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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.

US Government Accused Of Illegal Eavesdropping

eveasdrop
Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoners who are charged with planning the 9/11 attacks have accused the US government of eavesdropping on private attorney-client conversations, after the sound system in the courtroom was mysteriously cut. US News reports that a lawyer for one of the defendants, Army Capt. Jason Wright, said:
“What happened in the courtroom [on Jan. 28] was shocking. There was a wizard behind the curtain who had the power to completely cut off the audio feed to the proceedings, to censor what was being said in court. It would be foolish for us to not consider that capability in other areas where we interact with the accused.”

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Irresponsible China Bashing

Irresponsible China Bashing

by Stephen Lendman

China bashing reflects official US policy. Washington does it numerous ways. 

It's reprehensible. It's confrontational. It's potentially belligerent. Rogue states operate this way.

No nation spies on more nations than America. None more intrusively. None more aggressively. None more lawlessly.

None for more reasons. None in more ways. None more duplicitous about it. None more involved in cybercrime. More on this below.

China is a major US economic, political and military rival. Washington wants it marginalized, weakened and isolated.

It wants its sovereign independence eliminated. It want pro-Western puppet governance replacing it.

It wants its resources plundered. It wants its people exploited. Bashing China risks open conflict. So does pursuing America's overall imperial objectives.

On May 19, Washington declared unprecedented cyberwar on China. 

The Justice Department headlined "US Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers for Cyber Espionage Against US Corporations and a Labor Organization for Commercial Advantage"

"First Time Criminal Charges Are Filed Against Known State Actors for Hacking"

A federal grand jury indicted five Chinese Peoples Liberation Army officials. Doing so was unprecedented. It was provocative. 

Individuals charged didn't matter. Washington confronted the People's Republic of China directly. It did so by targeting its military.

Charges include "computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in US nuclear power, metals and solar products industries."

They allege conspiracy "to hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs)."

Attorney General Eric Holder claimed "economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking."

"The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response," he said.

FBI Director James Comey claimed "(f)or too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries."

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said:

"State actors engaged in cyber espionage for economic advantage are not immune from the law just because they hack under the shadow of their country’s flag."

Third Department Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398 officials named include Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui.

Alleged companies targeted include Westinghouse, SolarWorld subsidiaries, US Steel, Allegheny Technologies, Alcoa, "the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, (and) Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)."

Charges include:

  • One count of "conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse."

  • Eight counts of "accessing (or attempting to access) a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain."

  • Fourteen counts of "transmitting a program, information, code, or command with the intent to cause damage to protected computers."

  • Six counts of "aggravated identify theft."

  • One count of "economic espionage."

  • One count of "trade secret theft."

Xinhua is China's official press agency. It's a ministry-level department. It provides electronic and print news and information.

On May 20, it headlined "China strongly opposes US indictment against Chinese military personnel," saying:

"China lodged protests with the US side following the announcement, urging the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw the indictment."

"(T)he position of the Chinese government on cyber security is consistent and clear-cut. China is steadfast in upholding cyber security." 

"The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets." 

"The US accusation against Chinese personnel is groundless with ulterior motives."

Evidence shows "terminals of Chinese military access to the internet have suffered from great number of foreign cyber attacks in recent years, and a considerable number of such attacks originated from the United States."

"China demands that the US side explain its cyber theft, eavesdropping and surveillance activities against China and immediately stop such activities."

America is "the biggest attacker of China's cyber space."

US attacks "infiltrate and tap Chinese networks belonging to governments, institutions, enterprises, universities and major communication backbone networks." 

"Those activities target Chinese leaders, ordinary citizens and anyone with a mobile phone."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said:

"This US move, which is based on fabricated facts, grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardizes China-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust."

Nine or more major online companies cooperate with lawless NSA spying. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Skype, YouTube and others are involved.

They do so through NSA's Prism. It gains access to search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. 

It's gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. NSA spies globally. Its activities reveal rogue agency lawlessness.

NSA targets China intensively. It lawlessly hacks its computer and telecommunications networks. 

It focuses on strategically important information. It does so through its ultra-secret China hacking group.

It conducts cyber-espionage. Huang Chengquing is Beijing's top Internet official. China has "mountains of data," he said.

It reveals widespread US hacking. It's designed to steal government secrets. NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) in involved.

It's ultra-secret. Most NSA personnel and officials know little or nothing about it. Only those with a need to know have full access.

TAO operations are extraordinarily sensitive. They penetrate Chinese computer and telecommunications systems.

They've done so for nearly 16 years. They generate reliable intelligence. They learn what's ongoing in China.

They obtain what Washington most wants to know. It's done by surreptitious hacking.

It cracks passwords. It penetrates computer security systems. It decrypts successfully. It steals hard drive data.

In October 2012, Obama authorized cyber-attacks. He did so by secret presidential directive.

His Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "offer(s) unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging."

Washington "identif(ies) potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power."

Domestic spying works the same way. Anything goes defines policy. Constitutional protections don't matter. Or US statute laws. Or international ones. Or relations with other nations.

Washington rules alone apply. TAO's mandate is penetrating, destroying, damaging, or otherwise compromising targeted sites.

It's the largest, most important NSA Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate component.

Well over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers are involved.

Their job is identifying sensitive computer systems and supporting telecommunications networks. Their mandate is penetrating them successfully.

They exceed the capability of other US intelligence gathering agencies. Their activities expand exponentially.

China knows what's going on. So do Russia and other nations. They're acutely aware of NSA activities. They knows the threat. They take appropriate countermeasures.

Cyber-attacks constitute war by other means. Doing so compromises freedom. It risks confrontation. It threatens world peace.

It doesn't matter. America operates solely for its own self-interest. For control. For economic advantage.

For being one up on foreign competitors. For information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations. NSA's get it all mandate explains.

June 5 is a landmark date. It marks the first anniversary of Edward Snowden revelations. He connected important dots for millions.

He revealed lawless NSA spying. He did so in great detail. He's the gift that keeps on giving. 

Western nations collaborate irresponsibly. They do so with major corporations. Privacy no longer exists. 

There's no place to hide. Big Brother watches everyone. Spying goes way beyond protecting national security.

All electronic communications can be monitored, collected and stored. Legal restraints are absent. 

Obama heads the most rogue administration in US history. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Congress and American courts permit the impermissible. 

Mass US surveillance is standard practice. It's global. It's all- embracing. It targets world leaders. It's after everything and everyone of possible interest.

No constraints exist. No standards. Rogue states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Bashing China turns a blind eye to US high crimes. They're too egregious to ignore. 

America is a pariah state. It exceeds the worst in world history. It risks global confrontation. Stopping it matters most. 

It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history. World peace hangs in the balance.

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 

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By Susan Duclos


The Obama administration is playing a very dangerous game with Russia, destabilizing the Ukraine, helping oust a Moscow-backed president from power to insert a pro-western puppet, then threatening Russia's President Vladimir Putin when it becomes apparent that he may involve the Russian military.


The Obama administration warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday not to react too aggressively to the fast-moving developments in Ukraine, where pro-Western demonstrators forced the nation’s Moscow-backed president from power over the weekend. 
National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice said the situation unfolding in Kiev “reflects the will of the Ukrainian people and the interests of the United States and Europe,” and that Russia would be making a “grave mistake” if it sends in military forces to try to reverse the developments — or to seize control of pro-Moscow eastern Ukraine.

In response, a Russian spy ship, with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry, including AK-630 rapid-fire cannons and surface-to-air missiles, parks itself within firing distance to the US, in Havana Cuba.






We already know from previous reports that Russian troops have trained on US soil for the first time, in 2012. Arrangements have been made to have Russians "help" in emergency situations on US soil, meaning they have to be close enough to be part of the first response teams and that is public knowledge.


Consider how open our borders are and we truly have no idea how many private, covert operatives are in the US just waiting for orders should a war start between the US and Russia.


We also do not know what their battle plans are and how they have changed after our interference and likely our help in destabilizing the Ukraine, as we did in Syria and Egypt.


Will the Ukraine be the match that lights the powder keg just waiting to blow?








Cross posted at Before It's News

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US Press Freedom Threatened

US Press Freedom Threatened

by Stephen Lendman

First Amendment rights matter most. Without them all other freedoms are at risk. Post-9/11 policies threaten them.

Bush waged war against them. Obama escalated it. He promised transparency, accountability and reform. He called whistleblowing "acts of courage and patriotism." He said one thing. He did another.

Press freedoms are endangered. An October Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report discussed Obama and the press. 

Journalists say he's waging war on dissent. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He's heading America on a fast track to tyranny.

He wants information people have a right to know suppressed. He evades press scrutiny. He aggressively targets leakers.

Anyone suspected of disclosing information he wants concealed is vulnerable. Press freedom is gravely threatened.

On February 12, a CPJ press release headlined "Attacks on the Press: CPJ to launch annual global assessment of press freedom." 

It named three key threats. They include digital surveillance, murdering journalists, and pressuring them to suppress what governments don't want revealed.

Authoritarian states used to be primary battlegrounds, said CPJ. No longer. New technologies potentially threaten press freedom everywhere.

"Governments' capacity to store transactional data and the content of communications undermines journalists' ability to protect sources," said CPJ.

Out-of-control NSA spying harms everyone. It's driving a stake in the heart of press freedom. It's compromised gravely in America.

CPJ first published "Attacks on the Press" in 1986. This year's edition features a chapter titled "The NSA Puts Journalists Under a Cloud of Suspicion."

