding this litigation."

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) initiated a federal class action lawsuit against New York City. Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. challenged "NYPD's practices of racial profiling and unconstitutional stop-and frisks."

CCR called Floyd New York's "trial of the century." It cut to the very heart of discriminatory police practices. CCR sued to end them.

On October 29, it headlined "Attorneys Urge Appellate Court to Reject City's Attempt to Delay Remedial Process." 

They urged the court to affirm the stopping of "unconstitutional stop and frisk practices." Judge Scheindlin ordered input from community stakeholders most affected.

She did so to determine just and proper remedies. None so far were ordered. NYPD's stop and frisk policy violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. It states:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

In other words, stopping and frisking someone requires reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed. Indiscriminate police actions are unconstitutional.

Former Supreme Court Justice William Douglas once warned against giving "police greater power than a magistrate." Doing so, he said, "is to take a long step down the totalitarian path."

Federal courts today have few like Douglas. The Supreme Court has none. It's stacked with Federalist Society members.

They include Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas. They're ideological extremists. So are most appeals court justices.

In response to Judge Scheindlin's ruling, CCR issued the following statement:

"The court has correctly recognized that thousands of New Yorkers whose rights are violated regularly by the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices - and not the City itself - are the ones who would be harmed by this latest attempt to delay reforms."  

"After more than a decade of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory police practices, overwhelming legislative support for changes, and a massive mobilization by affected communities, it is long past time for the City to end its resistance and participate in making those changes."  

"If Mayor Bloomberg truly seeks a police force that serves New Yorkers, here is his opportunity - come to the table and help make it a reality."

On October 29, CCR urged appellate court justices to reject this attempt to reverse Floyd.

For over a decade, New York resisted reforms. Abusive stop and frisk policies continued. According to CCR Senior Staff Attorney Darius Charney:

"Delaying the joint remedial process will only continue to harm the communities who have suffered massive violations of their constitutional rights for so long: it is in the community's interest that we begin the discussion without further delay."

CCR added that "(n)umerous city community groups, faith healers, unions, and policing experts submitted declarations." 

They affirmed that delaying the remedial process harms city interests. In 2012, New York city's population exceeded 8,300,000. Blacks and Latinos comprise a majority (around 55%). 

They have the most to gain or lose. Floyd gives them protection they haven't had for years. It's high time they got it. 

Not according to hard right appellate court justices. They acted irresponsibly. They stayed Judge Scheindlin's ruling. They didn't reverse it. They ordered Floyd reassigned to a new district court judge. 

Ironically its John Koeltl. In 2006, he unjustly sentenced Lynne Stewart to 28 months in prison. She was convicted despite having committed no crimes.

On appeal, her case was remanded back to Koeltl. He disgracefully increased her sentence to 10 years.

Lynne today suffers from Stage 4 cancer. She's dying. She's denied life-saving treatment. Koeltl denied her compassionate release request. 

Imagine how he'll treat New York city Blacks and Latinos. With as much disdain as shown Lynne seems likely.

At the same time, he was instructed to put off "all proceedings and otherwise await further action."

The appeals court hasn't yet ruled on whether Judge Scheindlin's decision reached the right constitutional conclusion.

"We intimate no view on the substance or merits of the pending appeals," it said. The process extends into 2014. By then, New York will have a new mayor.

Democrat Bill de Blasio looks likely to win. Polls show he's far ahead of his Republican opponent. He issued a statement saying:

"We have to end the overuse of stop and frisk, and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect."

If elected, it remains to be seen if his policy matches his rhetoric. He can simply order the practice stopped.

CCR said the following the Second Circuit's ruling:

"We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case."  

"The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Scheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals." 

"That, unprompted, they should reassign the case from a judge deeply steeped in the issues for the last 14 years, who gave the City every opportunity to defend itself in the course of this litigation, is troubling and unprecedented."

According to NYPD's own internal records, around 90% of stop and frisk victims are innocent. They're unjustly targeted. Violating their constitutional rights raises serious concerns.

It's one of many abuses minority Americans endure. It reflects a slippery slope toward totalitarian injustice.

On October 31, New York's ACLU vowed to appeal. It issued a statement saying:

"The New York Civil Liberties Union this afternoon promised to fight a federal appeals court's decision postponing the remedy proceedings in New York City’s stop-and-frisk abuse case." 

"The decision, issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, did not overturn the landmark ruling that the NYPD's abuse of stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional."

NYCLU's Executive Director Donna Lieberman added: 

"There is overwhelming evidence that the stop-and-frisk regime is unconstitutional and out of control - just ask any black or brown New Yorker." 

"We expect the next mayoral administration to make reforming stop-and-frisk a top priority, and we are confident New York City will soon see a day when all New Yorkers' basic rights are protected and respected."

New York Times editors weighed in. They took a principled stand. Most often they're irresponsible on imperial lawlessness and other major issues. They headlined "A Bad Ruling on Stop-and-Frisk," saying:

The Second Circuit Court acted "unwise(ly)." It stayed Judge Scheindlin's ruling. (I)t overreached in taking the extraordinary step of removing (her) from the long-running litigation."

It mischaracterized her responsible ruling. It added insult to injury by alleging "she created the 'appearance of impropriety' by granting press interviews while the case was pending before her."

She had every right to do so. At the same time, she avoided discussing Floyd. She defended herself against a malicious city smear campaign. "I know I'm not their favorite judge," she said.

"I do think that I treat the government as only one more litigant. I don't think they're entitled to deference."

"I think some of the judges are a little more timid to maybe disagree with the US attorney's office."

"They have to prove their case like anybody else. I don't give them special respect. Maybe some judges do because they came from the office. They know the people there, whatever. I try not to do that."

She called targeting her judicial independence a "below the belt attack." Reports that Mayor Bloomberg ordered it made it worse, she added.

"It's very painful," she stressed. "Judges can't easily defend themselves" publicly. "To attack a judge personally is completely inappropriate and intimidates (them) or it is intended to intimidate (them) or it has an effect on other judges and that worries me."

At times, "(y)ou could be in danger physically," she added. Maybe New York cops will target her. Maybe they'll be ordered to do so.

According to Times editors:

"Judge Scheindlin did not strike down the program, which, when properly used, is an important crime-fighting tool." 

"But she sensibly ordered the city to use it in a manner that does not discriminate against minorities and that complied with constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure."

"Under the Fourth Amendment, police officers can legally detain people on the street when there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime." 

"In addition to violating people's rights, the program, as practiced for years in New York, undermined trust in the Police Department in black and Hispanic communities throughout the city."

"Given all the damage done by this program, the next mayor should end this saga by withdrawing the city's appeal and instituting the cogent reforms laid out by Judge Scheindlin."

Most often Times editors act irresponsibly. Give credit where it's deserved. This time they stood tall. 

Judge Scheindlin deserves high praise for ruling justly. Implementing her important reforms should proceed straightaway. 

New York's most disadvantaged deserve that much and more. It remains to be seen whether any justice will be forthcoming. So much already is lost nationwide.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/appeals-court-stays-stop-frisk-ruling/

Merkel in NSA’s Crosshairs


Merkel in NSA's Crosshairs

by Stephen Lendman

Nations spying on each other is longstanding. Friends do it on foes. Allies do it on each other.

Washington's Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Israel "conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally."

The Pentagon accused Israel of "actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States."

US national security officials consider Israel at times a genuine counterintelligence and espionage threat. France perhaps feels the same way about America. Add Germany to the list.

On October 24, the Washington Post headlined "Germans launch probe into allegations of US spying."

Reports about NSA listening to her phone calls is the latest diplomatic row. Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned US ambassador John Emerson to explain.

"For us, spying on close friends and partners is totally unacceptable," he said. "This undermines trust and this can harm our friendship. We need the truth now."

Merkel said "trust needs to be reestablished" with Washington.
German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere called what's gone on "really bad. We can't simply return to business as usual."

White House press secretary Jay Carney lied saying:

"The US is not monitoring and will not monitor communications of the chancellor."

At the same time, he added:

"We are not going to comment publicly on every specified, alleged intelligence activity." 

"And, as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations." 

"We have diplomatic relations and channels that we use in order to discuss these issues that have clearly caused some tension in our relationships with other nations around the world, and that is where we were having those discussions."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf lied claiming Washington isn't involved in "some big dragnet." What's ongoing "are intelligence activities…with a defined purpose," she said.

"We want to make sure that we’re striking the proper balance between the legitimate security concerns and countering legitimate security threats, and protecting the privacy that all people around the world think is important, and we certainly do as well."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is a confessed perjurer. He admitted lying to Congress about NSA spying. On October 22, he said:

"Recent articles published in the French newspaper Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding US foreign intelligence activities."  

"The allegation that the National Security Agency collected more than 70 million “recordings of French citizens’ telephone data” is false."

"While we are not going to discuss the details of our activities, we have repeatedly made it clear that the United States gathers intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."  

"The US collects intelligence to protect the nation, its interests, and its allies from, among other things, threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

"The United States values our longstanding friendship and alliance with France and we will continue to cooperate on security and intelligence matters going forward."

Merkel is currently under fire for mishandling earlier reports about NSA spying. According to German Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Peter Schaar:

"The report that the chancellor's mobile phone was also tapped shows how absurd the attempt was to end the debate about the surveillance of everyday communications in this country."

"In light of the new revelations, it was downright irresponsible not to have pushed harder to get to the truth."

Schaar referred to German Chancellery chief of staff Ronald Pofalla's August statement. At the time, he downplayed clear evidence about NSA targeting Germany and other EU nations.

Green Party parliamentary floor leader Anton Hofreiter demanded Merkel "make public what she knew and when."

Does she or doesn't she know NSA monitors her cell phone calls? Publicly she calls it a "grave breach of trust."

Other EU leaders expressed outrage. They threatened to delay trade negotiations. European parliament president Martin Schulz said:

"This is a moment when we should pause and think over how the free trade pact is being approached. For us, a line has been reached." US intelligence agencies are "out of control."

German officials launched an official investigation. On Wednesday, Merkel spoke to Obama. He lied saying Washington "is not monitoring and will not monitor" her communications.

Major Italian newspapers said a parliamentary committee was told Washington monitored internal telecommunications, emails and text messages.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta raised the issue with John Kerry. The Secretary of State lied saying Obama's goal was striking a balance between security and privacy.

Foreign leaders protest too much. They know more than they admit. Official outrage is mostly for domestic consumption. Allies spying on each other isn't new. 

According to former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner:

"Let's be honest. We eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don't have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous."

At the same time, security expert Constanze Stelzenmueller said there's a "general assumption that certain kinds of people were off limits."

"No one has a problem with spying on the bad guys. But when you start spying on your partner in leadership, who is presumably not a terrorist, that raises a lot of questions about trust."

London's Guardian said "(w)ith each leak, American soft power hemorrhages, and hard power threatens to seep away with it."

Merkel is known as a frequent cell phone communicator. She often sends text messages that way.

Last summer, her upgrading it to a modified BlackBerry Z10 made national headlines.

On October 24, Der Spiegel headlined "Frenemies: Spying on Allies Fits Obama's Standoffish Profile," saying:

Diplomats aren't surprised about US spy agencies monitoring allies like Merkel. She and Obama aren't close friends. Obama "failed to foster close relationships with other heads of state," said Der Spiegel.

It "caus(ed) much frustration around the world."

"Complaints about Merkel's 'lost friend' are misplaced. Obama doesn't want to be a friend."

The atmosphere during a recent unnamed EU head of state Washington visit was called "frosty by those in the entourage." 

"Obama didn't find the time for even a little small talk. (I)t seemed to some like an appointment with a lawyer."

Obama was "initially uncomfortable" about Washington's so-called "special relationship" with Britain.

An unnamed African head of state remarked after visiting Washington that he longed for the days of George Bush. At least with him, he said, you knew where you stood.

Israel was upset that Obama didn't visit during his first term. He's upset other heads of state.

"So much non-diplomacy is new among US presidents," said Der Spiegel. Reagan wooed Margaret Thatcher.

GHW Bush confided in Helmut Kohl. Clinton was close to Tony Blair. GW Bush had "a whole team of 'buddies.' " He entertained them at his ranch.

In 2010, Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl said Obama has no close friends among world leaders. "But what for," asked Der Spiegel? "He has the NSA."

On October 23, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined "NSA Spying in Congress: Stop the Intelligence Committee and What to Watch for in Upcoming Bills."

Congress was busy during the 16 day government shutdown. Various NSA related bills are being considered. A "still secret" House and Senate intelligence one aims to continue unrestrained telecommunications monitoring.

It'll "likely provide some window dressing transparency, while shoring up the legal basis for the spying," said EFF.

Since Snowden's documents were released, House and Senate intelligence committee chairs Rep. Mike Rogers (R. MI) and Senator Diane Feinstein defended NSA spying.

"While we have opinions about what the best way forward is, the only sure way to not go backwards, or seal the status quo into stone, is to stop the bill currently in the works by the Intelligence Committee chairs," said EFF.

It wants congressional legislation enacted against mass spying. It should either reverse Patriot Act provision 215 or act in some other way.

Section 215 pertains to alleged suspects. It authorizes government access to "any tangible item." 

Its language is vague and deceptive. It permits meta-data-mining.
Virtually anything can be monitored. Warrantless searches without probable cause are authorized. 

Information obtained can include financial records and transactions, education and medical records, phone conversations, emails, other Internet use, and whatever else Washington wants access to.

At issue are serious constitutional violations. First and Fourth Amendment rights are compromised. Other constitutional protections are at risk.

Anyone can be spied on for any reason or none at all. No probable cause, reasonable grounds, or suspicions are needed.

Lawless practices need fixing, said EFF. FISA Court operations need curbing. Increased transparency is vital. Intrusive National Security Letters (NSLs) are troubling.

They've been around since the mid-1980s. Pre-9/11, they had more limited authority to secure records and other personal information on alleged terrorists and spies. 

The USA Patriot Act's Section 505 changed things. It permits expanded FBI's authority to obtain personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.

At issue only is claiming information sought relates to alleged terrorism or espionage investigations. No proof is needed.

Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private records can be obtained. 

Gag orders prevent targeted individuals or groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing exponentially. Doing so reflects police state tyranny.

Congressional action can change things. Legislation is being proposed to do so. Passage appears unlikely. Hardliners want status quo maintained. Future prospects look dim.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

New NSA Revelations


New NSA Revelations

by Stephen Lendman

NSA is one of 16 known US spy agencies. They're all up to no good. They violate core rule of law principles. 

They do whatever they want. They operate out-of-control. They're powers unto themselves. NSA reflects Big Brother writ large.

It operate globally. It's the world's biggest spy agency. It watches everyone. Advanced technology lets it go where no previous counterpart went before.

Privacy no longer exists. Congress ignores its lawlessness. Oversight is absent. NSA takes full advantage. 

Two Washington Post articles revealed more. They're based on documents Edward Snowden provided. Expect lots more disclosures ahead.

On October 14, WaPo headlined "NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally." Many belong to Americans.

"The collection program (hasn't) been disclosed before." Intercepts include email address books and so-called buddy lists.

They're from online instant messaging and/or cell phone text displays. They're lists people want to keep track of.

They show who's online or off, on but away from their computer, people with their phones on or off, and who's currently using them.

NSA collects contact lists in large numbers. They amount to a sizable portion of email/instant messaging accounts.

Data analysis lets NSA "search for hidden connections." It permits mapping relationships "within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets," said WaPo

In one day last year, "NSA's Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers."

These figures are typical. They repeat daily. They add up. They "correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year." .

NSA has access to about 500,000 buddy lists as well as huge numbers of web-based email accounts.

A previous article called NSA spying worse than you think. Rules followed are its own. 

It can monitor virtually everyone everywhere electronically. Doing so is unconnected to terrorism or other national security concerns.

Big Brother has lots of other Brothers watching. They're making a list. They're checking it twice. They know who's naughty or nice.

They read your emails. They know what web sites you visit. They know your medical and financial history.

They know the company you keep. They watch every move you make. They know what you do, where and when.

They know when you're sleeping. They know when you're awake. They know when you're bad or good. They know secretly. They know intrusively.

They know because they can go where no previous spy agencies went before. They exceed their capabilities. 

Perhaps one day they'll be able to anticipate things before they happen. Maybe they'll be able to read minds.

"(S)ecret arrangements with foreign governments or allied intelligence services" controlling online traffic permits collecting  buddy lists and emails, said WaPo.

Millions of Americans are affected. NSA won't say how many. Perhaps its tens of millions. NSA can target virtually everyone everywhere.

DNI spokesman Shawn Turner lied saying it's "focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers." 

"We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans."

False! It targets you, me, our neighbors, families and friends.

NSA collects virtually all telecommunication records. They gotten under a separate program. Director Keith Alexander defends the practice.

He lied calling it an essential counterterrorism/foreign intelligence tool, saying:

"You need a haystack to find the needle." He finds virtually none. So-called terror plots exposed were fake. Domestic ones virtually don't exist. What's claimed is fabricated.

It's done for political advantage. It generates fear. It justifies lawless NSA operations.

