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Comey Hearing Confirms Counter-Intel Investigation Into Trump Campaign; No Evidence of Trump's Wiretap Claim
NSA Spying and Intelligence Collection: A Giant Blackmail Machine and “Warrantless Wiretapping” Program
Published time: March 07, 2013 11:18
Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to one year in jail after a wiretap trial linked to a 2005 banking scandal.
The ex-premier allegedly made public the taped contents of a confidential phone call.
Berlusconi denied any wrongdoing and may seek an appeal trial, until the end of which he won’t be put into custody.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that a group of United States-based attorneys, journalists and human rights activists, along with their affiliated organizations, cannot sue to establish the unconstitutionality of a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The decision had nothing to do with the merits of the claim. Rather, the lawsuit was thrown out of court because the plaintiffs could not prove that the interception of their phone calls and emails was “certainly impending,” a legal standard never before imposed to deny someone the right to sue.
At the core of the majority decision, authored by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and joined by the other three extreme right-wing justices—Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas—along with the so-called “swing” voter, Justice Anthony A. Kennedy, is an obvious “Catch-22.” Because the law authorizes secret wiretaps, there is no way to prove who might be a victim, but only victims have legal “standing” to file lawsuits, and therefore nobody can bring a case for judicial review of the law’s constitutionality.
Clapper v. Amnesty International reverses a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit should go forward, in the process narrowing the doctrine of “standing” such that virtually all secret government activity can now be ruled immune from court challenges. In doing so, the Supreme Court majority adopted the positions urged by Obama administration lawyers in their briefs and at oral argument last October. (See, “Obama administration asserts unchecked powers”)
The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution forbids warrantless eavesdropping. Congress enacted FISA in 1978 following Watergate-era exposures of widespread and unchecked government spying on United States citizens engaged in constitutionally protected political and cultural activities. FISA limits wiretaps to the acquisition of “foreign intelligence information” by targeting a “foreign government or agent” outside the United States. With a nod to the Fourth Amendment, FISA requires federal agents to obtain a warrant for the specific target and facility from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, DC, the proceedings of which are kept secret.
In 2008, Congress, with the support of key Democrats, amended FISA to eliminate the requirements that the target must be a specified “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power” and that the warrant application must identify the precise facility where the electronic surveillance is to take place. In effect, the 2008 FISA amendment authorizes “roving wiretaps” of communications between places in the United States and foreign countries that are essentially warrantless.
The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit less than an hour after then-president George Bush signed the FISA amendment into law, asking the federal district court in New York to declare the measure unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.
The plaintiffs described themselves as persons and organizations who communicate by telephone and e-mail with people the government “believes or believed to be associated with terrorist organizations,” with “people located in geographic areas that are a special focus” of so-called “counterterrorism” efforts, and with “activists who oppose governments supported by the United States.”
To establish standing under the law as it then existed, the plaintiffs alleged a series of specific injuries flowing from the FISA amendment, such as the fact that the threat of secret wiretapping interferes with lawyers locating and interviewing witnesses or advising clients in confidence, journalists cultivating confidential sources to obtain information for news reports, and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International interacting with foreign contacts. The threat of surveillance compelled some plaintiffs to travel abroad for in-person conversations, and others to undertake “costly and burdensome measures” to protect the confidentiality of sensitive communications.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes New York City, ruled that the plaintiffs’ allegations establish “an objectively reasonable likelihood that their communications will be intercepted” and therefore gave them standing to challenge the FISA amendment’s constitutionality. The Supreme Court majority reversed this ruling.
Alito’s majority opinion dramatically raised the bar for determining legal standing, ruling that the plaintiffs had to demonstrate “the threatened injury must be certainly impending ” (the italics are Alito’s), resurrecting a phrase from a long-forgotten 1923 opinion that actually found that the plaintiff in the case had standing on the basis that “one does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief.”
The “certainly impending” language has never previously been used by the Supreme Court to deny a plaintiff standing in any case, much less one challenging the constitutionality of a clandestine government program where the evidence to meet such a standard is, by definition, unavailable.
Alito went on, at considerable length, to discount the plaintiffs’ claims that their communications would likely be intercepted as “highly speculative” and “relying on a highly attenuated chain of possibilities.” Alito seemed to taunt the plaintiffs for the absence of “any evidence that their communications have been monitored” under a secret program put into effect the day their lawsuit was filed, calling it “a failure that substantially undermines their standing theory.”
“Simply put,” Alito wrote, the plaintiffs “can only speculate as to how the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target,” and “even if [the plaintiffs] could demonstrate that the targeting of their foreign contacts is imminent, [they] can only speculate as to whether the Government will seek to use [FISA] surveillance (rather than other methods) to do so.”
In other words, the spy program’s secrecy—which is what chills the plaintiffs’ exercise of their rights in the first place—is precisely what prevents anyone from seeking review of its constitutionality.
Alito next demeaned the plaintiffs’ claims that the threat of surveillance forced them to travel and to undertake other expensive precautions to protect the confidentiality of their communications as “self-inflicted injuries” that, somehow, “are not fairly traceable” to the secret wiretapping program.
Finally, Alito wrote that even if “no one would have standing is not a reason to find standing,” meaning that the Supreme Court could insulate the secret wiretapping program from all court challenges. Underscoring his contempt for the basic democratic right of people to challenge governmental action in court, Alito concluded that “any dissatisfaction” the plaintiffs had with the new law or the secret rulings of the FISA court “is irrelevant to our standing analysis.”
Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by the other three moderate justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, pointing out the many Supreme Court precedents which give the plaintiffs standing to bring suit. The dissent explicitly declined to address the constitutionality of the FISA amendment itself, however.
Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the lawyer for the plaintiffs, issued a statement calling the ruling “disturbing” because it denies “meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”
“More than a decade after 9/11,” Jaffer added, “we still have no judicial ruling on the lawfulness of torture, of extraordinary rendition, of targeted killings or of the warrantless wiretapping program. These programs were all contested in the public sphere, but they have not been contested in the courts.”
In contrast, the spokesperson for the Department of Justice praised the majority decision, stating that the government was “obviously pleased” with the denial of standing to the plaintiffs.
Equally obvious is the fact that the Obama administration—to no less a degree than the administration of George Bush—is developing increasingly authoritarian forms of rule in conjunction with the Supreme Court.
Defending Against Overreaching Surveillance in Ethiopia: Surveillance Self-Defense now Available in Amharic
- "black propaganda" through leaflets or other publications; it was "designed to discredit organizations and foster internal tensions;"
- "disinformation or 'gray propaganda' " for the same purpose;
- "bad-jacketing" to "creat(e) suspicion - through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc." to turn some members against others violently;
- "harassment arrests (on bogus) charges;" and
- "assassinations (of) selected political leaders."
- "Theft of government property;
- Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)
- Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."
12 Corporate Espionage Tactics Used Against Leading Progressive Groups, Activists and Whistleblowers
If you live in the United States, you live in a high tech surveillance grid that is becoming more oppressive with each passing day. In America today, the control freaks that run things are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. If we continue on the path that [...]
… 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 →
- "Collect(ing, including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions;
- Acting(ing) as the National Manager for National Security Systems as established in law and policy, and in this capacity be responsible to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director, National Intelligence; (and)
- Prescrib(ing) security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling, and distribution of signals intelligence and communications security material within and among the elements under control of the Director of the National Security Agency, and exercise the necessary supervisory control to ensure compliance with the regulations."
- "Align (it) with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004;
- Implement additional recommendations of the 9/11 and WMD Commissions; (and)
- Further integrate the Intelligence Community and clarify and strengthen the role of DNI as the head of the Community; Maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberties protections."
- the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). It relates to foreign intelligence gathering, and
- the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). It protects US information systems.
The 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.
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Edward Snowden says there is no chance of leaked NSA documents falling into the hands of Russian or Chinese officials. (Photograph: AP)"There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents.”
That's what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, referring to a huge trove of classified files he has made available to select journalists in the name of the "public interest," told the New York Times during an online interview that took place this month and was published late Thursday.
Acccording to the exchange, which was carried out over encrypted email, Snowden says that he relinquished his own copies of the NSA documents before he left Hong Kong for China back in June.
“If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously dangerous.” –Edward Snowden
“What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?” he said to the Times.
Whether or not Snowden's efforts to evade capture and imprisonment by the U.S. government had resulted in either the Russian or Chinese intelligence services obtaining the files has been a point of contention since he first went public as the source of the files, but this is the first time he has explain the confidence with which he asserts that the files have not been compromised.
According to the Times:
American intelligence officials have expressed grave concern that the files might have fallen into the hands of foreign intelligence services, but Mr. Snowden said he believed that the N.S.A. knew he had not cooperated with the Russians or the Chinese. He said he was publicly revealing that he no longer had any agency documents to explain why he was confident that Russia had not gained access to them. He had been reluctant to disclose that information previously, he said, for fear of exposing the journalists to greater scrutiny.
In a wide-ranging interview over several days in the last week, Mr. Snowden offered detailed responses to accusations that have been leveled against him by American officials and other critics, provided new insights into why he became disillusioned with the N.S.A. and decided to disclose the documents, and talked about the international debate over surveillance that resulted from the revelations.
Among the various topics covered in the interview, Snowden speaks specifically to the argument made by some that he could have played the role of whistleblower by following internal protocols and making his concerns known to his superiors at the NSA. According to Snowden, those complaints would have go nowhere fast. Again, from the Times:
Mr. Snowden added that inside the spy agency “there’s a lot of dissent — palpable with some, even.” But he said that people were kept in line through “fear and a false image of patriotism,” which he described as “obedience to authority.”
He said he believed that if he tried to question the N.S.A.’s surveillance operations as an insider, his efforts “would have been buried forever,” and he would “have been discredited and ruined.” He said that “the system does not work,” adding that “you have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it.”
Mr. Snowden said he finally decided to act when he discovered a copy of a classified 2009 inspector general’s report on the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program during the Bush administration. He said he found the document through a “dirty word search,” which he described as an effort by a systems administrator to check a computer system for things that should not be there in order to delete them and sanitize the system.
“It was too highly classified to be where it was,” he said of the report. He opened the document to make certain that it did not belong there, and after he saw what it revealed, “curiosity prevailed,” he said.
After reading about the program, which skirted the existing surveillance laws, he concluded that it had been illegal, he said. “If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all,” he said, “secret powers become tremendously dangerous.”
He would not say exactly when he read the report, or discuss the timing of his subsequent actions to collect N.S.A. documents in order to leak them. But he said that reading the report helped crystallize his decision. “You can’t read something like that and not realize what it means for all of these systems we have,” he said.
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