Mass agency surveillance collects enormous amounts of data. It's retained. Doing so "poses a unique threat to journalism in the digital age," said CPJ.

Virtually everything digital can be monitored. NSA "recreate(s) a reporter's research." It retraces sources' movements.

It follows current and past communications. It uncovers confidential sources. It does so with technological ease.

It renders confidentiality promises meaningless. If current interactions escape scrutiny, they're reconstructed later on.

Doing so compromises free data flows. Sources become reluctant to cooperate. Disclosing information Washington wants concealed entails risks.

Suppressing what people need to know compromises press freedom. Advanced data storage technology creates another potential risk.

"It provides a deep breeding ground for artificial intelligence systems, which may in the future lead to more efficient, even predictive, spying machines," said CPJ.

Washington and other governments will spot what they most wish to know. Perhaps they'll do it in advance.

Imagine the potential ability to discover things before they happen. Unless checked, out-of-control spying may destroy press freedom entirely. Maybe all freedoms.

Perhaps what's ongoing now is prelude to much worse. CPJ interviewed William Binney. America is "a police state," he said. Mass spying is "a totalitarian process."

NSA monitors all journalists. It maintains "a record of all of them so (it) can investigate, so (it) can look at who they'll calling - who are the potential sources that they're involved  in, what probable stories they're working on, and things like that."

National security expert James Bamford told CPJ he believes certain journalists get extra scrutiny.

"If you're writing about national security or the NSA itself, they consider you...a national security danger, and so they feel justified in doing whatever they're doing," he said.

ACLU attorney Alex Abdo litigated against NSA. At issue are compromised constitutionally guaranteed free speech and privacy rights.

"(A)ll reporters should be worried," he believes. Different things affect them.

"Reporters who work for the largest media organizations should be worried probably primarily because their sources will dry up as (they) recognize that there is no way to cover their trail."

Independent journalists may be targeted. They're vulnerable on their own. They lack "institutional protections" MSM reporters get.

When questioned, NSA consistently lies. Spokeswoman Vanee Vines told CPJ:

"NSA is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets in order to protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

It bears repeating what other articles explained. America's only threats are ones it invents.

Post-9/11, NSA spying uncovered zero terrorist threats. None! Claims otherwise are false.

Obama lied saying "US intelligence agencies (are) anchored in a system of checks and balances - with oversight from elected leaders, and protections for ordinary citizens."

He lied claiming mass surveillance "prevented multiple attacks and saved lives - not just here in the United States, but around the globe."

He lied saying federal courts and congressional oversight curbed "some of the worst excesses that emerged after 9/11..."

He lied saying he ordered "increased oversight and auditing, including new structures aimed at compliance."

He lied claiming nothing he's seen "indicate(s) that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of (American) citizens."

He lied saying "the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people."

He lied claiming "(t)hey're not abusing authority in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails."

He lied saying "(w)hen mistakes are made...they correct" them.

He lied saying "our intelligence community follows the law."

He lied claiming terrorist threats "are not going away any time soon. They are going to continue to be a major problem."

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) head James Clapper is an acknowledged perjurer. He belatedly admitted lying to Congress.

Senator Ron Wyden asked him: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

"No sir," said Clapper, "not wittingly." Facing perjury charges he wrote Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Diane Feinstein. He apologized for "clearly erroneous" remarks under oath.

Russell Tice is a former Office of Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency/NSA analyst. His career spanned 20 years.

Earlier he accused NSA of unconstitutionally wiretapping US citizens, saying:

"Everyone at NSA knew what they were doing was illegal, because it’s drilled into our heads over and over that it's against NSA policy, that you do not do that. The choice is to speak out and get fired."

Tice personally witnessed agency spying on news organizations and journalists.

Former army intelligence Sgt. Adrienne Kinne said she monitored phone conversations between journalists in Iraq and their spouses and editors.

Snowden revelations explained much more. Clapper lied to Congress claiming he caused "profound damage."

He exposed lawless spying. He connected important dots for millions. He told people what they need to know. 

He's outrageously charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. It's a WW I relic. It has no relevancy today. 

Obama uses against whistleblowers. He targeted more than all his predecessors combined.

Snowden charges include:

  • "Theft of government property;

  • Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)

  • Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."

Bradley (Chelsea) Manning was prosecuted for revealing serious war crimes. He got 35 years in prison for acting responsibly.

Journalists revealing what Washington wants suppressed are vulnerable. Last October, NSA chief General Keith Alexander expressed no patience with journalists investigating agency activities.

"I think it's wrong that newspaper reporters have all these documents, 50,000 or whatever they have, and are selling them and giving them out as these - you know it just doesn't make sense," he said.

"We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don't know how to do that..."

"(T)hat's more (for) the courts and the policy makers, but from my perspective it's wrong, and to allow this to go on is wrong."

Most journalists may not end up in NSA's crosshairs, said CPJ. All journalists need to know they're monitored. They're vulnerable if writing about affairs of state and related issues.

It's impossible to know everything NSA collects, said CPJ. It's enough to give everyone pause.

Constitutional violations threaten fundamental freedoms. They're eroding en route to perhaps disappearing altogether.

Computer security expert Bruce Schneier compares meta-data collection and analysis to hiring a private detective to snoop on someone's activities and associations.

"The result would be details of what he did: where he went, who he talked to, what he looked at, what he purchased - how he spent his day," said Schneier.

Bamford calls meta-data surveillance especially dangerous to journalists, saying:

"It’s always dangerous when the government has access to journalists' communication because what journalists guarantee sources is confidentiality, and if there's no such thing as confidentiality from the government, it would inhibit the future cooperation from sources." 

This gravely compromises investigative journalism. If government "see(s) all the numbers you're calling, they're able to tell pretty much what kind of story you're working on, even without getting (its) content..." 

"They're able to tell what the nature of the story is, (and names of) sources you're dealing with."

Binney said NSA didn't build its sophisticated Utah facility for transactional data alone. It's for collecting and storing "content of communications, not just metadata," he stressed.

"They are building more and more storage because they're collecting" vast amounts of data.

They "take everything" off communication lines "and store it." Information is "indexed to the graph of lives and social networks."

NSA can access content to determine a timeline of people's relationships. Binney believes the agency has content and meta-data for the past dozen years. 

Unless checked, imagine how much more it'll have ahead. "(T)he more data you get, the more capacity you have to see into somebody,'s life," said Binney.

Technological advances let NSA spy in unprecedented ways. Journalists have to rethink how they communicate with sources.

"The NSA is gathering power and (it's) gathering more capabilities and more eavesdropping, more invasive technologies," said Bamford.

"At the same time, (it's) deceiving the very weak organizations that are supposed to be the oversight mechanisms - the Congress and the FISA Court." 

"I think it's a very worrying situation, not just for journalists, but for anybody."

Over 100 years ago, former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called sunlight "the best of disinfectants." He couldn't imagine how badly it's needed now.

A Final Comment

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) called February 11 "The Day We Fight Back."

It joined "thousands of websites in protesting (against) mass (NSA) surveillance…" It used its web site "as a platform for users to speak out against spying abuses..."

It helped them contact congressional members easily. Oppose the FISA Improvement Act, it said. Support the USA Freedom Act.

Protests were held in cities worldwide. People fought back for freedoms too important to lose.

On February 12, EFF asked "How Big Was the Day We (Fought) Back?" It showed a visual image of Michigan Stadium filled to capacity. It holds 109,901 people.

Imagine two MSs filled to capacity, said EFF. Imagine everyone in them "doing the same thing at the same time - contacting Congress and demanding an end to mass surveillance."

You'd be thousands short of nearly 250,000 Americans doing it. They called. They emailed. They demanded Congress support their rights.

Another 200,000 + participated in organized actions worldwide.

At peak times, congressional members were bombarded with over 7,000 calls an hour. EFF stressed what it said before.

February 11 wasn't a one-time action. EFF began challenging lawless NSA spying almost a decade ago. "(W)e're not going to stop now," it said.

Hundreds of thousands of people speaking out is "amazing," it added. "We're proud to have taken part" in what's so important.

EFF expressed gratitude to "many, many" other participants. Freedom isn't something handed out without struggle.

Getting rights requires fighting for them. The same holds for keeping them. Key is not letting energy wane. 

Sustaining it makes winning struggles possible. What's more precious than fundamental freedoms for all.