Online call lists provide "far richer sources of data than call records alone," said WaPo. 

Address books include email addresses, phone numbers, street locations, as well as business and personal information.

Combined they let NSA "draw detailed maps of a person's life." Doing so creates false impressions.

NSA isn't authorized to collect bulk contact lists. According to senior intelligence officials, doing so from US facilities is illegal.

NSA does what it wants anyway. It accesses information globally. When obtained from overseas, it assumes "you're not a US person," it claims.

Global sweeps target everyone. Americans are as vulnerable as foreigners. So-called "checks and balances built into (its) tools" don't exist or aren't used.

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215. It oversteps. It's unconstitutional. 

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates First Amendment rights. 

It does so by mandating secrecy. It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what’s happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It does so by authorizing the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. 

It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons. Doing so turns constitutional rights on their head. 

Separately WaPo headlined "Documents reveal NSA's extensive involvement in targeted killing program."

NSA claims it "focuse(s) on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets."

It does so, it says, to "protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Drone warfare makes more enemies than friends. Most deaths are innocent men, women and children. Few are so-called high-value targets.

In search for them, NSA "draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan," said WaPo.

Anything electronic can be tracked. NSA's secret Counterterrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC) is involved in doing it.

It focuses on hard-to-find terrorism targets. Considerable time and effort goes into doing it.

NSA's Alexander claims his mission is "noble." He lied again saying:

"Our job is to defend this nation and to protect our civil liberties and privacy."

He's way over-the-top out-of-control. He defends imperial lawlessness. He destroys civil liberties and privacy in the process.

Records indicate NSA "depends heavily on highly targeted network penetrations to gather information that wouldn’t otherwise be trapped in surveillance nets that it has set at key Internet gateways," said WaPo.

It assigned senior analysts to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. Others work alongside CIA counterparts. They do so at almost all major US embassy and overseas military bases.

According to a former US intelligence official:

It "you wanted huge coverage of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), NSA had 10 times the manpower, 20 times the budget, and 100 times the brainpower."

He compared NSA with CIA's Information Operations Center (IOC). 

"NSA relies on increasingly sophisticated versions of online attacks that are well-known among security experts." 

"Many rely on software implants developed by the agency's Tailored Access Operations division with code-names such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR."

Other methods are used. NSA obtains vast amounts of information. Its Tailored Access Operations division extends way beyond Pakistan.

It targets Yemen, African and other locations. Murder, Inc. is official Obama administration policy. US citizens are as vulnerable as foreigners.

Death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents are everywhere. They're licensed to kill. NSA secretly tracks suspects.

Summary judgment means no arrests. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just death by diktat.

Obama appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He decides who lives or dies. CIA chief John Brennan helps him choose.

With or without evidence, anyone called Al Qaeda or accused of terrorist connections gets marked for death.

NSA's job is find them. CIA's job is kill them. Only eliminating America's enemies matter. Whether real or imagined makes no difference. 

Everyone is fair game. Right or wrong is someone else's problem. Advancing America's imperium alone matters.

A Final Comment

On October 11, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court released a new legal opinion. It reauthorized NSA's collection of virtually all American made phone calls without warrants.

Doing so violates Fourth Amendment protection against lawless searches and seizures. It applies to all unreasonable intrusions.

Telecommunication call log meta-data must be approved every 90 days. Doing so is virtually rubber-stamp. Police states operate that way. America is by far the worst.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/new-nsa-revelations/

DHS Security Measures Rolled Out For Detroit Marathon

Measures include a “clear bag” policy for all runners

Mikael Thalen
StoryLeak
Oct. 18, 2013

The 36th Annual Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon, a 26 mile run crossing in and out of Canada, is expected to draw as many as 80,000 people this Sunday, as well as a massively heightened security presence.

RaceBagUsing the Boston Marathon bombing as rationale, multiple groups including the FBI, Homeland Security, Windsor Police and Border Patrol will implement new and increased security measures, affecting the event’s spectators and 27,000 marathon participants.

“I don’t think Boston did anything wrong. Again, it allows us that when a tragedy occurs, we get to debrief it; we get to look at what we could do better,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a public press conference Wednesday.

The new measures include a “clear bag” policy for all runners, a Homeland Security certified policy recently pushed on the NFL as well, also admittedly adopted in part as a response to the Boston bombing.

“They will not be able to carry bags along the race route. All of their valuables will be placed in a clear plastic bag and it will be synched with their bib number, and it will be kept in a safe area,” Police Comm. Renee Hall said.

Rules regarding specifically to spectators have been mostly “withheld” from the public, although a ban on backpacks and duffel bags has been issued. The Fourth Amendment will also be suspended during the event, with random bag searches being conducted by security personnel.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable that we’ve done everything we can to protect the runners, spectators and volunteers, but we can’t reveal details of our security operations,” Executive Race Director Rich Harshbarger said. “Doing so would compromise the ability to respond to emergency situations.”

A list of suggestions on the marathon website’s security section includes the expected “see something, say something” slogan, as well as a list of “helpful links” from Homeland Security. One presented document entitled “The Seven Signs Of Terrorism,” lists incredibly mundane and expected behaviors for a major public event.

Activities including using maps or binoculars, taking pictures, recording video or taking notes are presented as suspicious activity. Ironically, another document presented provides a printable “Response Checklist” which includes sections to “take notes” on suspicious packages.

While security is to be expected at any major event, the increasing federal presence and erosion of rights in public, under the guise of stopping terrorism, continues to be nothing more than security theater. Despite the fact that Americans are far more likely to die from bees stings and lightning than a terrorist attack, the federal government continues its demand for ever increasing surveillance powers over every citizen.

“What happened in Boston certainly raises your consciousness that we’re still very much in a terrorist rich environment,” Detroit police chief James Craig said, seemingly clueless to actual terrorism statistics.

While the Boston marathon is being used as justification for the new policies, eye-witness veteran marathon runner and track coach Ali Stevenson told Storyleak’s Anthony Gucciardi of the strange security surrounding Boston last April, including announced drills, bomb-sniffing dogs and roof spotters at the finish line, leading him to believe that police “must have known” but didn’t stop an explosive device. Both suspected bombers being known by the FBI and CIA since 2011 seem to be minor foot notes as well.

Just last May, attendees of Washington state’s Lilac Bloomsday Run experienced even stricter security as a border patrol plane circled above. Despite the event being almost 100 miles away from the border, the unconstitutional action was justified by the Boston bombing.

Given the FBI’s admission of stopping 17 domestic terror plots that they originally created and President Obama’s recent decision to waive federal law designed to prevent the US from arming terrorists, Americans are increasingly rejecting the trade off of liberty for “security,” especially when the government themselves internally admit the threat is almost non-existent.

This article was posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm

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ACLU in Federal Appeals Court Tuesday Arguing Against Warrantless GPS Tracking

PHILADELPHIA - March 18 - The American Civil Liberties Union will argue in federal appeals court tomorrow that the Constitution requires law enforcement to get a warrant from a judge before tracking people's cars with GPS devices.

In the case, the FBI – without a warrant – attached a GPS tracker to the vehicle of three men suspected of burglarizing pharmacies. Following the January 2012 Supreme Court ruling that doing so constitutes a "search" under the Fourth Amendment, the district court issued a decision suppressing the evidence produced by the location tracking.

The Justice Department appealed that ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing in part that even though attaching the device is a search, a warrant is not needed because of a rule called the "automobile exception." The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the lower court's opinion, joined by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"Just because a technology wasn't around when the Constitution was written doesn't mean that it's not covered," said Catherine Crump, the ACLU attorney who will argue Tuesday before a three-judge panel. "The fundamental privacy rights established by the Fourth Amendment require that police justify their actions and show probable cause to a judge before they can conduct invasive surveillance like constant location tracking. The 'automobile exception' was created so police could find contraband hidden in cars, not so they could monitor a person's movements nonstop for days or even months on end."

WHAT:
Oral argument in U.S. v. Katzin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The government has appealed the district court's decision granting the defendants' motion to dismiss evidence produced by a GPS tracking device that the FBI attached to their car without a warrant.

WHO:
Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project will argue before Judges D. Brooks Smith, Joseph A. Greenaway, and Franklin Stuart Van Antwerpen.

WHEN:
Tuesday, March 19, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE:
James A. Byrne Courthouse
601 Market Street, 19th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The ACLU's amicus brief is at:
aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/us-v-katzin-amicus-brief

The government's appeal brief is at:
aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/us-v-katzin-government-appellant-appeal-brief

The district court's ruling is at:
aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/us-v-katzin-district-court-opinion

Police State USA: Supreme Court upholds Secret Wiretaps

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that a group of United States-based attorneys, journalists and human rights activists, along with their affiliated organizations, cannot sue to establish the unconstitutionality of a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The decision had nothing to do with the merits of the claim. Rather, the lawsuit was thrown out of court because the plaintiffs could not prove that the interception of their phone calls and emails was “certainly impending,” a legal standard never before imposed to deny someone the right to sue.

At the core of the majority decision, authored by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and joined by the other three extreme right-wing justices—Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas—along with the so-called “swing” voter, Justice Anthony A. Kennedy, is an obvious “Catch-22.” Because the law authorizes secret wiretaps, there is no way to prove who might be a victim, but only victims have legal “standing” to file lawsuits, and therefore nobody can bring a case for judicial review of the law’s constitutionality.

Clapper v. Amnesty International reverses a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit should go forward, in the process narrowing the doctrine of “standing” such that virtually all secret government activity can now be ruled immune from court challenges. In doing so, the Supreme Court majority adopted the positions urged by Obama administration lawyers in their briefs and at oral argument last October. (See, “Obama administration asserts unchecked powers”)

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution forbids warrantless eavesdropping. Congress enacted FISA in 1978 following Watergate-era exposures of widespread and unchecked government spying on United States citizens engaged in constitutionally protected political and cultural activities. FISA limits wiretaps to the acquisition of “foreign intelligence information” by targeting a “foreign government or agent” outside the United States. With a nod to the Fourth Amendment, FISA requires federal agents to obtain a warrant for the specific target and facility from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, DC, the proceedings of which are kept secret.

In 2008, Congress, with the support of key Democrats, amended FISA to eliminate the requirements that the target must be a specified “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power” and that the warrant application must identify the precise facility where the electronic surveillance is to take place. In effect, the 2008 FISA amendment authorizes “roving wiretaps” of communications between places in the United States and foreign countries that are essentially warrantless.

The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit less than an hour after then-president George Bush signed the FISA amendment into law, asking the federal district court in New York to declare the measure unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.

The plaintiffs described themselves as persons and organizations who communicate by telephone and e-mail with people the government “believes or believed to be associated with terrorist organizations,” with “people located in geographic areas that are a special focus” of so-called “counterterrorism” efforts, and with “activists who oppose governments supported by the United States.”

To establish standing under the law as it then existed, the plaintiffs alleged a series of specific injuries flowing from the FISA amendment, such as the fact that the threat of secret wiretapping interferes with lawyers locating and interviewing witnesses or advising clients in confidence, journalists cultivating confidential sources to obtain information for news reports, and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International interacting with foreign contacts. The threat of surveillance compelled some plaintiffs to travel abroad for in-person conversations, and others to undertake “costly and burdensome measures” to protect the confidentiality of sensitive communications.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes New York City, ruled that the plaintiffs’ allegations establish “an objectively reasonable likelihood that their communications will be intercepted” and therefore gave them standing to challenge the FISA amendment’s constitutionality. The Supreme Court majority reversed this ruling.

Alito’s majority opinion dramatically raised the bar for determining legal standing, ruling that the plaintiffs had to demonstrate “the threatened injury must be certainly impending ” (the italics are Alito’s), resurrecting a phrase from a long-forgotten 1923 opinion that actually found that the plaintiff in the case had standing on the basis that “one does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief.”

The “certainly impending” language has never previously been used by the Supreme Court to deny a plaintiff standing in any case, much less one challenging the constitutionality of a clandestine government program where the evidence to meet such a standard is, by definition, unavailable.

Alito went on, at considerable length, to discount the plaintiffs’ claims that their communications would likely be intercepted as “highly speculative” and “relying on a highly attenuated chain of possibilities.” Alito seemed to taunt the plaintiffs for the absence of “any evidence that their communications have been monitored” under a secret program put into effect the day their lawsuit was filed, calling it “a failure that substantially undermines their standing theory.”

“Simply put,” Alito wrote, the plaintiffs “can only speculate as to how the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target,” and “even if [the plaintiffs] could demonstrate that the targeting of their foreign contacts is imminent, [they] can only speculate as to whether the Government will seek to use [FISA] surveillance (rather than other methods) to do so.”

In other words, the spy program’s secrecy—which is what chills the plaintiffs’ exercise of their rights in the first place—is precisely what prevents anyone from seeking review of its constitutionality.

Alito next demeaned the plaintiffs’ claims that the threat of surveillance forced them to travel and to undertake other expensive precautions to protect the confidentiality of their communications as “self-inflicted injuries” that, somehow, “are not fairly traceable” to the secret wiretapping program.

Finally, Alito wrote that even if “no one would have standing is not a reason to find standing,” meaning that the Supreme Court could insulate the secret wiretapping program from all court challenges. Underscoring his contempt for the basic democratic right of people to challenge governmental action in court, Alito concluded that “any dissatisfaction” the plaintiffs had with the new law or the secret rulings of the FISA court “is irrelevant to our standing analysis.”

Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by the other three moderate justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, pointing out the many Supreme Court precedents which give the plaintiffs standing to bring suit. The dissent explicitly declined to address the constitutionality of the FISA amendment itself, however.

Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the lawyer for the plaintiffs, issued a statement calling the ruling “disturbing” because it denies “meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”

“More than a decade after 9/11,” Jaffer added, “we still have no judicial ruling on the lawfulness of torture, of extraordinary rendition, of targeted killings or of the warrantless wiretapping program. These programs were all contested in the public sphere, but they have not been contested in the courts.”

In contrast, the spokesperson for the Department of Justice praised the majority decision, stating that the government was “obviously pleased” with the denial of standing to the plaintiffs.

Equally obvious is the fact that the Obama administration—to no less a degree than the administration of George Bush—is developing increasingly authoritarian forms of rule in conjunction with the Supreme Court.

Justices Turn Back Challenge to Broader US Eavesdropping

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for their annual photo, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)Members of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for their annual photo, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)Truthout needs your support to produce grassroots journalism and disseminate conscientious visions for a brighter future. Contribute now by clicking here.

Washington - The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned back a challenge to a federal law that broadened the government’s power to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote that divided along ideological lines, probably means the Supreme Court will never rule on the constitutionality of that 2008 law.

More broadly, the ruling illustrated how hard it is to mount court challenges to a wide array of antiterrorism measures, including renditions of terrorism suspects to foreign countries and targeted killings using drones, in light of the combination of government secrecy and judicial doctrines limiting access to the courts.

“Absent a radical sea change from the courts, or more likely intervention from the Congress, the coffin is slamming shut on the ability of private citizens and civil liberties groups to challenge government counterterrorism policies, with the possible exception of Guantánamo,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at American University.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that the journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates who challenged the constitutionality of the law could not show they had been harmed by it and so lacked standing to sue. The plaintiffs’ fear that they would be subject to surveillance in the future was too speculative to establish standing, he wrote.

Justice Alito also rejected arguments based on the steps the plaintiffs had taken to escape surveillance, including traveling to meet sources and clients in person rather than talking to them over the phone or sending e-mails. “They cannot manufacture standing by incurring costs in anticipation of nonimminent harms,” he wrote of the plaintiffs.

It is of no moment, Justice Alito wrote, that only the government knows for sure whether the plaintiffs’ communications have been intercepted. It is the plaintiffs’ burden, he wrote, to prove they have standing “by pointing to specific facts, not the government’s burden to disprove standing by revealing details of its surveillance priorities.”

In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that the harm claimed by the plaintiffs was not speculative. “Indeed,” he wrote, “it is as likely to take place as are most future events that common-sense inference and ordinary knowledge of human nature tell us will happen.”

Under the system of warrantless surveillance that was put in place by the Bush administration shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, aspects of which remain secret, the National Security Agency was authorized to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mails without a warrant.

After The New York Times disclosed the program in 2005 and questions were raised about its constitutionality, Congress in 2008 amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, granting broad power to the executive branch to conduct surveillance aimed at persons overseas without an individual warrant.

The Obama administration defended the law in court, and a Justice Department spokesman said the government was “obviously pleased with the ruling.”

The decision, Clapper v. Amnesty International, No. 11-1025, arose from a challenge to the 2008 law by Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups and individuals, including journalists and lawyers who represent prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The plaintiffs said the law violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches, by allowing the government to intercept their international telephone calls and e-mails.

Justice Alito said the program was subject to significant safeguards, including supervision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret, and restrictions on what may be done with “nonpublic information about unconsenting U.S. persons.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas joined the majority opinion, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U., said the decision “insulates the statute from meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”

Justice Alito wrote that the prospect that no court may ever review the surveillance program was irrelevant to analyzing whether the plaintiffs had standing. But he added that the secret court does supervise the surveillance program.

It is also at least theoretically possible, he added, that the government will try to use information gathered from the program in an ordinary criminal prosecution and thus perhaps allow an argument “for a claim of standing on the part of the attorney” for the defendant.

Mr. Jaffer said the situations were far-fetched.

“Justice Alito’s opinion for the court seems to be based on the theory that the secret court may one day, in some as-yet unimagined case, subject the law to constitutional review, but that day may never come,” Mr. Jaffer said. In many national security cases, he added, the government has prevailed at the outset by citing lack of standing, the state secrets doctrine or officials’ immunity from suit.

“More than a decade after 9/11,” he said, “we still have no judicial ruling on the lawfulness of torture, of extraordinary rendition, of targeted killings or of the warrantless wiretapping program. These programs were all contested in the public sphere, but they have not been contested in the courts.”

James Risen and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

Guest Post: Meet Stingray Surveillance: The “Unconstitutional, All-You-Can-Eat Data Buffet”

Via Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

It’s getting impossible to keep track of all the new spy tools being rolled out by the police state in the name of “fighting terrorism”, aka spying on innocent American citizens unconstitutionally.  I thought that I had my hands full the other day with ARGUS: The World’s Highest Resolution Video Surveillance Platform, but this “Stingray” system is already being deployed illegally in cities throughout the United States.  As the EFF states: “The Stingray is the digital equivalent of the pre-revolutionary British soldier.”  From the EFF:

The device, which acts as a fake cell phone tower, essentially allows the government to electronically search large areas for a particular cell phone’s signal—sucking down data on potentially thousands of innocent people along the way. At the same time, law enforcement has attempted use them while avoiding many of the traditional limitations set forth in the Constitution, like individualized warrants. This is why we called the tool “an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat data buffet.”

Recently, LA Weekly reported the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) got a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant in 2006 to buy a stingray. The original grant request said it would be used for “regional terrorism investigations.” Instead LAPD has been using it for just about any investigation imaginable.

Of course, we’ve seen this pattern over and over and over. The government uses “terrorism” as a catalyst to gain some powerful new surveillance tool or ability, and then turns around and uses it on ordinary citizens, severely infringing on their civil liberties in the process.

Stingrays are particularly odious given they give police dangerous “general warrant” powers, which the founding fathers specifically drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent. In pre-revolutionary America, British soldiers used “general warrants” as authority to go house-to-house in a particular neighborhood, looking for whatever they please, without specifying an individual or place to be searched.

The Stingray is the digital equivalent of the pre-revolutionary British soldier.

On March 28th, the judge overseeing the Rigmaiden case, which we wrote about previously, will hold a hearing on whether evidence obtained using a stringray should be suppressed.  It will be one of the first times a judge will rules on the constitutionality of these devices in federal court.

It will be interesting to see what happens in late March.  I will be watching.

Full article here.

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Anonymous promises to disrupt Obama’s State of the Union

Eyes and ears will be on US President Barack Obama Tuesday evening as he presents the State of the Union address from Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Hacktivists aligned with the Anonymous movement have other plans, however.

A call to arms has been issued by Anonymous, the shadowy underground collective of hackers and activists, and the group says they hope to disrupt select online broadcasts of the annual address in protest of President Obama and his administration’s assaults on the civil liberties and constitutional rights of Americans, as well as the world’s Internet.

“Operation SOTU,” or “OpSOTU,” is latest mission from Anonymous, and members involved in the initiative say it will serve as a decisive factor in the “battle royale for the future of the Internet.”

In a statement drafted by members of Anonymous and circulated on the Web early Tuesday, the group recalls a series of recent victories for Internet activists who waged battles and won against proposed legislation that would have drastically changed the modern landscape of computer and technology law.

“Last year we faced our greatest threat from lawmakers. We faced down SOPA, PIPA, CISPA and ACTA,” the message begins. “But that victory did not come easily. Nor did it come without a price.”

While the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act were killed in Congress before they could come to fruition, opponents of those bills argue that Washington’s assault on computer users has only escalated in the year since. In January, 26-year-old anti-SOPA advocate Aaron Swartz was found dead of an apparent suicide in the midst of a heated legal battle with the US Justice Department over his allegedly unauthorized downloading of academic and journal files from the website JSTOR. Other young technologists, including those accused of hacking the Stratfor intelligence firm as members of Anonymous, are facing life in prison for nonviolent computer crimes.

But despite calls for the White House and Washington to relinquish their mission to censor the Internet and strip online freedoms away from Americans, a war against overzealous cybersecurity legislation remains rampant. In lieu of reform — reform even advocated by some members of Congress — both the Executive and Legislative branches alike are preparing to push for new rules that some say will only ruin the Internet.

Pres. Obama is believed to have already signed a cybersecurity executive order this week that, when unveiled, is expected to include privacy-damning provisions that will put in place a direct plan of action for the private sector to share consumer information with the government. According to some reports, the order could be made public as soon as during Tuesday evening’s address. On Wednesday, however, the architects of last year’s Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, plan to reintroduce their bill during a seminar in Washington, rekindling a mission Anonymous says would turn “private companies into government informants.” Regardless of if either is discussed during Tuesday night’s address, however, hacktivists are preemptively asking for a world-wide attack on the State of the Union to be led by a legion of Anons.

“We reject the State of the Union. We reject the authority of the President to sign arbitrary orders and bring irresponsible and damaging controls to the Internet,” Anonymous writes. “The President of the United States of America, and the Joint Session of Congress will face an Army tonight.”

“There will be no State of the Union Address on the web tonight.”

Anonymous is asking for people around the globe to prepare for an online battle Tuesday evening that will take a multi-prong approach in hopes of rendering some Internet streams of the president’s address unavailable and educating the world’s about his administration’s ruthless interpretation of both computer law and the US Constitution alike. In addition to waging a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) against websites carrying the SOTU stream, Anons also plan to spam Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social media sites with information about the president’s cybersecurity order, CISPA and other items likely to be left out of Tuesday’s speech.

“He will not be covering the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act], an act of outright tyrannical legislation allowing for indefinite detention of citizens completely outside due process and the rule of law,” reads the press release in part. “He will not be covering the extra-judicial and unregulated justifications for targeted killings of citizens by military drones within the borders of America, or the fact that Orwellian newspeak had to be used to make words like ‘imminent’ mean their opposite.”

Elsewhere, Anonymous attacks the president’s hesitance to publically discuss Private first class Bradley Manning, the 25-year-old accused whistleblower who has been imprisoned without trial for nearly 1,000 days for allegedly leaking information about the United States’ own war crimes. Nor will he discuss, claims Anonymous, “the secret interpretations of law that allow for warrant-less wiretapping and surveillance of any US citizen without probably cause of criminal acts.”

Indeed, the matters of Pfc Manning and the recent renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and other Fourth Amendment-eroding legislation have been by-and-large removed from talking points touched on by the president during his first term in office. Next, Anonymous fears, a tightening grip on the Internet could mean even more infringement, authorized by an administration that aims to gain control of the world’s main method of communication.

“We will form a virtual blockade between Capitol Hill and the Internet,” warns Anonymous. In a separate statement issued by the AnonRelations sect, one member writes, “President Obama and the State of the Union Address will be BANISHED from the Internet for the duration of live delivery.”

“This action is being taken to underline a fact that appears to be sorely unrecognized by the Obama Administration — that the Internet is a sovereign territory, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of any nation state.”

In a public discussion held for planning purposes online, one Anon writes, “Anyone and everyone on the Internet who opposes the current efforts by the US government to control the Internet and their actions against liberty at home and abroad will be DIRECTLY ENGAGED in LULZ WARFARE.” The group has since collected a number of news links relating to relevant White House policies and the URLs for websites that might be momentarily brought down by a coordinated DDoS attack, including the official White House stream for the president’s address. FBI.gov, House.gov and the website for C-SPAN have all been listed as potential targets as well.

“Armed with nothing more than Lulz, Nyancat and PEW-PEW-PEW! Lazers, we will face down the largest superpower on Earth,” the AnonRelations bulletin reads.

OpLastResort, the Anonymous-led mission launched in retribution for the death of Aaron Swartz that is largely attributed to alleged prosecutorial overreach by the Obama administration, has endorsed the planned assault on the State of the Union. On the website OpLastResort.com, the administrator insists there will be no State of the Union broadcast on the Web “for freedom, for Aaron Swartz, for the Internet, and of course, for the lulz.” A member of AnonRelations calls the latest action a continuation of OpLastResort, but also “a direct response to intelligence gathered about upcoming executive order.”

Since Mr. Swartz’ passing in December, Anonymous has hacked into a database of Federal Reserve emergency numbers, defaced the website of the US Sentencing Commission and posted the log-in credentials for over 4,000 US banking executives on a hacked frontpage for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. When asked whether he thought these maneuvers were making a difference, former Anonymous member Gregg Housh tells RT that the operations are not going unrecognized.

“I think the ops are having an interesting effect,” Housh says in an online chat hours before Tuesday’s State of the Union Address. “It has their attention . . . in a way I haven’t seen before.”

“I think something is happening,” adds Housh, “it is just happening at the pace at which Washington is used to going, and the Internet is used to ‘Internet time,’ which is much faster.”

The State of the Union: Is Rule of Law in Peril or Is it...

WASHINGTON - February 11 - CHRIS HEDGES, [email]
Hedges just wrote the piece “The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State,” which states: “On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who ‘substantially support’ — an undefined legal term — al-Qaida, the Taliban or ‘associated forces,’ again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until ‘the end of hostilities.’ In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent … to any ‘foreign country or entity.’ This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.

“Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling.” Hedges is lead plaintiff in the NDAA lawsuit. His most recent book is The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress and he was part of a team of New York Times reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize.

MICHAEL RATNER, mratner at ccrjustice.org, @justleft
Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He said today: “The rule of law is not in peril; it is no more. The country under Obama is utterly lawless. There is nothing legal or moral about murdering with drones or assassinations, continuing indefinite detention, military commissions and renditions. There is nothing legal or moral about attacking other countries such as Yemen, Pakistan or Libya. There is nothing legal or moral about a massive surveillance state. And then just to make sure no one reveals our evil we persecute and jail our truth tellers: [Julian] Assange, [Bradley] Manning, [Jeremy] Hammond, [John] Kirakou, while the real criminals go free. What you are seeing here is the recognition by the U.S. that it is weakening as a world power and it is striking out in ways that aren’t always rational but that are certainly inhuman and lawless.”

Ratner notes in “The Ratner Report” on The Real News Network: “We’ve been litigating this issue for a number of years now. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU represent the family of Anwar al-Aulaqi, as well as [his 16-year-old son] Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, who were killed by drones in Yemen.”

SHAHID BUTTAR, [email], @Sheeyahshee
Buttar is executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He said today: “The civil liberties abuses of the Bush administration, and their continuing extension by the Obama administration, have reduced our Constitution to a shadow of itself. This week’s State of the Union address offers a disturbing reminder that, in 2013, America can not be plausibly described as ‘the land of the free.’

“Our supposedly ‘free’ country imprisons more people than any other on Earth, including China — which has a much larger population, and a longstanding reputation for abusing rights.

“Our supposedly ‘free’ country actively suppresses dissent. Instead of enjoying meaningful First Amendment rights to speech, assembly, and the right to petition our government, the peaceful Occupy movement was targeted by federal and state authorities for surveillance, infiltration, disruption, and violent suppression. Occupy activists in several states, like peace activists, environmental activists, and labor organizers, have been charged (and in many cases, convicted) of terror offenses.

“In our supposedly ‘free’ country, the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures has collapsed. Congress recently approved mass warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, which operates not only in secret, but under a secret budget at a time when politicians claim to face a budget crisis. Meanwhile, the FBI unapologetically infiltrates faith institutions and peaceful activist groups, creating a national biometric identity scheme under cover of facilitating immigration enforcement, and faking the results of its forensic investigations. Even local police routinely work as spies, using drones and other military technology to monitor Americans for activities as ‘suspicious’ as drawing and taking notes.

“Our supposedly ‘free’ country also abuses more fundamental rights. Anyone, including citizens, is subject to arbitrary military detention without trial or proof of crime, or outright assassination by the CIA, a secret civilian agency for which the White House has announced a nominee for Director whom the Senate should reject. Brennan refuses to acknowledge that torture (which the CIA recently conducted as a matter of policy before destroying much of the evidence) is a crime. Brennan has not, and can not, explain the national security justification for drone strikes given their profound strategic risks. And Brennan hasn’t even faced questions about the CIA training domestic police departments, like the NYPD, in violation of its statutory charter.

“Finally, our supposedly ‘free’ country practices unequal justice. While millions face prosecution for relatively minor offenses, the architects of U.S. human rights abuses include a federal appellate judge wielding a lifetime appointment and six figure government paycheck. Whistleblowers, like the NSA’s Thomas Drake and the CIA’s John Kiriakou, face prison sentences not for committing crimes, but for revealing them to the public.

“Neither the President nor his partisan critics are likely to note these issues this week, but Americans feel their impact every day. Under each of the past two presidents, executive fiat, enabling legislative statutes and judicial formalism have combined to shred our Constitution and transform America from a ‘land of the free’ into a land that loudly proclaims freedom while denying it to our own people.”

The State of the Union: Is Rule of Law in Peril or Is it...

WASHINGTON - February 11 - CHRIS HEDGES, [email]
Hedges just wrote the piece “The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State,” which states: “On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who ‘substantially support’ — an undefined legal term — al-Qaida, the Taliban or ‘associated forces,’ again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until ‘the end of hostilities.’ In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent … to any ‘foreign country or entity.’ This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.

“Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling.” Hedges is lead plaintiff in the NDAA lawsuit. His most recent book is The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress and he was part of a team of New York Times reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize.

MICHAEL RATNER, mratner at ccrjustice.org, @justleft
Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He said today: “The rule of law is not in peril; it is no more. The country under Obama is utterly lawless. There is nothing legal or moral about murdering with drones or assassinations, continuing indefinite detention, military commissions and renditions. There is nothing legal or moral about attacking other countries such as Yemen, Pakistan or Libya. There is nothing legal or moral about a massive surveillance state. And then just to make sure no one reveals our evil we persecute and jail our truth tellers: [Julian] Assange, [Bradley] Manning, [Jeremy] Hammond, [John] Kirakou, while the real criminals go free. What you are seeing here is the recognition by the U.S. that it is weakening as a world power and it is striking out in ways that aren’t always rational but that are certainly inhuman and lawless.”

Ratner notes in “The Ratner Report” on The Real News Network: “We’ve been litigating this issue for a number of years now. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU represent the family of Anwar al-Aulaqi, as well as [his 16-year-old son] Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, who were killed by drones in Yemen.”

SHAHID BUTTAR, [email], @Sheeyahshee
Buttar is executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He said today: “The civil liberties abuses of the Bush administration, and their continuing extension by the Obama administration, have reduced our Constitution to a shadow of itself. This week’s State of the Union address offers a disturbing reminder that, in 2013, America can not be plausibly described as ‘the land of the free.’

“Our supposedly ‘free’ country imprisons more people than any other on Earth, including China — which has a much larger population, and a longstanding reputation for abusing rights.

“Our supposedly ‘free’ country actively suppresses dissent. Instead of enjoying meaningful First Amendment rights to speech, assembly, and the right to petition our government, the peaceful Occupy movement was targeted by federal and state authorities for surveillance, infiltration, disruption, and violent suppression. Occupy activists in several states, like peace activists, environmental activists, and labor organizers, have been charged (and in many cases, convicted) of terror offenses.

“In our supposedly ‘free’ country, the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures has collapsed. Congress recently approved mass warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, which operates not only in secret, but under a secret budget at a time when politicians claim to face a budget crisis. Meanwhile, the FBI unapologetically infiltrates faith institutions and peaceful activist groups, creating a national biometric identity scheme under cover of facilitating immigration enforcement, and faking the results of its forensic investigations. Even local police routinely work as spies, using drones and other military technology to monitor Americans for activities as ‘suspicious’ as drawing and taking notes.

“Our supposedly ‘free’ country also abuses more fundamental rights. Anyone, including citizens, is subject to arbitrary military detention without trial or proof of crime, or outright assassination by the CIA, a secret civilian agency for which the White House has announced a nominee for Director whom the Senate should reject. Brennan refuses to acknowledge that torture (which the CIA recently conducted as a matter of policy before destroying much of the evidence) is a crime. Brennan has not, and can not, explain the national security justification for drone strikes given their profound strategic risks. And Brennan hasn’t even faced questions about the CIA training domestic police departments, like the NYPD, in violation of its statutory charter.

“Finally, our supposedly ‘free’ country practices unequal justice. While millions face prosecution for relatively minor offenses, the architects of U.S. human rights abuses include a federal appellate judge wielding a lifetime appointment and six figure government paycheck. Whistleblowers, like the NSA’s Thomas Drake and the CIA’s John Kiriakou, face prison sentences not for committing crimes, but for revealing them to the public.

“Neither the President nor his partisan critics are likely to note these issues this week, but Americans feel their impact every day. Under each of the past two presidents, executive fiat, enabling legislative statutes and judicial formalism have combined to shred our Constitution and transform America from a ‘land of the free’ into a land that loudly proclaims freedom while denying it to our own people.”