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

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… And to Blackmail Critics? Huffington Post reports: The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom … Continue reading

NSA Tracks Porn to Discredit Activists … was originally published on Washington's Blog

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RINFORMATION

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Secrets R US: The NSA and Outsourcing Defense

This essay is an excerpt from  Big Lies: How Our Corporate Overlords, Politicians and Media Establishment Warp Reality and Undermine Democracy. Guma's latest book, Dons of Time, is a sci-fi look at the control of history as power.
Despite 24-hour news and talk about transparency, there's a lot we don't know about our past, much less current events. What’s worse, some of what we think we know isn't true.
The point is that it’s no accident. 
    Consider, for example, the circumstances that led to open war in Vietnam. According to official history, two US destroyers patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam were victims of unprovoked attacks in August 1964, leading to a congressional resolution giving President Johnson the power "to take all necessary measures."
     In fact, the destroyers were spy ships, part of a National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program operating near the coast as a way to provoke the North Vietnamese into turning on their radar and other communications channels. The more provocative the maneuvers, the more signals that could be captured. Meanwhile, US raiding parties were shelling mainland targets. Documents revealed later indicated that the August 4 attack on the USS Maddox – the pretext for passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – may not even have taken place.
     But even if it did, the incident was still stage managed to build up congressional and public support for the war. Evidence suggests that the plan was based on Operation Northwoods, a scheme developed in 1962 to justify an invasion of Cuba. Among the tactics the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered then were blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay, a phony "communist Cuba terror campaign" in Florida and Washington, DC, and an elaborate plan to convince people that Cuba had shot down a civilian airliner filled with students. That operation wasn't implemented, but two years later, desperate for a war, the administration's military brass found a way to create the necessary conditions in Vietnam.
For more than half a century, the eyes and ears of US power to monitor and manipulate information (and with it, mass perceptions) has been the NSA, initially designed to assist the CIA. Its original task was to collect raw information about threats to US security, cracking codes and using the latest technology to provide accurate intelligence on the intentions and activities of enemies. Emerging after World War II, its early focus was the Soviet Union. But it never did crack a high-level Soviet cipher system. On the other hand, it used every available means to eavesdrop on not only enemies but also allies and, sometimes, US citizens.
     In Body of Secrets, James Bamford described a bureaucratic and secretive behemoth, based in an Orwellian Maryland complex known as Crypto City. From there, supercomputers linked it to spy satellites, subs, aircraft, and equally covert, strategically placed listening posts worldwide. As of 2000, it had a $7 billion annual budget and directly employed at least 38,000 people, more than the CIA and FBI. It was also the leader of an international intelligence club, UKUSA, which includes Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they monitored and recorded billions of encrypted communications, telephone calls, radio messages, faxes, and e-mails around the world.
     Over the years, however, the line between enemies and friends blurred, and the intelligence gatherers often converted their control of information into unilateral power, influencing the course of history in ways that may never be known. No doubt the agency has had a hand in countless covert operations; yet, attempts to pull away the veil of secrecy have been largely unsuccessful.
     In the mid-1970s, for example, just as Congress was attempting to reign in the CIA, the NSA was quietly creating a virtual state, a massive international computer network named Platform. Doing away with formal borders, it developed a software package that turned worldwide Sigint (short for "signal intelligence": communication intelligence, eavesdropping, and electronic intelligence) into a unified whole. The software package was code named Echelon, a name that has since become a synonym for eavesdropping on commercial communication.
     Of course, the NSA and its British sister, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), refused to admit Echelon existed, even though declassified documents appeared on the Internet and Congress conducted an initial investigation. But a European Parliament report also confirmed Echelon's activities, and encouraged Internet users and governments to adopt stronger privacy measures in response.
     In March 2001, several ranking British politicians discussed Echelon's potential impacts on civil liberties, and a European Parliament committee considered its legal, human rights, and privacy implications. The Dutch held similar hearings, and a French National Assembly inquiry urged the European Union to embrace new privacy enhancing technologies to protect against Echelon's eavesdropping. France launched a formal investigation into possible abuses for industrial espionage.
A prime reason for Europe's discontent was the growing suspicion that the NSA had used intercepted conversations to help US companies win contracts heading for European firms. The alleged losers included Airbus, a consortium including interests in France, Germany, Spain, and Britain, and Thomson CSF, a French electronics company. The French claimed they had lost a $1.4 billion deal to supply Brazil with a radar system because the NSA shared details of the negotiations with Raytheon. Airbus may have lost a contract worth $2 billion to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas because of information intercepted and passed on by the agency.
     According to former NSA agent Wayne Madsen, the US used information gathered from its bases in Australia to win a half share in a significant Indonesian trade contract for AT&T. Communication intercepts showed the contract was initially going to a Japanese firm. A bit later a lawsuit against the US and Britain was launched in France, judicial and parliamentary investigations began in Italy, and German parliamentarians demanded an inquiry.
     The rationale for turning the NSA loose on commercial activities, even those involving allies, was provided in the mid-90s by Sen. Frank DeConcini, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "I don't think we should have a policy where we're going to invade the Airbus inner sanctum and find out their secrets for the purpose of turning it over to Boeing or McDonnell Douglas," he opined. "But if we find something, not to share it with our people seems to me to be not smart."
      President Bill Clinton and other US officials buttressed this view by charging that European countries were unfairly subsidizing Airbus. In other words, competition with significant US interests can be a matter of national security, and private capitalism must be protected from state-run enterprises.
      The US-Europe row about Airbus subsidies was also used as a "test case" for scientists developing new intelligence tools. At US Defense Department conferences on "text retrieval," competitions were staged to find the best methods. A standard test featured extracting protected data about "Airbus subsidies."
In the end, influencing the outcome of commercial transactions is but the tip of this iceberg. The NSA's ability to intercept to virtually any transmitted communication has enhanced the power of unelected officials and private interests to set covert foreign policy in motion. In some cases, the objective is clear and arguably defensible: taking effective action against terrorism, for example. But in others, the grand plans of the intelligence community have led it to undermine democracies.
     The 1975 removal of Australian Prime Minister Edward Whitlam is an instructive case. At the time of Whitlam's election in 1972, Australian intelligence was working with the CIA against the Allende government in Chile. The new PM didn’t simply order a halt to Australia's involvement, explained William Blum in Killing Hope, a masterful study of US interventions since World War II. Whitlam seized intelligence information withheld from him by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and disclosed the existence of a joint CIA-ASIO directorate that monitored radio traffic in Asia. He also openly disapproved of US plans to build up the Indian Ocean Island of Diego Garcia as a military-intelligence-nuclear outpost.
     Both the CIA and NSA became concerned about the security and future of crucial intelligence facilities in and near Australia. The country was already key member of UKUSA. After launching its first space-based listening post-a microwave receiver with an antenna pointed at earth-NSA had picked an isolated desert area in central Australia as a ground station. Once completed, the base at Alice Springs was named Pine Gap, the first of many listening posts to be installed around the world. For the NSA and CIA, Whitlam posed a threat to the secrecy and security of such operations.
     An early step was covert funding for the political opposition, in hopes of defeating Whitlam's Labor Party in 1974. When that failed, meetings were held with the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, a figurehead representing the Queen of England who had worked for CIA front organizations since the 50s. Defense officials warned that intelligence links would be cut off unless someone stopped Whitlam. On November 11, 1975, Kerr responded, dismissing the prime minister, dissolving both houses of Parliament, and appointing an interim government until new elections were held.
     According to Christopher Boyce (subject of The Falcon and the Snowman, a fictionalized account), who watched the process while working for TRW in a CIA-linked cryptographic communications center, the spooks also infiltrated Australian labor unions and contrived to suppress transportation strikes that were holding up deliveries to US intelligence installations. Not coincidentally, some unions were leading the opposition to development of those same facilities.
     How often, and to what effect, such covert ops have succeeded is another of the mysteries that comprise an unwritten history of the last half century. Beyond that, systems like Echelon violate the human right to individual privacy, and give those who control the information the ability to act with impunity, sometimes destroying lives and negating the popular will in the process.
Hiding the Agenda in Peru
In May 1960, when a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory, President Dwight Eisenhower took great pains to deny direct knowledge or authorization of the provocative mission. In reality, he personally oversaw every U-2 mission, and had even riskier and more provocative bomber overflights in mind.
     It's a basic rule of thumb for covert ops: When exposed, keep denying and deflect the blame. More important, never, never let on that the mission itself may be a pretext, or a diversion from some other, larger agenda.
     Considering that, the April 20, 2001, shoot down of a plane carrying missionaries across the Brazilian border into Peru becomes highly suspicious. At first, the official story fed to the press was that Peruvian authorities ordered the attack on their own, over the pleas of the CIA "contract pilots" who initially spotted the plane. But Peruvian pilots involved in that program, supposedly designed to intercept drug flights, insist that nothing was shot down without US approval.
     Innocent planes were sometimes attacked, but most were small, low flying aircraft that didn't file flight plans and had no radios. This plane maintained regular contact and did file a plan. Still, even after it crash-landed, the Peruvians continued to strafe it, perhaps in an attempt to ignite the plane's fuel and eliminate the evidence.
     "I think it has to do with Plan Colombia and the coming war," said Celerino Castillo, who had previously worked in Peru for Drug Enforcement Agency. "The CIA was sending a clear message to all non-combatants to clear out of the area, and to get favorable press." The flight was heading to Iquitos, which "is at the heart of everything the CIA is doing right now," he added. "They don't want any witnesses."
     Timing also may have played a part. The shoot down occurred on the opening day of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Uruguay's President Jorge Ibanez, who had proposed the worldwide legalization of drugs just weeks before, was expected to make a high-profile speech on his proposal at the gathering. The downing of a drug smuggling plane at this moment, near territory held by Colombia's FARC rebels, would help to defuse Uruguay's message and reinforce the image of the insurgents as drug smugglers.
     If you doubt that the US would condone such an operation or cover it up, consider this: In 1967, Israel torpedoed the USS Liberty, a large floating listening post, as it was eavesdropping on the Arab-Israeli war off the Sinai Peninsula. Hundreds of US sailors were wounded and killed, probably because Israel feared that its massacre of Egyptian prisoners at El Arish might be overheard. How did the Pentagon respond? By imposing a total news ban, and covering up the facts for decades.
     Will we ever find out what really happened in Peru, specifically why a missionary and her daughter were killed? Not likely, since it involves a private military contractor that is basically beyond the reach of congressional accountability.
     In 2009, when the Peru shoot down became one of five cases of intelligence operation cover up being investigated by the US House Intelligence Committee, the CIA inspector general concluded that the CIA had improperly concealed information about the incident. Intelligence Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky, who led the investigation, didn’t rule out referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecutions if evidence surfaced that intelligence officials broke the law. But she couldn’t guarantee that the facts would ever come to light, since the Committee’s report of its investigation would be classified.