Techtivist Report: UK Warned – CIA Will Access All Government Data

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Britain’s ambitious plans to store all government data on the so-called G-Cloud have led to warningsfrom the European Union that security will be compromised now that U.S. intelligence agencies have the legal right to survey all data held on U.S. owned Cloud services.

At least four U.S. companies are involved in the U.K. government’s G-Cloud project which Whitehall hopes will slash costs and “deliver fundamental changes in the way the public sector procures and operates.”

Eventually, it is hoped the G-Cloud will hold the bulk of State data in addition to that of schools, charities, the BBC and police, even the Bank of England.

While the recent amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have received scant attention in the British Press, there are a few Members of Parliament so concerned that they want Britain to think about ending all intelligence cooperation with the U.S.

“The Americans have got to remember who their allies are and who their enemies are,” Conservative MP David Davis told The Independent, warning of “a whole cascade of constitutional and privacy concerns for ordinary British people”.

Cloud storage is increasingly popular in the U.K. where around 35 per cent of businesses and an unknown number of private users employ some form of remote storage from U.S. based companies like Apple, Amazon and Google. The government wants to see even greater use of Cloud storage across all sectors in what it describes as a robust “public cloud first policy.”

The FISA amendments now give the CIA and NSA the right to access all this data not just in Britain or Europe, but anywhere in the world. U.S. citizens are excused this intrusion by the Fourth Amendment, but everybody else is included.

In the case of Britain, by putting all government data online – including health and criminal records – every facet of peoples’ lives will be open to scrutiny by intelligence analysts across the Atlantic.

Many warn that this will also lead to activists, journalists, politicians, Muslims and others being specifically targeted without the need to justify national security.

“In other words, it is lawful in the U.S. to conduct purely political surveillance on foreigners’ data accessible in U.S. Clouds,” warns the report for the European Parliament, Fighting Cyber Crime and Protecting Privacy in the Cloud by the Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Liberty and Security.

While most of the attention has been focused on Cloud storage and the effect FISA will have on Europe, the actual wording of the amendment speaks of “remote computing services” which could literally mean anything stored on a computer other than your own.

As it is, every financial transaction passes through U.S. intelligence channels. With the new extension, no stone need remain unturned. Every time you comment on a book, join a club, or do absolutely anything that passes through a computer owned by a U.S. company, you are open to scrutiny.

The Cloud, however, comes with other concerns. There is debate as to who legally owns what if it is stored or edited in the Cloud, and you can’t even bequest your online music collection to a loved one when you die.

NSA aside, hackers can easier access data en-route to the Cloud than they can on a local area network, and the Cloud administrators might one day be compromised. The companies themselves may go bust or be taken over. They might suffer some catastrophic event or decide to amended their terms and conditions.

The European Union is being urged to add a warning to all U.S. based Cloud services, with clear wording that anything stored in the Cloud will be under direct scrutiny by Federal authorities. The report also wants to see E.U. citizens given the same rights as Americans in U.S. courts.

“A lot of people wouldn’t realize where data is stored, and hence wouldn’t expect to be subject to U.S. law,” cautions another Member of Britain’s Parliament, Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats.

He wants to know if the government has received any guarantee from Washington that sensitive data will not be scrutinized as foreign intelligence fodder.

“If the U.S. will not give a clear assurance about government data,” he says. “Then we will have to stop using the Cloud, as we cannot allow that to happen.”

Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of US Citizens “Has No Geographic...

The Obama administration’s internal legal justification for assassinating U.S. citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time. In a secret Justice Department memo, the administration claims it has legal authority to assassinate U.S. citizens overseas even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the United States. We’re joined by Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If you look at the memo ... there’s no geographic line," says Jaffer. "The Obama administration is making, in some ways, a greater claim of authority [than President Bush]. They’re arguing that the authority to kill American citizens has no geographic limit."

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The Obama administration’s internal legal justification for assassinating U.S. citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time. According to a secret Justice Department document obtained by NBC News, the Obama administration claims it has the legal authority to target citizens who are, quote, "senior operational leaders," of al-Qaeda or "an associated force" — even if there’s no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

In September 2011, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed two American citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. The following month, another U.S. drone strike killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was born in Denver.

AMY GOODMAN: The document obtained by NBC News is described as a "white memo" that was provided to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees as a summary of a classified memo prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Last month, a federal judge denied a request by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times for the Justice Department to disclose its legal justification for the targeted killing of Americans.

The Obama administration’s secrecy around the drone program is expected to be a top issue at this week’s confirmation hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be director of the CIA. Brennan has been dubbed by critics to be Obama’s "assassination czar."

Joining us now is Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU and director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy.

You’ve looked at the white memo. This is something you’ve been asking for for quite some time, Jameel. Talk about its significance. Go through it with us point by point.

JAMEEL JAFFER: Sure. Well, it’s a very significant document, and it’s a remarkable document, and it’s something that everybody really ought to read, in the same way that everybody ought to read the torture memos from the last administration. It sets out, or professes to set out, the power that the government has to carry out the targeted killing of American citizens who are located far away from any battlefield, even when they have not been charged with a crime, even when they do not present any imminent threat in any ordinary meaning of that word. So it’s a pretty sweeping power that’s been set out. And the memo purports to provide a legal justification for that power and explain why the limits on that power can’t be enforced in any court.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The confidential Justice Department white paper that you’re talking about, Jameel Jaffer, introduces a more expansive definition of "self-defense" or "imminent attack" than any articulated by the U.S. government before. It reads, quote: "The condition that an operational leader present an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future." Can you talk about the significance of that and how exactly "imminent" is defined in this document—

JAMEEL JAFFER: Sure.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: —or not defined?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Yeah, well, I mean, I think you—you know, you have to start with the acknowledgment that there are circumstances in which the government has the authority, and maybe even the responsibility, to use lethal force. Even if you think about it domestically—somebody is running down the street, waving a gun around, threatening civilians—the government doesn’t have to go to a judge beforehand to seek a warrant to carry out that use of lethal force. But that’s a situation in which the threat is imminent, in the ordinary meaning of the term: There’s not time to go to a judge; there’s not time for deliberation.

But the kind of imminence that the government is defining here, or the way that the government has defined the term here, is much, much broader. They’re talking about situations in which the person presents no immediate threat, there’s no known plot. These people are located far away from any actual battlefield, so you’re not talking about a situation in which there are battlefield exigencies that the government has to worry about. You’re really talking about something that looks a lot more like a law enforcement context. And in that context, the traditional rule is the government has the authority to use lethal force only in very narrow circumstances. And this memo really redefines those circumstances entirely.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to Attorney General Eric Holder, a comment he made last March when he outlined what the White House billed as the legal rationale for its claimed right to kill U.S. citizens who belong to al-Qaeda or associated forces.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that some of the threats that we face come from a small number of United States citizens who have decided to commit violent attacks against their own country from abroad. Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during this current conflict, it’s clear that United States citizenship alone does not make—does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.

AMY GOODMAN: Jameel Jaffer, respond to Attorney General Eric Holder.

JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, it’s not a question of immunity. This is kind of a straw man. Nobody is arguing that Americans are entirely immune from the government’s use of lethal force. The question is: Under what circumstances can the government use lethal force? And again, for a very good reason, those circumstances have traditionally been defined very narrowly. Now what the government is doing is creating an extremely broad category of people who can be targeted without judicial review before the fact, without judicial assessment of the evidence after the fact. It’s a very dangerous thing that the government is doing.

And I think that at some level, I think the people who have written this memo and the people who are exercising this authority in the Obama administration must be convinced of their own trustworthiness. But even if you accept that the people who are now in office are trustworthy in this sense, this power is going to be available to the next administration and the one after that, and it’s going to be available in every future conflict, not just the conflict against al-Qaeda. And according to the administration, the power is available all over the world, not just on geographically cabined battlefields. So it really is a sweeping proposition.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But what does it mean, though, that it’s not an official legal memo, it’s a white paper? Does that have any legal significance or implications?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, you know, some people have been saying that this is a kind of transparency that the administration, through these kinds of leaks, is giving the public the ability to assess the strength of the administration’s legal arguments. And the truth is that this is really just a briefing document, it’s not a legal memo. It does tell us a little bit about the authority that the government is claiming, but the actual legal memos are still secret. We’ve been litigating for those memos now for 18 months or two years. The administration has refused to release them. We have just appealed one case to the 2nd Circuit here in New York, to the appeals court here in New York.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Can you explain the case? What is the case that your organization, the ACLU, is—

JAMEEL JAFFER: So, there are two—there are two Freedom of Information Act cases that we’re litigating right now. One is—one is here in New York, and the other one is in D.C. One of them is an effort to get the legal memos. We’re litigating that case with The New York Times; they have a parallel request. The other case, which is in D.C., is about, principally, civilian casualties, the question of who has been killed in these—in these drone strikes, because the administration has not released numbers. And we’re reliant on the work of very good organizations outside the administration to do that kind of work. We think that the administration should release its own numbers. So—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And "who has been killed," you mean U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizen who have been killed.

JAMEEL JAFFER: Right, absolutely. So, most of the people who are being killed in these drone strikes aren’t U.S. citizens, right? There have only been four U.S. citizens—three in 2011, one in 2002. The rest have been noncitizens killed, some of them in Pakistan, some of them in Yemen, some of them in Somalia. According to the figures of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the U.K., we’re now talking about somewhere on the order of 4,000 people who have been killed with these drones.

And the administration still hasn’t released the legal memos that purport to justify that program. So, one of the cases that we’re litigating, the one here in New York, is the effort to get that justification. This memo, this briefing paper, provides us a little more information about that justification, but it’s not the justification itself. For the same reasons that the government was right in 2009 to release the torture memos, we think the government should release the targeted killing memo.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s get specific. I saw you in Sundance at one of the premieres of Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s film called Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. And it tells the story, among others, of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, 16-year-old kid born in Denver, killed in a drone strike two weeks after his father was killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Talk about his case and how this relates.

JAMEEL JAFFER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: When does the U.S. stop? What is the justification for killing this 16-year-old boy?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, so two things about that. First, I think one of the most chilling aspects of the power that the government is claiming here is that they’re claiming the authority to do all of this in secret, not just keep it secret from the courts or keep their justification secret from the courts, but keep the exercise of this power secret, so they can carry out these killings of American citizens, among many others, without even acknowledging to the public or to any court that they have exercised that authority. And that really is a chilling proposition. But that’s one thing, and that’s one of the things that they’ve done in the Abdulrahman case: They have failed to acknowledge that they actually carried out this killing, although everybody knows it to be true.

But we have other litigation which we’re doing with the Center for Constitutional Rights. It’s a constitutional case on behalf of the three U.S. citizens who were killed in 2011, including Abdulrahman, the 16-year-old. And that’s a case in which we are raising claims under the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment, the due process clause, arguing that the government does not have the right, again, except in these extremely narrow circumstances, to carry out targeted killings without judicial review. And the government’s response to that lawsuit has not been to defend their authority on the merits. They’re not actually saying, "We have the right to do this." They haven’t actually filed any of those arguments in court. Instead what they’re arguing is: This question of whether the government acted lawfully or not is a political question committed to the political branches, and the judges have no role to play, no role whatsoever to play, in assessing whether the killing of an American citizen was lawful or not.

AMY GOODMAN: How does it stop? Where does it stop? You kill them in Yemen, American citizens and others—no trial, no charge. What about in the United States?

JAMEEL JAFFER: There’s no line. You know, if you look at the memo, the briefing paper that was released yesterday, there’s no geographic line. And you can remember how most of the country reacted when President Bush declared the authority to hold American citizens detained in the United States: Most of the country said, "You can’t be serious. You’re going to treat the United States as part of the battlefield. You’re going to detain American citizens inside the United States as enemy combatants." And now, the Obama administration—you know, if you accept the memo on its face, you accept the briefing paper on its face, the Obama administration is making, in some ways, a greater claim of authority. They’re arguing that the authority to kill American citizens has no geographic limit.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn to comments made by John Brennan, John Brennan who is Obama’s counterterrorism adviser and now his pick for CIA director. He made these comments last May and publicly confirmed that the United States has used drones to conduct targeted killings overseas.

JOHN BRENNAN: President Obama believes that, done carefully, deliberately and responsibly, we can be more transparent and still ensure our nation’s security. So let me say it as simply as I can: Yes, in full accordance with the law, and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft often referred to publicly as "drones." And I’m here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, speaking last May. Jameel Jaffer, your comments on what he said about drone attacks?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, this is—this is, I think, you know, in some ways, good timing for the release of this briefing paper, because, you know, as you mentioned, John Brennan has been nominated to head the CIA. There’s going to be a vote on his nomination later this week. And some senators have said that the nomination should not go forward unless the administration is more forthcoming with its legal analysis, unless they release the OLC memo. And I think that’s exactly right. The administration should release that memo. There are also open questions about the role that Brennan played in the torture program, and those questions, too, ought to be answered before the vote goes forward. So, you know, I think it’s good timing. There are some very serious questions that ought to be asked by—

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the Democrats will be asking these questions of a Democratic administration?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, you know, there were a group of senators yesterday that wrote to the administration asking for the release of the legal memo and seeming to connect the release of the legal memo to—to these votes, to the Hagel vote and to the Brennan vote. And I think that that’s an important thing. And it was a group led by Senator Wyden. So I think that there—you know, there are definitely senators who think this is important. And if people can make it known to their senators that they think it’s important, I think that would be a very good thing.

AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on John Brennan being the CIA pick? Already, four years ago, when President Obama wanted to do it the first time around, he was forced to withdraw his name because there was such outcry.

JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, right. I mean, I definitely have reservations about it. I think that there are these questions, these important questions about his role in the torture program. And also, you know, people have said that John Brennan is an advocate for transparency about the drone program. If that’s true, now is the right time to release the OLC memo, the legal counsel memo. And I think that the debate about his nomination should be informed by whatever’s in that memo.

AMY GOODMAN: We had a report in headlines about Open Society Justice Initiative—and you’re a fellow at the Open Society right now, on leave from the ACLU—putting out a new report that’s revealed a detailed look at global involvement in the CIA’s secret program of prisons, rendition and torture since 9/11. The initiative says 54 countries aided the CIA until President Obama stopped the program in 2009. It’s called "Globalizing Torture," also reveals at least 136 people were held by the CIA during those years—the largest tally to date. How significant is this?

JAMEEL JAFFER: I think it’s a hugely significant report. I think it’s the most comprehensive report thus far about the people who are held by the CIA and what happened to them, and also the complicity of other countries in the CIA’s program. Some of those other countries have begun to grapple with the question of accountability for their role in that program. As you know, the United States has not. The Obama administration has interfered with civil suits that seek to hold officials accountable for their role in that program, and it has failed to bring criminal charges against senior officials who supervised the program. But I think it’s a very important thing, what the Open Society Justice Initiative has done here, and I think that it will create pressure not just on other countries to begin to grapple with that question of accountability, but on the United States, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Final question on this issue of targeted killings: Is this President Obama’s answer to attempting to close Guantánamo? You don’t need prisons if you kill people before they go to prison.

JAMEEL JAFFER: I hope not. You know, without more information about who it is that the administration is killing and on what basis, it’s difficult to make—to draw a conclusion on that question. But I think when you see the kinds of authority that the government is claiming in briefing papers like this, it certainly raises the question about to what extent this program, the drone program, is in fact a substitute for detention.

AMY GOODMAN: And as you said, don’t they say—don’t the documents say that they will kill someone if it puts U.S. personnel at risk?

JAMEEL JAFFER: That’s right. I mean, I think that one of the—you know, one of the really troubling things about the document is the way that it defines this phrase, "Capture is infeasible," because once you see that phrase in the first paragraph, "Capture is infeasible," it sounds like a real restriction on the government’s authority to use lethal force. But halfway through the memo, they redefine the phrase, "Capture is infeasible," to mean something more like: "Capture is inconvenient." And once you redefine the phrase in that way, then you’ve opened up the possibility of the use of lethal force much more broadly. And again, it does raise the question of whether they are using the use of lethal force as a substitute for detention, and even if they’re not, whether that possibility is open for another administration in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: Jameel Jaffer, I want to thank you for being with us, deputy legal director of the ACLU, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy. Coming up later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with Dan Ellsberg, famous whistleblower for the Pentagon Papers. We’ll also speak with Jacob Appelbaum, who just lost a case. He does not have the right, says a federal court, to know when the government is taking his Twitter information or email information. But next up, the controversy in the Boy Scouts. Will the Boy Scouts of America allow gay leaders, gay members? Stay with us.

Drones: The Ultimate Stalkers

A hexacopter flown by Daniel Garate, an aerial photographer, during his demonstration at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., Feb. 3, 2012. (Photo: J. Emilio Flores / The New York Times)A hexacopter flown by Daniel Garate, an aerial photographer, during his demonstration at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., Feb. 3, 2012. (Photo: J. Emilio Flores / The New York Times)Imagine you’re being stalked from the sky. Every time you go in or out of any building, it’s recorded. Everybody you talk with. Everyplace you drive or take public transportation. Your sky-stalker can see through your windows, read your lips, and, using infrared cameras, can even see if you’ve lit a cigarette – of any type.