     The most crucial wrinkle in the Peruvian incident is the involvement of DynCorp, which was active in Colombia and Bolivia under large contracts with various US agencies. The day after the incident, ABC news reported that, according to “senior administration officials,” the crew of the surveillance plane that first identified the doomed aircraft "was hired by the CIA from DynCorp." Within two days, however, all references to DynCorp were scrubbed from ABC's Website. A week later, the New York Post claimed the crew actually worked for Aviation Development Corp., allegedly a CIA proprietary company.
     Whatever the truth, State Department officials refused to talk on the record about DynCorp's activities in South America. Yet, according to DynCorp's State Department contract, the firm had received at least $600 million over the previous few years for training, drug interdiction, search and rescue (which included combat), air transport of equipment and people, and reconnaissance in the region. And that was only what they put on paper. It also operated government aircraft and provided all manner of personnel, particularly for Plan Colombia.
DynCorp began in 1946 as the employee-owned air cargo business California Eastern Airways, flying in supplies for the Korean War. This and later government work led to charges that it was a CIA front company. Whatever the truth, it ultimately became a leading PMC, hiring former soldiers and police officers to implement US foreign policy without having to report to Congress.
     The push to privatize war gained traction during the first Bush administration. After the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, then headed by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid a Halliburton subsidiary nearly $9 million to study how PMCs could support US soldiers in combat zones, according to a Mother Jones investigation. Cheney subsequently became CEO of Halliburton, and Brown & Root, later known as Halliburton KBR, won billions to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations.
     One of DynCorp’s earliest “police” contracts involved the protection of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and, after he was ousted, providing the “technical advice” that brought military officers involved in that coup into Haiti’s National Police. Despite this dodgy record, in 2002 it won the contract to protect another new president, Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai. By then, it was a top IT federal contractor specializing in computer systems development, and also providing the government with aviation services, general military management, and security expertise.
     Like other private military outfits, the main danger it has faced is the risk of public exposure. Under one contract, for example, DynCorp sprayed vast quantities of herbicides over Colombia to kill the cocaine crop. In September 2001, Ecuadorian Indians filed a class action lawsuit, charging that DynCorp recklessly sprayed their homes and farms, causing illnesses and deaths and destroying crops. In Bosnia, private police provided by DynCorp for the UN were accused of buying and selling prostitutes, including a 12-year-old girl. Others were charged with videotaping a rape.
     In the first years of the 21st century, DynCorp's day-to-day operations in South America were overseen by State Department officials, including the Narcotic Affairs Section and the Air Wing, the latter a clique of unreformed cold warriors and leftovers from 80s operations in Central America. It was essentially the State Department's private air force in the Andes, with access to satellite-based recording and mapping systems.
     In the 1960s, a similar role was played by the Vinnell Corp., which the CIA called "our own private mercenary army in Vietnam." Vinnell later became a subsidiary of TRW, a major NSA contractor, and employed US Special Forces vets to train Saudi Arabia's National Guard. In the late 1990s, TRW hired former NSA director William Studeman to help with its intelligence program.
     DynCorp avoided the kind of public scandal that surrounded the activities of Blackwater. In Ecuador, where it developed military logistics centers and coordinated “anti-terror” police training, the exposure of a secret covenant signed with the Aeronautics Industries Directorate of the Ecuadorian Air Force briefly threatened to make waves. According to a November 2003 exposé in Quito’s El Comercio, the arrangement, hidden from the National Defense Council, made DynCorp’s people part of the US diplomatic mission.
     In Colombia, DynCorp’s coca eradication and search-and-rescue missions led to controversial pitched battles with rebels. US contract pilots flew Black Hawk helicopters carrying Colombian police officers who raked the countryside with machine gun fire to protect the missions against attacks. According to investigative reporter Jason Vest, DynCorp employees were also implicated in narcotics trafficking. But such stories didn’t get far, and, in any case, DynCorp’s “trainers” simply ignored congressional rules, including those that restrict the US from aiding military units linked to human rights abuses.
     In 2003, DynCorp won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a private police force in post-Saddam Iraq, with some of the funding diverted from an anti-drug program for Afghanistan. In 2004, the State Department further expanded DynCorp’s role as a global US surrogate with a $1.75 billion, five year contract to provide law enforcement personnel for civilian policing operations in “post-conflict areas” around the world. That March, the company also got an Army contract to support helicopters sold to foreign countries. The work, described as “turnkey” services, includes program management, logistics support, maintenance and aircrew training, aircraft maintenance and refurbishment, repair and overhaul of aircraft components and engines, airframe and engine upgrades, and the production of technical publications.
     In short, DynCorp was a trusted partner in the military-intelligence-industrial complex. "Are we outsourcing order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment?" asked Rep. Schakowsky upon submitting legislation to prohibit US funding for private military firms in the Andean region. "If there is a potential for a privatized Gulf of Tonkin incident, then the American people deserve to have a full and open debate before this policy goes any further."
     If and when that ever happens, the discussion will have to cover a lot of ground. Private firms, working in concert with various intelligence agencies, constitute a vast foreign policy apparatus that is largely invisible, rarely covered by the corporate press, and not currently subject to congressional oversight. The Freedom of Information Act simply doesn't apply. Any information on whom they arm or how they operate is private, proprietary information.
     The US government downplays its use of mercenaries, a state of affairs that could undermine any efforts to find out about CIA activities that are concealed from Congress. Yet private contractors perform almost every function essential to military operations, a situation that has been called the “creeping privatization of the business of war.” By 2004, the Pentagon was employing more than 700,000 private contractors.
     The companies are staffed by former generals, admirals, and highly trained officers. Name a hot spot and some PMC has people there. DynCorp has worked on the Defense Message System Transition Hub and done long-range planning for the Air Force. MPRI had a similar contract with the Army, and for a time coordinated the Pentagon's military and leadership training in at least seven African nations.
     How did this outsourcing of defense evolve? In 1969, the US Army had about 1.5 million active duty soldiers. By 1992, the figure had been cut by half. Since the mid-1990s, however, the US has mobilized militarily to intervene in several significant conflicts, and a corporate “foreign legion” has filled the gap between foreign policy imperatives and what a downsized, increasingly over-stretched military can provide.
     Use of high technology equipment feeds the process. Private companies have technical capabilities that the military needs, but doesn’t always possess. Contractors have maintained stealth bombers and Predator unmanned drones used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some military equipment is specifically designed to be operated and maintained by private companies.
     In Britain, the debate over military privatization has been public, since the activities of the UK company Sandline in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea embarrassed the government in the late 1990s. But no country has clear policies to regulate PMCs, and the limited oversight that does exist rarely works. In the US, they have largely escaped notice, except when US contract workers in conflict zones are killed or go way over the line, as in the case of Blackwater.
     According to Guy Copeland, who began developing public-private IT policy in the Reagan years, “The private sector must play an integral role in improving our national cybersecurity.” After all, he has noted, private interests own and operate 85 percent of the nation’s critical IT infrastructure. He should know. After all, Copeland drafted much of the language in the Bush Administration’s 2002 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace as co-chair of the Information Security Committee of the Information Technology Association of America.
     Nevertheless, when the federal government becomes dependent on unaccountable, private companies like DynCorp and Blackwater (later renamed Xe Services) for so many key security services, as well as for military logistics, management, strategy, expertise and “training,” fundamental elements of US defense have been outsourced. And the details of that relationship are matters that the intelligence community will fight long and hard to keep out of public view.
Corporate Connections and "Soft Landings"
Although the various departments and private contractors within the military-intelligence-industrial complex occasionally have turf battles and don't always share information or coordinate strategy as effectively as they might, close and ongoing contact has long been considered essential. And it has expanded as a result of the information revolution. The entire intelligence community has its own secret Intranet, which pulls together FBI reports, NSA intercepts, analysis from the DIA and CIA, and other deeply covert sources.
     Private firms are connected to this information web through staff, location, shared technology, and assorted contracts. Working primarily for the Pentagon, for example, L-3 Communications, a spinoff from major defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has manufactured hardware like control systems for satellites and flight recorders. MPRI, which was bought by L-3, provided services like its operations in Macedonia. L-3 also built the NSA's Secure Terminal Equipment, which instantly encrypts phone conversations.
     Another private contractor active in the Balkans was Science Applications, staffed by former NSA and CIA personnel, and specializing in police training. When Janice Stromsem, a Justice Department employee, complained that its program gave the CIA unfettered access to recruiting agents in foreign police forces, she was relieved of her duties. Her concern was that the sovereignty of nations receiving aid from the US was being compromised.
     In 1999, faced with personnel cuts, the NSA offered over 4000 employees "soft landing" buy outs to help them secure jobs with defense firms that have major NSA contracts. NSA offered to pay the first year's salary, in hopes the contractor would then pick up the tab. Sometimes the employee didn't even have to move away from Crypto City. Companies taking part in the program included TRW and MPRI's parent company, Lockheed Martin.
     Lockheed was also a winner in the long-term effort to privatize government services. In 2000, it won a $43.8 million contract to run the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, one of the largest human resources systems in the world. As a result, a major defense contractor took charge of consolidating all Department of Defense personnel systems, covering hiring and firing for about 750,000 civilian employees. This put the contractor at the cutting edge of Defense Department planning, and made it a key gatekeeper at the revolving door between the US military and private interests.
Shortly after his appointment as NSA director in 1999, Michael Hayden went to see the film Enemy of the State, in which Will Smith is pursued by an all-seeing, all hearing NSA and former operative Gene Hackman decries the agency's dangerous power. In Body of Secrets, author Bamford says Hayden found the film entertaining, yet offensive and highly inaccurate. Still, the NSA chief was comforted by "a society that makes its bogeymen secrecy and power. That's really what the movie's about.''
     Unlike Hayden, most people don't know where the fiction ends and NSA reality begins. Supposedly, the agency rarely "spies" on US citizens at home. On the other hand, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows a secret federal court to waive that limitation. The rest of the world doesn't have that protection. Designating thousands of keywords, names, phrases, and phone numbers, NSA computers can pick them out of millions of messages, passing anything of interest on to analysts. One can only speculate about what happens next.
     After 9/11 the plan was to go further with a project code named Tempest. The goal was to capture computer signals such as keystrokes or monitor images through walls or from other buildings, even if the computers weren't linked to a network. One NSA document, "Compromising Emanations Laboratory Test Requirements, Electromagnetics," described procedures for capturing the radiation emitted from a computer-through radio waves and the telephone, serial, network, or power cables attached to it.
     Other NSA programs have included Oasis, designed to reduce audiovisual images into machine-readable text for easier filtering, and Fluent, which expanded Echelon's multilingual capabilities. And let's not forget the government's Carnivore Internet surveillance program, which can collect all communications over any segment of the network being watched.
     Put such elements together, combine them with business imperatives and covert foreign policy objectives, then throw PMCS into the mix, and you get a glimpse of the extent to which information can be translated into raw power and secretly used to shape events. Although most pieces of the puzzle remain obscure, enough is visible to justify suspicion, outrage, and a campaign to pull away the curtain on this Wizard of Oz. But fighting a force that is largely invisible and unaccountable – and able to eavesdrop on the most private exchanges, that is a daunting task, perhaps even more difficult than confronting the mechanisms of corporate globalization that it protects and promotes.