Shouldn’t this be illegal?

When Larisa Oleynik, star of “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” found she had a stalker, she got a restraining order. But if her stalker had been the police, and they were doing it with a drone, right now there are virtually no laws or regulations that would protect her. Or you.

Being concerned about such things is genuinely all-American.

You could say that our privacy concerns started with George Orwell (who, ironically, was British) and the publication of his book “1984,” but in reality the modern-day American concern about government snooping into our lives goes back before the American Revolution.

Thomas Jefferson, back before George Washington was president but after the Revolutionary War, was living in Paris and communicated in code with his protégé, James Madison, about their Federalist political enemies.

Jefferson did it again when he became President in 1801, developing an even more elaborate code to communicate with his most trusted aide, Meriwether Lewis. Their concern was which military officers, mostly leftovers from the John Adams administration, might be reading their mail or interrogating White House servants because those officers were thinking of pulling a military coup to overthrow the Jefferson administration.

The result was that Jefferson, on Lewis’s suggestion, fired two-thirds of all the commissioned officers and cut the size of the Army by over 80 percent.

Fast forward to today. Police helicopters, police trucks that can use infrared to see inside your house, and GPS units cops can attach to you car. In every case there’s a legitimate police use for these technologies, as well as an incredible potential for abuse.

The Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights that Jefferson demanded Madison put into the Constitution as the price of getting Virginia’s ratification, is one sentence long. It says:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In other words, they can’t spy on you – on you, personally – unless they have enough proof to bring before a judge that you’re up to something that’s probably illegal.

In the case of the police helicopters, trucks, GPS units, and phone taps, to some extent both state governments, Congress, and the Supreme Court have brought their use into at least a marginal compliance with the Fourth Amendment.

Not so with drones. At least yet.

And that’s why the City of Charlottesville, Virginia – a stone’s throw from Thomas Jefferson’s home – did a beautiful thing this week in passing a resolution calling for a ban, for the moment, on drones in their skies.

The Rutherford Institute proposed the first draft of what ultimately became the resolution that was promoted by the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. It included language that said:

WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

“WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers…” there should be at two-year moratorium on using information obtained from them, or on weaponizing them.

As David Swanson notes in his blog on the CCPJ site, “without proper safeguards, these drones, some of which are deceptively small and capable of videotaping the facial expressions of people on the ground from hundreds of feet in the air, will usher in a new age of surveillance in American society. Not even those indoors, in the privacy of their homes, will be safe from these aerial spies, which can be equipped with technology capable of peering through walls.”

And that doesn’t even include the capability of these police drones to be weapon-equipped, from bullets to nerve gas. Or their ability to be hacked, or their data streams to be hijacked by malicious corporations, weird stalkers, or foreign governments.

Nobody is saying there’s no legitimate place for drones in police work in America. They’re a heck of a lot cheaper than the helicopter that famously followed OJ Simpson’s car, for example. At the most basic level, they’re just an extension of already-existing and already-used technology.

And yet, as with any new technology – think email, for example, or text-messages – we need to make sure it’s used in a way that complies with the Fourth Amendment and respects our individual rights to privacy.

And that’s why it’s way beyond time to have a national conversation about drones over US skies. With the help of the CCPJ, Charlottesville has taken a great first step in starting that national dialog. Oregon, for example, has started a similar debate, with legislation introduced by both Democrats and Republicans concerned about individual privacy rights.

Let’s all work for solid legislative restrictions on police use of these drones so that they help legitimate police work while respecting the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of us all.

Supervisor of Intelligence Estimate Hailed for Preventing War With Iran

Transcript

Hassan Ghani

An award for integrity and honesty, for work that essentially prevented a war.Thomas Fingar, now a Professor at Stanford University, oversaw the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in 2007, during a period when the Bush administration was beating the drums of war. Its conclusion, that all 16 US intelligence agencies judged with high confidence that Iran had given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, placed an insurmountable obstacle on the path to conflict.Critics of the report's conclusions say it was politicised. But speaking to us in Oxford, where he's currently teaching as part of an overseas programme, Thomas Fingar told us that unlike the flawed WMD report on Iraq in 2002, his assessment has withstood scrutiny over the years.Professor Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council (2005-2008)“The assessment of our estimate has been reviewed many times. Many times before we issued it, many times in the years since, in the years since with additional information. Judging by the public statements, the annual threat testimony and the other statements of the administration, which must be consistent with the classified report, they haven’t changed it. It stood up as good analytic tradecraft. There are people who characterise it as if it was written in order to prevent war – that’s not why it was written, it was written to describe the situation as best we understood it.Hassan GhaniWhen asked what went wrong in 2002, Fingar says those authoring the NIE on Iraq caved in to pressure to produce a rushed report.Professor Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council (2005-2008)“They produced an estimate in 17 days. That was the congressionally imposed deadline agreed to by George Tenet. So they produced something in 17 days, which had two weekends in there. It’s a classic case of you want something real bad, you get something real bad. Stuff pulled off the shelf not really re-evaluated, no ability to go back and really tear into this stuff. And we were not going to make that mistake again with the Iran estimate. So we took the heat and said ‘you don’t get it until we’re ready’.”Hassan GhaniBut he that ultimately politicians can choose to ignore the intelligence agencies, if they don't get the results they want.Professor Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council (2005-2008)“The decision to go to war had clearly been made before that estimate was undertaken. Troops were moving, you could not have been in Washington and not known there was going to be war. For I&R we said there’s not evidence of a reconstituted nuclear programme – that was the only one that really mattered – and we said no, evidence isn’t there, the evidences can all be explained in other ways. That’s the third sentence of the estimate. So if you cared about this enough to read to the third sentence, you’d know that there was a dissent on the major justification for the conflict.”Hassan GhaniThe Sam Adams associates present their award each year for integrity in intelligence. Many previous awardees have been intelligence professionals and whistleblowers.2010 Sam Adams awardee, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, was piped into the ceremony by video link. He used the opportunity to tackle an upcoming Hollywood movie, which he says is an attack on Wikileaks, and renews the push for war with Iran.Julian Assange, Wikileaks“We have something here, which is a recent acquisition of Wikileaks. The script to a tens of millions of dollar budget Dreamworks movie. What is it about? It is about us, nominally. It is about Wikileaks the organisation. It is a mass propaganda attack against Wikileaks the organisation and the character of my staff and our activities and so on. But it is not just an attack against us, it fans the flames to start a war with Iran. It’s coming out in November, it’s being filmed now. So that’s the reality of where we’re at. Not merely a war of intelligence agencies, but a war of corrupt media, corrupt culture.”Hassan GhaniSam Adams himself was a CIA analyst in the Vietnam-era, tasked with estimating enemy strength in numbers. His conclusion that the Viet-cong numbered at least half a million, twice the official figure, was swept under the rug at the time, seen as politically unacceptable. He later did go public, but too late to have an impact on the war.Raymond McGovern, Former CIA Analyst“He went to an early death at age 55, with great remorse that he had not gone outside the system, that he had not said what he knew back in 1967, half way through the war. The way he explained it to me is, that Vietnam memorial, made of granite in a V, that whole left section wouldn’t be there, because there would be no names to carve into that granite. If he had spoken out, if I had spoken out, if we had spoken around 1967, when we had that cable from General Abrahams saying ‘we can’t go with the honest figures, because we’ve been projecting a view of progress’.”Hassan GhaniAnd so just as interesting as this year's award winner, are those presenting it to him. Former US Army Colonel Ann Wright resigned as a State department official in protest over the Iraq War. She argues that too many within government are carried along with political tides, often at the expense of what's best for the nation.Ann Wright, Former US State Dep. Official“There were so many people, that were a part of the decision to go ahead and invade and occupy Iraq, that knew better. That knew that the rationale for it was wrong, but they went along with the senior leadership of our country, who for whatever reason it was, whether it was for oil or for whatever it was, wanted to take out the Saddam Hussein regime.”Hassan GhaniLike other Sam Adams associates, she sees whistleblowers as an essential check to keep the system in balance.Ann Wright, Former US State Dep. Official“So many whistleblowers find that the system doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. Because usually it’s something that the government system is doing wrong and whistleblowers are saying ‘wait wait, this is going wrong’ or ‘maybe there’s even criminal acts that are happening that the government’s involved in and we’ve got to stop that and change it’. And we find that many times the government and senior officials in the government don’t want to hear that.”Hassan GhaniPrevious Sam Adams award winner, Coleen Rowley, blew the whistle after 9/11 on major intelligence sharing failures within the FBI in the run up to the attacks. Her 9/11 commission testimony helped re-organise the agency and the way information is shared.Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Agent, Whistleblower“They realised that 9/11 occurred because the agencies blocked information from each other, they blocked it vertically, horizontally, and they blocked it from the public. So the people who are in those environments, when information is blocked and there is lack of sharing, what is their choice? They almost have to either become a whistleblower or then live forever with the consequences of knowing that they could have done something. That’s why Wikileaks, or a method of sharing information, and of course I talked about sharing information between agencies, but it’s also with the public. The 9/11 commission said if the information even had been shared of Moussawi’s arrest, that would have probably prevented 9/11. So it’s an incredible situation, most people think that secrecy is protecting them, and it’s the exact opposite.”Hassan GhaniRowley believes much more information should be made public, whether or not it's politically embarrassing.Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Agent, Whistleblower“We’ve had some good inspector general investigations, for instance of torture in the CIA, to this day though it remains secret. And you see the opposite is Abu Ghraib, that report was made public, and so at least the public learned about it, and there was at the time an outcry about the fact that it was discovered that abuses were occurring in Abu Ghraib. But the CIA torture report, I think it’s probably a good investigation, but the public still doesn’t know, and so what’s happened? There’s a movie out there that’s using a false narrative – the public doesn’t know that it’s false, because how would they know? Because they’ve never seen the truth. It’s a pretty incredible situation, the truth really matters.”Hassan GhaniThe US government says it’s necessary to prosecute whistleblowers to protect national security. And for whistleblowers who do choose to go public, the consequences are increasingly dangerous.Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Agent, Whistleblower“Especially under Obama, there have been prosecutions, I think it’s 7 now, twice as many as all Presidents of all time, under the official espionage act. If you go back to deepthroat, and the FBI who knew that the highest level of President’s men were actually engaging wrongdoing – would that repeat today? I really wonder, especially now with the surveillance and the monitoring.”Hassan GhaniThomas Drake is the only whistleblower so far who's managed to fight espionage charges under Obama and win - there are six other cases. A former senior executive at the NSA, he blew the whistle to the media on a failed billion dollar surveillance programme which he believed violated the constitution.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“I would I eyewitness to massive fraud, waste and abuse on a multi-billion dollar program, a boondoggle programme called trailblazer, when there was actually a superior alternative, and was also a program that would have completely honoured the fourth amendment and the exclusive statute by which the US government, NSA, was authorised to violate the fourth amendment rights fo Americans. That was under FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wilfully broke the law, criminally. But what happened later, as all of this came out and I ended up going to a reporter, decriminalised the reporting of the government wrong doing. They criminalized the reporting of government criminal conduct.”Hassan GhaniDrake says he was careful not to reveal any classified information, and after reviewing laws on disclosure, thought that the worst that could happen is that he would lose his job. Instead, he faced espionage charges amounting to 35 years in prison.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“I was turned into enemy of the state, I mean I'm charged with the espionage act, I'm being put into the same category as historical spies in US history, the Alder Hiss’, the Robert Hanssens, the Alrdich Ames of the world. That the category of people you become associated with. So it's probably one of the worst things an american can be charged with, under the espionage act, because you are painted into a very dark corner, you have betrayed your country. I was put under investigation by the bush administration, but the Bush administration never actually indicted me, it took the Obama administration to actually indictment me. And when they indicted me, they threw everything they had at me.In 2008, his presidential campaign, he actually lauded whistleblowers, he called them out as patriots. Who better to call the government onto the carpet when they’re up to no good. And yet he’s presided over the most draconian crackdown on truth tellers and whistleblowers of any administration, actually all administrations combined. It truly is unprecedented.Hassan GhaniDespite immense pressure to plead out, Drake maintained his innocence, and on the eve of trial government prosecutors dropped the charges. But Thomas Drake has been left blacklisted, financially bankrupt, and disturbed at the path his country is following.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“I'm having great difficulty recognising my own country, in terms of the government, the form of government under which I took an oath to support and defend four times in my government career. Any yet I was criminalized, and was painted as an enemy of the state, for simply speaking truth to power, and it was clear they were going to make me an object lesson, and they threw everything they had at me.Hassan GhaniOf course, it's not just US administrations that face accusations of covering up fraud and criminal acts under the guise of national security. Annie Machon was an agent in the British spy agency MI5. She claims Britain is ahead of the US in terms of stifling whistleblowers from within the intelligence community.Annie Machon, Former MI5 Agent, Whistleblower“They a rethink about the official secrets act and launched a new in 1989, the 1989 official secrets act, which obviated, got rid of, the public interest defence. And the only reason that clause was put in was to stifle whistleblowing. There’s already that old law to stop treachery, so this is designed to stifle whistleblowers. And it has been used many times in the UK since, against David Shayler, Richard Tomlinson, Katherine Gun, and it has a very chilling effect on the idea that if you see crimes committed by the spy agencies, what do you do with that information? The only person that you can go to legally under the OSA of 1989 is the head of the agency you wish to make a complaint against. So you can imagine how many of those complaints are upheld.And I think it’s particularly pertinent at the moment, certainly in the last 10 years, where we’ve seen false information fed into the political process, where we’ve seen politicisation of intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war, with the Downing Street memo and the head of MI6 saying the intelligence facts had to be fitted around the policy. And also where we see torture and extraordinary rendition, where our British spies are being used to do that and they are protected under a lot of secrecy laws, and the government in fact wants to make greater protection for them by setting up secret courts, where the accused can’t even see what they’re accused of. It’s Kafkaesque.”Hassan GhaniAllegations against British intelligence services of complicity in torture do still make it through to the media when the alleged victims speak out. But with tight laws around disclosure in the UK, it's impossible to say whether or not what we hear is just a fraction of what's taking place.Annie Machon, Former MI5 Agent, Whistleblower“I worked in MI5 in the mid-1990s for six years. That I would say would be the only marginally ethical decade of its hundred year existence, because up until 1989 it did not officially exist - it could do whatever it wanted - and post 9/11 the gloves came off with the intelligence agencies. So in the 1990s peace was breaking out, they didn’t get involved in torture, they stopped looking at political activists, the whole shebang. So that was actually the more ethical era, and yet in those six years David Shayler and I saw so much going wrong that we felt compelled to blow the whistle. So how much worse is it now? That has to be the question. I think all we’re seeing now with extradition and torture cases is definitely very much the tip of the iceberg.Hassan GhaniIt’s clear that the act of whistleblowing, even in the public interest, is under serious threat. Some may consider this a positive development in terms of national security. Others see it as the end of public accountability for those in positions of power.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“If the government begins to exercise increasing influence, even if it’s self-censorship where people will not speak up because they’re afraid that they’re going to be noticed by the government, that means that critical information about government activities will never see the light of day. And especially the secret side of government, you would think that’s the part of government you want the most accountability with. Well, if they’re choking off the sources and they’re making it very clear, even though I was able to prevail and hold off the government and remained a free man, the message was still sent.”

Meet the Contractors Turning America’s Police Into a Paramilitary Force

The national security state has an annual budget of around $1 trillion. Of that huge pile of money, large amounts go to private companies the federal government awards contracts to. Some, like Lockheed Martin or Boeing, are household names, but many of the contractors fly just under the public's radar. What follows are three companies you should know about (because some of them can learn a lot about you with their spy technologies).

L3 Communications

L3 is everywhere. Those night-vision goggles the JSOC team in Zero Dark Thirty uses? That's L3. The new machines that are replacing the naked scanners at the airport? That's L3. Torture at Abu Ghraib? A former subsidiary of L3 was recently ordered to pay $5.28 million to 71 Iraqis who had been held in the awful prison.

Oh, and drones? L3 is on it. Reprieve, a UK-based human rights organization, earlier this month wrote on its Web site:

“L-3 Communications is one of the main subcontractors involved with production of the US’s lethal Predator since the inception of the programme. Predators are used by the CIA to kill ‘suspected militants’ and terrorise entire populations in Pakistan and Yemen. Drone strikes have escalated under the Obama administration and 2013 has already seen six strikes in the two countries.”

Unsurprisingly, L3 Communications is well connected beyond the national security community. Its chief financial officer recently spoke at Goldman Sachs, at what the financial titan hilariously refers to as a “fireside chat.”

L3 also supplies local law enforcement with its night-vision products and makes a license-plate recognition (LPR) device, a machine with disturbing implications. LPR can be mounted on cop cruisers or statically positioned at busy intersections and can run potentially thousands of license plates through law enforcement databases in a matter of hours. In some parts of the country LPR readers can track your location for miles. As the Wall Street Journal noted, surveillance of even “mundane” activities of people not accused of any crime is now “the default rather than the exception.”