White House OK’d spying on leaders

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Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders

He lied claiming otherwise. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He did what supporters thought...

Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders


Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders

by Stephen Lendman

He lied claiming otherwise. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He did what supporters thought impossible. 

He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He plans lots more ways to prove it through 2016. Humanity may not survive the ordeal. 

On October 27, Deutche Welle (DW) headlined "Media reports suggest Obama knew NSA spied on Merkel."

Der Spiegel said NSA's Special Collection Service (SCS) monitored her cell phone conversations since 2002. Obama lied telling Merkel he knew nothing about it.

He encourages global spying. He wants world leaders monitored. He wants stepped up surveillance doing it. 

According to DW, "a report in Bild am Sonntag published Sunday cites an unnamed NSA official who said (Obama) ordered the program be escalated."

NSA chief Keith Alexander told Obama about monitoring Merkel's phone calls. It hacked into her "supposedly secure phone…"

"Only a special, secure landline phone in her office was reportedly not accessible to electronic tapping."

Hacked information was reported directly to the White House. Evidence suggests monitoring Merkel continued at least through the "immediate past." 

Despite official disclaimers, most likely it continues. A previous article discussing spying on 35 world leaders. They weren't named. It's not hard imagining likely targets. 

Perhaps lots more than 35 are monitored. NSA may add others to its list. Global spying is official US policy. No one's safe from intrusion.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "it's very, very difficult to defend yourself." At most, you can make it tougher, more time consuming and expensive to do it. More on that below.

On October 27, Der Spiegel headlined "Embassy Espionage: The NSA's Secret Spy Hub in Berlin," saying:

Its research shows "United States intelligence agencies have not only targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone, but they have also used the American Embassy in Berlin as a listening station." 

"The revelations now pose a serious threat to German-American relations."

"It's a prime site, a diplomat's dream. Is there any better location for an embassy than Berlin's Pariser Platz?" 

It's close to the Reichstag. "When the American ambassador steps out the door, he looks directly onto the Brandenburg Gate."

It's in Germany's "political heart." It's an "ideal location for diplomats - and for spies."

It's an espionage nest. From its roof, NSA and CIA monitor official German government communications.

Doing so threatens "the trans-Atlantic partnership. Hardly anything is as sensitive (to) Merkel as the surveillance of her cellphone."

She's on it constantly. It's "her instrument of power." She relies on it for much government business.

She, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff as well as other European and Latin American leaders want UN resolution action.

They want privacy intrusions stopped. They want spy-proof space. The world body can't provide it. Technological innovation alone has a chance.

Der Postillion is a satirical web sit. It calls itself "honest news, independent, fast, since 1845." 

It inspired America's The Onion. It combines entertainment with satirical international, national and local news articles.

Steffen Seibert is Merkel's spokesman. Last week, Der Postillon posted a satirical version of his comment, saying:

"The chancellor considers it a slap in the face that she has most likely been monitored over the years just like some mangy resident of Germany."

It's her choice on how much she's willing to tolerate. Maybe she spies on Obama in return. 

Why not? Allies routinely spy on friends and foes. It's longstanding practice. It's not about to end now. It's much more sophisticated and widespread then earlier.

Merkel and likeminded world leaders apparently want a red line drawn not to be crossed. They want their private space kept that way.

UN resolutions won't help. NSA is easily able to circumvent them. Its Special Collection Service operations (SCS) are highly classified.

They're involved in spying in hard to reach places. They include foreign embassies, communication centers, and other government facilities.

SCS was established in the late 1970s. It's been called America's "mission impossible force."

It's responsible for "close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering." It's jointly staffed by NSA and CIA operatives.

They work out of US embassies and consulates. Their mission is all embracing. Get it all describes it.

SCS combines NSA's electronic spying expertise with CIA's covert action capabilities. 

Together they target foreign government officials. They're not likely to stop. They use all sorts of sophisticated listening devices.

They bug foreign embassies, communications centers, computer facilities, fiber-optic networks, and other government facilities. Virtually any space is penetrable.

Nothing ongoing is officially acknowledged.  Operations are top secret. According to Der Spiegel, SCS maintains two German bases - one in Berlin (Germany's seat of government), the other in Frankfort (its business hub).

They're "equipped at the highest level and staffed with active personnel."

Teams work undercover. They're in "shielded areas." They're "officially accredited as diplomats." They enjoy "special privileges."

They can "look and listen unhindered. They just can't get caught." Their operations are illegal. They're ongoing.

Sophisticated listening devices monitor virtually all forms of communications. They include online ones, cell signals, wireless networks and satellites.

Equipment is installed on upper floors or rooftops. It's protected from prying eyes.

Window-like indentations atop Washington's US German embassy aren't glazed. They're veneered with "dielectric" material.

They blend into surrounding masonry. Equipment is installed behind radio-transparent screens.

NSA expert James Bamford visited Der Spiegel's Berlin bureau. It's located diagonally opposite Washington's embassy.

"To me, it looks like NSA eavesdropping equipment is hidden behind there," he said. 

"The covering seems to be made of the same material that the agency uses to shield larger systems."

SCS apparently uses the same technology worldwide. It goes to great pains to conceal it.

According to top secret internal guidelines, if it's discovered, it "would cause serious harm to relations between the United States and a foreign government."

NSA targeted Merkel for over a decade. It began when she was Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party head. 

It continued when she became chancellor. Despite Washington's disclaimer, it likely remains ongoing. Der Spiegel asked:

"Were all of her conversations recorded or just connection data? Were her movements also being recorded?"

It bears repeating. NSA's mission is get it all. The White House and US spy agencies jointly pick high-profile targets. 

A matrix of global surveillance is developed.  It's called the "National Intelligence Priorities Framework." It's "presidentially approved."

One category is called "Leadership Intentions." It targets foreign leaders' goals and objectives.

According to former NSA official Thomas Drake:

Post-9/11, "Germany became intelligence target number one in Europe." At issue is a level of mistrust.

"It has always been the NSA's (mission) to conduct as much surveillance as possible," Drake added.

Der Spiegel told German security about NSA monitoring Merkel's cell phone communications. Perhaps it already knew. Its own due diligence confirmed it.

If knowledge about America monitoring Merkel was revealed, "it would be a political bomb," said Der Spiegel.

Obama visited Germany last summer. He lied saying Washington wasn't spying on its ally.

Merkel called Obama last week. He lied again claiming he knew nothing about monitoring her cell phone communications.

According to Der Spiegel, "(a)re the German security agencies too trusting of the Americans?"

Counterintelligence mostly focuses on China and Russia. Consideration earlier was given to looking harder at "what American agents were up to in the country."

It was considered too politically sensitive. The idea was dropped. At issue mainly was to what extent allies should be monitored. Are heads of state off limits? Is anything goes OK?

It sure is for Washington. European capitals no doubt are reevaluating their own policies.

German agencies want their capabilities enhanced, said Der Spiegel. Scrambling across Europe and elsewhere seems likely.

Merkel considers Obama "overrated." He "talks a lot but does little…" He's "unreliable to boot."

He says one thing. He does another. He's an inveterate liar. He's not about to change.

Merkel is a creature of habit. She relies heavily on cell phone communications. She uses it to send text messages. 

"Only for the very delicate conversations (does) she switch to a secure line," said Der Spiegel. 

Maybe close associates will make her take greater precautions. At the same time, maybe nothing is safe from NSA's prying eye.

Arranging a "no-spying" deal with Washington isn't worth the paper it's written on.

An earlier "Five Eyes" deal allegedly excludes spying on English speaking countries. They include Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 

NSA spies globally. Agreements are made to be broken. Doing so is kept secret. Israel operates the same way. Perhaps Germany, France and other European states do.