L3 Communications embodies the totality of the national security and surveillance state. There is only minimal distinction between its military products and police products. Its night-vision line is sold to both military and law enforcement. Its participation in the drone program is now, as far as we know, limited to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. But in the words of the New York Times editorial board, “[i]t is not a question of whether drones will appear in the skies above the United States but how soon.” The NYT estimates the domestic drone market at $5 billion, likely a conservative estimate, and contractors will vie for that money in the public and private sphere. L3's venture into airports, the border of where domestic policy meets foreign policy in the name of national security, is therefore significant both symbolically and materially.

In many ways, that is the most important story of the post-9/11 United States: the complete evaporation of the separation of foreign and domestic polices. Whether we're talking about paramilitarized police, warrantless wiretapping, inhumane prison conditions, or drone surveillance, there exist few differences between a United States perpetually at war and a United States determined to police and imprison its people in unacceptable ways and at unacceptable rates.

Harris Corporation: Stingray “IMSI catcher”

Harris Corp. is a huge provider of national security and communications technology to federal and local law enforcement agencies. Though many people have never heard of it, Harris is a major player in the beltway National Security community. President and CEO William M. Brown was recently appointed to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, and in 2009 the Secret Service offered Harris a contract to train its agents in the use of Harris' Stingray line. The Secret Service awarded the company additional contracts in 2012.

If you've heard of Harris at all, it's likely been because its controversial Stingray product has been getting attention as an information-gathering tool with major privacy implications. The Stingray allows law enforcement to cast a kilometers' wide digital net over an area to determine the location of a single cell phone signal – and in the process collect cell data on potentially hundreds of people who aren't suspected of any crimes. EFF claims the device is a modern version of British soldiers canvassing the pre-Revolutionary colonies, searching people's homes without probable cause – exactly what the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent. EFF describes the process this way:

“A Stingray works by masquerading as a cell phone tower—to which your mobile phone sends signals to every 7 to 15 seconds whether you are on a call or not— and tricks your phone into connecting to it. As a result, the government can figure out who, when and to where you are calling, the precise location of every device within the range, and with some devices, even capture the content of your conversations.”

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC),the FBI has been using similar technology since 1995. But a recent federal case, United States v. Rigmaiden, has raised Fourth Amendment questions regarding whether law enforcement officials need to obtain a warrant before employing a Stingray. The judge in that case determined that the government hadn't provided enough information about how the devices work, and ordered that the information collected in Rigmaiden couldn't be used in court.

What's especially troubling about Stingrays is that the government either won't say, or doesn't understand, how the technology works. The WSJ reported that the US Attorney making the requests “seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.”

And it's not just the federal government that uses Stingrays. As Slate notes,referencing FOIA documents recently obtained by EPIC, “the feds have procedures in place for loaning electronic surveillance devices (like the Stingray) to state police. This suggests the technology may have been used in cases across the United States, in line with a stellar investigation by LA Weekly last year, which reported that state cops in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona had obtained Stingrays.”

Harris has been tightlipped about the Rigmaiden case, but expect to be hearing a lot about Stingrays in the future.

BI2 Technologies

BI2 makes a fine pitch. Its iris-scanning technology can be made to sound very appealing. Iris scans are relatively non-invasive, there's no touching involved so the likelihood of spreading disease is reduced, and as B12 states on its Web site, "there are no lasers, strong lights or any kind of harmful beams.” It also claims that iris scanning is "strictly opt-in," and that a “user" (who in most cases would be better described as an “arrestee”) “must consciously elect to participate” in the scanning. (When I was arrested by the NYPD while covering a protest, the scan was voluntary -- though the NYPD didn't tell me that, a protester did. But if I refused to submit to it I could have been punished with an extra night in jail.)

Reuters reported that BI2's iPhone-based iris scanner -- called MORIS -- is capable of taking an accurate scan from four feet away, “potentially without the person being aware of it.” MORIS has drawn harsh condemnation from the ACLU. The primary concern from privacy advocates is that law enforcement will deploy this technology in an overly broad way. ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley told Reuters that he didn't want the police “using them routinely on the general public, collecting biometric information on innocent people.”

MORIS isn't just for irises; it also scans faces. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that the sheriff's office in Pinellas County, Florida, “uses digital cameras to take pictures of people, download the pictures to laptops, then use facial-recognition technologies to search for matching faces.” New database technology like Trapwire, a data mining system that analyzes “suspicious behavior” in purported attempts to predict terrorist behavior, makes face scanning potentially more worrisome. Trapwire uses at least “CCTV, license-plate readers, and open-source databases” as input sources, and although it doesn't employ facial-recognition software, the incentives to combine these types of technology is clear.

Beginning in 2014, BI2 will manage a national iris-scan database for the FBI, called Next-Generation Identification (NGI).Lockheed Martin is also involved in building the database.Much of BI2's iris data comes from inmates in 47 states, and despite BI2's claims that iris scanning can't be gamed, that is not the case. Experts showed last summer that the iris can be “reverse-engineered” to fool the scanners, which are generally thought to be more accurate than fingerprinting.

The usual suspects lamented in 2011 that iris scanning isn't used at airports or borders, but security creep is difficult to combat, especially once “national security” is invoked. Just days ago it was reported that the FBI is teaming with the Department of Homeland Security to ramp up iris scanning at US borders. AlterNet has previously reported that the Department of Defense scans the irises of people arriving at and departing from Afghanistan.

The story of BI2 is important because the initial technology is superficially appealing. The company's first projects were called the Child Project, designed to help locate missing children; and Senior Safety Net, developed to identify missing seniors suffering from Alzheimer's. According to B12's Web site, sheriffs' departments in 47 states use the BI2 iris-scanning device and database, which makes it easy to mobilize support to facilitate the safe return of children and seniors.

While the desire to find missing children and seniors is perfectly legitimate, the collection of biometric data is a pandora's box. Once it's opened, it's proven difficult if not impossible to limit.

Fair Russia submits parliamentary request to annul ban on US adoptions

Fair Russia MPs Dmitry Gudkov (left) and Ilya Ponomaryov (right), photo by RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko

Fair Russia MPs Dmitry Gudkov (left) and Ilya Ponomaryov (right), photo by RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko

Members of the leftist opposition faction Fair Russia have officially asked parliament to cancel the legislative amendment that bans the adoption of Russian orphans by US citizens.

Three Fair Russia MPs submitted the legislative initiative to the State Duma on Tuesday even though on the same day the Lower House’s constitutional committee announced that no action must be taken on a similar petition prepared by the Novaya Gazeta daily and signed by over 100,000 Russian citizens.

Support of over 100,000 people officially obliges the parliament to treat any petition as a legislative initiative, but the head of the Constitutional Committee stated that there was no effective way to verify the signatures that had been submitted via the internet and therefore no further action would be taken.

Fair Russia’s support by-passes the loophole and forces the Lower House to again consider the fourth amendment to the Dima Yakovlev Law that bans all adoptions of Russian children by US citizens as well as the participation of any US organizations in such adoptions. At the same time, any changes to the law are highly unlikely as in late December the State Duma deputies unanimously voted in support of the bill that contained the ban.

We want the State Duma to discuss the issue once again. This bill will definitely influence public opinion. Water wears away the stone, every new petition, every rally and every discussion bring us closer to changes,” one of the authors of the proposal, MP Dmitry Gudkov, said in an interview with Novaya Gazeta.

Fair Russia MPs said that they would suggest the Constitutional Committee consider their proposal at its session on Friday, January 18.

Fair Russia MPs added that they based their legislative proposal on the same petition from Novaya Gazeta. The original document reads that the suggestion to cancel the ban on US adoptions is based on the necessity to protect the orphans’ right for adoption and life in a full-pledged family, regardless of ethnicity and citizenship of the adoptive parents.

The ban on US adoption is a part of the Dima Yakovlev Law – a larger document that imposes sanctions on foreign nationals who are complicit in violations of Human Rights and on US officials who were involved in unlawful actions against Russian citizens.

The amendment on adoptions has already caused a lot of controversy in Russian society. Protests have come from the public, media and even officials, such as the Foreign Minister and Minister of Science and Education. Despite all this, the Dima Yakovlev Law was approved by Parliament, signed by the President and came into force on January 1 this year.

At the same time, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the Russia-US adoptions agreement will remain in force for another year and those orphans whose adoption procedure had already started still had a chance to join their new families in America. He added that recent opinion polls showed that the majority of Russians supported the ban.

Putin’s spokesman noted that the people who expressed concern over the fate of Russian orphans were absolutely right. But he called upon them to understand that the legislative measures were not limited to a simple ban, but also included a whole package of measures seeking to simplify domestic adoptions and increase the state aid and tax bonuses for the adoptive parents.

Florida sheriff wants drones to monitor civilians

Drones have already been deployed across several US states, but thousands of UAVs could soon be flying all across the country for surveillance purposes that some privacy advocates consider unconstitutional.

The Federal Aviation Administration has received at least 60 applications for drone employment in the US and this month approved 348 drones for domestic use. Most of the currently employed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used along the Mexican border to help law enforcement officers crack down on illegal immigration, but some drones will soon be used to monitor civilians.

The sheriff’s office in Orange County, Fl., has already experimented with two domestic surveillance drones that it plans to use over metro Orlando starting this summer, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The drones would not be armed, but would be used to track down criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants, as well as be used for environmental monitoring and wildfire surveillance, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The FAA predicts that 30,000 UAVs will fly over the US in less than 20 years, which has alarmed privacy advocates who claim the drones are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against ‘unreasonable searches’.

“This is unwise and unnecessary. … Sheriffs are supposed to be sheriffs, not the US Army,” said Doug Head, a Democratic activist who closely follows Orange County politics.

“It’s really easy to increase public surveillance. But when the inevitable problems arise, it’s much harder to bring them back,” said Baylor Johnson, a Miami-based spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nationwide, about a dozen law enforcement agencies have or are using a drone for surveillance purposes already. Some legislators have attempted to place restrictions on the UAVs to protect their constituents’ privacy.  Florida state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, introduced a bill to limit the use of drones and allow their employment only when the federal government predicts a terrorist attack, to collect evidence in criminal cases where a search warrant has been approved, and during hostage-taking situations.

“I don’t think [drones] should be used to spy on American citizens,” Negron told USA Today, adding that the UAVs are “fine for killing terrorists.”

Across the nation, at least nine other legislators have taken steps to restrict the use of drones on their constituents. In December, state Sen. Alex Padilla introduced a bill to try to regulate drones in California, while Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey introduced a bill to establish national privacy safeguards and limit surveillance. Missouri Rep. Casey Guernsey considers the use of surveillance drones unconstitutional and this month introduced the ‘Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act’, which would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant in order to use UAV surveillance to gather criminal activity.

As drones become less expensive, our fear is that police and other agencies could use them for fishing expeditions that infringe on individual’s right to privacy,” Gary Brunk, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, told the Kansas City Star.

Employing drones in Orange County would cost $22,000 to $25,000 per vehicle, which County Sheriff Jerry Demings believes is well worth the money “to help keep our community safe.”

But Negron calls domestic drones an “intrusion of privacy”. The FAA is currently coming up with a set of rules that would regulate how drones can be used and how they can share the airspace with other commercial and private vehicles. Once these guidelines have been established in 2015, thousands of unmanned aircrafts will be brought into the American skies to search for criminal activity and monitor US citizens every questionable move.

Drones over New York? NYPD chief admits he’s interested in an UAV

The head of the New York City Police Department announced this week that the largest local law enforcement agency in the United States might soon rely on spy drones for conducting surveillance.

During an open conversation held Thursday between Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, the chief of police confirmed that New York’s boys in blue aren’t entirely opposed to acquiring an unmanned aerial vehicle for the sake of security.

“We’re looking into it," Kelly reportedly told an audience at the 92nd Street Y Thursday evening. “Anything that helps us.”

Jill Colvin, a producer for the website DNAinfo, says Kelly told his crowd that adding an UAV to their arsenal of surveillance tools could come in handy during future mass protests in the Big Apple. For starters, she reports, Kelly said cops could begin with using basic civilian models that are available for purchase online and in stores.

"You can go to Brookstone and buy a drone," Kelly told the crowd.

“The only thing we would do is maybe use the cheap $250 ones to take a look and see the size of the demonstration or something along those lines,” Colvin quotes him as saying.

The Federal Aviation Administration is still ironing out a rulebook for how UAVs will be used domestically in the years to come. Currently, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rely on the spy planes to secure the country’s borders. Dozens of smaller agencies across the country have applied to use drones too, though, a decision that has led to a large amount of concern from civil liberty advocates that say blanketing surveillance violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

"The law hasn't caught up with the technology," Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the Oakland Tribune last year. "There are no rules of the road for how they operate these things."

Months earlier, Timm and another member of the EFF led a discussion about drones at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York. There they said the surveillance drones currently being manufactured have the capability to “zoom in and read a milk carton from 60,000 feet” in the air.

Just recently, the sheriff of Alameda County, California postponed a public discussion regarding his plans to procure a surveillance drone after news of the proposal spurred a grassroots opposition campaign. Down state in San Diego, the county Sheriff’s Office has come under fire from journalists who say law enforcement is withholding information about plans for an UAV. When the website MuckRack insisted they had proof that San Diego County was issued information about obtaining a drone, officials fired back "there is very little public benefit in the release of such records.”

Should New York City secure a drone of their own, there is little one could do that isn’t already possible in NYC. As of last year, the NYPD had access to around 2,000 surveillance cameras on just the island of Manhattan.

Missouri lawmaker wants drone use to require a warrant

Drones have been employed throughout the US for surveillance purposes, but a Kansas City lawmaker perceives this type of spying as a violation of the Fourth Amendment and is working to limit the government’s use of domestic drones.

Kansas City Rep. Casey Guernsey (R), who works in the Missouri House of Representatives, claims that the domestic use of drones is a defilement of American freedom. The state legislator this week introduced the ‘Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act’, which would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant in order to use UAV surveillance to gather criminal activity. The bill would also protect agriculture businesses and farmers from being spied on without their knowledge.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, have in recent years been employed throughout the US to capture criminals and monitor illegal immigrants. Homeland security claims to use the UAVs to protect US citizens from terrorism and crime, while the drones are also used for “disaster relief, immigration control and environmental monitoring,” according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The National Guard claims to use unmanned drones for wildfire surveillance.

Few drones are currently employed in the US, but the Federal Aviation Administration predicts that 30,000 UAVs will fly over the US in less than 20 years. The surveillance capabilities of the watchful machines has been a cause of concern for privacy advocates, with some claiming that the drones are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against ‘unreasonable searches.’

“As drones become less expensive, our fear is that police and other agencies could use them for fishing expeditions that infringe on individual’s right to privacy,” Gary Brunk, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, tells the Kansas City Star.

Rep. Guernsey has already become alarmed over the use of drones in Missouri and believes that unless their use is restricted, it won’t be long until the government spies on individuals inside their homes.

“It isn’t far-fetched that we could see government agencies deploy drones to spy on individuals and businesses around the state,” he says.

When it comes to the use of surveillance drones, California is facing similar privacy concerns as Missouri. Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern has made a request to purchase a drone for overhead surveillance above his county. Using $31,646 of a $1.2 million grant dispersed by the California Emergency Management Agency, the sheriff wants to purchase the UAV for “search and rescue, pursuing violent felons, pursuing people evading law enforcement and having the air support during a natural disaster to see the safest routes for people to travel in and out of an area,” Ahern said.

Privacy advocates have called for a public discussion about the sheriff’s request, which Ahern postponed, claiming that his drone request is unrelated to the issue of privacy.

Nationwide, about a dozen law enforcement agencies have or are using a drone for surveillance purposes, which the CRS claims is a rising problem.

“Some members of Congress and the public fear there are insufficient safeguards in place to ensure that drones are not used to spy on American citizens and unduly infringe upon their fundamental policy,” the CRS reports.

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Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Philip Guelpa “The right of the people to be secure in their...

‘This Is Not a Case About One iPhone’

Janine Jackson interviewed Neema Singh Guliani about the Apple‘s legal fight with the FBI for the February 26, 2016, CounterSpin. This is a lightly...

Showdown: Justice Department Escalates Against Apple

The US Justice Department escalated its standoff with Apple today, filing a motion to compel Apple to create software that would facilitate the Federal...

The Spies Who Ruin Us

In an effort to draw attention away from the intelligence failures that permitted the attacks of 9/11 and create the impression that it was doing...

The Digital Dog Ate Our Civil-Liberties Homework: ‘It’s Just the Way It Is’

Of all the excuses ladled out for the Obama administration’s shredding of the Fourth Amendment while assaulting press freedom and prosecuting “national security” whistleblowers,...

How Technology Kills Democracy

In shutting down whistleblowing and investigative journalism on national security issues, the U.S. government can use its technology to determine who is speaking to whom...

Border Patrol’s alleged abuses go unpunished, ACLU-acquired complaints show

Border Patrol agents screening motorists on checkpoints near the Mexican border are being accused of abuses, but the majority of complaints lead to no...