Spying is an ugly business. The expression about no honor among thieves holds manyfold for intelligence agencies. 

They operate unaccountably. They do whatever they want. They're unapologetic. They're not about to change longstanding tactics. They're upgraded as technology advances.

A Final Comment

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) listed 10 protections against online surveillance:

(1) "Use end-to-end encryption." It's "your friend," says computer security expert Bruce Schneier.

(2) Encrypt as many communications as possible. The more the better.

(3) "Encrypt your hard drive." Without doing so, anyone can access your computer, tablet or smartphone. Contents can be copied with no password.

(4) Long strong passwords are best.

(5) "Use Tor. Free software permits online anonymity. Tor makes it hard to track Internet activity.

(6) Use two-factor or two-step authentication. Google, Twitter and Dropbox have it. 

Google calls two-step protection for "your account with both your password and your phone." It helps "keep bad guys out, even if they have your password."

(7) "Don't click on attachments." Request information sent in text form.

(8) Update software. Use anti-virus software.

(9) "Keep extra secret information extra secret." Encrypt and conceal what's most private. TrueCrypt can encrypt a USB flash drive.

(10) "Be an ally." To challenge today's surveillance state, teach others what you learned. Explain why it's important. Get involved in anti-mass-spying campaigns.

"They need to stop watching us; and we need to start making it much harder for them to get away with it," said EFF.

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/obama-encourages-spying-world-leaders/

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Environmental Fascism: The Ecofascists Are Slowly But Surely Taking Over America

EcofascistsThe environmental fascists believe that if people are allowed to have large amounts of freedom and liberty that the planet will literally be destroyed.  That sounds crazy, but that is what they actually believe.  Left to our own devices, they are fully convinced that global warming and out of control pollution will transform the earth into an uninhabitable hellhole.  Therefore, they believe that it has become necessary to strictly manage human behavior “for the good of the environment”.  With each passing year, the control of the social planners gets even tighter.  Today, they have banned certain kinds of light bulbs, they are putting mandatory “smart meters” into our homes, and they have instituted all kinds of ridiculous regulations concerning what you can do with your own land.  Tomorrow, they plan to put “black boxes” into our vehicles and move most of us into “stack-and-pack” housing that has communal bathrooms and no elevators.  There is a reason why these people are called ecofascists.  The “true believers” of the environmental fascism movement actually believe that they are “saving the world” by being control freaks.  They truly believe that they know better than the rest of us, and they love to get into positions of political power so that they can impose their will on everyone around them.

The environmental fascists are constantly “pushing the envelope” and doing whatever they can to use the power of the government to impose new rules on all the rest of us.  Most of the time, Americans just take it without ever fighting back.  For example, a car wash for a high school cheerleading squad was recently shut down because the cheerleaders were “in violation of water discharge laws“…

It’s hard to wave your spirit fingers when the city shuts down the cheerleading squad’s fundraising car wash to protect the environment.

This is what happened to Lincoln High School cheerleaders trying to raise money to attend a national competition in April. The San Jose Mercury reports that local environmental officials warned the high school cheerleaders that their car wash violated the city’s water discharge laws.

“We had a visit from the city of San Jose Environmental Services Department who said that the car washes at Hoover [Middle School] are in violation of water discharge laws, therefore we had to cancel this and all future car washes,” said an email that was sent out to neighborhood email lists on Oct. 18.

Fortunately, there are some Americans that are still willing to stand up and fight back against this emerging ecofascism.  A recent Businessweek article profiled one north Idaho couple that is vigorously fighting back against the ridiculous demands of the EPA…

Four years ago the Sacketts were filling in their lot with dirt and rock, preparing to build a simple three-bedroom home in a neighborhood where other houses have stood for years. Then three federal officials showed up and demanded they stop construction. The agency claimed the .63-acre lot was a wetland, protected under the Clean Water Act.

The Sacketts say they were stunned. The owners of an excavation company, they had secured all the necessary local permits. And Chantell Sackett says that before work began, she drove two hours to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to consult with an Army Corps of Engineers official. She says the official told her orally, though not in writing, that she didn’t need a federal permit. “We did all the right things,” she says.

The EPA issued an order requiring the Sacketts to put the land back the way it was, removing the piles of fill material and replanting the vegetation they had cleared away. The property was to be fenced off and the Sacketts would be required to submit annual reports about its condition to the EPA. The agency threatened to fine them up to $32,500 a day until they complied.

Sadly, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  The EPA is completely and totally out of control, and they seem to be obsessed with making life absolute hell for farmers and private landowners.

But over in Europe, environmental fascism is actually even worse than it is in the United States.  In fact, one new regulation that was recently implemented bans Europeans from owning large vacuum cleaners

Incandescent light bulbs have already been removed from the shelves. Next being removed are larger size vacuum cleaners. Germany’s online flagship daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports: “Beginning September 2014 in the EU only vacuum cleaners that consume less than 1600 watts may be sold. From 2017 only a maximum of 900 watts will be allowed.”

Ultimately, the ecofascists intend to manage virtually every detail of our lives, because literally everything that we do “affects the environment” in some way.

According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the next things they hope to do is to put “black boxes” in our vehicles that they can use to tax us and track the “damage” that we are doing to the environment…

As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.

The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.

What I find humorous about the above excerpt is that the L.A. Times is trying to get us to believe that this is something that “libertarians” actually want.

Another thing that the ecofascists have planned for the future is to move much of the population into “eco-friendly” stack-and-pack living environments.  These stack-and-pack living environments were described in a recent article by Suzanne Eovaldi

A typical stack-and-pack living area in the 200 square foot APodment bulding in Sammamish, WA is already developed. Occupant Judy Green (Seattle Times 5-12-13) “shares the kitchen with seven other tenants on the second floor.”  With no elevators, she has to walk up and down six flights of stairs to get to her loft! Bathrooms often are communal; no or few cars are allowed because of global warming.

The ultimate goal is for the government to watch, track, monitor and control everything that we do “for the good of humanity”.

And of course this emerging “Big Brother” control grid has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.  In fact, it is being reported that the United States spied on 60 million Spanish phone calls in just one single month recently, and according to CNN, the U.S. had even been spying on the private phone conversations of 35 foreign leaders…

The release of further allegations of National Security Agency surveillance efforts caused the Spanish government to summon the U.S. ambassador Monday, and The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House ordered a halt to some eavesdropping on foreign leaders after learning of it this summer.

Quoting unidentified U.S. officials, the newspaper’s website said the wiretapping of about 35 foreign leaders was disclosed to the White House as part of a review of surveillance programs ordered by President Barack Obama after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information on the NSA’s phone monitoring systems.

The White House ordered a halt to the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and unspecified other leaders, the newspaper reported. The Journal report did not specify who gave the shutdown order or the date it was issued.

And this “control grid” is getting much tighter and much more oppressive on the local level as well.  For example, just check out what happened to one Texas woman recently

A Texas woman was arrested, strip-searched and jailed for an overdue traffic ticket Wednesday, a local CBS affiliate first reported.

Sarah Boaz said she was cuffed outside her Richland Hills home by an officer who was waiting for her when she stepped out to go to work, the New York Daily News reported.

The officer told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest after she failed to pay a summons for running a stop sign in August. Mrs. Boaz admitted that she didn’t pay the fine because she lost the summons.

“I’m like nobody puts out a bench warrant after 60 days,” she told the Daily News. “Why would you do that?”

Mrs. Boaz said she was forced to step into a jail cell and remove her clothes for a search. Her family bailed her out within a couple of hours.

When most people read about stuff like this, they are absolutely outraged.

But the ecofascists actually love this kind of stuff.  They want an all-powerful government that will have the power to force people to do “what is right for the environment”.  In fact, many of them actually believe that the planet will not survive if government does not behave in such a manner.

In the end, they are not going to settle for anything less than total control.  They want to control where you live, what kind of work you do, what kind of transportation you use and even how many children you have.

It is a totalitarian system wrapped up in a “save the world” package.

And right now, the ecofascists are steadily gaining ground.  If they are going to be defeated, people need to start standing up for freedom and liberty while they still can.

Michael T. Snyder's Shocking New Novel About The Future Of America

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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]t. 

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

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Enemy of the State: A Dons of Time Preview

"Well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi set in a realistic historical world." - Kirkus Reviews
This is an excerpt from Greg Guma's new novel, Dons of Time, available October 21 from Fomite Press. Order now at a discount and help with the launch.
Emerging from the airport baggage claim late the following afternoon he crossed to the taxi stand for a lift into town. It would be only minutes to the Hilton and a comfortable room with a commanding view of the waterfront and Lake Champlain. But then he heard his last name being called and noticed a wiry-haired kid holding a cardboard sign with the word “Wolf” on it.
“I’m Wolfe,” he said, “Tonio, or T. You here for me?”
“I guess so,” the kid shrugged, “this way.” He grabbed Tonio’s bag without asking and led him into the parking garage, boarding the elevator for the top. When they emerged and Tonio saw the vehicle, a faded blue cargo van more than two decades old, he began to suspect he’d made a mistake. Before he could do anything, the side door slid open and three more young guys with scarves over their faces invited him inside.
“I hope you’re with Harry.”        
Rather than answer they handed him a scarf and asked him to blindfold himself. “Just for now,” one of them apologized. These definitely weren’t Shelley’s people; their greeting would not have been so civil. The government was also out. It didn’t use rusty vans or operatives who dressed like hippie Zapatistas. This had to be Harry. Still, why the drama? Despite his explanation over the phone it didn’t compute.
The ride took two hours, at first on paved streets and the Interstate, then on local roads, and several minutes at the end over rough gravel and dirt. When the van finally rolled to a stop and it was time to remove the blindfold, he could have been anywhere from the Canadian border to New Hampshire.
Harry was waiting at the cabin door. He had always enjoyed costumes and preferred facial hair. This day he looked like a cross between a pirate and a panda. “You have questions, I know,” he announced. “Thanks for coming.”
“It better be good.” Tonio shook his hand and followed.
The cabin was larger and more functional than it looked from the driveway, part tech center, part mountain retreat. Computer terminals covered one wall, screens running data, charts, and video streams. Three college-age hackers monitored them. The rest of the main room was taken up by a large oak table, several couches and thrift shop chairs, a hard-working woodstove, all facing several unmarked doorways and an archway that opened onto the communal kitchen. 
Harry flopped down in a ratty lounge chair, and said, “It was necessary, believe me. Not on my end, in this case. We have good reasons to play it safe with you, my friend. You may already be a person of interest.”
“That’s extreme,” Tonio objected, “but I do believe Shelley had a tail on me.”
“That’s not what worries me.” He pointed up with a finger, as far as Tonio knew meaning either God or spy satellites.
“What does worry you? More to the point, what’s happened to you, man? Last I knew you were a radio personality.”
“A personality, right, I remember when I had one of those,” Harry mused. “Last time I saw you we were about to take over Seattle, right? Blocking the WTO, now that was a demo. Things looked promising in ‘99, didn’t they?  Even after the coup – that’s what I call W’s first term – we totally derailed that FTAA deal in Quebec. But they were already starting the crackdown. After the attacks…well, you know that story, Patriot Act, wiretapping, secret searches, the whole deal. Plus, for the first time the CIA gets a direct role in deciding who gets rounded up or hit. It was the first stages of drone justice.”
That still didn’t explain why he was hiding in the woods, and Harry knew it.
“I was operating above ground then,” he reminisced. “But things were changing. It was an eavesdropping bonanza. The intelligence budget hit $60 billion after 9/11 and thousands of new private contractors got into the game. It was a very lucrative club in a very growing industry. And Fort Meade, that was the Gold Rush zone for masters of the data stream.
“I still had the show then. But instead of the usual stuff I started talking about the surveillance state, what the government was really up to. Big mistake as it turns out. In 2007 I tried to board a flight to DC and found out I was on a no-fly list.” After more than an hour of interrogation Harry was released. But not his laptop, cell phone, camera and USB drive. 
As Harry outlined the rest of his path from radio host to underground man Tonio heard more than he wanted about Crystal City and the Wiretappers’s Ball, a secret annual gathering where experts shared their latest toys and competed to create the ultimate bugging device. Harry had managed to infiltrate it and bring out pictures. He also talked on the air about Verint Systems and Narus, major private eavesdropping operations that reached most of the planet. They made it easier to block websites considered politically or culturally threatening to those in power.
The next flashpoint for Harry came after the Democrats capitulated on amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He explained that the changes gave the telecoms legal immunity while providing a go-ahead for the NSA to target almost anyone classified as a terrorist. Obama, who was running for President at the time, opted to support the amendments. Once he was in office, the move toward mass surveillance launched almost a decade earlier continued to escalate. Obama’s Justice Department invoked “state secrets” to stop citizens from suing the government for spying on them. In fact, it argued that the feds had immunity from litigation for any surveillance that violated the law.
“You thought I was being ridiculous about emails, right?” Harry reminded him. “There’s a reason, Sherlock, the CIA. They’ve invested heavily in Visible Technologies, which analyzes social media. It can look into half a million websites a day. But the biggest reason we’re here, instead of enjoying room service on your tab, is because in 2010 they demanded all the visitor information from Truthsquad. I mean everything, and we weren’t supposed to tell anyone about it under penalty of prosecution for impeding a federal investigation.
“The IFC – that’s the Internet Freedom Center – challenged the subpoena.” He was winding down. “But it was obvious where this was heading. They’d already jailed Bradley Manning for the Wikileaks cables and Julian was under house arrest. The handwriting was on the wall. It was only a matter of time ‘til that knock on the door and I’m a suspected cyber-terrorist. That was two years ago, shortly before we set up here. Just in time it turns out, since now I’m on the terrorist screening database. Drone bait -- if they ever find me outside the country.”
“But we’re safe and secure?”
“Like a frog’s ass, baby. Acoustic dampening, the latest in encryption. We just added self-destructing e-mails and encrypted cell phone calls, anything you send digitally. By next year there will be a commercial self-destruct app on the market, but ours is better. My rule of thumb is either that the message is destroyed after it’s read, or else no more than an hour or two after sending it goes poof, like Mission Impossible. But your current security, not so great.”
Considering what he had just heard Tonio wasn’t surprised Harry felt that way.
Stay in touch for the conclusion of this chapter. Like Dons of Time on Facebook.

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Putin says Snowden set for a tough life

File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden (R).Russian President Vladimir Putin says US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden,...

Putin Calls Out US for Legacy of Faulty Pre-War Intelligence

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. claims about Syria's use of chemical weapons are 'absolutely absurd' and said that if quality evidence does...

UK to provide intelligence on Syria war

Britain will continue providing intelligence to the US in its potential strikes against Syria despite Commonâ„¢s ËœNo voteâ„¢.Britain will continue providing intelligence to the...

US violated Brazil's sovereignty: Minister

Brazil has criticized the United States for spying on Brazilian companies and individuals, saying the electronic surveillance is a violation of the South American...

US government 'targeting' journalism

Danny Schechter, the editor of Mediachannel.org, says that the US government is targeting journalism in the wake of American whistleblower Edward Snowdenâ„¢s leakage of...

Internet Architects Plan Counter-Attack On NSA Snooping

Zero Hedge August 25, 2013 “Not having encryption on the web today is a matter of life and death,” is how one member of the Internet...

EU editors slam UK PM over Miranda

British police detain David Miranda (R) in blatant attempt to intimidate journalist Glenn Greenwald (L).Editors of leading Northern European newspapers have slammed British Prime...

Guardian partners with NYT on spy files

Guardian partners with New York Times due to UK govt. pressureBritish newspaper The Guardian has teamed up with the US paper The New...

Glimmerglass Intercepts Undersea Cable Traffic for Spy Agencies

Glimmerglass, a northern California company that sells optical fiber technology, offers government agencies a software product called “CyberSweep” to intercept signals on undersea cables....

Canada urged to reveal spying extent

Canadian government is urged to reveal its surveillance programs.The government of Canada has been urged to reveal the extent of monitoring by its electronic...

New Zealand law prompts criticism

A New Zealand civil liberties group has criticized Wellington for passing a new law allowing wider surveillance of the countryâ„¢s citizens, saying authorities were...

UK abused anti-terror law: watchdog

British police detain David Miranda in blatant attempt to intimidate journalist Glenn Greenwald.A leading press freedom watchdog has written to British Prime Minister David...

UK has Mideast spy post, Snowden leaks

Britain is running secret surveillance base in the Middle East, Edward Snowden reveals.The latest documents leaked by the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower...

Russia slams UK over Snowden issue

Russia has censured the UK over forcing the Guardian daily to destroy materials leaked by American whistleblower Edward Snowden, saying the move is not...

Verizon Rewarded for Records Release With $10 Billion Government Contract

Verizon’s willingness to give the federal government unfettered access to its customers’ phone records is paying off handsomely for the telecommunications giant. Verizon announced on...

Germans’ anger at NSA spying picks up

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the US's National Security Agency (NSA) collecting information from German people, July 27, 2013 in BerlinMass protests...

Snowden began downloading NSA files a year earlier than previously reported

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden began mining for sensitive documents about the United States government’s surveillance programs more than a year before going...

Lithuania to extradite Russian to US

A Lithuanian court has ordered the extradition of a Russian man to the United States, despite objections by Russian officials who called the move...

City Reduces Police Force By Placing Public Under Constant Surveillance

In 40-foot high watch towers, police officers are practically prison guards over population.

MIT: Future Smartphones Will ‘Listen to Everything All the Time’

Ubiquitous surveillance to “detect your moods,” “pinpoint the sources of your stress,” and “present relevant information”.

Michael Hayden, Former NSA Chief: After A Major Attack, U.S. Likely To Seize More...

Ryan GrimHuffington PostAugust 12, 2013 WASHINGTON – Former National Security Agency chief Gen. Michael Hayden hinted...

Snowden’s father receives Russian visa

The father of American whistleblower Edward Snowden has received a Russian visa and will visit his son Å“very soon.” Lawyer Bruce Fein who appeared alongside...

Rand Paul: National security run amok

Rand PaulThe Washington TimesAugust 10, 2013 In March, Sen. Ron Wyden asked Director of National IntelligenceJames...

Damage control? NSA claims only touches 1.6% of internet traffic

The NSA has alleged it monitors only 1.6 percent of web traffic, contradicting claims of a sweeping spy network. A report released by the White House justifies NSA snooping as essential for national security, but neglects to expand on any details.

NSA funds UK’s spying operations

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Snowden not in Moscow: Russia officials

A demonstrator holds up a picture of Edward Snowden during a demonstration in support of him in Paris on July 7, 2013.American whistleblower Edward...

NSA Reading Content of Americans’ International Communications

Thursday saw yet another revelation in the ongoing exposure of a cluster of unconstitutional surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) and...