Rights group demand police need warrant to access data

From: acclaimednews.com American citizens should be able to rest safe in the knowledge that no one has the right to pry into their digital...

The Road to Fascism

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”–Martin Luther King Jr. There’s an ill will blowing across the...

Exposed: Big Brother’s ‘Unique and Productive’ Relationship with AT&T

Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents show that the U.S. government's relationship with telecom giant AT&T has been considered "unique and especially productive," according...

2 Minutes of Truth

The dust-up between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul over presidential fidelity to the Constitution – particularly the Fourth Amendment...

Remember the Fall of Rome?

By Paul Rosenberg Another American election cycle is upon us, and large numbers of people are lining up to pour their time and money into...

Police State on Wheels

“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our...

ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Halt NSA’s Resumption of Bulk Phone Records Collection

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today asked the U. S. Court of Appeals for...

Retooling the Patriot Act

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The...

American Tyranny and the Future – Ron Paul on the Larry King Show

KING: He’s made three runs for the White House, and now his son, US Senator Rand Paul, is aiming for the Oval Office. Ron...

A Misleading Moment of Celebration for a New Surveillance Program

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The...

Don’t be fooled – worst aspects of the Patriot Act remain

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The...

Fallacies of PATRIOT Act ‘Compromises’

WASHINGTON - The Washington Times reported earlier this week: “Obama scolds Senate: Skip recess, get back to work on Patriot Act reform.” Politico is reporting: “To meet...

Supreme Court sides with San Francisco police officers who shot mentally ill woman

By John Andrews (WSWS) - On Monday, the United States Supreme Court sided with the police in yet another police brutality case, ruling that the officers were...

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Family charges SWAT team drove son to suicide

  By D. Lencho (WSWS) - The family of an Albuquerque, New Mexico man filed a lawsuit May 13 against the city of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department...

Congress Must Abandon Bulk Collection of Phone-Call Data

On Thursday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not authorize some...

As Political Secrecy Rises, America Falls Into Darkness

The Sunlight is Fading … and America Is Falling Into Darkness US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said: Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and...

FISA Court Needs Reform to Protect Americans’ Civil Liberties

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is no longer serving its constitutional function of providing a check on the executive branch’s ability to obtain Americans’ private communications, concludes...

‘NSA is straining the backbone of democracy’

'By tapping the backbone of the Internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy.' Jon Queally Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and one of the most...

Wikimedia joins civil rights groups in lawsuit against NSA internet spying

The Wikimedia Foundation, Amnesty International and a host of civil rights groups sued the National Security Agency and the US Department of Justice on...

Private Police: Mercenaries for the American Police State

"Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries."--Ray Lewis, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain It's one thing to know and exercise your rights when a...

NSA’s internet surveillance faces constitutional challenge in court

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) this week will challenge the National Security Agency (NSA) in a federal court, where the advocacy group will argue that...

The CIA’s Operation Deception

CIA director John Brennan, having failed to block the release of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on torture and abuse, is now abetting the...

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

Nick Barrickman There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice. Charles de Montesquieu ** In...

Protest is a Right, Repression is Crime

CHARLES GLASS “Protest is a right, repression is a crime.” Written on a wall at the Escuela Normal Rural Raùl Isidro Burgos, Guerrero State, Mexico, where...

FBI wants to hack computers globally, seeks search warrant expansion

The Justice Department is looking to remove restrictions on the FBI's ability to hack into and monitor computer systems everywhere by easing the requirements...

Police Using Controversial Patriot Act Authority for ‘Everyday’ Cases: Civil Liberties Group

A contentious surveillance provision of the Patriot Act, which allows law enforcement to conduct searches while delaying informing the suspect, is broadly used, but...

FBI Quietly Seeks Broader Hacking Powers

The FBI is seeking to expand its hacking and surveillance powers through "an apparently backdoor route," the Guardian reported Wednesday, a move that civil...

Supreme Court Justice Warns Drones Will Usher In Orwellian World

RINF EDITOR'S NOTE:  Usher in? It's not the plot of some near-future science-fiction movie, it's already here love, the Orwellian nightmare is happening right now. These...

Secrecy Trumps Public Debate in New Ruling On LA’s License Plate Readers

Co-Authored with Peter Bibring, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California In a ruling that will harm the public’s ability to engage in an informed debate...

New Report Claims NYPD ‘Stop-And-Frisk’ Policy Ineffective

Data on New York City’s stop-and-frisk policing program during the reign of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg show the policy, which disproportionately targeted minorities, was...

Welcome To Police State America: The US Has Descended Into An Undeclared State Of...

Dave Hodges  RINF Alternative News Grabbing the national headlines at the moment is the story of the murder of 18 year old and unarmed Michael Brown...

Snowden discusses US surveillance and cyber-warfare programs

Thomas Gaist Wired magazine published an extended interview this week with former US intelligence agent and famed whistleblower Edward Snowden. Conducted in a hotel room somewhere...

Snowden Reveals NSA Program Described as ‘Last Straw’ Before Leak

Snowden tells investigative journalist James Bamford that NSA was behind 2012 internet blackout in Syria Lauren McCauley In an in-depth interview published by Wired Magazine on Wednesday, Edward Snowden discloses...

NSA bot MonsterMind can wage cyberwar on its own — Snowden

The US National Security Agency owns a “MonsterMind” program designed to prevent foreign cyberattacks and, also, automatically strike back, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden...

Cop: ‘If Obama Doesn’t Follow The Constitution, We Don’t Have to’

A shocking video shows a New Jersey cop responding to a complaint about corruption by asserting that law enforcement officers no longer need to...

Exclusive: Leader of Scout Troop Confronted by Armed Border Patrol Speaks Out

In an exclusive interview, Jim Fox, the scout leader of the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111, explained what happened earlier this month at a...

A National Consensus: Cell Phone Location Records Are Private

HANNI FAKHOURY The Fourth Amendment protects us from “unreasonable” government searches of our persons, houses, papers and effects. How courts should determine what is and isn’t reasonable in...

Obama administration grants architects of torture sneak peak at Senate Intelligence Committee report on...

Eric London In close collaboration with the Central Intelligence Agency, President Obama has granted the masterminds of the Bush administration’s torture programs access to the...

U.S. Department of Justice Investigation Finds Widespread Constitutional Violations by Newark Police Department

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey welcomes the announcement that the City of Newark and the Civil Rights Division of the United...

Beware The Dangers Of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill

Sandra Fulton A new cybersecurity bill poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous...

Zero-Sum Privacy: The More Secrets Government Has, The Fewer We Do

Becky Akers The consequences of the NSA’s omnivorous eavesdropping aren’t all bad: to foil American espionage, Germany’s politicians may join Russia’s in reverting to typewriters. That...

Cybersecurity bill will expand surveillance powers of US military and intelligence agencies

Thomas Gaist The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 last week in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2014, new legislation that massively...

The CIA spying scandal and the disintegration of American democracy

Tom Carter Last Thursday, the US Department of Justice quietly announced that it would not launch a criminal investigation following the revelation in March that...

Airport security agency bans powerless electronic devices on flights to US

Thomas Gaist The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began implementing a policy this week barring international air travelers en route to the US from bringing...

The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth About the American Police State

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself…Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”—H.L. Mencken, American journalist It’s vogue, trendy and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re […]

New Report Exposes Growing Militarization of American Policing

Brian J. Trautman Last month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report titled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” shedding much-needed light...

NSA targets anyone interested in online privacy

Joseph Santolan An article published on July 3 by German public broadcaster Das Erstereveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) is using its surveillance program XKeyScore to target...

So Much Warrantless Surveillance, Feds Can’t Keep Track

The National Security Agency (NSA) conducts warrantless surveillance of millions of people around the world and very little of it has anything to do...

“Civil liberties board” allows government to destroy ours

Thomas Gaist The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), appointed by President Obama, released a report this week upholding core components of the...

238 Years Later, Would Americans Still Choose Freedom Over Slavery?

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”–Patrick Henry Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens […]

Does Cell-Phone Case Imperil NSA Spying?

Marjorie Cohn In one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings ever handed down by the Supreme Court, all nine justices agreed in an opinion...

Will Supremes Apply Cell Phone Privacy to Metadata Collection?

Marjorie Cohn In one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings everhanded down by the Supreme Court, all nine justices agreed in an opinion involving two companion cases, Riley...

Beware the Dangers of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill

Sandra Fulton A new cybersecurity bill poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous...

The U.S. Supreme Court Is Marching in Lockstep with the Police State

“[I]f the individual is no longer to be sovereign, if the police can pick him up whenever they do not like the cut of his jib, if they can ‘seize’ and ‘search’ him in their discretion, we enter a new regime. The decision to enter it should be made only after a full debate by […]

Your Local Police May Be Collecting Metadata

When talking of freewheeling domestic spying, it would behoove us to remember that it’s not just the National Security Agency (NSA) that needs reform...

Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse

Insisting that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” when it comes to police officers being permitted to violate American citizens’ constitutional rights, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hold law enforcement officials accountable to knowing and abiding by the rule of law. Specifically, in filing an amicus curiae brief  in Heien v. State […]

Will Telcos Follow ISPs and Extend Warrant Protection for All?

HANNI FAKHOURY When courts issue new decisions about how law enforcement can obtain records and data from companies, it's not just the police who have...

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Warrantless Cellphone Tracking

A federal court ruled for the first time that cell phone location data enjoys the same reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment...

EFF to Court: U.S. Warrants Don’t Apply to Overseas Emails

Microsoft Fights to Protect Data Held on Servers in Ireland San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has urged a federal court to block...

For First Time, Appeals Court Rules Warrant Is Required for Cell Phone Location Tracking

For the first time, a federal appeals court has ruled that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to get people’s phone location histories from...

Cops Enter Home, Shoot Dog, Rule It Justified

A family is upset the death of their long time companion at the hands of officers from the Round Rock, Texas, police department has...

CIA Torture Program Exposed: More Than a 100 Detainees “Rendered” by U.S.

Asad Ismi With the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal continuing to make news, another secretive U.S. agency is now the subject of its own...

‘Biggest yet’: Greenwald to publish names of Americans whom NSA is spying on

Glenn Greenwald, who helped Edward Snowden leak sensitive documents about the National Security Agency spying on its citizens, says he’s set to publish his...

Facebook App Soon to Record All Sounds Entering User Smartphones

Joe A. Wolverton A recent “improvement” to the Facebook mobile app is being praised by tech bloggers, but it seems the bigger, more sinister side...

Giving NSA the boot — California bids to end spying on its citizens

The state of California is looking to pass a law stating the federal government would need a warrant from a judge if it wants...

Albuquerque Police Violated Lapel Camera Policy 60 Times

America’s Predatory Deadbeats (otherwise known as the Albuquerque Police Department) are in the news again. Will it ever end? On April 21, Albuquerque police Officer...

Kill a 16 Year-Old, Get a Promotion

Medea Benjamin If you think that as a United States citizen you’re entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide to kill...

Drone Lawyer: Kill a 16 Year-Old, Get a Promotion

Medea Benjamin  RINF Alternative News If you think that as a United States citizen you’re entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide...

RINF TV Show – The Complete First Series on DVD

Your Rights, Privacy & Health Are Being Eroded Because Of Widespread Corruption, Lies & Disinformation Residing In The Very Heart Of The Establishment Originally broadcast on Sky...

The White House Big Data Report: The Good, The Bad, and The Missing

Last week, the White House released its report on big data and its privacy implications, the result of a 90-day study commissioned by President Obama during...

Government Plays Fast and Loose with Technology in Supreme Court Cell Phone Cases

Hanni Fakhoury  RINF Alternative News The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week heard oral argument in two cases involving whether the police, after arresting someone, can...

Can Police Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant? The Supreme Court is About...

Two very important cases related to the 4th Amendment protection of cellphone data went before the Supreme Court yesterday. Michael Krieger At issue here is whether...

The US Supreme Court Needs to Keep Up with Our Cellphones — and the...

The era of incremental justice ends now, because the age of metadata is already getting out of hand Yochai Benkler Tuesday's US supreme court arguments involved...

ACLU Argues Against Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Before Federal Appeals Court

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case about whether police need a warrant...

Fighting for a Legitimate Democracy, by and for the People

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers  Two weeks ago in reaction to the McCutcheon decision we touched on an issue that will become central to our movement: Has the...

IRS Claims Need to Track Taxpayer License Plates

Joe Wolverton, II, J.D. Tired of the National Security Agency (NSA) listening to and recording your phone calls? Tired of them monitoring your social media...

Police state measures intensified in run-up to 2014 Boston Marathon

Mike Ingram  RINF Alternative News In preparation for the first Boston Marathon since the April 15, 2013 bombings, City of Boston officials have announced increased security...

NSA exploited Heartbleed bug

Joseph Santolan  RINF Alternative News On Friday, Bloomberg News published a report citing two sources “familiar with the matter” revealing that the National Security Agency (NSA)...

Judge Throws Out Challenge to Extrajudicial Killings of Americans

"This decision is a true travesty of justice for our constitutional democracy, and for all victims of the U.S. government’s unlawful killings." Andrea Germanos  RINF Alternative...

DC Has Two Team Names to Change

Two professional sports teams in Washington, D.C., have intolerable names: the Redskins and the Nationals.  The Redskins name is disgusting racism that recalls the nation's original genocidal sin, a crime that carries over to today's naming of we...

CIA torture and the threat of dictatorship

Patrick Martin RINF Alternative News Only one conclusion can be drawn from the report published in theWashington Post Tuesday giving grisly details of CIA torture of prisoners...

Clapper Confesses: NSA Searching Americans’ Calls and Emails

Lauren McCauley  RINF Alternative News Despite professions by intelligence officials that "backdoor" searches have been strictly limited to foreign individuals, reporting Tuesday has revealed that the NSA has...

Little Change to NSA Metadata Collection

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D.  President Obama’s proposal to curtail the collection capabilities of the National Security Agency (NSA) passes the buck for protecting the...

Facebook Facial Recognition Software Has Almost Human Accuracy

 Joe Wolverton, II, J.D. Facebook may soon possess the power to match faces to users with almost human-like accuracy. According to the social-media giant, sophisticated facial...

Rutherford Institute Calls On Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Take the Lead in Calling for...

Pointing out that “surveillance is surveillance, whether carried out by government or the private sector,” John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, is calling on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to take the lead in ensuring that legislative safeguards are adopted to protect all Americans from threats to their privacy and civil liberties by drones, regardless of […]

Petitions for Snowden Encounter Officialdom in Washington

Former NSA Director Hayden Responds to News Conference State Department Rebuffs Effort to Deliver Petition Justice Department Accepts Documents With 100,000 Signers The Department of Justice accepted...

Police Use “StingRay” Device to Monitor Cellphones

Warren Mass Using a device called StingRay, police across American are able to intercept calls and texts from cell phones – often without a warrant....

Federal Judge Slams Illegal Government Surveillance

Andrea Germanos  RINF Alternative News Sharply worded opinion criticizes government's continued "overly broad warrants" A federal judge has delivered a harshly worded ruling that admonishes a government...

LA Police: ALL Cars Under Criminal Investigation As Part Of License Plate Reader Surveillance

Steve Watson  Washington Post story declaring cancellation of national license plate database was completely wrong Police in LA have attempted to justify an Automatic License Plate...

Corporate Media Covers Up CIA Assault On Democracy

Patrick Martin RINF Alternative News Today marks one week since the speech by Dianne Feinstein on the floor of the US Senate in which the...

CIA Intimidation, Obstruction and Spying on US Congress: Obama’s “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”

Joseph Kishore and Barry Grey  RINF Alternative News The speech delivered Tuesday on the Senate floor by Senator Dianne Feinstein provides clear and direct evidence of...

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Prohibit Police from Using Lawful Gun Ownership as a...

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a Texas man whose home was subject to a no-knock, SWAT-team style forceful entry and raid based solely on the suspicion that there were legally-owned firearms in his household. In denying a petition for certiorari in Quinn v. Texas, the Court let stand a […]

The CIA, the Senate and the breakdown of American democracy

Patrick Martin  RINF Alternative News Tuesday’s extraordinary public criticism of the Central Intelligence Agency by one of the CIA’s longtime apologists–Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate...

On Edward Snowden: ‘Not Orwell, But Kafka’

NSA whistleblower's legal counsel talks about the future of our dragnet state Michael Winship and Ben Wizner On Monday, via teleconference, whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed a crowd at...

Senate Intelligence head accuses CIA of undermining US “constitutional framework”

Barry Grey  RINF Alternative News In an extraordinary speech delivered Tuesday on the floor of the US Senate, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne...

US Supreme Court backs police on warrantless searches

Patrick Martin  RINF Alternative News In a 6-3 decision issued Tuesday, the US Supreme Court further narrowed the application of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution,...

Vigilantes with a Badge: The War Against the American People

  “We live in a small rural town. Moved here in 1961. I don’t remember what year the State Troopers moved a headquarters into our town. Our young people were plagued with tickets for even the smallest offense. Troopers had to get their limits for the month. People make jokes about that but it has […]

Banking on Never-Ending Power and Rights

Greg Coleridge RINF Alternative News "It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did,...