Brazil to broach US spying with Kerry

Brasilia says it will raise the issue of American spying on Brazilian companies and individuals next week when US Secretary of State John Kerry...

Encrypted email service used by Snowden mysteriously shuts down

The highly-encrypted email service reportedly used by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has gone offline, and its administrator claims the company is legally barred from explaining why.

'Obama can’t have NSA cake and eat it'

A political commentator says President Barack Obama simply Å“canâ„¢t have his National Security (Agency) cake and eat it too”, and he needs to Å“make...

NSA searching emails crossing border

US intelligence officials say the National Security Agency is searching the contents of Americansâ„¢ Internet communications that cross the border, looking for citizens who...

New revelations: Germany sends ‘massive amounts’ of phone, email data to NSA

RTAug 8, 2013 Germany’s BND intelligence service sends “massive amounts” of intercepts to the NSA daily,...

UK spy agency guards consider strike

Private officers guarding Britainâ„¢s eavesdropping agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), are considering a strike action over a pay dispute. The development comes after the...

UK spy agency guards consider strike

Private officers guarding Britainâ„¢s eavesdropping agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), are considering a strike action over a pay dispute. The development comes after the...

Russia disappointed with US cancellation

Russia says it is disappointed by Obama's decision to cancel a planned meeting with Putin. (file photo)Russia says it is disappointed by US President...

FBI Pushing Real-Time Metadata-Harvesting ‘Port Readers’ On Service Providers

techdirt.comAugust 6, 2013 The FBI seems to be of the same mindset as the...

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,...

Top 10 Things That Don’t Make Sense About NSA Surveillance, Drones and Al-Qaida

In a Reuters Exclusive, John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke reveal that the National Security Agency shares information it gleans from warrantless surveillance of Americans with the Special Operation Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which then uses the metadata to develop cases against US citizens.

NY Times Admits: Al-Qaeda Terror Threat Used to “Divert Attention” from NSA Uproar

Mike KriegerLiberty Blitzkrieg August 6, 2013 Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist...

NY Times Admits: Al-Qaeda Terror Threat Used to “Divert Attention” from NSA Uproar

Mike KriegerLiberty Blitzkrieg August 6, 2013 Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist...

US extends global terror alert

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Latin America takes US spying to UN

Foreign ministers from the South American trade bloc Mercosur have complained to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the US global espionage practices and EU...

Other Government Agencies Clamor for NSA Surveillance; Some Get It

The New York Times reported August 4 that the NSA intercepts of all Americans' phone records and Internet traffic are being sought by dozens of federal and...

Other Government Agencies Clamor for NSA Surveillance; Some Get It

The New York Times reported August 4 that the NSA intercepts of all Americans' phone records and Internet traffic are being sought by dozens of federal and...

DEA agents use NSA intercepts to investigate Americans — report

Agents of a secretive DEA unit routinely receive tips from US intelligence agencies, including NSA intercepts, a report states. The sources are then concealed...

German and US Spy Agencies Share Vast Metadata Trove

Germans protest the close ties between the US's NSA and their own BND. (Photo: ekvidi/ cc/ flickr)Leaked internal NSA reports written by US employees...

Other Government Agencies Clamor for NSA Surveillance, Some Get It

The New York Times reported August 4 that the NSA intercepts of all Americans' phone records and Internet traffic are being sought by dozens of federal and...

DEA Agents Are Told To Cover Up Spying Program Used Against Americans

John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke Reuters August 5, 2013 A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants...

UK, US close intel. partners: analyst

The operations of the United Statesâ„¢ National Security Agency (NSA) and the British spy agencies are intertwined and bilateral intelligence exchanges are nothing new,...

One Day After Russian Asylum for Snowden: Obama Administration Launches Terror Scare

Amid escalating denunciations and threats against both Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned whistle-blower, and Russia, which granted Snowden temporary asylum on...

One Day After Russian Asylum for Snowden: Obama Administration Launches Terror Scare

Amid escalating denunciations and threats against both Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned whistle-blower, and Russia, which granted Snowden temporary asylum on...

Snowden lawyer rejects US request claims

Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena shows a picture of former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden in his new refugee documents granted by Russia during...

Obama administration launches terror scare

  One day after Russian asylum for Snowden ...

Russia rejects US Snowden criticism

A senior Russian official has rejected Washingtonâ„¢s criticism of Moscow for granting temporary asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden. Alexei Pushkov, head of the...

Snowden: Russia asylum victory for law

A demonstrator holds up a picture of Edward Snowden during a demonstration in support of him in Paris on July 7, 2013.American whistleblower Edward...

'US paid British spy agency $150 million'

The US has paid some $150 million to Britainâ„¢s biggest spy agency over the past three years to gain access to the UKâ„¢s intelligence...

UK’s phone-hacking probe widened

Britain's wide-ranging probe into phone hacking scandal has expanded beyond the media industry bringing companies and individuals under investigation, local media reported. ...

Did US Help New Zealand Spy on War Crimes Reporter?

New Zealand journalist Jon Stephenson believes he was tracked by his government's intelligence agencies with possible help from the US. His employer, McClatchy newspapers,...

‘Big Data’ Dynamo: How Giant Tech Firms Help the Government to Spy on Americans

As the secret state continues trawling the electronic communications of hundreds of millions of Americans, lusting after what securocrats euphemistically call “actionable intelligence,”...

Poisonous Veracity (Swat that Lie!)

Was any Roman ever gullible enough to believe that Romulus and Remus founded Rome after being suckled by wolves? Given the gullibility of humankind,...

How to Close Gitmo: A Roadmap

Reprieve delivers justice and saves lives, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Executive Summary The military prison at Guantánamo Bay is now facing the worst crisis...

Democratic Leaders: All Americans “May Be In Communication With Terrorists”

Lawmakers Endorse NSA spying with bizarre justification Steve Watson Infowars.com July 25, 2013 The Democratic leadership nailed its colors to the big brother...

Does the Right to Privacy Now Apply Only to the US Government?

Whatever our opinion of Edward Snowden, if we’re fair we see it being formed from a neutral perspective. This is because he was, until...

Snowden Russia asylum under review

Edward Snowden, former technical contractor for the NSA and former employee of the CIAAmerican whistleblower Edward Snowden should remain at Russiaâ„¢s Sheremetyevo International Airport...

NSA Taps Directly Into Undersea Fiber-optic Data Cables

Despite promises from a few federal lawmakers to hold the Obama administration and the National Security Agency (NSA) accountable for the recently revealed practice...

US Policy Is to Keep the Veil of Secrecy in Place

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/us_policy_is_to_keep_the_veil_of_secrecy_in_place_20130723/ Posted on Jul 23, 2013 ...

FISA court renews NSA spying program

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Sri Lankan dramatist defends Edward Snowden

  23 July 2013 ...

Gen. Hayden’s Snow Job on Snowden

Former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden should not throw any more stones, lest his own glass house be shattered. His barrage Friday against...

Spying on Americans, Cellphones, Emails: The NSA is on the Line – All of...

When intelligence historian Matthew Aid read the USA Today story last Thursday about how the National Security Agency was collecting millions of phone call...

Documents Show Undersea Cable Firms Provide Surveillance Access to US Secret State

Documents published last week by the Australian web site Crikey revealed that the US government “compelled Telstra and Hong Kong-based PCCW to give it access to...

Despite Participation in PRISM, Microsoft Warns of Threat to Constitution

“The Constitution is suffering.” That was the message sent July 16 by Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a letter to U.S. Attorney General...

Snowden leaks open a Pandora’s box of lawsuits against government surveillance

The recent disclosures made by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden have generated commotion in Congress and the White House alike. Will the United...

Surveillance Blowback

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/surveillance_blowback_20130716/ Posted on Jul 16, 2013 By Alfred W. McCoy, TomDispatch...

Hack this: Researchers turn Verizon device into ‘mobile spy station’

Security experts said they have managed to spy on Verizon Wireless mobile phone customers by hacking into devices sold by the US carrier, further...

Snowden documents could be ‘worst nightmare’ for U.S.

reuters.com July 13, 2013 Fugitive former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden controls dangerous information that could become the United States' "worst nightmare" if...

‘Aussie firm agrees to store phone calls’

Telstra stored data for potential surveillance by US intelligence. Australiaâ„¢s largest phone company, Telstra, has agreed to store huge volumes of internet data and...

LatAm countries censure US for spying

Bolivia's President Evo Morales, from left to right, Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, Uruguay's President Jose Mujica, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and Venezuela's President Nicolas...

‘Snowden yet to reply to Venezuela offer’

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua says US whistleblower Edward Snowden has yet to reply to the Latin American country's offer of asylum and there...

Venezuelans urged to boycott Facebook

Venezuela's prisons minister has called on Venezuelans to cancel their accounts on the social networking website Facebook in a move to refrain from being targeted by US spying.

Merkel defends cooperation with NSA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended Germanyâ„¢s cooperation with the US National Security Agency (NSA) amid growing concerns over Washingtonâ„¢s secret surveillance on Europe. The...

Millions in US tax dollars go to Big Data for wiretap capabilities

The US government uses American tax dollars to pay major Internet companies and telecommunications giants like Verizon and AT&T for unprecedented access into millions...

Mexico asks US clarification on spying

Mexico has demanded Washington to provide Å“broad information” about a leaked report that it was among Latin American nations monitored by US spy agencies. The...

The NSA Has Inserted Its Code Into Android OS, Or Three Quarters Of All...

Zero HedgeJuly 10, 2013 Over a decade ago, it was discovered that the NSA embedded backdoor access into...