Chris Hedges: Edward Snowden’s Moral Courage

Chris Hedges  RINF Alternative News Last Thursday Chris Hedges opened a team debate at the Oxford Union at Oxford University with this speech arguing in favor...

Chris Hedges: Our Sinister Dual State

Chris Hedges RINF Alternative News On Thursday the former National Security Agency official and whistle-blower William E. Binney and I will debate  Stewart A. Baker, a former general...

Court Rules Warrant Is Required to Access Drug Prescription Database

RINF Alternative News For the first time, a federal judge has ruled that patients have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their drug prescription records,...

NSA spying poses “direct threat to journalism,” watchdog group warns

Kate Randall  RINF Alternative News Massive spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) poses a “direct threat to journalism,” according to a report by the Committee...

The High Cost of a ‘War on Terror’

Ivan Eland  RINF Alternative News  Retired Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, Jr., the Director of National Intelligence, recently gave testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on...

The State of Our Nation: The Greatest Threat to Our Freedoms Is the Government

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” ― George Orwell, Animal […]

Resisting the surveillance state of mind

Norman Solomon RINF Alternative News We must not let the NSA's snooping define a new era in which privacy is a relic  Eight months after whistle-blower Edward...

Worse Than Orwell

Marjorie Cohn RINF Alternative News ‘“Big Brother is Watching You,” George Orwell wrote in his disturbing book 1984. But, as Mikko Hypponen points out, Orwell “was an optimist.” Orwell...

Christie, Clapper and other Officials who should be in Jail instead of Snowden

Juan Cole  RINF Alternative News The vindictiveness toward Edward Snowden in official Washington has nothing to do with law-breaking and everything to do with the privileges...

Mass Surveillance Called Illegal

Mass Surveillance Called Illegalby Stephen LendmanIn 2004, Congress established the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). It did so to advise executive branch officials on these issues.It was virtually moribund. It accomplished nothing u...

Cut Off the NSA’s Juice

Norman Solomon  RINF Alternative News The National Security Agency depends on huge computers that guzzle electricity in the service of the surveillance state. For the NSA’s...

“No way I can come home and make my case to a jury” –...

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said on Thursday that whistleblower protection laws in the United States are greatly flawed and in need of serious...

‘End It’: Govt Oversight Panel Calls NSA Spying Illegal

Strongest-yet rebuke from within U.S. government; only Bush-era lawyers dissent Sarah Lazare  RINF Alternative News The National Security Agency’s program to bulk collect phone data breaks the...

Why the NSA’s Metadata Program Won’t Change Anytime Soon

Bill Blum  RINF Alternative News Of all the applause lines President Obama delivered in his speech Friday on NSA spying, none matched his promise to end the agency’s...

No Place to Hide: We’re All Suspects in Barack Obama’s America

Robert Scheer  RINF Alternative News Barack Obama’s speech Friday on surveillance was his worst performance, not as a matter of theatrical skill, though he clearly did...

Surveillance Equals Freedom?

Daniel McAdams  RINF Alternative News Speaking from a set that could have been designed by Leni Riefenstahl, President Obama yesterday informed us that not only does our...

Should Obama be tried for treason after his NSA speech on Friday?

Ralph Lopez  RINF Alternative News Floating an administration source's trial balloon on just where Obama is trying to go on this NSA thing, the New York...

Beyond the NSA: What About Big Data Abuse by Corporations, Politicians?

John Nichols  RINF Alternative News  Taking steps to end, or at the very least to constrain, the federal government’s practice of storing information on the personal communications of...

Obama Fans Aren’t even Pretending That Was a Good Speech

David Swanson RINF Alternative News President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment on Friday, and not even his fans are proclaiming victory. In...

4 Questionable Claims Obama Has Made on NSA Surveillance

Kara Brandeisky  RINF Alternative News Today President Obama plans to announce some reportedly limited reforms to National Security Agency surveillance programs. Since the first disclosures based on documents provided...

The Al Qaeda Switchboard: Did CIA Obstruction Enable 9/11 Attacks?

Donn Marten  RINF Alternative News The arguments being presented by the defenders of the NSA Stasi's metadata harvesting efforts, in particular by federal judge William Pauley...

Will Court Beat Back NSA’s Police State Desires?

Marjorie Cohn  RINF Alternative News Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC),...

Customs and Border Protection Loaning Drones to Police

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – the law-enforcement agency created as a division of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 – flew...

Customs and Border Protection Loaning Drones to Police

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – the law-enforcement agency created as a division of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 – flew...

DANGER: Nullify NSA Gaining Ground (Racism! Slavery!)

by James Corbett BoilingFrogsPost.com January 14, 2014 Here at The Eyeopener we always have an eye out for potential dangers on the road ahead. With that in mind, Democratic party spokesman Rachel Maddow has identified one of the greatest potential dan...

10 Myths About the NSA Debunked

"If you have nothing to hide,...

Pushback Against Federal Roadside Checkpoints Increasing

With some 60 cities participating in federal checkpoints, pushback from citizens and local police and sheriff's departments is increasing. In its defense, the National...

Obama administration moves to freeze lawsuit challenging spying programs

Eric London RINF Alternative News In a motion filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia on January 8, the Obama administration acted...

President Discusses NSA “Reforms” With Lawmakers, Tech

President Obama is "listening and discussing" with lawmakers and tech industry leaders to consider reforms to the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. In preparation for...

Diverse Signs of American Decay and Decline

Strictly speaking, kaleidoscope refers to a variegated change of pattern or scene. My usage here is rather that of a uniform systemic trend taking...

Democrat de Blasio

Democrat de Blasio: Was His Swearing In a Tip Off? In the early 2008 primaries, Barack Obama ran to the right of everyone except...

500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

Washington's Blog No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale...

​Former NSA whistleblowers plead for chance to brief Obama on agency abuses

A group of former National Security Agency insiders who went on to become whistleblowers have written a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting a...

Rand Paul Will File Suit Against the NSA “Soon”

Senator Rand Paul (shown, R-Ky.) is closer to filing a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for violating the constitutionally protected rights...

Exposing govt. wickedness in America

Itâ„¢s the revolt of the geeks. Edward Snowden is John Peter Zenger digitized, a post-Internet free-press hero soaring above the security obsessions of the...

Power Takeover: Are Smart Meters Part of the Largest Corporate Scam in History?

 Josh del Sol On January 17, 2008, President Barack Obama famously said, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”...

State senators propose bill to shut off NSA’s water supply in California

RTJanuary 7, 2014 Disgruntled with NSA spying on US citizens, two senators from opposing parties have...

Legislators Launch Effort to Stop State-Enabled NSA Snooping

“All 317 million Americans cannot reasonably be considered to be suspicious simply for making or receiving telephone calls,” said Sen. Lieu. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/cc/flickr)Citing...

Bipartisan Push to Stop NSA’s ‘Direct Threat to Our Liberty and Freedom’

“All 317 million Americans cannot reasonably be considered to be suspicious simply for making or receiving telephone calls,” said Sen. Lieu. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/cc/flickr)Citing...

Rep. King Says Sen. Paul Tells “Absolute Lies” About NSA Surveillance

In a January 5 Fox News Channel interview, New York Republican Congressman Peter King (shown in blue suit) claimed that Senator Rand Paul tells...

Exonerate Edward Snowden Unconditionally!

Exonerate Edward Snowden Unconditionally!by Stephen LendmanIt's long past time to stop Obama's war on whistleblowers. It's time to hold him accountable for waging it.Whistleblowing is a national imperative. Exposing government wrongdoing is essential. ...

How “Conservatives” Help the Left

On Friday, January 3, radio talk show host Mike Gallagher charged NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden with being a “traitor” while accusing those of his...

US Appeals Court Upholds Suppression of Secret Legal Memo approving Collection and Handover of...

Patrick Martin The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most powerful federal court, ruled Friday that the Obama...

“Democratic Dictatorship”: The Transition towards Authoritarian Rule in America

Dr. Robert P. Abele RINF Alternative News As must appear self-evident to both historians and astute observers by now, the United States, in its history, has...

Sens. Wyden and Udall Call for End to NSA Dragnet Phone Surveillance

Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.thenewamerican.comJanuary 3, 2014 Not every federal lawmaker is content to step aside...

Nation’s Major Paper Now Says Snowden’s a Hero

Dave Lindorff RINF Alternative News Let's start here by conceding that today's New York Times editorial saying that President Obama should “find a way to...

Apple Strikes Back at NSA’s “Malicious Hackers”

Apple Inc. executives have labeled leadership of the U.S. government's National Security Agency “malicious hackers” and have vowed to fight against reported NSA software...

​ACLU follows through on vow to appeal decision to dismiss NSA suit

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed an appeal against the US National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of telephone metadata after the group's suit...

Cut a Deal for the Whistleblower: NYT Goes to Bat for Snowden

Taking a break from being a sometimes mouthpiece for the National Security Agency or acting in a too referential manner towards government claims, the...

Merely an “Inconvenience”: Judge OKs Border Search of Private Electronics

Pascal Abidor sued the government after American border agents handcuffed him, placed him in a cell and questioned him for several hours, then seized...

Court Rules No Suspicion Needed for Laptop Searches at Border

RINF Alternative News BROOKLYN — A federal court today dismissed a lawsuit arguing that the government should not be able to search...

Obama makes false claims over NSA

Obama claims NSA has never abused authority. That's false. Barack Obama speaks during the end of year news conference at the White House. Time and again...

Former NSA Chief: Obama Should Keep Spying, Ignore Panel Recommendations

Hayden told USA Today that "there have been no abuses" of the NSA's surveillance. (Screengrab)General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the...

The pseudo-legal arguments for a police state

Tom Carter 31 December 2013 US District Judge William H. Pauley's ruling in the case of ACLU v. Clapper on December 27, which sanctions dragnet NSA...

Pennsylvania Citizen Sues Over ‘Voluntary’ Cheek Swabs

Suit “Seeks an injunction and damages for conspiracy to violate the Constitution…” Adan Salazar Following reports that police in Reading, Pennsylvania, participated in...

Govt. chose sympathetic judge on NSA

Govt. chose 'sympathetic' judge over NSAA former Pentagon official says the Administration of US President Barack Obama chose a Å“more sympathetic judge” over the...

Edward Snowden is tech person of year

Edward Snowden says his "mission's already accomplished" after leaking NSA secrets that have caused a reassessment of US surveillance policies.In the wake of the...

Democrats condemn NSA surveillance

The NSA spying programs have sparked controversies across the world.Western Democrats on the ballot in 2014 are strongly condemning the National Security Agency. Montana Lt....

Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Data Collection is Legal and Justified by the 9/11...

Patrick Martin A federal judge in New York City ruled that the National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects the telephone metadata for every call...

N.Y. Judge: NSA Spying “Imperils Civil Liberties of Every Citizen” but “Legal”

Southern District of New York Judge William Pauley III declared in a December 27 decision that the NSA surveillance program – which draws in...

Snowden Says He “Won” Contest With Obama

After six months of silence, National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has begun speaking publicly about how he “won” a debate over massive...

Federal Judge Rules NSA Surveillance Legal

NSA program a “counter-punch” to al-Qaeda Kurt NimmoInfowars.comDecember 27, 2013 U.S. District Judge William Paley ruled today...

When Privacy is Treason

Evan Yoes The word does not occur in our Constitution. It is a Judicial Construct by Extension from the British custom of granting privilege to...

The NSA Paid to Steal Your Private Data

As the people of this country, and much of the world, observe the year-end holidays, we can look back on 2013 as the year...

Obama Administration Offers Flimsy Excuse for NSA Surveillance

Weakly defends NSA lies and misrepresntations Kurt Nimmo On Sunday, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Leslie Stahl and 60 Minutes that the...

NSA spying program on trial

Ever since Edward Snowdenâ„¢s revelation that the National Security Agency was collecting and storing data on every phone call every American makes and every...

Backwards King: Intelligence Head Who Lied To Congress About NSA Spying Is A “Patriot”

Calls Snowden “a traitor”, Rand Paul a “disgrace” for criticizing surveillance state, says “there is no NSA scandal” Steve Watson GOP...

Obstructions in Halting NSA Surveillance

I Eviscerating the Privacy Right By way of introduction, Adam Liptack in the New York Times, Dec. 18, the article entitled, “After Ruling Critical...

Digital Age Privacy Rights

Digital Age Privacy Rightsby Stephen LendmanArticle 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to ...

Dallas Under Surveillance; DHS Takeover of Law Enforcement Marches On

Another week and another volume of stories in local newspapers reporting on another local police department receiving millions in grant money from the Department...

A Victory for the Constitution

Judge Richard J. Leon, a Bush appointee to the federal district court of the District of Columbia, is an interesting figure in U.S. history...

“Almost Orwellian”: US Judge Indicts NSA Spying

A ruling handed down by a United States District Court judge in Washington Monday found the massive spying operation in which the National Security...

Outlawing the Metadata Program

People have an entirely different relationship with phones than they did 34 years ago. Judge Richard J. Leon in Klayman v Obama, US District Court...

Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Data Collection Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled this week that the National Security Agency's (NSA) dragnet collection of information on all phone calls likely violates the Constitution. In...

Sen. Feinstein Defends NSA Spying as ‘Major Tool’ to Stop ‘Terrorists’

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite)Just one day after a federal judge ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of phone data "almost certainly"...

Spy agencies ‘run US government’

American civil rights activist Sherwood Ross says US intelligence agencies are not punished for their violations because they are probably running the government. “There is...

‘Snowden Vindicated’: Judge Rules Against ‘Indiscriminate’ NSA Spying

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (Photo: The Guardian)In the biggest legal blow to the National Security Council since the dragnet spying scandal broke in June,...

Federal judge holds NSA telephone surveillance unconstitutional

By John Burton 17 December 2013 A federal judge in Washington, DC on Monday declared that the National Security Agency's collection of telephone “metadata” from virtually...

Federal judge rules against NSA spying

A US federal judge has ruled against the National Security Agency's massive collection of phone records, saying the program "almost certainly does violate" the...

‘Snowden Vindicated’ as Judge Rules Against ‘Indiscriminate’ NSA Spying

In what is being billed as the biggest legal blow to the National Security Council since the dragnet spying scandal broke in June, a...

Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional

Josh GersteinPoliticoDecember 16, 2013 A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to,...

Where Have You Gone, Bill of Rights?

On June 8, 1789 James Madison, the congressman representing Virginia's 5th District, rose to speak in a session of the First Congress and advocated...

White House Calls for Cosmetic Changes to Illegal NSA Spying

A hand-picked White House-sponsored panel is due to submit recommendations to the Obama administration this weekend as part of efforts to ensure the continuation...

White House-backed panel to call for cosmetic changes to illegal spying programs

By Joseph Kishore14 December 2013 A hand-picked White House-sponsored panel is due to submit recommendations to the Obama administration this weekend as part of...

Is Glenn Greenwald’s Alternative Media Network Another CIA Mockingbird Operation?

Intelligence community historically involved in manipulating news organizations. Kurt Nimmo Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder who bought Paypal, has announced he will create an alternative media...

Female cops sue police department over installation of secret surveillance camera in locker room

A police department in Battle Creek, Michigan is being sued by one former officer and two currently employed cops who say their superiors secretly...

A Conspiracy So Vast

Andrew P. Napolitanolewrockwell.comDecember 12, 2013 Readers of this page are well aware of the revelations during the past six months of spying by the National...

NYPD to Roll Out Police State for Super Bowl

NYPD will deploy heavily armed officers, canines, radiation detectors and more in run up to Super Bowl Adan SalazarInfowars.comDecember 11, 2013 The New York City Police...

Millions caught in cell phone tracking by US police agencies

By Joseph Kishore10 December 2013 With the support of the Obama administration, police agencies in the US receive detailed call and location records of...

Millions caught in cell phone tracking by US police agencies

By Joseph Kishore10 December 2013 With the support of the Obama administration, police agencies in the US receive detailed call and location records of...

Az. Legislator Drafts Bill to Stop State From Supporting NSA

Tenth Amendment CenterDecember 9, 2013 An Arizona state senator has committed to take on the National Security Agency spy machine. Sen. Kelli Ward announced Monday that...

The End of Private Property in the Era of the American Police State

“No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.”—John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States “How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and … forcibly enter?”—Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the lone dissenter in Kentucky […]

Why Are Key Obama Policies Shrouded in Secrecy?

“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.” — Lord...

Federal Study Has Motorists Stopped for Blood, Saliva Tests.

Motorists on America's highways are being randomly stopped and asked for breath, blood, and saliva samples in a $7.9 million research project of...

Where are the FEMA Camps? Right In Front of You…

SHTFplan Editor's Note: Over the last couple of decades there have been reports of FEMA relocation camps being built across the continental United States....

US police using NSA techniques to spy

Local police are increasingly able to scoop up large amounts of cellphone data using new technologies. The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity...

NSA Keeping Massive Database of Worldwide Cellphone Locations

As part of a “mass surveillance tool” on a “planetary scale,” the National Security Agency (NSA) is tracking the whereabouts of “at least hundreds...